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LOVE'S LABOUR’S LOST.
SCENE I.-Navarre. A Park, with a Palace in it.
Enter the King, BIRON, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN.
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, The 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, Birón, 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,
Long. I am resolv'd : ’tis but a three years' fast;
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortified ;
Biron. I can but say their protestation over,
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, Birón, 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
1 With all these - ] i. e. the King, Biron, &c.
Biron. Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from com
mon sense ?
Biron. Come on then, I will swear to study so,
When I to feast expressly am forbid;
When mistresses from common sense are hid :
King. These be the stops that hinder study quite,
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
Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile:
By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
And give him light that was it blinded by :.
while truth the while Doth falsely blind -] Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. 3 Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed, And give him light that was it blinded by.] This passage
is unnecessarily obscure; the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction lode-star, and give him light that was blinded by it. Johnson. Mr. Malone reads "it was."
Study is like the heaven's glorious sun,
That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks; Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others' books. 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
breeding Dum. How follows that? Biron.
Fit in his place and time. Dum. In reason nothing. Biron.
Something then in rhyme. Long. Birón is like an envious sneaping frost*,
That bites the first-born infants of the spring. Biron. Well, say I am ; why should proud summer
King. Well, sit you out ®: go home, Birón; adieu!
sneaping frost,] To sneap is to check, or rebuke.
May's new-fangled shows;] By these shows the poet means Maygames, at which a snow would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a periphrasis for May.
sit you out:] To sit out, is a term from the card-table.
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,
And bide the penance of each three years' day.
King. How well this yielding rescuesthee from shame!
Biron. [reads.] Item, That no woman shall come within a mile of my court. — + And hath this been proclaim'd ? Long.
Four days ago Biron. Let's see the penalty. [Reads.]—On pain of losing her tongue.
Who devis'd this ? 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”. [Reads.] Item, 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.— This article, my liege, yourself must break;
For, well you know, here comes in embassy The French king's daughter, with yourself to speak,
A maid of grace, and complete majesty, About surrender-up of Aquitain
To her decrepit, sick and bed-rid father :
Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.
Biron. So study evermore is over-shot ;
+ Mr. Malone omits And.
7 A dangerous law against gentility.] Or urbanity. VOL. II.