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  • Title: Love's Labor's Lost (Quarto 1, 1598)
  • Editor: Timothy Billings

  • Copyright Timothy Billings. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Timothy Billings
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Love's Labor's Lost (Quarto 1, 1598)

    Enter the Princesse, a Forrester, her Ladyes,
    and her Lordes
    975Quee. Was that the king that spurd his horse so hard,
    Against the steepe vp rising of the hill?
    Forr. I know not, but I thinke it was not he.
    Quee. Who ere a was, a showd a mounting minde.
    Well Lords, to day we shall haue our dispatch,
    980Ore Saterday we will returne to Fraunce.
    Then Forrester my friend, Where is the Bush
    That we must stand and play the murtherer in?
    Forr. Heereby vpon the edge of yonder Coppice,
    A Stand where you may make the fairest shoote.
    985Qnee. I thanke my Beautie, I am faire that shoote,
    And thereupon thou speakst the fairest shoote.
    Forr. Pardon me Madam, for I meant not so.
    Quee. What, what? First praise mee, and againe say no.
    O short liu'd pride. Not faire? alacke for woe
    990For. Yes Madam faire.
    Quee. Nay, neuer paint me now,
    Where faire is not, praise cannot mend the brow.
    Heere (good my glasse) take this for telling trew:
    Faire payment for foule wordes, is more then dew.
    995For. No thing but faire is that which you inherrit.
    Quee. See see, my beautie wilbe sau'd by merrit.
    O heresy in faire, fit for these dayes,
    A giuing hand, though fowle, shall haue faire praise.
    But come, the Bow: Now Mercie goes to kill,
    1000And shooting well, is then accounted ill:
    Thus will I saue my Credite in the shoote,
    Not wounding, pittie would not let me doote.
    If wounding then it was to shew my skill,
    That more for praise, then purpose meant to kill.
    1005And out of question so it is sometimes:
    Glorie growes guyltie of detested crimes,
    When for Fames sake, for praise an outward part,
    We bend to that, the working of the hart.
    As I for praise alone now seeke to spill
    1010The poore Deares blood, that my hart meanes no ill.
    Boy. Do not curst wiues hold that selfe-soueraigntie
    Onely for praise sake, when they striue to be
    Lords ore their Lordes?
    Quee. Onely for praise, and praise we may afford,
    1015To any Lady that subdewes a Lord.
    Enter Clowne.
    Boyet, Here comes a member of the common wealth.
    Clo. God dig-you-den al, pray you which is the head lady?
    1020Que. Thou shalt know her fellow by the rest that haue no (heads.
    Clow. Which is the greatest Ladie, the highest?
    Quee. The thickest, and the tallest.
    Clow. The thickest, and the tallest: it is so, trueth is trueth.
    1025And your waste Mistrs were as slender as my wit,
    One a these Maides girdles for your waste should be fit.
    Are not you the chiefe woman? You are the thickest heere.
    Quee. Whats your will sir? Whats your will?
    Clow. I haue a Letter from Monsier Berowne,
    1030to one Ladie Rosaline.
    Que. O thy letter, thy letter: He's a good friend of mine.
    Stand a side good bearer. Boyet you can carue,
    Breake vp this Capon.
    1035Boyet I am bound to serue.
    This letter is mistooke: it importeth none heere.
    It is writ to Iaquenetta.
    Quee. We will reade it, I sweare.
    Breake the necke of the Waxe, and euery one giue eare.
    1040Boyet reedes.
    BY heauen, that thou art faire, is most infallible:
    true that thou art beautious, trueth it selfe that
    thou art louelie: more fairer then faire, beautifull then beau-
    tious, truer then trueth it selfe: haue comiseration on thy
    heroicall Vassall. The magnanimous and most illustrate
    1045King Cophetua set eie vpon the pernicious and indubitate
    Begger Zenelophon: and he it was that might rightly say,
    Veni, vidi, vici: Which to annothanize in the vulgar, O base
    and obscure vulgar; videliset, He came, See, and ouercame:
    1050He came, one; see, two; couercame, three. Who came? the
    King. Why did he come? to see. Why did he see? to ouer-
    come. To whom came he? to the Begger. What saw he? the
    Begger. Who ouercame he? the Begger. The conclusion is
    victorie: On whose side? the King: the captiue is inricht, on
    1055whose side? the Beggers. The catastrophe is a Nuptiall, on
    whose side? the Kinges: no, on both in one, or one in both.
