The King of Navarre’s park.
(Dull; Holofernes; Nathaniel; Jaquenetta; Costard)
Holofernes, the schoolmaster, and Sir Nathaniel, the curate, discuss language as Constable Dull listens. The pedantic, conceited Holofernes politely despises the unlearned; Sir Nathaniel rather worships him as he rattles off his dry knowledge. Jaquenetta and Costard enter, the illiterate girl wanting Holofernes to read her the love letter she’s received — which is of course the one Berowne wrote to Rosaline. Holofernes is horrified at the poor style. Discovering the true writer of the letter, he sends Jaquenetta to the King with it. Invited to dinner by a pupil’s father, Holofernes invites Nathaniel and Dull to join him. (81 lines)
Enter Dull, Holofernes the Pedant, and Nathaniel from watching the hunt.
Very reverent sport truly, and done in the testimony of a good conscience.
The deer was (as you know) sanguis, in blood, ripe as the pomewater, who now hangeth 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.
Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithites are sweetly varied, like a scholar at the least; but, sir, I assure ye it was a buck of the first head.
Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.
’Twas not a haud credo, ’twas a pricket.
Most barbarous intimation! Yet a kind of insinuation, as it were in via, in way, of explication; 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.
I said the deer was not a haud credo, ’twas a pricket.
Twice sod simplicity, bis coctus!
O thou monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!
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;
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, or a fool,
So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in a school:
But omne bene, say I, being of an old father’s mind:
Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.
You two are book-men: can you tell me by your wit
What was a month old at Cain’s birth, that’s not five weeks old as yet?
Dictynna, goodman Dull, Dictynna, goodman Dull.
What is Dictynna?
A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon.
The moon was a month old when Adam was no more,
And raught not to five weeks when he came to five-score.
Th’ allusion holds in the exchange.
’Tis true indeed, the collusion holds in the exchange.
God comfort thy capacity! I say, th’ allusion holds in the exchange.
And I say, the pollution holds in the exchange, for the moon is never but a month old; and I say beside that, ’twas a pricket that the Princess kill’d.
Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal epitaph on the death of the deer? And to humor the ignorant, call I the deer the Princess kill’d a pricket.
Perge, good Master Holofernes, perge, so it shall please you to abrogate squirility.
I will something affect the letter, for it argues facility.
The preyful Princess pierc’d and prick’d a pretty pleasing pricket;
Some say a sore, but not a sore, till now made sore with shooting.
The dogs did yell: put l to sore, then sorel jumps from thicket,
Or pricket sore, or else sorel; the people fall a-hooting.
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.
A rare talent!
If a talent be a claw, look how he claws him with a talent.
This is a gift that I have, simple; simple, a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions. These are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourish’d 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.
Sir, I praise the Lord for you, and so may my parishioners, for their sons are well tutor’d by you, and their daughters profit very greatly under you. You are a good member of the commonwealth.
Mehercle, if their sons be ingenious, they shall want no instruction; if their daughters be capable, I will put it to them: but vir sapit qui pauca loquitur. A soul feminine saluteth us.
Enter Jaquenetta and the Clown Costard.
God give you good morrow, Master Person.
Master Person, quasi pers-one. And if one should be pierc’d, which is the one?
Marry, Master Schoolmaster, he that is likel’est to a hogshead.
Of piercing a hogshead! A good lustre of conceit in a turf of earth; fire enough for a flint, pearl enough for a swine: ’tis pretty; it is well.
Good Master Person, be so good as read me this letter. It was given me by Costard, and sent me from Don Armado. I beseech you read it.
Facile, precor gelida quando pecus omne sub umbra ruminat, and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan! I may speak of thee as the traveller doth of Venice:
Che non te vede, che non te prechia.
Old Mantuan, old Mantuan! Who understandeth thee not, loves thee not. Ut, re, sol, la, mi, fa. Under pardon, sir, what are the contents? Or rather, as Horace says in his—What, my soul, verses?
Ay, sir, and very learned.
Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse; 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 bowed.
Study his bias leaves, and makes his book thine eyes,
Where all those pleasures live that art would comprehend.
If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice;
Well learned is that tongue that well can thee commend,
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 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.”
You find not the apostraphus, and so miss the accent. Let me supervise the canzonet.
He takes the letter.
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 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?
Ay, sir, from one Monsieur Berowne, one of the strange queen’s lords.
I will overglance the superscript: “To the snow-white hand of the most beauteous Lady Rosaline.” I will look again on the intellect of the letter, for the nomination of the party
to 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 of progression, hath miscarried. 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.
Good Costard, go with me. Sir, God save your life!
Have with thee, my girl.
Exit with Jaquenetta.
Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very religiously; and as a certain father saith—
Sir, tell not me of the father, I do fear colorable colors. But to return to the verses: did they please you, Sir Nathaniel?
Marvellous well for the pen.
I do dine today at the father’s of a certain pupil of mine, where, if (before repast) it shall 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 bien venuto; where I will prove those verses to be very unlearned, neither savoring of poetry, wit, nor invention. I beseech your society.
And thank you too; for society, saith the text, is the happiness of life.
And certes the text most infallibly concludes it.
Sir, I do invite you too, you shall not say me nay: pauca verba. Away, the gentles are at their game, and we will to our recreation.