Love’s Labours Lost full text




FERDINAND            king of Navarre.

BEROWNE            |


LONGAVILLE            |  lords attending on the King.


DUMAIN            |


BOYET            |

|  lords attending on the Princess of France.

MERCADE            |



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            a fantastical Spaniard.

SIR NATHANIEL            a curate.

HOLOFERNES            a schoolmaster.

DULL            a constable.

COSTARD            a clown.

MOTH            page to Armado.

A Forester.



ROSALINE            |


MARIA            |  ladies attending on the Princess.


KATHARINE            |


JAQUENETTA            a country wench.

Lords, Attendants, &c.

(First Lord:)



SCENE            Navarre.





SCENE I            The king of Navarre’s park.






FERDINAND            Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,

Live register’d upon our brazen tombs

And then grace us in the disgrace of death;

When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,

The endeavor of this present breath may buy

That honour which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge

And make us heirs of all eternity.

Therefore, brave conquerors,–for so you are,

That war against your own affections

And the huge army of the world’s desires,–

Our late edict shall strongly stand in force:

Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;

Our court shall be a little Academe,

Still and contemplative in living art.

You three, Berowne, Dumain, and Longaville,

Have sworn for three years’ term to live with me

My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes

That are recorded in this schedule here:

Your oaths are pass’d; and now subscribe your names,

That his own hand may strike his honour down

That violates the smallest branch herein:

If you are arm’d to do as sworn to do,

Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.


LONGAVILLE            I am resolved; ’tis but a three years’ fast:

The mind shall banquet, though the body pine:

Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits

Make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.


DUMAIN            My loving lord, Dumain is mortified:

The grosser manner of these world’s delights

He throws upon the gross world’s baser slaves:

To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die;

With all these living in philosophy.


BEROWNE            I can but say their protestation over;

So much, dear liege, I have already sworn,

That is, to live and study here three years.

But there are other strict observances;

As, not to see a woman in that term,

Which I hope well is not enrolled there;

And one day in a week to touch no food

And but one meal on every day beside,

The which I hope is not enrolled there;

And then, to sleep but three hours in the night,

And not be seen to wink of all the day–

When I was wont to think no harm all night

And make a dark night too of half the day–

Which I hope well is not enrolled there:

O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,

Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep!


FERDINAND            Your oath is pass’d to pass away from these.


BEROWNE            Let me say no, my liege, an if you please:

I only swore to study with your grace

And stay here in your court for three years’ space.


LONGAVILLE            You swore to that, Berowne, and to the rest.


BEROWNE            By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest.

What is the end of study? let me know.


FERDINAND            Why, that to know, which else we should not know.


BEROWNE            Things hid and barr’d, you mean, from common sense?


FERDINAND            Ay, that is study’s godlike recompense.


BEROWNE            Come on, then; I will swear to study so,

To know the thing I am forbid to know:

As thus,–to study where I well may dine,

When I to feast expressly am forbid;

Or study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid;

Or, having sworn too hard a keeping oath,

Study to break it and not break my troth.

If study’s gain be thus and this be so,

Study knows that which yet it doth not know:

Swear me to this, and I will ne’er say no.


FERDINAND            These be the stops that hinder study quite

And train our intellects to vain delight.


BEROWNE            Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain,

Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain:

As, painfully to pore upon a book

To seek the light of truth; while truth the while

Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look:

Light seeking light doth light of light beguile:

So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,

Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.

Study me how to please the eye indeed

By fixing it upon a fairer eye,

Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed

And give him light that it was blinded by.

Study is like the heaven’s glorious sun

That will not be deep-search’d with saucy looks:

Small have continual plodders ever won

Save base authority from others’ books

These earthly godfathers of heaven’s lights

That give a name to every fixed star

Have no more profit of their shining nights

Than those that walk and wot not what they are.

Too much to know is to know nought but fame;

And every godfather can give a name.


FERDINAND            How well he’s read, to reason against reading!


DUMAIN            Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!


LONGAVILLE            He weeds the corn and still lets grow the weeding.


BEROWNE            The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.


DUMAIN            How follows that?


BEROWNE                              Fit in his place and time.


DUMAIN            In reason nothing.


BEROWNE                              Something then in rhyme.


FERDINAND            Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost,

That bites the first-born infants of the spring.


BEROWNE            Well, say I am; why should proud summer boast

Before the birds have any cause to sing?

Why should I joy in any abortive birth?

At Christmas I no more desire a rose

Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;

But like of each thing that in season grows.

So you, to study now it is too late,

Climb o’er the house to unlock the little gate.


FERDINAND            Well, sit you out: go home, Berowne: adieu.


BEROWNE            No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay with you:

And though I have for barbarism spoke more

Than for that angel knowledge you can say,

Yet confident I’ll keep what I have swore

And bide the penance of each three years’ day.

Give me the paper; let me read the same;

And to the strict’st decrees I’ll write my name.


FERDINAND            How well this yielding rescues thee from shame!


BEROWNE            [Reads]  ‘Item, That no woman shall come within a

mile of my court:’ Hath this been proclaimed?


LONGAVILLE            Four days ago.


BEROWNE            Let’s see the penalty.




‘On pain of losing her tongue.’ Who devised this penalty?


LONGAVILLE            Marry, that did I.


BEROWNE            Sweet lord, and why?


LONGAVILLE            To fright them hence with that dread penalty.


BEROWNE            A dangerous law against gentility!




‘Item, If any man be seen to talk with a woman

within the term of three years, he shall endure such

public shame as the rest of the court can possibly devise.’

This article, my liege, yourself must break;

For well you know here comes in embassy

The French king’s daughter with yourself to speak–

A maid of grace and complete majesty–

About surrender up of Aquitaine

To her decrepit, sick and bedrid father:

Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.


FERDINAND            What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.


BEROWNE            So study evermore is overshot:

While it doth study to have what it would

It doth forget to do the thing it should,

And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,

‘Tis won as towns with fire, so won, so lost.


FERDINAND            We must of force dispense with this decree;

She must lie here on mere necessity.


BEROWNE            Necessity will make us all forsworn

Three thousand times within this three years’ space;

For every man with his affects is born,

Not by might master’d but by special grace:

If I break faith, this word shall speak for me;

I am forsworn on ‘mere necessity.’

So to the laws at large I write my name:




And he that breaks them in the least degree

Stands in attainder of eternal shame:

Suggestions are to other as to me;

But I believe, although I seem so loath,

I am the last that will last keep his oath.

But is there no quick recreation granted?


FERDINAND            Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted

With a refined traveller of Spain;

A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,

That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;

One whom the music of his own vain tongue

Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;

A man of complements, whom right and wrong

Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:

This child of fancy, that Armado hight,

For interim to our studies shall relate

In high-born words the worth of many a knight

From tawny Spain lost in the world’s debate.

How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;

But, I protest, I love to hear him lie

And I will use him for my minstrelsy.


BEROWNE            Armado is a most illustrious wight,

A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight.


LONGAVILLE            Costard the swain and he shall be our sport;

And so to study, three years is but short.


[Enter DULL with a letter, and COSTARD]


DULL            Which is the duke’s own person?


BEROWNE            This, fellow: what wouldst?


DULL            I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his

grace’s tharborough: but I would see his own person

in flesh and blood.


BEROWNE            This is he.


DULL            Signior Arme–Arme–commends you. There’s villany

abroad: this letter will tell you more.


COSTARD            Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me.


FERDINAND            A letter from the magnificent Armado.


BEROWNE            How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words.


LONGAVILLE            A high hope for a low heaven: God grant us patience!


BEROWNE            To hear? or forbear laughing?


LONGAVILLE            To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately; or to

forbear both.


BEROWNE            Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause to

climb in the merriness.


COSTARD            The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta.

The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.


BEROWNE            In what manner?


COSTARD            In manner and form following, sir; all those three:

I was seen with her in the manor-house, sitting with

her upon the form, and taken following her into the

park; which, put together, is in manner and form

following. Now, sir, for the manner,–it is the

manner of a man to speak to a woman: for the form,–

in some form.


BEROWNE            For the following, sir?


COSTARD            As it shall follow in my correction: and God defend

the right!


FERDINAND            Will you hear this letter with attention?


BEROWNE            As we would hear an oracle.


COSTARD            Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘Great deputy, the welkin’s vicegerent and

sole dominator of Navarre, my soul’s earth’s god,

and body’s fostering patron.’


COSTARD            Not a word of Costard yet.


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘So it is,’–


COSTARD            It may be so: but if he say it is so, he is, in

telling true, but so.


FERDINAND            Peace!


COSTARD            Be to me and every man that dares not fight!


FERDINAND            No words!


COSTARD            Of other men’s secrets, I beseech you.


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘So it is, besieged with sable-coloured

melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour

to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving

air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to

walk. The time when. About the sixth hour; when

beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down

to that nourishment which is called supper: so much

for the time when. Now for the ground which; which,

I mean, I walked upon: it is y-cleped thy park. Then

for the place where; where, I mean, I did encounter

that obscene and preposterous event, that draweth

from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which

here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest;

but to the place where; it standeth north-north-east

and by east from the west corner of thy curious-

knotted garden: there did I see that low-spirited

swain, that base minnow of thy mirth,’–


COSTARD            Me?


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘that unlettered small-knowing soul,’–


COSTARD            Me?


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘that shallow vassal,’–


COSTARD            Still me?


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘which, as I remember, hight Costard,’–


COSTARD            O, me!


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘sorted and consorted, contrary to thy

established proclaimed edict and continent canon,

which with,–O, with–but with this I passion to say



COSTARD            With a wench.


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘with a child of our grandmother Eve, a

female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a

woman. Him I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks me on,

have sent to thee, to receive the meed of

punishment, by thy sweet grace’s officer, Anthony

Dull; a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and



DULL            ‘Me, an’t shall please you; I am Anthony Dull.


FERDINAND            [Reads]  ‘For Jaquenetta,–so is the weaker vessel

called which I apprehended with the aforesaid

swain,–I keep her as a vessel of the law’s fury;

and shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring

her to trial. Thine, in all compliments of devoted

and heart-burning heat of duty.



BEROWNE            This is not so well as I looked for, but the best

that ever I heard.


FERDINAND            Ay, the best for the worst. But, sirrah, what say

you to this?


COSTARD            Sir, I confess the wench.


FERDINAND            Did you hear the proclamation?


COSTARD            I do confess much of the hearing it but little of

the marking of it.


FERDINAND            It was proclaimed a year’s imprisonment, to be taken

with a wench.


COSTARD            I was taken with none, sir: I was taken with a damsel.


FERDINAND            Well, it was proclaimed ‘damsel.’


COSTARD            This was no damsel, neither, sir; she was a virgin.


FERDINAND            It is so varied, too; for it was proclaimed ‘virgin.’


COSTARD            If it were, I deny her virginity: I was taken with a maid.


FERDINAND            This maid will not serve your turn, sir.


COSTARD            This maid will serve my turn, sir.


FERDINAND            Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall fast

a week with bran and water.


COSTARD            I had rather pray a month with mutton and porridge.


FERDINAND            And Don Armado shall be your keeper.

My Lord Berowne, see him deliver’d o’er:

And go we, lords, to put in practise that

Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.




BEROWNE            I’ll lay my head to any good man’s hat,

These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.

Sirrah, come on.


COSTARD            I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is, I was

taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true

girl; and therefore welcome the sour cup of

prosperity! Affliction may one day smile again; and

till then, sit thee down, sorrow!














SCENE II            The same.






ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Boy, what sign is it when a man of great spirit

grows melancholy?


MOTH            A great sign, sir, that he will look sad.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Why, sadness is one and the self-same thing, dear imp.


MOTH            No, no; O Lord, sir, no.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            How canst thou part sadness and melancholy, my

tender juvenal?


MOTH            By a familiar demonstration of the working, my tough senior.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Why tough senior? why tough senior?


MOTH            Why tender juvenal? why tender juvenal?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I spoke it, tender juvenal, as a congruent epitheton

appertaining to thy young days, which we may

nominate tender.


MOTH            And I, tough senior, as an appertinent title to your

old time, which we may name tough.



ARMADO            Pretty and apt.


MOTH            How mean you, sir? I pretty, and my saying apt? or

I apt, and my saying pretty?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Thou pretty, because little.


MOTH            Little pretty, because little. Wherefore apt?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            And therefore apt, because quick.


MOTH            Speak you this in my praise, master?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            In thy condign praise.


MOTH            I will praise an eel with the same praise.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            What, that an eel is ingenious?


MOTH            That an eel is quick.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I do say thou art quick in answers: thou heatest my blood.


MOTH            I am answered, sir.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I love not to be crossed.


MOTH            [Aside]  He speaks the mere contrary; crosses love not him.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I have promised to study three years with the duke.


MOTH            You may do it in an hour, sir.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Impossible.


MOTH            How many is one thrice told?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I am ill at reckoning; it fitteth the spirit of a tapster.


MOTH            You are a gentleman and a gamester, sir.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I confess both: they are both the varnish of a

complete man.


MOTH            Then, I am sure, you know how much the gross sum of

deuce-ace amounts to.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            It doth amount to one more than two.


MOTH            Which the base vulgar do call three.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            True.


MOTH            Why, sir, is this such a piece of study? Now here

is three studied, ere ye’ll thrice wink: and how

easy it is to put ‘years’ to the word ‘three,’ and

study three years in two words, the dancing horse

will tell you.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            A most fine figure!


MOTH            To prove you a cipher.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I will hereupon confess I am in love: and as it is

base for a soldier to love, so am I in love with a

base wench. If drawing my sword against the humour

of affection would deliver me from the reprobate

thought of it, I would take Desire prisoner, and

ransom him to any French courtier for a new-devised

courtesy. I think scorn to sigh: methinks I should

outswear Cupid. Comfort, me, boy: what great men

have been in love?


MOTH            Hercules, master.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Most sweet Hercules! More authority, dear boy, name

more; and, sweet my child, let them be men of good

repute and carriage.


MOTH            Samson, master: he was a man of good carriage, great

carriage, for he carried the town-gates on his back

like a porter: and he was in love.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            O well-knit Samson! strong-jointed Samson! I do

excel thee in my rapier as much as thou didst me in

carrying gates. I am in love too. Who was Samson’s

love, my dear Moth?


MOTH            A woman, master.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Of what complexion?


MOTH            Of all the four, or the three, or the two, or one of the four.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Tell me precisely of what complexion.


MOTH            Of the sea-water green, sir.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Is that one of the four complexions?


