7. SCENE VII. Another part of the Forest.
O worthy fool!--One that hath been a courtier,
And says, if ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it: and in his brain,--
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
After a voyage,--he hath strange places cramm'd
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms.-O that I were a fool!
I am ambitious for a motley coat.
Thou shalt have one.
It is my only suit,
Provided that you weed your better judgments
Of all opinion that grows rank in them
That I am wise. I must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind,
To blow on whom I please; for so fools have:
And they that are most galled with my folly,
They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so?
The 'why' is plain as way to parish church:
He that a fool doth very wisely hit
Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
Not to seem senseless of the bob; if not,
The wise man's folly is anatomiz'd
Even by the squandering glances of the fool.
Invest me in my motley; give me leave
To speak my mind, and I will through and through
Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,
If they will patiently receive my medicine.
Fie on thee! I can tell what thou wouldst do.
What, for a counter, would I do but good?
Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin;
For thou thyself hast been a libertine,
As sensual as the brutish sting itself;
And all the embossed sores and headed evils
That thou with license of free foot hast caught
Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.
Why, who cries out on pride
That can therein tax any private party?
Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,
Till that the weary very means do ebb?
What woman in the city do I name
When that I say, The city-woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders?
Who can come in and say that I mean her,
When such a one as she, such is her neighbour?
Or what is he of basest function
That says his bravery is not on my cost,--
Thinking that I mean him,--but therein suits
His folly to the metal of my speech?
There then; how then? what then? Let me see wherein
My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right,
Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free,
Why then, my taxing like a wild-goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.--But who comes here?