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As You Like It

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Act II, Scene 1

The Forest of Arden


Enter DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and two or three LORDS, like foresters

  • Duke. Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
    Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
    Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods 550
    More free from peril than the envious court?
    Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
    The seasons' difference; as the icy fang
    And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
    Which when it bites and blows upon my body, 555
    Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
    'This is no flattery; these are counsellors
    That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
    Sweet are the uses of adversity,
    Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 560
    Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
    And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
    Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
    Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
    I would not change it. 565
  • Amiens. Happy is your Grace,
    That can translate the stubbornness of fortune
    Into so quiet and so sweet a style.
  • Duke. Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
    And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools, 570
    Being native burghers of this desert city,
    Should, in their own confines, with forked heads
    Have their round haunches gor'd.
  • First Lord. Indeed, my lord,
    The melancholy Jaques grieves at that; 575
    And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
    Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.
    To-day my Lord of Amiens and myself
    Did steal behind him as he lay along
    Under an oak whose antique root peeps out 580
    Upon the brook that brawls along this wood!
    To the which place a poor sequest'red stag,
    That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
    Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
    The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans 585
    That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
    Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
    Cours'd one another down his innocent nose
    In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,
    Much marked of the melancholy Jaques, 590
    Stood on th' extremest verge of the swift brook,
    Augmenting it with tears.
  • Duke. But what said Jaques?
    Did he not moralize this spectacle?
  • First Lord. O, yes, into a thousand similes. 595
    First, for his weeping into the needless stream:
    'Poor deer,' quoth he 'thou mak'st a testament
    As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
    To that which had too much.' Then, being there alone,
    Left and abandoned of his velvet friends: 600
    'Tis right'; quoth he 'thus misery doth part
    The flux of company.' Anon, a careless herd,
    Full of the pasture, jumps along by him
    And never stays to greet him. 'Ay,' quoth Jaques
    'Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens; 605
    'Tis just the fashion. Wherefore do you look
    Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?'
    Thus most invectively he pierceth through
    The body of the country, city, court,
    Yea, and of this our life; swearing that we 610
    Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse,
    To fright the animals, and to kill them up
    In their assign'd and native dwelling-place.
  • Duke. And did you leave him in this contemplation?
  • Second Lord. We did, my lord, weeping and commenting 615
    Upon the sobbing deer.
  • Duke. Show me the place;
    I love to cope him in these sullen fits,
    For then he's full of matter.
  • First Lord. I'll bring you to him straight. Exeunt 620