Imatges de pÓgina

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 ftudy fo,
To know the thing I am forbid to know;
As thus; to study where I well may dine,
When I to feast exprefly am forbid; (1)
Or fludy where to meet fome mistress fine,
When mistreffes from common sense are hid:
Or, having fworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
Study to break it, and not break my troth.
If ftudy'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. Thefe be the ftops, that hinder study 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, ere you find where light in darknels lies,
Your light grows dark by lofing of your eyes.
Study me how to pleafe 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;

(1) 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 fast, 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 laft Word of the Verfe, which will bring us to the fame Meaning;

When I to faft exprefly am fore-bid; i. e, when I am enjoin'd beforehand to fast,

H 3


Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others' books.
Thefe 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

Biron. The fpring is near, when green geese 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 firft-born infants of the fpring.
Biron. Well; fay, I am; why should proud fummer

Before the birds have any cause to fing?

Why should I joy in an abortive birth? (2)

(2) "Why should I joy in an abortive Birth?

At Christmas I no more defire a Rofe,

Than wish a Snow in May's new-fangled Shows:


But like of each Thing, that in Seafon grows.] As the greatest part of this Scene (both what precedes and follows ;) is frictly 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 first Line is quite deftitute of any Rhyme to it. Besides, what a difpleafing Identity of Sound recurs in the Middle and Close of this Verfe?

Than wifh a Snow in May's new-fangled Shows, Again; new-fangled Shows seems to have very little Propriety. The Flowers are not new-fangled ; but the Earth is new-fangled by the Profufion and Variety of the Flowers, that spring on its Bofom in May. I have therefore ventur'd to fubftiture,


At Christmas I no more defire a rose,
Than with a fnow in May's new-fangled Earth:
But like of each thing, that in season grows.
So you, to study 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 fpoke more, Than for that angel knowledge you can fay; 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 fame; And to the ftri&'t decrees I'll write my name.

King How well this yielding refcues thee from shame!

Biron. Item, That no woman fhall come within a

mile of my Court,


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! (3)


Earth, in the Clofe of the 3d Line, which reftores the alternate Measure. It was very eafy for a negligent Transcriber to be deceiv'd by the Rhyme immediately preceding; so mistake the concluding Word in the fequent Line, and corrupt it into One that would chime with the Other.

(3) A dangerous Law against 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 cavilling at every thing; and then for: him to pursue his reading over the remaining Articles.

[blocks in formation]

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

This article, my liege, your felf must break;
For, well you know, here comes in embassy
The French King's daughter with your felf to speak,
A maid of grace and compleat majefty,
About Surrender up of Aquitain

To her decrepit, fick, and bed-rid father :
Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes th' admired Princess hither. King. What fay you, lords? why, this was quite for got.

Biron. So ftudy evermore is overfhot;

While it doth ftudy 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 loft.

King. We must of force, difpenfe with this decree,
She muft lye here on mere neceffity.

Biron. Neceffity will make us all forfworn

Three thousand times within this three years' space:

For every man with his affects is born:

Not by might mafter'd, but by fpecial grace.

If I break faith, this word fhall speak for me:
I am forfworn on meer neceffity.

So to the laws at large I write my name,
And he, that breaks them in the least degree,
Stands in Attainder of eternal shame.

Suggestions are to others, as to me;
But, I believe, although I feem fo loth,
I am the last that will laft keep his oath.

As to the Word Gentility, here, it does not fignify that Rank of People call'd, Gentry; but what the French express 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.


But is there no quick recreation granted?

King. Ay, that there is; our Court, you know, is haunted

With a refined traveller of Spain,

A man in all the world's new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrafes in his brain :
One, whom the musick of his own vain tongue
Doth ravifh, like inchanting harmony:
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chofe as umpire of their mutiny.
This child of fancy, that Armado hight,

For interim to our Studies, fhall relate
In high-born words the worth of many a Knight
From tawny Spain, loft in the world's debate.
How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;
But, I proteft, I love to hear him lie;
And I will ufe him for my minstrelfie.

Biron. Armado is a moft illuftrious wight,
A man of fire-new words, fashion's own Knight.
Long. Coftard the fwain, and he, shall be our sport;
And, so to study, three years are but short.

Enter Dull and Coftard with a letter.

Dull. Which is the King's own person? (4)
Biron. This, fellow; what would'st?

Dull. I my felf reprehend his own perfon, for I am his Grace's Tharborough: but I would fee his own perfon in flesh and blood..


Biron. This is he. Dull. Signior Arme, commends you. There's villany abroad; this letter will tell you more. Coft. Sir, the Contempts thereof are as touching me.... King. A letter from the magnificent Armado.

(4) Dull. which is the Duke's own Perfon ?] The King of Navarre is in feveral Paffages, thio' all the Copies, call'd the Duke: but as this must have fprung rather from the Inadvertence of the Editors, than a Forgetfulness in the Poet, I have. every where, to avoid Confusion, reftor'd King to the Text.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »