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Love's Labour's Lost

ACT II SCENE I The Park. A Pavilion and Tents at a Distance. 
BOYET, Lords, and other Attendants.
BOYET Now, madam, summon up your dearest spirits. 
 Consider who the king your father sends, 
 To whom he sends, and what's his embassy: 
 Yourself, held precious in the world's esteem,
 To parley with the sole inheritor 
 Of all perfections that a man may owe, 
 Matchless Navarre; the plea of no less weight 
 Than Aquitaine, a dowry for a queen. 
 Be now as prodigal of all dear grace
 As Nature was in making graces dear 10
 When she did starve the general world beside 
 And prodigally gave them all to you. 
PRINCESS Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean, 
 Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
 Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,

 Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues: 
 I am less proud to hear you tell my worth 
 Than you much willing to be counted wise 
 In spending your wit in the praise of mine.
 But now to task the tasker: good Boyet, 20
 You are not ignorant, all-telling fame 
 Doth noise abroad, Navarre hath made a vow, 
 Till painful study shall outwear three years, 
 No woman may approach his silent court.
 Therefore to's seemeth it a needful course, 
 Before we enter his forbidden gates, 
 To know his pleasure; and in that behalf, 
 Bold of your worthiness, we single you 
 As our best-moving fair solicitor.
 Tell him, the daughter of the King of France, 30
 On serious business, craving quick dispatch, 
 Importunes personal conference with his grace: 
 Haste, signify so much; while we attend, 
 Like humble-visag'd suitors, his high will.
BOYET Proud of employment, willingly I go. 
PRINCESS All pride is willing pride, and yours is so. -- 
 Exit BOYET. 
 Who are the votaries, my loving lords, 
 That are vow-fellows with this virtuous duke? 
First Lord Lord Longaville is one.
PRINCESS Know you the man? 
MARIA I know him, madam: at a marriage-feast, 40
 Between Lord Perigort and the beauteous heir 
 Of Jaques Falconbridge, solemnized 
 In Normandy, saw I this Longaville:
 A man of sovereign parts he is esteem'd; 
 Well fitted in arts, glorious in arms: 
 Nothing becomes him ill that he would well. 
 The only soil of his fair virtue's gloss, -- 
 If virtue's gloss will stain with any soil, --
 Is a sharp wit matched with too blunt a will; 
 Whose edge hath power to cut, whose will still wills 50
 It should none spare that come within his power. 
PRINCESS Some merry mocking lord, belike; is't so? 
MARIA They say so most that most his humours know.
PRINCESS Such short-lived wits do wither as they grow. 
 Who are the rest? 
KATHARINE The young Dumain, a well-accomplished youth, 
 Of all that virtue love for virtue loved: 
 Most power to do most harm, least knowing ill;
 For he hath wit to make an ill shape good, 
 And shape to win grace though he had no wit. 60
 I saw him at the Duke Alencon's once; 
 And much too little of that good I saw 
 Is my report to his great worthiness.
ROSALINE Another of these students at that time 
 Was there with him, if I have heard a truth. 
 Biron they call him; but a merrier man, 
 Within the limit of becoming mirth, 
 I never spent an hour's talk withal:
 His eye begets occasion for his wit; 
 For every object that the one doth catch 70
 The other turns to a mirth-moving jest, 
 Which his fair tongue, conceit's expositor, 
 Delivers in such apt and gracious words
 That aged ears play truant at his tales 
 And younger hearings are quite ravished; 
 So sweet and voluble is his discourse. 
PRINCESS God bless my ladies! are they all in love, 
 That every one her own hath garnished
 With such bedecking ornaments of praise? 
First Lord Here comes Boyet. 
 Re-enter BOYET. 
PRINCESS Now, what admittance, lord? 80
BOYET Navarre had notice of your fair approach; 
 And he and his competitors in oath
 Were all address'd to meet you, gentle lady, 
 Before I came. Marry, thus much I have learnt: 
