Act III - Act III, Scene 3

SCENE III. Another part of the Forest.

[Enter TOUCHSTONE and AUDREY; JAQUES at a distance observing

Come apace, good Audrey; I will fetch up your goats,
Audrey. And how, Audrey? am I the man yet? Doth my simple
feature content you?

Your features! Lord warrant us! what features?

I am here with thee and thy goats, as the most
capricious poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths.

[Aside] O knowledge ill-inhabited! worse than Jove in a thatch'd

When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's
good wit seconded with the forward child understanding, it
strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little
room.--Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.

I do not know what "poetical" is: is it honest in deed and
word? is it a true thing?

No, truly: for the truest poetry is the most feigning;
and lovers are given to poetry; and what they swear in poetry
may be said, as lovers, they do feign.

Do you wish, then, that the gods had made me poetical?

I do, truly, for thou swear'st to me thou art honest;
now, if thou wert a poet, I might have some hope thou didst

Would you not have me honest?

No, truly, unless thou wert hard-favoured; for honesty
coupled to beauty is to have honey a sauce to sugar.

[Aside] A material fool!

Well, I am not fair; and therefore I pray the gods make me

Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut were
to put good meat into an unclean dish.

I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.

Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness
may come hereafter. But be it as it may be, I will marry thee:
and to that end I have been with Sir Oliver Martext, the vicar
of the next village; who hath promised to meet me in this place
of the forest, and to couple us.

[Aside] I would fain see this meeting.

Well, the gods give us joy!

Amen. A man may, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger
in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no
assembly but horn-beasts. But what though? Courage! As horns
are odious, they are necessary. It is said,--"Many a man knows no
end of his goods;" right! many a man has good horns and knows no
end of them. Well, that is the dowry of his wife; 'tis none of
his own getting. Horns? Ever to poor men alone?--No, no; the
noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the single man
therefore blessed? No: as a walled town is more worthier than a
village, so is the forehead of a married man more honourable than
the bare brow of a bachelor: and by how much defence is better
than no skill, by so much is horn more precious than to want.
Here comes Sir Oliver.


Sir Oliver Martext, you are well met. Will you despatch us
here under this tree, or shall we go with you to your chapel?

Is there none here to give the woman?

I will not take her on gift of any man.

Truly, she must be given, or the marriage is not lawful.

[Discovering himself.] Proceed, proceed; I'll give her.

Good even, good Master 'What-ye-call't': how do you, sir?
You are very well met: God 'ild you for your last company: I
am very glad to see you:--even a toy in hand here, sir:--nay;
pray be covered.

Will you be married, motley?

As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and
the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires; and as pigeons
bill, so wedlock would be nibbling.

And will you, being a man of your breeding, be married
under a bush, like a beggar? Get you to church and have a good
priest that can tell you what marriage is: this fellow will
but join you together as they join wainscot; then one of you will
prove a shrunk panel, and like green timber, warp, warp.

[Aside] I am not in the mind but I were better to be
married of him than of another: for he is not like to marry
me well; and not being well married, it will be a good excuse
for me hereafter to leave my wife.

Go thou with me, and let me counsel thee.

Come, sweet Audrey;
We must be married or we must live in bawdry.
Farewell, good Master Oliver!--Not--
"O sweet Oliver,
O brave Oliver,
Leave me not behind thee."
"Wind away,--
Begone, I say,
I will not to wedding with thee."


'Tis no matter; ne'er a fantastical knave of them all
shall flout me out of my calling.



  1. This could also be Shakespeare talking to himself: How true or "real" is poetry?

    — Brad
  2. Touchstone makes reference to the Roman poet Ovid in part because of Ovid’s reputation as a lover and libertine. In the year 2CE, Ovid published the Ars Amatoria, a guide to navigating the complex worlds of romance and sexual liaisons. Given that Touchstone is courting Audrey as he makes reference to Ovid, this historical context is important.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. That is, God reward you for the last time you kept company with me.

    — Stephen Holliday
  4. That is, a fortified town is stronger than a village against attack.

    — Stephen Holliday
  5. Touchstone refers to a cuckold, a married man whose wife is unfaithful, who is said to "wear horns."

    — Stephen Holliday
  6. With reference to the earlier line about the priest with no Latin, we can conclude that Sir Martext is so named because he cannot read his texts.

    — Stephen Holliday
  7. Audrey's comment about poetry is part of the court versus country theme.  As a woman raised in the country, she wonders if poetry is honest and true.

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. Falcons had small bells attached to their legs when hunting so that they might be easily located.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  9. If a man's wife had cheated on him sexually, he is not responsible for the children she bears.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  10. A proverbial saying that meant one's wealth was too extensive to be counted.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  11. Two meanings:  1) the many beasts who inhabited the Forest of Arden (deer, goats, etc) 2) the "horns" a cuckolded husband supposedly wore to indicate his wife had been unfaithful.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  12. Scholars believe this line refers to the death of playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, who died in a brawl in a small tavern.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  13. In *Metamorphoses, *Ovid tells a story of the god Jove, (the king of the gods) and how he was given shelter in the humble home of Philemon and Baucis.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  14. This is a pun on "goats" (which has a similar pronunciation.  It also refers to Ovid's exile among the Goths, who were instrumental in the collapse of the Roman Empire.

    — Jamie Wheeler