Shakespeare: As You Like It

Act V, Scene IV


Touchstone:         Faith, we met, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause.


Jaques:                   But, for the seventh cause; how did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause?


Touchstone:         Upon a lie seven times removed: 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 mind it was: this is called 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 Quip Modest.


If again 'it was not well cut,' he disabled my judgement: this is called Reply Churlish.


If again 'it was not well cut,' he would answer, I spake not true: this is called Reproof Valiant.


If again 'it was not well cut,' he would say, I lied: this is called Counter-check Quarrelsome;


and so to the Lie Circumstantial


and the Lie Direct.


Jaques:                   And how oft did you say his beard was not well cut?


Touchstone:         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.


Jaques:                   Can you nominate in order now the degrees of the lie?


Touchstone:         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 Counter-check Quarrelsome;

the sixth, the Lie Circumstantial;

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 the 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 peacemaker; much virtue in If.


Jaques:                   Is not this a rare fellow, my lord? he's as good as any thing and yet a fool.