 He rather means to lodge you in the field, 
 Like one that comes here to besiege his court, 
 Than seek a dispensation for his oath,
 To let you enter his unpeopled house. -- 
 Here comes Navarre. 
FERDINAND Fair princess, welcome to the court of Navarre. 90
PRINCESS Fair I give you back again; and welcome I have 
 not yet: the roof of this court is too high to be
 yours; and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine. 
FERDINAND You shall be welcome, madam, to my court. 
PRINCESS I will be welcome, then: conduct me thither. 
FERDINAND Hear me, dear lady; I have sworn an oath. 
PRINCESS Our Lady help my lord! he'll be forsworn.
FERDINAND Not for the world, fair madam, by my will. 
PRINCESS Why, will shall break it; will and nothing else. 
FERDINAND Your ladyship is ignorant what it is. 100
PRINCESS Were my lord so, his ignorance were wise, 
 Where now his knowledge must prove ignorance.
 I hear your grace hath sworn out house-keeping: 
 'Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my lord, 
 And sin to break it. 
 But pardon me. I am too sudden-bold: 
 To teach a teacher ill beseemeth me.
 Vouchsafe to read the purpose of my coming, 
 And suddenly resolve me in my suit. 
FERDINAND Madam, I will, if suddenly I may. 110
PRINCESS You will the sooner, that I were away; 
 For you'll prove perjured if you make me stay.
BIRON Did not I dance with you in Brabant once? 
ROSALINE Did not I dance with you in Brabant once? 
BIRON I know you did. 
ROSALINE How needless was it then to ask the question! 
BIRON You must not be so quick.
ROSALINE 'Tis long of you that spur me with such questions. 
BIRON Your wit's too hot, it speeds too fast, 't will tire. 
ROSALINE Not till it leave the rider in the mire. 120
BIRON What time o' day? 
ROSALINE The hour that fools should ask.
BIRON Now fair befall your mask! 
ROSALINE Fair fall the face it covers! 
BIRON And send you many lovers! 
ROSALINE Amen, so you be none. 
BIRON Nay, then will I be gone.
FERDINAND Madam, your father here doth intimate 
 The payment of a hundred thousand crowns; 
 Being but the one half of an entire sum 130
 Disbursed by my father in his wars. 
 But say that he or we, as neither have,
 Received that sum, yet there remains unpaid 
 A hundred thousand more; in surety of the which, 
 One part of Aquitaine is bound to us, 
 Although not valued to the money's worth. 
 If then the king your father will restore
 But that one half which is unsatisfied, 
 We will give up our right in Aquitaine, 
 And hold fair friendship with his majesty. 140
 But that, it seems, he little purposeth, 
 For here he doth demand to have repaid
 A hundred thousand crowns; and not demands, 
 On payment of a hundred thousand crowns, 
 To have his title live in Aquitaine; 
 Which we much rather had depart withal 
 And have the money by our father lent
 Than Aquitaine so gelded as it is. 
 Dear Princess, were not his requests so far 
 From reason's yielding, your fair self should make 150
 A yielding 'gainst some reason in my breast, 
 And go well satisfied to France again.
PRINCESS You do the king my father too much wrong 
 And wrong the reputation of your name, 
 In so unseeming to confess receipt 
 Of that which hath so faithfully been paid. 
FERDINAND I do protest I never heard of it;
 And if you prove it, I'll repay it back 
 Or yield up Aquitaine. 
PRINCESS We arrest your word. -- 
 Boyet, you can produce acquittances 160
 For such a sum from special officers
 Of Charles his father. 
FERDINAND Satisfy me so. 
BOYET So please your grace, the packet is not come 
 Where that and other specialties are bound: 
 To-morrow you shall have a sight of them.
FERDINAND It shall suffice me: at which interview 
 All liberal reason I will yield unto. 
 Meantime receive such welcome at my hand 
 As honour without breach of honour may 
 Make tender of to thy true worthiness: 170
 You may not come, fair princess, in my gates; 
 But here without you shall be so received 
