not generous

                           not gentle

                           not humble

Ted Nellen
August 1986


Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain,
Lest sorrow lend me words, and words express
The manner of my pity-wanting pain.
If I might teach thee wit, better it were,
Though not to love, yet, love, to tell me so;
As testy sick men, when their deaths be near,
No news but health from their physicians know.
For if I should despair, I should grow mad,
And in my madness might speak ill of thee:
Now this ill-wresting world is grown bad
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be.
  That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
  Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go    
  (Sonnet 140)

   If Shakespeare was a man for all ages as Dr. Johnson
proclaimed, then it is our duty to understand the age from which
Shakespeare wrote.  By our better understanding that age we can
better apply Dr. Johnson's adage and understand Shakespeare in our
   I am a schoolteacher, and I have become intrigued by the image
of the schoolmaster in Shakespeare's plays.  It is not a good one. 
Not only are we confronted with ludicrous schoolmasters in Love's
Labor's Lost, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Two Noble Kinsmen, but we
are also assaulted by derogatory references to schoolmasters, most
notably in King Lear: "Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that
can teach thy fool to lie." (I,iv,170)  Out of context that
statement can be quite damning and very devastating if that is
one's profession.  I became more sensitive to these damning
references and had to investigate further.
   The Schoolmaster by Roger Ascham, written in 1570, was the
handbook for all schoolmasters in Shakespeare's day.  In addition
and even more importantly, Francis Bacon was to write in 1605, The
Advancement of Learning for King James #1.  I will utilize these
two works as well as Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost (LLL) to
explore an aspect of the educational system - the schoolmaster.
   The first book of teaching in The Schoolmaster begins with an
important thought:
The faults,[an ill choice of words, (and 
right choice of words, saith Caesar, is the
foundation of eloquence) than, a wrong placing
of words: and lastly, an ill framing of the
sentence, with a perverse judgement, both
words and sentences] taking once root in the
young, be never or hardly plucked away in age.

   Thus it was Ascham's contention that it was the schoolmaster's
job and duty to instill good habits while the child was young
because it would be harder to change or to instill good habits in
him later.
   Consider what Francis Bacon had to say on the same subject in
his essay, "Custom and Education,"
...therefore, since custom is the principal
magistrate of man's life, let men by all means
endeavor to obtain good customs.  Certainly
custom is most perfect when it begineth in
young years; this we call education; which is,
in effect, but an early custom.  So we see in
languages, the tongue is more pliant to all
expressions and sounds, the joints are more
supple to all feats of activity and motions in
youth than afterwards.  For it is true that
late learners cannot so well take the ply;
except if it be in some minds, that have not
suffered themselves to fix, but have kept
continual amendment, which is exceeding rare.

   These thoughts that Ascham and Bacon so laboriously set down in
print Shakespeare presented in one line in 1596 from Berowne's
mouth in LLL: "So you, to study now it is too late." (I,i,108) 
Berowne is speaking to Ferdinand, King of Navarre, who has
proposed that he and three of his lords spend the next three years
in isolated study while obeying an oath that included no contact
with women, fasting, and little sleep.  The implication may be
that Berowne was suggesting that it was too late for them to begin
to study now after perhaps they had neglected their studies
   The common element in the writings of these three
contemporaries was the education of the young man before he became
too old to learn.  Upon further investigation of the former two
passages, I found a kinship to earlier writings.  And of course,
when we think of LLL, we cannot help but think of Plato's Academy.
   As suggested in Ascham's The Schoolmaster, the teacher should
be sure to teach "in a cheerful and plain manner, to have always
been gentle in correcting his scholars, and to be sure to praise
when the scholar succeeds."  Was Holofernes such a schoolmaster?
   And finally, it is important to draw upon the past for an
Elizabethan understanding of the scope of education from Bacon's 
Advancement of Learning and its account of the schoolmaster: "It
hath been ordinary with politic men to extenuate and disable
learned men by name of pedants." (135)  Bacon continued with a
list of pedants who have ably assisted the state and its leaders
and then claimed that it was the presence of these pedants that
caused the state to survive, not the leader.
   Holofernes appears in only three scenes in the play, beginning
with Act IV.  However, his presence as a major force in a key
subplot provided a comic mirror to the main plot, and he himself
was a foil to that main plot at his final exit.  When we first
meet Holofernes, he was discussing with his friend Nathaniel, the
curate, some verses, while Dull was listening.  Whose verses these
were we never know, but one may speculate that they belonged to
one of his pupils, indeed they may very well have been the work of
the pupil with whom he was going to dine that day.  Holofernes
became Shakespeare's archetype of the schoolmaster that
contradicted Ascham and Bacon. Why?
   Immediately we see how Holofernes was an abuser of the
The deer was, as you know, sanguis, in blood;
ripe as the pomewater, who now hangeth like a
jewel in the ear of coelo, the sky, the
welkin, the heaven; and anon falleth like a
crab on the face of terra, the soil, the land,
the earth. IV,ii,3-7

