The King of Navarre’s park.
(Holofernes; Sir Nathaniel; Dull; Armado; Moth; Costard)
Holofernes rants against changes in pronunciation to Nathaniel. Armado, Costard and Moth meet up with him, and they all get on very well, Moth outpacing Holofernes’s brain, though the pedant gets on very well with Armado, whose phraseology he finds admirable. Getting to the point, Armado, insisting that he is very close to the King, explains that he has been asked to present a show to entertain the Princess; needing help, he turns to the schoolmaster and the curate. Holofernes immediately decides that they should present a pageant of the Nine Worthies, even though they do not have nine people to play the roles. Constable Dull, who has been listening all this while, freely admits he hasn’t understood a word from the beginning. (57 lines)
Enter the Pedant Holofernes, the Curate Sir Nathaniel, and Dull.
Satis quid sufficit.
I praise God for you, sir. Your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious: pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy. I did converse this quondam day with a companion of the King’s, who is intituled, nominated, or called, Don Adriano de Armado.
Novi hominem tanquam te. His humor is lofty, his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general behavior vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. He is too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd as it were, too peregrinate, as I may call it.
A most singular and choice epithet.
Draw out his table-book.
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. I abhor such fanatical phantasimes, such insociable and point-devise companions, such rackers of orthography, as to speak “dout,” fine, when he should say “doubt”; “det,” when he should pronounce “debt”—d, e, b, t, not d, e, t: he clepeth a calf, “cauf”; half, “hauf”; neighbor vocatur “nebor”; neigh abbreviated “ne.” This is abhominable—which he would call “abbominable”; it insinuateth me of insanie: ne intelligis, domine? To make frantic, lunatic.
Laus Deo, bone intelligo.
Bone? Bone for bene, Priscian a little scratch’d, ’twill serve.
Enter Braggart Armado, Boy Moth, and Costard.
Videsne quis venit?
Video, et gaudeo.
Quare. Chirrah, not sirrah?
Men of peace, well encount’red.
Most military sir, salutation.
Aside to Costard
They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol’n the scraps.
O, they have liv’d long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word, for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallow’d than a flap-dragon.
Peace, the peal begins.
Monsieur, are you not lett’red?
Yes, yes, he teaches boys the horn-book. What is a, b, spell’d backward, with the horn on his head?
Ba, pueritia, with a horn added.
Ba, most silly sheep, with a horn. You hear his learning.
Quis, quis, thou consonant?
The last of the five vowels, if “you” repeat them; or the fift, if I.
I will repeat them—a, e, I—
The sheep: the other two concludes it—o, U.
Now by the salt wave of the Mediterraneum, a sweet touch, a quick venue of wit—snip, snap, quick and home. It rejoiceth my intellect. True wit!
Offer’d by a child to an old man: which is wit-old.
What is the figure? What is the figure?
Thou disputes like an infant; go whip thy gig.
Lend me your horn to make one, and I will whip about your infamy, manu cita—a gig of a cuckold’s horn.
And I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread. Hold, there is the very remuneration I had of thy master, thou halfpenny purse of wit, thou pigeon-egg of discretion. O, and the heavens were so pleas’d that thou wert but my bastard, what a joyful father wouldest thou make me! Go to, thou hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers’ ends, as they say.
O, I smell false Latin, “dunghill” for unguem.
Arts-man, preambulate, we will be singuled from the barbarous. Do you not educate youth at the charge-house on the top of the mountain?
Or mons, the hill.
At your sweet pleasure, for the mountain.
I do, sans question.
Sir, it is the King’s most sweet pleasure and affection to congratulate the Princess at her pavilion in the posteriors of this day, which the rude multitude call the afternoon.
The posterior of the day, most generous sir, is liable, congruent, and measurable for the afternoon. The word is well cull’d, chose, sweet, and apt, I do assure you, sir, I do assure.
Sir, the King is a noble gentleman, and my familiar, I do assure ye, very good friend; for what is inward between us, let it pass. I do beseech thee remember thy courtesy; I beseech thee apparel thy head; and among other importunate and most serious designs, and of great import indeed too—but let that pass; for I must tell thee it will please his Grace (by the world) sometime to lean upon my poor shoulder, and with his royal finger, thus, dally with my excrement, with my mustachio; but, sweet heart, let that pass. By the world, I recount no fable: some certain special honors it pleaseth his greatness to impart to Armado, a soldier, a man of travel, that hath seen the world; but let that pass. The very all of all is—but, sweet heart, I do implore secrety—that the King would have me present the Princess (sweet chuck) with some delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or antic, or firework. Now, understanding that the curate and your sweet self are good at such eruptions and sudden breaking out of mirth (as it were), I have acquainted you withal, to the end to crave your assistance.
Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies. Sir Nathaniel, as concerning some entertainment of time, some show in the posterior of this day, to be rend’red by our assistance, the King’s command, and this most gallant, illustrate, and learned gentleman, before the Princess, I say none so fit as to present the Nine Worthies.
Where will you find men worthy enough to present them?
Joshua, yourself; myself; and this gallant gentleman, Judas Machabeus; this swain (because of his great limb or joint) shall pass Pompey the Great; the page, Hercules.
Pardon, sir, error: he is not quantity enough for that Worthy’s thumb, he is not so big as the end of his club.
Shall I have audience? He shall present Hercules in minority; his enter and exit shall be strangling a snake; and I will have an apology for that purpose.
An excellent device! So if any of the audience hiss, you may cry, “Well done, Hercules, now thou crushest the snake!” That is the way to make an offense gracious, though few have the grace to do it.
For the rest of the Worthies?
I will play three myself.
Shall I tell you a thing?
We will have, if this fadge not, an antic. I beseech you follow.
Via, goodman Dull! Thou hast spoken no word all this while.
Nor understood none neither, sir.
Allons! We will employ thee.
I’ll make one in a dance, or so; or I will play
On the tabor to the Worthies, and let them dance the hay.
Most dull, honest Dull! To our sport; away!