MOTH            As I have read, sir; and the best of them too.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Green indeed is the colour of lovers; but to have a

love of that colour, methinks Samson had small reason

for it. He surely affected her for her wit.


MOTH            It was so, sir; for she had a green wit.


ADRIANO DE ARMADO            My love is most immaculate white and red.


MOTH            Most maculate thoughts, master, are masked under

such colours.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Define, define, well-educated infant.


MOTH            My father’s wit and my mother’s tongue, assist me!



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet invocation of a child; most pretty and



MOTH                 If she be made of white and red,

Her faults will ne’er be known,

For blushing cheeks by faults are bred

And fears by pale white shown:

Then if she fear, or be to blame,

By this you shall not know,

For still her cheeks possess the same

Which native she doth owe.

A dangerous rhyme, master, against the reason of

white and red.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Is there not a ballad, boy, of the King and the Beggar?


MOTH            The world was very guilty of such a ballad some

three ages since: but I think now ’tis not to be

found; or, if it were, it would neither serve for

the writing nor the tune.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I will have that subject newly writ o’er, that I may

example my digression by some mighty precedent.

Boy, I do love that country girl that I took in the

park with the rational hind Costard: she deserves well.


MOTH            [Aside]  To be whipped; and yet a better love than

my master.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sing, boy; my spirit grows heavy in love.


MOTH            And that’s great marvel, loving a light wench.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I say, sing.


MOTH            Forbear till this company be past.




DULL            Sir, the duke’s pleasure is, that you keep Costard

safe: and you must suffer him to take no delight

nor no penance; but a’ must fast three days a week.

For this damsel, I must keep her at the park: she

is allowed for the day-woman. Fare you well.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I do betray myself with blushing. Maid!


JAQUENETTA            Man?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I will visit thee at the lodge.


JAQUENETTA            That’s hereby.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I know where it is situate.


JAQUENETTA            Lord, how wise you are!



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I will tell thee wonders.


JAQUENETTA            With that face?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I love thee.


JAQUENETTA            So I heard you say.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            And so, farewell.


JAQUENETTA            Fair weather after you!


DULL            Come, Jaquenetta, away!





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Villain, thou shalt fast for thy offences ere thou

be pardoned.


COSTARD            Well, sir, I hope, when I do it, I shall do it on a

full stomach.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Thou shalt be heavily punished.


COSTARD            I am more bound to you than your fellows, for they

are but lightly rewarded.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Take away this villain; shut him up.


MOTH            Come, you transgressing slave; away!


COSTARD            Let me not be pent up, sir: I will fast, being loose.


MOTH            No, sir; that were fast and loose: thou shalt to prison.


COSTARD            Well, if ever I do see the merry days of desolation

that I have seen, some shall see.


MOTH            What shall some see?


COSTARD            Nay, nothing, Master Moth, but what they look upon.

It is not for prisoners to be too silent in their

words; and therefore I will say nothing: I thank

God I have as little patience as another man; and

therefore I can be quiet.


[Exeunt MOTH and COSTARD]



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I do affect the very ground, which is base, where

her shoe, which is baser, guided by her foot, which

is basest, doth tread. I shall be forsworn, which

is a great argument of falsehood, if I love. And

how can that be true love which is falsely

attempted? Love is a familiar; Love is a devil:

there is no evil angel but Love. Yet was Samson so

tempted, and he had an excellent strength; yet was

Solomon so seduced, and he had a very good wit.

Cupid’s butt-shaft is too hard for Hercules’ club;

and therefore too much odds for a Spaniard’s rapier.

The first and second cause will not serve my turn;

the passado he respects not, the duello he regards

not: his disgrace is to be called boy; but his

glory is to subdue men. Adieu, valour! rust rapier!

be still, drum! for your manager is in love; yea,

he loveth. Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme,

for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit;

write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.














SCENE I            The same.



[Enter the PRINCESS of France, ROSALINE, MARIA,

KATHARINE, BOYET, Lords, and other Attendants]


BOYET            Now, madam, summon up your dearest spirits:

Consider who the king your father sends,

To whom he sends, and what’s his embassy:

Yourself, held precious in the world’s esteem,

To parley with the sole inheritor

Of all perfections that a man may owe,

Matchless Navarre; the plea of no less weight

Than Aquitaine, a dowry for a queen.

Be now as prodigal of all dear grace

As Nature was in making graces dear

When she did starve the general world beside

And prodigally gave them all to you.


PRINCESS            Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,

Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:

Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,

Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues:

I am less proud to hear you tell my worth

Than you much willing to be counted wise

In spending your wit in the praise of mine.

But now to task the tasker: good Boyet,

You are not ignorant, all-telling fame

Doth noise abroad, Navarre hath made a vow,

Till painful study shall outwear three years,

No woman may approach his silent court:

Therefore to’s seemeth it a needful course,

Before we enter his forbidden gates,

To know his pleasure; and in that behalf,

Bold of your worthiness, we single you

As our best-moving fair solicitor.

Tell him, the daughter of the King of France,

On serious business, craving quick dispatch,

Importunes personal conference with his grace:

Haste, signify so much; while we attend,

Like humble-visaged suitors, his high will.


BOYET            Proud of employment, willingly I go.


PRINCESS            All pride is willing pride, and yours is so.


[Exit BOYET]


Who are the votaries, my loving lords,

That are vow-fellows with this virtuous duke?


First Lord            Lord Longaville is one.


PRINCESS            Know you the man?


MARIA            I know him, madam: at a marriage-feast,

Between Lord Perigort and the beauteous heir

Of Jaques Falconbridge, solemnized

In Normandy, saw I this Longaville:

A man of sovereign parts he is esteem’d;

Well fitted in arts, glorious in arms:

Nothing becomes him ill that he would well.

The only soil of his fair virtue’s gloss,

If virtue’s gloss will stain with any soil,

Is a sharp wit matched with too blunt a will;

Whose edge hath power to cut, whose will still wills

It should none spare that come within his power.


PRINCESS            Some merry mocking lord, belike; is’t so?


MARIA            They say so most that most his humours know.


PRINCESS            Such short-lived wits do wither as they grow.

Who are the rest?


KATHARINE            The young Dumain, a well-accomplished youth,

Of all that virtue love for virtue loved:

Most power to do most harm, least knowing ill;

For he hath wit to make an ill shape good,

And shape to win grace though he had no wit.

I saw him at the Duke Alencon’s once;

And much too little of that good I saw

Is my report to his great worthiness.


ROSALINE            Another of these students at that time

Was there with him, if I have heard a truth.

Berowne they call him; but a merrier man,

Within the limit of becoming mirth,

I never spent an hour’s talk withal:

His eye begets occasion for his wit;

For every object that the one doth catch

The other turns to a mirth-moving jest,

Which his fair tongue, conceit’s expositor,

Delivers in such apt and gracious words

That aged ears play truant at his tales

And younger hearings are quite ravished;

So sweet and voluble is his discourse.


PRINCESS            God bless my ladies! are they all in love,

That every one her own hath garnished

With such bedecking ornaments of praise?


First Lord            Here comes Boyet.


[Re-enter BOYET]


PRINCESS            Now, what admittance, lord?


BOYET            Navarre had notice of your fair approach;

And he and his competitors in oath

Were all address’d to meet you, gentle lady,

Before I came. Marry, thus much I have learnt:

He rather means to lodge you in the field,

Like one that comes here to besiege his court,

Than seek a dispensation for his oath,

To let you enter his unpeopled house.

Here comes Navarre.





FERDINAND            Fair princess, welcome to the court of Navarre.


PRINCESS            ‘Fair’ I give you back again; and ‘welcome’ I have

not yet: the roof of this court is too high to be

yours; and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine.


FERDINAND            You shall be welcome, madam, to my court.


PRINCESS            I will be welcome, then: conduct me thither.


FERDINAND            Hear me, dear lady; I have sworn an oath.


PRINCESS            Our Lady help my lord! he’ll be forsworn.


FERDINAND            Not for the world, fair madam, by my will.


PRINCESS            Why, will shall break it; will and nothing else.


FERDINAND            Your ladyship is ignorant what it is.


PRINCESS            Were my lord so, his ignorance were wise,

Where now his knowledge must prove ignorance.

I hear your grace hath sworn out house-keeping:

Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my lord,

And sin to break it.

But pardon me. I am too sudden-bold:

To teach a teacher ill beseemeth me.

Vouchsafe to read the purpose of my coming,

And suddenly resolve me in my suit.


FERDINAND            Madam, I will, if suddenly I may.


PRINCESS            You will the sooner, that I were away;

For you’ll prove perjured if you make me stay.


BEROWNE            Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?


ROSALINE            Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?


BEROWNE            I know you did.


ROSALINE            How needless was it then to ask the question!


BEROWNE            You must not be so quick.


ROSALINE            ‘Tis ‘long of you that spur me with such questions.


BEROWNE            Your wit’s too hot, it speeds too fast, ’twill tire.


ROSALINE            Not till it leave the rider in the mire.


BEROWNE            What time o’ day?


ROSALINE            The hour that fools should ask.


BEROWNE            Now fair befall your mask!


ROSALINE            Fair fall the face it covers!


BEROWNE            And send you many lovers!


ROSALINE            Amen, so you be none.


BEROWNE            Nay, then will I be gone.


FERDINAND            Madam, your father here doth intimate

The payment of a hundred thousand crowns;

Being but the one half of an entire sum

Disbursed by my father in his wars.

But say that he or we, as neither have,

Received that sum, yet there remains unpaid

A hundred thousand more; in surety of the which,

One part of Aquitaine is bound to us,

Although not valued to the money’s worth.

If then the king your father will restore

But that one half which is unsatisfied,

We will give up our right in Aquitaine,

And hold fair friendship with his majesty.

But that, it seems, he little purposeth,

For here he doth demand to have repaid

A hundred thousand crowns; and not demands,

On payment of a hundred thousand crowns,

To have his title live in Aquitaine;

Which we much rather had depart withal

And have the money by our father lent

Than Aquitaine so gelded as it is.

Dear Princess, were not his requests so far

From reason’s yielding, your fair self should make

A yielding ‘gainst some reason in my breast

And go well satisfied to France again.


PRINCESS            You do the king my father too much wrong

And wrong the reputation of your name,

In so unseeming to confess receipt

Of that which hath so faithfully been paid.


FERDINAND            I do protest I never heard of it;

And if you prove it, I’ll repay it back

Or yield up Aquitaine.


PRINCESS            We arrest your word.

Boyet, you can produce acquittances

For such a sum from special officers

Of Charles his father.


FERDINAND            Satisfy me so.


BOYET            So please your grace, the packet is not come

Where that and other specialties are bound:

To-morrow you shall have a sight of them.


FERDINAND            It shall suffice me: at which interview

All liberal reason I will yield unto.

Meantime receive such welcome at my hand

As honour without breach of honour may

Make tender of to thy true worthiness:

You may not come, fair princess, in my gates;

But here without you shall be so received

As you shall deem yourself lodged in my heart,

Though so denied fair harbour in my house.

Your own good thoughts excuse me, and farewell:

To-morrow shall we visit you again.


PRINCESS            Sweet health and fair desires consort your grace!


FERDINAND            Thy own wish wish I thee in every place!




BEROWNE            Lady, I will commend you to mine own heart.


ROSALINE            Pray you, do my commendations; I would be glad to see it.


BEROWNE            I would you heard it groan.


ROSALINE            Is the fool sick?


BEROWNE            Sick at the heart.


ROSALINE            Alack, let it blood.


BEROWNE            Would that do it good?


ROSALINE            My physic says ‘ay.’


BEROWNE            Will you prick’t with your eye?


ROSALINE            No point, with my knife.


BEROWNE            Now, God save thy life!


ROSALINE            And yours from long living!


BEROWNE            I cannot stay thanksgiving.




DUMAIN            Sir, I pray you, a word: what lady is that same?


BOYET            The heir of Alencon, Katharine her name.


DUMAIN            A gallant lady. Monsieur, fare you well.




LONGAVILLE            I beseech you a word: what is she in the white?


BOYET            A woman sometimes, an you saw her in the light.


LONGAVILLE            Perchance light in the light. I desire her name.


BOYET            She hath but one for herself; to desire that were a shame.


LONGAVILLE            Pray you, sir, whose daughter?


BOYET            Her mother’s, I have heard.


LONGAVILLE            God’s blessing on your beard!


BOYET            Good sir, be not offended.

She is an heir of Falconbridge.


LONGAVILLE            Nay, my choler is ended.

She is a most sweet lady.


BOYET            Not unlike, sir, that may be.




BEROWNE            What’s her name in the cap?


BOYET            Rosaline, by good hap.


BEROWNE            Is she wedded or no?


BOYET            To her will, sir, or so.


BEROWNE            You are welcome, sir: adieu.


BOYET            Farewell to me, sir, and welcome to you.




MARIA            That last is Berowne, the merry madcap lord:

Not a word with him but a jest.


BOYET            And every jest but a word.


PRINCESS            It was well done of you to take him at his word.


BOYET            I was as willing to grapple as he was to board.


MARIA            Two hot sheeps, marry.


BOYET            And wherefore not ships?

No sheep, sweet lamb, unless we feed on your lips.


MARIA            You sheep, and I pasture: shall that finish the jest?


BOYET            So you grant pasture for me.


[Offering to kiss her]


MARIA            Not so, gentle beast:

My lips are no common, though several they be.


BOYET            Belonging to whom?


MARIA                              To my fortunes and me.


PRINCESS            Good wits will be jangling; but, gentles, agree:

This civil war of wits were much better used

On Navarre and his book-men; for here ’tis abused.


BOYET            If my observation, which very seldom lies,

By the heart’s still rhetoric disclosed with eyes,

Deceive me not now, Navarre is infected.


PRINCESS            With what?


BOYET            With that which we lovers entitle affected.


PRINCESS            Your reason?


BOYET            Why, all his behaviors did make their retire

To the court of his eye, peeping thorough desire:

His heart, like an agate, with your print impress’d,

Proud with his form, in his eye pride express’d:

His tongue, all impatient to speak and not see,

Did stumble with haste in his eyesight to be;

All senses to that sense did make their repair,

To feel only looking on fairest of fair:

Methought all his senses were lock’d in his eye,

As jewels in crystal for some prince to buy;

Who, tendering their own worth from where they were glass’d,

Did point you to buy them, along as you pass’d:

His face’s own margent did quote such amazes

That all eyes saw his eyes enchanted with gazes.

I’ll give you Aquitaine and all that is his,

An you give him for my sake but one loving kiss.


