Speeches (Lines) for Biron
in "Love's Labour's Lost"

Total: 159

# Act, Scene, Line
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Speech text



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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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, Biron, and to the rest.

Biron. 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.

Biron. Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from common sense?



Ferdinand. Ay, that is study's godlike recompense.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.



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

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



Dumain. How follows that?

Biron. Fit in his place and time.



Dumain. In reason nothing.

Biron. Something then in rhyme.



Ferdinand. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,
That bites the first-born infants of the spring.

Biron. 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, Biron: adieu.

Biron. 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!

Biron. [Reads] 'Item, That no woman shall come within a
mile of my court:' Hath this been proclaimed?



Longaville. Four days ago.

Biron. Let's see the penalty.
'On pain of losing her tongue.' Who devised this penalty?



Longaville. Marry, that did I.

Biron. Sweet lord, and why?



Longaville. To fright them hence with that dread penalty.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. Armado is a most illustrious wight,
A man of fire-new words, fashion's own knight.



Dull. Which is the duke's own person?

Biron. 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.

Biron. This is he.



Ferdinand. A letter from the magnificent Armado.

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



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

Biron. To hear? or forbear laughing?



Longaville. To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately; or to
forbear both.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. For the following, sir?



Ferdinand. Will you hear this letter with attention?

Biron. As we would hear an oracle.



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.

Biron. This is not so well as I looked for, but the best
that ever I heard.



(stage directions). [Exeunt FERDINAND, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN]

Biron. I'll lay my head to any good man's hat,
These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.
Sirrah, come on.



Princess of France. You will the sooner, that I were away;
For you'll prove perjured if you make me stay.

Biron. Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?



Rosaline. Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?

Biron. I know you did.



Rosaline. How needless was it then to ask the question!

Biron. You must not be so quick.



Rosaline. 'Tis 'long of you that spur me with such questions.

Biron. Your wit's too hot, it speeds too fast, 'twill tire.



Rosaline. Not till it leave the rider in the mire.

Biron. What time o' day?



Rosaline. The hour that fools should ask.

Biron. Now fair befall your mask!



Rosaline. Fair fall the face it covers!

Biron. And send you many lovers!



Rosaline. Amen, so you be none.

Biron. Nay, then will I be gone.



(stage directions). [Exit]

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



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

Biron. I would you heard it groan.



Rosaline. Is the fool sick?

Biron. Sick at the heart.



Rosaline. Alack, let it blood.

Biron. Would that do it good?



Rosaline. My physic says 'ay.'

Biron. Will you prick't with your eye?



Rosaline. No point, with my knife.

Biron. Now, God save thy life!



Rosaline. And yours from long living!

Biron. I cannot stay thanksgiving.



(stage directions). [Exit LONGAVILLE]

Biron. What's her name in the cap?



Boyet. Rosaline, by good hap.

Biron. Is she wedded or no?



Boyet. To her will, sir, or so.

Biron. You are welcome, sir: adieu.



(stage directions). [Enter BIRON]

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



Costard. Pray you, sir, how much carnation ribbon may a man
buy for a remuneration?

Biron. What is a remuneration?



Costard. Marry, sir, halfpenny farthing.

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



Costard. I thank your worship: God be wi' you!

Biron. 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?

Biron. This afternoon.



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

Biron. Thou knowest not what it is.



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

Biron. Why, villain, thou must know first.



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

Biron. 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.



(stage directions). [Exit]

Biron. 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.



(stage directions). [Enter BIRON, with a paper]

Biron. 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!



Ferdinand. Ay me!

Biron. [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.

Biron. Now, in thy likeness, one more fool appear!



Longaville. Ay me, I am forsworn!

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



Ferdinand. In love, I hope: sweet fellowship in shame!

Biron. One drunkard loves another of the name.



Longaville. Am I the first that have been perjured so?

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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?

Biron. 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.



(stage directions). [Steps aside]

Biron. 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!

Biron. O most profane coxcomb!



Dumain. By heaven, the wonder in a mortal eye!

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



Dumain. Her amber hair for foul hath amber quoted.

Biron. An amber-colour'd raven was well noted.



Dumain. As upright as the cedar.

Biron. Stoop, I say;
Her shoulder is with child.



Dumain. As fair as day.

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



Ferdinand. And I mine too, good Lord!

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. Once more I'll mark how love can vary wit.



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 Biron 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.

Biron. 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?

Biron. 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?

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



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

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



(stage directions). [Gathering up the pieces]

Biron. [To COSTARD] Ah, you whoreson loggerhead! you were
born to do me shame.
Guilty, my lord, guilty! I confess, I confess.



Ferdinand. What?

Biron. 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.

Biron. True, true; we are four.
Will these turtles be gone?



(stage directions). [Exeunt COSTARD and JAQUENETTA]

Biron. 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?

Biron. 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.

Biron. My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Biron:
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.

Biron. 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.

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

Biron. 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.

Biron. I'll prove her fair, or talk till doomsday here.



Longaville. Look, here's thy love: my foot and her face see.

Biron. O, if the streets were paved with thine eyes,
Her feet were much too dainty for such tread!



Ferdinand. But what of this? are we not all in love?

Biron. Nothing so sure; and thereby all forsworn.



Dumain. Some salve for perjury.

