Love’s Labor’s Lost simplified

Synopsis

The play takes place in Navarre, a former kingdom then located in the northeast region of present day Spain.  Navarre’s king is a young man named Ferdinand.  As the play opens Ferdinand has convinced his buddies, Longaville, Dumaine and Berowne to agree to attend his newly-formed academy, to be “still and contemplative in living arts,” an academy to be run on the King’s terms.  The four of them have made a three year commitment, most unwittingly, to endure a Spartan existence; the King’s stated objective being that the four of them are to strictly focus on their books and studies. They have signed-on to a severe and disciplined regimen; a regimen that includes three hours of sleep a night, one meal a day, and to neither see nor talk with women during the three year period.  Belatedly realizing what he’s signed up for, Berowne puts up a fuss, but he stays the course. It’s this last requirement, to not see nor talk with women for three years, that each of these guys independently and quickly breaks; that being the basis for this silly, but innocent, romantic-comedy, where the young women win at every turn. 

Shakespeare early on introduces us to Armado, Costard and Jaquenetta; all of whom have important roles and add to the zaniness, the three of them leading a so-called play-within-a-play.

Soon after the young men set up shop at the academy, the beautiful daughter of France’s king, the Princess, pays Ferdinand a visit.  She has been sent to the academy by her father “on serious business craving quick dispatch.”  She’s been sent to Navarre to seek to negotiate the return of Aquitaine to France, an area Ferdinand says was “won by my father in his wars,” Aquitaine being an area in the west of France.  The French king wants Aquitaine returned.  The French king is willing to pay “a hundred thousand crowns” to get it back.    

Determined to make his academy one dedicated to “still and contemplative in living arts” studies, Ferdinand has the Princess and her ladies camp in the field outside his compound, the ladies being Rosaline, Maria and Katherine.  But the men soon independently talk with the Princess and her lady friends, each one of them promptly breaking their severe and mutual pledge.  Each one in each group of four is quickly infatuated with another in the other group of four, giving us a pretty good idea of how the story will play out.

Soon after she arrives, the Princess provides Ferdinand with a paper from her father, a proposed settlement of the Aquitaine issue.  Ferdinand reads the document in the presence of the Princess and her ladies, but isn’t very smooth in the doing.  The Princess’ attending lord, Boyet, her loyal and wise protector, offers his assessment of the King’s reading of her father’s document: the King is smitten by the Princess; he can’t take his eye off her.

Soon after the King and his young “lords” had arrived at the King’s academy, Armado, known as the Braggart, also called “a child of fancy” by the King, and Costard, known as the Clown, paid the King a visit.  These two guys, along with Jaquenetta, their common girlfriend, offer us their own silliness.  Armado asks Costard to deliver a letter from him to Jaquenetta.  At about the same time, Berowne asks Costard to deliver a letter from him to Rosaline, one of the Princess’ ladies.

Costard mixes up the letters, as expected, delivering each to the wrong young lady.  Boyet reads the letter from Armado intended for Jaquenetta, but delivered to Rosaline through the Princess.  Recognizing that this letter was not intended for Rosaline, the Princess suggests to Rosaline that she might later be able to later use Armando’s misdirected letter to their advantage.  Separately, Jaquenetta has Nathaniel, known as the Curate, read the letter given to her by Costard, she believing it to be from Armado. It’s Berowne’s letter.  Holofernes, a schoolmaster and friend of Nathaniel’s, suggests Jaquenetta deliver the letter to the king. 

Berowne, walking through the forest, upset as he is with Cupid for letting him fall in love with one of the Princess’ ladies, reads to himself the love poem he’s written to Rosaline.  Sensitive to the commitment he made to the King when he agreed to join the King’s academy, he steps out of the way as Ferdinand walks by reading the love poem he’s written to the Princess.  The King then steps aside hearing Longaville walking through the woods reading the love poem he’s written to Maria.  Then Longaville steps aside as Dumaine comes by reading his love poem to Katherine.  Ferdinand then steps forward, reprimanding both Longaville and Dumaine for breaking the pledge they made to him when they joined his academy.  Berowne boldly comes forward, belittling all three of them, including the King, for breaking their oaths.  But then Jaquenetta enters, carrying a letter.  Aware of what this might lead to, Berowne tries to slip away; Ferdinand suggesting otherwise.  A guilty Berowne rips up the letter Jaquenetta has in her hand.  Dumaine picks up the pieces, noting to all that it is a love poem from Berowne to Rosaline.  Berowne admits that the letter is his, but quickly recovers, rallying the four of them, wisely saying “let us fail these troths or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.” 

Separately, Holofernes announces that he, Nathaniel, Armado, and Costard will present the show “The Nine Worthies” in a special presentation for the benefit of the Princess and her ladies and the King and his lords.

The Princess and her ladies proudly have their own ‘show and tell’ session; sharing with each other the gifts and rhymes they’ve received from the King and his friends.  But Boyet, the source of recent intelligence, enters to report that the four young men are about to arrive, disguised as Muscovites.  These amateurish-acting guys have really fallen for the women.  The Princess and her ladies decide they’ll reciprocate the ruse.  They’ll disguise themselves, wearing masks.  They also switch among themselves the gifts they’ve received from the men, knowing the men are going to try to deceive them, dressed as they are as Russians. The ladies’ trick works beautifully, each man mistakenly telling one of the young ladies (masked and wearing another’s gift) how much he loves her.  The women treat the men with some disdain and the men, embarrassed as they are, leave discouraged but not defeated.  Boyet senses they will soon return, and they do. The women welcome the men’s return. The men soon realize that the woman played the better trick.  The men humbly confess their foolishness and seek forgiveness. 

Costard soon enters to announce that the play, planned to be The Nine Worthies (but now reduced to The Three Worthies), is about to begin.  Ferdinand and his friends belittle the actors, but the Princess lauds and cheers their effort.  The show is interrupted when the Princess learns that her father has died. She declares that she and her ladies must promptly return to France. The men beg the women to become their wives.  The Princess says that she and her ladies will mourn her father’s death for one year.  But, she says, if the women are to take the men’s proposals seriously, the men for the next twelve months must live under a form of probation, performing public services. At the end of the twelve month period, depending on how well they conduct themselves and how well they perform their penance, the women say they just may accept the young men’s marriage offers.

Principal Characters

Berowne.  Berowne is the most skeptical of the three lords who agree to join Ferdinand at his academy where they plan to study hard under austere conditions for three years.  He and Rosaline, two strong-willed friends, but adversaries too, have the leading support roles to the King and the Princess.  Berowne and his friends write touching love rhymes to the ladies, found in Act 4, Scene 3.

Boyet.  Boyet is listed as a lord who attends the Princess, but that understates his role.  He is the Princess’ eyes and ears, and they are clear and fine tuned.  The well-intentioned King and his friends often do stumble through their efforts to court the ladies, but Boyet is always the first to pick up on the silly efforts these guys use to court the women.  Boyet always helps the ladies take the high road when it comes to dealing with the adolescent courting efforts of the men; the ladies, in part through Boyet, always seeming to stay one step ahead of the men. 

Ferdinand.  Ferdinand is the young king, the king of Navarre, the initiator of the academy where he and his friends can become learned “heirs of all eternity.”  His initial hopes are soon dashed. His well-meaning, but naïve, plans that include forsaking the company of women for three years collapse early.  Actually his plans collapse the moment he sees the Princess of France.

