ULYSSES. Troy, yet upon his basis, had been down, And the great Hector's sword had lack'd a master, But for these instances: The specialty of rule hath been neglected; And look how many Grecian tents do stand Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions. When that the general is not like the hive, To whom the foragers shall all repair, What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded, Th' unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask. The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre, Observe degree, priority, and place, Insisture, course, proportion, season, form, Office, and custom, in all line of order; And therefore is the glorious planet Sol In noble eminence enthron'd and spher'd Amidst the other, whose med'cinable eye Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil, And posts, like the commandment of a king, Sans check, to good and bad. But when the planets In evil mixture to disorder wander, What plagues and what portents, what mutiny, What raging of the sea, shaking of earth, Commotion in the winds! Frights, changes, horrors, Divert and crack, rend and deracinate, The unity and married calm of states Quite from their fixture! O, when degree is shak'd, Which is the ladder of all high designs, The enterprise is sick! How could communities, Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, The primogenity and due of birth, Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels, But by degree, stand in authentic place? Take but degree away, untune that string, And hark what discord follows! Each thing melts In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores, And make a sop of all this solid globe; Strength should be lord of imbecility, And the rude son should strike his father dead; Force should be right; or, rather, right and wrong- Between whose endless jar justice resides- Should lose their names, and so should justice too. Then everything includes itself in power, Power into will, will into appetite; And appetite, an universal wolf, So doubly seconded with will and power, Must make perforce an universal prey, And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon, This chaos, when degree is suffocate, Follows the choking. And this neglection of degree it is That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose It hath to climb. The general's disdain'd By him one step below, he by the next, That next by him beneath; so ever step, Exampl'd by the first pace that is sick Of his superior, grows to an envious fever Of pale and bloodless emulation. And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot, Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length, Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.
NESTOR. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd The fever whereof all our power is sick.
AGAMEMNON. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, What is the remedy?
ULYSSES. The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host, Having his ear full of his airy fame, Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs; with him Patroclus Upon a lazy bed the livelong day Breaks scurril jests; And with ridiculous and awkward action- Which, slanderer, he imitation calls- He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Thy topless deputation he puts on; And like a strutting player whose conceit Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich To hear the wooden dialogue and sound 'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage- Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming He acts thy greatness in; and when he speaks 'Tis like a chime a-mending; with terms unsquar'd, Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp'd, Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling, From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause; Cries 'Excellent! 'tis Agamemnon just. Now play me Nestor; hem, and stroke thy beard, As he being drest to some oration.' That's done-as near as the extremest ends Of parallels, as like Vulcan and his wife; Yet god Achilles still cries 'Excellent! 'Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus, Arming to answer in a night alarm.' And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age Must be the scene of mirth: to cough and spit And, with a palsy-fumbling on his gorget, Shake in and out the rivet. And at this sport Sir Valour dies; cries 'O, enough, Patroclus; Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all In pleasure of my spleen.' And in this fashion All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, Severals and generals of grace exact, Achievements, plots, orders, preventions, Excitements to the field or speech for truce, Success or loss, what is or is not, serves As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.