Biron. '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!

Biron. 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.



Ferdinand. And win them too: therefore let us devise
Some entertainment for them in their tents.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.



Moth. A holy parcel of the fairest dames.
[The Ladies turn their backs to him]
That ever turn'd their—backs—to mortal views!

Biron. [Aside to MOTH] Their eyes, villain, their eyes!



Moth. Out of your favours, heavenly spirits, vouchsafe
Not to behold—

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



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

Biron. Is this your perfectness? be gone, you rogue!



Boyet. What would you with the princess?

Biron. Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.



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.

Biron. Tell her, we measure them by weary steps.



Rosaline. How many weary steps,
Of many weary miles you have o'ergone,
Are number'd in the travel of one mile?

Biron. 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.



(stage directions). [They converse apart]

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



Princess of France. Honey, and milk, and sugar; there is three.

Biron. Nay then, two treys, and if you grow so nice,
Metheglin, wort, and malmsey: well run, dice!
There's half-a-dozen sweets.



Princess of France. Seventh sweet, adieu:
Since you can cog, I'll play no more with you.

Biron. One word in secret.



Princess of France. Let it not be sweet.

Biron. Thou grievest my gall.



Princess of France. Gall! bitter.

Biron. Therefore meet.



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

Biron. By heaven, all dry-beaten with pure scoff!



(stage directions). [Exit]

Biron. 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!

Biron. 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,]



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.

Biron. 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,—

Biron. 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.

Biron. O, I am yours, and all that I possess!



Rosaline. All the fool mine?

Biron. I cannot give you less.



Rosaline. Which of the vizards was it that you wore?

Biron. Where? when? what vizard? why demand you this?



Rosaline. Help, hold his brows! he'll swoon! Why look you pale?
Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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 of France. No, they are free that gave these tokens to us.

Biron. 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?

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



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

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



Princess of France. Pardon me, sir, this jewel did she wear;
And Lord Biron, I thank him, is my dear.
What, will you have me, or your pearl again?

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. What, are there but three?



Costard. No, sir; but it is vara fine,
For every one pursents three.

Biron. 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,—

Biron. Is not nine.



Costard. Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it doth amount.

Biron. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.



Costard. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living
by reckoning, sir.

Biron. 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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. Go, bid them prepare.



Ferdinand. Biron, they will shame us: let them not approach.

Biron. We are shame-proof, my lord: and tis some policy
To have one show worse than the king's and his company.



Princess of France. 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.

Biron. A right description of our sport, my lord.



Princess of France. Doth this man serve God?

Biron. Why ask you?



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.

Biron. There is five in the first show.



Ferdinand. You are deceived; 'tis not so.

Biron. 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.



Boyet. With libbard's head on knee.

Biron. Well said, old mocker: I must needs be friends
with thee.



Costard. 'Tis not so much worth; but I hope I was perfect: I
made a little fault in 'Great.'

Biron. My hat to a halfpenny, Pompey proves the best Worthy.



Boyet. Your nose says, no, you are not for it stands too right.

Biron. Your nose smells 'no' in this, most tender-smelling knight.



Boyet. Most true, 'tis right; you were so, Alisander.

Biron. Pompey the Great,—



Costard. Your servant, and Costard.

Biron. Take away the conqueror, take away Alisander.



Dumain. Judas Maccabaeus clipt is plain Judas.

Biron. A kissing traitor. How art thou proved Judas?



Holofernes. Begin, sir; you are my elder.

Biron. Well followed: Judas was hanged on an elder.



Holofernes. I will not be put out of countenance.

Biron. Because thou hast no face.



Dumain. The head of a bodkin.

Biron. A Death's face in a ring.



Dumain. The carved-bone face on a flask.

Biron. Saint George's half-cheek in a brooch.



Dumain. Ay, and in a brooch of lead.

Biron. 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.

Biron. False; we have given thee faces.



Holofernes. But you have out-faced them all.

Biron. An thou wert a lion, we would do so.



Dumain. For the latter end of his name.

Biron. For the ass to the Jude; give it him:—Jud-as, away!



(stage directions). [Enter DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO, for Hector]

Biron. Hide thy head, Achilles: here comes Hector in arms.



Boyet. No; he is best endued in the small.

Biron. This cannot be Hector.



Dumain. A gilt nutmeg.

Biron. A lemon.



Boyet. Renowned Pompey!

Biron. Greater than great, great, great, great Pompey!
Pompey the Huge!



Dumain. Hector trembles.

Biron. Pompey is moved. More Ates, more Ates! stir them
on! stir them on!



Dumain. Hector will challenge him.

Biron. Ay, if a' have no man's blood in's belly than will
sup a flea.



Don Adriano de Armado. Sweet bloods, I both may and will.

Biron. What reason have you for't?



Mercade. Even so; my tale is told.

Biron. Worthies, away! the scene begins to cloud.



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.

Biron. 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.



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.

Biron. [And what to me, my love? and what to me?



Maria. The liker you; few taller are so young.

Biron. 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 Biron,
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.

Biron. 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.

Biron. A twelvemonth! well; befall what will befall,
I'll jest a twelvemonth in an hospital.



Ferdinand. No, madam; we will bring you on your way.

Biron. 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.

Biron. That's too long for a play.

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