Love's Labour's Lost By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 2

NATHANIEL.
Sir, I praise the Lord for you, and so may my parishioners; for
their sons are well tutored by you, and their daughters profit
very greatly under you: you are a good member of the
commonwealth.

HOLOFERNES.
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 COSTARD.]

JAQUENETTA.
God give you good morrow, Master parson.

HOLOFERNES.
Master parson, quasi pers-on. And if one should be
pierced, which is the one?

COSTARD.
Marry, Master schoolmaster, he that is likest to a hogshead.

HOLOFERNES.
Piercing a hogshead! A good lustre or conceit in a turf
of earth; fire enough for a flint, pearl enough for a swine; 'tis
pretty; it is well.

JAQUENETTA.
Good Master parson [Giving a letter to NATHANIEL.], 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.

HOLOFERNES.
'Fauste, 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:
— Venetia, Venetia,
Chi non ti vede, non ti pretia.
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?

NATHANIEL.
Ay, sir, and very learned.

HOLOFERNES.
Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse; lege, domine.

NATHANIEL.
If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
Ah! never faith could hold, if not to beauty vow'd;
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.

HOLOFERNES.
You find not the apostrophas, and so miss the accent:
let me supervise the canzonet. 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?

JAQUENETTA.
Ay, sir; from one Monsieur Berowne, one of the strange
queen's lords.

HOLOFERNES.
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
writing 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.

JAQUENETTA.
Good Costard, go with me. Sir, God save your life!

COSTARD.
Have with thee, my girl.

[Exeunt COSTARD and JAQUENETTA.]

NATHANIEL.
Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very religiously;
and, as a certain Father saith —

HOLOFERNES.
Sir, tell not me of the Father; I do fear colourable colours. But
to return to the verses: did they please you, Sir Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL.
Marvellous well for the pen.

HOLOFERNES.
I do dine to-day 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 ben
venuto; where I will prove those verses to be very unlearned,
neither savouring of poetry, wit, nor invention. I beseech your
society.

NATHANIEL.
And thank you too; for society, — saith the text, — is the
happiness of life.

HOLOFERNES.
And certes, the text most infallibly concludes it.
[To DULL] 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.

[Exeunt.]

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Costard has to deliver two notes — one is a love letter, and the other is




Quiz