Enter Ferdinand, King of Navarre, Berowne,
Longaville, and Dumaine.
KING Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death,
When, spite of cormorant devouring time,
Th’ endeavor of this present breath may buy 5
That honor 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, 10
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, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville, 15
Have sworn for three years’ term to live with me,
My fellow scholars, and to keep those statutes
That are recorded in this schedule here.
He holds up a scroll.
Your oaths are passed, and now subscribe your names, 20
That his own hand may strike his honor down
That violates the smallest branch herein.
If you are armed to do as sworn to do,
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
I am resolved. ’Tis but a three years’ fast. 25
The mind shall banquet though the body pine.
Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs but bankrout quite the wits.
He signs his name.
My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified.
The grosser manner of these world’s delights 30
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.
He signs his name.
I can but say their protestation over.
So much, dear liege, I have already sworn, 35
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 enrollèd there;
And one day in a week to touch no food, 40
And but one meal on every day besides,
The which I hope is not enrollèd 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, 45
And make a dark night too of half the day—
Which I hope well is not enrollèd there.
O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.
Your oath is passed to pass away from these. 50
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.
You swore to that, Berowne, and to the rest.
By yea and nay, sire. The I swore in jest
What is the end of study, let me know?
Why, that to know which else we should not know.
Things hid and barred, you mean, from common
Ay, that is study’s godlike recompense. 60
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 65
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. 70
Swear me to this, and I will ne’er say no.
These be the stops that hinder study quite,
And train our intellects to vain delight.
Why, all delights are vain, and that most vain
Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain: 75
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, 80
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. 85
Study is like the heaven’s glorious sun,
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, 90
That give a name to every fixèd 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 naught but fame,
And every godfather can give a name. 95
How well he’s read to reason against reading.
Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding.
He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.
The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.
How follows that? 100
BEROWNE Fit in his place and time.
In reason nothing.
BEROWNE Something then in rhyme.
Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost
That bites the firstborn infants of the spring. 105
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 shows, 110
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.
Well, sit you out. Go home, Berowne. Adieu.
No, my good lord, I have sworn to stay with you. 115
And though I have for barbarism spoke more
Than for that angel knowledge you can say,
Yet, confident, I’ll keep what I have sworn
And bide the penance of each three years’ day.
Give me the paper. Let me read the same, 120
And to the strictest decrees I’ll write my name.
How well this yielding rescues thee from shame.
BEROWNE reads Item, That no woman shall come within
a mile of my court. Hath this been proclaimed?
LONGAVILLE Four days ago. 125
BEROWNE Let’s see the penalty. Reads: On pain of
losing her tongue. Who devised this penalty?
LONGAVILLE Marry, that did I.
BEROWNE Sweet lord, and why?
To fright them hence with that dread penalty. 130
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 possible
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 140
To her decrepit, sick, and bedrid father.
Therefore this article is made in vain,
Or vainly comes th’ admirèd princess hither.
What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.
So study evermore is overshot. 145
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.
We must of force dispense with this decree. 150
She must lie here on mere necessity.
Necessity will make us all forsworn
Three thousand times within this three years’
For every man with his affects is born, 155
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,
And he that breaks them in the least degree 160
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.
He signs his name.
But is there no quick recreation granted? 165
Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
With a refinèd traveler of Spain,
A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
One who the music of his own vain tongue 170
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony,
A man of compliments, 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 175
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. 180
Armado is a most illustrious wight,
A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight.
Costard the swain and he shall be our sport,
And so to study three years is but short.
Enter Dull, a Constable, with a letter, and Costard.
DULL Which is the Duke’s own person? 185
BEROWNE This, fellow. What wouldst?
DULL I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his
Grace’s farborough. But I would see his own
person in flesh and blood.
BEROWNE This is he. 190
DULL, to King Signior Arm-, Arm-, commends you.
There’s villainy abroad. This letter will tell you
more. He gives the letter to the King.
COSTARD Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching
KING A letter from the magnificent Armado.
BEROWNE How low soever the matter, I hope in God
for high words.
LONGAVILLE A high hope for a low heaven. God grant
us patience! 200
BEROWNE To hear, or forbear hearing?
LONGAVILLE To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately,
or to forbear both.
BEROWNE Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause
to climb in the merriness. 205
COSTARD The matter is to me, sir, as concerning
Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with
BEROWNE In what manner?
COSTARD In manner and form following, sir, all those 210
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 215
the form—in some form.
BEROWNE For the “following,” sir?
COSTARD As it shall follow in my correction, and God
defend the right.
KING Will you hear this letter with attention? 220
BEROWNE As we would hear an oracle.
COSTARD Such is the sinplicity of man to hearken after
KING reads Great deputy, the welkin’s vicegerent and
sole dominator of Navarre, my soul’s earth’s god, and 225
body’s fost’ring patron—
COSTARD Not a word of Costard yet.
KING reads So it is—
COSTARD It may be so, but if he say it is so, he is, in
telling true, but so. 230
COSTARD Be to me, and every man that dares not fight.
KING No words.
COSTARD Of other men’s secrets, I beseech you.