   Holofernes displayed an annoying habit of defining a word that
he had just used and also of providing many more synonyms than
needed, thereby demonstrating his verbosity: "sanguis, in blood;"
"ear of coelo, the sky, the welkin, the heaven;" and "face of
terra, the soil, the land, the earth."  Certainly, he could have
been more succinct.  Instead of simply saying: "I do not think
so," he had to say it in Latin.  This mixing of Latin and English
confused not only us but also Dull, whose name described the man. 
Instantly, we see that Holofernes did not follow the golden rule
of Ascham's when he spoke of Dull but not to him.
   Certainly the lack of respect Holofernes showed towards Dull
was going to come back to haunt him at the end of the play.  The
use of "barbarous" and all the "un-" words were not the most
gentle nor generous aspects attributed to Ascham's schoolmaster. 
He continued to mix Latin with English.  At this point we are
introduced to another pedantic characteristic, the repetition of a
phrase, "as it were" which was picked up and used by the curate,
(on line 24) and later by Armado.  The abuse he then levied
against Dull was not only uncalled for but cruel:  "Twice sod
simplicity, big coctus! O thou monster Ignorance, how deformed
dost thou look!"  Calling Dull "simplicity," "monster Ignorance,"
and "deformed" demonstrated the true nature of Holofernes.  As
previously mentioned, he shall get his comeuppance at the end of
the play.  "What goes around comes around" was a favorite theme of
   When Dull tried to join in by providing a riddle to challenge
their wit, Holofernes answered with a riddle that was explaineed
by Nathaniel and again by Holofernes.  Dull mistook "allusion" for
"collusion," and Holofernes mocked Dull's poor wit: "God comfort
thy capacity."  This was of course ironic because Holofernes made
his share of mistakes.
   While Dull was occupied with the age of the deer, Holofernes
was concerned with language and proceeded to display his pedantic
use of it to impress Nathaniel and to humor Dull:
Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal
epitaph on the death of the deer?  And to
humor the ignorant, call I the deer the
princess killed, a pricket. 47-49
   Holofernes addressed Nathaniel, again ignoring Dull, by not
being very civil to him, and began the use of alliteration, which
was a warning of what was to follow: "extemporal epitaph on the
death of a deer" and "princess killed a pricket."  "Extemporal" is
a key word here because Holofernes was suggesting that his
creative ability and his wit were natural.  Ironically he only
used it "to humor the ignorant."  The question had to be raised,
who was the ignorant?  Perhaps Holofernes used "pricket" because
it fit neatly into his verse and he was unable to readjust and, in
fact, needed fabrication in his creations and in his life.  He
delivered the epitaph with little encouragement from the curate:
I will something affect the letter, for it
argues facility
The preyful princess pierced and pricked a
pretty pleasing pricket;
Some say a sore, but a sore till now made sore
with shooting.
The dogs did yell. Put l to sore, the sorel
jumps from thicket;
Or pricket, sore, or else sorel.  The people
fall a hooting.
If sore be sore, then l to sore makes fifty
sores - o sore l!
Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but
one more l. (52-59)
   The forced verse, alliteration, and puns are very artificial,
which were reflective of Holofernes, who explained everything
before it happened.  "I will something affect the letter," and
then we are assaulted with his line of alliteration: "The preyful
princess pierced and pricked a pretty pleasing pricket."  This was
followed through by a forced pun on "sore" and then by a maze of
puns that served no purpose, made little sense, and was indeed "a
rare talent among dullards.
   Holofernes accepted the praise and quickly explained that it
was a gift suggesting that he was a natural:
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 venticle 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. (62-69)
   Now this passage reminds us of other sources, both classical
and contemporary.  When Holofernes spoke of "his gift,"
Shakespeare was referring to the Renaissance concept of natural
divination, which was explained more clearly by Bacon in his 
Advancement of Learning:
Divination hath been anciently and fitly
divided into artificial and natural...natural
is when the mind hath a presentation by an
internal power without the inducement of a
sign... The divination which springeth from
the internal nature of the soul, is grounded
upon the conceit that the mind, as a mirror or
glass, should take illumination from the
foreknowledge of God and spirits. (p.208)
   Holofernes was simply echoing the standard belief of the day by
saying his "wit" came from the gods.  The classical reference
Holofernes' "gift passage" was in the word "memory," which
referred directly to Socrates, who included "good memory" as one
of the seven attributes of good wit.  Bacon, too, elaborated on
this concept of memory in The Advancement of Learning:
This art of memory is but built upon two
intentions; the one is prenotion, the other
emblem.  Prenotion dischargeth the indefinite
seeking of that we would rememner,
anddirecteth us to seek in a narrow compass;
that is, somewhat that hath congruity with our
place in memory.  Emblem reduceth concepts
intellectual to images sensible, which strike
the memory more out of which axioms may be
drawn much better practice than that in use;
and besides which axioms, there are divers
more touching help of memory, not inferior to
them.  But I did in the beginning distinguish,
not to report those things defient, only ill
managed. (p. 219)

