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A C T I.

SCENE, The Palace.

Enter the King, Biron, Longaville and Dumain.


ET Fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live regiftred upon our brazen tombs;
And then grace us in the difgrace of death:
When, fpight of cormorant devouring

Th' endeavour of this prefent breath may buy
That honour, which shall bate his fythe's keen edge;
And make us heirs of all eternity.

Therefore, brave Conquerors! for fo you are,
That war against your own affections,
And the huge army of the world's defires;
Our late edict shall strongly stand in force.
Navarre fhall be the wonder of the world;
Our Court shall be a little academy,
Still and contemplative in living_arts.
You three, Biron, Dumain, and Longaville,
Have fworn for three years term to live with me,
My fellow-fcholars; and to keep those statutes,
That are recorded in this schedule here.

Your oaths are paft, and now fubfcribe your names:
That his own hand may ftrike his honour down,
That violates the fmalleft branch herein:

If you are arm'd to do, as fworn to do,


Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep them too.
Long. I am refolv'd; 'tis but a three years faft:
The mind shall banquet, tho' the body pine;
Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but bankerout the wits.

Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortify'd:
The groffer 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 philofophy.

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Biron. I can but fay their proteftation over,
So much (dear liege) I have already fworn,
That is, to live and ftudy here three years:
But there are other strict observances;
As, not to fee 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 befide;
The which, I hope, is not enrolled there.
And then to fleep 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, (1)
And make a dark night too of half the day;).
Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there.
O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep;
Not to fee ladies, ftudy, faft, not fleep.

King. Your oath is pass'd to pass away from these.'
Biron. Let me fay, no, my liege, an if you please
I only fwore to ftudy with your Grace,
And stay here in your Court for three years space,
Long. You fwore to that, Biron, and to the rest.
Biron. By yea and nay, Sir, then I fwore in jeft.
What is the end of study? let me know?

King. Why, that to know, which else we should not know.

(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 Expreflion very nigh to the Senfe of our Author's Thought here:

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.
Biron. Come on then, I will fwear to study fo,
To know the thing I am forbid to know;
As thus; to ftudy where I well may dine,
When I to feast expressly am forbid; (2)
Or study where to meet fome mistress fine,
When miftreffes from common fenfe are hid:
Or having fworn too hard a keeping oath,
Study to break it, and not break my troth.
If study's gain be this, and this be fo,

Study knows that, which yet it doth not know:
Swear me to this, and I will ne'er fay, no.

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, cre 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,
And give him light, that it was blinded by.
Study is like the Heaven's glorious Sun,

That will not be deep fearch'd with fawcy looks;
Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others books.

(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 fast exprefly am fore-bid ;

i. e. when I am enjoin'd beforehand to fast.


These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,
That give a name to every fixed ftar,
Have no more profit of their fhining 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 reafon against reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to ftop all good proceeding. Long. He weeds the corn, and ftill lets grow the weeding.

Biron. The fpring is near, when green geefe are a breeding.

Dum. How follows that?

Biron. Fit in his place and time.
Dum. In reafon nothing.

Biron. Something then in rhime.

Long. Biron is like an envious fneaping froft,
That bites the first-born infants of the fpring.
Biron. Well, fay, I am; why should proud summer

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 with a fnow 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 strictly 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 destitute of any Rhyme to it. Befides, what a difpleafing Identity of Sound recurs in the Middle and Close of this Verse ?

Than wifh a Snow in May's newfangled Shows.


Again; newfangled Shows feems to have very little Propriety. 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 easy 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.
So you, to ftudy now it is too late,

Climb o'er the house t'unlock the little gate.

King. Well, fit you out. Go home, Biron: Adieu! Biron. No, my good lord, I've fworn to stay with you.

And though I have for barbarifm spoke more,
Than for that angel knowledge you can fay;
Yet confident I'll keep what I have fwore,
And bide the penance of each three years day.
Give me the paper, let me read the fame;
And to the ftrict'ft decrees I'll write my name.

King. How well this yielding rescues thee from shame! Biron. Item, That no woman fhall come within a mile of my Court,

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Hath this been proclaimed?

Long. Four days ago.

Biron. Let's fee the penalty. On pain of lofing her tongue: Who devis'd this penalty?

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! (4)

Item, [reading] If any man be feen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he fhall endure fuch publick shame as the reft of the Court can poffibly devife.

(4) A dangerous Law againft 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 firft 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 favage, in their Natures and Behaviour.

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