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

Folly in fools bears not so strong a note
As fool'ry in the wise when wit doth dote;
Since all the power thereof it doth apply
To prove, by wit, worth in simplicity.

[Enter BOYET.]

Here comes Boyet, and mirth is in his face.

O! I am stabb'd with laughter! Where's her Grace?

Thy news, Boyet?

Prepare, madam, prepare! —
Arm, wenches, arm! encounters mounted are
Against your peace: Love doth approach disguis'd,
Armed in arguments; you'll be surpris'd:
Muster your wits; stand in your own defence;
Or hide your heads like cowards, and fly hence.

Saint Denis to Saint Cupid! What are they
That charge their breath against us? Say, scout, say.

Under the cool shade of a sycamore
I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour;
When, lo, to interrupt my purpos'd rest,
Toward that shade I might behold addrest
The king and his companions: warily
I stole into a neighbour thicket by,
And overheard what you shall overhear;
That, by and by, disguis'd they will be here.
Their herald is a pretty knavish page,
That well by heart hath conn'd his embassage:
Action and accent did they teach him there;
'Thus must thou speak' and 'thus thy body bear,'
And ever and anon they made a doubt
Presence majestical would put him out;
'For' quoth the King 'an angel shalt thou see;
Yet fear not thou, but speak audaciously.'
The boy replied 'An angel is not evil;
I should have fear'd her had she been a devil.'
With that all laugh'd, and clapp'd him on the shoulder,
Making the bold wag by their praises bolder.
One rubb'd his elbow, thus, and fleer'd, and swore
A better speech was never spoke before.
Another with his finger and his thumb
Cried 'Via! we will do't, come what will come.'
The third he caper'd, and cried 'All goes well.'
The fourth turn'd on the toe, and down he fell.
With that they all did tumble on the ground,
With such a zealous laughter, so profound,
That in this spleen ridiculous appears,
To check their folly, passion's solemn tears.

But what, but what, come they to visit us?

They do, they do, and are apparell'd thus,
Like Muscovites or Russians, as I guess.
Their purpose is to parley, court, and dance;
And every one his love-feat will advance
Unto his several mistress; which they'll know
By favours several which they did bestow.

And will they so? The gallants shall be task'd:
For, ladies, we will every one be mask'd;
And not a man of them shall have the grace,
Despite of suit, to see a lady's face.
Hold, Rosaline, this favour thou shalt wear,
And then the king will court thee for his dear;
Hold, take thou this, my sweet, and give me thine,
So shall Berowne take me for Rosaline.
And change you favours too; so shall your loves
Woo contrary, deceiv'd by these removes.

Come on, then, wear the favours most in sight.

But, in this changing, what is your intent?

The effect of my intent is to cross theirs;
They do it but in mocking merriment;
And mock for mock is only my intent.
Their several counsels they unbosom shall
To loves mistook, and so be mock'd withal
Upon the next occasion that we meet
With visages display'd to talk and greet.

But shall we dance, if they desire us to't?

No, to the death, we will not move a foot,
Nor to their penn'd speech render we no grace;
But while 'tis spoke each turn away her face.

Why, that contempt will kill the speaker's heart,
And quite divorce his memory from his part.

Therefore I do it; and I make no doubt
The rest will ne'er come in, if he be out.
There's no such sport as sport by sport o'erthrown,
To make theirs ours, and ours none but our own:
So shall we stay, mocking intended game,
And they well mock'd, depart away with shame.

[Trumpet sounds within.]

The trumpet sounds: be mask'd; the maskers come.

[The LADIES mask.]

[Enter BLACKAMOORS with music; MOTH, the KING, BEROWNE,
LONGAVILLE, and DUMAINE in Russian habits, and masked.]

'All hail, the richest heauties on the earth!'

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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