KING reads So it is, besieged with sable-colored melancholy, 235
I did commend the black oppressing humor
to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving air;
and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The
time when? About the sixth hour, when beasts most
graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that 240
nourishment which is called supper. So much for the
time when. Now for the ground which—which, I
mean, I walked upon. It is yclept thy park. Then for the
place where—where, I mean, I did encounter that
obscene and most prepost’rous event that draweth 245
from my snow-white pen the ebon-colored ink, which
here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest. But to
the place where. It standeth north-north-east and by
east from the west corner of thy curious-knotted
garden. There did I see that low-spirited swain, that 250
base minnow of thy mirth,—
KING reads that unlettered, small-knowing soul,—
KING reads that shallow vassal,— 255
COSTARD Still me?
KING reads which, as I remember, hight Costard,—
COSTARD O, me!
KING reads sorted and consorted, contrary to thy
established proclaimed edict and continent canon, 260
which with—O with—but with this I passion to say
COSTARD With a wench.
KING reads with a child of our grandmother Eve, a
female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a 265
woman: him, I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks
me on, have sent to thee, to receive the meed of
punishment by thy sweet Grace’s officer, Anthony
Dull, a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and
DULL Me, an ’t shall please you. I am Anthony Dull.
KING reads For Jaquenetta—so is the weaker vessel
called which I apprehended with the aforesaid
swain—I keep her as a vessel of thy law’s fury, and
shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring her to trial. 275
Thine, in all compliments of devoted and heartburning
heat of duty,
Don Adriano de Armado.
BEROWNE This is not so well as I looked for, but the
best that ever I heard. 280
KING Ay, the best, for the worst. To Costard. But,
sirrah, what say you to this?
COSTARD Sir, I confess the wench.
KING Did you hear the proclamation?
COSTARD I do confess much of the hearing it, but little 285
of the marking of it.
KING It was proclaimed a year’s imprisonment to be
taken with a wench.
COSTARD I was taken with none, sir. I was taken with a
KING Well, it was proclaimed “damsel.”
COSTARD This was no damsel neither, sir. She was a
BEROWNE It is so varied too, for it was proclaimed
COSTARD If it were, I deny her virginity. I was taken with a maid.
KING This “maid” will not serve your turn, sir.
COSTARD This maid will serve my turn, sir.
KING Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall 300
fast a week with bran and water.
COSTARD I had rather pray a month with mutton and porridge.
KING And Don Armado shall be your keeper.
My Lord Berowne, see him delivered o’er, 305
And go we, lords, to put in practice that
Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.
King, Longaville, and Dumaine exit.
I’ll lay my head to any goodman’s hat,
These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.
Sirrah, come on. 310
COSTARD I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is I was
taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true
girl. And therefore welcome the sour cup of prosperity.
Affliction may one day smile again, and till
then, sit thee down, sorrow. 315
Enter Armado and Mote, his page.
ARMADO Boy, what sign is it when a man of great spirit
BOY A great sign, sir, that he will look sad.
ARMADO Why, sadness is one and the selfsame thing,
dear imp. 5
BOY No, no. O Lord, sir, no!
ARMADO How canst thou part sadness and melancholy,
my tender juvenal?
BOY By a familiar demonstration of the working, my
tough signior. 10
ARMADO Why “tough signior”? Why “tough signior”?
BOY Why “tender juvenal”? Why “tender juvenal”?
ARMADO I spoke it “tender juvenal” as a congruent
epitheton appertaining to thy young days, which
we may nominate “tender.” 15
BOY And I “tough signior” as an appurtenant title to
your old time, which we may name “tough.”
ARMADO Pretty and apt.
BOY How mean you, sir? I pretty and my saying apt, or
I apt and my saying pretty? 20
ARMADO Thou pretty because little.
BOY Little pretty, because little. Wherefore apt?
ARMADO And therefore apt, because quick.
BOY Speak you this in my praise, master?
ARMADO In thy condign praise. 25
BOY I will praise an eel with the same praise.
ARMADO What, that an eel is ingenious?
BOY That an eel is quick.
ARMADO I do say thou art quick in answers. Thou
heat’st my blood. 30
BOY I am answered, sir.
ARMADO I love not to be crossed.
BOY, aside He speaks the mere contrary; crosses love
ARMADO I have promised to study three years with the 35
BOY You may do it in an hour, sir.
BOY How many is one thrice told?
ARMADO I am ill at reckoning. It fitteth the spirit of a 40
BOY You are a gentleman and a gamester, sir.
ARMADO I confess both. They are both the varnish of a
BOY Then I am sure you know how much the gross 45
sum of deuce-ace amounts to.
ARMADO It doth amount to one more than two.
BOY Which the base vulgar do call “three.”
BOY Why, sir, is this such a piece of study? Now here is 50
“three” studied ere you’ll thrice wink. And how
easy it is to put “years” to the word “three” and
study “three years” in two words, the dancing horse
will tell you.
ARMADO A most fine figure. 55
BOY, aside To prove you a cipher.