   Nathaniel appropriately replied that he shall give praise to
the Lord for sending such a man as Holofernes.  But Holofernes
slipped here, showing some of his baseness and hinting that the
curate's praise was premature:
Merercle, if their sons be ingenious, they
shall want no instruction; if their daughters
be capable, I will put it to them.  But vir
sapit qui pauca, loquitur (man is wise who
speaks little)  A soul feminine saluteth

   He wanted nothing of the sons, but in a sexual pun he did want
the daughters.  This was a slip that Bacon mentioned as one of the
faults within the educational system to James #1:
...another fault noted in learned men, that
they do many times fail to observe decency and
discretion in their behavior in their behavior
and carriage, and commit errors in small and
ordinary points of actions, so as the vulgar
sort of capacities do make a judgement of them
in greater manners, by that which they find
wanting in them smaller.  I refer them also to
that which Plato said of his master Socrates,
who was inwardly replenished with excellent
virtues and powers. (p.142)

   That Bacon referrred to Socrates was important because the
Latin phrase that I translated, "man is wise who speaks little,"
also echoed Socrates.  The irony was obvious.  Holofernes was
nothing like Socrates, yet he used his words.
   Up to this point we have seen a pedant who was an abuser of
language and of men, and was a lecher.  Certainly Holofernes was
not the ideal schoolmaster of Ascham's mold, and he was definitely
the opposite of what Bacon proposed a teacher should be.
   During this exchange, Dull had noticeably been silent.  It is
curious that just as the schoolmaster and the curate have been
talking about females, one appeared: "a feminine soul saluteth
us."  Enter Jaquenetta, the temptress of Costard and Armado,
accompanied by the former.  These two more proven illiterates who
shall bandy words with Holofernes.  One does not have to wonder
what Shakespeare was doing as he provided three illiterates for
Holofernes, the schoolmaster, to use as whetstones on which to
sharpen his wit.
   The pedantic Holofernes must correct Jaquenetta's pronunciation
of "person" and then insult Costard, who tried to display his
limited vulgar wit:
COSTARD: Marry, Master Schoolmaster, he that
is likest to a hogshead.
HOLOFERNES: Of piercing a hogshead! A good
lustre of conceit in a turf of earth, fire
enough for a flint, pearl enough for a swine -
'tis pretty, it is well. (81-85)

