THE CLOWN AS A LETTER-CARRIER
Why is it in keeping with the Play that Berowne should be the first of
the Lords to be foresworn?
In making Armado the keeper of Costard, the Clown's breaking of the
vow has already been satirized by the King's own act. Armado now takes
his next turn at making Costard's sentence a hollow mockery by sending
him as a messenger to Jacquenetta. How is this first letter-carrying
made to lead to a second, doubling the mockery and promising new
Has Moth anything to do with the scheme of the Play?
Who is the "Boy" of whom Berowne speaks repeatedly in his speech
concluding this Act? What is the bearing of the reference to him upon
How is the joke of the rhyme in which the Boy got the better of his
Master by selling him the "Goose" to be explained? It is commonly
supposed that the interpolation from the Quarto, i.e., the lines put
between brackets in the "First Folio Edition" (p. 31) are necessary.
It is better however, to leave them out, as they are left out in the
Folio text, if it is understood that the Boy Moth, repeats ll. 91-92,
after Armado has said them. Then Armado begins the "lenvoy" with the
intention that the Boy will also repeat that and that being the end,
turn the laugh on himself by calling himself the Goose. But the Boy is
too clever. He says it ends where it should. Costard declares the Boy
has sold him, and both laugh to the bewilderment of Armado. If the
Page added the "lenvoy" as the Quarto puts it the joke would already
have been turned against him. The explanation has to be very elaborate
and the poor little joke is too thin to stand it, if both texts be
followed. It is easy to see that the repetition by the Page of ll. 91
and 92, on the stage, confused the hearer who set it down for the
publisher of the Quarto, and also that the repetition would be a part
of the stage business and the lines might not appear twice therefore
in the MS. of the Play itself. The question growing out of this
is--Ought not the bracketed part of the text to be left out?