JONATHAN CHAIT FEBRUARY 26, 2010
Thou cross’st the line!
Your pardon, noble sir?
Thou cross’st the line, Jack Smoke, O cavalier,
As clearly demarcated in our rules,
In tumbling past the throw. ‘Tis play most foul.
But see the pins struck down in fair play’s course!
Knave, mark thou mine eight pins; mark it eight.
Not eight but l’ouef; you’ll mark it nought, O Knave,
And so we carry on to the next frame.
Peace, Sir Walter!
Smokey, this be not the foul jungles of the darkest East Orient. This be ninepins. We are bound by laws.
Nay, Walter; the quality of mercy is hardly strain’d. But a fraction of his toe tripp’d over the line, not God’s line but man’s. Of late I have read much of toe-nails. Suit the punishment to the action, and shame not Smoke in sport.
O unrightful judge!
This forfeiture is set in iron law
As drawn by great authority of league.
One roll might well determine that our side
Advance to glory; or be instead retired
As moss upon a tree-stump, while the Smoke
Drifts out to glorious summer. Canst thou hear
The call of robin redbreasts? If robin shall
Restore amends, we must serve justice
Here. Be I wrong?
Be I wrong?
Thy words are hard; I must equivocate.
Put up thy pen, that I may mark it eight.
Nay! I do protest, and draw my sword;
It shall teach thee to disobey my word.
Mark none but none into that bowler’s frame,
Else thou shalt enter into a world of pain.
A world of pain, think upon’t; unhappy world!
A lake of fire, rich with damnèd souls,
Gulfs of anguish ‘twixt vales of agonies.
Mark me; we stand at twisted, jealous gates
Of cast-iron, above which, in vulgar tongue, reads
“Here is a world of pain, thou enterest thus.”
My steel before thee, ‘tis the last of keys
That might could lock these doors, and keep thee
From this world of pain, or with one flick
Ope its mashing maw, and summon winds
To cast thee down within; an excellent key!
Farewell to earthly delights, farewell to friends,
To fellowships and follies and amends.
The choice to spare thy passage through these trials
Is thine alone; take heed, I entreat thee,
And turn thy back upon this world of pain!
Walter, put up thy sword; tarry a moment.
Hath this whole world been mired in madness?
Remain ye men of faculty complete,
Of full arithmetic and prudence fair,
Attending to our noble bond and contract?
Or does here stand the last remaining man
To give a fig for rules and order yet,
No noble savage, but a stave unbroken
Who loves the law and bids it no misdeed.
I’ll not be bent to lawlessness. Mark it nought, if we be men of honour.
Walter, too long we have tarried on public fields; the constable is notified. I pray you, sheath thy piece.
Mark it nought, else I’ll none.
Good Sir Walter, speak with reason!
Dost thou think I tarry idly? Mark it nought!
Yea, I shall yield, and leave it to your pleasure.
Mark as thou wilt, in full and legal measure.