PRINCESS            Come to our pavilion: Boyet is disposed.


BOYET            But to speak that in words which his eye hath


I only have made a mouth of his eye,

By adding a tongue which I know will not lie.


ROSALINE            Thou art an old love-monger and speakest skilfully.


MARIA            He is Cupid’s grandfather and learns news of him.


ROSALINE            Then was Venus like her mother, for her father is but grim.


BOYET            Do you hear, my mad wenches?


MARIA            No.


BOYET            What then, do you see?


ROSALINE            Ay, our way to be gone.


BOYET            You are too hard for me.














SCENE I            The same.






ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Warble, child; make passionate my sense of hearing.


MOTH            Concolinel.





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet air! Go, tenderness of years; take this key,

give enlargement to the swain, bring him festinately

hither: I must employ him in a letter to my love.


MOTH            Master, will you win your love with a French brawl?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            How meanest thou? brawling in French?


MOTH            No, my complete master: but to jig off a tune at

the tongue’s end, canary to it with your feet, humour

it with turning up your eyelids, sigh a note and

sing a note, sometime through the throat, as if you

swallowed love with singing love, sometime through

the nose, as if you snuffed up love by smelling

love; with your hat penthouse-like o’er the shop of

your eyes; with your arms crossed on your thin-belly

doublet like a rabbit on a spit; or your hands in

your pocket like a man after the old painting; and

keep not too long in one tune, but a snip and away.

These are complements, these are humours; these

betray nice wenches, that would be betrayed without

these; and make them men of note–do you note

me?–that most are affected to these.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            How hast thou purchased this experience?


MOTH            By my penny of observation.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            But O,–but O,–


MOTH            ‘The hobby-horse is forgot.’



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Callest thou my love ‘hobby-horse’?


MOTH            No, master; the hobby-horse is but a colt, and your

love perhaps a hackney. But have you forgot your love?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Almost I had.


MOTH            Negligent student! learn her by heart.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            By heart and in heart, boy.


MOTH            And out of heart, master: all those three I will prove.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            What wilt thou prove?


MOTH            A man, if I live; and this, by, in, and without, upon

the instant: by heart you love her, because your

heart cannot come by her; in heart you love her,

because your heart is in love with her; and out of

heart you love her, being out of heart that you

cannot enjoy her.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I am all these three.


MOTH            And three times as much more, and yet nothing at




ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Fetch hither the swain: he must carry me a letter.


MOTH            A message well sympathized; a horse to be ambassador

for an ass.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Ha, ha! what sayest thou?


MOTH            Marry, sir, you must send the ass upon the horse,

for he is very slow-gaited. But I go.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The way is but short: away!


MOTH            As swift as lead, sir.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The meaning, pretty ingenious?

Is not lead a metal heavy, dull, and slow?


MOTH            Minime, honest master; or rather, master, no.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I say lead is slow.


MOTH            You are too swift, sir, to say so:

Is that lead slow which is fired from a gun?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet smoke of rhetoric!

He reputes me a cannon; and the bullet, that’s he:

I shoot thee at the swain.


MOTH            Thump then and I flee.





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            A most acute juvenal; voluble and free of grace!

By thy favour, sweet welkin, I must sigh in thy face:

Most rude melancholy, valour gives thee place.

My herald is return’d.


[Re-enter MOTH with COSTARD]


MOTH            A wonder, master! here’s a costard broken in a shin.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Some enigma, some riddle: come, thy l’envoy; begin.


COSTARD            No enigma, no riddle, no l’envoy; no salve in the

mail, sir: O, sir, plantain, a plain plantain! no

l’envoy, no l’envoy; no salve, sir, but a plantain!



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            By virtue, thou enforcest laughter; thy silly

thought my spleen; the heaving of my lungs provokes

me to ridiculous smiling. O, pardon me, my stars!

Doth the inconsiderate take salve for l’envoy, and

the word l’envoy for a salve?


MOTH            Do the wise think them other? is not l’envoy a salve?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            No, page: it is an epilogue or discourse, to make plain

Some obscure precedence that hath tofore been sain.

I will example it:

The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,

Were still at odds, being but three.

There’s the moral. Now the l’envoy.


MOTH            I will add the l’envoy. Say the moral again.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO                      The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,

Were still at odds, being but three.


MOTH                      Until the goose came out of door,

And stay’d the odds by adding four.

Now will I begin your moral, and do you follow with

my l’envoy.

The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,

Were still at odds, being but three.


ADRIANO DE ARMADO                      Until the goose came out of door,

Staying the odds by adding four.


MOTH            A good l’envoy, ending in the goose: would you

desire more?


COSTARD            The boy hath sold him a bargain, a goose, that’s flat.

Sir, your pennyworth is good, an your goose be fat.

To sell a bargain well is as cunning as fast and loose:

Let me see; a fat l’envoy; ay, that’s a fat goose.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Come hither, come hither. How did this argument begin?


MOTH            By saying that a costard was broken in a shin.

Then call’d you for the l’envoy.


COSTARD            True, and I for a plantain: thus came your

argument in;

Then the boy’s fat l’envoy, the goose that you bought;

And he ended the market.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            But tell me; how was there a costard broken in a shin?


MOTH            I will tell you sensibly.


COSTARD            Thou hast no feeling of it, Moth: I will speak that l’envoy:

I Costard, running out, that was safely within,

Fell over the threshold and broke my shin.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            We will talk no more of this matter.


COSTARD            Till there be more matter in the shin.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sirrah Costard, I will enfranchise thee.


COSTARD            O, marry me to one Frances: I smell some l’envoy,

some goose, in this.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            By my sweet soul, I mean setting thee at liberty,

enfreedoming thy person; thou wert immured,

restrained, captivated, bound.


COSTARD            True, true; and now you will be my purgation and let me loose.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I give thee thy liberty, set thee from durance; and,

in lieu thereof, impose on thee nothing but this:

bear this significant


[Giving a letter]


to the country maid Jaquenetta:

there is remuneration; for the best ward of mine

honour is rewarding my dependents. Moth, follow.




MOTH            Like the sequel, I. Signior Costard, adieu.


COSTARD            My sweet ounce of man’s flesh! my incony Jew!


[Exit MOTH]


Now will I look to his remuneration. Remuneration!

O, that’s the Latin word for three farthings: three

farthings–remuneration.–‘What’s the price of this

inkle?’–‘One penny.’–‘No, I’ll give you a

remuneration:’ why, it carries it. Remuneration!

why, it is a fairer name than French crown. I will

never buy and sell out of this word.




BEROWNE            O, my good knave Costard! exceedingly well met.


COSTARD            Pray you, sir, how much carnation ribbon may a man

buy for a remuneration?


BEROWNE            What is a remuneration?


COSTARD            Marry, sir, halfpenny farthing.


BEROWNE            Why, then, three-farthing worth of silk.


COSTARD            I thank your worship: God be wi’ you!


BEROWNE            Stay, slave; I must employ thee:

As thou wilt win my favour, good my knave,

Do one thing for me that I shall entreat.


COSTARD            When would you have it done, sir?


BEROWNE            This afternoon.


COSTARD            Well, I will do it, sir: fare you well.


BEROWNE            Thou knowest not what it is.


COSTARD            I shall know, sir, when I have done it.


BEROWNE            Why, villain, thou must know first.


COSTARD            I will come to your worship to-morrow morning.


BEROWNE            It must be done this afternoon.

Hark, slave, it is but this:

The princess comes to hunt here in the park,

And in her train there is a gentle lady;

When tongues speak sweetly, then they name her name,

And Rosaline they call her: ask for her;

And to her white hand see thou do commend

This seal’d-up counsel. There’s thy guerdon; go.


[Giving him a shilling]


COSTARD            Gardon, O sweet gardon! better than remuneration,

a’leven-pence farthing better: most sweet gardon! I

will do it sir, in print. Gardon! Remuneration!




BEROWNE            And I, forsooth, in love! I, that have been love’s whip;

A very beadle to a humorous sigh;

A critic, nay, a night-watch constable;

A domineering pedant o’er the boy;

Than whom no mortal so magnificent!

This whimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy;

This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid;

Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,

The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,

Liege of all loiterers and malcontents,

Dread prince of plackets, king of codpieces,

Sole imperator and great general

Of trotting ‘paritors:–O my little heart:–

And I to be a corporal of his field,

And wear his colours like a tumbler’s hoop!

What, I! I love! I sue! I seek a wife!

A woman, that is like a German clock,

Still a-repairing, ever out of frame,

And never going aright, being a watch,

But being watch’d that it may still go right!

Nay, to be perjured, which is worst of all;

And, among three, to love the worst of all;

A wightly wanton with a velvet brow,

With two pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes;

Ay, and by heaven, one that will do the deed

Though Argus were her eunuch and her guard:

And I to sigh for her! to watch for her!

To pray for her! Go to; it is a plague

That Cupid will impose for my neglect

Of his almighty dreadful little might.

Well, I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue and groan:

Some men must love my lady and some Joan.














SCENE I            The same.



[Enter the PRINCESS, and her train, a Forester,



PRINCESS            Was that the king, that spurred his horse so hard

Against the steep uprising of the hill?


BOYET            I know not; but I think it was not he.


PRINCESS            Whoe’er a’ was, a’ show’d a mounting mind.

Well, lords, to-day we shall have our dispatch:

On Saturday we will return to France.

Then, forester, my friend, where is the bush

That we must stand and play the murderer in?


Forester            Hereby, upon the edge of yonder coppice;

A stand where you may make the fairest shoot.


PRINCESS            I thank my beauty, I am fair that shoot,

And thereupon thou speak’st the fairest shoot.


Forester            Pardon me, madam, for I meant not so.


PRINCESS            What, what? first praise me and again say no?

O short-lived pride! Not fair? alack for woe!


Forester            Yes, madam, fair.


PRINCESS                              Nay, never paint me now:

Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.

Here, good my glass, take this for telling true:

Fair payment for foul words is more than due.


Forester            Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.


PRINCESS            See see, my beauty will be saved by merit!

O heresy in fair, fit for these days!

A giving hand, though foul, shall have fair praise.

But come, the bow: now mercy goes to kill,

And shooting well is then accounted ill.

Thus will I save my credit in the shoot:

Not wounding, pity would not let me do’t;

If wounding, then it was to show my skill,

That more for praise than purpose meant to kill.

And out of question so it is sometimes,

Glory grows guilty of detested crimes,

When, for fame’s sake, for praise, an outward part,

We bend to that the working of the heart;

As I for praise alone now seek to spill

The poor deer’s blood, that my heart means no ill.


BOYET            Do not curst wives hold that self-sovereignty

Only for praise sake, when they strive to be

Lords o’er their lords?


PRINCESS            Only for praise: and praise we may afford

To any lady that subdues a lord.


BOYET            Here comes a member of the commonwealth.




COSTARD            God dig-you-den all! Pray you, which is the head lady?


PRINCESS            Thou shalt know her, fellow, by the rest that have no heads.


COSTARD            Which is the greatest lady, the highest?


PRINCESS            The thickest and the tallest.


COSTARD            The thickest and the tallest! it is so; truth is truth.

An your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit,

One o’ these maids’ girdles for your waist should be fit.

Are not you the chief woman? you are the thickest here.


PRINCESS            What’s your will, sir? what’s your will?


COSTARD            I have a letter from Monsieur Berowne to one Lady Rosaline.


PRINCESS            O, thy letter, thy letter! he’s a good friend of mine:

Stand aside, good bearer. Boyet, you can carve;

Break up this capon.


BOYET            I am bound to serve.

This letter is mistook, it importeth none here;

It is writ to Jaquenetta.


PRINCESS            We will read it, I swear.

Break the neck of the wax, and every one give ear.




BOYET            ‘By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible;

true, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that

thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful

than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have

commiseration on thy heroical vassal! The

magnanimous and most illustrate king Cophetua set

eye upon the pernicious and indubitate beggar

Zenelophon; and he it was that might rightly say,

Veni, vidi, vici; which to annothanize in the

vulgar,–O base and obscure vulgar!–videlicet, He

came, saw, and overcame: he came, one; saw two;

overcame, three. Who came? the king: why did he

come? to see: why did he see? to overcome: to

whom came he? to the beggar: what saw he? the

beggar: who overcame he? the beggar. The

conclusion is victory: on whose side? the king’s.

The captive is enriched: on whose side? the

beggar’s. The catastrophe is a nuptial: on whose

side? the king’s: no, on both in one, or one in

both. I am the king; for so stands the comparison:

thou the beggar; for so witnesseth thy lowliness.

Shall I command thy love? I may: shall I enforce

thy love? I could: shall I entreat thy love? I

will. What shalt thou exchange for rags? robes;

for tittles? titles; for thyself? me. Thus,

expecting thy reply, I profane my lips on thy foot,

my eyes on thy picture. and my heart on thy every

part. Thine, in the dearest design of industry,



Thus dost thou hear the Nemean lion roar

‘Gainst thee, thou lamb, that standest as his prey.

Submissive fall his princely feet before,

And he from forage will incline to play:

But if thou strive, poor soul, what art thou then?

Food for his rage, repasture for his den.


PRINCESS            What plume of feathers is he that indited this letter?

What vane? what weathercock? did you ever hear better?


BOYET            I am much deceived but I remember the style.


PRINCESS            Else your memory is bad, going o’er it erewhile.


BOYET            This Armado is a Spaniard, that keeps here in court;

A phantasime, a Monarcho, and one that makes sport

To the prince and his bookmates.


PRINCESS            Thou fellow, a word:

Who gave thee this letter?


COSTARD            I told you; my lord.


PRINCESS            To whom shouldst thou give it?


COSTARD            From my lord to my lady.


PRINCESS            From which lord to which lady?


COSTARD            From my lord Berowne, a good master of mine,

To a lady of France that he call’d Rosaline.


PRINCESS            Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come, lords, away.




Here, sweet, put up this: ’twill be thine another day.


[Exeunt PRINCESS and train]


BOYET            Who is the suitor? who is the suitor?


ROSALINE            Shall I teach you to know?


BOYET            Ay, my continent of beauty.


ROSALINE            Why, she that bears the bow.

Finely put off!


BOYET            My lady goes to kill horns; but, if thou marry,

Hang me by the neck, if horns that year miscarry.

Finely put on!


ROSALINE            Well, then, I am the shooter.


BOYET            And who is your deer?


ROSALINE            If we choose by the horns, yourself come not near.

Finely put on, indeed!


MARIA            You still wrangle with her, Boyet, and she strikes

at the brow.


BOYET            But she herself is hit lower: have I hit her now?


