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Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

As You Like It: Act 4, Scene 3

           Enter ROSALIND and CELIA.

1-2. And here much Orlando!: i.e., Orlando is not here!
  1   How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock? And
  2   here much Orlando!

3. I warrant you: I promise you.
  3   I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain,
  4   he hath ta'en his bow and arrows and is gone forth —
  5   to sleep. Look who comes here.

           Enter SILVIUS.

  6   My errand is to you, fair youth;
  7   My gentle Phebe bid me give you this:

           [Hands Rosalind a letter.]

  8   I know not the contents; but, as I guess
  9   By the stern brow and waspish action
 10   Which she did use as she was writing of it,
 11   It bears an angry tenor: pardon me:
 12   I am but as a guiltless messenger.

 13   Patience herself would startle at this letter
14. bear this, bear all: i.e., if anyone puts up with this, they will put up with anything.
 14   And play the swaggerer; bear this, bear all:
 15   She says I am not fair, that I lack manners;
 16   She calls me proud, and that she could not love me,
17. phoenix: —According to legend, there is only one phoenix in the whole world.  'Od's my will!: i.e., God help me!
 17   Were man as rare as phoenix. 'Od's my will!
 18   Her love is not the hare that I do hunt:
 19   Why writes she so to me? Well, shepherd, well,
23. This is a letter of your own device: i.e., you wrote this letter.
 20   This is a letter of your own device.

 21   No, I protest, I know not the contents:
 22   Phebe did write it.

 22                                   Come, come, you are a fool
23. turn'd: diverted, brought.
 23   And turn'd into the extremity of love.
24. hand . . . .hand: —Jokingly, Rosalind uses "hand" to mean both "handwriting" and the hand that wrote the handwriting. 25. freestone-colour'd: brownish-yellow.
 24   I saw her hand: she has a leathern hand.
 25   A freestone-colour'd hand; I verily did think
 26   That her old gloves were on, but 'twas her hands:
27. huswife: housewife; also, hussy.
 27   She has a huswife's hand; but that's no matter:
28. invent: produce, make up.
 28   I say she never did invent this letter;
 29   This is a man's invention and his hand.

 30   Sure, it is hers.

 31   Why, 'tis a boisterous and a cruel style.
 32   A style for challengers; why, she defies me,
 33   Like Turk to Christian: women's gentle brain
 34   Could not drop forth such giant-rude invention
35. Ethiope: black.
 35   Such Ethiope words, blacker in their effect
36. countenance : face, physical appearance. —Black is the color of the countenance of the words because they are written in black ink.
 36   Than in their countenance. Will you hear the letter?

 37   So please you, for I never heard it yet;
 38   Yet heard too much of Phebe's cruelty.

39. Phebes me: behaves like Phebe towards me, i.e., addresses me in cruel words. —Silvius has just said that he has "heard too much of Phebe's cruelty."
40. Art thou god to shepherd turn'd: are you a god who has turned into a shepherd.
 39   She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes.
 40        "Art thou god to shepherd turn'd,
 41        That a maiden's heart hath burn'd?"
 42   Can a woman rail thus?

 43   Call you this railing?

      ROSALIND   (Read.)
44-45. Why . . . heart?: i.e., why did you put aside your godly nature, assume the form of a shepherd, and make war against a woman's heart?
 44        "Why, thy godhead laid apart,
 45        Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?"
 46   Did you ever hear such railing?
47. Whiles the eye of man did woo me: i.e., when I was wooed by a mere mortal [that is, Silvius]. 48. vengeance: harm. —Phebe's idea is that although a god has taken the shape of "Ganymede," his godly nature can still be seen in his eyes.
50. eyne: eyes. —This was an archaic word in Shakespeare's time. Phebe is again being romantically poetic.
53. they: Orlando's eyes.  in mild aspect: i.e., with loving looks.
54-55. Whiles . . . move!: i.e., When you scolded me, my love for you was awakened, so imagine what a powerful effect you would have if you sincerely requested my love.
58. by him seal up thy mind: i.e., send your decision in a letter to be carried by Silvius.
59. youth and kind: youthful nature.
 47        "Whiles the eye of man did woo me,
 48        That could do no vengeance to me."
 49   Meaning me a beast.
 50        "If the scorn of your bright eyne
 51        Have power to raise such love in mine,
 52        Alack, in me what strange effect
 53        Would they work in mild aspect!
 54        Whiles you chid me, I did love;
 55        How then might your prayers move!
 56        He that brings this love to thee
 57        Little knows this love in me:
 58        And by him seal up thy mind;
 59        Whether that thy youth and kind
 60        Will the faithful offer take
 61        Of me and all that I can make;
 62        Or else by him my love deny,
 63        And then I'll study how to die."

 64   Call you this chiding?

 65   Alas, poor shepherd!

 66   Do you pity him? no, he deserves no pity. Wilt
 67   thou love such a woman? What, to make thee an
68. instrument: 1) tool; 2) musical instrument. false strains: deceiving melodies. —Phebe has used Silvius' love for her to get him to carry her love-letter to "Ganymede," and she told Silvius that the letter would be "bitter."
 68   instrument and play false strains upon thee! not
 69   to be endured! Well, go your way to her, for I see
 70   love hath made thee a tame snake, and say this to
 71   her: that if she love me, I charge her to love
 72   thee; if she will not, I will never have her unless
 73   thou entreat for her. If you be a true lover, hence,
 74   and not a word; for here comes more company.

           Exit SILVIUS.

           Enter OLIVER.

 75   Good morrow, fair ones: pray you, if you know,
76. purlieus: cleared land on the outskirts of a forest.
77. sheep-cote: sheep shed.  fenced about with olive trees: —Oliver is referring to the house of Rosalind and Celia, as Rosalind described it to Phebe: "If you will know my house, / 'Tis at the tuft of olives here hard by."
78. neighbor bottom: neighboring dell.
79. rank of osiers: row of willows
 76   Where in the purlieus of this forest stands
 77   A sheep-cote fenced about with olive trees?

 78   West of this place, down in the neighbour bottom:
 79   The rank of osiers by the murmuring stream
 80   Left on your right hand brings you to the place.
 81   But at this hour the house doth keep itself;
 82   There's none within.

 83   If that an eye may profit by a tongue,
 84   Then should I know you by description;
 85   Such garments and such years: 'The boy is fair,
86. female favor: feminine features.  bestows: conducts.
87. ripe: mature, i.e., elder. low: short.
 86   Of female favour, and bestows himself
 87   Like a ripe sister: the woman low
 88   And browner than her brother.' Are not you
 89   The owner of the house I did inquire for?

 90   It is no boast, being ask'd, to say we are.

 91   Orlando doth commend him to you both,
 92   And to that youth he calls his Rosalind
93. napkin: handkerchief.
 93   He sends this bloody napkin. Are you he?

 94   I am: what must we understand by this?

 95   Some of my shame; if you will know of me
 96   What man I am, and how, and why, and where
97. handkercher: handkerchief.
 97   This handkercher was stain'd.

 97                                                         I pray you, tell it.

 98   When last the young Orlando parted from you
 99   He left a promise to return again
100   Within an hour, and pacing through the forest,
101   Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
102   Lo, what befell! he threw his eye aside,
103. what object: what a sight.
103   And mark what object did present itself:
104-105. oak . . . high top bald:
104   Under an oak, whose boughs were moss'd with age
105   And high top bald with dry antiquity,
106   A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,
107   Lay sleeping on his back: about his neck
108   A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself,
109   Who with her head nimble in threats approach'd
110   The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,
111. unlink'd: uncoiled.
111   Seeing Orlando, it unlink'd itself,
112. indented: undulating.
112   And with indented glides did slip away
113   Into a bush: under which bush's shade
114. with udders all drawn dry: —Thus the lioness is shown to be very hungry.
115. couching: i.e., crouching and ready to pounce.
114   A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
115   Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch,
116   When that the sleeping man should stir; for 'tis
117   The royal disposition of that beast
118   To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead:
119   This seen, Orlando did approach the man
120   And found it was his brother, his elder brother.

