Графични страници
PDF файл

existing work. Its incidents, however, are so simple, and in such entire conformity with the chivalric and romantic feeling of the sixteenth century, that they would readily present themselves to any mind imbued with the fashionable literature of the day." Stevens, and one or two others, are not so ready to relinquish the idea of some possible original. Mr. Collier has stated the substance of their conjectures, on the probability of which the reader will judge for himself. After stating Coleridge's conviction that "the internal evidence was indisputa that this was one of Shakespeare's earliest dramas," and that the characters were such as he might have impersonated from his own mind and schoolboy observation, Mr. Collier adds:—

"The only objection to this theory is, that at the time LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST was composed, the author seems to have been acquainted in some degree with the nature of the Italian comic performances; but this acquaintance he might have acquired comparatively early in life. The character of Armado is that of a Spanish braggart, very much such a personage as was common on the Italian stage, and figures in 'Gl' Ingannati,' (which, as the Rev. Joseph Hunter was the first to point out, Shakespeare saw before he wrote his TWELFTH NIGHT,) under the name of Giglio. In the same comedy we have M. Piero Pedante, a not unusual character in pieces of that description. Holofernes is repeatedly called the 'Pedant' in the old copies of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, while Armado is more frequently introduced as the 'Braggart' than by his name. Stevens, after stating that he had not been able to discover any novel from which this comedy had been derived, adds that the story has most of the features of an ancient romance ;' but it is not at all impossible that Shakespeare found some corresponding incidents in an Italian play. However, after a long search, I have not met with any such production; although, if used by Shakespeare, it most likely came into England in a printed form.”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

SCENE I.-Navarre. A Park, with a Palace in it. Enter the KING, BIRON, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAINE.

King. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live register'd upon our brazen tombs, And then grace us in the disgrace of death; When, spite of cormorant devouring time, Th' endeavour of this present breath may buy That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,

And make us heirs of all eternity.
Therefore, brave conquerors!-for so you are,
That war against your own affections,
And the huge army of the world's desires,-
Our late edict shall strongly stand in force.
Navarre shall be the wonder of the world:
Our court shall be a little Academe,
Still and contemplative in living art.
You three, Biron, Dumaine, 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 oath, and keep it too.

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

Dum. My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified. The grosser 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 see 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 sleep but three hours in the night,
And not to be seen to wink of all the day,
When I was wont to think no harm all night,
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, fast, 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 should not know.

Biron. Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from common sense?

King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. Biron. Come on, then: I will swear to study


To know the thing I am forbid to know;
As thus, to study where I well may dine,
When I to feast expressly am forbid;
Or study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid;
Or, having sworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
Study to break it, and not break my troth.
If study's gain be thus, and this be so,
Study knows that which yet it doth not know.
Swear me to this, and I will ne'er say 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 falsely blind the eyesight of his look:

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

[blocks in formation]

Biron. Well, say I am: why should proud summer boast,

Before the birds have any cause to sing? Why should I joy in any abortive birth? At Christmas I no more desire a rose, Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows; But like of each thing that in season grows. So you, to study now it is too late, Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate. King. Well, sit you out: go home, Biron: adieu!

Biron. No, my good lord; I have 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 same; And to the strict'st decrees I'll write my name.

King. How well this yielding rescues thee from shame!

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

King. Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted

With a refined traveller of Spain;

A man in all the world's new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain:
One, whom the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:
This child of fancy, that Armado hight,

For interim to our studies, shall relate In high-born words the worth of many a knight From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate. How you delight, my lords, I know not, I, But, I protest, I love to hear him lie, And I will use him for my minstrelsy.

Biron. Armado is a most illustrious wight, A man of fire-new words, fashion's own knight. Long. Costard, the swain, and he shall be our sport; And so to study, three years is but short.

Enter DULL, with a letter, and COSTARD. Dull. Which is the duke's own person? Biron. This, fellow. What would'st? Dull. I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his grace's tharborough: but I would see his own person in flesh and blood.

Biron. This is he.

Dull. Signior Arm-Arm-commends you. There's villainy abroad; this letter will tell you


Cost. Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching


King. A letter from the magnificent Armado. Biron. How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words.

Long. A high hope for a low having: God grant us patience!

Biron. To hear, or forbear hearing?

Long. To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately; or to forbear both.

Biron. Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause to climb in the merriness.

Cost. The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.

Biron. In what manner?

Cost. In manner and form following, sir; all those three: I was seen with her in the manor house, sitting with her upon the form, and taken following her into the park; which, put together, is, in manner and form following. Now, sir, for the manner, it is the manner of a man to speak to a woman; for the form,-in some form. Biron. For the following, sir?

Cost. As it shall follow in my correction; and God defend the right!

King. Will you hear this letter with attention? Biron. As we would hear an oracle.

Cost. Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.

King. [Reads.] "Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent, and sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's God, and body's fostering patron,


Cost. Not a word of Costard yet.

King. "So it is,-"

Cost. It may be so; but if he say it is so, he is, in telling true, but so,

King. Peace!

Cost. -be to me, and every man that dares not fight.

King. No words.

Cost. of other men's secrets, I beseech you. King. "So it is, besieged with sable-coloured melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The time when? About the sixth hour; when beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper. So much for the time when. Now for the ground which; which, I mean, I walked upon : it is ycleped thy park. Then for the place where;

[graphic][ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »