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LOVE'S LABOUR's Loft.
SCENE, The Palace.
Enter the King, Biron, Longaville and Dumain.
ET Fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Th' endeavour of this prefent breath may buy
Your oaths are paft, and now fubfcribe your names:
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep them too.
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortify'd:
Biron. I can but fay their proteftation over,
King. Your oath is pass'd to pass away from these.'
King. Why, that to know, which elfe we should not
(1) When I was wont to think no harm all night,] i. e. When I was ufed to fleep all night long, without once waking. The Latines have a proverbial Expreffion very nigh to the Senfe of our Author's Thought
Qui benè dormit, nihil mali cogitat.
Biron. Things hid and barr'd (you mean) from common sense.
King. Ay, that is ftudy's god-like recompence.
When I to feast exprefsly am forbid; (2)
When miftreffes from common fenfe are hid:
Study knows that, which yet it doth not know:
King. These be the ftops, that hinder ftudy quite; And train our intellects to vain delight.
Biron. Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain, Which, with pain purchas'd, doth inherit pain; As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To feek the light of truth; while truth the while Doth falfly blind the eye-fight of his look:
Light, feeking light, doth light of light beguile; So, ere you find where light in darkness lies, Your light grows dark by lofing of your eyes. Study me how to please the eye indeed,
By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
Who dazling fo, that eye fhall be his heed,
That will not be deep fearch'd with fawcy looks
(2) When I to faft exprefly am forbid.] This is the Reading of all the Copies in general; but I would fain ask our accurate Editors, if Biron ftudied where to get a good Dinner, at a time when he was forbid to faft, how was This ftudying to know what he was forbid to know? Common Senfe, and the whole Tenour of the Context require us to read, either as I have reftor'd; or, to make a Change in the last Word of the Verfe, which will bring us to the fame Meaning;
When I to faft exprefly am fore-bid;
i. e. when I am enjoin'd beforehand to fast.
These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,
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 reafon against reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to ftop all good proceeding. Long. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the
Biron. The fpring is near, when green geefe are a breeding.
Dum. How follows that?
Biron. Fit in his place and time.
Biron. Something then in rhime.
Long. Biron is like an envious fineaping froft,
Before the birds have any cause to fing? Why should I joy in an abortive birth? (3) At Christmas I no more defire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled Earth:
Why Should I joy in an abortive Birth?
At Christmas I no more defire a Rofe,
Than wifh a Snow in May's newfangled Shows:
But like of each Thing, that in Seafon grows.] As the greatest part of this Scene (both what precedes, and follows;) is ftrictly in Rhymes, either fucceffive, alternate, or triple; I am perfwaded, the Copyifts have made a flip here. For by making a Triplet of the three laft Lines quoted, Birth in the Clofe of the firft Line is quite deftitute of any Rhyme to it. Befides, what a difpleafing Identity of Sound recurs in the Middle and Close of this Verse ?·
Than wish a Snow in May's newfangled Shows. Again; newfangled Shows seems to have very little Propriety. The Flowers are not newfangled; but the Earth is newfangled by the Profufion and Variety of the Flowers, that spring on its Bofom in May. I have therefore ventur'd to fubftitute, Earth, in the close of the 3d Line, which restores the alternate Measure. It was very eafy for a negligent Transcriber to be deceiv'd by the Rhyme immediately preceding fo, miftake the concluding Word in the fequent Line, and corrupt it into One that would chime with the Qther.
But like of each thing, that in season grows.
And bide the penance of each three years day.
Item, [reading] If any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he shall endure fuch publick fhame as the rest of the Court can poffibly devife.
(4) A dangerous Law against Gentility.] I have ventur'd to prefix the Name of Biron to this Line, it being evident, for two Reasons, that it, by fome Accident or other, flipt out of the printed Books. In the first place, Longaville confeffes, he had devis'd the Penalty: and why he fhould immediately arraign it as a dangerous Law, feems to be very inconfiftent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this Reflexion, who is caviling at every thing; and then for him to purfue his reading over the remaining Articles. As to the Word Gentility, here, it does not fignify that Rank of People call'd, Gentry; but what the French exprefs by, gentileffes, 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, Urbanity, and the more refin'd Pleasures of Life. For Men without Women would turn brutal, and savage, in their Natures and Behaviour.