ULYSSES. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-siz'd monster of ingratitudes. Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done. Perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright. To have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mock'ry. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow - Where one but goes abreast. Keep then the path, For emulation hath a thousand sons That one by one pursue; if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an ent'red tide they all rush by And leave you hindmost; Or, like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O'er-run and trampled on. Then what they do in present, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours; For Time is like a fashionable host, That slightly shakes his parting guest by th' hand; And with his arms out-stretch'd, as he would fly, Grasps in the corner. The welcome ever smiles, And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all To envious and calumniating Time. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin- That all with one consent praise new-born gawds, Though they are made and moulded of things past, And give to dust that is a little gilt More laud than gilt o'er-dusted. The present eye praises the present object. Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax, Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what stirs not. The cry went once on thee, And still it might, and yet it may again, If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive And case thy reputation in thy tent, Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves, And drave great Mars to faction.

ACHILLES. Of this my privacy I have strong reasons.

ULYSSES. But 'gainst your privacy The reasons are more potent and heroical. 'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love With one of Priam's daughters.

ACHILLES. Ha! known!

ULYSSES. Is that a wonder? The providence that's in a watchful state Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold; Finds bottom in th' uncomprehensive deeps; Keeps place with thought, and almost, like the gods, Do thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles. There is a mystery-with whom relation Durst never meddle-in the soul of state, Which hath an operation more divine Than breath or pen can give expressure to. All the commerce that you have had with Troy As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord; And better would it fit Achilles much To throw down Hector than Polyxena. But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home, When fame shall in our island sound her trump, And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing 'Great Hector's sister did Achilles win; But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.' Farewell, my lord. I as your lover speak. The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.


PATROCLUS. To this effect, Achilles, have I mov'd you. A woman impudent and mannish grown Is not more loath'd than an effeminate man In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this; They think my little stomach to the war And your great love to me restrains you thus. Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold, And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane, Be shook to airy air.

ACHILLES. Shall Ajax fight with Hector?

PATROCLUS. Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.

ACHILLES. I see my reputation is at stake; My fame is shrewdly gor'd.

PATROCLUS. O, then, beware: Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves; Omission to do what is necessary Seals a commission to a blank of danger; And danger, like an ague, subtly taints Even then when they sit idly in the sun.

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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