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Love's Labour's Lost

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Act IV, Scene 2

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 1145
    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 1150
    assure ye, it was a buck of the first head.
  • 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 1155
    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 1160
    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 1165
    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 1170
    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: 1175
    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? 1180
  • Holofernes. Dictynna, goodman Dull; Dictynna, goodman Dull.
  • Dull. What is Dictynna?
  • Holofernes. The moon was a month old when Adam was no more,
    And raught not to five weeks when he came to 1185
    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. 1190
  • 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 1195
    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 1200
    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; 1205
    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.
  • 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, 1215
    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. 1220
  • 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 1225
    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. 1230
  • 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 1235
    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 1240
    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 1245
    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?
  • Holofernes. Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse; lege, domine. 1250
  • 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 1255
    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; 1260
    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. 1265
    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, 1270
    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, 1275
    the tired horse his rider. But, damosella virgin,
    was this directed to you?
  • Jaquenetta. Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Biron, one of the strange
    queen's lords.
  • Holofernes. I will overglance the superscript: 'To the 1280
    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, BIRON.' Sir Nathaniel, this 1285
    Biron 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 1290
    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!


  • 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? 1300
  • 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 1305
    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 1310
    the happiness of life.
  • Holofernes. And, certes, the text most infallibly concludes it.
    [To DULL]
    Sir, I do invite you too; you shall not
    say me nay: pauca verba. Away! the gentles are at 1315
    their game, and we will to our recreation.