ROSALINE            Shall I come upon thee with an old saying, that was

a man when King Pepin of France was a little boy, as

touching the hit it?


BOYET            So I may answer thee with one as old, that was a

woman when Queen Guinover of Britain was a little

wench, as touching the hit it.


ROSALINE                      Thou canst not hit it, hit it, hit it,

Thou canst not hit it, my good man.


BOYET                      An I cannot, cannot, cannot,

An I cannot, another can.




COSTARD            By my troth, most pleasant: how both did fit it!


MARIA            A mark marvellous well shot, for they both did hit it.


BOYET            A mark! O, mark but that mark! A mark, says my lady!

Let the mark have a prick in’t, to mete at, if it may be.


MARIA            Wide o’ the bow hand! i’ faith, your hand is out.


COSTARD            Indeed, a’ must shoot nearer, or he’ll ne’er hit the clout.


BOYET            An if my hand be out, then belike your hand is in.


COSTARD            Then will she get the upshoot by cleaving the pin.


MARIA            Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul.


COSTARD            She’s too hard for you at pricks, sir: challenge her to bowl.


BOYET            I fear too much rubbing. Good night, my good owl.


[Exeunt BOYET and MARIA]


COSTARD            By my soul, a swain! a most simple clown!

Lord, Lord, how the ladies and I have put him down!

O’ my troth, most sweet jests! most incony

vulgar wit!

When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it

were, so fit.

Armado o’ th’ one side,–O, a most dainty man!

To see him walk before a lady and to bear her fan!

To see him kiss his hand! and how most sweetly a’

will swear!

And his page o’ t’ other side, that handful of wit!

Ah, heavens, it is a most pathetical nit!

Sola, sola!


[Shout within]


[Exit COSTARD, running]












SCENE II            The same.





SIR NATHANIEL            Very reverend sport, truly; and done in the testimony

of a good conscience.


HOLOFERNES            The deer was, as you know, sanguis, in blood; ripe

as the pomewater, who now hangeth like a jewel in

the ear of caelo, the sky, the welkin, the heaven;

and anon falleth like a crab on the face of terra,

the soil, the land, the earth.


SIR NATHANIEL            Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are sweetly

varied, like a scholar at the least: but, sir, I

assure ye, it was a buck of the first head.


HOLOFERNES            Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.


DULL            ‘Twas not a haud credo; ’twas a pricket.


HOLOFERNES            Most barbarous intimation! yet a kind of

insinuation, as it were, in via, in way, of

explication; facere, as it were, replication, or

rather, ostentare, to show, as it were, his

inclination, after his undressed, unpolished,

uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather,

unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion, to

insert again my haud credo for a deer.


DULL            I said the deer was not a haud credo; twas a pricket.


HOLOFERNES            Twice-sod simplicity, his coctus!

O thou monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!


SIR NATHANIEL            Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred

in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he

hath not drunk ink: his intellect is not

replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in

the duller parts:

And such barren plants are set before us, that we

thankful should be,

Which we of taste and feeling are, for those parts that

do fructify in us more than he.

For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet, or a fool,

So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in a school:

But omne bene, say I; being of an old father’s mind,

Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.


DULL            You two are book-men: can you tell me by your wit

What was a month old at Cain’s birth, that’s not five

weeks old as yet?


HOLOFERNES            Dictynna, goodman Dull; Dictynna, goodman Dull.


DULL            What is Dictynna?


SIR NATHANIEL            A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon.


HOLOFERNES            The moon was a month old when Adam was no more,

And raught not to five weeks when he came to


The allusion holds in the exchange.


DULL            ‘Tis true indeed; the collusion holds in the exchange.


HOLOFERNES            God comfort thy capacity! I say, the allusion holds

in the exchange.


DULL            And I say, the pollusion holds in the exchange; for

the moon is never but a month old: and I say beside

that, ’twas a pricket that the princess killed.


HOLOFERNES            Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal epitaph

on the death of the deer? And, to humour the

ignorant, call I the deer the princess killed a pricket.


SIR NATHANIEL            Perge, good Master Holofernes, perge; so it shall

please you to abrogate scurrility.


HOLOFERNES            I will something affect the letter, for it argues facility.

The preyful princess pierced and prick’d a pretty

pleasing pricket;

Some say a sore; but not a sore, till now made

sore with shooting.

The dogs did yell: put L to sore, then sorel jumps

from thicket;

Or pricket sore, or else sorel; the people fall a-hooting.

If sore be sore, then L to sore makes fifty sores

one sorel.

Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one more L.


SIR NATHANIEL            A rare talent!


DULL            [Aside]  If a talent be a claw, look how he claws

him with a talent.


HOLOFERNES            This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a

foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures,

shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions,

revolutions: these are begot in the ventricle of

memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and

delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. But the

gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am

thankful for it.


SIR NATHANIEL            Sir, I praise the Lord for you; and so may my

parishioners; for their sons are well tutored by

you, and their daughters profit very greatly under

you: you are a good member of the commonwealth.


HOLOFERNES            Mehercle, if their sons be ingenuous, they shall

want no instruction; if their daughters be capable,

I will put it to them: but vir sapit qui pauca

loquitur; a soul feminine saluteth us.




JAQUENETTA            God give you good morrow, master Parson.


HOLOFERNES            Master Parson, quasi pers-on. An if one should be

pierced, which is the one?


COSTARD            Marry, master schoolmaster, he that is likest to a hogshead.


HOLOFERNES            Piercing a hogshead! a good lustre of conceit in a

tuft of earth; fire enough for a flint, pearl enough

for a swine: ’tis pretty; it is well.


JAQUENETTA            Good master Parson, be so good as read me this

letter: it was given me by Costard, and sent me

from Don Armado: I beseech you, read it.


HOLOFERNES            Fauste, precor gelida quando pecus omne sub umbra

Ruminat,–and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan! I

may speak of thee as the traveller doth of Venice;

Venetia, Venetia,

Chi non ti vede non ti pretia.

Old Mantuan, old Mantuan! who understandeth thee

not, loves thee not. Ut, re, sol, la, mi, fa.

Under pardon, sir, what are the contents? or rather,

as Horace says in his–What, my soul, verses?


SIR NATHANIEL            Ay, sir, and very learned.


HOLOFERNES            Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse; lege, domine.


SIR NATHANIEL            [Reads]


If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?

Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vow’d!

Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove:

Those thoughts to me were oaks, to thee like

osiers bow’d.

Study his bias leaves and makes his book thine eyes,

Where all those pleasures live that art would


If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice;

Well learned is that tongue that well can thee commend,

All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder;

Which is to me some praise that I thy parts admire:

Thy eye Jove’s lightning bears, thy voice his dreadful thunder,

Which not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.

Celestial as thou art, O, pardon, love, this wrong,

That sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.


HOLOFERNES            You find not the apostraphas, and so miss the

accent: let me supervise the canzonet. Here are

only numbers ratified; but, for the elegancy,

facility, and golden cadence of poesy, caret.

Ovidius Naso was the man: and why, indeed, Naso,

but for smelling out the odouriferous flowers of

fancy, the jerks of invention? Imitari is nothing:

so doth the hound his master, the ape his keeper,

the tired horse his rider. But, damosella virgin,

was this directed to you?


JAQUENETTA            Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Berowne, one of the strange

queen’s lords.


HOLOFERNES            I will overglance the superscript: ‘To the

snow-white hand of the most beauteous Lady

Rosaline.’ I will look again on the intellect of

the letter, for the nomination of the party writing

to the person written unto: ‘Your ladyship’s in all

desired employment, BEROWNE.’ Sir Nathaniel, this

Berowne is one of the votaries with the king; and here

he hath framed a letter to a sequent of the stranger

queen’s, which accidentally, or by the way of

progression, hath miscarried. Trip and go, my

sweet; deliver this paper into the royal hand of the

king: it may concern much. Stay not thy

compliment; I forgive thy duty; adieu.


JAQUENETTA            Good Costard, go with me. Sir, God save your life!


COSTARD            Have with thee, my girl.




SIR NATHANIEL            Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very

religiously; and, as a certain father saith,–


HOLOFERNES            Sir tell me not of the father; I do fear colourable

colours. But to return to the verses: did they

please you, Sir Nathaniel?


SIR NATHANIEL            Marvellous well for the pen.


HOLOFERNES            I do dine to-day at the father’s of a certain pupil

of mine; where, if, before repast, it shall please

you to gratify the table with a grace, I will, on my

privilege I have with the parents of the foresaid

child or pupil, undertake your ben venuto; where I

will prove those verses to be very unlearned,

neither savouring of poetry, wit, nor invention: I

beseech your society.


SIR NATHANIEL            And thank you too; for society, saith the text, is

the happiness of life.


HOLOFERNES            And, certes, the text most infallibly concludes it.




Sir, I do invite you too; you shall not

say me nay: pauca verba. Away! the gentles are at

their game, and we will to our recreation.














SCENE III            The same.



[Enter BEROWNE, with a paper]


BEROWNE            The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing

myself: they have pitched a toil; I am toiling in

a pitch,–pitch that defiles: defile! a foul

word. Well, set thee down, sorrow! for so they say

the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well

proved, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as

Ajax: it kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep:

well proved again o’ my side! I will not love: if

I do, hang me; i’ faith, I will not. O, but her

eye,–by this light, but for her eye, I would not

love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing

in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By

heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme

and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme,

and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one o’ my

sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent

it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter

fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care

a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one

with a paper: God give him grace to groan!


[Stands aside]


[Enter FERDINAND, with a paper]


FERDINAND            Ay me!


BEROWNE            [Aside]  Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet Cupid:

thou hast thumped him with thy bird-bolt under the

left pap. In faith, secrets!


FERDINAND            [Reads]


So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not

To those fresh morning drops upon the rose,

As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote

The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows:

Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright

Through the transparent bosom of the deep,

As doth thy face through tears of mine give light;

Thou shinest in every tear that I do weep:

No drop but as a coach doth carry thee;

So ridest thou triumphing in my woe.

Do but behold the tears that swell in me,

And they thy glory through my grief will show:

But do not love thyself; then thou wilt keep

My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.

O queen of queens! how far dost thou excel,

No thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell.

How shall she know my griefs? I’ll drop the paper:

Sweet leaves, shade folly. Who is he comes here?


[Steps aside]


What, Longaville! and reading! listen, ear.


BEROWNE            Now, in thy likeness, one more fool appear!


[Enter LONGAVILLE, with a paper]


LONGAVILLE            Ay me, I am forsworn!


BEROWNE            Why, he comes in like a perjure, wearing papers.


FERDINAND            In love, I hope: sweet fellowship in shame!


BEROWNE            One drunkard loves another of the name.


LONGAVILLE            Am I the first that have been perjured so?


BEROWNE            I could put thee in comfort. Not by two that I know:

Thou makest the triumviry, the corner-cap of society,

The shape of Love’s Tyburn that hangs up simplicity.


LONGAVILLE            I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move:

O sweet Maria, empress of my love!

These numbers will I tear, and write in prose.


BEROWNE            O, rhymes are guards on wanton Cupid’s hose:

Disfigure not his slop.


LONGAVILLE            This same shall go.




Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

‘Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,

Persuade my heart to this false perjury?

Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.

A woman I forswore; but I will prove,

Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee:

My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;

Thy grace being gain’d cures all disgrace in me.

Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is:

Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine,

Exhalest this vapour-vow; in thee it is:

If broken then, it is no fault of mine:

If by me broke, what fool is not so wise

To lose an oath to win a paradise?


BEROWNE            This is the liver-vein, which makes flesh a deity,

A green goose a goddess: pure, pure idolatry.

God amend us, God amend! we are much out o’ the way.


LONGAVILLE            By whom shall I send this?–Company! stay.


[Steps aside]


BEROWNE            All hid, all hid; an old infant play.

Like a demigod here sit I in the sky.

And wretched fools’ secrets heedfully o’ereye.

More sacks to the mill! O heavens, I have my wish!


[Enter DUMAIN, with a paper]


Dumain transform’d! four woodcocks in a dish!


DUMAIN            O most divine Kate!


BEROWNE            O most profane coxcomb!


DUMAIN            By heaven, the wonder in a mortal eye!


BEROWNE            By earth, she is not, corporal, there you lie.


DUMAIN            Her amber hair for foul hath amber quoted.


BEROWNE            An amber-colour’d raven was well noted.


DUMAIN            As upright as the cedar.


BEROWNE            Stoop, I say;

Her shoulder is with child.


DUMAIN            As fair as day.


BEROWNE            Ay, as some days; but then no sun must shine.


DUMAIN            O that I had my wish!


LONGAVILLE            And I had mine!


FERDINAND            And I mine too, good Lord!


BEROWNE            Amen, so I had mine: is not that a good word?


DUMAIN            I would forget her; but a fever she

Reigns in my blood and will remember’d be.


BEROWNE            A fever in your blood! why, then incision

Would let her out in saucers: sweet misprision!


DUMAIN            Once more I’ll read the ode that I have writ.


BEROWNE            Once more I’ll mark how love can vary wit.


DUMAIN            [Reads]


On a day–alack the day!–

Love, whose month is ever May,

Spied a blossom passing fair

Playing in the wanton air:

Through the velvet leaves the wind,

All unseen, can passage find;

That the lover, sick to death,

Wish himself the heaven’s breath.

Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;

Air, would I might triumph so!

But, alack, my hand is sworn

Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn;

Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,

Youth so apt to pluck a sweet!

Do not call it sin in me,

That I am forsworn for thee;

Thou for whom Jove would swear

Juno but an Ethiope were;

And deny himself for Jove,

Turning mortal for thy love.

This will I send, and something else more plain,

That shall express my true love’s fasting pain.

O, would the king, Berowne, and Longaville,

Were lovers too! Ill, to example ill,

Would from my forehead wipe a perjured note;

For none offend where all alike do dote.


LONGAVILLE            [Advancing]  Dumain, thy love is far from charity.

You may look pale, but I should blush, I know,

To be o’erheard and taken napping so.


FERDINAND            [Advancing]  Come, sir, you blush; as his your case is such;

You chide at him, offending twice as much;

You do not love Maria; Longaville

Did never sonnet for her sake compile,

Nor never lay his wreathed arms athwart

His loving bosom to keep down his heart.

I have been closely shrouded in this bush

And mark’d you both and for you both did blush:

I heard your guilty rhymes, observed your fashion,

Saw sighs reek from you, noted well your passion:

Ay me! says one; O Jove! the other cries;

One, her hairs were gold, crystal the other’s eyes:




You would for paradise break faith, and troth;




And Jove, for your love, would infringe an oath.

