Enter Holofernes the Pedant, Nathaniel the Curate,
and Dull the Constable.
HOLOFERNES Satis quid sufficit.
NATHANIEL I praise God for you, sir. Your reasons at
dinner have been sharp and sententious, pleasant
without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious
without impudency, learned without opinion, 5
and strange without heresy. I did converse this
quondam day with a companion of the King’s, who
is intituled, nominated, or called Don Adriano de
HOLOFERNES Novi hominem tanquam te. His humor 10
is lofty, his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed,
his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general
behavior vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. He is
too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it
were, too peregrinate, as I may call it. 15
NATHANIEL A most singular and choice epithet.
Draw out his table book.
HOLOFERNES He draweth out the thread of his verbosity
finer than the staple of his argument. I abhor
such fanatical phantasimes, such insociable and
point-devise companions, such rackers of orthography, 20
as to speak “dout,” fine, when he should
say “doubt”; “det” when he should pronounce
“debt”—d, e, b, t, not d, e, t. He clepeth a calf
“cauf,” half “hauf,” neighbor vocatur “nebor”;
neigh abbreviated ne. This is abhominable—which 25
he would call “abominable.” It insinuateth me of
insanie. Ne intelligis, domine? To make frantic,
NATHANIEL Laus Deo, bone intelligo.
HOLOFERNES Bone? Bone for bene? Priscian a little 30
scratched; ’twill serve.
Enter Armado the Braggart, Boy, and Costard.
NATHANIEL Videsne quis venit?
HOLOFERNES Video, et gaudeo.
HOLOFERNES Quare “chirrah,” not “sirrah”? 35
ARMADO Men of peace, well encountered.
HOLOFERNES Most military sir, salutation.
BOY, aside to Costard They have been at a great feast
of languages and stolen the scraps.
COSTARD, aside to Boy O, they have lived long on the 40
almsbasket of words. I marvel thy master hath not
eaten thee for a word, for thou art not so long by the
head as honorificabilitudinitatibus. Thou art easier
swallowed than a flapdragon.
BOY, aside to Costard Peace, the peal begins. 45
ARMADO, to Holofernes Monsieur, are you not
BOY Yes, yes, he teaches boys the hornbook.—What is
a, b spelled backward, with the horn on his head?
HOLOFERNES Ba, pueritia, with a horn added. 50
BOY Ba, most silly sheep, with a horn.—You hear his
HOLOFERNES Quis, quis, thou consonant?
BOY The last of the five vowels, if you repeat them; or
the fifth, if I. 55
HOLOFERNES I will repeat them: a, e, i—
BOY The sheep. The other two concludes it: o, u.
ARMADO Now by the salt wave of the Mediterraneum,
a sweet touch, a quick venue of wit! Snip, snap,
quick and home. It rejoiceth my intellect. True 60
BOY Offered by a child to an old man—which is
HOLOFERNES What is the figure? What is the figure?
BOY Horns. 65
HOLOFERNES Thou disputes like an infant. Go whip thy
BOY Lend me your horn to make one, and I will whip
about your infamy—unum cita—a gig of a cuckold’s
COSTARD An I had but one penny in the world, thou
shouldst have it to buy gingerbread! Hold, there is
the very remuneration I had of thy master, thou
halfpenny purse of wit, thou pigeon egg of discretion.
He gives him money. O, an the heavens were 75
so pleased that thou wert but my bastard, what a
joyful father wouldest thou make me! Go to, thou
hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers’ ends, as they say.
HOLOFERNES Oh, I smell false Latin! Dunghill for
ARMADO Arts-man, preambulate. We will be singuled
from the barbarous. Do you not educate youth at
the charge-house on the top of the mountain?
HOLOFERNES Or mons, the hill.
ARMADO At your sweet pleasure, for the mountain. 85
HOLOFERNES I do, sans question.
ARMADO Sir, it is the King’s most sweet pleasure and
affection to congratulate the Princess at her pavilion
in the posteriors of this day, which the rude
multitude call the afternoon. 90
HOLOFERNES “The posterior of the day,” most generous
sir, is liable, congruent, and measurable for
“the afternoon”; the word is well culled, chose,
sweet, and apt, I do assure you, sir, I do assure.
ARMADO Sir, the King is a noble gentleman, and my 95
familiar, I do assure you, very good friend. For
what is inward between us, let it pass. I do beseech
thee, remember thy courtesy; I beseech thee apparel
thy head. And among other important and most
serious designs, and of great import indeed, too— 100
but let that pass; for I must tell thee, it will please his
Grace, by the world, sometimes to lean upon my
poor shoulder and with his royal finger thus dally
with my excrement, with my mustachio—but,
sweetheart, let that pass. By the world, I recount no 105
fable! Some certain special honors it pleaseth his
Greatness to impart to Armado, a soldier, a man of
travel, that hath seen the world—but let that pass.
The very all of all is—but sweetheart, I do implore
secrecy—that the King would have me present the 110
Princess, sweet chuck, with some delightful ostentation,
or show, or pageant, or antic, or firework.
Now, understanding that the curate and your sweet
self are good at such eruptions and sudden breaking
out of mirth, as it were, I have acquainted you 115
withal to the end to crave your assistance.
HOLOFERNES Sir, you shall present before her the Nine
Worthies.—Sir Nathaniel, as concerning some
entertainment of time, some show in the posterior
of this day, to be rendered by our assistance, the 120
King’s command, and this most gallant, illustrate,
and learned gentleman, before the Princess—I say,
none so fit as to present the Nine Worthies.
NATHANIEL Where will you find men worthy enough to
present them? 125
HOLOFERNES Joshua, yourself; myself; and this gallant
gentleman, Judas Maccabaeus. This swain, because
of his great limb or joint, shall pass Pompey
the Great; the page, Hercules—
ARMADO Pardon, sir—error. He is not quantity 130
enough for that Worthy’s thumb; he is not so big as
the end of his club!
