A BRIEF Proem to the Fourth Book prepares us for the treachery of Fortune to Troilus; from whom she turned away her bright face, and took of him no heed, "and cast him clean out of his lady's grace, and on her wheel she set up Diomede." Then the narrative describes a skirmish in which the Trojans were worsted, and Antenor, with many of less note, remained in the hands of the Greeks. A truce was proclaimed for the exchange of prisoners; and as soon as Calchas heard the news, he came to the assembly of the Greeks, to "bid a boon." Having gained audience, he reminded the besiegers how he had come from Troy to aid and encourage them in their enterprise; willing to lose all that he had in the city, except his daughter Cressida, whom he bitterly reproached himself for leaving behind. And now, with streaming tears and pitiful prayer, he besought them to exchange Antenor for Cressida; assuring them that the day was at hand when they should have both town and people. The soothsayer's petition was granted; and the ambassadors charged to negotiate the exchange, entering the city, told their errand to King Priam and his parliament.
THE FOURTH BOOK
This Troilus was present in the place
When asked was for Antenor Cresside;
For which to change soon began his face,
As he that with the wordes well nigh died;
But natheless he no word to it seid;*
Lest men should his affection espy,
With manne's heart he gan his sorrows drie;*
And, full of anguish and of grisly dread,
Abode what other lords would to it say,
And if they woulde grant, - as God forbid! -
Th'exchange of her, then thought he thinges tway:*
First, for to save her honour; and what way
He mighte best th'exchange of her withstand;
This cast he then how all this mighte stand.
Love made him alle *prest to do her bide,*
*eager to make her stay*
And rather die than that she shoulde go;
But Reason said him, on the other side,
"Without th'assent of her, do thou not so,
Lest for thy worke she would be thy foe;
And say, that through thy meddling is y-blow* *divulged, blown abroad
Your bothe love, where it was *erst unknow."*
For which he gan deliberate for the best,
That though the lordes woulde that she went,
He woulde suffer them grant what *them lest,*
And tell his lady first what that they meant;
And, when that she had told him her intent,
Thereafter would he worken all so blive,*
Though all the world against it woulde strive.
Hector, which that full well the Greekes heard,
For Antenor how they would have Cresseide,
Gan it withstand, and soberly answer'd;
"Sirs, she is no prisoner," he said;
"I know not on you who this charge laid;
But, for my part, ye may well soon him tell,
We use* here no women for to sell."
The noise of the people then upstart at once,
As breme* as blaze of straw y-set on fire
For Infortune* woulde for the nonce
They shoulde their confusion desire
"Hector," quoth they, "what ghost* may you inspire
This woman thus to shield, and *do us* lose
*cause us to*
Dan Antenor? - a wrong way now ye choose, -
"That is so wise, and eke so bold baroun;
And we have need of folk, as men may see
He eke is one the greatest of this town;
O Hector! lette such fantasies be!
O King Priam!" quoth they, "lo! thus say we,
That all our will is to forego Cresseide;"
And to deliver Antenor they pray'd.
Though Hector often prayed them "nay," it was resolved that
Cressida should be given up for Antenor; then the parliament
dispersed. Troilus hastened home to his chamber, shut himself
up alone, and threw himself on his bed.
And as in winter leaves be bereft,
Each after other, till the tree be bare,
So that there is but bark and branch y-left,
Lay Troilus, bereft of each welfare,
Y-bounden in the blacke bark of care,
Disposed *wood out of his wit to braid,*
*to go out of his senses*
*So sore him sat* the changing of Cresseide.
*so ill did he bear*
He rose him up, and ev'ry door he shet,*
And window eke; and then this sorrowful man
Upon his bedde's side adown him set,
Full like a dead image, pale and wan,
And in his breast the heaped woe began
Out burst, and he to worken in this wise,
In his woodness,* as I shall you devise.**
Right as the wilde bull begins to spring,
Now here, now there, y-darted* to the heart,
*pierced with a dart
And of his death roareth in complaining;
Right so gan he about the chamber start,
Smiting his breast aye with his fistes smart;*
His head to the wall, his body to the ground,
Full oft he swapt,* himselfe to confound.
