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ACT I. SCENE I.
Navarre. A Park, with a Palace in it. 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 keenedge, 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 Longaville, 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,
LONG. I am resolv'd: 'tis but a three years' fast; The mind shall 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 slaves: To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die; With all these living in philosophy.3
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 strict 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 seen 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:
your deep oath,] The old copies have oaths. Corrected by Mr. Steevens. MAlone.
With all these living in philosophy.] 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.
By all these, Dumain means the King, Biron, &c. to whom may be supposed to point, and with whom he is going to live in philosophical retirement. A. C.
O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep;
KING. Your oath is pass'd to pass away from these.
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 alcommon sense?
KING. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense.
3 Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.] The words as they stand, will express the meaning intended, if pointed thus: Not to see ladies-study-fast-not sleep.
Biron is recapitulating the several tasks imposed upon him, viz. not to see ladies, to study, to fast, and not to sleep: but Shakspeare, by a common poetical licence, though, in this passage injudiciously exercised, omits the article to, before the three last verbs, and from hence the obscurity arises. M. MASON.
When I to feast expressly am forbid ;] The copies all have :
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-feast, 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 fast. THEObald.
Or, having sworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
KING. These be the stops that hinder study quite, And train our intellects to vain delight.
BIRON. Why, all delights are vain; but that most
Which, with pain purchas'd, doth inherit pain:
To seek the light of truth; while truth the while
Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile:
Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
• If study's gain be thus, and this be so,] Read: If study's gain be this. RITSON.
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 study may read himself blind; which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words. JOHNSON.
Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
And give him light that was it blinded by.] This is another passage unnecessarily obscure; the meaning is: that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lode-star, (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.
Study is like the heaven's glorious sun,
Save base authority from others' books.
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.
KING. How well he's read, to reason against reading!
DUM. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!9
LONG. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.
BIRON. The spring is near, when green geese are a breeding.
DUM. How follows that?
• Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame;
And every godfather can give a name.] The consequence, says Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much knowledge gives only fame, a name which every godfather can give likewise. JOHNSON.
9 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!] To proceed is an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded bachelor in physick. The sense is, he has taken his degrees in the art of hindering the degrees of others. JOHNSON.
So, in a quotation by Dr. Farmer: "such as practise to proceed in all evil wise, till from Batchelors in Newgate, by degrees they proceed to be Maisters, and by desert be preferred at Tyborne." I cannot ascertain the book from which this passage was transcribed. STEEVENS.
I don't suspect that Shakspeare had any academical term in contemplation, when he wrote this line. He has proceeded well, means only, he has gone on well. M. MASON,