Princess of France.  The Princess has been sent to the king’s compound by her father with the objective of reaching a resolution to the Aquitaine conflict, an issue which quickly falls to the wayside.  She leads her ladies well in offsetting the often juvenile antics employed by the king and his friends to woo her and her ladies.  She is the stable counterweight to the youthful King and his friends.

Rosaline.  Rosaline is the other half of the love-struggle between Berowne and herself.  She leads the ladies’ balancing act with the young men who at one moment may act as adolescent boys, but then at another as charming, mature, responsible men.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • The King of Navarre, known as Ferdinand, here called the King, enlists three of his friends, lords in his court, to attend his academy for three years where they will study hard, sleep little, eat lightly, and pay no attention to women. That’s the plan. He successfully persuades them to commit to join him in his demanding regimen “to make us heirs of all eternity.”
  •  
  •  
  • King to his Lords
  •  
  • Do let grand fame grace us in the disgrace
  • Of death and live scribed on the barren place
  • Our bones interred; that which all hunt for to
  • Make men heirs of all eternity, rest
  • On us, as we, blunting time’s sharp edge, do
  • Spite voracious, devouring time and best
  • Ourselves, my brave conquerors, in that war
  • Over our own base passions and the more
  • Insidious of worldly desires. My
  • Court shall be a little academy,
  • The wonder of the world, where hearts will lie
  • For three years, having sworn to live with me
  • In living art, contemplative and still,
  • Holding to these statutes through force of will.
  • The king holds up a scroll.
  • KING
  • Your oaths are passed, and now subscribe your names, that his own hand may strike his honor down that violates the smallest branch herein.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • I am resolved. ‘Tis but a three years’ fast. The mind shall banquet though the body pine.
  • He signs his name.
  • DUMAINE
  • My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified.
  • He signs his name.
  • BEROWNE
  • Dear liege, I have already sworn to live and study three years.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to the King
  •  
  • But there are other strict rules, as not to
  • See women in that term, which I hope you
  • Do not include in the plans. And one day
  • Each week to touch no food and then besides
  • To have but one meal the other days! Say
  • Not but three hours sleep each night! Confides
  • My tongue, I’m accustomed to sleep all night
  • And as well during half of each day’s light.
  • These are tasks too hard to keep, not to see
  • Ladies, fast, not sleep. What is to be sought
  • In this school I swore to in jest? Let me
  • Know. Is it what otherwise we would not
  • Know? Do you mean things hid from common sense?
  • Ay, will that be our godlike recompense?
  • LONGAVILLE
  • You swore to that, Berowne, and to the rest.
  • BEROWNE
  • 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.
  • BEROWNE
  • Come on, then, I will swear to study so, to know the thing I am forbid to know. If 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.
  • BEROWNE
  • Small have continual plodders ever won, save base authority from others’ books. These earthly astronomers 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 know not what they are.
  • KING
  • How well he’s read to reason against reading.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • He pulls up the wheat, and still lets grow the weeding.
  • KING
  • Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost that bites the firstborn infants of the spring.
  • BEROWNE
  • Well, say I am. 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, Berowne. Adieu.
  • BEROWNE
  • No, my good lord, I have sworn to stay with you. I’ll keep what I have sworn and bide the penance of each three years’ day. Give me the paper. Let me read the same, and to the strictest decrees I’ll writ my name.
  • Berowne reads the scroll.
  • BEROWNE READS
  • “Item, that no woman shall come within a mile of my court.” Hath this been proclaimed?
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Four days ago.
  • BEROWNE
  • Let’s see the penalty.
  • BEROWNE READS
  • “On pain of losing her tongue.” Who devised this penalty?
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Marry, that did I.
  • BEROWNE
  • Sweet lord, and why?
  • LONGAVILLE
  • To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
  • BEROWNE READS
  • “Item, if any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he shall endure such public shame as the rest of the court can possible devise.” This article, my liege, yourself must break, for well you know here comes in embassy the French king’s daughter with yourself to speak---about surrender up of Aquitaine to her decrepit, sick and bedrid father.
  • KING
  • Why, this was quite forgot.
  • BEROWNE
  • So study evermore is overshot. While it doth study to have what it would, it doth forget to do the thing it should.
  • KING
  • We must of force dispense with this decree. She must lie here on mere necessity.
  • BEROWNE
  • Necessity will make us all forsworn three thousand times within this three years’ space. If I break faith, this word shall speak for me
  • I am forsworn on mere necessity. But I believe, although I seem so loath, I am the last that will last keep his oath.
  • He signs his name.
  • KING
  • Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted with a refined traveler of Spain. This child of fancy, called Armado, as an interlude to our studies shall relate in high-born words the worth of many a knight from tawny Spain lost in the world’s debate.
  • BEROWNE
  • Armado is a most illustrious person, a man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Costard the laborer and he shall be our sport, and so to study three years is but short.
  • Constable Dull enters bearing a letter. He is joined by Costard.
  • DULL
  • Which is the duke’s own person?
  • BEROWNE
  • This is he.
  • DULL TO KING
  • There’s villainy abroad. This letter will tell you more.
  • He gives the letter to the king.
  • KING
  • A letter from the magnificent Armado.
  • COSTARD
  • The matter is about me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta.
  • BEROWNE
  • In what manner?
  • COSTARD
  • I was seen with her in the manor house.
  • KING
  • Will we hear this letter with attention?
  • BEROWNE
  • As we would hear an oracle.
  • KING READS
  • “In the park did I see that low-spirited swain, that base minnow of thy mirth, that unlettered, small-knowing soul, that shallow vassal, which, as I remember, is called Costard, sorted and consorted with a child of our grandmother Eve, a female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a woman: him, I have sent to thee, to receive the reward of punishment by they sweet Grace’s officer, Anthony Dull, a man of good repute, carriage, bearing and estimation.” Signed------Don Adriano de Armado.
  • DULL
  • Me, as ‘t shall please you. I am Anthony Dull.
  • BEROWNE
  • This is not so well as I looked for, but the best that ever I heard.
  • KING TO COSTARD
  • But, sirrah, what say you to this?
  • COSTARD
  • Sir, I confess the wench. I was in the park with a maid.
  • KING
  • Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall fast a week with bran and water.
  • COSTARD
  • I had rather pray a month with mutton and porridge.
  • KING; And Don Armado shall be your keeper. My Lord Berowne, see him delivered o’er.
  • The King, Longaville and Dumaine exit.
  • BEROWNE
  • Sirrah, come on.
  • COSTARD
  • I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is I was taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true girl.
  • They exit
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • Armado and his page, Mote, who is also called Boy, enter.