His eyen then, for pity of his heart,
Out streameden as swifte welles* tway;
The highe sobbes of his sorrow's smart
His speech him reft; unnethes* might he say,
"O Death, alas! *why n'ilt thou do me dey?*
*why will you not
Accursed be that day which that Nature
make me die?*
Shope* me to be a living creature!"
Bitterly reviling Fortune, and calling on Love to explain why his
happiness with Cressicla should be thus repealed, Troilus
declares that, while he lives, he will bewail his misfortune in
solitude, and will never see it shine or rain, but will end his
sorrowful life in darkness, and die in distress.
"O weary ghost, that errest to and fro!
Why n'ilt* thou fly out of the woefulest
Body that ever might on grounde go?
O soule, lurking in this woeful nest!
Flee forth out of my heart, and let it brest,*
And follow alway Cresside, thy lady dear!
Thy righte place is now no longer here.
"O woeful eyen two! since your disport*
Was all to see Cressida's eyen bright,
What shall ye do, but, for my discomfort,
Stande for naught, and weepen out your sight,
Since she is quench'd, that wont was you to light?
In vain, from this forth, have I eyen tway
Y-formed, since your virtue is away!
"O my Cresside! O lady sovereign
Of thilke* woeful soule that now cryeth!
Who shall now give comfort to thy pain?
Alas! no wight; but, when my hearte dieth,
My spirit, which that so unto you hieth,*
Receive *in gree,* for that shall ay you serve;
*Forthy no force is* though the body sterve.*
*therefore no matter*
"O ye lovers, that high upon the wheel
Be set of Fortune, in good adventure,
God lene* that ye find ay** love of steel,<69>
And longe may your life in joy endure!
But when ye come by my sepulture,*
Remember that your fellow resteth there;
For I lov'd eke, though I unworthy were.
"O old, unwholesome, and mislived man,
Calchas I mean, alas! what ailed thee
To be a Greek, since thou wert born Trojan?
O Calchas! which that will my bane* be,
In cursed time wert thou born for me!
As woulde blissful Jove, for his joy,
That I thee hadde where I would in Troy!"
Soon Troilus, through excess of grief, fell into a trance; in
which he was found by Pandarus, who had gone almost
distracted at the news that Cressida was to be exchanged for
Antenor. At his friend's arrival, Troilus "gan as the snow against
the sun to melt;" the two mingled their tears a while; then
Pandarus strove to comfort the woeful lover. He admitted that
never had a stranger ruin than this been wrought by Fortune:
"But tell me this, why thou art now so mad
To sorrow thus? Why li'st thou in this wise,
Since thy desire all wholly hast thou had,
So that by right it ought enough suffice?
But I, that never felt in my service
A friendly cheer or looking of an eye,
Let me thus weep and wail until I die. <70>
"And over all this, as thou well wost* thy selve,
This town is full of ladies all about,
And, *to my doom,* fairer than suche twelve
*in my judgment*
As ever she was, shall I find in some rout,*
Yea! one or two, withouten any doubt:
Forthy* be glad, mine owen deare brother!
If she be lost, we shall recover another.
"What! God forbid alway that each pleasance
In one thing were, and in none other wight;
If one can sing, another can well dance;
If this be goodly, she is glad and light;
And this is fair, and that can good aright;
Each for his virtue holden is full dear,
Both heroner, and falcon for rivere. <71>
"And eke as writ Zausis,<72> that was full wise,
The newe love out chaseth oft the old,
And upon new case lieth new advice; <73>
Think eke thy life to save thou art hold;*
Such fire *by process shall of kinde cold;*
*shall grow cold by
For, since it is but casual pleasance,
process of nature*
Some case* shall put it out of remembrance.
"For, all so sure as day comes after night,
The newe love, labour, or other woe,
Or elles seldom seeing of a wight,
Do old affections all *over go;*
And for thy part, thou shalt have one of tho*
T'abridge with thy bitter paine's smart;
Absence of her shall drive her out of heart."
These wordes said he *for the nones all,*
*only for the nonce*
To help his friend, lest he for sorrow died;
For, doubteless, to do his woe to fall,*
*make his woe subside*
He raughte* not what unthrift** that he said;
But Troilus, that nigh for sorrow died,
Took little heed of all that ever he meant;
One ear it heard, at th'other out it went.
