Love's Labor's Lost - Act 1, scene 1
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Act 1, scene 1
The King of Navarre and his lords vow to retire from the world (especially from women) and study for three years. One of the lords, Berowne, reminds the King that the Princess of France is coming and that they will thus have to break their oaths immediately. Constable Dull arrives with a letter from Don Armado accusing a servant, Costard, of already having broken the King’s order about not consorting with women.Enter Ferdinand, King of Navarre, Berowne,
Longaville, and Dumaine.
0001 Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
0002 Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
0003 And then grace us in the disgrace of death,
0004 When, spite of cormorant devouring time,
0005 5 Th’ endeavor of this present breath may buy
0006 That honor which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge
0007 And make us heirs of all eternity.
0008 Therefore, brave conquerors, for so you are
0009 That war against your own affections
0010 10 And the huge army of the world’s desires,
0011 Our late edict shall strongly stand in force.
0012 Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;
0013 Our court shall be a little academe,
0014 Still and contemplative in living art.
0015 15 You three, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville,
0016 Have sworn for three years’ term to live with me,
0017 My fellow scholars, and to keep those statutes
0018 That are recorded in this schedule here.
⌜He holds up a scroll.⌝
0019 Your oaths are passed, and now subscribe your
0020 20 names,
0021 That his own hand may strike his honor down
0023 If you are armed to do as sworn to do,
0024 Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
0025 25 I am resolved. ’Tis but a ⟨three⟩ years’ fast.
0026 The mind shall banquet though the body pine.
0027 Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits
0028 Make rich the ribs but bankrout quite the wits.
⌜He signs his name.⌝
0029 My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified.
0030 30 The grosser manner of these world’s delights
0031 He throws upon the gross world’s baser slaves.
0032 To love, to wealth, to ⟨pomp⟩ I pine and die,
0033 With all these living in philosophy.
⌜He signs his name.⌝
0034 I can but say their protestation over.
0035 35 So much, dear liege, I have already sworn,
0036 That is, to live and study here three years.
0037 But there are other strict observances:
0038 As not to see a woman in that term,
0039 Which I hope well is not enrollèd there;
0040 40 And one day in a week to touch no food,
0041 And but one meal on every day besides,
0042 The which I hope is not enrollèd there;
0043 And then to sleep but three hours in the night,
0044 And not be seen to wink of all the day—
0045 45 When I was wont to think no harm all night,
0046 And make a dark night too of half the day—
0047 Which I hope well is not enrollèd there.
0048 O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
0049 Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.
0050 50 Your oath is passed to pass away from these.
0051 Let me say no, my liege, an if you please.
0052 I only swore to study with your Grace
0053 And stay here in your court for three years’ space.
0054 You swore to that, Berowne, and to the rest.
0055 55 By yea and nay, sir. Then I swore in jest.
0056 What is the end of study, let me know?
0057 Why, that to know which else we should not know.
0058 Things hid and barred, you mean, from common
0060 60 Ay, that is study’s godlike recompense.
0061 Come on, then, I will swear to study so,
0062 To know the thing I am forbid to know:
0063 As thus—to study where I well may dine,
0064 When I to ⌜feast⌝ expressly am forbid;
0065 65 Or study where to meet some mistress fine
0066 When mistresses from common sense are hid;
0067 Or having sworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
0068 Study to break it, and not break my troth.
0069 If study’s gain be thus, and this be so,
0070 70 Study knows that which yet it doth not know.
0071 Swear me to this, and I will ne’er say no.
0072 These be the stops that hinder study quite,
0073 And train our intellects to vain delight.
0074 Why, all delights are vain, ⟨and⟩ that most vain
0075 75 Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain:
0076 As painfully to pore upon a book
0077 To seek the light of truth, while truth the while
0079 Light seeking light doth light of light beguile.
0080 80 So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
0081 Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
0082 Study me how to please the eye indeed
0083 By fixing it upon a fairer eye,
0084 Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed
0085 85 And give him light that it was blinded by.
0086 Study is like the heaven’s glorious sun,
0087 That will not be deep-searched with saucy looks.
0088 Small have continual plodders ever won,
0089 Save base authority from others’ books.
0090 90 These earthly godfathers of heaven’s lights,
0091 That give a name to every fixèd star,
0092 Have no more profit of their shining nights
0093 Than those that walk and wot not what they are.
0094 Too much to know is to know naught but fame,
0095 95 And every godfather can give a name.
0096 How well he’s read to reason against reading.
0097 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding.
0098 He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.
0099 The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.
0100 100 How follows that?
BEROWNE 0101 Fit in his place and time.
0102 In reason nothing.
BEROWNE 0103 Something then in rhyme.
