Touchstone

Prose- intercut
 

 
 
[Touch.] God 'ild you, sir; I desire you of the like. I press in here, sir, amongst the rest of the country copulatives, to swear, and to forswear, according as marriage binds and blood breaks. A poor virgin, sir, an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own: a poor humour of mine, sir, to take that no man else will. Rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a poor house, as your pearl in your foul oyster.
[Duke S.] By my faith, he is very swift and sententious.
[Touch.] According to the fool's bolt, sir, and such dulcet diseases.
[Jaq.] But, for the seventh cause; how did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause?
[Touch.] Upon a lie seven times removed:'bear your body more seeming, Audrey:'as thus, sir. I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier's beard: he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was: this is called 'the retort courteous.' If I sent him word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: this is called the 'quip modest.' If again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: this is called the 'reply churlish.' If again, it was not well cut, he would answer, I spake not true: this is called the 'reproof valiant:' if again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie: this is called the 'countercheck quarrelsome': and so to the 'lie circumstantial,' and the 'lie direct.'
[Jaq.] And how oft did you say his beard was not well cut?
[Touch.] 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.
[Jaq.] Can you nominate in order now the degrees of the lie?
[Touch.] 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 'countercheck 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 peace-maker; much virtue in 'if.'

 


 

 








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