William Shakespeare.

The plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 7) online

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 29)
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* LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.] I have not hitherto discovered
any novel on which this comedy appears to have been founded ;
and yet the story of it has most of the features of an ancient ro>
mance. STEEVENS.

I suspect that there is an error in the title of this play, which
I believe, should be " Love's Labours Lost." M. MASON.

Love's Labour's Lost, I conjecture to have been written in
1594. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's
Plays, Vol. II. MALONE.

B 2


Ferdinand, King of Navarre.

Biron, 1

Longaville, > Lords, attending on the King.

Dumain, J

Boyet, > Lords, attending on the Princess of

Mercade, ) France.

Don Adriano de Armado, a fantastical Spaniard.

Sir Nathaniel, a Curate.

Holofernes, a Schoolmaster.

Dull, a Constable.

Costard, a Clown.

Moth, Page to Armado.

A Forester.

Princess of France.

Rosaline, ^

Maria, > Ladies, attending on the Princess.

Katharine, }

Jaquenetta, a country Wench.

Officers and others, Attendants on the King and

SCENE, Navarre.

* This enumeration of the persons was made by Mr. Rowe.




Navarre. A Park, with a Palace in if.
Enter the King, BIRON, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN.

KING. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registered 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, Biron, Dumain, and Longaville,
Have sworn for three years' term to live with me,
My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes,
That are recorded in this schedule here :
Your oaths are past, and now subscribe your names ;
That his own hand may strike his honour down,
That violates the smallest branch herein :


If you are arm'd to do, as sworn to do,
Subscribe to your deep oath, 1 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 bank'rout quite the wits.

DUM. My loving lord, Dumain 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. 3

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 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 j)
Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there :

1 your deep oath,] The old copies have oaths. Cor-
rected by Mr. Steevens. MALONE.

* With all these living in philosophy.] The style of the
rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I
know not certainly to what all these is to be referred ; I suppose
he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth, in philosophy.


By all these, Dumain means the King, Biron, &c. to whom
he may be supposed to point, and with whom he is going to live
in philosophical retirement. A. C.


O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep ;
Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep. 3

KING. Your oathispass'dtopass 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.

. 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 so,
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 ; 4
Or, study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid :

* Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep."] The words as they
stand, will express the meaning intended, if pointed thus :
Not to see ladies study fast not sleep.

Biron is recapitulating the several tasks imposed upon him,
viz. not to see ladies, to study, to fast, and not to sleep : but
Shakspeare, by a common poetical licence, though in this pas-
sage injudiciously exercised, omits the article to, before the three
last verbs, and from hence the obscurity arises. M. MASON.

4 When I to feast expressly am forbid;] The copies all have :
" When I to fast expressly am forbid ;"

But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time
when he was forbid to fast, how was this studying to know what
he was forbid to know ? Common sense, and the whole tenour of
the context, require us to read -feast, or to make a change in the
last word of the verse : " When I tofast expressly sanf ore-bid j"
L e. when I am enjoined before-hand to fast. THEOBALD.


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, 5 1

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


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 6 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,

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

And give him light that was it blinded by. r

* If study's gain be thus, and this be so,~\ Read :

If study's gain be this . RITSON.

* 'while truth the while

Doth falsely blind ] Falsely is here, and in many other
places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole
sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man by too
close study may read himself blind ; which might have been told
with less obscurity in fewer words. JOHNSON.

7 Who dazzling so, that eye shall be Ms heed,

And give him light that was it blinded by.] This is another
passage 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 or
lode-star, (See Midsummer-Night's Dream,) and give him light
that ivas blinded by it. JOHNSON.

The old copies read it was. Corrected by Mr. Steevens.



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. 8

KING. How well he's read, to reason against
reading !

DUM. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceed-
ing! 9

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 ?

' Too much to know, is, to know nought but fiajne ;

And every godfather can give a name.~\ The consequence,
says Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of
doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much know-
ledge gives only fame, a name "which every godfather can give
likewise. JOHNSON.

9 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding /] To proceed is
an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded
bachelor in physick. The sense is, he has taken his degrees in
the art of hindering the degrees of others. JOHNSON.

So, in a quotation by Dr. Farmer : " such as practise to
proceed in all evil wise, till from Batchelors in Newgate, by de-
grees they proceed to be Maisters, and by desert be preferred at
TyborneT I cannot ascertain the book from which this pas-
sage was transcribed. STEEVENS.

I don't suspect that Shakspeare had any academical term in
contemplation, when he wrote this line, lie has proceeded well*
means only, he has gone on well. M. MASON.


BIRON. Fit in his place and time.

DUM. In reason nothing.

BIRON. Something then in rhyme.

LONG. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost, 1
That bites the first-born infants of the spring.

BIRON. Well, say I am ; why should proud sum-
mer boast,

Before the birds have any cause to sing ?
Why should I joy in an 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.

'* )

1 sneaping frost,] So sneaping winds in The Winter's

Tale: To sneap is to check, to rebuke. Thus also, Falstaff, in
King Henry IV. P. II: " I will not undergo this sneap, without
reply." STEEVENS.

* Why should I joy in an 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.'] As the
greatest part of this scene (both what precedes and follows) is
strictly in rhymes, either successive, alternate, or triple, I am
persuaded, that the copyists have made a slip here. For by
making a triplet of the three last lines quoted, birth in the close
of the first line is quite destitute of any rhyme to it. Besides,
what a displeasing identity of sound recurs in the middle and
close of this verse?

" Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows ;"
Again, new-fangled shows seems to have very little propriety.
The flowers are not new-fangled; but the earth is new-fangled
by the profusion and variety of the flowers, that spring on its
bosom m May. I have therefore ventured to substitute earth,
in the close of the third line, which restores the alternate mea-
sure. It was very easy for a negligent transcriber to be de-
ceived by the rhyme immediately preceding; to mistake the
concluding word in the sequent line, and corrupt it into one that
would chime with the other. THEOBALD.

I rather suspect aline to havebeenlost after "anabortive birth.''


So you, to study now it is too late,

Climb o'er the house 3 to unlock the little gate.

KING. Well, sit you out : 4 go home, Bironj 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.

For an in that line the old copies have any. Corrected by Mr.

By these shows the poet means Maygames, at which a snoro
would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a peri-
phrasis for May. T. WARTON.

I have no doubt that the more obvious interpretation is the
true one. So, in Chaucer's Knightes Tale:

" And fresher than May withjloures new .'*
So also, in our poet's King Richard II:

" She came adorned hither, like sweet May"
i. e. as the ground is in that month enamelled by the gay diver-
sity of flowers which the spring produces.

Again, in The Destruction of Troy, iQlQ: "At the entry of
the month of May, when the earth is attired and Adorned with
diverse flowers," &c. MALONE.

I concur with Mr. Warton ; for with what propriety .can the
flowers which every year produces with the same identical shape
and colours, be called newfangled ? The sports of May might
be annually diversified, but its natural productions would be in-
variably the same. STEEVENS.

3 Climb o'er the house &c.] This is the reading of the quarto,
1598, and much preferable to that of the folio:

" That were to climb o'er the house to unlock the gate."


4 sit you out:'] This may mean, hold you out, continue

refractory. But I suspect we should read set you out.


To sit out, is a term from the card-table. Thus, Bishop San-
derson :

" They are glad, rather than sit out, to play very small


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 !

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 ? b
LONG. Marry, that did I.
BIRON. Sweet lord, and why ?

LONG. To fright them hence with that dread

BIRON. A dangerous law against gentility. 6

The person who cuts out at a rubber of whist, is still said to
sit out; i. e. to be no longer engaged in. the party. STEEVENS.

4 Who devised this ?"] The old copies read this penalty. I
have omitted this needless repetition of the word penalty, be-
cause it destroys the measure. STEEVENS.

A dangerous latu against gentility !] I have ventured to
prefix the name of Biron to this line, it being evident, for two
reasons, that it, by some accident or other, slipt out of the
printed books. In the first place, Longaville confesses, he had
devised the penalty : and why he should immediately arraign it
as a dangerous law, seems to be very inconsistent. In the next
place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this reflection,
who is cavilling at every thing ; and then for him to pursue his
reading over the remaining articles. As to the word gentility,
here, it does not signify that rank of people called, gentry ; but
what the French express by, gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas.
And then the meaning is this : Such a law for banishing women
from the court, is dangerous, or injurious, to politeness, urba-
nity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without
women would turn brutal, and savage, in their natures and be-
haviour. THEOBALD.


\_Reads.~] Item, If any man be seen to talk 'with
a woman within the term of three years, he shall en-
dure 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

A maid of grace, and complete majesty,
About surrender-up of Aquitain

To her decrepit, sick, and bed-rid father :
Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.

KING. What say you, lords ? why, this was quite

BIRON. So study evermore is overshot ;
While it doth study to have what it would,
It doth forget to do the thing it should :
And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,
'Tis won, as towns with fire ; so won, so lost.

KING. We must, of force, dispense with this de-
cree ; *>
She must lie here 7 on mere necessity.

BIRON. Necessity will make us all forsworn
Three thousand times wifhin this three years'

space :
For every man with his affects is born ;

Not by might mastered, but by special grace : 8

7 lie here ~j Means reside here, in the same sense as an

ambassador is said to lie leiger. See Beaumont and Fletcher's
Love's Cure, or The Martial Maid, Act II. sc. ii :
'* Or did the cold Muscovite beget thee,
" That lay here leiger, in the last great frost ?"
Again, in Sir Henry Wotton's Definition : " An ambassador
is an honest man sent to lie (i. e. reside) abroad for the good of
his country." REED.


If I break faith, this word shall speak for me,

I am forsworn on mere necessity.

So to the laws at large I write my name :


And he, that breaks them in the least degree,
Stands in attainder of eternal shame :

Suggestions 9 are to others, as to me ;
But, I believe, although I seem so loth,
I am the last that will last keep his oath.
But is there no quick recreation l granted ?

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 musick 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 : 2

8 Not by might master 'd, but by special grace .] Biron, amidst
his extravagancies, speaks with great justness against the folly of
vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations
of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity.
They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and
a false estimate of human power. JOHNSON.