   Holofernes was giving a backhanded compliment to Costard's wit:
"A good lustre of conceit in a turf of earth."  But all Jaquenetta
wanted was for someone to read her the letter that she had
received from Armado.  Holofernes responded:
Facile precor gelida quando pecas omnia sub
umbra ruminat, and so forth.  Ah good old
Mantuan.  I may speak of thee as the traveler
doth of Venice.
  Venechia, Venechia.
  Que non te vede, que non te prechia.
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? (89-97)

   The opening Latin is misquoted, which should not happen.  In
fact this passage contained three gross mistakes, of which this
one was the first.  Another mistake occurred in the scales: "Ut"
did not belong.  And finally he forgot in what genre Horace wrote,
and in fact, seemed genuinely surprised that he did forget: "What
my soul!"  Instead of reading it himself, he turned it over to the
curate, who was corrected by Holofernes:
You find not the apostrophus, 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.  Ovidus Naso was the man; and
why indeed 'Naso' but for the smelling out the
odiferious flowers of fancy, the jerks of
invention?  Imitari is nothing. So doth the
hound his master, the ape is his keeper, the
tired horse his rider.  But damosella vcirgin,
was tis directed to you? (115-123)

   Not only did he belittle the reading, "You find not the
apostrophus, and so miss the accent," but also insulted the
writing by calling it a "canzonet" or ditty, while Horace's were
verses and his were epitaphs.  He was pedantically conscious of
the labeling of the poesy.  In addition, he criticized the verse
of Costard as lacking sophistication and of being inferior to his
and to Horace's because it imitated.
   But when he found out that it was Berowne who wrote the letter,
he sent Jaquenetta back to the King, knowing that he would create
some turmoil.  It was a malicious act that would come back to
haunt him.  Even Nathaniel was shocked at how easily Holofernes
had revealed Berowne's sin to the King:
Sir you have done this in the fear of God very
religiously; and as a certain father saith -

   Holofernes cut him off by saying that he was not interested in
hearing what a certain "father saith," which may have been a
parable that served as a warning regarding one's moral behavior. 
Since Holofernes was beyond repair and help, he was not interested
in the curate's advise and would rather return to talking about
the verse that they had been speaking at the beginning of the
scene.  Again the curate praised the verse and Holofernes, the
prince of one upmanship, invited him to dine with him at another
man's house so as to hear how "he will prove those verses to be
unlearned, neither savoring the poetry, wit nor invention."  We
never know whose poetry it is, but we can be sure that he will not
be pleasant in his criticism.  At first one may be taken aback by
his inviting a friend and Dull.  His exit line ironically
foreshadows a later event when he becomes the sport of the
gentles:  "The gentles are at their game, and we will to our
   Shakespeare's creation, Holofernes, had set the schoolmaster
profession back centuries in one short scene.  He had committed
every sin a schoolmaster should not.  He was abusive of language
and of man.  He was not cheerful nor plain nor gentle and he was
certainly not morally upright.
   Ascham had set down a catalogue of qualifications and ideals
that a schoolmaster should aspire towards.  Bacon examined the
educational system and made suggestions on fostering its
advancement.  Shakespeare presented in one short scene all those
qualities a schoolmaster should not possess.  Holofernes echoed
the famous account of a schoolmaster by Folly:
Let's look at those who have some reputation
for wisdom amongst mortals and seek the golden
bough as the saying goes.  Among them the
schoolmasters hold first place.  They would
surely be the most fortunate and wretched
class of men and the one most hateful to the
gods if I didn't mitigate the hardships of
their miserable profession by a pleasant kind
of madness.  For they're not merely exposed to
the 'five curses' that is, the five insults in
the Greek epigram, but to six hundred, always
famished and dirty as they are amidst their
hordes of boys in their school; though what I
call schools should rather be their 'thinking-
shop,' or better still, their treadmill and
torture chamber.  There they grow old with
toil and deaf with the clamour, wasting away
in the stench and filth.  Yet thanks to me, in
their own eyes they are first among men, and
enjoy considerable satisfaction when they
terrify the trembling voice and looks,
thrashing their wretched pupils with cane,
birch and strap, venting their fury in any way
they please like the famous ass of Cumae.  And
again, when they keep on bringing out their
feeble verses, their own hopeless efforts and
find no lack of admirers, of course they
believe the spirit of Virgil is reborn in
themselves.  But the funniest thing of all is
when there's an exchange of compliments and
appreciation, a mutual back-scratching.  Yet
if someone else slips up on a single word and
his sharper-eyed fellow happens to pounce on
it, 'Hercules,' what dramas, what fights to
the death, accusations and abuses! (Erasmus,
Ch 49)