HOLOFERNES Shall I have audience? He shall present
Hercules in minority. His enter and exit shall be
strangling a snake; and I will have an apology for 135
BOY An excellent device. So, if any of the audience
hiss, you may cry “Well done, Hercules, now thou
crushest the snake.” That is the way to make an
offense gracious, though few have the grace to do it. 140
ARMADO For the rest of the Worthies?
HOLOFERNES I will play three myself.
BOY Thrice-worthy gentleman!
ARMADO, to Holofernes Shall I tell you a thing?
HOLOFERNES We attend. 145
ARMADO We will have, if this fadge not, an antic. I
beseech you, follow.
HOLOFERNES Via, goodman Dull. Thou hast spoken no
word all this while.
DULL Nor understood none neither, sir. 150
HOLOFERNES Allons! We will employ thee.
DULL I’ll make one in a dance, or so; or I will play on
the tabor to the Worthies and let them dance the
HOLOFERNES Most dull, honest Dull. To our sport! 155
Enter the Ladies (the Princess, Rosaline,
Katherine, and Maria.)
Sweethearts, we shall be rich ere we depart,
If fairings come thus plentifully in.
A lady walled about with diamonds!
Look you what I have from the loving king.
She shows a jewel.
Madam, came nothing else along with that? 5
Nothing but this? Yes, as much love in rhyme
As would be crammed up in a sheet of paper
Writ o’ both sides the leaf, margent and all,
That he was fain to seal on Cupid’s name.
That was the way to make his godhead wax, 10
For he hath been five thousand year a boy.
Ay, and a shrewd unhappy gallows, too.
You’ll ne’er be friends with him. He killed your
He made her melancholy, sad, and heavy, 15
And so she died. Had she been light like you,
Of such a merry, nimble, stirring spirit,
She might ha’ been a grandam ere she died.
And so may you, for a light heart lives long.
What’s your dark meaning, mouse, of this light 20
A light condition in a beauty dark.
We need more light to find your meaning out.
You’ll mar the light by taking it in snuff;
Therefore I’ll darkly end the argument. 25
Look what you do, you do it still i’ th’ dark.
So do not you, for you are a light wench.
Indeed, I weigh not you, and therefore light.
You weigh me not? O, that’s you care not for me.
Great reason: for past care is still past cure. 30
Well bandied both; a set of wit well played.
But, Rosaline, you have a favor too.
Who sent it? And what is it?
ROSALINE I would you knew.
An if my face were but as fair as yours, 35
My favor were as great. Be witness this.
She shows a gift.
Nay, I have verses too, I thank Berowne;
The numbers true; and were the numb’ring too,
I were the fairest goddess on the ground.
I am compared to twenty thousand fairs. 40
O, he hath drawn my picture in his letter.
PRINCESS Anything like?
Much in the letters, nothing in the praise.
Beauteous as ink: a good conclusion.
Fair as a text B in a copybook. 45
Ware pencils, ho! Let me not die your debtor,
My red dominical, my golden letter.
O, that your face were not so full of O’s!
A pox of that jest! And I beshrew all shrows.
But, Katherine, what was sent to you 50
From fair Dumaine?
Madam, this glove. She shows the glove.
PRINCESS Did he not send you twain?
KATHERINE Yes, madam, and moreover,
Some thousand verses of a faithful lover, 55
A huge translation of hypocrisy,
Vilely compiled, profound simplicity.
This, and these pearls, to me sent Longaville.
She shows a paper and pearls.
The letter is too long by half a mile.
I think no less. Dost thou not wish in heart 60
The chain were longer and the letter short?
Ay, or I would these hands might never part.
We are wise girls to mock our lovers so.
They are worse fools to purchase mocking so.
That same Berowne I’ll torture ere I go. 65
O, that I knew he were but in by th’ week,
How I would make him fawn, and beg, and seek,
And wait the season, and observe the times,
And spend his prodigal wits in bootless rhymes,
And shape his service wholly to my hests, 70
And make him proud to make me proud that jests!
So pair-taunt-like would I o’ersway his state,
That he should be my fool, and I his fate.
None are so surely caught, when they are catched,
As wit turned fool. Folly in wisdom hatched 75
Hath wisdom’s warrant and the help of school,
And wit’s own grace to grace a learnèd fool.
The blood of youth burns not with such excess
As gravity’s revolt to wantonness.
Folly in fools bears not so strong a note 80
As fool’ry in the wise, when wit doth dote,
Since all the power thereof it doth apply
To prove, by wit, worth in simplicity.
Here comes Boyet, and mirth is in his face.
O, I am stabbed with laughter. Where’s her Grace? 85
Thy news, Boyet?
BOYET Prepare, madam, prepare.
Arm, wenches, arm. Encounters mounted are
Against your peace. Love doth approach, disguised,
Armèd in arguments. You’ll be surprised. 90
Muster your wits, stand in your own defense,
Or hide your heads like cowards, and fly hence.
Saint Denis to Saint Cupid! What are they
That charge their breath against us? Say, scout, say.
Under the cool shade of a sycamore, 95
I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour.
When, lo, to interrupt my purposed rest,
Toward that shade I might behold addressed
The King and his companions. Warily
I stole into a neighbor thicket by, 100
And overheard what you shall overhear:
That, by and by, disguised, they will be here.
Their herald is a pretty knavish page
That well by heart hath conned his embassage.
Action and accent did they teach him there: 105
“Thus must thou speak,” and “thus thy body bear.”
And ever and anon they made a doubt
Presence majestical would put him out;
“For,” quoth the King, “an angel shalt thou see;
Yet fear not thou, but speak audaciously.” 110
The boy replied “An angel is not evil.