  • ARMADO
  • Boy, I have promised to study three years with the Duke.
  • BOY
  • You may do it in an hour, sir.
  • ARMADO
  • Impossible.
  • BOY
  • How many is one thrice told?
  • ARMADO
  • I am ill at reckoning. It fitteth the spirit of a tapster.
  • BOY
  • You are a gentleman and a gamester, sir.
  • ARMADO
  • I confess both. They are both the varnish of a complete man.
  • BOY
  • Then I am sure you know how much the gross sum of deuce-ace amounts to.
  • ARMADO
  • It doth amount to one more than two.
  • BOY
  • Which the base vulgar do call “three.”
  • ARMADO
  • True. I will hereupon confess I am in love. Comfort me, boy. What great men have been in love?
  • BOY
  • Hercules, master.
  • ARMADO
  • Name more. Let them be men of good repute and carriage.
  • BOY
  • Samson, master; he was a man of good carriage, and he was in love.
  • ARMADO; Who was Samson’s love, my dear Mote?
  • BOY
  • A woman, master.
  • ARMADO
  • Sing, boy. My spirit grows heavy in love.
  • BOY
  • Forbear till this company be past.
  • Costard, Dull and Jaquenetta enter.
  • DULL TO ARMADO
  • Sir, the duke’s pleasure is that you keep Costard safe, and you must suffer him to take no delight, nor no penance, but he most fast three days a week. For this damsel, I must keep her at the park.
  • ARMADO
  • Maid.
  • JAQUENETTA
  • Man.
  • ARMADO
  • I will visit thee. I will tell thee wonders. I love thee.
  • JAQUENETTA
  • So I heard you say.
  • DULL
  • Come, Jaquenetta, away.
  • Dull and Jaquenetta exit.
  • ARMADO TO COSTARD
  • Villain, thou shalt fast for thy offenses ere thou be pardoned.
  • COSTARD
  • Well, sir, I hope when I do it I shall do it on a full stomach.
  • ARMADO TO BOY
  • Take away this villain.
  • BOY
  • Come, you transgressing slave, away.
  • COSTARD
  • Let me not be pent up, sir. I will fast being loose.
  • Costard and Boy exit.
  •  
  •  
  • Armado to himself
  •  
  • I do love the very ground where her shoe
  • Guided by her foot doth tread, the one who
  • Is accused. Can one break his oath and find
  • True love, or is love the devil’s spirit?
  • Solomon, noted as wise, yet unkind
  • Love tempted him, and he had a good wit.
  • Samson was overcome by love and he
  • Had excellent strength. Cupid’s shaft would be
  • Too hard for a Spaniard’s rapier, when
  • Hercules’ club could not defend. If his
  • Ignominy is to be called “boy,” then
  • His glory is to subdue men. O ‘tis
  • So, rapier, your manager is in
  • Love, here trying to quiet his heart’s din.
  • He exits.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • The Princess of France along with her ladies and Boyet, an attendant, enter.
  • BOYET
  • Now, madam, consider who the king your father sends, yourself, held precious in the world’s esteem, to parley with the sole inheritor of all perfections that a man may owe, matchless Navarre, the plea of less weight than Aquitaine, a dowry for a queen.
  • PRINCESS
  • Good Lord Boyet, beauty is bought by judgment of the eye, not uttered by base sale of merchant’s tongues. But now to task the tasker: good Boyet, you are not ignorant all-telling fame doth noise abroad Navarre hath made a vow, till painful study shall outwear three years, no woman may approach his silent court. Therefore, before we enter his forbidden gates, we single you as our best-moving fair solicitor. Tell him the daughter of the King of France on serious business craving quick dispatch, begs personal conference with his Grace.
  • BOYET
  • Proud of employment, willingly I go.
  • PRINCESS
  • All pride is willing pride, and yours is so.
  • He exits.
  • PRINCESS
  • Who are these bound by oath, my loving lords, that are vow-fellows with this virtuous duke?
  • A LORD
  • Longaville is one.
  • PRINCESS
  • Know you the man?
  •  
  •  
  • Ladies to the Princess
  •  
  • I saw this Longaville in Normandy,
  • A sovereign man of esteemed quality,
  • Learned in the arts and a glorious
  • Soldier. Nothing becomes him ill that he
  • Wants to be, but he would spare none of us
  • With his sharp wit. Too little did I see
  • Of that good I saw in young Dumaine is
  • My report of this polished youth and his
  • Great worthiness. There, too, was another
  • Student, called Berowne, and never I spent
  • Such a sweet hour’s talk with a merrier
  • Man. So clever the wit of this student
  • Who gave such words that ears dismissed the source
  • Of his tales, so lively was his discourse.
  • PRINCESS
  • God bless my ladies, are they all in love, that every one her own hath garnished with such bedecking ornaments of praise?
  • A LORD
  • Here comes Boyet.
  • Boyet enters.
  • BOYET
  • Navarre had notice of your fair approach. Marry, thus much I have learned. He rather means to lodge you in the field, like one that comes here to besiege his court.
  • The King of Navarre, Longaville, Dumaine and Berowne enter.
  • KING
  • Fair Princess, welcome to the court of Navarre.
  • PRINCESS
  • “Fair” I give you back again, and “welcome” I have not yet. The roof of this court is too high to be yours, and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine.
  • KING
  • You shall be welcome, madam, to my court.
  • PRINCESS
  • I will be welcome, then. Conduct me thither.
  • KING
  • Hear me, dear lady. I have sworn an oath.
  • PRINCESS
  • Why, will shall break it, will and nothing else.
  • KING
  • Your Ladyship is ignorant what it is.
  • PRINCESS
  • I hear your Grace hath sworn out housekeeping. ‘Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my lord, and sin to break it. But pardon me, I am too sudden bold. Vouchsafe to read the purpose of my coming.
  • She gives him a paper. The ladies move aside as the King reads the paper.
  • BEROWNE TO ROSALINE
  • Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?
  • ROSELINE
  • Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?
  • BEROWNE
  • I know you did.
  • ROSELINE
  • How needless was it then to ask the question.
  • BEROWNE
  • You must not be so quick.
  • The King comes forward with the princess.
  • KING
  • Madam, your father here doth intimate the payment of a hundred thousand crowns, being but the one half of an entire sum disbursed by my father in his wars. Yet there remains unpaid a hundred thousand more, in surety of the which one part of Aquitaine is bound to us, although not valued to the money’s worth. If then the King your father will restore but that one half which is unsatisfied, we will give up our right in Aquitaine. But that, it seems, he doth demand to have repaid a hundred thousand crowns, and not demands, on payment of a hundred thousand crowns, to have his title live in Aquitaine, which we much rather had depart withal, and have the money by our father lent, than Aquitaine, so gelded as it is.
  • PRINCESS
  • You do the King my father too much wrong, and wrong the reputation of your name, in so unseeming to confess receipt of that which hath so faithfully been paid.
  • KING
  • I do protest I never heard of it; and if you prove it, I’ll repay it back or yield up Aquitaine.
  • PRINCESS
  • Boyet, you can produce acquittances for such a sum from special officers of Charles his father.
  • KING
  • Satisfy me so.
  • BOYET
  • Tomorrow you shall have a sight of them.
  • KING
  • You may not come, fair princess, within my gates, but here without you shall be so received as you shall deem yourself lodged in my heart, though so denied fair harbor in my house.
  • The King exits with Dumaine and Longaville.
  • BEROWNE TO ROSALINE
  • Lady, I will commend you to my own heart.
  • ROSALINE
  • I would be glad to see it.
  • BEROWNE
  • I would you heard it groan.
  • He exits. Dumaine enters.
  • DUMAINE TO BOYET
  • Sir, I pray you, a word. What lady is that same?
  • BOYET
  • Katherine her name.
  • He exits. Longaville enters.
  • LONGAVILLE TO BOYET
  • What is she in the white?
  • BOYET
  • A woman sometimes.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • I desire her name. Pray you, sir, whose daughter?
