« PreviousContinue »
Or, study where to meet some mistress fine,
When mistresses from common sense are hid;
King. These be the stops that hinder study quite,
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;
By fixing it upon a fairer eye ;
And give him light that it was blinded by.
That will not be deep-searched 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.3 King. How well he's read, to reason
reason against reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!
1 Dishonestly, treacherously.
2 The sense of this declamation is only this, that a man by too close study may read himself blind.
3 That is, too much knowledge gives no real solution of doubts, but merely fame, or a name, a thing which every godfather can give.
Long. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the
weeding: Biron. The spring is near, when green geese are
a-breeding Dum. How follows that? Biron.
Fit in his place and time. Dum. In reason nothing. Biron.
Something then in rhyme. Long. Birón is like an envious sneaping frost,
That bites the first-born infants of the spring. Biron. Well, say I am; why should proud summer
Before the birds have any cause to sing ?
you—to study now it is too late-
King. Well, sit you out. Go home, Birón, adieu ! Biron. No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay
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. King. 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 ?
Long. Four days ago. Biron. Let's see the penalty. [Reads.] On pain of losing her tongue.-Who devised this penalty?
Long. Marry, that did I.
1 i. e. nipping.
2 By these shows the poet means May-games, at which a snow would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a periphrasis for May.
Long. To fright them hence with that dread
penalty. Biron. A dangerous law against gentility."
[Reads.] 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 Aquitain
To her decrepit, sick, and bed-rid father.
Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.
King. 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 mastered, 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. [Subscribes.
And he that breaks them in the least degree, Stands in attainder of eternal shame.
Suggestions are to others as to me; But, I believe, although I seem so loath,
1 The word gentility here does not signify that rank of people called gentry; but what the French express by gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas ? That is, reside here.
3 Temptations. VOL. II.
1 an the last that will last keep his oath. But is there no quick recreation granted ? King. 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 ;
Doth ravish, like enchanting harmony;
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny.
For interim to our studies, shall relate,
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate.
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. Long. 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 ? Biron. This, fellow. What would'st?
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.
Dull. Seignior Arme - Arme — commends you. There's villany abroad; this letter will tell you more.
Cost. Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me.
1 Lively, sprightly. 2 Complements is here used in its ancient sense of accomplishments. Vide Note on K. Henry V. Act ii. Sc. 2.
3 I will make use of him instead of a minstrel, whose occupation was to relate fabulous stories.
4 i. e. third-borough, a peace-officer.
King. A letter from the magnificent Armado.
Biron. How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words.
Long. A high hope for a low having! God grant us patience!
Biron. To hear, or forbear hearing?1
Long. 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.
Cost. The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.
Biron. In what manner?
Cost. 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?
Cost. As it shall follow in my correction; and God defend the right! King. Will
you hear this letter with attention ? Biron. As we would hear an oracle.
Cost. Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.
King. [Reads.] Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent, and sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's God, and body's fostering patron.Cost. Not a word of Costard
yet. King. So it is,
Cost. It may be so; but if he say it is so, he is, in telling true, but so, so.
1 «To hear, or forbear laughing?" is possibly the true reading. 2 A quibble is here intended between a stile and style.
3 That is, in the fact. A thief is said to be taken with the manner mainour) when he is taken with the thing stolen about him. The thing stolen was called mainour, manour, or meinour, from the French manier manu tractare.