Enter the Princess, a Forester, her Ladies, Boyet and
her other Lords.
Was that the King that spurred his horse so hard
Against the steep uprising of the hill?
I know not, but I think it was not he.
Whoe’er he was, he showed a mounting mind.—
Well, lords, today we shall have our dispatch. 5
Or Saturday we will return to France.—
Then, forester, my friend, where is the bush
That we must stand and play the murderer in?
Hereby, upon the edge of yonder coppice,
A stand where you may make the fairest shoot. 10
I thank my beauty, I am fair that shoot,
And thereupon thou speakst “the fairest shoot.”
Pardon me, madam, for I meant not so.
What, what? First praise me, and again say no?
O short-lived pride. Not fair? Alack, for woe! 15
Yes, madam, fair.
PRINCESS Nay, never paint me now.
Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.
Here, good my glass, take this for telling true.
She gives him money.
Fair payment for foul words is more than due. 20
Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.
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.
But come, the bow. He hands her a bow. Now 25
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, 30
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; 35
As I for praise alone now seek to spill
The poor deer’s blood, that my heart means no ill.
Do not curst wives hold that self sovereignty
Only for praise’ sake when they strive to be
Lords o’er their lords? 40
Only for praise; and praise we may afford
To any lady that subdues a lord.
Enter Clown Costard.
Here comes a member of the commonwealth.
COSTARD God dig-you-den all! Pray you, which is the
head lady? 45
PRINCESS Thou shalt know her, fellow, by the rest that
have no heads.
COSTARD Which is the greatest lady, the highest?
PRINCESS The thickest and the tallest.
The thickest and the tallest: it is so, truth is 50
An your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit,
One o’ these maids’ girdles for your waist should be
Are not you the chief woman? You are the thickest 55
PRINCESS What’s your will, sir? What’s your will?
COSTARD I have a letter from Monsieur Berowne to
one Lady Rosaline.
O, thy letter, thy letter! He’s a good friend of mine. 60
Stand aside, good bearer.—Boyet, you can carve.
Break up this capon.
BOYET, taking the letter I am bound to serve.
This letter is mistook; it importeth none here.
It is writ to Jaquenetta. 65
PRINCESS We will read it, I swear.
Break the neck of the wax, and everyone give ear.
BOYET reads. By heaven, that thou art fair is most
infallible, true that thou art beauteous, truth itself
that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful 70
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 Zenelophon; and he it
was that might rightly say “Veni, vidi, vici,” which to 75
annothanize in the vulgar (O base and obscure vulgar!)
videlicet, “He came, see, and overcame”: He
came, one; see, two; overcame, three. Who came? The
King. Why did he come? To see. Why did he see? To
overcome. To whom came he? To the beggar. What 80
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
beggar’s. The catastrophe is a nuptial. On whose side?
The King’s—no, on both in one, or one in both. I am 85
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 thy love? I could.
Shall I entreat thy love? I will. What shalt thou
exchange for rags? Robes. For tittles? Titles. For thyself? 90
Me. Thus expecting thy reply, I profane my lips on thy
foot, my eyes on thy picture, and my heart on thy every
Thine, in the dearest design of industry,
Don Adriano de Armado. 95
Thus dost thou hear the Nemean lion roar
’Gainst thee, thou lamb, that standest as his prey.
Submissive fall his princely feet before,
And he from forage will incline to play.
But if thou strive, poor soul, what art thou then? 100
Food for his rage, repasture for his den.
What plume of feathers is he that indited this letter?
What vane? What weathercock? Did you ever hear
I am much deceived but I remember the style. 105
Else your memory is bad, going o’er it erewhile.
This Armado is a Spaniard that keeps here in court,
A phantasime, a Monarcho, and one that makes
To the Prince and his bookmates. 110
PRINCESS, to Costard Thou, fellow, a word.
Who gave thee this letter?
COSTARD I told you: my lord.
To whom shouldst thou give it?
COSTARD From my lord to my 115
PRINCESS From which lord to which lady?
From my Lord Berowne, a good master of mine,
To a lady of France that he called Rosaline.
Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come, lords, away. 120
To Rosaline. Here, sweet, put up this; ’twill be
thine another day.
The Princess, Katherine, Lords, and
Forester exit. Boyet, Rosaline, Maria,
and Costard remain.
Who is the shooter? Who is the shooter?
ROSALINE Shall I
teach you to know? 125
Ay, my continent of beauty.