But, at the last, he answer'd and said,
"Friend, This leachcraft, or y-healed thus to be,
Were well sitting* if that I were a fiend,
To traisen* her that true is unto me:
I pray God, let this counsel never the,*
But do me rather sterve* anon right here,
Ere I thus do, as thou me wouldest lear!"*
Troilus protests that his lady shall have him wholly hers till
death; and, debating the counsels of his friend, declares that
even if he would, he could not love another. Then he points out
the folly of not lamenting the loss of Cressida because she had
been his in ease and felicity - while Pandarus himself, though
he thought it so light to change to and fro in love, had not done
busily his might to change her that wrought him all the woe of
his unprosperous suit.
"If thou hast had in love ay yet mischance,
And canst it not out of thine hearte drive,
I that lived in lust* and in pleasance
With her, as much as creature alive,
How should I that forget, and that so blive?*
O where hast thou been so long hid in mew,*<74>
That canst so well and formally argue!"
The lover condemns the whole discourse of his friend as
unworthy, and calls on Death, the ender of all sorrows, to come
to him and quench his heart with his cold stroke. Then he distils
anew in tears, "as liquor out of alembic;" and Pandarus is silent
for a while, till he bethinks him to recommend to Troilus the
carrying off of Cressida. "Art thou in Troy, and hast no
hardiment [daring, boldness] to take a woman which that loveth
thee?" But Troilus reminds his counsellor that all the war had
come from the ravishing of a woman by might (the abduction of
Helen by Paris); and that it would not beseem him to withstand
his father's grant, since the lady was to be changed for the
town's good. He has dismissed the thought of asking Cressida
from his father, because that would be to injure her fair fame, to
no purpose, for Priam could not overthrow the decision of "so
high a place as parliament;" while most of all he fears to perturb
her heart with violence, to the slander of her name - for he
must hold her honour dearer than himself in every case, as
lovers ought of right:
"Thus am I in desire and reason twight:*
Desire, for to disturbe her, me redeth;*
And Reason will not, so my hearte dreadeth."*
*is in doubt
Thus weeping, that he coulde never cease
He said, "Alas! how shall I, wretche, fare?
For well feel I alway my love increase,
And hope is less and less alway, Pandare!
Increasen eke the causes of my care;
So well-away! *why n' ill my hearte brest?*
*why will not
For us in love there is but little rest."
my heart break?*
Pandare answered, "Friend, thou may'st for me
Do as thee list;* but had I it so hot,
And thine estate,* she shoulde go with me!
Though all this town cried on this thing by note,
I would not set* all that noise a groat;
For when men have well cried, then will they rown,*
Eke wonder lasts but nine nights ne'er in town.
"Divine not in reason ay so deep,
Nor courteously, but help thyself anon;
Bet* is that others than thyselfe weep;
And namely, since ye two be all one,
Rise up, for, by my head, she shall not go'n!
And rather be in blame a little found,
Than sterve* here as a gnat withoute wound!
"It is no shame unto you, nor no vice,
Her to withholde, that ye loveth most;
Parauntre* she might holde thee for nice,**
To let her go thus unto the Greeks' host;
Think eke, Fortune, as well thyselfe wost,
Helpeth the hardy man to his emprise,
And weiveth* wretches for their cowardice.
"And though thy lady would a lite* her grieve,
Thou shalt thyself thy peace thereafter make;
But, as to me, certain I cannot 'lieve
That she would it as now for evil take:
Why shoulde then for fear thine hearte quake?
Think eke how Paris hath, that is thy brother,
A love; and why shalt thou not have another?
"And, Troilus, one thing I dare thee swear,
That if Cressida, which that is thy lief,*
Now loveth thee as well as thou dost her,
God help me so, she will not take agrief*
Though thou *anon do boot in* this mischief;
*provide a remedy
And if she willeth from thee for to pass,
Then is she false, so love her well the lass.*
"Forthy,* take heart, and think, right as a knight,
Through love is broken all day ev'ry law;
Kithe* now somewhat thy courage and thy might;
Have mercy on thyself, *for any awe;*
*in spite of any fear*
Let not this wretched woe thine hearte gnaw;
But, manly, set the world on six and seven, <75>
And, if thou die a martyr, go to heaven."