   The last act begins after dinner.  While silent Dull was
listening, Holofernes and Nathaniel were reviewing the dinner
conversation and the character of Armado.  Soon they were joined
by Armado, Moth, and Costard, when the latter brought news that
the king wished them to provide entertainment, Holofernes
suggested a play on the Nine Worthies.
   Holofernes again began with a Latin misquotation.  The curate
praised God's wisdom for sending Holofernes and then proceeded to
describe how the schoolmaster was at dinner.  We know this is not
how he was.  In fact, he was probably a bore:
I praise God for you sir.  Your reasons at
dinner have been sharp and sententious,
pleasant without scurrility, witty without
affection, audacious without impudency,
learned without opinion, and strange without
heresy. V,i,2-6

   This is similar to what Folly had to say about the subject:
The wise man is a bore.  I had enough of him
long ago, and so my speech will move on to
more profitable themes. Ch 30

   At this point Nathaniel began to show that he had begun to pick
up some of Holofernes' habits:
I did converse this quondam day with a
companion of the King's, who is intitled,
nominated, or called, Don Arriano de Armado.

   The curate also mixed his Latin and English, and so saying the
same thing three or four times: "intitled, nominated, or called."
   Holofernes responded in Latin of course, and after close
examination of it, two observations can be made.  First, by using
the familiar "te" form with the curate, the second may be an
underhanded insult or just neglect in his syntax.  He said some
nasty things about Armado: "I know him as well as I know you." 
There are certainly two interpretations.  Since Holofernes had not
shown himself to be a kind or tactful man in his habit of
correcting or insulting others in the same breath, either he was
insulting the curate, his friend, or else he was an authority on
the character of Armado, which was most probably a lie.  All the
nasty things he had to say were certainly reflective of the  man
voicing them and even more ironic, as they will be echoed by
Armado in a later scene when he speaks about Holofernes.  There is
also an echo from the previous scene of the phrase "as it were":
Novi hominem tanquam te.  His humor is lofty,
his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed,
his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and
his generla behavoir vain, ridiculous, and
thrasonical.  He is too spruce, too affected,
too odd, as it were, too peregrinate, as I may
call it. 9-14

   Following this verbal attack, Holofernes was encouraged,
without much effort, to continue with his lambasting of Armado. 
The irony was again very obvious, in that the words could apply to
either the giver or receiver:
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity
finer than the staple of his argument.  I
abhor such fanatical phantasimes, such
insociable and point devices companions; such
rackers of orthography as to speak 'dout' fine
when he should say 'doubt;' 'det' when he
should pronounce 'debt' d, e, b, t, not d, e,
t.  He clepeth a calf 'cauf;' 'half,' 'hauf;'
neighbor vocatur 'nebor,' neigh abbreviated
'ne.'  This is abhominable, which he would
call 'abominable.'  It insinuateth me of
insanie.  Ne intelligis, domine?  To make
frantic, lunatic. 16-25