  • BOYET
  • Her mother’s, I have heard. She is an heir of Falconbridge.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • She is a most sweet lady.
  • Longaville exits. Berowne enters.
  • BEROWNE TO BOYET
  • What’s her name in the cap?
  • BOYET
  • Rosaline.
  • BEROWNE
  • Is she wedded or no?
  • BOYET
  • To her will, sir, or so.
  • Berowne exits.
  • BOYET
  • If my observation, which very seldom lies, by the heart’s still rhetoric, disclosed wi’ th’ eyes, deceive me not now, Navarre is infected.
  • PRINCESS
  • With what?
  • BOYET
  • With that which we lovers entitle “affected.”
  • PRINCESS
  • Your reason?
  •  
  •  
  • Boyet to the Princess
  •  
  • His behavior did expose his heart. Why,
  • What he here said resided in his eye,
  • Peeping through with desire. His heart’s like an
  • Agate, princess, with your image impressed
  • Proudly, expressed in his eye, rather than
  • Spoken. His eager tongue never did rest,
  • Stumbling with haste, tangled up by his eye,
  • Seeing you the fairest of the fair. My
  • Thought was his senses were locked in his eye
  • As if they were jewels encased in crystal
  • Tendering their own worth as you passed by.
  • His face was a page with his eyes the sole
  • Text; his enchanted gaze was hard to miss.
  • He’d give you Aquitaine for one sweet kiss.
  • PRINCESS TO HER LADIES
  • Come, to our pavilion. Boyet is joking.
  • BOYET
  • I only have made a mouth of his eye by adding a tongue which I know will not lie.
  • MARIA
  • Thou art an old lovemonger and speakest skillfully.
  • KATHERINE
  • He is Cupid’s grandfather.
  • BOYET
  • You are too hard for me.
  • They all exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • Armado and his Boy enter. He hands Boy a key.
  • ARMADO
  • Take this key to Costard. Bring him speedily here. He must carry me a letter.
  • BOY
  • A message well matched----a horse to be ambassador for an ass.
  • ARMADO
  • Ha? Ha? What sayest thou?
  • BOY
  • Marry, sir, you must send the ass upon the horse, for he is very slow-gaited. Away!
  • He exits.
  • ARMADO
  • A most acute juvenile, voluble and free of grace.
  • Boy and Costard enter.
  • BOY
  • A wonder, master! Here’s Costard broken in a shin.
  • ARMADO
  • But tell me, how was there a Costard broken in a shin?
  • BOY
  • I will tell you sensibly.
  • COSTARD
  • Thou hast no feeling of it, Mote. I, Costard, running out, that was safely within, fell over the threshold and broke my shin.
  • ARMADO
  • We will talk no more of this matter. I give thee thy liberty, and impose on thee nothing but this: bear this significant to the country maid Jaquenetta.
  • He gives him a paper. He exits.
  • BOY
  • Like the sequel, I, Signior Costard, adieu.
  • Boy exits. Berowne enters.
  • BEROWNE
  • My good knave Costard, exceedingly well met.
  • COSTARD
  • I thank your Worship. God be wi’ you.
  • He begins to exit.
  • BEROWNE
  • Stay, slave. I must employ thee. Do one thing for me that I shall entreat.
  • COSTARD
  • I will come to your Worship tomorrow morning.
  • BEROWNE
  • It must be done this afternoon. It is but this: the Princess comes to hunt here in the park, and in her train there is a gentle lady. They name her Rosaline. Ask for her. And to her white hand see thou do commend this sealed-up counsel. Go.
  • COSTARD
  • I will do it, sir.
  • He exits.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to himself
  •  
  • And I in love! I that have been love’s whip,
  • Let that wimpled, purblind boy, Cupid, slip
  • In and get me. O my little heart. I,
  • A domineering schoolmaster o’er that
  • Boy, a critic to a humorous sigh.
  • Am I to be but a corporal at
  • The call of this whining, wayward boy, this
  • Anointed sovereign of groans and the kiss,
  • This regent of love rhymes that plays unfair?
  • What? I seek a wife, a woman wound tight
  • Like a clock that’s always under repair,
  • Not aright, yet watched that it may go right?
  • ‘Twas through neglect that I without a fight
  • Let this Cupid impose his little might.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • The Princess, a Forester, her Ladies and others are hunting in the forest. Costard enters.
  • COSTARD
  • Pray you, which is the head lady?
  • PRINCESS
  • Thou shalt know her, fellow, by the rest that have no heads.
  • COSTARD
  • Which is the greatest lady, the highest?
  • PRINCESS
  • The thickest and tallest? What’s your will, sir?
  • COSTARD
  • I have a letter from Monsieur Berowne to one Lady Rosaline.
  • PRINCESS
  • O, thy letter, thy letter! Boyet, you can carve.
  • BOYET
  • This letter is mistook; it is writ to Jaquenetta.
  • PRINCESS
  • We will read it, I swear. Break the neck of the wax, and everyone give ear.
  • BOYET READS
  • “By heaven, that thou art fair is most infallible, true that thou art beauteous, truth itself that thou art lovely. Shall I command thy love? I may. Shall I enforce thy love? I could. Shall I entreat thy love? I will. Thus expecting thy reply, I profane my lips on thy foot and my eyes on thy picture.” Thine, in the dearest design of industry, Don Armado.
  • PRINCESS
  • What plume of feathers is he that composed this letter? Did you ever hear better?
  • BOYET
  • This Armado is a Spaniard that keeps here in court; one that makes sport to the Prince and his bookmates.
  • PRINCESS TO COSTARD
  • Who gave thee this letter?
  • COSTARD
  • I told you: my lord.
  • PRINCESS
  • To whom shouldst thou give it?
  • COSTARD
  • From my lord to my lady.
  • PRINCESS
  • Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come, lords, away.
  • PRINCESS TO ROSALINE
  • Here, put up this; ‘twill be thine another day.
  • The Princess, Katherine, Lords and Forester exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Dull, Holofernes and Nathaniel are on stage. Jaquenetta and Costard enter.
  • JAQUENETTA TO NATHANIEL
  • Good Master Parson, be so good as read me this letter. It was given me by Costard, and sent me from Don Armado. I beseech you, read it.
  • She hands Nathaniel the letter.
  • NATHANIEL READS
  • “If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love? Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed! Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove. Celestial as thou art, O, pardon love this wrong, that sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.”
  • HOLOFERNES
  • Damsel, was this directed to you?
  • JAQUENETTA
  • Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Berowne, one of the strange queen’s lords.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • I will overglance the superscript: “To the snow-white hand of the most beauteous Lady Rosaline.” Sir Nathaniel, this Berowne is one of the vow-takers with the King, and here he hath framed a letter to a sequent of the stranger queen’s, which accidentally hath miscarried.
  • HOLOFERNES TO JAQUENETTA
  • Trip and go, my sweet. Deliver this paper into the royal hand of the King. It may concern much. Adieu.
  • JAQUENETTA
  • Good Costard, go with me.
  • Costard and Jaquenetta exit.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • I do dine today at the father’s of a certain pupil of mine, where if, before repast, it shall please you to gratify the table with a grace. I beseech your society.
  • NATHANIEL
  • And thank you too: for society, saith the text, is the happiness of life.
  • HOLOFERNES TO DULL
  • Sir, I do invite you too. You shall not say me nay.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • Berowne, with a paper in his hand, enters alone.
  • BEROWNE
  • I will not love. If I do, hang me. O, but her eye! By this light, but for her eye I would not love her; yet, for her two eyes. By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to rhyme, and to be melancholy. Well, she hath one of my sonnets already. The clown bore it, the fool sent it, and the lady hath it. Sweet clown, sweeter fool, sweetest lady. Here come one with a paper.