Pandarus promises his friend all aid in the enterprise; it is agreed
that Cressida shall be carried off, but only with her own
consent; and Pandarus sets out for his niece's house, to arrange
an interview. Meantime Cressida has heard the news; and,
caring nothing for her father, but everything for Troilus, she
burns in love and fear, unable to tell what she shall do.
But, as men see in town, and all about,
That women use* friendes to visite,
So to Cresside of women came a rout,*
For piteous joy, and *weened her delight,*
*thought to please her*
And with their tales, *dear enough a mite,*
*not worth a mite*
These women, which that in the city dwell,
They set them down, and said as I shall tell.
Quoth first that one, "I am glad, truely,
Because of you, that shall your father see;"
Another said, "Y-wis, so am not I,
For all too little hath she with us be."*
Quoth then the third, "I hope, y-wis, that she
Shall bringen us the peace on ev'ry side;
Then, when she goes, Almighty God her guide!"
Those wordes, and those womanishe thinges,
She heard them right as though she thennes* were,
*thence; in some
For, God it wot, her heart on other thing is;
Although the body sat among them there,
Her advertence* is always elleswhere;
For Troilus full fast her soule sought;
Withoute word, on him alway she thought.
These women that thus weened her to please,
Aboute naught gan all their tales spend;
Such vanity ne can do her no ease,
As she that all this meane while brenn'd
Of other passion than that they wend;*
So that she felt almost her hearte die
For woe, and weary* of that company.
For whiche she no longer might restrain
Her teares, they began so up to well,
That gave signes of her bitter pain,
In which her spirit was, and muste dwell,
Rememb'ring her from heav'n into which hell
She fallen was, since she forwent* the sight
Of Troilus; and sorrowfully she sight.*
And thilke fooles, sitting her about,
Weened that she had wept and siked* sore,
Because that she should out of that rout*
Depart, and never playe with them more;
And they that hadde knowen her of yore
Saw her so weep, and thought it kindeness,
And each of them wept eke for her distress.
And busily they gonnen* her comfort
Of thing, God wot, on which she little thought;
And with their tales weened her disport,
And to be glad they her besought;
But such an ease therewith they in her wrought,
Right as a man is eased for to feel,
For ache of head, to claw him on his heel.
But, after all this nice* vanity,
They took their leave, and home they wenten all;
Cressida, full of sorrowful pity,
Into her chamber up went out of the hall,
And on her bed she gan for dead to fall,
In purpose never thennes for to rise;
And thus she wrought, as I shall you devise.*
She rent her sunny hair, wrung her hands, wept, and bewailed
her fate; vowing that, since, "for the cruelty," she could handle
neither sword nor dart, she would abstain from meat and drink
until she died. As she lamented, Pandarus entered, making her
complain a thousand times more at the thought of all the joy
which he had given her with her lover; but he somewhat
soothed her by the prospect of Troilus's visit, and by the
counsel to contain her grief when he should come. Then
Pandarus went in search of Troilus, whom he found solitary in a
temple, as one that had ceased to care for life:
For right thus was his argument alway:
He said he was but lorne,* well-away!
"For all that comes, comes by necessity;
Thus, to be lorn,* it is my destiny.
"For certainly this wot I well," he said,
"That foresight of the divine purveyance*
Hath seen alway me to forgo* Cresseide,
Since God sees ev'ry thing, *out of doubtance,*
And them disposeth, through his ordinance,
In their merites soothly for to be,
As they should come by predestiny.
"But natheless, alas! whom shall I 'lieve?
For there be greate clerkes* many one
That destiny through argumentes preve,
And some say that needly* there is none,
But that free choice is giv'n us ev'ry one;
O well-away! so sly are clerkes old,
That I n'ot* whose opinion I may hold. <76>
"For some men say, if God sees all beforn,
Godde may not deceived be, pardie!
Then must it fallen,* though men had it sworn,
That purveyance hath seen before to be;
Wherefore I say, that from etern* if he
Hath wist* before our thought eke as our deed,
We have no free choice, as these clerkes read.*
"For other thought, nor other deed also,
Might never be, but such as purveyance,
Which may not be deceived never mo',
Hath feeled* before, without ignorance;
For if there mighte be a variance,
To writhen out from Godde's purveying,
There were no prescience of thing coming,
"But it were rather an opinion
Uncertain, and no steadfast foreseeing;
And, certes, that were an abusion,*
That God should have no perfect clear weeting,*
More than we men, that have *doubtous weening;*
But such an error *upon God to guess,*
*to impute to God*
Were false, and foul, and wicked cursedness.*
"Eke this is an opinion of some
That have their top full high and smooth y-shore, <77>
They say right thus, that thing is not to come,
For* that the prescience hath seen before
That it shall come; but they say, that therefore
That it shall come, therefore the purveyance
Wot it before, withouten ignorance.