   Holofernes too used and abused language, and his speeches were
more verbose than the argument was sound.  His pedantic behavior
made him a most "point device companion," and he, too,
mispronounced Latin words as Armado mispronounced English words.
   An enjoyable trait quite common in Shakespeare occurred when
characters on stage spoke about another character who suddenly
appeared.  Well, that is the case here, just as it was in the
previous scene with the appearance of Jaquenetta.  Enter Armado
with Moth and Costard.  Holofernes and Nathaniel exchanged glee,
in Latin, over Armado's appearance.  In their salutation
Holofernes corrected Armado on his use of "Chirrah" instead of
"sirrah."  In fact, Armado was speaking to someone else, which
demonstrated Holofernes' rude behavior.  However, this salutation
occurred between two illiterates, Moth and Costard:
MOTH: They have been at a great feast of
languages and stolen the scraps.
COSTARD: O, they have lived long on the alms-
basket of words.  I marvel thy master hath not
eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so
long as honorificabilitudinitatibus.  Thou art
easier swallowed than a flap-dragon.
MOTH:  Peace!  The peal begins.

   Moth had hit a very important chord here when he said: "They
have been to a great feast of languages and stolen the scraps." 
Little did he know that this was the most important appraisal of
Holofernes in the play.  Holofernes had had a very proper and
correct education, "a great feast of languages," and he had
neither ingested nor digested the meal.  Instead he had "stolen
the scraps" and come away with nothing.  But as Moth suggested,
"let us listen to the clatter of tongues."  It was strange and
ironic that so much wit was wasted on the debasing of a man rather
than on his elevation.  This very theme dominated the main plot,
Bacon epistled to James #1, and Folly's soliloquoy.
   An aspect of Holofernes' character heretofore unseen shall be
exposed by these illiterates and then again will be a crucial
point in his last scene.  Holofernes was easily baited.  Costard
did this with a very simple and juvenile alphabet riddle.  As 
Holofernes became frustrated, he turned to his favorite weapon -
the insult - and then he was duped by Moth:
HOLOFERNES: Quis, quis, thou consonant?
MOTH: The last of the five vowels, if you
repeat them; or the fifth if I.
HOLOFERNES: I will repeat them: a, e, i-
MOTH: The sheep. The other two concludes it-
o, u. 49-53

   Moth's response to the initial insult had him the winner
because the "last vowel" and the "fifth vowel" are the same.  As
Holofernes began reciting them, Moth finished them up by insulting
Holofernes with his own.  Today, we say to another when flipping a
coin: "Heads I win; tails you lose."
   Armado relished in his page's wit and the vanquishing of
...a sweet touch, a quick venew of wit!  Snip,
snap, quick and home!  It rejoiceth my
intellect. True wit! 54-56

