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king of Navarre died. To the date of its production we have no such clue ; it is one of the plays enumerated by Meres in the oft-quoted passage from his Palladis Tamia, 1598, “As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy among the Latins, so Shakespeare among yo English, is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage; for comedy, witness his Gētlemē of Verona, his Errors, his Love Labor 's Lost, his Love Labour 's Wonne, his Midsummer's Night Dreame, and his Merchant of Venice; for tragedy, his Richard the II., Richard the III., Henry the IV., King John, Titus Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet."
It is noticed also, and in a manner which seems to imply that the writer had seen it some time before, in the rare poem by R[obert T[ofte, intituled “ Alba ; or, The Month's Minde of a Melancholy Lover, 8vo, 1598.”
“ Love's Labour Lost ! I once did sce a play
Ycleped so, so called to my paine,
The play, no play, but plague was unto me,
Each actor plaid in cunning wise his part,
Beyond these two allusions we have no external evidence positive or negative to aid us in ascertaining the precise date when this comedy was written. We do not despair, however, of the first draft, like the Hamlet of 1603, turning up some day, and in the meantime shall not be far wrong if we assign its production to a period somewhere between 1587 and 1591,
FERDINAND, king of NAVARRE.
Moth, page to ARMADO.
Princess of FRANCE.
MARIA, Ladies attending on the Princess. Don ADRIANO DE ARMADO, a Spaniard.
JAQUENETTA, a country wench.
Officers and others, attendant on the King and COSTARD, a clown.
* This list of characters was first printed by Rowe.
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, Th’ 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,
b Live register'd upon our brazen tombs,-) The allusion here is to the figures and inscriptions on plates of brass, with which it was the fashion to ornament the tombs of distinguished persons, from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. Numerous examples still remain in the churches throughout England, and in those of Belgium and Germany.
a Biron,-) In the old copies the name is spelt Berowne, probably in accordance with the ancient pronunciation of Biron, which appears to have been Beroon, with the accent on the last syllable. Thus in Act IV. Sc. 3, we find it rhyming to moon
“ My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon;-
Your oaths are pass'd, and now subscribe your If study's gain be thus, and this be so, names ;
Study knows that, which yet it doth not know: That his own hand may strike his honour down, Swear me to this, and I will ne'er say, no. That violates the smallest branch herein:
King. These be the stops that hinder study If you are arm'd to do, as sworn to do,
quite, Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep them * too. And train our intellects to vain delight.
Long. I am resolv'd : 'tis but a three years' fast; Biron. Why, all delights are vain ; but* that The mind shall banquet, though the body pine:
most vain, Fat paunches have lean pates," and dainty bits Which, with pain purchas’d, doth inherit pain : Make rich the ribs, but bankruptt quite the wits. As, painfully to pore upon a book,
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortified. To seek the light of truth ; while truth the while The grosser manner of these world's delights Doth falsely blind the eye-sight of his look : He throws
world's baser slaves : Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile: To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die ; So, ere you find where light in darkness lies, With all these living in philosophy.
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes. .
By fixing it upon a fairer eye ;
And give him light that it was blinded by. As, not to see a woman in that term ;
Study is like the heaven's glorious sun, Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there:
That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks; And, one day in a week to touch no food,
Small have continual plodders ever won, And but one meal on every day beside ;
Save base authority from others' books. The which, I hope, is not enrolled there :
These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights, And then to sleep but three hours in the night, That give a name to every fixed star, And not be seen to wink of all the day;
Have no more profit of their shining nights, (When I was wont to think no harm all night, Than those that walk, and wot not what they are. And make a dark night too of half the day ;) Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame; Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there: And every godfather can give a name. O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep;
King. How well he's read, to reason against Not to see ladies,-study,-fast,--not sleep.
reading! KING. Your oath is pass'd to pass away from
Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good prothese.
ceeding! Biron. Let me say no, my liege, an if you please ;
Long. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow I only swore, to study with your grace,
the weeding And stay here in your court for three years' space.
Biron. The spring is near, when green geese Long. You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest.
are a-breeding. Biron. By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest. Dum. How follows that ? What is the end of study ? let me know.
Fit in his place and time. KING. Why, that to know, which else we should Dum. In reason nothing. not know.
Something then in rhyme. Biron. Things hid and barr’d, you mean, from King. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost, common sense ?
That bites the first-born infants of the spring. KING. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. Biron. Well, say I am; wliy should proud Biron. Come on then, I will swear to study so,
summer boast, To know the thing I am forbid to know :
Before the birds have any cause to sing ? As thus,—To study where I well may dine, Why should I joy in any abortive birth ? When I to feast & expressly am forbid ;
At Christmas I no more desire a rose, Or, study where to meet some mistress fine, Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows;
When mistresses from common sense are hid: But like of each thing that in season grows.
Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate."
(*) Old copies, it.
(1) Old copies, jast. a Fat paunches have lean pates, &c.]
“ Pinguis venter nun gignit sensum tenuem." There is a more elegant Greek proverb, mentioned by Hierom, to the same effect; and the whole couplet is given in Clark's
(*) First folio, and. " Paremiologia Anglo-Latina; or, Proverbs English and Latine," &c., 8vo. 1630
“ Fat paunches make lean pates; and grosser bits
Enrich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits." b Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate.] This is the reading of the quarto. The folio has
" That were to climb o'er the house to unlock the gate."