9 Suggestions ] Temptations. JOHNSON.

So, in King Henry IV. P. I :

** And these led on by your suggestion." STEKVENS.

1 quick recreation ] Lively sport, spritely diversion.

So, in Antony and Cleopatra :

" the quick comedians

" Extemporally will stage us." STEEVENS.

* A man of complements, lahom right and wrong

Have chose as umpire of their mutiny .-] As very bad a play
as this is, it was certainly Shakspeare's, as appears by many fine
master-strokes scattered up and down. An excessive complaisance

so. i. LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. 1.5

This child of fancy, 3 that Armado hight, 4
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.*

is here admirably painted, in the person of one who was willing
to make even right and wrong friends ; and to persuade the one
to recede from the accustomed stubbornness of her nature, and
wink at the liberties of her opposite, rather than he would incur
the imputation of ill-breeding in keeping up the quarrel. And
as our author, and Jonson his contemporary, are confessedly the
two greatest writers in the drama that our nation could ever boast
of, this may be no improper occasion to take notice of one ma-
terial difference bet ween Shakspeare's worst plays and the other's.
Our author owed all to his prodigious natural genius ; and Jon-
son most to his acquired parts and learning. This, if attended
to, will explain the difference we speak of. Which is this, that,
in Jonson's bad pieces, we do not discover the least traces of the
author of the Fox and Alchemist; but in the wildest and most
extravagant notes of Shakspeare, you every now and then en-
counter strains that recognize their divine composer. And the
reason is this, that Jonson owing his chief excellence to art, by
which he sometimes strained himself to an uncommon pitch,
when he unbent himself, had nothing to support him ; but fell
below all likeness of himself ; while Shakspeare, indebted more
largely to nature than the other to his acquired talents^ could
never, in his most negligent hours, so totally divest himself of
his genius, but that it would frequently break out with amazing
force and splendour. WARBURTON.

This passage, I believe, means no more than that Don Armado
was a man nicely versed in ceremonial distinctions, one who
could distinguish in the most delicate questions of honour the
exact boundaries of right and wrong. Compliment, in Shak-
speare's time, did not signify, at least did not only signify verbal
civility, or phrases of courtesy, but according to its original
meaning, the trappings, or ornamental appendages of a cha-
racter, in the same manner, and on the same principles of speech
with accomplishment. Complement is, as Armado well expresses
it, the varnish of a complete man. JOHNSON.

Dr. Johnson's opinion may be supported by the following
passage in Lingua, or The Combat of the Tongue and the Five
Senses for Superiority, 1607 : " after all fashions and of all co-
lours, with rings, jewels, a fan, and in every other place, odd


How you delight, my lords, I know hot, I ;
But, I protest, I love to hear him lie,
And I will use him for my minstrelsy. 6

complements." And again, by the title-page to Richard Braith-
waite's English Gentlewoman : " drawne out to the full body,
expressing what habiliments doe best attire her ; what ornaments
doe best adorne her ; and what complements doe best accomplish
her." Again, in p. 59, we are told that " complement hath
beene anciently defined, and so successively retained ; a no lesse
reall thanjbrmall accomplishment."

Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th lUad :

" she reacht Achilles tent

" Found him still sighing ; and some friends, with all
their complements

" Soothing his humour."
Again, in Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606:

" adorned with the exactest complements belonging to ever-
lasting nobleness." STEEVENS.

Thus, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio calls Tybalt, " the Cap-
tain of complements." M. MASON.

3 This child of fancy ',] This fantastick. The expression, in
another sense, has been adopted by Milton in his L? Allegro:

" Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child ." MALONE.

* That Armado hight,] Who is called Armado. MALONE.

* From tatuny Spain, lost in the world's debate."] i. e. he shall
relate to us the celebrated stories recorded in the old romances,
and in their very style. Why he says from tawny Spain is, be-
cause those romances, being of Spanish original, the heroes and
the scene were generally of that country. Why he says, lost in
the world's debate is, because the subject of those romances were
the crusades of the European Christians against the Saracens of
Asia and Africa. WAHBURTON.

I have s iffered this note to hold its place, though Mr. Tyrwhitt
has shown that it is wholly unfounded, because Dr. Warburton
refers to it in his dissertation at the end of this play. MALONE.

in t)ie world's debate.'} The "world seems to be used in a

monastick sense by the king, now devoted for a time to a monastic
life. In the world, in seculo, in the bustle of human affairs, from
which we are now happily sequestered, in the world, to which the
votaries of solitude have no relation. JOHNSON.

Warburton's interpretation is clearly preferable to that of


BIRON. Armado is a most illustrious wight,
A man of fire-new words, 7 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 ? 8
BIRON. This, fellow ; What would'st ?

DULL. I myself reprehend his own person, for
I am his grace's tharborough : 9 but I would see
his own person in flesh and blood.

Johnson. The King hacf not yet so weaned himself from the
world, as to adopt the language of a cloister. M. MASON.

6 And I "will use him for my minstrelsy.] i. e. I will make a
minstrel of him, whose occupation was to relate fabulous stories.

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 29)