  • He stands aside. The King enters with a paper.
  • BEROWNE
  • Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet Cupid. Thou hast thumped him with thy blunt arrow in the heart.
  • KING READS
  • “Do but behold the tears that swell in me, and they thy glory through my grief will show. O queen of queens, how far dost thou excel no thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell.”
  • KING
  • How shall she know my griefs? I’ll drop the paper. Sweet leaves, shade folly. Who is he comes here?
  • Longaville enters with papers. The King steps aside.
  • KING
  • What, Longaville, and reading! Listen, ear.
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • Now, in thy likeness, one more fool appear!
  • LONGVILLE
  • Ay, me! I am forsworn.
  • KING ASIDE
  • In love, I hope! Sweet fellowship in shame.
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • One drunkard loves another of the name.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Am I the first that have been perjured so? I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move.
  • LONGAVILLE READS
  • “O sweet Maria, empress of my love-----“
  • He tears the paper. He takes out another paper.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • “Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye, ‘gainst whom the world cannot hold argument, persuade my heart to this false perjury? Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment. A woman I forswore, but I will prove, thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee. My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love. Thy grace being gained cures all disgrace in me. Vows are but breath, and breath a vapor is. Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine, exhal’st this vapor-vow; in thee it is. If broken, then, it is no fault of mine. If by me broke, what fool is not so wise to lose an oath to win a paradise?”
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • God amend us, God amend. We are much out o’ th’ way.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • By whom shall I send this? Company?
  • He steps aside. Dumaine enters, with a paper.
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • All hid, all hid----an old infant play. Like a demigod here sit I up high. O heavens, I have my wish. Dumaine transformed! Four woodcocks in a dish.
  • DUMAINE
  • O most divine Kate! O, that I had my wish!
  • LONGAVILLE ASIDE
  • And I had mine!
  • KING ASIDE
  • And mine too, good Lord!
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • Amen, so I had mine. Is not that a good word?
  • DUMAINE
  • I would forget her, but a fever she reigns in my blood, and will remembered be.
  • BEROWNE ASIDE
  • A fever in your blood?
  • DUMAINE
  • Once more I’ll read the ode that I have writ.
  • DUMAINE READS
  • “On a day----alack the day! Love, whose month is ever May, spied a blossom passing fair, playing in the wanton air, through the velvet leaves the wind, all unseen, can passage find; that the lover, sick to death, wished himself the heaven’s breath. Do not call it sin in me that I am forsworn for thee.”
  • DUMAINE
  • This will I send. O, would the King, Berowne, and Longaville were lovers too! LONGAVILLE COMING FORWARD
  • Dumaine, you may look pale, but I should blush.
  • KING COMING FORWARD
  • I have been closely shrouded in this bush and marked you both, and for you both did blush. I heard your guilty rhymes, saw signs reek from you, noted well your passion. “Ay, me” says one. “O, Jove!” the other cries. One her hairs were gold, crystal the other’s eyes. What will Berowne say when that he shall hear faith infringed, which such zeal did swear? How will he scorn, how will he spend his wit! How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it!
  • BEROWNE COMING FORWARD
  • Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy. Ah, good my liege, I pray thee pardon me. Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting! But are you not ashamed? Nay, are you not, all three of you, to be thud much o’er shot?
  • BEROWNE TO LONGAVILLE
  • O, what a scene of fool’ry have I seen. Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow! O me, with what strict patience have I sat, to see a king transformed to a gnat! Where lies thy grief, O tell me, good Dumaine? And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain?
  • KING
  • Too bitter is thy jest. Are we betrayed thus to thy overview?
  • BEROWNE
  • Not you to me, but I betrayed by you. I, that am honest, I that hold it sin to break the vow I am engaged in. I am betrayed by keeping company with men like you, men of inconstancy. What shall you see me write a thing in rhyme?
  • Jaquenetta, with a paper, enters, along with Costard. Berowne begins to exit.
  • KING
  • Soft, whither away so fast? A true man, or a thief, that gallops so?
  • JAQUENETTA
  • God bless the King.
  • KING
  • What present hast thou there?
  • COSTARD
  • Some certain treason.
  • JAQUENETTA
  • I beseech your Grace, let this letter be read. One person misdoubts it. ‘Twas treason, he said.
  • KING
  • Berowne, read it over.
  • Berowne reads the letter.
  • KING TO JAQUENETTA
  • Where hadst thou it?
  • JAQUENETTA
  • Of Costard.
  • KING TO COSTARD
  • Where hadst thou it?
  • COSTARD
  • Of Don Armado.
  • Berowne tears the paper.
  • KING TO BEROWNE
  • Why dost thou tear it?
  • BEROWNE
  • A toy, my liege, a toy.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • It did move him to passion, and therefore let’s hear it.
  • Dumaine picks up the papers.
  • DUMAINE
  • It is Berowne’s writing, and here is his name.
  • BEROWNE TO COSTARD
  • Ah, you were born to do me shame. Guilty, my lord, guilty. I confess.
  • KING
  • What?
  • BEROWNE
  • He, he, and you-----and you, my liege-----and I are pickpurses in love, and we deserve to die. O, dismiss this audience, and I shall tell you more.
  • KING
  • Hence, sirs. Away.
  • Jaquenetta and Costard exit.
  • BEROWNE
  • Sweet lords, sweet lovers, O, let us embrace. As true we are as flesh and blood can be. We cannot cross the cause why we were born; therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.
  • KING
  • What, did these torn up lines show some love of thine?
  • BEROWNE
  • Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly Rosaline that is not blinded by her majesty?
  • KING
  • What zeal, what fury, hath inspired thee now? My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon.
  • BEROWNE
  • My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Berowne. O, but for my love, day would turn to night! O, ‘tis the sun that maketh all things shine!
  • KING
  • By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.
  • BEROWNE
  • Is ebony like her? O word divine! O, who can give an oath? No face is fair that is not full so black.
  • KING
  • O, paradox! The hue of night, and beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well. But what of this Are we not all in love?
  • BEROWNE
  • Nothing so sure, and thereby all forsworn.
  • KING
  • Then leave this chat, and, good Berowne, now prove our loving lawful, and our faith not torn.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to King and other Lords, No. 1
  •  
  • O, we have made a vow to study, lords,
  • To but break that vow for what love affords.
  • When would we in leaden contemplation
  • Have found such fiery poems, had not the eyes
  • Of these tutors in feminine fashion
  • Enriched us? Slow art we learn nearly dies
  • In the brain, showing but a scarce harvest.
  • But love, learned in ladies eyes, does not rest
  • Here alone, locked in the brain, but doubles
  • Every power of all our faculties.
  • To each inconsistent man, Cupid doles
  • Out more than his ear hears or eye sees.
  • Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible
  • Than is the tender touch of new lamb’s wool.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to King and other Lords, No. 2
