List iconLove’s Labor’s Lost:
Act 4, scene 2
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Love’s Labor’s Lost
Act 4, scene 2


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Scene 2
Enter Dull the Constable, Holofernes the Pedant, and
Nathaniel the Curate.

NATHANIEL Very reverend sport, truly, and done in the
 testimony of a good conscience.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 2

HOLOFERNES The deer was, as you know, sanguis, in
 blood, ripe as the pomewater, who now hangeth
5 like a jewel in the ear of caelo, the sky, the welkin,
 the heaven, and anon falleth like a crab on the face
 of terra, the soil, the land, the earth.
NATHANIEL Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are
 sweetly varied, like a scholar at the least. But, sir, I
10 assure you, it was a buck of the first head.
HOLOFERNES Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.
DULL ’Twas not a haud credo, ’twas a pricket.
HOLOFERNES Most barbarous intimation! Yet a kind of
 insinuation, as it were, in via, in way, of explication;
15 facere, as it were, replication, or rather, ostentare, to
 show, as it were, his inclination, after his undressed,
 unpolished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or
 rather unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion,
 to insert again my haud credo for a deer.
DULL 20I said the deer was not a haud credo, ’twas a
HOLOFERNES Twice-sod simplicity, bis coctus!
 O thou monster ignorance, how deformed dost thou
25 Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred
 in a book.
 He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk
 ink. His intellect is not replenished. He is only an
 animal, only sensible in the duller parts.
30 And such barren plants are set before us that we
 thankful should be—
 Which we of taste and feeling are—for those parts
 that do fructify in us more than he.
 For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet,
35 or a fool,
 So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in
 a school.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 2

 But omne bene, say I, being of an old father’s mind:
 Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.
40 You two are bookmen. Can you tell me by your wit
 What was a month old at Cain’s birth that’s not
 five weeks old as yet?
HOLOFERNES Dictynna, goodman Dull, Dictynna,
 goodman Dull.
DULL 45What is “dictima”?
 A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon.
 The moon was a month old when Adam was no
 And raught not to five weeks when he came to
50 fivescore.
 Th’ allusion holds in the exchange.
DULL ’Tis true indeed. The collusion holds in the
HOLOFERNES God comfort thy capacity! I say, th’ allusion
55 holds in the exchange.
DULL And I say the pollution holds in the exchange, for
 the moon is never but a month old. And I say besides
 that, ’twas a pricket that the Princess killed.
HOLOFERNES Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal
60 epitaph on the death of the deer? And, to humor
 the ignorant, call I the deer the Princess killed a
NATHANIEL Perge, good Master Holofernes, perge, so it
 shall please you to abrogate scurrility.
HOLOFERNES 65I will something affect the letter, for it
 argues facility.
 The preyful princess pierced and pricked
 a pretty pleasing pricket,
  Some say a sore, but not a sore till now made
70  sore with shooting.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 2

 The dogs did yell. Put “l” to “sore,” then sorel
 jumps from thicket,
  Or pricket sore, or else sorel. The people fall
75 If sore be sore, then “L” to “sore” makes fifty
 sores o’ sorel.
 Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one
 more “L.”
NATHANIEL A rare talent.
DULL, aside 80If a talent be a claw, look how he claws
 him with a talent.
HOLOFERNES This is a gift that I have, simple, simple—
 a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms,
 figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions,
85 revolutions. These are begot in the ventricle
 of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater,
 and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. But
 the gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I
 am thankful for it.
NATHANIEL 90Sir, I praise the Lord for you, and so may
 my parishioners, for their sons are well tutored by
 you, and their daughters profit very greatly under
 you. You are a good member of the
HOLOFERNES 95Mehercle, if their sons be ingenious,
 they shall want no instruction; if their daughters be
 capable, I will put it to them. But Vir sapis qui pauca
. A soul feminine saluteth us.

Enter Jaquenetta and the Clown Costard.