   It is interesting to note that Armado uses military metaphors. 
Of course, Moth was delighted by the praise and added insult to
injury: Offered by a child to an old man - which is wit-old." 
Holofernes was flustered, could not understand the metaphor, and
tried to dismiss it all when he was unknowingly saved by Costard
as he "smells false Latin."  Armado had not the time for this as
he had to get down to cases with Holofernes on a matter from the
King.  Even though Armado did not like Holofernes, he seemed to
consider him an equal:  "We will be singled from the barbarous." 
A verbal duel ensued over which was the correct word "mountain" or
"hill" and in another attempt to separate himself from the
barbarous, Holofernes, used language not used by the "rude
multitude" such as "the posterior of the day."  Holofernes assured
him that "afternoon" was okay to use:  "The word is well culled,
chose, sweet, and apt."  Again he had to say the same thing four
   Ironically, after Armado had explained the chore using
Holofernes's expression "as it were" Holofernes replied with
Armado's affectation: "posterior of the day." Were they mocking
one another or incorporating each other's affectations?
   Holofernes seemed to take over and explained that their pageant
shall be the Nine Worthies.  Just as Holofernes had shown himself
adept at picking up on other people's mistakes, he had met his
foil in Armado.  Armado was quick and tactless in pointing out
Holofernes' shortcomings:  "Pardon, sir - error," and "Shall I
tell you a thing."  Holofernes could not believe what was
happening as he seemed to be losing control.  Armado was beating
him as seen by the former baiting the latter with a pedantic royal
response: "We attend."  His way of silencing Armado was to suggest
that he would hear but not listen because he was going to do what
he wanted to do anyway.  This will come out later when Armado
complained to the King prior to the performance.  As was typical
of Holofernes when in a tight spot, he turned to Dull, who had
been his ever-present silent self, and said: "Thou hast spoken no
word all this while."  Dull's reponse echoed Moth's earlier
pertinent lines when he responded with: "Nor understand none
neither, sir."  Amidst all the abuse of language, verbose riddles,
and verbal wordplay, this triple negative said it all.  Holofernes
took his exit on an echo of the previous scene: "To our sport." 
He had used others for his sport, and it was not long before he
should be theirs.
   Very quickly, prior to the players' performance, Armado
appeared before the King: "for a brace of words."  As an apology,
Armado wished to separate himself from the performance and gave
his reason as Holofernes:  "I protest, the schoolmaster is
exceeding fantastical - too - too vain - but we will put it, as
they say, to fortune de la guerra."  Armado spoke of Holofernes in
a manner similar to that used by the latter of the former earlier. 
Also, it is interesting to note the use of another war term,
   The setting was a classroom of sorts, with scholars as the
audience and Holofernes as the director of the play.  And the
truth of this man's life and career would unfold tragically before
us.  The boys in the audience were terrible.  They were the
rudest, most juvenile, and obnoxious audience.  Perhaps Folly had
an explanation:
No one will deny the truth of this who
considers the nonsense a man talks with a
woman and the silly things he does whenever he
wants to enjoy the pleasure she gives.  So
there you have the source of life's first and
foremost delight.(Ch 17)

   The play within the play had begun, the first two players have
been unceremoniously driven from the stage.  Now it was
Holofernes' turn.  He did well with the Hercules segment.  But
when he announced his role as Judas, he was mistaken for Judas
Iscariot and unmercifully tormented.  Holofernes made a mistake as
an actor, which was to speak to the audience:  "What mean you,
sir?" (V,ii,597)  Unlike Nathaniel, Holofernes left with some
dignity by retaliating:  "This is not generous, not gentle, not
humble."  The stage directions say it all:  "retires."  He too had
been broken, and we shall see no more of him in the play.  But
before he is gone from our memory, the Princess utters an
appropriate epitaph, "Alas, poor Maccabaeus, how hath he been
   Holofernes, like an animal, had been caught by the simplest of
schoolboy pranks, baiting.  He should have known better.  But let
us not forget his last line: "Not generous, not gentle, not
humble."  It was not only ironic that Holofernes should make this
remark, but that he should finally be brought down by the very
weapon he himself had used on so many of his own victims -
ungenerous, ungentle, and unhumble use of language.  A very
appropriate war phrase applies here: "Live by the sword; die by
the sword."  Holofernes' end was poetic justice.
   Throughout the analysis of the schoolmaster, Holofernes, we
have encountered a man with a rapier-like wit who was in constant
war-like conflicts with other characters.  He used his tongue as a
soldier used a sword.  In fact, there were numerous instances of
'tongue' as a metaphor for sword in the play.  But in this "set of
wits," as the Princess referred to this kind of wordplay,
Holofernes, the schoolmaster, the learned man was always the
loser.  Holofernes was the antithesis of Ascham's model
schoolmaster.  Holofernes epitomized the deficiencies that Bacon
found in the educational system.  Holofernes was perhaps the
sophist with whom Socrates would have had so much fun.  Holofernes
may have been the schoolmaster of whom Folly spoke.  Holofernes
should be Platonic in character.  All is lost.

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on how to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned's wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and born of thee.
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
  But thou art all my art and dost advance
  As high as learning my rude ignorance.
  (Sonnet 78)


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