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As You Like It

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Act II, Scene 7

The forest


A table set out. Enter DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and LORDS, like outlaws

  • Duke. I think he be transform'd into a beast;
    For I can nowhere find him like a man. 895
  • First Lord. My lord, he is but even now gone hence;
    Here was he merry, hearing of a song.
  • Duke. If he, compact of jars, grow musical,
    We shall have shortly discord in the spheres.
    Go seek him; tell him I would speak with him. 900


  • First Lord. He saves my labour by his own approach.
  • Duke. Why, how now, monsieur! what a life is this,
    That your poor friends must woo your company?
    What, you look merrily! 905
  • Jaques (lord). A fool, a fool! I met a fool i' th' forest,
    A motley fool. A miserable world!
    As I do live by food, I met a fool,
    Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun,
    And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good terms, 910
    In good set terms- and yet a motley fool.
    'Good morrow, fool,' quoth I; 'No, sir,' quoth he,
    'Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune.'
    And then he drew a dial from his poke,
    And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye, 915
    Says very wisely, 'It is ten o'clock;
    Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags;
    'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine;
    And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
    And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, 920
    And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
    And thereby hangs a tale.' When I did hear
    The motley fool thus moral on the time,
    My lungs began to crow like chanticleer
    That fools should be so deep contemplative; 925
    And I did laugh sans intermission
    An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
    A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.
  • Duke. What fool is this?
  • Jaques (lord). O worthy fool! One that hath been a courtier, 930
    And says, if ladies be but young and fair,
    They have the gift to know it; and in his brain,
    Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
    After a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd
    With observation, the which he vents 935
    In mangled forms. O that I were a fool!
    I am ambitious for a motley coat.
  • Duke. Thou shalt have one.
  • Jaques (lord). It is my only suit,
    Provided that you weed your better judgments 940
    Of all opinion that grows rank in them
    That I am wise. I must have liberty
    Withal, as large a charter as the wind,
    To blow on whom I please, for so fools have;
    And they that are most galled with my folly, 945
    They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so?
    The why is plain as way to parish church:
    He that a fool doth very wisely hit
    Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
    Not to seem senseless of the bob; if not, 950
    The wise man's folly is anatomiz'd
    Even by the squand'ring glances of the fool.
    Invest me in my motley; give me leave
    To speak my mind, and I will through and through
    Cleanse the foul body of th' infected world, 955
    If they will patiently receive my medicine.
  • Duke. Fie on thee! I can tell what thou wouldst do.
  • Duke. Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin;
    For thou thyself hast been a libertine, 960
    As sensual as the brutish sting itself;
    And all th' embossed sores and headed evils
    That thou with license of free foot hast caught
    Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.
  • Jaques (lord). Why, who cries out on pride 965
    That can therein tax any private party?
    Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,
    Till that the wearer's very means do ebb?
    What woman in the city do I name
    When that I say the city-woman bears 970
    The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders?
    Who can come in and say that I mean her,
    When such a one as she such is her neighbour?
    Or what is he of basest function
    That says his bravery is not on my cost, 975
    Thinking that I mean him, but therein suits
    His folly to the mettle of my speech?
    There then! how then? what then? Let me see wherein
    My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right,
    Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free, 980
    Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies,
    Unclaim'd of any man. But who comes here?

Enter ORLANDO with his sword drawn

  • Orlando. Forbear, and eat no more.
  • Orlando. Nor shalt not, till necessity be serv'd.
  • Duke. Art thou thus bolden'd, man, by thy distress?
    Or else a rude despiser of good manners,
    That in civility thou seem'st so empty? 990
  • Orlando. You touch'd my vein at first: the thorny point
    Of bare distress hath ta'en from me the show
    Of smooth civility; yet am I inland bred,
    And know some nurture. But forbear, I say;
    He dies that touches any of this fruit 995
    Till I and my affairs are answered.
  • Jaques (lord). An you will not be answer'd with reason, I must die.
  • Duke. What would you have? Your gentleness shall force
    More than your force move us to gentleness.
  • Orlando. I almost die for food, and let me have it. 1000
  • Duke. Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
  • Orlando. Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you;
    I thought that all things had been savage here,
    And therefore put I on the countenance
    Of stern commandment. But whate'er you are 1005
    That in this desert inaccessible,
    Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
    Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time;
    If ever you have look'd on better days,
    If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church, 1010
    If ever sat at any good man's feast,
    If ever from your eyelids wip'd a tear,
    And know what 'tis to pity and be pitied,
    Let gentleness my strong enforcement be;
    In the which hope I blush, and hide my sword. 1015
  • Duke. True is it that we have seen better days,
    And have with holy bell been knoll'd to church,
    And sat at good men's feasts, and wip'd our eyes
    Of drops that sacred pity hath engend'red;
    And therefore sit you down in gentleness, 1020
    And take upon command what help we have
    That to your wanting may be minist'red.
  • Orlando. Then but forbear your food a little while,
    Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn,
    And give it food. There is an old poor man 1025
    Who after me hath many a weary step
    Limp'd in pure love; till he be first suffic'd,
    Oppress'd with two weak evils, age and hunger,
    I will not touch a bit.
  • Duke. Go find him out. 1030
    And we will nothing waste till you return.
  • Orlando. I thank ye; and be blest for your good comfort! Exit
  • Duke. Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
    This wide and universal theatre
    Presents more woeful pageants than the scene 1035
    Wherein we play in.
  • Jaques (lord). All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts, 1040
    His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
    Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, 1045
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation 1050
    Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts 1055
    Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes 1060
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

Re-enter ORLANDO with ADAM

  • Duke. Welcome. Set down your venerable burden,
    And let him feed.
  • Orlando. I thank you most for him.
  • Adam. So had you need;
    I scarce can speak to thank you for myself. 1070
  • Duke. Welcome; fall to. I will not trouble you
    As yet to question you about your fortunes.
    Give us some music; and, good cousin, sing.
    Blow, blow, thou winter wind, 1075
    Thou art not so unkind
    As man's ingratitude;
    Thy tooth is not so keen,
    Because thou art not seen,
    Although thy breath be rude. 1080
    Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly.
    Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
    Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
    This life is most jolly.
    Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky, 1085
    That dost not bite so nigh
    As benefits forgot;
    Though thou the waters warp,
    Thy sting is not so sharp
    As friend rememb'red not. 1090
    Heigh-ho! sing, &c.
  • Duke. If that you were the good Sir Rowland's son,
    As you have whisper'd faithfully you were,
    And as mine eye doth his effigies witness
    Most truly limn'd and living in your face, 1095
    Be truly welcome hither. I am the Duke
    That lov'd your father. The residue of your fortune,
    Go to my cave and tell me. Good old man,
    Thou art right welcome as thy master is.
    Support him by the arm. Give me your hand, 1100
    And let me all your fortunes understand. Exeunt