JAQUENETTA, to Nathaniel God give you good morrow,
100 Master Person.
HOLOFERNES Master Person, quasi pierce one. And
 if one should be pierced, which is the one?
COSTARD Marry, Master Schoolmaster, he that is likeliest
 to a hogshead.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 2

HOLOFERNES 105Of piercing a hogshead! A good luster
 of conceit in a turf of earth; fire enough for a flint,
 pearl enough for a swine. ’Tis pretty, it is well.
JAQUENETTA, to Nathaniel Good Master Parson, be so
 good as read me this letter. It was given me by
110 Costard, and sent me from Don Armado. I beseech
 you, read it.
She hands Nathaniel a paper, which he looks at.
 Facile precor gelida quando peccas omnia sub umbra.

 and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan! I may speak of
115 thee as the traveler doth of Venice:
 Venetia, Venetia,
 Chi non ti vede, non ti pretia.

 Old Mantuan, old Mantuan! Who understandeth
 thee not, loves thee not. (He sings.) Ut, re, sol, la,
120 mi, fa. (To Nathaniel.) Under pardon, sir, what are
 the contents? Or rather, as Horace says in his—
 (Looking at the letter.) What, my soul, verses?
NATHANIEL Ay, sir, and very learned.
HOLOFERNES  Let me hear a staff, a stanza, a verse,
125 Lege, domine.
 If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
  Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed!
 Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove.
  Those thoughts to me were oaks, to thee like osiers
130   bowed.
 Study his bias leaves and makes his book thine eyes,
  Where all those pleasures live that art would
 If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice.
135  Well-learnèd is that tongue that well can thee

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 2

 All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder;
  Which is to me some praise that I thy parts admire.
 Thy eye Jove’s lightning bears, thy voice his dreadful
140  thunder,
  Which, not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.
 Celestial as thou art, O, pardon love this wrong,
 That sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.

HOLOFERNES You find not the apostrophus, and so
145 miss the accent. Let me supervise the canzonet.
 He takes the paper. Here are only numbers ratified,
 but, for the elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of
 poesy—caret. Ovidius Naso was the man. And why
 indeed “Naso,” but for smelling out the odoriferous
150 flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention? Imitari is
 nothing: so doth the hound his master, the ape his
 keeper, the tired horse his rider.—But damosella
 virgin, was this directed to you?
JAQUENETTA Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Berowne, one
155 of the strange queen’s lords.
HOLOFERNES I will overglance the superscript: “To
 the snow-white hand of the most beauteous Lady
 I will look again on the intellect of the
 letter for the nomination of the party writing to
160 the person written unto: “Your Ladyship’s in all
 desired employment, Berowne.”
 Sir Nathaniel, this
 Berowne is one of the votaries with the King, and
 here he hath framed a letter to a sequent of the
 stranger queen’s: which accidentally, or by the way
165 of progression, hath miscarried. To Jaquenetta.
 Trip and go, my sweet. Deliver this paper into the
 royal hand of the King. It may concern much. Stay
 not thy compliment. I forgive thy duty. Adieu.
JAQUENETTA Good Costard, go with me.—Sir, God
170 save your life.
COSTARD Have with thee, my girl.
Costard and Jaquenetta exit.

Love’s Labor’s Lost
ACT 4. SC. 3

NATHANIEL Sir, you have done this in the fear of God
 very religiously; and, as a certain Father saith—
HOLOFERNES Sir, tell not me of the Father. I do fear
175 colorable colors. But to return to the verses: did
 they please you, Sir Nathaniel?
NATHANIEL Marvelous well for the pen.
HOLOFERNES I do dine today at the father’s of a certain
 pupil of mine, where if, before repast, it shall
180 please you to gratify the table with a grace, I will,
 on my privilege I have with the parents of the
 foresaid child or pupil, undertake your ben venuto;
 where I will prove those verses to be very unlearned,
 neither savoring of poetry, wit, nor invention.
185 I beseech your society.
NATHANIEL And thank you too; for society, saith the
 text, is the happiness of life.
HOLOFERNES And certes the text most infallibly concludes
 it. To Dull. Sir, I do invite you too. You shall
190 not say me nay. Pauca verba. Away! The gentles are
 at their game, and we will to our recreation.
They exit.