List iconLove’s Labor’s Lost:
Act 1, scene 1
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Love’s Labor’s Lost
Act 1, scene 1


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Scene 1
Enter Ferdinand, King of Navarre, Berowne,
Longaville, and Dumaine.

 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,
5 Th’ endeavor of this present breath may buy
 That honor 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
10 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.
15 You three, Berowne, Dumaine, 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.
He holds up a scroll.
 Your oaths are passed, and now subscribe your
20 names,
 That his own hand may strike his honor down

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 That violates the smallest branch herein.
 If you are armed to do as sworn to do,
 Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
25 I am resolved. ’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 bankrout quite the wits.
He signs his name.
 My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified.
30 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.
He signs his name.
 I can but say their protestation over.
35 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 enrollèd there;
40 And one day in a week to touch no food,
 And but one meal on every day besides,
 The which I hope is not enrollèd there;
 And then to sleep but three hours in the night,
 And not be seen to wink of all the day—
45 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 enrollèd there.
 O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
 Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.
50 Your oath is passed to pass away from these.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 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, Berowne, and to the rest.
55 By yea and nay, sir. Then I swore in jest.
 What is the end of study, let me know?
 Why, that to know which else we should not know.
 Things hid and barred, you mean, from common
60 Ay, that is study’s godlike recompense.
 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;
65 Or study where to meet some mistress fine
  When mistresses from common sense are hid;
 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,
70 Study knows that which yet it doth not know.
 Swear me to this, and I will ne’er say no.
 These be the stops that hinder study quite,
 And train our intellects to vain delight.
 Why, all delights are vain, and that most vain
75 Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain:
 As painfully to pore upon a book
  To seek the light of truth, while truth the while

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look.
  Light seeking light doth light of light beguile.
80 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
85  And give him light that it was blinded by.
 Study is like the heaven’s glorious sun,
  That will not be deep-searched with saucy looks.
 Small have continual plodders ever won,
  Save base authority from others’ books.
90 These earthly godfathers of heaven’s lights,
  That give a name to every fixèd 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 naught but fame,
95 And every godfather can give a name.
 How well he’s read to reason against reading.
 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding.
 He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.
 The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.
100 How follows that?
BEROWNE  Fit in his place and time.
 In reason nothing.
BEROWNE  Something then in rhyme.
 Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost
105  That bites the firstborn infants of the spring.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Well, say I am. Why should proud summer boast
  Before the birds have any cause to sing?
 Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
 At Christmas I no more desire a rose
110 Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows,
 But like of each thing that in season grows.
 So you, to study now it is too late,
 Climb o’er the house to unlock the little gate.
 Well, sit you out. Go home, Berowne. Adieu.
115 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 sworn
  And bide the penance of each three years’ day.
120 Give me the paper. Let me read the same,
 And to the strictest decrees I’ll write my name.
 How well this yielding rescues thee from shame.
BEROWNE reads Item, That no woman shall come within
 a mile of my court.
 Hath this been proclaimed?
LONGAVILLE 125Four days ago.
BEROWNE Let’s see the penalty. Reads: On pain of
 losing her tongue.
 Who devised this penalty?
LONGAVILLE Marry, that did I.
BEROWNE Sweet lord, and why?
130 To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
 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 possible
135 devise.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 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—
140 About surrender up of Aquitaine
  To her decrepit, sick, and bedrid father.
 Therefore this article is made in vain,
  Or vainly comes th’ admirèd princess hither.
 What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.
145 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.
150 We must of force dispense with this decree.
 She must lie here on mere necessity.
 Necessity will make us all forsworn
  Three thousand times within this three years’
155 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 I write my name,
160  And he that breaks them in the least degree
 Stands in attainder of eternal shame.
  Suggestions are to other as to me,
 But I believe, although I seem so loath,
 I am the last that will last keep his oath.
He signs his name.
165 But is there no quick recreation granted?

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
  With a refinèd traveler of Spain,
 A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
  That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
170 One who the music of his own vain tongue
  Doth ravish like enchanting harmony,
 A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
  Have chose as umpire of their mutiny.
 This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
175  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.
 How you delight, my lords, I know not, I,
 But I protest I love to hear him lie,
180 And I will use him for my minstrelsy.
 Armado is a most illustrious wight,
 A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight.
 Costard the swain and he shall be our sport,
 And so to study three years is but short.

Enter Dull, a Constable, with a letter, and Costard.

