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Love's LABOUR'S Loft.
SCENE, The Palace,
Enter the King, Biron, Longaville and Dumain.
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep them too.
Long. I am resolv'd; ’tis but a three years fast :
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortify'd:
Biron. I can but say their protestation over, So much (dear liege) I have already sworn, That is, to live and study here three years: But there are other strict observances ; As, not to fee a woman in that term, Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there. And one day in a week to touch no food, And but one meal on every day beside; The which, I hope, is not enrolled there, And then to fleep 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, (1) And make a dark night too of half the day ;) Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there. O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep; Not to see ladies, study, faft, not sleep.
King. Your oath is pass’d to pass away from these.
Biron. 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,
Long. You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest.
Biron. By yea and nay, Sir, then I swore in jest. What is the end of study ? let me know? King. Why, that to know, which else we thould not
(1) When I was wont to think no harm all night,] i. e. When I was used to sleep all night long, without once waking. The Latines have a proverbial Expression very nigh to the Sense of our Author's Thought here: Qui benè dormit, nibil mali cogitat.
Biron. Things hid and barr’d (you mean) from com.
Biron. Come on then, I will swear to study fo,
When I to feast expressly am forbid ; (2)
When mistresses from common sense are hid :
King. These be the stops, that hinder study quite; And train our intellects to vain delight.
Biron. Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain, Which, with pain purchas’d, doth inherit pain; As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To seek the light of truth; while truth the while Doth fallly blind the eye-light of his look :
Light, feeking light, doth light of light beguiles
By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
And give him light, that it was blinded by.
That will not be deep search'd with sawcy looks ; Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others books.
(2) When I to fast exprefly am forbid.] This is the Reading of all the Copies in general; but I would fain ask our accurate Editors, if Biron ftudied where to get a good Dinner, at a time when he was forbid to fajt, how was This studying to know what he was forbid to know? Common Sense, and the whole Tenour of the Context require us to read, either as I have restor'd; or, to make a Change in the last Word of the Verse, which will bring us to the fame Meaning;
When I to falt expresly am fore-bid ; i. e. when I am enjoin'd beforehand to faft.
These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,
That give a name to every fixed star, Have no more profit of their shining nights,
Than those that walk, and wot not what they are. Too much to know, is to know nought but fame; And every godfather can give a name.
King. How well he's read, to reason against reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding. Long. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the
weeding. Biron. The spring is near, when green geese are a
That bites the first-born infants of the spring. Biron. Well; say, I am; why should proud summer
Before the birds have any cause to sing?
(3) Why should I joy in an abortive Birth ?
At Christmas I no more desire a Rose,
But like of each Thing, that in Season grows.] As the greatest part of this Scene (both what precedes, and follows;) is strictly in Rhymes, either successive, alternate, or triple; I am perswaded, the Copyists have made a flip here. For by making a Triplet of the three laft Lines quoted, Birth in the Close of the first Line is quite destitute of any Rhyme to it
. Besides, what a displeafing Identity of Sound recurs in the Middle and Close of this Verse ?
Than with a Snow in May's newfangled Shows. Again; newfangled Shows seems to have very little Propriety. The Flowers are not newfangled; but the Earth is newfangled by the Profufion and Variety of the Flowers, that spring on its Bosom in May, I have therefore ventur'd to substitute, Earth, in the close of the 3d Line, which restores the alternate Measure. It was very easy for a negligent Transcriber to be deceiv'd by the Rhyme immediately preceding i fo, mistake the concluding Word in the sequent Line, and corrupt it into One that would chime with the Qther,
But like of each thing, that in season grows. .
King. Well, fit you out. — Go home, Biron: Adieu!
you. And though I have for barbarism spoke more,
Than for that angel knowledge you can say; Yet confident I'll keep what I have swore,
And bide the penance of each three years day. Give me the paper, let me read the fame; And to the stridt'st decrees I'll write my name. King. How well this yielding rescues thee from shame!
Biron. Item, That no woman shall come within a mile of my Court,
[reading. Hath this been proclaimed ?
Long. Four days ago.
Biron. Let's see the penalty. On pain of losing her tongue:
[reading. Who devis'd this penalty?
Long. Marry, that did I.
Item, [reading] If any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he shall endure such publick shame as the rest of the Court can. possibly devise.
(4) A dangerous Law against Gentility.) I have ventur'd to prefix the Name of Biron to this Line, it being evident, for two Reasons, that it, by some Accident or other, flipt out of the printed Books. In the first place, Longaville confeffes, he had devis'd the Penalty : and why he should immediately arraign it as a dangerous Law, seems to be very inconfiftent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this Reflexion, who is caviling at every thing; and then for him to purfue his reading over the remaining Articles. -- As to the Word Gentility, here, it does not signify that Rank of People calld, Gentry ; but what the French express by, gentilesses, i. c, elegantia, urbanitas. And then the Meaning is this. Such a Law, for banishing Women from the Court, is dangerous, or injurious, to Politeness, Urbanity, and the more refin'd Pleasures of Life. "For Men without Women would turn brucal, and savage, in their Natures and Behaviour.