    I am the King (for so standes the comparison) thou the Beg-
    ger, for so witnesseth thy lowlines. Shall I commande thy
    1060loue? I may. Shall I enforce thy loue? I coulde. Shall I en-
    treate thy loue? I will. What, shalt thou exchange for raggs
    roabes, for tittles tytles, for thy selfe, mee. Thus expecting
    thy replie, I prophane my lippes on thy foote, my eyes on
    thy picture, and my hart on thy euerie part.
    Thine in the dearest designe of industri,
    Don Adriana de Armatho.
    Thus dost thou heare the nemean Lion roare,
    Gainst thee thou Lambe, that standest as his pray:
    1070Submissiue fall his princely feete before,
    And he from forrage will incline to play.
    But if thou striue (poore soule) what art thou then?
    Foode for his rage, repasture for his den.
    Quee. What plume of fethers is he that indited this letter?
    1075What vaine? What Wethercock? Did you euer heare better?
    Boy. I am much deceiued, but I remember the stile.
    Quee. Els your memorie is bad, going ore it erewhile.
    Boy. This Armado is a Spaniard that keepes here in court,
    1080A Phantasime a Monarcho, and one that makes sport
    To the Prince and his Booke-mates.
    Quee. Thou fellow, a worde.
    Who gaue thee this letter?
    Clow. I tolde you, my Lord.
    1085Quee. To whom shouldst thou giue it?
    Clow. From my Lord to my Ladie.
    Quee. From which Lord, to which Ladie?
    Clow. From my Lord Berowne, a good Maister of mine,
    To a Ladie of France, that he calde Rosaline.
    1090Quee. Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come Lords away.
    Here sweete, put vp this, twilbe thine annother day.
    Boy. Who is the shooter? Who is the shooter?
    Rosa. Shall I teach you to know.
    1095Boy. I my continent of beautie.
    Rosa. Why she that beares the Bow. Finely put off.
    Boy. My Lady goes to kill hornes, but if thou marrie,
    hang me by the necke, if horns that yeere miscarrie.
    Finely put on.
    1100Rosa. Well then I am the shooter.
    Boy. And who is your Deare?
    Rosa. If we choose by the hornes, your selfe come not
    neare. Finely put on in deede.
    Maria. You still wrangle with her Boyet, and she strikes
    1105at the brow.
    Boyet. But she her selfe is hit lower: Haue I hit her now?
    Rosa. Shall I come vpon thee with an olde saying, that
    was a man when King Pippen of Frannce was a litle boy, as
    1110touchiug the hit it.
    Boy. So I may answere thee with one as olde that was a
    woman when queene Guinouer of Brittaine was a litle wench
    as toching the hit it.
    Thou canst not hit it, hit it, hit it,
    1115Thou canst not hit it my good man.
    And I cannot, cannot, cannot: and I cannot, an other (can,
    Clo. By my troth most plesant, how both did fit it.
    Mar. A marke marueilous wel shot, for they both did hit.
    Bo. A mark, O mark but that mark: a mark saies my Lady.
    Let the mark haue a prick in't, to meate at, if it may be.
    Mar. Wide a'the bow hand, yfaith your hand is out.
    1125Clo. Indeed a'must shoot nearer, or hele neare hit the clout.
    Boy. And if my hand be out, then belike your hand is in.
    Clo. Then will she get the vpshoot by cleauing the is in.
    Ma. Come come, you talke greasely, your lips grow fowle.
    Cl. Shes to hard for you at pricks, sir challeng her to bowle
    1135Bo. I feare too much rubbing: good night my good owle.
    Clo. By my soule a Swaine, a most simple Clowne.
    Lord, Lord, how the Ladies and I haue put him downe.
    O my troth most sweete iestes, most inconic vulgar wit,
    1140When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenly as it were, so fit.
    Armatho ath toothen side, o a most daintie man,
    To see him walke before a Lady, and to beare her Fann.
    To see him kisse his hand, & how most sweetly a wil sweare:
    And his Page atother side, that handfull of wit,
    Ah heauens, it is most patheticall nit.
    Sowla, sowla. Exeunt. Shoot within.