What will Berowne say when that he shall hear

Faith so infringed, which such zeal did swear?

How will he scorn! how will he spend his wit!

How will he triumph, leap and laugh at it!

For all the wealth that ever I did see,

I would not have him know so much by me.


BEROWNE            Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.




Ah, good my liege, I pray thee, pardon me!

Good heart, what grace hast thou, thus to reprove

These worms for loving, that art most in love?

Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears

There is no certain princess that appears;

You’ll not be perjured, ’tis a hateful thing;

Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!

But are you not ashamed? nay, are you not,

All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?

You found his mote; the king your mote did see;

But I a beam do find in each of three.

O, what a scene of foolery have I seen,

Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow and of teen!

O me, with what strict patience have I sat,

To see a king transformed to a gnat!

To see great Hercules whipping a gig,

And profound Solomon to tune a jig,

And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys,

And critic Timon laugh at idle toys!

Where lies thy grief, O, tell me, good Dumain?

And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain?

And where my liege’s? all about the breast:

A caudle, ho!


FERDINAND                              Too bitter is thy jest.

Are we betray’d thus to thy over-view?


BEROWNE            Not you to me, but I betray’d by you:

I, that am honest; I, that hold it sin

To break the vow I am engaged in;

I am betray’d, by keeping company

With men like men of inconstancy.

When shall you see me write a thing in rhyme?

Or groan for love? or spend a minute’s time

In pruning me? When shall you hear that I

Will praise a hand, a foot, a face, an eye,

A gait, a state, a brow, a breast, a waist,

A leg, a limb?


FERDINAND                              Soft! whither away so fast?

A true man or a thief that gallops so?


BEROWNE            I post from love: good lover, let me go.




JAQUENETTA            God bless the king!


FERDINAND            What present hast thou there?


COSTARD            Some certain treason.


FERDINAND            What makes treason here?


COSTARD            Nay, it makes nothing, sir.


FERDINAND            If it mar nothing neither,

The treason and you go in peace away together.


JAQUENETTA            I beseech your grace, let this letter be read:

Our parson misdoubts it; ’twas treason, he said.


FERDINAND            Berowne, read it over.


[Giving him the paper]


Where hadst thou it?


JAQUENETTA            Of Costard.


FERDINAND            Where hadst thou it?


COSTARD            Of Dun Adramadio, Dun Adramadio.


[BEROWNE tears the letter]


FERDINAND            How now! what is in you? why dost thou tear it?


BEROWNE            A toy, my liege, a toy: your grace needs not fear it.


LONGAVILLE            It did move him to passion, and therefore let’s hear it.


DUMAIN            It is Berowne’s writing, and here is his name.


[Gathering up the pieces]


BEROWNE            [To COSTARD]  Ah, you whoreson loggerhead! you were

born to do me shame.

Guilty, my lord, guilty! I confess, I confess.


FERDINAND            What?


BEROWNE            That you three fools lack’d me fool to make up the mess:

He, he, and you, and you, my liege, and I,

Are pick-purses in love, and we deserve to die.

O, dismiss this audience, and I shall tell you more.


DUMAIN            Now the number is even.


BEROWNE            True, true; we are four.

Will these turtles be gone?


FERDINAND            Hence, sirs; away!


COSTARD            Walk aside the true folk, and let the traitors stay.




BEROWNE            Sweet lords, sweet lovers, O, let us embrace!

As true we are as flesh and blood can be:

The sea will ebb and flow, heaven show his face;

Young blood doth not obey an old decree:

We cannot cross the cause why we were born;

Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.


FERDINAND            What, did these rent lines show some love of thine?


BEROWNE            Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly Rosaline,

That, like a rude and savage man of Inde,

At the first opening of the gorgeous east,

Bows not his vassal head and strucken blind

Kisses the base ground with obedient breast?

What peremptory eagle-sighted eye

Dares look upon the heaven of her brow,

That is not blinded by her majesty?


FERDINAND               What zeal, what fury hath inspired thee now?

My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon;

She an attending star, scarce seen a light.


BEROWNE            My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Berowne:

O, but for my love, day would turn to night!

Of all complexions the cull’d sovereignty

Do meet, as at a fair, in her fair cheek,

Where several worthies make one dignity,

Where nothing wants that want itself doth seek.

Lend me the flourish of all gentle tongues,–

Fie, painted rhetoric! O, she needs it not:

To things of sale a seller’s praise belongs,

She passes praise; then praise too short doth blot.

A wither’d hermit, five-score winters worn,

Might shake off fifty, looking in her eye:

Beauty doth varnish age, as if new-born,

And gives the crutch the cradle’s infancy:

O, ’tis the sun that maketh all things shine.


FERDINAND               By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.


BEROWNE            Is ebony like her? O wood divine!

A wife of such wood were felicity.

O, who can give an oath? where is a book?

That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack,

If that she learn not of her eye to look:

No face is fair that is not full so black.


FERDINAND            O paradox! Black is the badge of hell,

The hue of dungeons and the suit of night;

And beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well.


BEROWNE               Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.

O, if in black my lady’s brows be deck’d,

It mourns that painting and usurping hair

Should ravish doters with a false aspect;

And therefore is she born to make black fair.

Her favour turns the fashion of the days,

For native blood is counted painting now;

And therefore red, that would avoid dispraise,

Paints itself black, to imitate her brow.


DUMAIN            To look like her are chimney-sweepers black.


LONGAVILLE               And since her time are colliers counted bright.


FERDINAND            And Ethiopes of their sweet complexion crack.


DUMAIN               Dark needs no candles now, for dark is light.


BEROWNE            Your mistresses dare never come in rain,

For fear their colours should be wash’d away.


FERDINAND            ‘Twere good, yours did; for, sir, to tell you plain,

I’ll find a fairer face not wash’d to-day.


BEROWNE            I’ll prove her fair, or talk till doomsday here.


FERDINAND               No devil will fright thee then so much as she.


DUMAIN            I never knew man hold vile stuff so dear.


LONGAVILLE               Look, here’s thy love: my foot and her face see.


BEROWNE            O, if the streets were paved with thine eyes,

Her feet were much too dainty for such tread!


DUMAIN            O, vile! then, as she goes, what upward lies

The street should see as she walk’d overhead.


FERDINAND            But what of this? are we not all in love?


BEROWNE               Nothing so sure; and thereby all forsworn.


FERDINAND            Then leave this chat; and, good Berowne, now prove

Our loving lawful, and our faith not torn.


DUMAIN            Ay, marry, there; some flattery for this evil.


LONGAVILLE               O, some authority how to proceed;

Some tricks, some quillets, how to cheat the devil.


DUMAIN            Some salve for perjury.


BEROWNE            ‘Tis more than need.

Have at you, then, affection’s men at arms.

Consider what you first did swear unto,

To fast, to study, and to see no woman;

Flat treason ‘gainst the kingly state of youth.

Say, can you fast? your stomachs are too young;

And abstinence engenders maladies.

And where that you have vow’d to study, lords,

In that each of you have forsworn his book,

Can you still dream and pore and thereon look?

For when would you, my lord, or you, or you,

Have found the ground of study’s excellence

Without the beauty of a woman’s face?

[From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive;

They are the ground, the books, the academes

From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire]

Why, universal plodding poisons up

The nimble spirits in the arteries,

As motion and long-during action tires

The sinewy vigour of the traveller.

Now, for not looking on a woman’s face,

You have in that forsworn the use of eyes

And study too, the causer of your vow;

For where is any author in the world

Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye?

Learning is but an adjunct to ourself

And where we are our learning likewise is:

Then when ourselves we see in ladies’ eyes,

Do we not likewise see our learning there?

O, we have made a vow to study, lords,

And in that vow we have forsworn our books.

For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,

In leaden contemplation have found out

Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes

Of beauty’s tutors have enrich’d you with?

Other slow arts entirely keep the brain;

And therefore, finding barren practisers,

Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil:

But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,

Lives not alone immured in the brain;

But, with the motion of all elements,

Courses as swift as thought in every power,

And gives to every power a double power,

Above their functions and their offices.

It adds a precious seeing to the eye;

A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind;

A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound,

When the suspicious head of theft is stopp’d:

Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible

Than are the tender horns of cockl’d snails;

Love’s tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:

For valour, is not Love a Hercules,

Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?

Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical

As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair:

And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods

Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.

Never durst poet touch a pen to write

Until his ink were temper’d with Love’s sighs;

O, then his lines would ravish savage ears

And plant in tyrants mild humility.

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:

They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;

They are the books, the arts, the academes,

That show, contain and nourish all the world:

Else none at all in ought proves excellent.

Then fools you were these women to forswear,

Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools.

For wisdom’s sake, a word that all men love,

Or for love’s sake, a word that loves all men,

Or for men’s sake, the authors of these women,

Or women’s sake, by whom we men are men,

Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,

Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.

It is religion to be thus forsworn,

For charity itself fulfills the law,

And who can sever love from charity?


FERDINAND            Saint Cupid, then! and, soldiers, to the field!


BEROWNE            Advance your standards, and upon them, lords;

Pell-mell, down with them! but be first advised,

In conflict that you get the sun of them.


LONGAVILLE            Now to plain-dealing; lay these glozes by:

Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France?


FERDINAND            And win them too: therefore let us devise

Some entertainment for them in their tents.


BEROWNE            First, from the park let us conduct them thither;

Then homeward every man attach the hand

Of his fair mistress: in the afternoon

We will with some strange pastime solace them,

Such as the shortness of the time can shape;

For revels, dances, masks and merry hours

Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers.


FERDINAND            Away, away! no time shall be omitted

That will betime, and may by us be fitted.


BEROWNE            Allons! allons! Sow’d cockle reap’d no corn;

And justice always whirls in equal measure:

Light wenches may prove plagues to men forsworn;

If so, our copper buys no better treasure.














SCENE I            The same.





HOLOFERNES            Satis quod sufficit.


SIR NATHANIEL            I praise God for you, sir: your reasons at dinner

have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without

scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without

impudency, learned without opinion, and strange with-

out heresy. I did converse this quondam day with

a companion of the king’s, who is intituled, nomi-

nated, or called, Don Adriano de Armado.


HOLOFERNES            Novi hominem tanquam te: his humour is lofty, his

discourse peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye

ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general

behavior vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. He is

too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it

were, too peregrinate, as I may call it.


SIR NATHANIEL            A most singular and choice epithet.


[Draws out his table-book]


HOLOFERNES            He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer

than the staple of his argument. I abhor such

fanatical phantasimes, such insociable and

point-devise companions; such rackers of

orthography, as to speak dout, fine, when he should

say doubt; det, when he should pronounce debt,–d,

e, b, t, not d, e, t: he clepeth a calf, cauf;

half, hauf; neighbour vocatur nebor; neigh

abbreviated ne. This is abhominable,–which he

would call abbominable: it insinuateth me of

insanie: anne intelligis, domine? to make frantic, lunatic.


SIR NATHANIEL            Laus Deo, bene intelligo.


HOLOFERNES            Bon, bon, fort bon, Priscian! a little scratch’d,

’twill serve.


SIR NATHANIEL            Videsne quis venit?


HOLOFERNES            Video, et gaudeo.





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Chirrah!




HOLOFERNES            Quare chirrah, not sirrah?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Men of peace, well encountered.


HOLOFERNES            Most military sir, salutation.


MOTH            [Aside to COSTARD]  They have been at a great feast

of languages, and stolen the scraps.


COSTARD            O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words.

I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;

for thou art not so long by the head as

honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier

swallowed than a flap-dragon.


MOTH            Peace! the peal begins.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            [To HOLOFERNES]  Monsieur, are you not lettered?


MOTH            Yes, yes; he teaches boys the hornbook. What is a,

b, spelt backward, with the horn on his head?


HOLOFERNES            Ba, pueritia, with a horn added.


MOTH            Ba, most silly sheep with a horn. You hear his learning.


HOLOFERNES            Quis, quis, thou consonant?


MOTH            The third of the five vowels, if you repeat them; or

the fifth, if I.


HOLOFERNES            I will repeat them,–a, e, i,–


MOTH            The sheep: the other two concludes it,–o, u.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Now, by the salt wave of the Mediterraneum, a sweet

touch, a quick venue of wit! snip, snap, quick and

home! it rejoiceth my intellect: true wit!


MOTH            Offered by a child to an old man; which is wit-old.


HOLOFERNES            What is the figure? what is the figure?


MOTH            Horns.


HOLOFERNES            Thou disputest like an infant: go, whip thy gig.


MOTH            Lend me your horn to make one, and I will whip about

your infamy circum circa,–a gig of a cuckold’s horn.


COSTARD            An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst

have it to buy gingerbread: hold, there is the very

remuneration I had of thy master, thou halfpenny

purse of wit, thou pigeon-egg of discretion. O, an

the heavens were so pleased that thou wert but my

bastard, what a joyful father wouldst thou make me!

Go to; thou hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers’

ends, as they say.


HOLOFERNES            O, I smell false Latin; dunghill for unguem.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Arts-man, preambulate, we will be singled from the

barbarous. Do you not educate youth at the

charge-house on the top of the mountain?


HOLOFERNES            Or mons, the hill.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            At your sweet pleasure, for the mountain.


HOLOFERNES            I do, sans question.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sir, it is the king’s most sweet pleasure and

affection to congratulate the princess at her

pavilion in the posteriors of this day, which the

rude multitude call the afternoon.


HOLOFERNES            The posterior of the day, most generous sir, is

liable, congruent and measurable for the afternoon:

the word is well culled, chose, sweet and apt, I do

assure you, sir, I do assure.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sir, the king is a noble gentleman, and my familiar,

I do assure ye, very good friend: for what is

inward between us, let it pass. I do beseech thee,

remember thy courtesy; I beseech thee, apparel thy

head: and among other important and most serious

designs, and of great import indeed, too, but let

that pass: for I must tell thee, it will please his

grace, by the world, sometime to lean upon my poor

shoulder, and with his royal finger, thus, dally

with my excrement, with my mustachio; but, sweet

heart, let that pass. By the world, I recount no

fable: some certain special honours it pleaseth his

greatness to impart to Armado, a soldier, a man of

travel, that hath seen the world; but let that pass.

The very all of all is,–but, sweet heart, I do

implore secrecy,–that the king would have me

present the princess, sweet chuck, with some

delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or

antique, or firework. Now, understanding that the

curate and your sweet self are good at such

eruptions and sudden breaking out of mirth, as it

were, I have acquainted you withal, to the end to

crave your assistance.


