ACT II. SCENE 2. Troy. PRIAM'S palace


PRIAM. After so many hours, lives, speeches, spent, Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks: 'Deliver Helen, and all damage else- As honour, loss of time, travail, expense, Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consum'd In hot digestion of this cormorant war- Shall be struck off.' Hector, what say you to't?

HECTOR. Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I, As far as toucheth my particular, Yet, dread Priam, There is no lady of more softer bowels, More spongy to suck in the sense of fear, More ready to cry out 'Who knows what follows?' Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety, Surety secure; but modest doubt is call'd The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches To th' bottom of the worst. Let Helen go. Since the first sword was drawn about this question, Every tithe soul 'mongst many thousand dismes Hath been as dear as Helen-I mean, of ours. If we have lost so many tenths of ours To guard a thing not ours, nor worth to us, Had it our name, the value of one ten, What merit's in that reason which denies The yielding of her up?

TROILUS. Fie, fie, my brother! Weigh you the worth and honour of a king, So great as our dread father's, in a scale Of common ounces? Will you with counters sum The past-proportion of his infinite, And buckle in a waist most fathomless With spans and inches so diminutive As fears and reasons? Fie, for godly shame!

HELENUS. No marvel though you bite so sharp at reasons, You are so empty of them. Should not our father Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons, Because your speech hath none that tells him so?

TROILUS. You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest; You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons: You know an enemy intends you harm; You know a sword employ'd is perilous, And reason flies the object of all harm. Who marvels, then, when Helenus beholds A Grecian and his sword, if he do set The very wings of reason to his heels And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove, Or like a star disorb'd? Nay, if we talk of reason, Let's shut our gates and sleep. Manhood and honour Should have hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts With this cramm'd reason. Reason and respect Make livers pale and lustihood deject.

HECTOR. Brother, she is not worth what she doth, cost The keeping.

TROILUS. What's aught but as 'tis valued?

HECTOR. But value dwells not in particular will: It holds his estimate and dignity As well wherein 'tis precious of itself As in the prizer. 'Tis mad idolatry To make the service greater than the god-I And the will dotes that is attributive To what infectiously itself affects, Without some image of th' affected merit.

TROILUS. I take to-day a wife, and my election Is led on in the conduct of my will; My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears, Two traded pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores Of will and judgment: how may I avoid, Although my will distaste what it elected, The wife I chose? There can be no evasion To blench from this and to stand firm by honour. We turn not back the silks upon the merchant When we have soil'd them; nor the remainder viands We do not throw in unrespective sieve, Because we now are full. It was thought meet Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks; Your breath with full consent benied his sails; The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce, And did him service. He touch'd the ports desir'd; And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes stale the morning. Why keep we her? The Grecians keep our aunt. Is she worth keeping? Why, she is a pearl Whose price hath launch'd above a thousand ships, And turn'd crown'd kings to merchants. If you'll avouch 'twas wisdom Paris went- As you must needs, for you all cried 'Go, go'- If you'll confess he brought home worthy prize- As you must needs, for you all clapp'd your hands, And cried 'Inestimable!' -why do you now The issue of your proper wisdoms rate, And do a deed that never fortune did- Beggar the estimation which you priz'd Richer than sea and land? O theft most base, That we have stol'n what we do fear to keep! But thieves unworthy of a thing so stol'n That in their country did them that disgrace We fear to warrant in our native place!

The History of Troilus and Cressida Page 16

William Shakespeare Plays

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book