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Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortified;
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;) Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there. 0, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep; Not to see ladies--study-fast-not sleep. King. Your oath is passed 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 know, Biron. Things hid and barred, you mean, from
Biron. Come on then; I will swear to study so,
When I to feast expressly am forbid;
Or, study where to meet some mistress fine,
When mistresses from common sense are hid;
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 purchased, doth inherit pain. As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To seek the light of truth ; while truth the while Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look.
Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile ;
By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
And give him light that it was blinded by.
That will not be deep-searched 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.3 King. How well he's read, to reason against
reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!
1 Dishonestly, treacherously.
? The sense of this declamation is only this, that a man by too close study may read himself blind.
3 That is, too much knowledge gives no real solution of doubts, but merely fame, or a name, a thing wl'ich every godfather can givo.
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!
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. 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.—Hath this been proclaimed?
Long. Four days ago. Biron. Let's see the penalty: [Reads.] On pain of losing her tongue.-—Who devised this penalty?
Long. Marry, that did I.
1 i. e. nipping
2 By these shows the poet means May-games, at which a snow would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a periphrasis for May.
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 public 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.
King. We must, of force, dispense with this decree; She must lie ? here on mere necessity. Biron. Necessity will make us all forsworn Three thousand times within this three years'
space. For every man with his affects is born ;
Not by might mastered, but by special grace. If I break faith, this word shall speak for me, I am forsworn on mere necessity: So to the laws at large / write my name. [Subscribes.
And he that breaks them in the least degree, Stands in attainder of eternal shame.
Suggestions 3 are to others as to me; But, I believe, although seem so loath,
1 The word gentilily here does not signify that rank of people called gentry; but what the French express by gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas 2. That is, reside here.
3 Temptations. VOL. II.
I am the last that will last keep his oath.
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain ;
Doth ravish, like enchanting harmony;
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny.
For interim to our studies, shall relate,
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate.
Biron. Armado is a most illustrious wight,
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? Biron. This, fellow. What would'st?
Dull. I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his grace's tharborough ;4 but I would see his own person in flesh and blood.
Biron. This is he.
Dull. Seignior Arme - Arme commends you. There's villany abroad; this letter will tell you more.
Cost. Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me.
1 Lively, sprightly. 2 Complements is here used in its ancient sense of accomplishments. Vide Note on K. Henry V. Act ii. Sc. 2.
3 I will make use of him instead of a minstrel, whose occupation was to relate fabulous stories.
4 i.e. third-borough, a peacc-officer.