I should have feared her had she been a devil.”
With that, all laughed and clapped him on the
Making the bold wag by their praises bolder. 115
One rubbed his elbow thus, and fleered, and swore
A better speech was never spoke before.
Another with his finger and his thumb,
Cried “Via! We will do ’t, come what will come.”
The third he capered and cried “All goes well!” 120
The fourth turned on the toe, and down he fell.
With that, they all did tumble on the ground
With such a zealous laughter so profound
That in this spleen ridiculous appears,
To check their folly, passion’s solemn tears. 125
But what, but what? Come they to visit us?
They do, they do; and are appareled thus,
Like Muscovites, or Russians, as I guess.
Their purpose is to parley, to court, and dance,
And every one his love-feat will advance 130
Unto his several mistress—which they’ll know
By favors several which they did bestow.
And will they so? The gallants shall be tasked,
For, ladies, we will every one be masked,
And not a man of them shall have the grace, 135
Despite of suit, to see a lady’s face.
Hold, Rosaline, this favor thou shalt wear,
And then the King will court thee for his dear.
Hold, take thou this, my sweet, and give me thine.
So shall Berowne take me for Rosaline. 140
Princess and Rosaline exchange favors.
And change you favors too. So shall your loves
Woo contrary, deceived by these removes.
Katherine and Maria exchange favors.
Come on, then, wear the favors most in sight.
KATHERINE, to Princess
But in this changing, what is your intent?
The effect of my intent is to cross theirs. 145
They do it but in mockery merriment,
And mock for mock is only my intent.
Their several counsels they unbosom shall
To loves mistook, and so be mocked withal
Upon the next occasion that we meet, 150
With visages displayed, to talk and greet.
But shall we dance, if they desire us to ’t?
No, to the death we will not move a foot,
Nor to their penned speech render we no grace,
But while ’tis spoke each turn away her face. 155
Why, that contempt will kill the speaker’s heart,
And quite divorce his memory from his part.
Therefore I do it, and I make no doubt
The rest will ne’er come in if he be out.
There’s no such sport as sport by sport o’erthrown, 160
To make theirs ours and ours none but our own.
So shall we stay, mocking intended game,
And they, well mocked, depart away with shame.
Sound trumpet, within.
The trumpet sounds. Be masked; the maskers come.
The Ladies mask.
Enter Blackamoors with music, the Boy with a speech,
the King, Berowne, and the rest of the Lords disguised.
All hail, the richest beauties on the Earth! 165
Beauties no richer than rich taffeta.
A holy parcel of the fairest dames
(The Ladies turn their backs to him.)
That ever turned their—backs—to mortal views.
BEROWNE Their eyes, villain, their eyes!
That ever turned their eyes to mortal views. 170
BOYET True; out indeed.
Out of your favors, heavenly spirits, vouchsafe
Not to behold—
BEROWNE Once to behold, rogue! 175
Once to behold with your sun-beamèd eyes—
With your sun-beamèd eyes—
They will not answer to that epithet.
You were best call it “daughter-beamèd eyes.”
They do not mark me, and that brings me out. 180
Is this your perfectness? Begone, you rogue!
ROSALINE, speaking as the Princess
What would these strangers? Know their minds,
If they do speak our language, ’tis our will
That some plain man recount their purposes. 185
Know what they would.
BOYET What would you with the
Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.
ROSALINE What would they, say they? 190
Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.
Why, that they have, and bid them so be gone.
She says you have it, and you may be gone.
Say to her we have measured many miles
To tread a measure with her on this grass. 195
They say that they have measured many a mile
To tread a measure with you on this grass.
It is not so. Ask them how many inches
Is in one mile. If they have measured many,
The measure then of one is eas’ly told. 200
If to come hither you have measured miles,
And many miles, the Princess bids you tell
How many inches doth fill up one mile.
Tell her we measure them by weary steps.
She hears herself. 205
ROSALINE How many weary steps
Of many weary miles you have o’ergone
Are numbered in the travel of one mile?
We number nothing that we spend for you.
Our duty is so rich, so infinite, 210
That we may do it still without account.
Vouchsafe to show the sunshine of your face
That we, like savages, may worship it.
My face is but a moon, and clouded too.
Blessèd are clouds, to do as such clouds do! 215
Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars, to
Those clouds removed, upon our watery eyne.
O vain petitioner, beg a greater matter!
Thou now requests but moonshine in the water. 220
Then in our measure do but vouchsafe one change.
Thou bidd’st me beg; this begging is not strange.
Play music, then. Nay, you must do it soon.
Not yet? No dance! Thus change I like the moon.
Will you not dance? How come you thus estranged? 225
You took the moon at full, but now she’s changed.
Yet still she is the moon, and I the man.
The music plays. Vouchsafe some motion to it.
Our ears vouchsafe it.
KING But your legs should do it. 230
Since you are strangers and come here by chance,
We’ll not be nice. Take hands. We will not dance.
She offers her hand.
Why take we hands then?
ROSALINE Only to part friends.—
Curtsy, sweethearts—and so the measure ends. 235
More measure of this measure! Be not nice.
We can afford no more at such a price.
Prize you yourselves. What buys your company?
Your absence only.
KING That can never be. 240
Then cannot we be bought. And so adieu—
Twice to your visor, and half once to you.
If you deny to dance, let’s hold more chat.
In private, then.
KING I am best pleased with that. 245
They move aside.
BEROWNE, to the Princess
White-handed mistress, one sweet word with thee.
PRINCESS, speaking as Rosaline
Honey, and milk, and sugar—there is three.
Nay then, two treys, an if you grow so nice,
Metheglin, wort, and malmsey. Well run, dice!
There’s half a dozen sweets. 250
PRINCESS Seventh sweet, adieu.
