As You Like It

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

TOUCHSTONE

I durst go no further than the lie circumstantial, nor he durst not give me the lie direct, and so we measured swords and parted.

TOUCHSTONE

I didn’t dare take it past “the circumstantial lie,” and he didn’t dare go to the “

direct lie

Before a duel, opponents usually compared the length of their swords.

direct lie
,” so we compared the lengths of our swords and then ended the fight.

JAQUES

Can you nominate in order now the degrees of the lie?

JAQUES

Can you name the steps of that argument again?

TOUCHSTONE

O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees: the first, “the retort courteous”; the second, “the quip modest”; the third, “the reply churlish”; the fourth, “the reproof valiant”; the fifth, “the countercheque quarrelsome”; the sixth, “the lie with circumstance”; the seventh, “the lie direct.” All these you may avoid but the lie direct, and you may avoid that, too, with an “if.” I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an “if,” as: “If you said so, then I said so.” And they shook hands and swore brothers. Your “if” is the only peacemaker: much virtue in “if.”

TOUCHSTONE

Of course, sir. There are rulebooks for arguing just as there are rulebooks for manners. Here are the steps. First is “the courteous retort”; second, “the modest quip”; third, “the sullen reply”; fourth, “the valiant retort”; fifth, “the argumentative countercheck”; sixth, “the circumstantial lie”; seventh, “the direct lie.” You can avoid getting to that final stage if you can properly use an “if.” I once heard of an argument that seven judges couldn’t settle. The two parties met up on their own, and one said, “Well, if you said this-and-that, then I must have said such-and-such,” and they shook hands and parted on good terms. “If” is the only peacemaker. “If” is a very valuable word.

JAQUES

95Is not this a rare fellow, my lord? He’s as good at anything and yet a fool.

JAQUES

Isn’t he a remarkable fellow, my lord? He’s as smart as they come, but just a jester.

DUKE SENIOR

He uses his folly like a stalking-horse, and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.

DUKE SENIOR

He uses his clownishness to disguise his deadly wit.
Enter HYMEN, ROSALIND, and CELIA. Soft music

HYMEN

Hymen is the mythological god of marriage.

HYMEN
enters with ROSALIND and CELIA, dressed as themselves. Soft music plays.

HYMEN

Then is there mirth in heaven
100When earthly things, made even,
Atone together.

HYMEN

There is laughter in heaven
When earthly affairs are put right
And people unite.