ROSALINE Why, she that bears the bow.
Finely put off.
My lady goes to kill horns, but if thou marry,
Hang me by the neck if horns that year miscarry. 130
Finely put on.
Well, then, I am the shooter.
BOYET And who is your deer?
If we choose by the horns, yourself come not near.
Finely put on, indeed. 135
You still wrangle with her, Boyet, and she strikes at
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 Pippen of France was a 140
little boy, as touching the hit it?
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.
Thou canst not hit it, hit it, hit it, 145
Thou canst not hit it, my good man.
An I cannot, cannot, cannot,
An I cannot, another can.
By my troth, most pleasant. How both did fit it!
A mark marvelous well shot, for they both did hit 150
A mark! O, mark but that mark. “A mark,” says my
Let the mark have a prick in ’t to mete at, if it may
Wide o’ the bow hand! I’ faith, your hand is out.
Indeed, he must shoot nearer, or he’ll ne’er hit the
BOYET, to Maria
An if my hand be out, then belike your hand is in.
Then will she get the upshoot by cleaving the pin. 160
Come, come, you talk greasily. Your lips grow foul.
COSTARD, to Boyet
She’s too hard for you at pricks, sir. Challenge her
I fear too much rubbing. Good night, my good owl.
Boyet and Maria exit.
By my soul, a swain, a most simple clown. 165
Lord, Lord, how the ladies and I have put him
O’ my troth, most sweet jests, most incony vulgar
When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it 170
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 he
will swear. 175
And his page o’ t’ other side, that handful of wit!
Ah heavens, it is a most pathetical nit.
Enter Dull the Constable, Holofernes the Pedant, and
Nathaniel the Curate.
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 the ear of caelo, the sky, the welkin, 5
the heaven, and anon falleth like a crab on the face
of terra, the soil, the land, the earth.
NATHANIEL Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are
sweetly varied, like a scholar at the least. But, sir, I
assure you, it was a buck of the first head. 10
HOLOFERNES Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.
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 explication;
facere, as it were, replication, or rather, ostentare, to 15
show, as it were, his inclination, after his undressed,
unpolished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or
rather unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion,
to insert again my haud credo for a deer.
DULL I said the deer was not a haud credo, ’twas a 20
HOLOFERNES Twice-sod simplicity, bis coctus!
O thou monster ignorance, how deformed dost thou
Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred 25
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 30
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, 35
So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in
But omne bene, say I, being of an old father’s mind:
Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.
You two are bookmen. Can you tell me by your wit 40
What was a month old at Cain’s birth that’s not
five weeks old as yet?
HOLOFERNES Dictynna, goodman Dull, Dictynna,
DULL What is “dictima”? 45
A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon.
The moon was a month old when Adam was no
And raught not to five weeks when he came to
Th’ allusion holds in the exchange.
DULL ’Tis true indeed. The collusion holds in the
HOLOFERNES God comfort thy capacity! I say, th’ allusion
holds in the exchange. 55
DULL And I say the pollution holds in the exchange, for
the moon is never but a month old. And I say besides
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 humor 60
the ignorant, call I the deer the Princess killed a
NATHANIEL Perge, good Master Holofernes, perge, so it
shall please you to abrogate scurrility.
HOLOFERNES I will something affect the letter, for it 65
The preyful princess pierced and pricked
a pretty pleasing pricket,
Some say a sore, but not a sore till now made
sore with shooting. 70
The dogs did yell. Put “l” to “sore,” then sorel
jumps from thicket,
Or pricket sore, or else sorel. The people fall
If sore be sore, then “L” to “sore” makes fifty 75
sores o’ sorel.
Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one
NATHANIEL A rare talent.
DULL, aside If a talent be a claw, look how he claws 80
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,
revolutions. These are begot in the ventricle 85
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.
NATHANIEL Sir, I praise the Lord for you, and so may 90
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
HOLOFERNES Mehercle, if their sons be ingenious, 95
they shall want no instruction; if their daughters be
capable, I will put it to them. But Vir sapis qui pauca
loquitur. A soul feminine saluteth us.
Enter Jaquenetta and the Clown Costard.
JAQUENETTA, to Nathaniel God give you good morrow,
Master Person. 100
HOLOFERNES Master Person, quasi pierce one. And
if one should be pierced, which is the one?
COSTARD Marry, Master Schoolmaster, he that is likeliest
to a hogshead.
