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Ros. Oft have I heard of you, my lord Birón, Before I saw you: and the world's large tongue Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks; Full of comparisons, and wounding flouts; Which you on all estates will execute, That lie within the mercy of your wit: To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain; And, therewithal, to win me, if you please, (Without the which I am not to be won,) You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day Visit the speechless sick, and still converse With groaning wretches; and your task shall be, With all the fierce endeavour of your wit, To enforce the pained impotent to smile. Biron. To move wild laughter in the throat of
death? It cannot be; it is impossible: Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.
Ros. Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit, Whose influence is begot of that loose grace, Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools: A jest's prosperity lies in the ear Of him that hears it, never in the tongue Of him that makes it: then, if sickly ears, Deaf'd with the clamours of their own dear groans Will hear your idle scorns, continue then, And I will have you, and that fault withal ; But, if they will not, throw away that spirit, And I shall find you empty of that fault, Right joyful of your reformation.
Biron. A twelvemonth? well, befal what will befal, I'll jest a twelvemonth in an hospital. Prin. Ay, sweet my lord; and so I take my
[To the King. King. No, madam: we will bring you on your
way. Biron. Our wooing doth not end like an old play; Jack hath not Jill: these ladies' courtesy Might well have made our sport a comedy.
King. Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day, And then, 'twill end. Biron.
That's too long for a play.
Arm. I will kiss thy royal finger, and take leave: I am a votary; I have vowed to Jaquenetta to hold the plough for her sweet love three years. But, most esteemed greatness, will you hear the dialogue that the two learned men have compiled, in praise of the owl and the cuckoo? it should have followed in the end of our show.
King. Call them forth quickly, we will do so.
Arm. Holla! approach. Enter HOLOfernes, Nathaniel, Moth, COSTARD,
and others. This side is Hiems, winter; this Ver, the spring; the one maintain'd by the owl, the other by the cuckoo. Ver, begin.
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
Do paint the meadows with delight,
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks, ,
And maidens bleach their summer, smocks,
Winter. When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, And Tom lears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail, When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul, Then nightly sings the staring owl,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. Arm. The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way; we, this way.