  •  
  • A poet durst not touch a pen to write
  • Until his ink is tempered with love’s slight
  • Sighs, planting humility in tyrants’
  • Rude ears, deriving this doctrine I from
  • Women’s eyes that sparkle with pleasant sense
  • And show all the world how they offer some
  • Civility. We were such fools, thinking
  • We could these women forswear; now keeping
  • What is sworn will prove us fools if we take
  • Not back what has been sworn. In wisdom’s wake,
  • Knowledge, that all men love, or for men’s sake,
  • Author’s of these women, or women’s sake,
  • By whom men are men, let us fail these troths
  • Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.
  • BEROWNE
  • It is religion to be thus forsworn, for charity itself fulfills the law, and who can sever love from charity?
  • KING
  • Saint Cupid, then, and, soldiers, to the field!
  • BEROWNE
  • Advance your standards, and upon them, lords.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France?
  • KING
  • And win them, too.
  • BEROWNE
  • First, from the park let us conduct them thither. Then homeward every man attach the hand of his fair mistress.
  • KING
  • Away, away! No time shall be omitted that will betime and may by us be fitted.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Holofernes, Nathaniel and Dull enter.
  • NATHANIEL
  • Your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious, pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without disrespect, learned without opinion. I did converse this day with a companion of the King’s, who is called Don Armado.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • He is too affected, too odd, as it were, too outlandish, as I may call it.
  • NATHANIEL
  • A most singular and choice epithet.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.
  • Costard, Armado and Boy enter.
  • 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.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • “The posterior of the day,” most generous sir, is liable, congruent, and measurable for “the afternoon;” the word is well culled and apt, I do assure you, sir.
  • ARMADO
  • Sir, the King is a noble gentleman, and my familiar, I do assure you, very good friend. I do implore secrecy------that the King would have me present the Princess with some delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies.
  • NATHANIEL
  • Where will you find men worthy enough to present them?
  • HOLOFERNES
  • Joshua, yourself; myself this gallant gentleman, Judas Maccabaeus, this Costard shall be Pompey the Great; the Boy, Hercules.
  • ARMADO
  • For the rest of the Worthies?
  • HOLOFERNES
  • I will play three myself.
  • BOY
  • Thrice-worthy gentleman!
  • HOLOFERNES
  • Via, goodman Dull. Thou hast spoken no word all this while.
  • DULL
  • Nor understood none neither, sir.
  • HOLFERNES
  • We will employ you.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • The Princess and her Ladies enter.
  • PRINCESS
  • Sweethearts, we shall be rich ere we depart, if gifts come thus plentifully in. Look you what I have from the loving king.
  • She shows a jewel.
  • ROSALINE
  • Madam, came nothing else along with that?
  • PRINCESS
  • Nothing but this? Yes, as much love in rhyme as would be crammed up in sheet of paper writ o’ both sides the leaf, margin and all.
  • ROSALINE
  • I would you knew. An if my face were but as fair as yours, my favor were as great. Be witness this.
  • She shows a gift.
  • ROSALINE
  • Nay, I have verses too, I thank Berowne; the meter regular; and the reckoning too. I were the fairest goddess on the ground. I am compared to twenty thousand fairs. O, he hath drawn my picture in his letter.
  • PRINCESS
  • But, Katherine, what was sent to you from fair Dumaine?
  • KATHERINE
  • Madam, this glove.
  • She shows the glove.
  • PRINCESS
  • Did he not send you two?
  • KATHERINE
  • Yes, madam, and moreover, some thousand verses of a faithful lover.
  • MARIA
  • This and these pearls to me sent Longaville. The letter is too long by half a mile.
  • PRINCESS
  • Dost thou not wish in heart the chain were longer and the letter short?
  • MARIA
  • Ay, or I would these hands might never part.
  • PRINCESS
  • We are wise girls to mock our lovers so.
  • ROSALINE
  • They are worse fools to purchase mocking so. That same Berowne I’ll torture ere I go. I would o’ersway his state, that he should be my fool, and I his fate.
  • PRINCESS
  • None are so surely caught, when they are captured, as wit turned fool.
  • Boyet enters.
  • BOYET
  • O, I am stabbed with laughter. Where’s her Grace?
  • PRINCESS
  • The news, Boyet?
  • BOYET
  • Love doth approach, disguised, armed in arguments. You’ll be surprised.
  • PRINCESS
  • What are they that charge their breath gainst us? Say, scout, say.
  • BOYET
  • Under the cool shade of a sycamore, 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. I stole into a neighbor thicket by, and overheard what you shall overhear: that, by and by, disguised, they will be here. One rubbed his elbow thus and cried “Via” we will do ‘t, come what will come. Another capered and cried “All goes well!” Another turned on the toe, and down he fell.
  • PRINCESS
  • But what, but what? Come they to visit us?
  • BOYET
  • 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 unto his several mistress----which they’ll know by favors several which they did bestow.
  • PRINCESS
  • 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 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.
  • Princess and Rosaline exchange favors.
  • PRINCESS
  • And change you favors too. Woo contrary, deceived by these shifting of favors.
  • Katherine and Maria exchange favors.
  • KATHERINE
  • But in this changing, what is your intent?
  • PRINCESS
  • The effect of my intent is to cross theirs. They do it but in mockery merriment, and mock for mock in only my intent.
  • ROSALINE
  • But shall we dance, if they desire us to ‘t?
  • PRINCESS
  • 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.
  • BOYET
  • Why, that contempt will kill the speaker’s heart, and quite divorce his memory from his part.
  • PRINCESS
  • There’s no such sport as sport by sport o’erthrown, 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.
  • A trumpet sounds.
  • BOYET
  • Be masked; the maskers come.
  • The Ladies mask. The King and his Lords enter masked. The Ladies turn their backs to them.
  • BOYET
  • What would you have with the Princess?
  • KING
  • Say we have measured many miles to tread a measure with her on this grass.
  • BOYET
  • The Princess bids you tell how many inches doth fill up one mile.
  • BEROWNE
  • Tell her we measure them by weary steps.
  • ROSALINE
  • How many weary steps are numbered in the travel of one mile?
  • BEROWNE
  • We number nothing that we spend for you. Our duty is so rich, so infinite, that we may do it still without account.
  • ROSALINE
  • My face is but a moon, and clouded too.
  • KING
  • Blessed are clouds, to do as such as clouds do! Will you not dance?
  • ROSALINE
  • Since you re strangers and come here by chance, we’ll not be nice. Take hands. We will not dance.
  • She offers her hand.
  • KING
  • Why take we hands then?
  • ROSALINE
  • Only to part friends.
  • KING
  • What buys your company?
  • ROSALINE
  • Your absence only.
  • KING
  • That can never be.
  • ROSALINE
  • Then cannot we be bought.
  • KING
  • If you deny to dance, let’s hold more chat.
  • ROSALINE
  • In private, then.
  • KING
  • I am best pleased with that.
  • 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 are three.
  • BEROWNE
  • One word in secret.
  • PRINCESS
  • Let it not be sweet.
  • They move aside.
  • DUMAINE TO MARIA
  • Will you vouchsafe with me to change a word?
  • MARIA SPEAKING AS KATHERINE
  • Name it.
  • DUMAINE
  • As much in private, and I’ll bid adieu.
  • They move aside.
  • KATHERINE SPEAKING AS MARIA
  • What, was your mask made without a tongue?