"And, in this manner, this necessity
*Returneth in his part contrary again;*
*reacts in the opposite
For needfully behoves it not to be,
That thilke thinges *fallen in certain,*
That be purvey'd; but needly, as they sayn,
Behoveth it that thinges, which that fall,
That they in certain be purveyed all.
"I mean as though I labour'd me in this
To inquire which thing cause of which thing be;
As, whether that the prescience of God is
The certain cause of the necessity
Of thinges that to come be, pardie!
Or if necessity of thing coming
Be cause certain of the purveying.
"But now *enforce I me not* in shewing
*I do not lay stress*
How th'order of causes stands; but well wot I,
That it behoveth, that the befalling
Of thinges wiste* before certainly,
Be necessary, *all seem it not* thereby, *though it does not appear*
That prescience put falling necessair
To thing to come, all fall it foul or fair.
"For, if there sit a man yond on a see,*
Then by necessity behoveth it
That certes thine opinion sooth be,
That weenest, or conjectest,* that he sit;
And, furtherover, now againward yet,
Lo! right so is it on the part contrary;
As thus, - now hearken, for I will not tarry; -
"I say that if th'opinion of thee
Be sooth, for that he sits, then say I this,
That he must sitte by necessity;
And thus necessity in either is,
For in him need of sitting is, y-wis,
And, in thee, need of sooth; and thus forsooth
There must necessity be in you both.
"But thou may'st say he sits not therefore
That thine opinion of his sitting sooth
But rather, for the man sat there before,
Therefore is thine opinion sooth, y-wis;
And I say, though the cause of sooth of this
Comes of his sitting, yet necessity
Is interchanged both in him and thee.
"Thus in the same wise, out of doubtance,
I may well maken, as it seemeth me,
My reasoning of Godde's purveyance,
And of the thinges that to come be;
By whiche reason men may well y-see
That thilke* thinges that in earthe fall,**
That by necessity they comen all.
"For although that a thing should come, y-wis,
Therefore it is purveyed certainly,
Not that it comes for it purveyed is;
Yet, natheless, behoveth needfully
That thing to come be purvey'd truely;
Or elles thinges that purveyed be,
That they betide* by necessity.
"And this sufficeth right enough, certain,
For to destroy our free choice ev'ry deal;
But now is this abusion,* to sayn
That falling of the thinges temporel
Is cause of Godde's prescience eternel;
Now truely that is a false sentence,*
That thing to come should cause his prescience.
"What might I ween, an'* I had such a thought,
But that God purveys thing that is to come,
For that it is to come, and elles nought?
So might I ween that thinges, all and some,
That *whilom be befall and overcome,*
Be cause of thilke sov'reign purveyance,
in times past*
That foreknows all, withouten ignorance.
"And over all this, yet say I more thereto, -
That right as when I wot there is a thing,
Y-wis, that thing must needfully be so;
Eke right so, when I wot a thing coming,
So must it come; and thus the befalling
Of thinges that be wist before the tide,*
They may not be eschew'd* on any side."
While Troilus was in all this heaviness, disputing with himself in
this matter, Pandarus joined him, and told him the result of the
interview with Cressida; and at night the lovers met, with what
sighs and tears may be imagined. Cressida swooned away, so
that Troilus took her for dead; and, having tenderly laid out her
limbs, as one preparing a corpse for the bier, he drew his sword
to slay himself upon her body. But, as God would, just at that
moment she awoke out of her swoon; and by and by the pair
began to talk of their prospects. Cressida declared the opinion,
supporting it at great length and with many reasons, that there
was no cause for half so much woe on either part. Her
surrender, decreed by the parliament, could not be resisted; it
was quite easy for them soon to meet again; she would bring
things about that she should be back in Troy within a week or
two; she would take advantage of the constant coming and
going while the truce lasted; and the issue would be, that the
Trojans would have both her and Antenor; while, to facilitate
her return, she had devised a stratagem by which, working on
her father's avarice, she might tempt him to desert from the
Greek camp back to the city. "And truly," says the poet, having
fully reported her plausible speech,
And truely, as written well I find,
That all this thing was said *of good intent,*
And that her hearte true was and kind
Towardes him, and spake right as she meant,
And that she starf* for woe nigh when she went,
And was in purpose ever to be true;
Thus write they that of her workes knew.
