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The strong-ribb’d bark through liquid mountains
cut, Bounding between the two moist elements, Like Perseus' horse: Where's then the saucy boat, Whose weak untimber'd sides but even now Co-rival'd greatness? either to harbour fled, Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so Doth valour's show, and valour's worth, divide In storms of fortune: For, in her ray and brightness, The herd hath more annoyance by the brize, Than by the tiger: but when the splitting wind Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks, And flies fled under shade, Why, then, the thing
of courage, As rous’d with rage, with rage doth sympathize, And with an accent tun'd in self-same key, Returns to chiding fortune. Ulyss.
Agamemnon, Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece, Heart of our numbers, soul and only spirit, In whom the tempers and the minds of all Should be shut up,—hear what Ulysses speaks. Besides the applause and approbation The which,—most mighty for thy place and sway,—
[To Agamemnon. And thou most reverend for thy stretch'd-out life,
[To Nestor. I give to both your speeches,—which were such, As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece Should hold up high in brass; and such again, As venerable Nestor, hatch'd in silver, Should with a bond of air (strong as the axletree
On which heaven rides,) knit all the Greekish ears
To his experienc'd tongue,—yet let it please both,
Thou great,—and wise,—to hear Ulysses speak.
Agam. Speak, prince of Ithaca; and be't of less
That matter needless, of importless burden,
Divide thy lips; than we are confident,
When rank Thersites opes his mastiff jaws,
We shall hear musick, wit, and oracle.
Ulyss. 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,
The 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 spherd 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 fixure? O, when degree is shak’d,
Which is the ladder of all high designs,
The enterprize is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce 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 sliould 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 every thing 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 disdaind
By him one step below; he, by the next;
That next, by him beneath: so every step,
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.
Nest. 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 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 beil, the livelong day Breaks scurril jests; And with ridiculous and aukward 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 unsquard,
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 as Vulcan and his wife:
Yet good 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, 0!-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.
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,