0104 Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost
0105 105 That bites the firstborn infants of the spring.
0106 Well, say I am. Why should proud summer boast
0107 Before the birds have any cause to sing?
0108 Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
0109 At Christmas I no more desire a rose
0110 110 Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows,
0111 But like of each thing that in season grows.
0112 So you, to study now it is too late,
0113 Climb o’er the house to unlock the little gate.
0114 Well, sit you out. Go home, Berowne. Adieu.
0115 115 No, my good lord, I have sworn to stay with you.
0116 And though I have for barbarism spoke more
0117 Than for that angel knowledge you can say,
0118 Yet, confident, I’ll keep what I have sworn
0119 And bide the penance of each three years’ day.
0120 120 Give me the paper. Let me read the same,
0121 And to the strictest decrees I’ll write my name.
0122 How well this yielding rescues thee from shame.
BEROWNE ⌜reads⌝ 0123 Item, That no woman shall come within
0124 a mile of my court. Hath this been proclaimed?
LONGAVILLE 0125 125Four days ago.
BEROWNE 0126 Let’s see the penalty. ⌜Reads:⌝ On pain of
0127 losing her tongue. Who devised this penalty?
LONGAVILLE 0128 Marry, that did I.
BEROWNE 0129 Sweet lord, and why?
0130 130 To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
0131 A dangerous law against gentility.
⌜Reads:⌝ 0132 Item, If any man be seen to talk with a
0133 woman within the term of three years, he shall endure
0134 such public shame as the rest of the court can possible
0135 135 devise.
0137 For well you know here comes in embassy
0138 The French king’s daughter with yourself to speak—
0139 A maid of grace and complete majesty—
0140 140 About surrender up of Aquitaine
0141 To her decrepit, sick, and bedrid father.
0142 Therefore this article is made in vain,
0143 Or vainly comes th’ admirèd princess hither.
0144 What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.
0145 145 So study evermore is overshot.
0146 While it doth study to have what it would,
0147 It doth forget to do the thing it should.
0148 And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,
0149 ’Tis won as towns with fire—so won, so lost.
0150 150 We must of force dispense with this decree.
0151 She must lie here on mere necessity.
0152 Necessity will make us all forsworn
0153 Three thousand times within this three years’
0155 155 For every man with his affects is born,
0156 Not by might mastered, but by special grace.
0157 If I break faith, this word shall speak for me:
0158 I am forsworn on mere necessity.
0159 So to the laws at large I write my name,
0160 160 And he that breaks them in the least degree
0161 Stands in attainder of eternal shame.
0162 Suggestions are to other as to me,
0163 But I believe, although I seem so loath,
0164 I am the last that will last keep his oath.
⌜He signs his name.⌝
0165 165 But is there no quick recreation granted?
0166 Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
0167 With a refinèd traveler of Spain,
0168 A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
0169 That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
0170 170 One who the music of his own vain tongue
0171 Doth ravish like enchanting harmony,
0172 A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
0173 Have chose as umpire of their mutiny.
0174 This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
0175 175 For interim to our studies shall relate
0176 In high-born words the worth of many a knight
0177 From tawny Spain lost in the world’s debate.
0178 How you delight, my lords, I know not, I,
0179 But I protest I love to hear him lie,
0180 180 And I will use him for my minstrelsy.
0181 Armado is a most illustrious wight,
0182 A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight.
0183 Costard the swain and he shall be our sport,
0184 And so to study three years is but short.
Enter ⌜Dull,⌝ a Constable, with a letter, ⌜and⌝ Costard.
DULL 0185 185Which is the Duke’s own person?
BEROWNE 0186 This, fellow. What wouldst?
DULL 0187 I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his
0188 Grace’s farborough. But I would see his own
0189 person in flesh and blood.
BEROWNE 0190 190This is he.
DULL, ⌜to King⌝ 0191 Signior Arm-, Arm-, commends you.
0192 There’s villainy abroad. This letter will tell you
0193 more.⌜He gives the letter to the King.⌝
COSTARD 0194 Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching
0195 195 me.
KING 0196 A letter from the magnificent Armado.
0198 for high words.
LONGAVILLE 0199 A high hope for a low heaven. God grant
0200 200 us patience!
BEROWNE 0201 To hear, or forbear hearing?
LONGAVILLE 0202 To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately,
0203 or to forbear both.
BEROWNE 0204 Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause
0205 205 to climb in the merriness.
COSTARD 0206 The matter is to me, sir, as concerning
0207 Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with
0208 the manner.
BEROWNE 0209 In what manner?