HOLOFERNES            Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies.

Sir, as concerning some entertainment of time, some

show in the posterior of this day, to be rendered by

our assistants, at the king’s command, and this most

gallant, illustrate, and learned gentleman, before

the princess; I say none so fit as to present the

Nine Worthies.


SIR NATHANIEL            Where will you find men worthy enough to present them?


HOLOFERNES            Joshua, yourself; myself and this gallant gentleman,

Judas Maccabaeus; this swain, because of his great

limb or joint, shall pass Pompey the Great; the

page, Hercules,–



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Pardon, sir; error: he is not quantity enough for

that Worthy’s thumb: he is not so big as the end of his club.


HOLOFERNES            Shall I have audience? he shall present Hercules in

minority: his enter and exit shall be strangling a

snake; and I will have an apology for that purpose.


MOTH            An excellent device! so, if any of the audience

hiss, you may cry ‘Well done, Hercules! now thou

crushest the snake!’ that is the way to make an

offence gracious, though few have the grace to do it.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            For the rest of the Worthies?–


HOLOFERNES            I will play three myself.


MOTH            Thrice-worthy gentleman!



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Shall I tell you a thing?


HOLOFERNES            We attend.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            We will have, if this fadge not, an antique. I

beseech you, follow.


HOLOFERNES            Via, goodman Dull! thou hast spoken no word all this while.


DULL            Nor understood none neither, sir.


HOLOFERNES            Allons! we will employ thee.


DULL            I’ll make one in a dance, or so; or I will play

On the tabour to the Worthies, and let them dance the hay.


HOLOFERNES            Most dull, honest Dull! To our sport, away!














SCENE II            The same.





PRINCESS            Sweet hearts, we shall be rich ere we depart,

If fairings come thus plentifully in:

A lady wall’d about with diamonds!

Look you what I have from the loving king.


ROSALINE            Madame, came nothing else along with that?


PRINCESS            Nothing but this! yes, as much love in rhyme

As would be cramm’d up in a sheet of paper,

Writ o’ both sides the leaf, margent and all,

That he was fain to seal on Cupid’s name.


ROSALINE            That was the way to make his godhead wax,

For he hath been five thousand years a boy.


KATHARINE            Ay, and a shrewd unhappy gallows too.


ROSALINE            You’ll ne’er be friends with him; a’ kill’d your sister.


KATHARINE            He made her melancholy, sad, and heavy;

And so she died: had she been light, like you,

Of such a merry, nimble, stirring spirit,

She might ha’ been a grandam ere she died:

And so may you; for a light heart lives long.


ROSALINE            What’s your dark meaning, mouse, of this light word?


KATHARINE            A light condition in a beauty dark.


ROSALINE            We need more light to find your meaning out.


KATHARINE            You’ll mar the light by taking it in snuff;

Therefore I’ll darkly end the argument.


ROSALINE            Look what you do, you do it still i’ the dark.


KATHARINE            So do not you, for you are a light wench.


ROSALINE            Indeed I weigh not you, and therefore light.


KATHARINE            You weigh me not? O, that’s you care not for me.


ROSALINE            Great reason; for ‘past cure is still past care.’


PRINCESS            Well bandied both; a set of wit well play’d.

But Rosaline, you have a favour too:

Who sent it? and what is it?


ROSALINE            I would you knew:

An if my face were but as fair as yours,

My favour were as great; be witness this.

Nay, I have verses too, I thank Berowne:

The numbers true; and, were the numbering too,

I were the fairest goddess on the ground:

I am compared to twenty thousand fairs.

O, he hath drawn my picture in his letter!


PRINCESS            Any thing like?


ROSALINE            Much in the letters; nothing in the praise.


PRINCESS            Beauteous as ink; a good conclusion.


KATHARINE            Fair as a text B in a copy-book.


ROSALINE            ‘Ware pencils, ho! let me not die your debtor,

My red dominical, my golden letter:

O, that your face were not so full of O’s!


KATHARINE            A pox of that jest! and I beshrew all shrows.


PRINCESS            But, Katharine, what was sent to you from fair Dumain?


KATHARINE            Madam, this glove.


PRINCESS                              Did he not send you twain?


KATHARINE            Yes, madam, and moreover

Some thousand verses of a faithful lover,

A huge translation of hypocrisy,

Vilely compiled, profound simplicity.


MARIA            This and these pearls to me sent Longaville:

The letter is too long by half a mile.


PRINCESS            I think no less. Dost thou not wish in heart

The chain were longer and the letter short?


MARIA            Ay, or I would these hands might never part.


PRINCESS            We are wise girls to mock our lovers so.


ROSALINE            They are worse fools to purchase mocking so.

That same Berowne I’ll torture ere I go:

O that I knew he were but in by the week!

How I would make him fawn and beg and seek

And wait the season and observe the times

And spend his prodigal wits in bootless rhymes

And shape his service wholly to my hests

And make him proud to make me proud that jests!

So perttaunt-like would I o’ersway his state

That he should be my fool and I his fate.


PRINCESS            None are so surely caught, when they are catch’d,

As wit turn’d fool: folly, in wisdom hatch’d,

Hath wisdom’s warrant and the help of school

And wit’s own grace to grace a learned fool.


ROSALINE            The blood of youth burns not with such excess

As gravity’s revolt to wantonness.


MARIA            Folly in fools bears not so strong a note

As foolery in the wise, when wit doth dote;

Since all the power thereof it doth apply

To prove, by wit, worth in simplicity.


PRINCESS            Here comes Boyet, and mirth is in his face.


[Enter BOYET]


BOYET            O, I am stabb’d with laughter! Where’s her grace?


PRINCESS            Thy news Boyet?


BOYET                              Prepare, madam, prepare!

Arm, wenches, arm! encounters mounted are

Against your peace: Love doth approach disguised,

Armed in arguments; you’ll be surprised:

Muster your wits; stand in your own defence;

Or hide your heads like cowards, and fly hence.


PRINCESS            Saint Denis to Saint Cupid! What are they

That charge their breath against us? say, scout, say.


BOYET            Under the cool shade of a sycamore

I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour;

When, lo! to interrupt my purposed rest,

Toward that shade I might behold addrest

The king and his companions: warily

I stole into a neighbour thicket by,

And overheard what you shall overhear,

That, by and by, disguised they will be here.

Their herald is a pretty knavish page,

That well by heart hath conn’d his embassage:

Action and accent did they teach him there;

‘Thus must thou speak,’ and ‘thus thy body bear:’

And ever and anon they made a doubt

Presence majestical would put him out,

‘For,’ quoth the king, ‘an angel shalt thou see;

Yet fear not thou, but speak audaciously.’

The boy replied, ‘An angel is not evil;

I should have fear’d her had she been a devil.’

With that, all laugh’d and clapp’d him on the shoulder,

Making the bold wag by their praises bolder:

One rubb’d his elbow thus, and fleer’d and swore

A better speech was never spoke before;

Another, with his finger and his thumb,

Cried, ‘Via! we will do’t, come what will come;’

The third he caper’d, and cried, ‘All goes well;’

The fourth turn’d on the toe, and down he fell.

With that, they all did tumble on the ground,

With such a zealous laughter, so profound,

That in this spleen ridiculous appears,

To cheque their folly, passion’s solemn tears.


PRINCESS            But what, but what, come they to visit us?


BOYET            They do, they do: and are apparell’d thus.

Like Muscovites or Russians, as I guess.

Their purpose is to parle, to court and dance;

And every one his love-feat will advance

Unto his several mistress, which they’ll know

By favours several which they did bestow.


PRINCESS            And will they so? the gallants shall be task’d;

For, ladies, we shall every one be mask’d;

And not a man of them shall have the grace,

Despite of suit, to see a lady’s face.

Hold, Rosaline, this favour thou shalt wear,

And then the king will court thee for his dear;

Hold, take thou this, my sweet, and give me thine,

So shall Berowne take me for Rosaline.

And change your favours too; so shall your loves

Woo contrary, deceived by these removes.


ROSALINE            Come on, then; wear the favours most in sight.


KATHARINE            But in this changing what is your intent?


PRINCESS            The effect of my intent is to cross theirs:

They do it but in mocking merriment;

And mock for mock is only my intent.

Their several counsels they unbosom shall

To loves mistook, and so be mock’d withal

Upon the next occasion that we meet,

With visages displayed, to talk and greet.


ROSALINE            But shall we dance, if they desire to’t?


PRINCESS            No, to the death, we will not move a foot;

Nor to their penn’d speech render we no grace,

But while ’tis spoke each turn away her face.


BOYET            Why, that contempt will kill the speaker’s heart,

And quite divorce his memory from his part.


PRINCESS            Therefore I do it; and I make no doubt

The rest will ne’er come in, if he be out

There’s no such sport as sport by sport o’erthrown,

To make theirs ours and ours none but our own:

So shall we stay, mocking intended game,

And they, well mock’d, depart away with shame.


[Trumpets sound within]


BOYET            The trumpet sounds: be mask’d; the maskers come.


[The Ladies mask]


[Enter Blackamoors with music; MOTH; FERDINAND,

BEROWNE, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN, in Russian habits,

and masked]


MOTH            All hail, the richest beauties on the earth!–


BOYET            Beauties no richer than rich taffeta.


MOTH            A holy parcel of the fairest dames.


[The Ladies turn their backs to him]


That ever turn’d their–backs–to mortal views!


BEROWNE            [Aside to MOTH]  Their eyes, villain, their eyes!


MOTH            That ever turn’d their eyes to mortal views!–Out–


BOYET            True; out indeed.


MOTH            Out of your favours, heavenly spirits, vouchsafe

Not to behold–


BEROWNE            [Aside to MOTH]  Once to behold, rogue.


MOTH            Once to behold with your sun-beamed eyes,

–with your sun-beamed eyes–


BOYET            They will not answer to that epithet;

You were best call it ‘daughter-beamed eyes.’


MOTH            They do not mark me, and that brings me out.


BEROWNE            Is this your perfectness? be gone, you rogue!


[Exit MOTH]


ROSALINE            What would these strangers? know their minds, Boyet:

If they do speak our language, ’tis our will:

That some plain man recount their purposes

Know what they would.


BOYET            What would you with the princess?


BEROWNE            Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.


ROSALINE            What would they, say they?


BOYET            Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.


ROSALINE            Why, that they have; and bid them so be gone.


BOYET            She says, you have it, and you may be gone.


FERDINAND            Say to her, we have measured many miles

To tread a measure with her on this grass.


BOYET            They say, that they have measured many a mile

To tread a measure with you on this grass.


ROSALINE            It is not so. Ask them how many inches

Is in one mile: if they have measured many,

The measure then of one is easily told.


BOYET            If to come hither you have measured miles,

And many miles, the princess bids you tell

How many inches doth fill up one mile.


BEROWNE            Tell her, we measure them by weary steps.


BOYET            She hears herself.


ROSALINE                              How many weary steps,

Of many weary miles you have o’ergone,

Are number’d in the travel of one mile?


BEROWNE            We number nothing that we spend for you:

Our duty is so rich, so infinite,

That we may do it still without accompt.

Vouchsafe to show the sunshine of your face,

That we, like savages, may worship it.


ROSALINE            My face is but a moon, and clouded too.


FERDINAND            Blessed are clouds, to do as such clouds do!

Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars, to shine,

Those clouds removed, upon our watery eyne.


ROSALINE            O vain petitioner! beg a greater matter;

Thou now request’st but moonshine in the water.


FERDINAND            Then, in our measure do but vouchsafe one change.

Thou bid’st me beg: this begging is not strange.


ROSALINE            Play, music, then! Nay, you must do it soon.


[Music plays]


Not yet! no dance! Thus change I like the moon.


FERDINAND            Will you not dance? How come you thus estranged?


ROSALINE            You took the moon at full, but now she’s changed.


FERDINAND            Yet still she is the moon, and I the man.

The music plays; vouchsafe some motion to it.


ROSALINE            Our ears vouchsafe it.


FERDINAND            But your legs should do it.


ROSALINE            Since you are strangers and come here by chance,

We’ll not be nice: take hands. We will not dance.


FERDINAND            Why take we hands, then?


ROSALINE            Only to part friends:

Curtsy, sweet hearts; and so the measure ends.


FERDINAND            More measure of this measure; be not nice.


ROSALINE            We can afford no more at such a price.


FERDINAND            Prize you yourselves: what buys your company?


ROSALINE            Your absence only.


FERDINAND                              That can never be.


ROSALINE            Then cannot we be bought: and so, adieu;

Twice to your visor, and half once to you.


FERDINAND            If you deny to dance, let’s hold more chat.


ROSALINE            In private, then.


FERDINAND                              I am best pleased with that.


[They converse apart]


BEROWNE            White-handed mistress, one sweet word with thee.


PRINCESS            Honey, and milk, and sugar; there is three.


BEROWNE            Nay then, two treys, and if you grow so nice,

Metheglin, wort, and malmsey: well run, dice!

There’s half-a-dozen sweets.


PRINCESS            Seventh sweet, adieu:

Since you can cog, I’ll play no more with you.


BEROWNE            One word in secret.


PRINCESS            Let it not be sweet.


BEROWNE            Thou grievest my gall.


PRINCESS            Gall! bitter.


BEROWNE            Therefore meet.


[They converse apart]


DUMAIN            Will you vouchsafe with me to change a word?


MARIA            Name it.


DUMAIN                   Fair lady,–


MARIA            Say you so? Fair lord,–

Take that for your fair lady.


DUMAIN            Please it you,

As much in private, and I’ll bid adieu.


[They converse apart]


KATHARINE            What, was your vizard made without a tongue?


LONGAVILLE            I know the reason, lady, why you ask.


KATHARINE            O for your reason! quickly, sir; I long.


LONGAVILLE            You have a double tongue within your mask,

And would afford my speechless vizard half.


KATHARINE            Veal, quoth the Dutchman. Is not ‘veal’ a calf?


LONGAVILLE            A calf, fair lady!


KATHARINE                              No, a fair lord calf.


LONGAVILLE            Let’s part the word.


KATHARINE            No, I’ll not be your half

Take all, and wean it; it may prove an ox.


LONGAVILLE            Look, how you butt yourself in these sharp mocks!

Will you give horns, chaste lady? do not so.


KATHARINE            Then die a calf, before your horns do grow.


LONGAVILLE            One word in private with you, ere I die.


KATHARINE            Bleat softly then; the butcher hears you cry.


[They converse apart]


BOYET            The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen

As is the razor’s edge invisible,

Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen,

Above the sense of sense; so sensible

Seemeth their conference; their conceits have wings

Fleeter than arrows, bullets, wind, thought, swifter things.


ROSALINE            Not one word more, my maids; break off, break off.


BEROWNE            By heaven, all dry-beaten with pure scoff!


FERDINAND            Farewell, mad wenches; you have simple wits.


PRINCESS            Twenty adieus, my frozen Muscovits.


[Exeunt FERDINAND, Lords, and Blackamoors]


Are these the breed of wits so wonder’d at?


BOYET            Tapers they are, with your sweet breaths puff’d out.


ROSALINE            Well-liking wits they have; gross, gross; fat, fat.


PRINCESS            O poverty in wit, kingly-poor flout!

Will they not, think you, hang themselves tonight?

Or ever, but in vizards, show their faces?

This pert Berowne was out of countenance quite.


ROSALINE            O, they were all in lamentable cases!

The king was weeping-ripe for a good word.


PRINCESS            Berowne did swear himself out of all suit.


MARIA            Dumain was at my service, and his sword:

No point, quoth I; my servant straight was mute.


KATHARINE            Lord Longaville said, I came o’er his heart;

And trow you what he called me?


PRINCESS            Qualm, perhaps.


KATHARINE            Yes, in good faith.


PRINCESS            Go, sickness as thou art!


ROSALINE            Well, better wits have worn plain statute-caps.

But will you hear? the king is my love sworn.


PRINCESS            And quick Berowne hath plighted faith to me.


KATHARINE            And Longaville was for my service born.


MARIA            Dumain is mine, as sure as bark on tree.


BOYET            Madam, and pretty mistresses, give ear:

Immediately they will again be here

In their own shapes; for it can never be

They will digest this harsh indignity.


PRINCESS            Will they return?


BOYET                              They will, they will, God knows,

And leap for joy, though they are lame with blows:

Therefore change favours; and, when they repair,

Blow like sweet roses in this summer air.


PRINCESS            How blow? how blow? speak to be understood.


BOYET            Fair ladies mask’d are roses in their bud;

Dismask’d, their damask sweet commixture shown,

Are angels vailing clouds, or roses blown.


PRINCESS            Avaunt, perplexity! What shall we do,

If they return in their own shapes to woo?


ROSALINE            Good madam, if by me you’ll be advised,

Let’s, mock them still, as well known as disguised:

Let us complain to them what fools were here,

Disguised like Muscovites, in shapeless gear;

And wonder what they were and to what end

Their shallow shows and prologue vilely penn’d

And their rough carriage so ridiculous,

Should be presented at our tent to us.


BOYET            Ladies, withdraw: the gallants are at hand.


PRINCESS            Whip to our tents, as roes run o’er land.





in their proper habits]


FERDINAND            Fair sir, God save you! Where’s the princess?


BOYET            Gone to her tent. Please it your majesty

Command me any service to her thither?


FERDINAND            That she vouchsafe me audience for one word.


BOYET            I will; and so will she, I know, my lord.




BEROWNE            This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons pease,

And utters it again when God doth please:

He is wit’s pedler, and retails his wares

At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs;

And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know,

Have not the grace to grace it with such show.

This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve;

Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve;

A’ can carve too, and lisp: why, this is he

That kiss’d his hand away in courtesy;

This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,

That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice

In honourable terms: nay, he can sing

A mean most meanly; and in ushering

Mend him who can: the ladies call him sweet;

The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet:

This is the flower that smiles on every one,

To show his teeth as white as whale’s bone;

And consciences, that will not die in debt,

Pay him the due of honey-tongued Boyet.


FERDINAND            A blister on his sweet tongue, with my heart,

That put Armado’s page out of his part!


BEROWNE            See where it comes! Behavior, what wert thou

Till this madman show’d thee? and what art thou now?


[Re-enter the PRINCESS, ushered by BOYET, ROSALINE,



FERDINAND            All hail, sweet madam, and fair time of day!


PRINCESS            ‘Fair’ in ‘all hail’ is foul, as I conceive.


FERDINAND            Construe my speeches better, if you may.


PRINCESS            Then wish me better; I will give you leave.


FERDINAND            We came to visit you, and purpose now

To lead you to our court; vouchsafe it then.


PRINCESS            This field shall hold me; and so hold your vow:

Nor God, nor I, delights in perjured men.


FERDINAND            Rebuke me not for that which you provoke:

The virtue of your eye must break my oath.


PRINCESS            You nickname virtue; vice you should have spoke;

For virtue’s office never breaks men’s troth.

Now by my maiden honour, yet as pure

As the unsullied lily, I protest,

A world of torments though I should endure,

I would not yield to be your house’s guest;

So much I hate a breaking cause to be

Of heavenly oaths, vow’d with integrity.


FERDINAND            O, you have lived in desolation here,

Unseen, unvisited, much to our shame.


PRINCESS            Not so, my lord; it is not so, I swear;

We have had pastimes here and pleasant game:

A mess of Russians left us but of late.


FERDINAND            How, madam! Russians!


PRINCESS            Ay, in truth, my lord;

Trim gallants, full of courtship and of state.


ROSALINE            Madam, speak true. It is not so, my lord:

My lady, to the manner of the days,

In courtesy gives undeserving praise.

We four indeed confronted were with four

In Russian habit: here they stay’d an hour,

And talk’d apace; and in that hour, my lord,

They did not bless us with one happy word.

I dare not call them fools; but this I think,

When they are thirsty, fools would fain have drink.


BEROWNE            This jest is dry to me. Fair gentle sweet,

Your wit makes wise things foolish: when we greet,

With eyes best seeing, heaven’s fiery eye,

By light we lose light: your capacity

Is of that nature that to your huge store

Wise things seem foolish and rich things but poor.


ROSALINE            This proves you wise and rich, for in my eye,–


BEROWNE            I am a fool, and full of poverty.


ROSALINE            But that you take what doth to you belong,

It were a fault to snatch words from my tongue.


BEROWNE            O, I am yours, and all that I possess!


ROSALINE            All the fool mine?


BEROWNE                              I cannot give you less.


ROSALINE            Which of the vizards was it that you wore?


BEROWNE            Where? when? what vizard? why demand you this?


ROSALINE            There, then, that vizard; that superfluous case

That hid the worse and show’d the better face.


FERDINAND            We are descried; they’ll mock us now downright.


DUMAIN            Let us confess and turn it to a jest.


PRINCESS            Amazed, my lord? why looks your highness sad?


ROSALINE            Help, hold his brows! he’ll swoon! Why look you pale?

Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy.


BEROWNE            Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury.

Can any face of brass hold longer out?

Here stand I            lady, dart thy skill at me;

Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout;

Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance;

Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit;

And I will wish thee never more to dance,

Nor never more in Russian habit wait.

O, never will I trust to speeches penn’d,

Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue,

Nor never come in vizard to my friend,

Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper’s song!

Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,

Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,

Figures pedantical; these summer-flies

Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:

I do forswear them; and I here protest,

By this white glove;–how white the hand, God knows!–

Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express’d

In russet yeas and honest kersey noes:

And, to begin, wench,–so God help me, la!–

My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.


ROSALINE            Sans sans, I pray you.


BEROWNE            Yet I have a trick

Of the old rage: bear with me, I am sick;

I’ll leave it by degrees. Soft, let us see:

Write, ‘Lord have mercy on us’ on those three;

They are infected; in their hearts it lies;

They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes;

These lords are visited; you are not free,

For the Lord’s tokens on you do I see.


PRINCESS            No, they are free that gave these tokens to us.


BEROWNE            Our states are forfeit: seek not to undo us.


ROSALINE            It is not so; for how can this be true,

That you stand forfeit, being those that sue?


BEROWNE            Peace! for I will not have to do with you.


ROSALINE            Nor shall not, if I do as I intend.


BEROWNE            Speak for yourselves; my wit is at an end.


FERDINAND            Teach us, sweet madam, for our rude transgression

Some fair excuse.


PRINCESS                              The fairest is confession.

Were not you here but even now disguised?


FERDINAND            Madam, I was.


PRINCESS                              And were you well advised?


FERDINAND            I was, fair madam.


PRINCESS                              When you then were here,

What did you whisper in your lady’s ear?


FERDINAND            That more than all the world I did respect her.


PRINCESS            When she shall challenge this, you will reject her.


FERDINAND            Upon mine honour, no.


PRINCESS            Peace, peace! forbear:

Your oath once broke, you force not to forswear.


FERDINAND            Despise me, when I break this oath of mine.


PRINCESS            I will: and therefore keep it. Rosaline,

What did the Russian whisper in your ear?


ROSALINE            Madam, he swore that he did hold me dear

As precious eyesight, and did value me

Above this world; adding thereto moreover

That he would wed me, or else die my lover.


PRINCESS            God give thee joy of him! the noble lord

Most honourably doth unhold his word.


FERDINAND            What mean you, madam? by my life, my troth,

I never swore this lady such an oath.


ROSALINE            By heaven, you did; and to confirm it plain,

You gave me this: but take it, sir, again.


FERDINAND            My faith and this the princess I did give:

I knew her by this jewel on her sleeve.


PRINCESS            Pardon me, sir, this jewel did she wear;

And Lord Berowne, I thank him, is my dear.

What, will you have me, or your pearl again?


BEROWNE            Neither of either; I remit both twain.

I see the trick on’t: here was a consent,

Knowing aforehand of our merriment,

To dash it like a Christmas comedy:

Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany,

Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick,

That smiles his cheek in years and knows the trick

To make my lady laugh when she’s disposed,

Told our intents before; which once disclosed,

The ladies did change favours: and then we,

Following the signs, woo’d but the sign of she.

Now, to our perjury to add more terror,

We are again forsworn, in will and error.

Much upon this it is: and might not you




Forestall our sport, to make us thus untrue?

Do not you know my lady’s foot by the squier,

And laugh upon the apple of her eye?

And stand between her back, sir, and the fire,

Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?

You put our page out: go, you are allow’d;

Die when you will, a smock shall be your shroud.

You leer upon me, do you? there’s an eye

Wounds like a leaden sword.


BOYET            Full merrily

Hath this brave manage, this career, been run.


BEROWNE            Lo, he is tilting straight! Peace! I have done.




Welcome, pure wit! thou partest a fair fray.


COSTARD            O Lord, sir, they would know

Whether the three Worthies shall come in or no.


BEROWNE            What, are there but three?


COSTARD            No, sir; but it is vara fine,

For every one pursents three.


BEROWNE            And three times thrice is nine.


COSTARD            Not so, sir; under correction, sir; I hope it is not so.

You cannot beg us, sir, I can assure you, sir we know

what we know:

I hope, sir, three times thrice, sir,–


BEROWNE            Is not nine.


COSTARD            Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it doth amount.


BEROWNE            By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.


COSTARD            O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living

by reckoning, sir.


BEROWNE            How much is it?


COSTARD            O Lord, sir, the parties themselves, the actors,

sir, will show whereuntil it doth amount: for mine

own part, I am, as they say, but to parfect one man

in one poor man, Pompion the Great, sir.


BEROWNE            Art thou one of the Worthies?


COSTARD            It pleased them to think me worthy of Pompion the

Great: for mine own part, I know not the degree of

the Worthy, but I am to stand for him.


BEROWNE            Go, bid them prepare.


COSTARD            We will turn it finely off, sir; we will take

some care.




FERDINAND            Berowne, they will shame us: let them not approach.


BEROWNE            We are shame-proof, my lord: and tis some policy

To have one show worse than the king’s and his company.


FERDINAND            I say they shall not come.


PRINCESS            Nay, my good lord, let me o’errule you now:

That sport best pleases that doth least know how:

Where zeal strives to content, and the contents

Dies in the zeal of that which it presents:

Their form confounded makes most form in mirth,

When great things labouring perish in their birth.


BEROWNE            A right description of our sport, my lord.





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Anointed, I implore so much expense of thy royal

sweet breath as will utter a brace of words.


[Converses apart with FERDINAND, and delivers him a paper]


PRINCESS            Doth this man serve God?


BEROWNE            Why ask you?


PRINCESS            He speaks not like a man of God’s making.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            That is all one, my fair, sweet, honey monarch; for,

I protest, the schoolmaster is exceeding

fantastical; too, too vain, too too vain: but we

will put it, as they say, to fortuna de la guerra.

I wish you the peace of mind, most royal couplement!




FERDINAND            Here is like to be a good presence of Worthies. He

presents Hector of Troy; the swain, Pompey the

Great; the parish curate, Alexander; Armado’s page,

Hercules; the pedant, Judas Maccabaeus: And if

these four Worthies in their first show thrive,

These four will change habits, and present the other five.


BEROWNE            There is five in the first show.


FERDINAND            You are deceived; ’tis not so.


BEROWNE            The pedant, the braggart, the hedge-priest, the fool

and the boy:–

Abate throw at novum, and the whole world again

Cannot pick out five such, take each one in his vein.


FERDINAND            The ship is under sail, and here she comes amain.


[Enter COSTARD, for Pompey]


COSTARD            I Pompey am,–


BOYET                              You lie, you are not he.


COSTARD            I Pompey am,–


BOYET                              With libbard’s head on knee.


BEROWNE            Well said, old mocker: I must needs be friends

with thee.


COSTARD            I Pompey am, Pompey surnamed the Big–


DUMAIN            The Great.


COSTARD            It is, ‘Great,’ sir:–

Pompey surnamed the Great;

That oft in field, with targe and shield, did make

my foe to sweat:

And travelling along this coast, I here am come by chance,

And lay my arms before the legs of this sweet lass of France,

If your ladyship would say, ‘Thanks, Pompey,’ I had done.


PRINCESS            Great thanks, great Pompey.


COSTARD            ‘Tis not so much worth; but I hope I was perfect: I

made a little fault in ‘Great.’


BEROWNE            My hat to a halfpenny, Pompey proves the best Worthy.


[Enter SIR NATHANIEL, for Alexander]


SIR NATHANIEL            When in the world I lived, I was the world’s


By east, west, north, and south, I spread my

conquering might:

My scutcheon plain declares that I am Alisander,–


BOYET            Your nose says, no, you are not for it stands too right.


BEROWNE            Your nose smells ‘no’ in this, most tender-smelling knight.


PRINCESS            The conqueror is dismay’d. Proceed, good Alexander.


SIR NATHANIEL            When in the world I lived, I was the world’s



BOYET            Most true, ’tis right; you were so, Alisander.


BEROWNE            Pompey the Great,–


COSTARD            Your servant, and Costard.


BEROWNE            Take away the conqueror, take away Alisander.


COSTARD            [To SIR NATHANIEL]  O, sir, you have overthrown

Alisander the conqueror! You will be scraped out of

the painted cloth for this: your lion, that holds

his poll-axe sitting on a close-stool, will be given

to Ajax: he will be the ninth Worthy. A conqueror,

and afeard to speak! run away for shame, Alisander.




There, an’t shall please you; a foolish mild man; an

honest man, look you, and soon dashed. He is a

marvellous good neighbour, faith, and a very good

bowler: but, for Alisander,–alas, you see how

’tis,–a little o’erparted. But there are Worthies

a-coming will speak their mind in some other sort.


[Enter HOLOFERNES, for Judas; and MOTH, for Hercules]


HOLOFERNES               Great Hercules is presented by this imp,

Whose club kill’d Cerberus, that three-headed canis;

And when he was a babe, a child, a shrimp,

Thus did he strangle serpents in his manus.

Quoniam he seemeth in minority,

Ergo I come with this apology.

Keep some state in thy exit, and vanish.


[MOTH retires]


Judas I am,–


DUMAIN            A Judas!


HOLOFERNES            Not Iscariot, sir.

Judas I am, ycliped Maccabaeus.


DUMAIN            Judas Maccabaeus clipt is plain Judas.


BEROWNE            A kissing traitor. How art thou proved Judas?


HOLOFERNES            Judas I am,–


DUMAIN            The more shame for you, Judas.


HOLOFERNES            What mean you, sir?


BOYET            To make Judas hang himself.


HOLOFERNES            Begin, sir; you are my elder.


BEROWNE            Well followed: Judas was hanged on an elder.


HOLOFERNES            I will not be put out of countenance.


BEROWNE            Because thou hast no face.


HOLOFERNES            What is this?


BOYET            A cittern-head.


DUMAIN            The head of a bodkin.


BEROWNE            A Death’s face in a ring.


LONGAVILLE            The face of an old Roman coin, scarce seen.


BOYET            The pommel of Caesar’s falchion.


DUMAIN            The carved-bone face on a flask.


BEROWNE            Saint George’s half-cheek in a brooch.


DUMAIN            Ay, and in a brooch of lead.


BEROWNE            Ay, and worn in the cap of a tooth-drawer.

And now forward; for we have put thee in countenance.


HOLOFERNES            You have put me out of countenance.


BEROWNE            False; we have given thee faces.


HOLOFERNES            But you have out-faced them all.


BEROWNE            An thou wert a lion, we would do so.


BOYET            Therefore, as he is an ass, let him go.

And so adieu, sweet Jude! nay, why dost thou stay?


DUMAIN            For the latter end of his name.


BEROWNE            For the ass to the Jude; give it him:–Jud-as, away!


HOLOFERNES            This is not generous, not gentle, not humble.


BOYET            A light for Monsieur Judas! it grows dark, he may stumble.


[HOLOFERNES retires]


PRINCESS            Alas, poor Maccabaeus, how hath he been baited!


[Enter DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO, for Hector]


BEROWNE            Hide thy head, Achilles: here comes Hector in arms.


DUMAIN            Though my mocks come home by me, I will now be merry.


FERDINAND            Hector was but a Troyan in respect of this.


BOYET            But is this Hector?


FERDINAND            I think Hector was not so clean-timbered.


LONGAVILLE            His leg is too big for Hector’s.


DUMAIN            More calf, certain.


BOYET            No; he is best endued in the small.


BEROWNE            This cannot be Hector.


DUMAIN            He’s a god or a painter; for he makes faces.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,

Gave Hector a gift,–


DUMAIN            A gilt nutmeg.


BEROWNE            A lemon.


LONGAVILLE            Stuck with cloves.


DUMAIN            No, cloven.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Peace!–

The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty

Gave Hector a gift, the heir of Ilion;

A man so breathed, that certain he would fight; yea

From morn till night, out of his pavilion.

I am that flower,–


DUMAIN            That mint.


LONGAVILLE            That columbine.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet Lord Longaville, rein thy tongue.


LONGAVILLE            I must rather give it the rein, for it runs against Hector.


DUMAIN            Ay, and Hector’s a greyhound.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The sweet war-man is dead and rotten; sweet chucks,

beat not the bones of the buried: when he breathed,

he was a man. But I will forward with my device.




Sweet royalty, bestow on me the sense of hearing.


PRINCESS            Speak, brave Hector: we are much delighted.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I do adore thy sweet grace’s slipper.


BOYET            [Aside to DUMAIN]  Loves her by the foot,–


DUMAIN            [Aside to BOYET]  He may not by the yard.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            This Hector far surmounted Hannibal,–


COSTARD            The party is gone, fellow Hector, she is gone; she

is two months on her way.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            What meanest thou?


COSTARD            Faith, unless you play the honest Troyan, the poor

wench is cast away: she’s quick; the child brags in

her belly already: tis yours.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Dost thou infamonize me among potentates? thou shalt



COSTARD            Then shall Hector be whipped for Jaquenetta that is

quick by him and hanged for Pompey that is dead by



DUMAIN            Most rare Pompey!


BOYET            Renowned Pompey!


BEROWNE            Greater than great, great, great, great Pompey!

Pompey the Huge!


DUMAIN            Hector trembles.


BEROWNE            Pompey is moved. More Ates, more Ates! stir them

on! stir them on!


DUMAIN            Hector will challenge him.


BEROWNE            Ay, if a’ have no man’s blood in’s belly than will

sup a flea.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            By the north pole, I do challenge thee.


COSTARD            I will not fight with a pole, like a northern man:

I’ll slash; I’ll do it by the sword. I bepray you,

let me borrow my arms again.


DUMAIN            Room for the incensed Worthies!


COSTARD            I’ll do it in my shirt.


DUMAIN            Most resolute Pompey!


MOTH            Master, let me take you a buttonhole lower. Do you

not see Pompey is uncasing for the combat? What mean

you? You will lose your reputation.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Gentlemen and soldiers, pardon me; I will not combat

in my shirt.


DUMAIN            You may not deny it: Pompey hath made the challenge.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet bloods, I both may and will.


BEROWNE            What reason have you for’t?



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The naked truth of it is, I have no shirt; I go

woolward for penance.


BOYET            True, and it was enjoined him in Rome for want of

linen: since when, I’ll be sworn, he wore none but

a dishclout of Jaquenetta’s, and that a’ wears next

his heart for a favour.




MERCADE            God save you, madam!


PRINCESS            Welcome, Mercade;

But that thou interrupt’st our merriment.


MERCADE            I am sorry, madam; for the news I bring

Is heavy in my tongue. The king your father–


PRINCESS            Dead, for my life!


MERCADE            Even so; my tale is told.


BEROWNE            Worthies, away! the scene begins to cloud.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            For mine own part, I breathe free breath. I have

seen the day of wrong through the little hole of

discretion, and I will right myself like a soldier.


[Exeunt Worthies]


FERDINAND            How fares your majesty?


PRINCESS            Boyet, prepare; I will away tonight.


FERDINAND            Madam, not so; I do beseech you, stay.


PRINCESS            Prepare, I say. I thank you, gracious lords,

For all your fair endeavors; and entreat,

Out of a new-sad soul, that you vouchsafe

In your rich wisdom to excuse or hide

The liberal opposition of our spirits,

If over-boldly we have borne ourselves

In the converse of breath: your gentleness

Was guilty of it. Farewell worthy lord!

A heavy heart bears not a nimble tongue:

Excuse me so, coming too short of thanks

For my great suit so easily obtain’d.


FERDINAND            The extreme parts of time extremely forms

All causes to the purpose of his speed,

And often at his very loose decides

That which long process could not arbitrate:

And though the mourning brow of progeny

Forbid the smiling courtesy of love

The holy suit which fain it would convince,

Yet, since love’s argument was first on foot,

Let not the cloud of sorrow justle it

From what it purposed; since, to wail friends lost

Is not by much so wholesome-profitable

As to rejoice at friends but newly found.


PRINCESS            I understand you not: my griefs are double.


BEROWNE            Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief;

And by these badges understand the king.

For your fair sakes have we neglected time,

Play’d foul play with our oaths: your beauty, ladies,

Hath much deform’d us, fashioning our humours

Even to the opposed end of our intents:

And what in us hath seem’d ridiculous,–

As love is full of unbefitting strains,

All wanton as a child, skipping and vain,

Form’d by the eye and therefore, like the eye,

Full of strange shapes, of habits and of forms,

Varying in subjects as the eye doth roll

To every varied object in his glance:

Which parti-coated presence of loose love

Put on by us, if, in your heavenly eyes,

Have misbecomed our oaths and gravities,

Those heavenly eyes, that look into these faults,

Suggested us to make. Therefore, ladies,

Our love being yours, the error that love makes

Is likewise yours: we to ourselves prove false,

By being once false for ever to be true

To those that make us both,–fair ladies, you:

And even that falsehood, in itself a sin,

Thus purifies itself and turns to grace.


PRINCESS            We have received your letters full of love;

Your favours, the ambassadors of love;

And, in our maiden council, rated them

At courtship, pleasant jest and courtesy,

As bombast and as lining to the time:

But more devout than this in our respects

Have we not been; and therefore met your loves

In their own fashion, like a merriment.


DUMAIN            Our letters, madam, show’d much more than jest.


LONGAVILLE            So did our looks.


ROSALINE                              We did not quote them so.


FERDINAND            Now, at the latest minute of the hour,

Grant us your loves.


PRINCESS            A time, methinks, too short

To make a world-without-end bargain in.

No, no, my lord, your grace is perjured much,

Full of dear guiltiness; and therefore this:

If for my love, as there is no such cause,

You will do aught, this shall you do for me:

Your oath I will not trust; but go with speed

To some forlorn and naked hermitage,

Remote from all the pleasures of the world;

There stay until the twelve celestial signs

Have brought about the annual reckoning.

If this austere insociable life

Change not your offer made in heat of blood;

If frosts and fasts, hard lodging and thin weeds

Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,

But that it bear this trial and last love;

Then, at the expiration of the year,

Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,

And, by this virgin palm now kissing thine

I will be thine; and till that instant shut

My woeful self up in a mourning house,

Raining the tears of lamentation

For the remembrance of my father’s death.

If this thou do deny, let our hands part,

Neither entitled in the other’s heart.


FERDINAND            If this, or more than this, I would deny,

To flatter up these powers of mine with rest,

The sudden hand of death close up mine eye!

Hence ever then my heart is in thy breast.


BEROWNE            [And what to me, my love? and what to me?


ROSALINE            You must be purged too, your sins are rack’d,

You are attaint with faults and perjury:

Therefore if you my favour mean to get,

A twelvemonth shall you spend, and never rest,

But seek the weary beds of people sick]


DUMAIN            But what to me, my love? but what to me? A wife?


KATHARINE            A beard, fair health, and honesty;

With three-fold love I wish you all these three.


DUMAIN            O, shall I say, I thank you, gentle wife?


KATHARINE            Not so, my lord; a twelvemonth and a day

I’ll mark no words that smooth-faced wooers say:

Come when the king doth to my lady come;

Then, if I have much love, I’ll give you some.


DUMAIN            I’ll serve thee true and faithfully till then.


KATHARINE            Yet swear not, lest ye be forsworn again.


LONGAVILLE            What says Maria?


MARIA                              At the twelvemonth’s end

I’ll change my black gown for a faithful friend.


LONGAVILLE            I’ll stay with patience; but the time is long.


MARIA            The liker you; few taller are so young.


BEROWNE            Studies my lady? mistress, look on me;

Behold the window of my heart, mine eye,

What humble suit attends thy answer there:

Impose some service on me for thy love.


ROSALINE            Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Berowne,

Before I saw you; and the world’s large tongue

Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,

Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,

Which you on all estates will execute

That lie within the mercy of your wit.

To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain,

And therewithal to win me, if you please,

Without the which I am not to be won,

You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day

Visit the speechless sick and still converse

With groaning wretches; and your task shall be,

With all the fierce endeavor of your wit

To enforce the pained impotent to smile.


BEROWNE            To move wild laughter in the throat of death?

It cannot be; it is impossible:

Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.


ROSALINE            Why, that’s the way to choke a gibing spirit,

Whose influence is begot of that loose grace

Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools:

A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear

Of him that hears it, never in the tongue

Of him that makes it: then, if sickly ears,

Deaf’d with the clamours of their own dear groans,

Will hear your idle scorns, continue then,

And I will have you and that fault withal;

But if they will not, throw away that spirit,

And I shall find you empty of that fault,

Right joyful of your reformation.


BEROWNE            A twelvemonth! well; befall what will befall,

I’ll jest a twelvemonth in an hospital.


PRINCESS            [To FERDINAND]  Ay, sweet my lord; and so I take my leave.


FERDINAND            No, madam; we will bring you on your way.


BEROWNE            Our wooing doth not end like an old play;

Jack hath not Jill: these ladies’ courtesy

Might well have made our sport a comedy.


FERDINAND            Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day,

And then ’twill end.


BEROWNE            That’s too long for a play.





ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Sweet majesty, vouchsafe me,–


PRINCESS            Was not that Hector?


DUMAIN            The worthy knight of Troy.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            I will kiss thy royal finger, and take leave. I am

a votary; I have vowed to Jaquenetta to hold the

plough for her sweet love three years. But, most

esteemed greatness, will you hear the dialogue that

the two learned men have compiled in praise of the

owl and the cuckoo? It should have followed in the

end of our show.


FERDINAND            Call them forth quickly; we will do so.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            Holla! approach.



and others]


This side is Hiems, Winter, this Ver, the Spring;

the one maintained by the owl, the other by the

cuckoo. Ver, begin.




When daisies pied and violets blue

And lady-smocks all silver-white

And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue

Do paint the meadows with delight,

The cuckoo then, on every tree,

Mocks married men; for thus sings he,             Cuckoo;

Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear,

Unpleasing to a married ear!


When shepherds pipe on oaten straws

And merry larks are ploughmen’s clocks,

When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,

And maidens bleach their summer smocks

The cuckoo then, on every tree,

Mocks married men; for thus sings he,             Cuckoo;

Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear,

Unpleasing to a married ear!


When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail

And Tom bears logs into the hall

And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,             Tu-whit;

Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


When all aloud the wind doth blow

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw

And birds sit brooding in the snow

And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,             Tu-whit;

Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.



ADRIANO DE ARMADO            The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of

Apollo. You that way: we this way.