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FERDINAND, King of Navarre.


LONGAVILLE, Lords, attending on the King.



MERCADE, Lords, attending on the Princess of France

DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO, a fantastical Spaniard.

HOLOFERNES, a Schoolmaster

DULL, a Constable.

COSTARD, a Clown.

MOTH, Page to Armado.
A Forester.

PRINCESS of France.


Ladies, attending on the Princess.


JAQUENETTA, a country Wench.

Officers and others, attendants on the King and

SCENE, Navarre.



SCENE I. Navarre. A Park with a Palace in it..


King. 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 endeavour 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, Biron,' Dumain, and Longaville,
Have sworn for three years' term to live with me
My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes,

1 In the old copies this name is uniformly spelt Berowne, thus giving the proper pronunciation of the French Biron. Of course the verse requires that the accent be on the last syllable.


That are recorded in this schedule here:

Your oaths are past, 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.'

Lon. I am resolv'd: '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.

Dum. 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.

Bir. 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.

2 It evidently refers, not to oaths, but to the preceding clause keep your subscription, or what you have sworn. So that the changing of oaths into oath, or of it into them, is quite unneces sary.


King. Your oath is pass'd to pass away from


Bir. 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. Lon. You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest. Bir. By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest. What is the end of study? let me know.

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

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

King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. Bir. 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.

King. These be the stops that hinder study quite, And train our intellects to vain delight.

Bir. Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain,

Which, with pain purchas'd, 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 :

3 Dishonestly, treacherously.

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.

King. How well he's read, to reason against

Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding! 5

Lon. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.

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

Fit in his place and time.

Dum. How follows that? Bir. Dum. In reason nothing. Bir. Something then in rhyme King. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost, That bites the first-born infants of the spring.


The meaning is, that when his eye is dazzled, or made weak by fixing it upon a fairer eye, the latter shall be his heed or guide his lode-star, and give light to him that was blinded by it.

5 Proceed was an academical term for taking a degree; as, to proceed master of arts.


6 That is, nipping. In The Winter's Tale, Act i. sc. 1, we have sneaping winds. To sneap is also to check, to rebuke.

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