HOLOFERNES Of piercing a hogshead! A good luster 105
of conceit in a turf of earth; fire enough for a flint,
pearl enough for a swine. ’Tis pretty, it is well.
JAQUENETTA, to Nathaniel 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 110
you, read it.
She hands Nathaniel a paper, which he looks at.
Facile precor gelida quando peccas omnia sub umbra.
and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan! I may speak of
thee as the traveler doth of Venice: 115
Chi non ti vede, non ti pretia.
Old Mantuan, old Mantuan! Who understandeth
thee not, loves thee not. (He sings.) Ut, re, sol, la,
mi, fa. (To Nathaniel.) Under pardon, sir, what are 120
the contents? Or rather, as Horace says in his—
(Looking at the letter.) What, my soul, verses?
NATHANIEL Ay, sir, and very learned.
HOLOFERNES Let me hear a staff, a stanza, a verse,
Lege, domine. 125
If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed!
Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove.
Those thoughts to me were oaks, to thee like osiers
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.
Well-learnèd is that tongue that well can thee 135
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
Which, not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.
Celestial as thou art, O, pardon love this wrong,
That sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.
HOLOFERNES You find not the apostrophus, and so
miss the accent. Let me supervise the canzonet. 145
He takes the paper. Here are only numbers ratified,
but, for the elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of
poesy—caret. Ovidius Naso was the man. And why
indeed “Naso,” but for smelling out the odoriferous
flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention? Imitari is 150
nothing: so doth the hound his master, the ape his
keeper, the tired horse his rider.—But damosella
virgin, was this directed to you?
JAQUENETTA Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Berowne, one
of the strange queen’s lords. 155
HOLOFERNES I will overglance the superscript: “To
the 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 160
desired employment, Berowne.” Sir Nathaniel, this
Berowne 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. To Jaquenetta. 165
Trip and go, my sweet. Deliver this paper into the
royal hand of the 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. 170
COSTARD Have with thee, my girl.
Costard and Jaquenetta exit.
NATHANIEL Sir, you have done this in the fear of God
very religiously; and, as a certain Father saith—
HOLOFERNES Sir, tell not me of the Father. I do fear
colorable colors. But to return to the verses: did 175
they please you, Sir Nathaniel?
NATHANIEL Marvelous well for the pen.
HOLOFERNES I do dine today 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, 180
on my privilege I have with the parents of the
foresaid child or pupil, undertake your ben venuto;
where I will prove those verses to be very unlearned,
neither savoring of poetry, wit, nor invention.
I beseech your society. 185
NATHANIEL And thank you too; for society, saith the
text, is 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 190
at their game, and we will to our recreation.
Enter Berowne with a paper in his hand, alone.
BEROWNE The King, he is hunting the deer; I am
coursing myself. They have pitched a toil; I am
toiling in a pitch—pitch that defiles. Defile! A foul
word. Well, “set thee down, sorrow”; for so they
say the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool. Well 5
proved, wit. By the Lord, this love is as mad as Ajax.
It kills sheep, it kills me, I a sheep. Well proved
again, o’ my side. I will not love. If I do, hang me. I’
faith, I will not. O, but her eye! By this light, but for
her eye I would not love her; yes, for her two eyes. 10
Well, I do nothing in the world but lie, and lie in my
throat. By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to
rhyme, and to be melancholy. And here is part of my
rhyme, and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one
o’ my sonnets already. The clown bore it, the fool 15
sent it, and the lady hath it. Sweet clown, sweeter
fool, sweetest lady. By the world, I would not care a
pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one with
a paper. God give him grace to groan.
He stands aside.
The King entereth with a paper.
KING Ay me! 20
BEROWNE, aside Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet
Cupid. Thou hast thumped him with thy birdbolt
under the left pap. In faith, secrets!
So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not
To those fresh morning drops upon the rose 25
As thy eyebeams, when their fresh rays have smote
The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows.
Nor shines the silver moon one-half so bright
Through the transparent bosom of the deep
As doth thy face, through tears of mine, give light. 30
Thou shin’st in every tear that I do weep.
No drop but as a coach doth carry thee;
So ridest thou triumphing in my woe.
Do but behold the tears that swell in me,
And they thy glory through my grief will show. 35
But do not love thyself; then thou wilt keep
My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.
O queen of queens, how far dost thou excel
No thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell.
How shall she know my griefs? I’ll drop the paper. 40
Sweet leaves, shade folly. Who is he comes here?
