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Love's LABOUR'S Loft.



SCENE, The Palace,

Enter the King, Biron, Longaville and Dumain.

ET Fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registred upon our brazen tombs;
And then grace us in the disgrace of death :
When, spight of cormorant devouring

Th' endeavour of this present breath may buy
That honour, which shall bate his fythe's keen edge;
And make us heirs of all eternity.
Therefore, brave Conquerors ! for so you are,
That war against your own affections,
And the huge army of the world's desires;
Our late edict shall strongly stand in force.
Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;
Our Court shall be a little academy,
Still and contemplative in living arts.
You three, Biron, Dumain, and Longaville,
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.
Your oaths are past, and now subscribe your names:
That his own hand may strike his honour down,
That violates the smallest branch herein:
If you are arm'd to do, as sworn to do,


Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep them too.

Long. I am resolv'd; ’tis but a three years fast :
The mind shall banquet, tho' the body pine ;
Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but bankerout the wits.

Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortify'd:
The groffer manner of these world's delights
He throws upon the gross world's baser slaves :
To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die;
With all these living in philosophy.

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.

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Biron. Things hid and barr’d (you mean) from com.

mon sense.
King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompence.

Biron. Come on then, I will swear to study fo,
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 ; (2)
Or study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid :
Or having sworn too hard a keeping oath,
Study to break it, and not break my troth.
If study's gain be this, and this be fo,
Study knows that, which yet it doth not know:
Swear me to this, and I will ne'er fay, no.

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
So, cre you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
Study me how to please the eye indeed,

By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
Who dazling so, that eye shall be his heed,

And give him light, that it was blinded by.
Study is like the Heaven's glorious Sun,

That will not be deep search'd with 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

Dum. How follows that?
Biron. Fit in his place and time.
Dum. In reason nothing.
Biron. Something then in rhime.
Long. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,

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?
Why should I joy in an abortive birth? (3)
At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than with a snow in May's new-fangled Earth ;

(3) Why should I joy in an abortive Birth ?

At Christmas I no more desire a Rose,
Than wish a Snow in May's newfangled Shows :

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. .
So you, to study now it is too late,
Climb o'er the house t’unlock the little gate.

King. Well, fit you out. — Go home, Biron: Adieu!
Biron. No, my good lord, I've sworn to stay with

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.
Biron. Sweet lord, and why?
Long. To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
Biron. A dangerous law against gentility! (4)

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.

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