Page images
[blocks in formation]


Enter the King, Biron, Longaville, and Dumain.

King. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live register'd upon our brazen tombs, And then grace us in the disgrace of death; When, spite of cormorant devouring time, The endeavour of this present breath may buy That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge, And make us heirs of all eternity. Therefore, brave conquerors !—for so you are, That war against your own affections, And the huge army of the world's desires, Our late edict shall strongly stand in force : Navarre shall be the wonder of the world; Our court shall be a little Academe, Still and contemplative in living art. You three, Birón, Dumain, and Longåville, 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 past, and now subscribe your names; 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 oath, and keep it too.

a — your deep oath,] The old copies have by Mr. Steevens. MALONR.

caths. Corrected


Long. I am resolv'd: 'tis but a three years' falt; The mind Ihall banquet, though the body pine: Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits Make rich the ribs, but bank'rout 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 Naves : To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die; With all these living in philofophy.'

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 ftrict 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 feen 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; Not to see ladies, study, faft, not sleep.*

3. With all these living in philofophy.] The style of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy. JOHNSON.

By all these, Dumain means the King, Biron, &c. to whom he may be supposed to point, and with whom he is going to live in philosophical retirement. A. C.

4 Not to fee ladies, ftudy, faft, not feep.] The words as they ftand, will express the meaning intended, if pointed thus :

Not to see ladies — ftudy — fast — not sleep. Biron is recapitulating the several tasks imposed upon him viz. aot to see ladies, to study, to fast, and not to sleep : but Shak{pcare, by a common poetical license, though in this paffage injudicioully


King. Your path 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 rest.

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 fo, To know the thing I am forbid to know: As thus, To study where I well may dine,

When I to feast expressly am forbid ;s 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.

exercised, omits the article to, before the three laft verbs, and from hence the obscurity arises. M. Mason.

s When I 10 feast expressly am forbid;] The copies all have: . When I to fast expressly am forbid;

But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time when he was forbid to fast, how was this studying to know what he was forbid to know ? Common sense, and the whole tenour of the context require us to read_feaft, or to make a change in the last word of the verse :-" When I to fast expressly am fore-bid ;" i. e. when I am enjoined before-hand to faft. THEOBALD. 6 If Audy's gain be thus, and this be so,] Read : " If study's gain be this ” Ritson.


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 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 was it blinded by.? Study is like the heaven's glorious fun,

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.'

6 - while truth the while

Doth falsely blind-] Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man by too close fudy may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words. Johnson. 1 Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,

And give him light that was it blinded by.] This is another par. Cage unnecessarily obscure : the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye npon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direftion or lode-far, (See Midsummer-Night's Dream) and give him light that was blinded by it.

Johnson. The old copies read—it was. Corrected by Mr. Steevens.

Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame;
And every godfather con give a name.] Tbe consequence, says

« PreviousContinue »