Enter Longaville, with papers. The King steps aside.
What, Longaville, and reading! Listen, ear.
Now, in thy likeness, one more fool appear!
LONGAVILLE Ay me! I am forsworn.
Why, he comes in like a perjure, wearing papers! 45
In love, I hope! Sweet fellowship in shame.
One drunkard loves another of the name.
Am I the first that have been perjured so?
I could put thee in comfort: not by two that I know.
Thou makest the triumviry, the corner-cap of 50
The shape of love’s Tyburn, that hangs up simplicity.
I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move.
Reads. O sweet Maria, empress of my love—
These numbers will I tear and write in prose. 55
He tears the paper.
O, rhymes are guards on wanton Cupid’s hose.
Disfigure not his shop!
LONGAVILLE, taking another paper This same shall go.
(He reads the sonnet.)
Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,
’Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument, 60
Persuade my heart to this false perjury?
Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.
A woman I forswore, but I will prove,
Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee.
My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love. 65
Thy grace being gained cures all disgrace in me.
Vows are but breath, and breath a vapor is.
Then thou, fair sun, which on my Earth dost
Exhal’st this vapor-vow; in thee it is. 70
If broken, then, it is no fault of mine.
If by me broke, what fool is not so wise
To lose an oath to win a paradise?
This is the liver vein, which makes flesh a deity,
A green goose a goddess. Pure, pure idolatry. 75
God amend us, God amend. We are much out o’ th’
By whom shall I send this?—Company? Stay.
He steps aside.
Enter Dumaine, with a paper.
All hid, all hid—an old infant play.
Like a demigod here sit I in the sky, 80
And wretched fools’ secrets heedfully o’ereye.
More sacks to the mill. O heavens, I have my wish.
Dumaine transformed! Four woodcocks in a dish.
DUMAINE O most divine Kate!
BEROWNE, aside O most profane coxcomb! 85
By heaven, the wonder in a mortal eye!
By Earth, she is not, corporal. There you lie.
Her amber hairs for foul hath amber quoted.
An amber-colored raven was well noted.
As upright as the cedar. 90
BEROWNE, aside Stoop, I say.
Her shoulder is with child.
DUMAINE As fair as day.
Ay, as some days, but then no sun must shine.
O, that I had my wish! 95
LONGAVILLE, aside And I had mine!
KING, aside And mine too, good Lord!
Amen, so I had mine. Is not that a good word?
I would forget her, but a fever she
Reigns in my blood, and will remembered be. 100
A fever in your blood? Why, then incision
Would let her out in saucers! Sweet misprision.
Once more I’ll read the ode that I have writ.
Once more I’ll mark how love can vary wit.
DUMAINE reads his sonnet.
On a day—alack the day!— 105
Love, whose month is ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair,
Playing in the wanton air.
Through the velvet leaves the wind,
All unseen, can passage find; 110
That the lover, sick to death,
Wished himself the heaven’s breath.
“Air,” quoth he, “thy cheeks may blow.
Air, would I might triumph so!”
But, alack, my hand is sworn 115
Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn.
Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,
Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.
Do not call it sin in me
That I am forsworn for thee— 120
Thou for whom Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiope were,
And deny himself for Jove,
Turning mortal for thy love.
This will I send, and something else more plain 125
That shall express my true love’s fasting pain.
O, would the King, Berowne, and Longaville
Were lovers too! Ill to example ill
Would from my forehead wipe a perjured note,
For none offend where all alike do dote. 130
LONGAVILLE, coming forward
Dumaine, thy love is far from charity,
That in love’s grief desir’st society.
You may look pale, but I should blush, I know,
To be o’er-heard and taken napping so.
KING, coming forward
To Longaville. Come, sir, you blush! As his, your 135
case is such.
You chide at him, offending twice as much.
You do not love Maria? Longaville
Did never sonnet for her sake compile,
Nor never lay his wreathèd arms athwart 140
His loving bosom to keep down his heart?
I have been closely shrouded in this bush
And marked you both, and for you both did blush.
I heard your guilty rhymes, observed your fashion,
Saw sighs reek from you, noted well your passion. 145
“Ay, me!” says one. “O Jove!” the other cries.
One, her hairs were gold, crystal the other’s eyes.
To Longaville. You would for paradise break faith
To Dumaine. And Jove, for your love, would 150
infringe an oath.
What will Berowne say when that he shall hear
Faith infringed, which such zeal did swear?