 As you shall deem yourself lodged in my heart, 
 Though so denied fair harbour in my house. 
 Your own good thoughts excuse me, and farewell:
 To-morrow shall we visit you again. 
PRINCESS Sweet health and fair desires consort your grace! 
FERDINAND Thy own wish wish I thee in every place! 
BIRON Lady, I will commend you to mine own heart. 
ROSALINE Pray you, do my commendations; I would be glad to see it. 181
BIRON I would you heard it groan. 
ROSALINE Is the fool sick? 
BIRON Sick at the heart. 
ROSALINE Alack, let it blood. 
BIRON Would that do it good?
ROSALINE My physic says 'ay.' 
BIRON Will you prick't with your eye? 
ROSALINE No point, with my knife. 
BIRON Now, God save thy life! 190
ROSALINE And yours from long living!
BIRON I cannot stay thanksgiving. 
DUMAIN Sir, I pray you, a word: what lady is that same? 
BOYET The heir of Alencon, Katharine her name. 
DUMAIN A gallant lady. Monsieur, fare you well. 
LONGAVILLE I beseech you a word: what is she in the white?
BOYET A woman sometimes, an you saw her in the light. 
LONGAVILLE Perchance light in the light. I desire her name. 
BOYET She hath but one for herself; to desire that were a shame. 
LONGAVILLE Pray you, sir, whose daughter? 200
BOYET Her mother's, I have heard.
LONGAVILLE God's blessing on your beard! 
BOYET Good sir, be not offended. 
 She is an heir of Falconbridge. 
LONGAVILLE Nay, my choler is ended. 
 She is a most sweet lady.
BOYET Not unlike, sir, that may be. 
BIRON What's her name in the cap? 
BOYET Rosaline, by good hap. 
BIRON Is she wedded or no? 210
BOYET To her will, sir, or so.
BIRON You are welcome, sir: adieu. 
BOYET Farewell to me, sir, and welcome to you. 
 Exit BIRON. 
MARIA That last is Biron, the merry madcap lord: 
 Not a word with him but a jest. 
BOYET And every jest but a word.
PRINCESS It was well done of you to take him at his word. 
BOYET I was as willing to grapple as he was to board. 
MARIA Two hot sheeps, marry. 
BOYET And wherefore not ships? 
 No sheep, sweet lamb, unless we feed on your lips.
MARIA You sheep, and I pasture: shall that finish the jest? 220
BOYET So you grant pasture for me. 
 [ Offering to kiss her. ] 
MARIA Not so, gentle beast: 
 My lips are no common, though several they be. 
BOYET Belonging to whom?
MARIA To my fortunes and me. 
PRINCESS Good wits will be jangling; but, gentles, agree: 
 This civil war of wits were much better used 
 On Navarre and his book-men; for here 'tis abused. 
BOYET If my observation, which very seldom lies,
 By the heart's still rhetoric disclosed with eyes, 
 Deceive me not now, Navarre is infected. 
PRINCESS With what? 230
BOYET With that which we lovers entitle affected. 
PRINCESS Your reason?
BOYET Why, all his behaviors did make their retire 
 To the court of his eye, peeping thorough desire: 
 His heart, like an agate, with your print impress'd, 
 Proud with his form, in his eye pride express'd: 
 His tongue, all impatient to speak and not see,
 Did stumble with haste in his eyesight to be; 
 All senses to that sense did make their repair, 
 To feel only looking on fairest of fair: 
 Methought all his senses were lock'd in his eye, 
 As jewels in crystal for some prince to buy;
 Who, tendering their own worth from where they were glass'd, 
 Did point you to buy them, along as you pass'd: 
 His face's own margent did quote such amazes 
 That all eyes saw his eyes enchanted with gazes. 
 I'll give you Aquitaine and all that is his,
 An you give him for my sake but one loving kiss. 
PRINCESS Come to our pavilion: Boyet is disposed. 
BOYET But to speak that in words which his eye hath 
 disclosed. 250
 I only have made a mouth of his eye,
 By adding a tongue which I know will not lie. 
ROSALINE Thou art an old love-monger and speakest skilfully. 
MARIA He is Cupid's grandfather and learns news of him. 
ROSALINE Then was Venus like her mother, for her father is but grim. 
BOYET Do you hear, my mad wenches?
BOYET What then, do you see? 
ROSALINE Ay, our way to be gone. 
BOYET You are too hard for me. 

Love's Labour's Lost, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1
From Love's Labour's Lost. Ed. William Rolfe. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Abbreviations Used in the Notes

Act II.

Scene I.

1. Dearest. Best, highest. Cf. Temp. p. 124, note on The dear'st o' the loss.

2. Who. The reading of the quartos and 1st folio. Gr. 274.

6. Owe. See on i. 2. 100 above.

16. Chapmen. Here = sellers; but usually = buyers, as in T.and C. iv. I. 75. Johnson remarks: "cheap or cheaping was anciently the market; chapman therefore is marketman." Cf. [Wharburton.] Uttered is here used in the commercial sense of "made to pass from one hand to another." See R. and J. p. 212. The meaning of the passage is that the estimation of beauty depends not on the tongue of the seller, but on the eye of the buyer. Cf. Sonn. 102. 4.

25. To's seemeth. The reading of all the early eds.; changed by Pope to "to us seems." Cf. W. T. iv. 4. 65: "friends to's welcome," etc.

28. Bold of. Confident of, trusting in.

32. Importunes. Accented on the penult by S[hakespeare]. Cf. Ham. p. 190.

39. Lord Longaville. The early eds. omit Lord, which Capell supplied.

42. Jaques. Always a dissyllable in S. Cf. A. W. p. 160. Solemnized is here accented on the second syllable. See Gr. 491.

45. Well fitted in the arts. The reading of the 2d folio; the 1st folio and the quartos omit the. W[hite] conjectures "In arts well fitted." "Well fitted is well qualified" (Johnson).

57. Of all. That is, by all. Gr. 170.

60. Though he. The 1st folio misprints "she" for he.

62. And much too little, etc. "And my report of the good I saw is much too little compared to his great worthiness" (Heath). For to, see Gr. 187.

68. Hour's. A dissyllable; as often. Gr. 480.

72. Conceit's expositor. The exponent of his thought. For the use of conceit in S., see Rich. II. p. 181.

82. Competitors. Associates, partners. See T. N. p. 158, or A. and C. p. 175.

83. Address'd. Prepared, ready. See J. C. p. 156, or A. Y. L. p. 200.

88. Unpeopled. The reading of the folios. The 1st quarto has "impeded," which the Camb. editors adopt.

102. Where. Whereas; as often. See Lear, p. 179, or 1 Hen. IV. p, 187.

105. And sin to break it. Hanmer changes And to "Not;" but, as Johnson remarks, "the princess shows an inconvenience very frequently attending rash oaths, which, whether kept or broken, produce guilt."

109. Resolve. Answer. Cf. T. of S. iv. 2. 7: "What, master, read you? First resolve me that," etc.

118. Long of. Owing to, because of; as in M. N. D. iii. 2. 339: "all this coil is long of you," etc. It is generally printed "'long of" in the modern eds., but not in the early ones. Along of in this sense does not occur in S.

123. Fair befall, etc. Cf. Rich. III. i. 3. 282: "Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!" etc. Fair fall in the next line is used in the same sense; as in K. John, i. 1. 78, etc.

130. Being but the one half, etc. Cf. the reference to Monstrelet's Chronicle.

146. Depart. Part. Cf. K. John, ii. 1. 563: "Hath willingly departed with a part;" and see the note in our ed. p. 150.

148. Gelded. Maimed; a favourite figure with S., as Steevens notes. Cf. W. T. iv. 4. 623, Rich. II. ii. 1. 237, I Hen. IV. iii. 1. 110, etc.

167. I will. The reading of 1st quarto; "would I" in the other early eds.

173. As you. That you. Gr. 109.

174. Fair harbour. As in 1st quarto; the other early eds. have "farther" for fair. The Coll. MS. reads "free."

176. Shall we. The folios have "we shall."

179. Lady, I will, etc. The folios give this and the next five speeches of Biron to "Boy."

183. Fool. The reading of 1st quarto; the folios have "soule" or "soul."

189. No point. A play on the French negative point; as in v. 2. 278 below. No point was sometimes used as an emphatic negative. Steevens quotes The Shoemaker's Holiday, 1600: " No point. Shall I betray my brother?"

193. What lady, etc. Steevens remarks: "It is odd that S. should make Dumain inquire after Rosaline, who was the mistress of Biron, and neglect Katherine, who was his own. Biron behaves in the same manner. Perhaps all the ladies wore masks but the princess." That they did is evident from 123 above. D[yce]. believes that the masks have nothing to do with the matter, and that "Katherine" should be substituted for Rosaline in 194, and "Rosaline" for Katherine in 209 below.

198. Light in the light. See on i. 2. 115 above.

202. God's blessing on your beard! "That is, mayst thou have sense and seriousness more proportionate to thy beard, the length of which suits ill with such idle catches of wit!" (Johnson).