Since you can cog, I’ll play no more with you.
One word in secret.
PRINCESS Let it not be sweet.
Thou grievest my gall. 255
PRINCESS Gall! Bitter.
BEROWNE Therefore meet.
They move aside.
DUMAINE, to Maria
Will you vouchsafe with me to change a word?
MARIA, speaking as Katherine
DUMAINE Fair lady— 260
MARIA Say you so? Fair lord!
Take that for your “fair lady.”
DUMAINE Please it you
As much in private, and I’ll bid adieu.
They move aside.
KATHERINE, speaking as Maria
What, was your vizard made without a tongue? 265
I know the reason, lady, why you ask.
O, for your reason! Quickly, sir, I long.
You have a double tongue within your mask,
And would afford my speechless vizard half.
Veal, quoth the Dutchman. Is not veal a calf? 270
A calf, fair lady?
KATHERINE No, a fair Lord Calf.
Let’s part the word.
KATHERINE No, I’ll not be your half.
Take all and wean it. It may prove an ox. 275
Look how you butt yourself in these sharp mocks.
Will you give horns, chaste lady? Do not so.
Then die a calf before your horns do grow.
One word in private with you ere I die.
Bleat softly, then. The butcher hears you cry. 280
They move aside.
The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen
As is the razor’s edge invisible,
Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen;
Above the sense of sense, so sensible
Seemeth their conference. Their conceits have 285
Fleeter than arrows, bullets, wind, thought, swifter
Not one word more, my maids. Break off, break off!
The Ladies move away from the Lords.
By heaven, all dry-beaten with pure scoff! 290
Farewell, mad wenches. You have simple wits.
King, Lords, and Blackamoors exit.
The Ladies unmask.
Twenty adieus, my frozen Muskovits.—
Are these the breed of wits so wondered at?
Tapers they are, with your sweet breaths puffed
Well-liking wits they have; gross, gross; fat, fat.
O poverty in wit, kingly-poor flout!
Will they not, think you, hang themselves tonight?
Or ever but in vizards show their faces?
This pert Berowne was out of count’nance quite. 300
They were all in lamentable cases.
The King was weeping ripe for a good word.
Berowne did swear himself out of all suit.
Dumaine was at my service, and his sword.
“No point,” quoth I. My servant straight was 305
Lord Longaville said I came o’er his heart.
And trow you what he called me?
PRINCESS Qualm, perhaps.
Yes, in good faith. 310
PRINCESS Go, sickness as thou art!
Well, better wits have worn plain statute-caps.
But will you hear? The King is my love sworn.
And quick Berowne hath plighted faith to me.
And Longaville was for my service born. 315
Dumaine is mine as sure as bark on tree.
Madam, and pretty mistresses, give ear.
Immediately they will again be here
In their own shapes, for it can never be
They will digest this harsh indignity. 320
Will they return?
BOYET They will, they will, God knows,
And leap for joy, though they are lame with blows.
Therefore change favors, and when they repair,
Blow like sweet roses in this summer air. 325
How “blow”? How “blow”? Speak to be understood.
Fair ladies masked are roses in their bud.
Dismasked, their damask sweet commixture shown,
Are angels vailing clouds, or roses blown.
Avaunt, perplexity!—What shall we do 330
If they return in their own shapes to woo?
Good madam, if by me you’ll be advised,
Let’s mock them still, as well known as disguised.
Let us complain to them what fools were here,
Disguised like Muscovites in shapeless gear, 335
And wonder what they were, and to what end
Their shallow shows and prologue vilely penned,
And their rough carriage so ridiculous,
Should be presented at our tent to us.
Ladies, withdraw. The gallants are at hand. 340
Whip to our tents, as roes runs o’er land.
The Princess and the Ladies exit.
Enter the King and the rest, as themselves.
KING, to Boyet
Fair sir, God save you. Where’s the Princess?
Gone to her tent. Please it your Majesty
Command me any service to her thither?
That she vouchsafe me audience for one word. 345
I will, and so will she, I know, my lord. He exits.
This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons peas,
And utters it again when God doth please.
He is wit’s peddler, and retails his wares
At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs. 350
And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know,
Have not the grace to grace it with such show.
This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve.
Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve.
He can carve too, and lisp. Why, this is he 355
That kissed his hand away in courtesy.
This is the ape of form, Monsieur the Nice,
That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice
In honorable terms. Nay, he can sing
A mean most meanly; and in ushering 360
Mend him who can. The ladies call him sweet.
The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet.
This is the flower that smiles on everyone
To show his teeth as white as whale’s bone;
And consciences that will not die in debt 365
Pay him the due of “honey-tongued Boyet.”
A blister on his sweet tongue, with my heart,
That put Armado’s page out of his part!
Enter the Ladies, with Boyet.
See where it comes! Behavior, what wert thou
Till this madman showed thee? And what art thou 370
KING, to Princess
All hail, sweet madam, and fair time of day.
“Fair” in “all hail” is foul, as I conceive.
Construe my speeches better, if you may.
Then wish me better. I will give you leave. 375
We came to visit you, and purpose now
To lead you to our court. Vouchsafe it, then.
This field shall hold me, and so hold your vow.
Nor God nor I delights in perjured men.
Rebuke me not for that which you provoke. 380
The virtue of your eye must break my oath.
You nickname virtue; “vice” you should have spoke,
For virtue’s office never breaks men’s troth.
Now by my maiden honor, yet as pure
As the unsullied lily, I protest, 385
A world of torments though I should endure,
I would not yield to be your house’s guest,
So much I hate a breaking cause to be
Of heavenly oaths vowed with integrity.
O, you have lived in desolation here, 390
Unseen, unvisited, much to our shame.
Not so, my lord. It is not so, I swear.
We have had pastimes here and pleasant game.