ARMADO I will hereupon confess I am in love; and as it
is base for a soldier to love, so am I in love with a
base wench. If drawing my sword against the
humor of affection would deliver me from the 60
reprobate thought of it, I would take desire prisoner
and ransom him to any French courtier for a
new-devised curtsy. I think scorn to sigh; methinks
I should outswear Cupid. Comfort me, boy. What
great men have been in love? 65
BOY Hercules, master.
ARMADO Most sweet Hercules! More authority, dear
boy, name more; and, sweet my child, let them be
men of good repute and carriage.
BOY Samson, master; he was a man of good carriage, 70
great carriage, for he carried the town gates on his
back like a porter, and he was in love.
ARMADO O, well-knit Samson, strong-jointed Samson;
I do excel thee in my rapier as much as thou didst
me in carrying gates. I am in love too. Who was 75
Samson’s love, my dear Mote?
BOY A woman, master.
ARMADO Of what complexion?
BOY Of all the four, or the three, or the two, or one of
the four. 80
ARMADO Tell me precisely of what complexion.
BOY Of the sea-water green, sir.
ARMADO Is that one of the four complexions?
BOY As I have read, sir, and the best of them too.
ARMADO Green indeed is the color of lovers. But to 85
have a love of that color, methinks Samson had
small reason for it. He surely affected her for her
BOY It was so, sir, for she had a green wit.
ARMADO My love is most immaculate white and red. 90
BOY Most maculate thoughts, master, are masked
under such colors.
ARMADO Define, define, well-educated infant.
BOY My father’s wit and my mother’s tongue, assist
ARMADO Sweet invocation of a child, most pretty and
If she be made of white and red,
Her faults will ne’er be known,
For blushing cheeks by faults are bred, 100
And fears by pale white shown.
Then if she fear, or be to blame,
By this you shall not know,
For still her cheeks possess the same
Which native she doth owe. 105
A dangerous rhyme, master, against the reason of
white and red.
ARMADO Is there not a ballad, boy, of “The King and
BOY The world was very guilty of such a ballad some 110
three ages since, but I think now ’tis not to be found;
or if it were, it would neither serve for the writing
nor the tune.
ARMADO I will have that subject newly writ o’er, that I
may example my digression by some mighty precedent. 115
Boy, I do love that country girl that I took in
the park with the rational hind Costard. She deserves
BOY, aside To be whipped—and yet a better love than
my master. 120
ARMADO Sing, boy. My spirit grows heavy in love.
BOY, aside And that’s great marvel, loving a light
ARMADO I say sing.
BOY Forbear till this company be past. 125
Enter Clown (Costard,) Constable (Dull,) and Wench
DULL, to Armado Sir, the Duke’s pleasure is that you
keep Costard safe, and you must suffer him to take
no delight, nor no penance, but he must fast three
days a week. For this damsel, I must keep her at the
park. She is allowed for the dey-woman. Fare you 130
ARMADO, aside I do betray myself with blushing.—
ARMADO I will visit thee at the lodge. 135
JAQUENETTA That’s hereby.
ARMADO I know where it is situate.
JAQUENETTA Lord, how wise you are.
ARMADO I will tell thee wonders.
JAQUENETTA With that face? 140
ARMADO I love thee.
JAQUENETTA So I heard you say.
ARMADO And so, farewell.
JAQUENETTA Fair weather after you.
DULL Come, Jaquenetta, away. 145
Dull and Jaquenetta exit.
ARMADO, to Costard Villain, thou shalt fast for thy
offenses ere thou be pardoned.
COSTARD Well, sir, I hope when I do it I shall do it on
a full stomach.
ARMADO Thou shalt be heavily punished. 150
COSTARD I am more bound to you than your fellows,
for they are but lightly rewarded.
ARMADO, to Boy Take away this villain. Shut him up.
BOY Come, you transgressing slave, away.
COSTARD, to Armado Let me not be pent up, sir. I will 155
fast being loose.
BOY No, sir, that were fast and loose. Thou shalt to
COSTARD Well, if ever I do see the merry days of
desolation that I have seen, some shall see. 160
BOY What shall some see?
COSTARD Nay, nothing, Master Mote, but what they
look upon. It is not for prisoners to be too silent in
their words, and therefore I will say nothing. I thank
God I have as little patience as another man, and 165
therefore I can be quiet.
Costard and Boy exit.
ARMADO I do affect the very ground (which is base)
where her shoe (which is baser) guided by her foot
(which is basest) doth tread. I shall be forsworn
(which is a great argument of falsehood) if I love. 170
And how can that be true love which is falsely
attempted? Love is a familiar; love is a devil. There is
no evil angel but love, yet was Samson so tempted,
and he had an excellent strength; yet was Solomon
so seduced, and he had a very good wit. Cupid’s 175
butt-shaft is too hard for Hercules’ club, and therefore
too much odds for a Spaniard’s rapier. The first
and second cause will not serve my turn; the
passado he respects not, the duello he regards not.
His disgrace is to be called “boy,” but his glory is to 180
subdue men. Adieu, valor; rust, rapier; be still,
drum, for your manager is in love. Yea, he loveth.
Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am
sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise wit, write pen, for I
am for whole volumes in folio. 185