This Troilus, with heart and ears y-sprad,*
Heard all this thing devised to and fro,
And verily it seemed that he had
*The selfe wit;* but yet to let her go
*the same opinion*
His hearte misforgave* him evermo';
But, finally, he gan his hearte wrest*
To truste her, and took it for the best.
For which the great fury of his penance*
Was quench'd with hope, and therewith them between
Began for joy the amorouse dance;
And as the birdes, when the sun is sheen,
Delighten in their song, in leaves green,
Right so the wordes that they spake y-fere*
Delighten them, and make their heartes cheer.*
Yet Troilus was not so well at ease, that he did not earnestly
entreat Cressida to observe her promise; for, if she came not
into Troy at the set day, he should never have health, honour, or
joy; and he feared that the stratagem by which she would try to
lure her father back would fail, so that she might be compelled
to remain among the Greeks. He would rather have them steal
away together, with sufficient treasure to maintain them all their
lives; and even if they went in their bare shirt, he had kin and
friends elsewhere, who would welcome and honour them.
Cressida, with a sigh, right in this wise
Answer'd; "Y-wis, my deare hearte true,
We may well steal away, as ye devise,
And finde such unthrifty wayes new;
But afterward full sore *it will us rue;*
*we will regret it*
And help me God so at my moste need
As causeless ye suffer all this dread!
"For thilke* day that I for cherishing
Or dread of father, or of other wight,
Or for estate, delight, or for wedding,
Be false to you, my Troilus, my knight,
Saturne's daughter Juno, through her might,
As wood* as Athamante <78> do me dwell
Eternally in Styx the pit of hell!
"And this, on ev'ry god celestial
I swear it you, and eke on each goddess,
On ev'ry nymph, and deity infernal,
On Satyrs and on Faunes more or less,
That *halfe goddes* be of wilderness;
And Atropos my thread of life to-brest,*
If I be false! now trow* me if you lest.**
"And thou Simois, <79> that as an arrow clear
Through Troy ay runnest downward to the sea,
Bear witness of this word that said is here!
That thilke day that I untrue be
To Troilus, mine owen hearte free,
That thou returne backward to thy well,
And I with body and soul sink in hell!"
Even yet Troilus was not wholly content, and urged anew his
plan of secret flight; but Cressida turned upon him with the
charge that he mistrusted her causelessly, and demanded of him
that he should be faithful in her absence, else she must die at her
return. Troilus promised faithfulness in far simpler and briefer
words than Cressida had used.
"Grand mercy, good heart mine, y-wis," quoth she;
"And blissful Venus let me never sterve,*
Ere I may stand *of pleasance in degree
in a position to reward
To quite him* that so well can deserve;
him well with pleasure*
And while that God my wit will me conserve,
I shall so do; so true I have you found,
That ay honour to me-ward shall rebound.
"For truste well that your estate* royal,
Nor vain delight, nor only worthiness
Of you in war or tourney martial,
Nor pomp, array, nobley, nor eke richess,
Ne made me to rue* on your distress;
But moral virtue, grounded upon truth,
That was the cause I first had on you ruth.*
"Eke gentle heart, and manhood that ye had,
And that ye had, - as me thought, - in despite
Every thing that *sounded unto* bad,
*tended unto, accorded with*
As rudeness, and peoplish* appetite,
And that your reason bridled your delight;
This made, aboven ev'ry creature,
That I was yours, and shall while I may dure.
"And this may length of yeares not fordo,*
*destroy, do away
Nor remuable* Fortune deface;
But Jupiter, that of his might may do
The sorrowful to be glad, so give us grace,
Ere nightes ten to meeten in this place,
So that it may your heart and mine suffice!
And fare now well, for time is that ye rise."