A mess of Russians left us but of late.
How, madam? Russians? 395
PRINCESS Ay, in truth, my lord.
Trim gallants, full of courtship and of state.
Madam, speak true.—It is not so, my lord.
My lady, to the manner of the days,
In courtesy gives undeserving praise. 400
We four indeed confronted were with four
In Russian habit. Here they stayed an hour
And talked apace; and in that hour, my lord,
They did not bless us with one happy word.
I dare not call them fools; but this I think: 405
When they are thirsty, fools would fain have drink.
This jest is dry to me. Gentle sweet,
Your wits makes wise things foolish. When we greet,
With eyes’ best seeing, heaven’s fiery eye,
By light we lose light. Your capacity 410
Is of that nature that to your huge store
Wise things seem foolish and rich things but poor.
This proves you wise and rich, for in my eye—
I am a fool, and full of poverty.
But that you take what doth to you belong, 415
It were a fault to snatch words from my tongue.
O, I am yours, and all that I possess!
All the fool mine?
BEROWNE I cannot give you less.
Which of the vizards was it that you wore? 420
Where? When? What vizard? Why demand you this?
There; then; that vizard; that superfluous case
That hid the worse and showed the better face.
KING, aside to Dumaine
We were descried. They’ll mock us now downright.
DUMAINE, aside to King
Let us confess and turn it to a jest. 425
PRINCESS, to King
Amazed, my lord? Why looks your Highness sad?
Help, hold his brows! He’ll swoon!—Why look you
Seasick, I think, coming from Muscovy.
Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury. 430
Can any face of brass hold longer out?
Here stand I, lady. Dart thy skill at me.
Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout.
Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance.
Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit, 435
And I will wish thee nevermore to dance,
Nor nevermore in Russian habit wait.
O, never will I trust to speeches penned,
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue,
Nor never come in vizard to my friend, 440
Nor woo in rhyme like a blind harper’s song.
Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical—these summer flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation. 445
I do forswear them, and I here protest
By this white glove—how white the hand, God
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be expressed
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes. 450
And to begin: Wench, so God help me, law,
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.
Sans “sans,” I pray you.
BEROWNE Yet I have a trick
Of the old rage. Bear with me, I am sick; 455
I’ll leave it by degrees. Soft, let us see:
Write “Lord have mercy on us” on those three.
They are infected; in their hearts it lies.
They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes.
These lords are visited. You are not free, 460
For the Lord’s tokens on you do I see.
No, they are free that gave these tokens to us.
Our states are forfeit. Seek not to undo us.
It is not so, for how can this be true,
That you stand forfeit, being those that sue? 465
Peace, for I will not have to do with you.
Nor shall not, if I do as I intend.
BEROWNE, to King, Longaville, and Dumaine
Speak for yourselves. My wit is at an end.
KING, to Princess
Teach us, sweet madam, for our rude transgression
Some fair excuse. 470
PRINCESS The fairest is confession.
Were not you here but even now, disguised?
Madam, I was.
PRINCESS And were you well advised?
I was, fair madam. 475
PRINCESS When you then were here,
What did you whisper in your lady’s ear?
That more than all the world I did respect her.
When she shall challenge this, you will reject her.
Upon mine honor, no. 480
PRINCESS Peace, peace, forbear!
Your oath once broke, you force not to forswear.
Despise me when I break this oath of mine.
I will, and therefore keep it.—Rosaline,
What did the Russian whisper in your ear? 485
Madam, he swore that he did hold me dear
As precious eyesight, and did value me
Above this world, adding thereto moreover
That he would wed me or else die my lover.
God give thee joy of him! The noble lord 490
Most honorably doth uphold his word.
What mean you, madam? By my life, my troth,
I never swore this lady such an oath.
By heaven, you did! And to confirm it plain,
You gave me this. She shows a token. But take it, 495
My faith and this the Princess I did give.
I knew her by this jewel on her sleeve.
Pardon me, sir. This jewel did she wear.
She points to Rosaline.
And Lord Berowne, I thank him, is my dear. 500
To Berowne. What, will you have me, or your pearl
again? She shows the token.
Neither of either. I remit both twain.
I see the trick on ’t. Here was a consent,
Knowing aforehand of our merriment, 505
To dash it like a Christmas comedy.
Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight
Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some
That smiles his cheek in years and knows the trick
To make my lady laugh when she’s disposed,
Told our intents before; which once disclosed,
The ladies did change favors; and then we,
Following the signs, wooed but the sign of she. 515
Now, to our perjury to add more terror,
We are again forsworn in will and error.
Much upon this ’tis. To Boyet. And might not you
Forestall our sport, to make us thus untrue?
Do not you know my lady’s foot by th’ squier? 520
And laugh upon the apple of her eye?
And stand between her back, sir, and the fire,
Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?
You put our page out. Go, you are allowed.
Die when you will, a smock shall be your shroud. 525
You leer upon me, do you? There’s an eye
Wounds like a leaden sword.
BOYET Full merrily
Hath this brave manage, this career been run.
Lo, he is tilting straight! Peace, I have done. 530
Enter Clown Costard.
Welcome, pure wit. Thou part’st a fair fray.
COSTARD O Lord, sir, they would know
Whether the three Worthies shall come in or no.
What, are there but three?
COSTARD No, sir; but it is vara fine, 535
For every one pursents three.
BEROWNE And three times thrice
Not so, sir, under correction, sir, I hope it is not so.
You cannot beg us, sir, I can assure you, sir; we 540
know what we know.
I hope, sir, three times thrice, sir—
BEROWNE Is not nine?
COSTARD Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it
doth amount. 545
By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.
COSTARD O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your
living by reckoning, sir.
BEROWNE How much is it?