121   O, I have heard him speak of that same brother;
122. render him: depict him as.  unnatural: devoid of natural feeling.
122   And he did render him the most unnatural
123   That lived amongst men.

123                                             And well he might so do,
124   For well I know he was unnatural.

125. But, to Orlando: i.e., but back to the subject of Orlando.
125   But, to Orlando: did he leave him there,
126   Food to the suck'd and hungry lioness?

127. purposed so: i.e., made up his mind to do so.
Twice did he turn his back and purposed so;
128. kindness: i.e., natural feeling proper to the kinship of humankind. 129. nature: natural feeling.  just occasion: opportunity to take justified revenge. —Adam told Orlando that Oliver had planned "To burn the lodging where you use to lie / And you within it." 131. hurtling: commotion.
128   But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
129   And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
130   Made him give battle to the lioness,
131   Who quickly fell before him: in which hurtling
132   From miserable slumber I awaked.

133   Are you his brother?

133                                       Was't you he rescu'd?

134. contrive: plan, devise ways.
134   Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?

135-137. I do not shame . . . the thing I am: i.e., since I am so happy with the person I have become, I am not ashamed to tell you what I was.
135   'Twas I; but 'tis not I. — I do not shame
136   To tell you what I was, since my conversion
137   So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.

138. for the bloody napkin?: i.e., what about the bloody handkerchief?
138   But, for the bloody napkin?

138                                                     By and by.
139-141. When . . . desert place: i.e., when we had both shed tears as each of us recounted our stories of what had happened to us since we had last seen one another, as, for example, how I came to be in the forest.
139   When from the first to last betwixt us two
140   Tears our recountments had most kindly bathed,
141   As how I came into that desert place:--
142   In brief, he led me to the gentle duke,
143. array: clothes.  entertainment: i.e., a seat at the table and food and drink.
143   Who gave me fresh array and entertainment,
144   Committing me unto my brother's love;
145   Who led me instantly unto his cave,
146   There stripp'd himself, and here upon his arm
147   The lioness had torn some flesh away,
148   Which all this while had bled; and now he fainted
149   And cried, in fainting, upon Rosalind.
150   Brief, I recover'd him, bound up his wound;
150. Brief: in brief.  recover'd: revived.
151   And, after some small space, being strong at heart,
152   He sent me hither, stranger as I am,
153   To tell this story, that you might excuse
154   His broken promise, and to give this napkin
155   Dyed in his blood unto the shepherd youth
156   That he in sport doth call his Rosalind.

           [ROSALIND faints.]

157   Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!

158   Many will swoon when they do look on blood.

159   There is more in it. Cousin Ganymede!

160   Look, he recovers.

161   I would I were at home.

161                                               We'll lead you thither.
162   I pray you, will you take him by the arm?

163   Be of good cheer, youth. You a man?
164   You lack a man's heart.

165   I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would
166   think this was well counterfeited! I pray you,
167   tell your brother how well I counterfeited.
168   Heigh-ho!

169   This was not counterfeit: there is too great
170-171. a passion of earnest: a genuine faint.
170   testimony in your complexion that it was a
171   passion of earnest.

172   Counterfeit, I assure you.

173   Well then, take a good heart and counterfeit to
174   be a man.

175   So I do: but, i' faith, I should have been a woman
176   by right.

177   Come, you look paler and paler: pray you, draw
178   homewards. Good sir, go with us.

179-180. I must bear answer back / How you excuse my brother, Rosalind: i.e., I must tell my brother how you have received his excuse for not showing up, (so-called) Rosalind.
179   That will I, for I must bear answer back
180   How you excuse my brother, Rosalind.

181   I shall devise something: but, I pray you, commend
182   my counterfeiting to him. Will you go?