COSTARD 0210 210In manner and form following, sir, all those
0211 three. I was seen with her in the manor house,
0212 sitting with her upon the form, and taken following
0213 her into the park, which, put together, is “in manner
0214 and form following.” Now, sir, for the manner.
0215 215 It is the manner of a man to speak to a woman. For
0216 the form—in some form.
BEROWNE 0217 For the “following,” sir?
COSTARD 0218 As it shall follow in my correction, and God
0219 defend the right.
KING 0220 220Will you hear this letter with attention?
BEROWNE 0221 As we would hear an oracle.
COSTARD 0222 Such is the sinplicity of man to hearken after
0223 the flesh.
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0224 Great deputy, the welkin’s vicegerent and
0225 225 sole dominator of Navarre, my soul’s earth’s god, and
0226 body’s fost’ring patron—
COSTARD 0227 Not a word of Costard yet.
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0228 So it is—
COSTARD 0229 It may be so, but if he say it is so, he is, in
0230 230 telling true, but so.
KING 0231 Peace.
COSTARD 0232 Be to me, and every man that dares not fight.
COSTARD 0234 Of other men’s secrets, I beseech you.
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0235 235So it is, ⟨besieged⟩ with sable-colored melancholy,
0236 I did commend the black oppressing humor
0237 to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving air;
0238 and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The
0239 time when? About the sixth hour, when beasts most
0240 240 graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that
0241 nourishment which is called supper. So much for the
0242 time when. Now for the ground which—which, I
0243 mean, I walked upon. It is yclept thy park. Then for the
0244 place where—where, I mean, I did encounter that
0245 245 obscene and most prepost’rous event that draweth
0246 from my snow-white pen the ebon-colored ink, which
0247 here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest. But to
0248 the place where. It standeth north-north-east and by
0249 east from the west corner of thy curious-knotted
0250 250 garden. There did I see that low-spirited swain, that
0251 base minnow of thy mirth,—
COSTARD 0252 Me?
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0253 that unlettered, small-knowing soul,—
COSTARD 0254 Me?
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0255 255that shallow vassal,—
COSTARD 0256 Still me?
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0257 which, as I remember, hight Costard,—
COSTARD 0258 O, me!
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0259 sorted and consorted, contrary to thy
0260 260 established proclaimed edict and continent canon,
0261 which with—O with—but with this I passion to say
COSTARD 0263 With a wench.
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0264 with a child of our grandmother Eve, a
0265 265 female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a
0266 woman: him, I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks
0267 me on, have sent to thee, to receive the meed of
0268 punishment by thy sweet Grace’s officer, Anthony
0270 270 estimation.
DULL 0271 Me, an ’t shall please you. I am Anthony Dull.
KING ⌜reads⌝ 0272 For Jaquenetta—so is the weaker vessel
0273 called which I apprehended with the aforesaid
0274 swain—I keep her as a vessel of thy law’s fury, and
0275 275 shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring her to trial.
0276 Thine, in all compliments of devoted and heartburning
0277 heat of duty,
0278 Don Adriano de Armado.
BEROWNE 0279 This is not so well as I looked for, but the
0280 280 best that ever I heard.
KING 0281 Ay, the best, for the worst. ⌜To Costard.⌝ But,
0282 sirrah, what say you to this?
COSTARD 0283 Sir, I confess the wench.
KING 0284 Did you hear the proclamation?
COSTARD 0285 285I do confess much of the hearing it, but little
0286 of the marking of it.
KING 0287 It was proclaimed a year’s imprisonment to be
0288 taken with a wench.
COSTARD 0289 I was taken with none, sir. I was taken with a
0290 290 damsel.
KING 0291 Well, it was proclaimed “damsel.”
COSTARD 0292 This was no damsel neither, sir. She was a
BEROWNE 0294 It is so varied too, for it was proclaimed
0295 295 “virgin.”
COSTARD 0296 If it were, I deny her virginity. I was taken
0297 with a maid.
KING 0298 This “maid” will not serve your turn, sir.
COSTARD 0299 This maid will serve my turn, sir.
KING 0300 300Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall
0301 fast a week with bran and water.
COSTARD 0302 I had rather pray a month with mutton and
0305 305 My Lord Berowne, see him delivered o’er,
0306 And go we, lords, to put in practice that
0307 Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.
⌜King, Longaville, and Dumaine exit.⌝
0308 I’ll lay my head to any goodman’s hat,
0309 These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.
0310 310 Sirrah, come on.
COSTARD 0311 I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is I was
0312 taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true
0313 girl. And therefore welcome the sour cup of prosperity.
0314 Affliction may one day smile again, and till
0315 315 then, sit thee down, sorrow.