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Love's Labour's Lost

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Act IV, Scene 1

The same.


[Enter the PRINCESS, and her train, a Forester,] [p]BOYET, ROSALINE, MARIA, and KATHARINE]

  • Princess of France. 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 of France. Whoe'er a' was, a' show'd a mounting mind. 975
    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; 980
    A stand where you may make the fairest shoot.
  • Princess of France. 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 of France. What, what? first praise me and again say no? 985
    O short-lived pride! Not fair? alack for woe!
  • Princess of France. Nay, never paint me now:
    Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.
    Here, good my glass, take this for telling true: 990
    Fair payment for foul words is more than due.
  • Forester. Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.
  • Princess of France. 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. 995
    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, 1000
    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; 1005
    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? 1010
  • Princess of France. 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? 1015
  • Costard. Which is the greatest lady, the highest?
  • Costard. The thickest and the tallest! it is so; truth is truth.
    An your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit, 1020
    One o' these maids' girdles for your waist should be fit.
    Are not you the chief woman? you are the thickest here.
  • Costard. I have a letter from Monsieur Biron to one Lady Rosaline.
  • Princess of France. O, thy letter, thy letter! he's a good friend of mine: 1025
    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. 1030
  • Princess of France. 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 1035
    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 1040
    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 1045
    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 1050
    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 1055
    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 1060
    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, 1065
    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 of France. What plume of feathers is he that indited this letter?
    What vane? what weathercock? did you ever hear better? 1070
  • Boyet. I am much deceived but I remember the style.
  • 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. 1075
  • Costard. From my lord to my lady. 1080
  • Costard. From my lord Biron, a good master of mine,
    To a lady of France that he call'd Rosaline.
  • Princess of France. Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come, lords, away.
    [To ROSALINE] 1085
    Here, sweet, put up this: 'twill be thine another day.

[Exeunt PRINCESS and train]

  • Boyet. Who is the suitor? who is the suitor?
  • Boyet. Ay, my continent of beauty. 1090
  • 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! 1095
  • 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 1100
    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? 1105
  • 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. 1110
  • 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. 1115
  • 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. 1120
  • 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 1130
    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! 1135
    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]