  • LONGAVILLE
  • I know the reason, lady, why you ask. One word in private with you ere I die.
  • They move aside.
  • BOYET
  • The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen as is the razor’s edge invisible.
  • The Ladies move away from the Lords.
  • BEROWNE
  • By heaven, all dry-beaten with pure scoff!
  • KING
  • Farewell, mad wenches. You have simple wits.
  • The King and his Lords exit. The Ladies unmask.
  • PRINCESS
  • Twenty adieus, my frozen Muskovits. Are these the breed of wits so wondered at? Will they not, think you, hang themselves tonight?
  • ROSALINE
  • They were all in lamentable cases. The King was weeping ripe for a good word. The King is my love sworn.
  • PRINCESS
  • And quick Berowne hath plighted faith to me.
  • KATHERINE
  • And Longaville was for my service born.
  • MARIA
  • Dumaine is mine as sure as bark on tree.
  • BOYET
  • 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.
  • PRINCESS
  • Will they return?
  • BOYET
  • They will, they will. Therefore, change favors, and when they repair, blow like sweet roses in the summer air.
  • PRINCESS
  • Speak to be understood.
  • BOYET
  • Fair ladies, masked are roses in their bud. Dismasked are angels visible clouds, or roses blown.
  • PRINCESS
  • What shall we do if they return in their own shapes to woo?
  • ROSALINE
  • 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, and wonder what they were.
  • BOYET
  • Ladies, withdraw. The gallants are at hand.
  • The Princess and her Ladies exit. The King and his Lords enter.
  • KING TO BOYET
  • Where’s the Princess?
  • BOYET
  • Gone to her tent. Please it your Majesty command me any service to her thither?
  • KING
  • That she vouchsafe me audience for one word.
  • BOYET
  • I will, and so will she, I know, my lord.
  • He exits.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to King and other Lords, No. 3
  •  
  • This fellow picks up wit as pigeons peck
  • At peas, uttering it as if God beck
  • Him as a peddler of wit, at retail,
  • At wassails and fairs, where we have not the
  • Grace to grace it with show, rather to rail
  • By wholesale. He kissed each hand away, a
  • Courteous show, this prince of etiquette,
  • Monsieur the Nice. This gallant man has set
  • Himself the ladies trusted friend. When he
  • Plays at tables, he chides the dice to win
  • In honorable terms. And when did we
  • Smile and sing and dance to the music in
  • Time? As fair and conscientious men, let
  • Us pay him his due, honey-tongued Boyet.
  • The Ladies with Boyet enter.
  • BEROWNE
  • Behavior, what wert thou till this madman showed thee? And what art thou now?
  • KING TO PRINCESS
  • All hail, sweet madam, and fair time of day.
  • PRINCESS
  • “Fair” in “all hail” is foul, as I conceive.
  • KING
  • We came to visit you, and purpose now to lead you to our court.
  • PRINCESS
  • This field shall hold me, and so hold your vow. Nor god nor I delights in perjured men.
  • KING
  • The virtue of your eye must break my oath.
  • PRINCESS
  • You nickname virtue; “vice” you should have spoke, for virtue’s office never breaks men’s troth. Now, by my maiden honor, I would not yield to be your house’s guest.
  • KING
  • O, you have lived in desolation here, unseen, unvisited, much to our shame.
  • PRINCESS
  • Not so, my lord. We have had pastimes here and pleasant game. A mess of Russians left us but of late.
  • KING
  • How, madam? Russians?
  • PRINCESS
  • Ay, trim gallants, full of courtship and of state.
  • ROSALINE
  • Madam, speak true. It is not so, my lord. We four indeed confronted were with four in Russian habit. Here they stayed an hour and in that hour, my lord, they did not bless us with one happy word.
  • BEROWNE
  • Gentle sweet, your wits makes wise things foolish. Is of that nature that to your huge store wise things seem foolish and rich things but poor.
  • ROSALINE
  • This proves you wise and rich, for in my eye------
  • BEROWNE
  • I am a fool, and full of poverty.
  • ROSALINE
  • It were a fault to snatch words from my tongue. Which of the masks was it that you wore?
  • BEROWNE
  • Where? When? What masks? Why demand you this?
  • KING ASIDE TO DUMAINE
  • We were descried. They’ll mock us now downright.
  • DUMAINE ASIDE TO THE KING
  • Let us confess and turn it to a jest.
  • ROSALINE
  • Why look you pale? Seasick, I think, coming from Muscovy.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to Rosaline
  •  
  • As stars pour down their plagues for perjury,
  • No longer can I withhold shame. Lady,
  • With all your skills, bruise me with deserved scorn,
  • Show contempt with jeers, and thrust thy sharp wits
  • Quite through my ignorance, foolishly worn.
  • Scoff at my charade, cutting me to bits.
  • Nevermore will I Russian habit wear,
  • Nor hide behind a mask to greet my fair
  • Friend, nor trust to speeches penned, nor woo in
  • Rhyme to the crude motion of a schoolboy’s
  • Tongue. I do forswear past ostentation.
  • So, henceforth, I protest with little noise
  • To woo in simple yeas and honest noes,
  • For my love to thee is flawless, God knows.
  • BEROWNE TO THE KING AND OTHER LORDS
  • Speak for yourselves. My wit is at an end.
  • KING TO PRINCESS
  • Teach us, sweet madam, for our rude transgression some fair excuse.
  • PRINCESS
  • The fairest is confession. Were not you here but even now, disguised?
  • KING
  • Madam, I was.
  • PRINCESS
  • When you then were here, what did you whisper in your lady’s ear?
  • KING
  • That more than all the world I did respect her.
  • PRINCESS
  • When she shall challenge this, you will reject her.
  • KING
  • Upon mine honor, no.
  • PRINCESS
  • Rosaline, what did the Russian whisper in your ear?
  • ROSALINE
  • 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.
  • KING
  • By my life, my troth, I never swore this lady such an oath.
  • ROSALINE
  • By heaven, you did! And to confirm it plain, you gave me this.
  • She shows a token.
  • KING
  • My faith and this the Princess I did give.
  • PRINCESS
  • Pardon me, sir. This jewel did she wear.
  • She points to Rosaline.
  • PRINCESS TO BEROWNE
  • What, will you have me, or your pearl again.
  • She shows the token.
  • BEROWNE
  • Neither of either.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to the other Lords
  •  
  • I see the trick of it. Someone, knowing
  • Our plan and the merriment ‘twas to bring,
  • Dashed it like a Christmas comedy. Some
  • Tattletale, I’ll-please-them, beggar-behold
  • Man who smiles his fair cheek to wrinkles, mum
  • Unless my lady’s disposed to laugh, told
  • Our intents before, which once disclosed, they
  • Did change favors and then we, yesterday,
  • Following the gifts, wooed but the signs of
  • Them. Now to our perjury this error
  • We add, once more forsworn in will. Above
  • This fray lies the source, this merry jester,
  • Who may find an early death his reward
  • For that leer that wounds like a leaden sword.
  • BOYET
  • Full merrily hath this splendid short gallop been run.
  • Costard enters.
  • COSTARD
  • O Lord, sir, they would know whether the three Worthies shall come in or no.
  • BEROWNE
  • What, are there but three?
  • COSTARD
  • No, sir; for every one pursents three.
  • BEROWNE
  • Art thou one of the Worthies?
  • COSTARD
  • It pleased them to think me worthy of Pompey the Great.
  • BEROWNE
  • Go bid them prepare.
  • COSTARD
  • We will turn it finely off, sir. We will take some care.
  • He exits.
  • KING
  • Berowne, they will shame us. Let them not approach.
  • BEROWNE
  • We are shame-proof, my lord; and ‘tis some policy to have one show worse than the King’s and his company.
  • KING
  • I say they shall not come.
  • PRINCESS
  • Nay, my good lord, met me o’errule you now. That sport best pleases that doth least know how. Their form confounded makes most form in mirth, when great things laboring perish in their birth.
  • Armado enters.
  • ARMADO
