bookmark_borderA Shakespearean accent


The well-kent linguist David Crystal wrote a book a couple of years ago about the pronunciation of English at Shakespeare’s time: Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment.

I’ve now discovered there’s an accompanying website with sound files, such as this one of David Crystal reading the first act of Troilus and Cressida:

Audio clip.

Enter Pandarus and Troilus.

Troy. Call here my varlet, I’ll unarm again,
Why should I war without the walls of Troy:
That find such cruel battle here within?
Each Trojan that is master of his heart,
Let him to field, Troilus alas, hath none.

Pan. Will this gear ne’er be mended?

Troy. The Greeks are strong and skillful to their strength
Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant,
But I am weaker then a woman’s tear;
Tamer then sleep; fonder then ignorance,
Less valiant then the virgin in the night,
And skilless as unpractised infancy:

Pan. Well, I have told you enough of this; for my part I’ll not meddle nor make no farther; he that will have a cake out of the wheat must needs tarry the grinding.

Troy. Have I not tarried?

Pan. Ay the grinding; but you must tarry the bolting.

Troy. Have I not tarried?

Pan. Ay the bolting; but you must tarry the leavening.

Troy. Still have I tarried.

Pan. Ay, to the leavening, but here’s yet in the word hereafter, the kneading, the making of the cake, the heating of the oven, and the baking, nay you must stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips.

Troy. Patience herself, what goddess e’er she be,
Doth lesser blench at sufferance than I do:
At Priam’s royal table do I sit
And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts,
So traitor, when she comes, when is she thence?

Pan. Well she looked yesternight fairer than ever I saw her look, or any woman else.

Troy. I was about to tell thee,

Pan. An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen’s – well go to – there were no more comparison between the women! but for my part she is my kinswoman, I would not as they term it praise her, but I would somebody had heard her talk yesterday as I did; I will not dispraise your sister Cassandra’s wit, but——-

Troy. Oh Pandarus I tell thee Pandarus,
When I do tell thee there my hopes lie drowned
Reply not in how many fathoms deep,
They lie indrenched; I tell thee I am mad
In Cressid’s love? thou answer’st she is fair,
Pour’st in the open ulcer of my heart:
Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice;
But saying thus instead of oil and balm,
Thou lay’st in every gash that love hath given me
The knife that made it.

Pan. I speak no more than truth.

Troy. Thou dost not speak so much.

Pan. Faith I’ll not meddle in it, let her be as she is, if she be fair, ’tis the better for her, and she be not, she has the mends in her own hands.

Troy. Good Pandarus, how now Pandarus?

Pan. I have had my labour for my travail, ill thought on of her, and ill thought on of you, gone between and between, but small thanks for my labour.

Troy. What art thou angry Pandarus? what with me?

Pan. Because she’s kin to me, therefore she’s not so fair as Helen, an she were not kin to me, she would be as fair on Friday, as Helen is on Sunday, but what care I?

Troy. Say I she is not fair?

Pan. I do not care whether you do or no, she’s a fool to stay behind her father, let her to the Greeks, and so I’ll tell her the next time I see her; for my part I’ll meddle nor make no more i’th’matter.

Troy. Pandarus.

Pan. Not I.

Troy. Sweet Pandarus.

Pan. Pray you speak no more to me I will leave all as I found it and there an end. Exit.

Sound alarum.

Troy. Peace you ungracious clamors, peace rude sounds,
Fools on both sides, Helen must needs be fair,
When with your blood you daily paint her thus,
I cannot fight upon this argument:
It is too starved a subject for my sword,
But Pandarus: O gods! how do you plague me
I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar,
And he’s as tetchy to be wooed to woo, [130]
As she is stubborn-chaste, against all suit.
Tell me Apollo for thy Daphne’s love,
What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we:
Her bed is India there she lies, a pearl,
Between our Ilium, and where she resides
Let it be called the wild and wandering flood:
Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar,
Our doubtful hope, our convoy and our bark.

Alarum. Enter Aeneas.

Aene. How now Prince Troilus, wherefore not afield.

Troy. Because not there; this woman’s answer sorts,
For womanish it is to be from thence.
What news Aeneas from the field today?

Aene. That Paris is returned home and hurt.

Troy. By whom Aeneas?

Aene. Troilus, by Menelaus.

Troy. Let Paris bleed, tis but a scar to scorn,
Paris is gored with Menelaus’ horn. Alarum.

Aene. Hark what good sport is out of town today. [150]

Troy. Better at home, if “would I might” were “may:”
But to the sport abroad; are you bound thither?

Aene. In all swift haste.

Troy. Come go we then together.

Exeunt.