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You three, Biron, Dumain, 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:

Your oaths are pass'd; and now subscribe your


That his own hand may strike his honour down
That violates the smallest branch herein :
If you are arm'd to do as sworn to do,
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
Long. I am resolved; 'tis but a three years'

The mind shall banquet, though the body pine:
Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.

Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortified:
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.

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:
O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,

43. of all the day, all day-long.




Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep! King. Your oath is pass'd 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, Biron, and to the


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 barr'd, you mean, from common sense?

King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. Biron. 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,

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When I to feast expressly am forbid;
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,
Study knows that which yet it doth not know:
Swear me to this, and I will ne'er say no.

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 vain,


57. common sense, ordinary perception.




62. feast, Theobald's doubted correction for the 'fast' of Qq and Ff.

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 : 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
And give him light that it was blinded by.
Study is like the heaven's glorious sun

That will not be deep-search'd 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.

King. How well he's read, to reason against

Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!

Long. He weeds the corn and still lets grow the weeding.

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upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lodestar, and give him light that was blinded by it.'

95. Proceeded well, etc. A play upon the academic sense of the word, 'take a degree.'

Biron. The spring is near when green geese

are a-breeding.

Dum. How follows that?

Dum. In reason nothing.

Fit in his place and time.

Something then in rhyme. King. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost That bites the first-born infants of

the spring.

Biron. Well, say I am; why should proud summer boast.

Before the birds have any cause to sing?

Why should I joy in an abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more desire a rose

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.
King. Well, sit you out: go home, Biron:

Biron. 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 swore

And bide the penance of each three years' day.

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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 120 proclaimed?

Long. Four days ago.

Biron. Let's see the penalty. pain of losing her tongue.' penalty?

Long. Marry, that did I.
Biron. Sweet lord, and why?

Long. To fright them hence with that dread


Biron. A dangerous law against gentility!

[Reads] Item, If any man be seen to talk 130 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 majestyAbout surrender up of Aquitaine

[Reads] 'On

Who devised this

To her decrepit, sick and bedrid father:
Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.
King. What say you, lords? why, this was
quite forgot.
Biron. So study evermore is overshot:
While it doth study to have what it would
It doth forget to do the thing it should,

129. gentility, good manners.


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