209. Rosaline. The early eds. have "Katherine;" corrected by S[inger].

217. Grapple. Like board, a figure taken from naval warfare. The play on ships and sheeps indicates that the words were pronounced nearly alike. We find the same quibble in C. of E. iv. 1. 93 (see our ed. p. 134) and T. G. of V. i. 1. 73.

222. Though several they be. A play on several, which meant an enclosed field in distinction from a common. Steevens quotes, among other examples of the word, Holinshed, Hist. of England: "not to take and pale in the commons, to enlarge their severalls." Though seems used somewhat peculiarly, and has been explained as = since. Cf. T. N. p. 145, note on Though it be. We prefer Staunton's explanation: "If we take both as places devoted to pasture — the one for general, the other for particular use — the meaning is easy enough. Boyet asks permission to graze on her lips. 'Not so,' she answers; 'my lips, though intended for the purpose, are not for general use.'"

233. Retire. For the noun, cf. K. John, pp. 145, 146, 178.

234. Thorough. Used by S. interchangeably with through. See M. of V. p. 144, note on Throughfares.

235. Like an agate. For the figures cut in agates, see Much Ado, p. 141, or 2 Hen. IV. p. 153.

237. All impatient to speak and not see, etc. "If we take not see to imply 'not see, because it is not the tongue's faculty to see,' the sentence means that his tongue hurried to his eyes that it might express what they beheld" (Clarke). A writer in the Edin. Mag. (Nov. 1786) explains it: "his tongue envied the quickness of his eyes, and strove to be as rapid in his utterance as they in their perception." Perhaps Johnson is right in making it — "being impatiently desirous to see as well as speak." D., after remarking that the passage has been "utterly misunderstood" by Johnson, paraphrases it thus: "His tongue, not able to endure the having merely the power of speaking without that of seeing."

240. To feel only looking. Apparently = to have no perception but that of looking, to have their own sense transformed to that of sight.

244. Point you. Direct you, suggest to you; the reading of 1st quarto. The folios have "point out."

245. Margent. Alluding to the practice of putting notes, etc., in the margin of books. See M. N. D. p. 142, or Ham. p. 272 (note on Edified by the margent).

249. Dipos'd. "Inclined to merriment" (Schmidt); "inclined to rather loose mirth, somewhat wantonly merry" (D.). Schmidt gives the word the same sense in v. 2. 468 below, and in T. N. ii. 3. 88. D. cites examples of it from Peele and B[eamount]. and F[letcher]. Boyet parries the reproof by taking the word in its ordinary meaning.

How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Love's Labour's Lost. Ed. William Rolfe. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1899. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2013. < >.

How to cite the sidebars:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Love's Labour's Lost. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2013. < >.

Shakespeare, William. Love's Labour's Lost. Ed. James Finch Royster. New York: MacMillan, 1912. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2013. < >


Notes on Love's Labour's Lost

microsoft images The earliest text of the comedy, the quarto edition printed in 1598, is significant because it marks the first time Shakespeare's name appeared on the title page of a published play (although it was not the first published work). It tells us that Love's Labour's Lost, "Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere," was performed in 1597 for Queen Elizabeth herself during the Christmas season. Such recognition must have filled Shakespeare with great pride and excitement. However, as we read in the sonnets, the temptations that come with success caused him much grief in his personal life. For more on this topic please see the analysis of Sonnet 111.

More to Explore

 Love's Labour's Lost: The Play with Commentary
 Quotations from Love's Labour's Lost
 Love's Labour's Lost: Plot Summary
 Shakespeare Quotations (by Theme)

 Introduction to Shakespeare's Sonnets
 Shakespearean Sonnet Style
 How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet
 The Rules of Shakespearean Sonnets
 The Contents of the Sonnets in Brief


Do You Agree? ... "The comedy points to a very pretty moral. A system of education which seeks to contradict the decrees of nature is founded upon a false notion of what true learning is and will be overthrown by the very forces that it opposes. There is no real learning without love" (James Finch Royster, in his edition of Love's Labour's Lost, p. xiii).


 Shakespeare's Treatment of Love in the Plays
 Shakespeare's Dramatic Use of Songs
 Shakespeare Quotations on Love
 Shakespeare Wedding Readings
 Shakespeare on Sleep