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Which is the ladder of all high designs,
The enterprize is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful comm 'rce from dividable shores,
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogative of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,
But by degree, stand in authentick place?
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
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 cndless jar justice resides,)
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every tiling 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;
Tli.11 next, by him beneath: so every<step,
VOL. IX. C C
Exampled 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.
Attrt. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd The fever whereof all our power is sick.
Agam. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, What is the remedy?
Ulyss. The great Achilles,—whom opinion crowns
And with ridiculous and aukward action
The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling,
From his deep chest laughs out a loud npplause;
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 as Vulcan and his wife:
Yet good Achilles still cries, Excellent!
'Tis Nestor right! Now play Mm 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, Of—enough, Pitroclus;—
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.
Nest. And in the imitation of these twain (Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns With an imperial voice,) many are infect. Ajax is grown self-will'd; and bears his head In such a rein, in full as proud a place As broad Achilles: keeps his tent like him; Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war,
Bold as an oracle: and sets Thersites
(A slave, whose gall coins slanders like a mint,)
To match us in comparisons with dirt;
To weaken and discredit our exposure,
19 How rank soever rounded in with danger.
Ulyss. They tax our policy, and call it cowardice) Count wisdom as no member of the war; Forestall prescience, and esteem no act But that of hand: the still and mental parts, — That do contrive how many hands shall strike, When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight,— Why, this hath not a finger's dignity: They call this — bed- work, mappery, closet war: So that the ram, that batters down the wall, For the great swing and rudeness of his poize, They place before his hand that made the engine; Or those, that with the fineness of their souls By reason guide his execution.
Nest. Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse Makes many Thetis' sous. [Trumpet soiusdi.
Agam. What trumpet? look, Menelaus.
Men. From Troy.
A gam. What would you 'fore our tent?
JEne. Is this
Great Agamemnon's tent, I pray?
May one, that is a herald, and a prince, Do a fair message to his kingly ears?
Agam. With surety stronger than Achilles' arm 'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice Call Agamemnon head and general.
JEne. Fair leave, and large security. How majr 13 A stranger to those most imperial looks Know them from eyes of other mortals?
I ask, that I might waken reverence,
Agam. This Trojan scorns us; or the men of Troy Are ceremdnious courtiers.
JEne. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm'd, As bending angels; that's their fame in peace: But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls. Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and, Jove's
Nothing so full of heart. But peace, ./Eneas,
Agam. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself /Eneas?