DULL 185Which is the Duke’s own person?
BEROWNE This, fellow. What wouldst?
DULL I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his
 Grace’s farborough. But I would see his own
 person in flesh and blood.
BEROWNE 190This is he.
DULL, to King Signior Arm-, Arm-, commends you.
 There’s villainy abroad. This letter will tell you
 more.He gives the letter to the King.
COSTARD Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching
195 me.
KING A letter from the magnificent Armado.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

BEROWNE How low soever the matter, I hope in God
 for high words.
LONGAVILLE A high hope for a low heaven. God grant
200 us patience!
BEROWNE To hear, or forbear hearing?
LONGAVILLE To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately,
 or to forbear both.
BEROWNE Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause
205 to climb in the merriness.
COSTARD The matter is to me, sir, as concerning
 Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with
 the manner.
BEROWNE In what manner?
COSTARD 210In manner and form following, sir, all those
 three. I was seen with her in the manor house,
 sitting with her upon the form, and taken following
 her into the park, which, put together, is “in manner
 and form following.” Now, sir, for the manner.
215 It is the manner of a man to speak to a woman. For
 the form—in some form.
BEROWNE For the “following,” sir?
COSTARD As it shall follow in my correction, and God
 defend the right.
KING 220Will you hear this letter with attention?
BEROWNE As we would hear an oracle.
COSTARD Such is the sinplicity of man to hearken after
 the flesh.
KING reads Great deputy, the welkin’s vicegerent and
225 sole dominator of Navarre, my soul’s earth’s god, and
 body’s fost’ring patron—

COSTARD Not a word of Costard yet.
KING reads So it is—
COSTARD It may be so, but if he say it is so, he is, in
230 telling true, but so.
KING Peace.
COSTARD Be to me, and every man that dares not fight.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

KING No words.
COSTARD Of other men’s secrets, I beseech you.
KING reads 235So it is, besieged with sable-colored melancholy,
 I did commend the black oppressing humor
 to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving air;
 and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The
 time when? About the sixth hour, when beasts most
240 graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that
 nourishment which is called supper. So much for the
 time when. Now for the ground which—which, I
 mean, I walked upon. It is yclept thy park. Then for the
 place where—where, I mean, I did encounter that
245 obscene and most prepost’rous event that draweth
 from my snow-white pen the ebon-colored ink, which
 here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest. But to
 the place where. It standeth north-north-east and by
 east from the west corner of thy curious-knotted
250 garden. There did I see that low-spirited swain, that
 base minnow of thy mirth,—

KING reads that unlettered, small-knowing soul,—
KING reads 255that shallow vassal,—
COSTARD Still me?
KING reads which, as I remember, hight Costard,—
KING reads sorted and consorted, contrary to thy
260 established proclaimed edict and continent canon,
 which with—O with—but with this I passion to say

COSTARD With a wench.
KING reads with a child of our grandmother Eve, a
265 female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a
 woman: him, I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks
 me on, have sent to thee, to receive the meed of
 punishment by thy sweet Grace’s officer, Anthony

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Dull, a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and
270 estimation.

DULL Me, an ’t shall please you. I am Anthony Dull.
KING reads For Jaquenetta—so is the weaker vessel
 called which I apprehended with the aforesaid
 swain—I keep her as a vessel of thy law’s fury, and
275 shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring her to trial.
 Thine, in all compliments of devoted and heartburning
 heat of duty,
 Don Adriano de Armado.

BEROWNE This is not so well as I looked for, but the
280 best that ever I heard.
KING Ay, the best, for the worst. To Costard. But,
 sirrah, what say you to this?
COSTARD Sir, I confess the wench.
KING Did you hear the proclamation?
COSTARD 285I do confess much of the hearing it, but little
 of the marking of it.
KING It was proclaimed a year’s imprisonment to be
 taken with a wench.
COSTARD I was taken with none, sir. I was taken with a
290 damsel.
KING Well, it was proclaimed “damsel.”
COSTARD This was no damsel neither, sir. She was a
BEROWNE It is so varied too, for it was proclaimed
295 “virgin.”
COSTARD If it were, I deny her virginity. I was taken
 with a maid.
KING This “maid” will not serve your turn, sir.
COSTARD This maid will serve my turn, sir.
KING 300Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall
 fast a week with bran and water.
COSTARD I had rather pray a month with mutton and

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 1. SC. 2

KING And Don Armado shall be your keeper.
305 My Lord Berowne, see him delivered o’er,
 And go we, lords, to put in practice that
  Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.
King, Longaville, and Dumaine exit.
 I’ll lay my head to any goodman’s hat,
  These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.
310 Sirrah, come on.
COSTARD I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is I was
 taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true
 girl. And therefore welcome the sour cup of prosperity.
 Affliction may one day smile again, and till
315 then, sit thee down, sorrow.
They exit.