As You Like It

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 3

page Act 2 Scene 3 Page 3

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O good old man, how well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world,
When service sweat for duty, not for meed.
60Thou art not for the fashion of these times,
Where none will sweat but for promotion,
And having that do choke their service up
Even with the having. It is not so with thee.
But, poor old man, thou prun’st a rotten tree
65That cannot so much as a blossom yield
In lieu of all thy pains and husbandry.
But come thy ways. We’ll go along together,
And ere we have thy youthful wages spent,
We’ll light upon some settled low content.


Oh, good old man, you’re a great example of that old work ethic, where people worked because it was their duty, not just for the money. Your approach isn’t the fashion these days, when no one works hard except for a promotion, and, as soon as they’ve got it, they stop working. But in working for me, old man, you are pruning a rotten tree: despite all your pains and efforts, it won’t yield a single blossom. Come along, though. We’ll go together, and before we’ve spent all the savings of your youth, we’ll find a way to make a living.


70Master, go on, and I will follow thee
To the last gasp, with truth and loyalty.
From seventeen years till now almost fourscore
Here livèd I, but now live here no more.
At seventeen years, many their fortunes seek,
75But at fourscore, it is too late a week.
Yet fortune cannot recompense me better
Than to die well, and not my master’s debtor.


Go on, master, and I will follow you—with truth and loyalty to my last breath. From the time I was seventeen, over sixty years ago, I have lived in this house, but now I will live here no more. Many men seek their fortune at seventeen; at eighty, it’s a bit late. But fortune could not reward me better than to let me die well, without owing my master anything.
They exit.