How will he scorn, how will he spend his wit!
How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it! 155
For all the wealth that ever I did see,
I would not have him know so much by me.
BEROWNE, coming forward
Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.
Ah, good my liege, I pray thee pardon me.
Good heart, what grace hast thou thus to reprove 160
These worms for loving, that art most in love?
Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears
There is no certain princess that appears.
You’ll not be perjured, ’tis a hateful thing!
Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting! 165
But are you not ashamed? Nay, are you not,
All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?
To Longaville. You found his mote, the King your
mote did see,
But I a beam do find in each of three. 170
O, what a scene of fool’ry have I seen,
Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow, and of teen!
O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
To see a king transformèd to a gnat!
To see great Hercules whipping a gig, 175
And profound Solomon to tune a jig,
And Nestor play at pushpin with the boys,
And critic Timon laugh at idle toys.
Where lies thy grief, O tell me, good Dumaine?
And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain? 180
And where my liege’s? All about the breast!
A caudle, ho!
KING Too bitter is thy jest.
Are we betrayed thus to thy overview?
Not you to me, but I betrayed by you. 185
I, that am honest, I, that hold it sin
To break the vow I am engagèd in.
I am betrayed by keeping company
With men like you, men of inconstancy.
When shall you see me write a thing in rhyme? 190
Or groan for Joan? or spend a minute’s time
In pruning me? When shall you hear that I
Will praise a hand, a foot, a face, an eye,
A gait, a state, a brow, a breast, a waist,
A leg, a limb— 195
Enter Jaquenetta, with a paper, and Clown Costard.
Berowne begins to exit.
KING Soft, whither away so fast?
A true man, or a thief, that gallops so?
I post from love. Good lover, let me go.
God bless the King.
KING What present hast thou there? 200
Some certain treason.
KING What makes treason here?
Nay, it makes nothing, sir.
KING If it mar nothing neither,
The treason and you go in peace away together. 205
I beseech your Grace, let this letter be read.
Our person misdoubts it. ’Twas treason, he said.
Berowne, read it over.
Berowne reads the letter.
To Jaquenetta. Where hadst thou it?
JAQUENETTA Of Costard. 210
KING, to Costard Where hadst thou it?
COSTARD Of Dun Adramadio, Dun Adramadio.
Berowne tears the paper.
KING, to Berowne
How now, what is in you? Why dost thou tear it?
A toy, my liege, a toy. Your Grace needs not fear it.
It did move him to passion, and therefore let’s hear 215
DUMAINE, picking up the papers
It is Berowne’s writing, and here is his name.
BEROWNE, to Costard
Ah, you whoreson loggerhead, you were born to do
Guilty, my lord, guilty. I confess, I confess. 220
That you three fools lacked me fool to make up
He, he, and you—and you, my liege—and I
Are pickpurses in love, and we deserve to die. 225
O, dismiss this audience, and I shall tell you more.
Now the number is even.
BEROWNE True, true, we are four.
Pointing to Jaquenetta and Costard. Will these
turtles be gone? 230
KING Hence, sirs. Away.
Walk aside the true folk, and let the traitors stay.
Jaquenetta and Costard exit.
Sweet lords, sweet lovers, O, let us embrace.
As true we are as flesh and blood can be.
The sea will ebb and flow, heaven show his face; 235
Young blood doth not obey an old decree.
We cannot cross the cause why we were born;
Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.
What, did these rent lines show some love of thine?
Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly 240
That, like a rude and savage man of Ind
At the first op’ning of the gorgeous East,
Bows not his vassal head and, strucken blind,
Kisses the base ground with obedient breast? 245
What peremptory eagle-sighted eye
Dares look upon the heaven of her brow
That is not blinded by her majesty?
What zeal, what fury, hath inspired thee now?
My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon, 250
She an attending star scarce seen a light.
My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Berowne.
O, but for my love, day would turn to night!
Of all complexions the culled sovereignty
Do meet as at a fair in her fair cheek. 255
Where several worthies make one dignity,
Where nothing wants that want itself doth seek.
Lend me the flourish of all gentle tongues—
Fie, painted rhetoric! O, she needs it not!
To things of sale a seller’s praise belongs. 260
She passes praise. Then praise too short doth blot.
A withered hermit, fivescore winters worn,
Might shake off fifty, looking in her eye.
Beauty doth varnish age, as if newborn,
And gives the crutch the cradle’s infancy. 265
O, ’tis the sun that maketh all things shine!