  • I implore so much expense of thy royal sweet breath as will utter a brace of words.
  • Armado gives the King a paper. Armado exits.
  • KING READS
  • Here is like to be a good presence of Worthies. He presents Hector of Troy, the clown Pompey the Great, the parish curate Alexander, Armado’s page Hercules, the pedant Judas Maccabaeus. And if these four Worthies in their first show thrive, these four will change habits and present the other five.
  • KING
  • The ship is under sail, and here she comes amain.
  • Costard as Pompey enters.
  • COSTARD
  • I Pompey am------
  • BEROWNE
  • You lie; you are not he.
  • COSTARD
  • I Pompey am, Pompey, surnamed the Big----
  • DUMAINE
  • “The Great.”
  • COSTARD
  • It is “Great,” sir. Pompey, surnamed the Great, I here am come by chance, and lay my arms before the legs of this sweet lass of France.
  • PRINCESS
  • Great thanks, great Pompey.
  • COSTARD
  • ‘Tis not so much worth, but I hope I was perfect. I made a little fault in “Great.”
  • BEROWNE
  • Pompey proves the best Worthy.
  • Costard stands aside. Nathaniel enters for Alexander.
  • NATHANIEL
  • When in the world I lived, I was the world’s commander. My shield plain declares that I am Alisander-------.
  • PRINCESS
  • The conqueror is dismayed. Proceed, good Alexander.
  • NATHANIEL
  • When in the world I lived, I was the world’s commander----
  • BEROWNE
  • Take away the conqueror.
  • COSTARD TO NATHANIEL
  • O, sir, you have overthrown Alisander the Conqueror. You will be scraped out of the painted cloth for this.
  • Nathaniel exits.
  • COSTARD
  • There, as ‘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 bowler.
  • Holofernes for Judas and the Boy for Hercules enter.
  • PRINCESS TO COSTARD
  • Stand aside, good Pompey.
  • HOLOFERNES TO BOY
  • Keep some state in thy exit, and vanish.
  • Boy steps aside.
  • HOLFERNES
  • Judas I am
  • DUMAINE
  • A Judas!
  • HOLOFERNES
  • Not Iscariot, sir.
  • DUMAINE
  • The more shame for you, Judas.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • What mean you, sir?
  • BOYET
  • To make Judas hang himself.
  • HOLFERNES
  • Begin, sir, you are my elder.
  • BEROWNE
  • Well followed. Judas was hanged on an elder.
  • HOLOFERNES
  • This is not generous, not gentle, not humble.
  • Holofernes exits.
  • PRINCESS
  • Alas, poor Maccabaeus, how hath he been baited?
  • Armado enters as Hector.
  • ARMADO
  • The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty, gave Hector a gift.
  • BEROWNE
  • A lemon.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • Stuck with cloves.
  • DUMAINE
  • No, cloven.
  • ARMADO
  • Peace. The armipotent Mars gave Hector a gift. I am that flower-----.
  • DUMAINE
  • That mint.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • That columbine.
  • ARMADO
  • Sweet Lord Longaville, rein thy tongue.
  • PRINCESS
  • Speak, brave Hector. We are much delighted.
  • ARMADO
  • I do adore thy sweet Grace’s slipper.
  • BOYET
  • Loves her by the foot.
  • DUMAINE
  • He may not by the yard. Look, Hector trembles.
  • A Messenger enters, Monsieur Marcade.
  • PRINCESS
  • Welcome, Marcade, but that thou interruptest our merriment.
  • MARCADE
  • I am sorry, madam, for the news I bring is heavy in my tongue. The King your father----
  • PRINCESS
  • Dead, for my life.
  • MARCADE
  • Even so. My tale is told.
  • BEROWNE
  • Worthies, away! The scene begins to cloud.
  • ARMADO
  • For my 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.
  • Worthies exit.
  • PRINCESS
  • Boyet, prepare. I will away tonight.
  • KING
  • Madam, not so. I do beseech you stay.
  • PRINCESS TO BOYET
  • Prepare, I say. If over boldly we have borne ourselves in the converse of breath; your gentleness was guilty of it. Farewell, worthy lord. A heavy heart bears not a humble tongue.
  • KING
  • The mourning brow of progeny forbid the smiling courtesy of love, 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 as to rejoice at friends but newly found.
  • PRINCESS
  • I understand you not. My griefs are double.
  •  
  •  
  • Berowne to the Ladies
  •  
  • Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief.
  • For your fair sakes, have here we in this brief
  • Time played foul with our oaths. Your look of love,
  • Ladies, hath much deformed us, fashioning
  • Plans resulting in the opposite of
  • Our intents. Love’s full of unbefitting
  • Strains, playful as a child, formed by the eye
  • And therefore, like the eye that doth not lie,
  • You led us to these indignities, where
  • We misbecame our oaths through our seeing.
  • Ladies, our love being yours, the error
  • That love makes is likewise yours. By being
  • Once false we’ll now forevermore be true
  • To those who made us false, fair ladies you.
  • PRINCESS
  • 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, as bombast.
  • DUMAINE
  • Our letters, madam, showed much more than jest.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • So did our looks.
  • ROSALINE
  • We did not quote them so.
  • KING
  • Now, at the latest minute of the hour, grant us your loves.
  •  
  •  
  • Princess to the King
  •  
  • No, my lord, a time methinks too short to
  • Make a world-without-end bargain in. You
  • And your lords are perjured much, full of dear
  • Guiltiness, and therefore this: I shall shut
  • Myself in a mourning house for one year
  • Lamenting my father’s death. King, do but
  • This for my love, not trusting your oath: stay
  • For one year in a forlorn place, away
  • From all the pleasures of the world. If my
  • Lord, you, accepting this harsh offer mine,
  • Doth bear this trial, come challenge me, and by
  • This palm now kissing thine, I will be thine.
  • If this thou do deny, let our hands part,
  • Neither entitled in the other’s heart.
  • KING
  • If this, or more than this, I would deny, the sudden hand of death close up mine eye.
  • They step aside.
  • DUMAINE TO KATHERINE
  • But what to me, my love? But what to me? A wife?
  • KATHERINE
  • A beard, fair health, and honesty. With threefold love I wish you all these three.
  • DUMAINE
  • O, shall I say “I thank you, gentle wife”?
  • KATHERINE
  • Not so, my lord. A twelvemonth and a day I’ll mark no words that smooth-faced wooers say. Come when the King doth to my lady come; then, if I have much love, I’ll give you some.
  • DUMAINE
  • I’ll serve thee true and faithfully till then.
  • KATHERINE
  • Yet swear not, lest you be forsworn again.
  • They step aside.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • What says Maria?
  • MARIA
  • At the twelvemonth’s end I’ll change my black gown for a faithful friend.
  • LONGAVILLE
  • I’ll stay with patience, but the time is long.
  • They step aside.
  • BEROWNE TO ROSALINE
  • Behold the window of my heart, mine eye, what humble suit attends thy answer there.
  •  
  •  
  • Rosaline to Berowne
  •  
  • The world’s large tongue claims you more for a man
  • Replete with quick scoffs and wounding flouts than
  • One who draws laughter; one who mocks those who
  • Lie within the mercy of your wit. To
  • Win me, without the which I am not to
  • Be won, you shall this twelvemonth term day to
  • Day visit the sick and infirm; and your
  • Task shall be with all the fierce endeavor
  • Of your wit to enforce the suffering
  • To smile. A jest’s prosperity lies in
  • The ear of him that hears it; never seen
  • By him that blindly makes it. Try to win
  • Over those sickly ears that the forlorns
  • Hear their muted laughs, not your idle scorns.
  • BEROWNE
  • 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.
  • KING
  • No, madam, we will bring you on your way.
  • Armado enters.
  • ARMADO
  • Sweet Majesty, vouchsafe me----
  • PRINCESS
  • Was not that Hector?
  • DUMAINE
  • The worthy knight of Troy.
  • ARMADO
  • I will kiss thy royal finger, and take leave. Most esteemed Greatness, you that way; we this way.
  • They all exit.

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