COSTARD O Lord, sir, the parties themselves, the actors, 550
sir, will show whereuntil it doth amount. For
mine own part, I am, as they say, but to parfect one
man in one poor man—Pompion the Great, sir.
BEROWNE Art thou one of the Worthies?
COSTARD It pleased them to think me worthy of Pompey 555
the Great. For mine own part, I know not the
degree of the Worthy, but I am to stand for him.
BEROWNE Go bid them prepare.
We will turn it finely off, sir. We will take some
care. He exits. 560
Berowne, they will shame us. Let them not
We are shame-proof, my lord; and ’tis some policy
To have one show worse than the King’s and his
KING I say they shall not come.
Nay, my good lord, let me o’errule you now.
That sport best pleases that doth least know how,
Where zeal strives to content, and the contents
Dies in the zeal of that which it presents. 570
Their form confounded makes most form in mirth,
When great things laboring perish in their birth.
A right description of our sport, my lord.
Enter Braggart Armado.
ARMADO, to King Anointed, I implore so much expense
of thy royal sweet breath as will utter a brace 575
of words. Armado and King step aside, and
Armado gives King a paper.
PRINCESS Doth this man serve God?
BEROWNE Why ask you?
He speaks not like a man of God his making.
ARMADO, to King That is all one, my fair sweet honey 580
monarch, for, I protest, the schoolmaster is exceeding
fantastical, too, too vain, too, too vain. But
we will put it, as they say, to fortuna de la guerra.—I
wish you the peace of mind, most royal
couplement! He exits. 585
KING, reading the paper Here is like to be a good
presence of Worthies. He presents Hector of Troy,
the swain Pompey the Great, the parish curate
Alexander, Armado’s page Hercules, the pedant
Judas Maccabaeus. 590
And if these four Worthies in their first show thrive,
These four will change habits and present the other
BEROWNE There is five in the first show.
KING You are deceived. ’Tis not so. 595
BEROWNE The pedant, the braggart, the hedge
priest, the fool, and the boy.
Abate throw at novum, and the whole world again
Cannot pick out five such, take each one in his vein.
The ship is under sail, and here she comes amain. 600
Enter Costard as Pompey.
I Pompey am—
BEROWNE You lie; you are not he.
I Pompey am—
BOYET With leopard’s head on knee.
Well said, old mocker. I must needs be friends with 605
I Pompey am, Pompey, surnamed the Big—
DUMAINE “The Great.”
It is “Great,” sir.—Pompey, surnamed the
That oft in field, with targe and shield, did make my
foe to sweat.
And traveling along this coast, I here am come by
And lay my arms before the legs of this sweet lass of 615
(He places his weapons at the feet of the Princess.)
If your Ladyship would say “Thanks, Pompey,” I
PRINCESS Great thanks, great Pompey.
COSTARD ’Tis not so much worth, but I hope I was 620
perfect. I made a little fault in “Great.”
BEROWNE My hat to a halfpenny, Pompey proves the
best Worthy. Costard stands aside.
Enter Curate Nathaniel for Alexander.
When in the world I lived, I was the world’s
By east, west, north, and south, I spread my
My scutcheon plain declares that I am Alisander—
Your nose says no, you are not, for it stands too
BEROWNE, to Boyet
Your nose smells “no” in this, most tender-smelling
The conqueror is dismayed.—Proceed, good
When in the world I lived, I was the world’s 635
Most true; ’tis right. You were so, Alisander.
BEROWNE, to Costard Pompey the Great—
COSTARD Your servant, and Costard.
BEROWNE Take away the conqueror. Take away 640
COSTARD, to Nathaniel O sir, you have overthrown
Alisander the Conqueror. You will be scraped out of
the painted cloth for this. Your lion, that holds his
polax sitting on a close-stool, will be given to Ajax. 645
He will be the ninth Worthy. A conqueror, and
afeard to speak? Run away for shame, Alisander.
There, an ’t shall please you, a foolish mild man, an
honest man, look you, and soon dashed. He is a
marvelous good neighbor, faith, and a very good 650
bowler. But, for Alisander—alas, you see how ’tis—
a little o’erparted. But there are Worthies a-coming
will speak their mind in some other sort.
Enter Pedant Holofernes for Judas, and the Boy
PRINCESS, to Costard Stand aside, good Pompey.
Great Hercules is presented by this imp, 655
Whose club killed Cerberus, that three-headed canus,
And when he was a babe, a child, a shrimp,
Thus did he strangle serpents in his manus.
Quoniam he seemeth in minority,
Ergo I come with this apology. 660
To Boy. Keep some state in thy exit, and vanish.
Boy steps aside.
Judas I am—
DUMAINE A Judas!
HOLOFERNES Not Iscariot, sir.
Judas I am, yclept Maccabaeus. 665
DUMAINE Judas Maccabaeus clipped is plain Judas.
BEROWNE A kissing traitor.—How art thou proved
Judas I am—
DUMAINE The more shame for you, Judas. 670
HOLOFERNES What mean you, sir?
BOYET To make Judas hang himself.
HOLOFERNES Begin, sir, you are my elder.
BEROWNE Well followed. Judas was hanged on an
HOLOFERNES I will not be put out of countenance.
BEROWNE Because thou hast no face.
HOLOFERNES What is this? He points to his own face.
BOYET A cittern-head.
DUMAINE The head of a bodkin. 680
BEROWNE A death’s face in a ring.
LONGAVILLE The face of an old Roman coin, scarce
BOYET The pommel of Caesar’s falchion.
DUMAINE The carved-bone face on a flask. 685
BEROWNE Saint George’s half-cheek in a brooch.
DUMAINE Ay, and in a brooch of lead.
BEROWNE Ay, and worn in the cap of a tooth-drawer.
And now forward, for we have put thee in
HOLOFERNES You have put me out of countenance.
BEROWNE False. We have given thee faces.