By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.
Is ebony like her? O word divine!
A wife of such wood were felicity.
O, who can give an oath? Where is a book, 270
That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack
If that she learn not of her eye to look?
No face is fair that is not full so black.
O, paradox! Black is the badge of hell,
The hue of dungeons and the school of night, 275
And beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well.
Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.
O, if in black my lady’s brows be decked,
It mourns that painting and usurping hair
Should ravish doters with a false aspect: 280
And therefore is she born to make black fair.
Her favor turns the fashion of the days,
For native blood is counted painting now.
And therefore red, that would avoid dispraise,
Paints itself black to imitate her brow. 285
To look like her are chimney-sweepers black.
And since her time are colliers counted bright.
And Ethiopes of their sweet complexion crack.
Dark needs no candles now, for dark is light.
Your mistresses dare never come in rain, 290
For fear their colors should be washed away.
’Twere good yours did, for, sir, to tell you plain,
I’ll find a fairer face not washed today.
I’ll prove her fair, or talk till doomsday here.
No devil will fright thee then so much as she. 295
I never knew man hold vile stuff so dear.
LONGAVILLE, showing his shoe
Look, here’s thy love; my foot and her face see.
O, if the streets were pavèd with thine eyes.
Her feet were much too dainty for such tread.
O vile! Then as she goes, what upward lies 300
The street should see as she walked overhead.
But what of this? Are we not all in love?
Nothing so sure, and thereby all forsworn.
Then leave this chat, and, good Berowne, now prove
Our loving lawful, and our faith not torn. 305
Ay, marry, there, some flattery for this evil.
O, some authority how to proceed,
Some tricks, some quillets, how to cheat the devil.
Some salve for perjury.
BEROWNE 'Tis more than need.
Have at you, then, affection's men at arms.
Consider what you first did swear unto,
To fast, to study, and to see no woman;
Flat treason 'gainst the kingly state of youth.
Say, can you fast? your stomachs are too young;
And abstinence engenders maladies.
And where that you have vow'd to study, lords,
In that each of you have forsworn his book,
Can you still dream and pore and thereon look?
For when would you, my lord, or you, or you,
Have found the ground of study's excellence
Without the beauty of a woman's face?
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive; They are the ground, the books, the academes From whence doth spring the true Promethean fireWhy, universal plodding poisons up
The nimble spirits in the arteries,
As motion and long-during action tires
The sinewy vigour of the traveller.
Now, for not looking on a woman's face,
You have in that forsworn the use of eyes
And study too, the causer of your vow;
For where is any author in the world
Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?
Learning is but an adjunct to ourself
And where we are our learning likewise is:
Then when ourselves we see in ladies' eyes,
Do we not likewise see our learning there?
O, we have made a vow to study, lords,
And in that vow we have forsworn our books.
For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,
In leaden contemplation have found out
Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes
Of beauty's tutors have enrich'd you with?
Other slow arts entirely keep the brain;
And therefore, finding barren practisers,
Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil:
But love, first learned in a lady's eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain;
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopp'd:
Love's feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockl'd snails;
Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:
For valour, is not Love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair:
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs;
O, then his lines would ravish savage ears
And plant in tyrants mild humility.
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world:
Else none at all in ought proves excellent.
Then fools you were these women to forswear,
Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools.
For wisdom's sake, a word that all men love,
Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men,
Or for men's sake, the authors of these women,
Or women's sake, by whom we men are men,
Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,
Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.
It is religion to be thus forsworn,
For charity itself fulfills the law,
And who can sever love from charity?
Saint Cupid, then, and, soldiers, to the field! 360
Advance your standards, and upon them, lords.
Pell-mell, down with them. But be first advised
In conflict that you get the sun of them.
Now to plain dealing. Lay these glozes by.
Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France? 365
And win them, too. Therefore let us devise
Some entertainment for them in their tents.
First, from the park let us conduct them thither.
Then homeward every man attach the hand
Of his fair mistress. In the afternoon 370
We will with some strange pastime solace them,
Such as the shortness of the time can shape;
For revels, dances, masques, and merry hours
Forerun fair love, strewing her way with flowers.
Away, away! No time shall be omitted 375
That will betime and may by us be fitted.
Allons! Allons! Sowed cockle reaped no corn,
And justice always whirls in equal measure.
Light wenches may prove plagues to men forsworn;
If so, our copper buys no better treasure. 380