"A Button-hole Lower"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Don Adriano de Armado, Costard, a clown, and several others are presenting a play for the Princess of France and her court with King Ferdinand of Navarre and his nobles. In this play Costard plays the part of Pompey. While Armado, who plays Hector, delivers his lines, Berowne–an attendant lord to the king–whispers to Costard some alarming information about Jaquenetta and Armado. And then, while Armado is still playing the part of Hector, Costard–with his newly gained knowledge–confronts him with the fact that Jaquenetta, a country "wench" is "two months on her way" with his child. Armado challenges Costard to a duel because of this public charge, and the two are led on by the onlookers who keep referring to them as Pompey and Hector. Then Moth, page to Armado, steps in to remind his master of his position and to head off a duel not worthy of his master's fighting. He reminds Armado that his position is not that of the play hero, Hector, being challenged by a lofty antagonist; rather, the challenge is from Costard the clown concerning a mere country wench. Thus, Moth's desire is to bring Armando "a button-hole lower," out of the play and back into reality.

Master, let me take you a button-hole lower. Do you not see Pompey is uncasing for the combat? What mean you? You will lose your reputation.