HOLOFERNES But you have outfaced them all.
An thou wert a lion, we would do so.
Therefore, as he is an ass, let him go.— 695
And so adieu, sweet Jude. Nay, why dost thou stay?
DUMAINE For the latter end of his name.
For the “ass” to the “Jude”? Give it him.—Jud-as,
This is not generous, not gentle, not humble. 700
A light for Monsieur Judas! It grows dark; he may
stumble. Holofernes exits.
Alas, poor Maccabaeus, how hath he been baited!
Enter Braggart Armado as Hector.
BEROWNE Hide thy head, Achilles. Here comes Hector
in arms. 705
DUMAINE Though my mocks come home by me, I will
now be merry.
KING Hector was but a Troyan in respect of this.
BOYET But is this Hector?
KING I think Hector was not so clean-timbered. 710
LONGAVILLE His leg is too big for Hector’s.
DUMAINE More calf, certain.
BOYET No, he is best endued in the small.
BEROWNE This cannot be Hector.
DUMAINE He’s a god or a painter, for he makes faces. 715
The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,
Gave Hector a gift—
DUMAINE A gilt nutmeg.
BEROWNE A lemon.
LONGAVILLE Stuck with cloves. 720
DUMAINE No, cloven.
The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,
Gave Hector a gift, the heir of Ilion,
A man so breathed, that certain he would fight, yea, 725
From morn till night, out of his pavilion.
I am that flower—
DUMAINE That mint.
LONGAVILLE That columbine.
ARMADO Sweet Lord Longaville, rein thy tongue. 730
LONGAVILLE I must rather give it the rein, for it runs
DUMAINE Ay, and Hector’s a greyhound.
ARMADO The sweet warman is dead and rotten. Sweet
chucks, beat not the bones of the buried. When he 735
breathed, he was a man. But I will forward with my
device. To Princess. Sweet royalty, bestow on me
the sense of hearing.
Berowne steps forth.
Speak, brave Hector. We are much delighted.
ARMADO I do adore thy sweet Grace’s slipper. 740
BOYET Loves her by the foot.
DUMAINE He may not by the yard.
This Hector far surmounted Hannibal.
The party is gone—
COSTARD Fellow Hector, she is gone; she is two 745
months on her way.
ARMADO What meanest thou?
COSTARD Faith, unless you play the honest Troyan, the
poor wench is cast away. She’s quick; the child
brags in her belly already. ’Tis yours. 750
ARMADO Dost thou infamonize me among potentates?
Thou shalt die!
COSTARD Then shall Hector be whipped for Jaquenetta,
that is quick by him, and hanged for Pompey,
that is dead by him. 755
DUMAINE Most rare Pompey!
BOYET Renowned Pompey!
BEROWNE Greater than “Great”! Great, great, great
Pompey. Pompey the Huge!
DUMAINE Hector trembles. 760
BEROWNE Pompey is moved. More Ates, more Ates!
Stir them on, stir them on.
DUMAINE Hector will challenge him.
BEROWNE Ay, if he have no more man’s blood in his
belly than will sup a flea. 765
ARMADO, to Costard By the North Pole, I do challenge
COSTARD I will not fight with a pole like a northern
man! I’ll slash. I’ll do it by the sword.—I bepray
you, let me borrow my arms again. 770
DUMAINE Room for the incensed Worthies!
COSTARD I’ll do it in my shirt. He removes his doublet.
DUMAINE Most resolute Pompey!
BOY, to Armado Master, let me take you a buttonhole
lower. Do you not see Pompey is uncasing for the 775
combat? What mean you? You will lose your
ARMADO Gentlemen and soldiers, pardon me. I will
not combat in my shirt.
DUMAINE You may not deny it. Pompey hath made the 780
ARMADO Sweet bloods, I both may and will.
BEROWNE What reason have you for ’t?
ARMADO The naked truth of it is, I have no shirt. I go
woolward for penance. 785
BOYET True, and it was enjoined him in Rome for want
of linen; since when, I’ll be sworn, he wore none
but a dishclout of Jaquenetta’s, and that he wears
next his heart for a favor.
Enter a Messenger, Monsieur Marcade.
MARCADE, to Princess God save you, madam. 790
PRINCESS Welcome, Marcade,
But that thou interruptest our merriment.
I am sorry, madam, for the news I bring
Is heavy in my tongue. The King your father—
Dead, for my life. 795
MARCADE Even so. My tale is told.
Worthies, away! The scene begins to cloud.
ARMADO For mine own part, I breathe free breath. I
have seen the day of wrong through the little hole
of discretion, and I will right myself like a soldier. 800
KING, to Princess How fares your Majesty?
Boyet, prepare. I will away tonight.
Madam, not so. I do beseech you stay.
PRINCESS, to Boyet
Prepare, I say.—I thank you, gracious lords,
For all your fair endeavors, and entreat, 805
Out of a new-sad soul, that you vouchsafe
In your rich wisdom to excuse or hide
The liberal opposition of our spirits,
If overboldly we have borne ourselves
In the converse of breath; your gentleness 810
Was guilty of it. Farewell, worthy lord.
A heavy heart bears not a humble tongue.
Excuse me so, coming too short of thanks
For my great suit so easily obtained.
The extreme parts of time extremely forms 815
All causes to the purpose of his speed,
And often at his very loose decides
That which long process could not arbitrate.
And though the mourning brow of progeny
Forbid the smiling courtesy of love 820
The holy suit which fain it would convince,
Yet since love’s argument was first on foot,
Let not the cloud of sorrow jostle it
From what it purposed, since to wail friends lost
Is not by much so wholesome-profitable 825
As to rejoice at friends but newly found.
I understand you not. My griefs are double.
Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief,
And by these badges understand the King:
For your fair sakes have we neglected time, 830
Played foul play with our oaths. Your beauty, ladies,
Hath much deformed us, fashioning our humors
Even to the opposèd end of our intents.
And what in us hath seemed ridiculous—
As love is full of unbefitting strains, 835
All wanton as a child, skipping and vain,
Formed by the eye and therefore, like the eye,
Full of strange shapes, of habits, and of forms,
Varying in subjects as the eye doth roll
To every varied object in his glance; 840
Which parti-coated presence of loose love
Put on by us, if, in your heavenly eyes,
Have misbecomed our oaths and gravities,
Those heavenly eyes, that look into these faults,
Suggested us to make. Therefore, ladies, 845
Our love being yours, the error that love makes
Is likewise yours. We to ourselves prove false
By being once false forever to be true
To those that make us both—fair ladies, you.
And even that falsehood, in itself a sin, 850
Thus purifies itself and turns to grace.
We have received your letters full of love;
Your favors, the ambassadors of love;
And in our maiden council rated them
At courtship, pleasant jest, and courtesy, 855
As bombast and as lining to the time.
But more devout than this in our respects
Have we not been, and therefore met your loves
In their own fashion, like a merriment.
Our letters, madam, showed much more than jest. 860
So did our looks.
ROSALINE We did not quote them so.
Now, at the latest minute of the hour,
Grant us your loves.
PRINCESS A time, methinks, too short 865
To make a world-without-end bargain in.
No, no, my lord, your Grace is perjured much,
Full of dear guiltiness, and therefore this:
If for my love—as there is no such cause—
You will do aught, this shall you do for me: 870
Your oath I will not trust, but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remote from all the pleasures of the world.
There stay until the twelve celestial signs
Have brought about the annual reckoning. 875
If this austere insociable life
Change not your offer made in heat of blood;
If frosts and fasts, hard lodging, and thin weeds
Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,
But that it bear this trial, and last love; 880
Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,
She takes his hand.
And by this virgin palm now kissing thine,
I will be thine. And till that instant shut
My woeful self up in a mourning house, 885
Raining the tears of lamentation
For the remembrance of my father’s death.
If this thou do deny, let our hands part,
Neither entitled in the other’s heart.
If this, or more than this, I would deny, 890
To flatter up these powers of mine with rest,
The sudden hand of death close up mine eye!
Hence hermit, then. My heart is in thy breast.
They step aside.
DUMAINE, to Katherine
But what to me, my love? But what to me?
A wife? 895
KATHERINE A beard, fair health, and honesty.
With threefold love I wish you all these three.
O, shall I say “I thank you, gentle wife”?
Not so, my lord. A twelvemonth and a day
I’ll mark no words that smooth-faced wooers say. 900
Come when the King doth to my lady come;
Then, if I have much love, I’ll give you some.
I’ll serve thee true and faithfully till then.
Yet swear not, lest you be forsworn again.
They step aside.
What says Maria? 905
MARIA At the twelvemonth’s end
I’ll change my black gown for a faithful friend.
I’ll stay with patience, but the time is long.
The liker you; few taller are so young.
They step aside.
BEROWNE, to Rosaline
Studies my lady? Mistress, look on me. 910
Behold the window of my heart, mine eye,
What humble suit attends thy answer there.
Impose some service on me for thy love.
Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Berowne,
Before I saw you; and the world’s large tongue 915
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,
Which you on all estates will execute
That lie within the mercy of your wit.
To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain, 920
And therewithal to win me, if you please,
Without the which I am not to be won,
You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day
Visit the speechless sick, and still converse
With groaning wretches; and your task shall be, 925
With all the fierce endeavor of your wit,
To enforce the painèd impotent to smile.
To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
It cannot be, it is impossible.
Mirth cannot move a soul in agony. 930
Why, that’s the way to choke a gibing spirit,
Whose influence is begot of that loose grace
Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools.
A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue 935
Of him that makes it. Then if sickly ears,
Deafed with the clamors of their own dear groans
Will hear your idle scorns, continue then,
And I will have you and that fault withal.
But if they will not, throw away that spirit, 940
And I shall find you empty of that fault,
Right joyful of your reformation.
A twelvemonth? Well, befall what will befall,
I’ll jest a twelvemonth in an hospital.
PRINCESS, to King
Ay, sweet my lord, and so I take my leave. 945
No, madam, we will bring you on your way.
Our wooing doth not end like an old play.
Jack hath not Jill. These ladies’ courtesy
Might well have made our sport a comedy.
Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day, 950
And then ’twill end.
BEROWNE That’s too long for a play.
Enter Braggart Armado.
ARMADO Sweet Majesty, vouchsafe me—
Was not that Hector?
DUMAINE The worthy knight of Troy. 955
ARMADO I will kiss thy royal finger, and take leave. I
am a votary; I have vowed to Jaquenetta to hold the
plow for her sweet love three year. But, most
esteemed Greatness, will you hear the dialogue that
the two learned men have compiled in praise of the 960
owl and the cuckoo? It should have followed in the
end of our show.
KING Call them forth quickly. We will do so.
ARMADO Holla! Approach.
This side is Hiems, Winter; this Ver, the Spring; the 965
one maintained by the owl, th’ other by the cuckoo.
When daisies pied and violets blue,
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue 970
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then on every tree
Mocks married men; for thus sings he:
Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O word of fear, 975
Unpleasing to a married ear.
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are plowmen’s clocks;
When turtles tread, and rooks and daws,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks; 980
The cuckoo then on every tree
Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear. 985
When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipped, and ways be foul, 990
Then nightly sings the staring owl
“Tu-whit to-who.” A merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw, 995
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
“Tu-whit to-who.” A merry note, 1000
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
ARMADO The words of Mercury are harsh after the
songs of Apollo. You that way; we this way.
They all exit.