Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Love's Labour's Lost > Act IV, scene II
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[Enter HOLOFERNES, SIR NATHANIEL, and DULL]
SIR NATHANIEL: Very reverend sport, truly; and done in the testimony
of a good conscience.
HOLOFERNES: The deer was, as you know, sanguis, in blood; ripe
as the pomewater, who now hangeth like a jewel in
the ear of caelo, the sky, the welkin, the heaven;
and anon falleth like a crab on the face of terra,
the soil, the land, the earth.
SIR NATHANIEL: Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are sweetly
varied, like a scholar at the least: but, sir, I
assure ye, it was a buck of the first head.
HOLOFERNES: Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.
DULL: 'Twas not a haud credo; 'twas a pricket.
HOLOFERNES: Most barbarous intimation! yet a kind of
insinuation, as it were, in via, in way, of
explication; facere, as it were, replication, or
rather, ostentare, to show, as it were, his
inclination, after his undressed, unpolished,
uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather,
unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion, to
insert again my haud credo for a deer.
DULL: I said the deer was not a haud credo; twas a pricket.
HOLOFERNES: Twice-sod simplicity, his coctus!
O thou monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!
SIR NATHANIEL: Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred
in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he
hath not drunk ink: his intellect is not
replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in
the duller parts:
And such barren plants are set before us, that we
thankful should be,
Which we of taste and feeling are, for those parts that
do fructify in us more than he.
For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet, or a fool,
So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in a school:
But omne bene, say I; being of an old father's mind,
Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.
DULL: You two are book-men: can you tell me by your wit
What was a month old at Cain's birth, that's not five
weeks old as yet?
HOLOFERNES: Dictynna, goodman Dull; Dictynna, goodman Dull.
DULL: What is Dictynna?
SIR NATHANIEL: A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon.
HOLOFERNES: The moon was a month old when Adam was no more,
And raught not to five weeks when he came to
The allusion holds in the exchange.
DULL: 'Tis true indeed; the collusion holds in the exchange.
HOLOFERNES: God comfort thy capacity! I say, the allusion holds
in the exchange.
DULL: And I say, the pollusion holds in the exchange; for
the moon is never but a month old: and I say beside
that, 'twas a pricket that the princess killed.
HOLOFERNES: Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal epitaph
on the death of the deer? And, to humour the
ignorant, call I the deer the princess killed a pricket.
SIR NATHANIEL: Perge, good Master Holofernes, perge; so it shall
please you to abrogate scurrility.
HOLOFERNES: I will something affect the letter, for it argues facility.
The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty
Some say a sore; but not a sore, till now made
sore with shooting.
The dogs did yell: put L to sore, then sorel jumps
Or pricket sore, or else sorel; the people fall a-hooting.
If sore be sore, then L to sore makes fifty sores
Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one more L.
SIR NATHANIEL: A rare talent!
DULL: [Aside] If a talent be a claw, look how he claws
him with a talent.
HOLOFERNES: This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a
foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures,
shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions,
revolutions: these are begot in the ventricle of
memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and
delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. But the
gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am
thankful for it.
SIR 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 ingenuous, 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. An 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 of conceit in a
tuft of earth; fire enough for a flint, pearl enough
for a swine: 'tis pretty; it is well.
JAQUENETTA: Good master Parson, 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;
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?
SIR NATHANIEL: Ay, sir, and very learned.
HOLOFERNES: Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse; lege, domine.
SIR NATHANIEL: [Reads]
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
Study his bias leaves and makes his book thine eyes,
Where all those pleasures live that art would
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 apostraphas, 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 odouriferous 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 Biron, one of the strange
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, BIRON.' Sir Nathaniel, this
Biron 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]
SIR NATHANIEL: Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very
religiously; and, as a certain father saith,--
HOLOFERNES: Sir tell me not of the father; I do fear colourable
colours. But to return to the verses: did they
please you, Sir Nathaniel?
SIR 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.
SIR NATHANIEL: And thank you too; for society, saith the text, is
the happiness of life.
HOLOFERNES: And, certes, the text most infallibly concludes it.
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.
LOVE'S LABOURS LOST