« PreviousContinue »
Some of these are useful illustrations, and look as though they had occurred to the author of Love's Labour's Lost from his having read Lodge previously. Several other minor parallels occur which may be mere coincidences.
There are a good many pertinent illustrations in the notes from the writings of Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Nashe, especially the former. Some of the more interesting ones which seem to bear on the date, or where the writer (Harvey) seems to be purposely recalled, must be mentioned here. I will first mention those that belong to Harvey's writings down to 1580. After that he appears to have been silent, so far as the printing-press. was concerned, until 1592, when the acrimonious controversy between him and Nashe began. The following may be referred to of the earlier period :
Christmas in May. See note at 1. i. 105-106.
See note at v. ii. 482.
These are of unequal weight; some appear to me very striking, and the greater part form a link between the pedantry mocked at in this play, and the pedantry of one of the most striking public expositors of it who was staged at Cambridge as Pedantius, somewhere soon after 1580. (See pages xxxvii.-xl. for more about Pedantius.)
There are some later parallels, emanating from the NasheHarvey war or period. These should be included amongst the several evidences that point to the remodelling or augmentation of the play somewhere about 1593-94. Notes to
these will be found at "woolward for penance" (v. ii. 699), where, in Nashe's Wonderfull Prognostication (1591), is an exact parallel or explanation. However, this is likely to have been a standing early joke. See also “infamonize" (v. ii. 667), Armado's version of “infamize," a verb coined by Nashe and strongly ridiculed by Harvey; and “l'envoy” (III. i. 65), a Harvey word whose use is sneered at by Nashe, See also "Lord have mercy on us (v. ii. 419), used by Nashe in connection with the 1592-93 visitation of pestilence, which was almost certainly in Shakespeare's mind. But the oddest illustration, or coincidence, if it is no more, occurs in the expression “of piercing a hogshead” (IV. ii. 81), where I have shown that this was a noteworthy gibe of Harvey's against Nashe, whom he calls "Pierce, the hoggeshead of witt," a lustre of conceit which Holofernes rejoices at. A little later (lines 87, 88), when Holofernes cites the passage, “Fauste precor," etc., we are upon the same ground. Nashe objects to Harvey's classifying him as a "grammar school wit," and styling him "as deeply learned as Fauste precor gelida.” It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these passages hint at Harvey and Nashe. Indeed, Holofernes himself recalls Harvey's appearance in the personal description of the former at v. ii. 602-622. There is no resemblance, however, in the dispositions of the two men. Both are pedants, but bumptiousness forms no part of Holofernes, who, though self-reliant and pedantic enough, is a gentle, soft-mannered man, as befits a useful schoolmaster.
I do not find much that recalls Robert Greene in this play. “From cradle to crutch” is, however, an exception; and per
haps, too, "continent of beauty." See notes at iv. iii. 242; IV. | i. 107. With the exception of those earlier plays, Henry VI.
and Titus Andronicus, which are not wholly Shakespeare's
and therefore no evidence, it is surprising how seldom Greene's ; peculiarities appear in Shakespeare, considering how volumin>
ous and how popular a writer the former was. Later, after the "tiger's heart” attack on Shakespeare by Greene in his Groatsworth of Wit (1592), an estrangement was inevitable. A careful study of Greene's romantic prose yields but few valuable illustrations of Shakespeare.
Mention is made several times in this Introduction of Lyly's Euphues, and of the fact that hardly a trace of euphuism appears in Love's Labour's Lost, whereas of the influence of Lyly's plays upon Shakespeare we find plain evidence both here and in other of the earliest plays. Sidney Lee finds this influence down to Much Ado About Nothing in the dialogue of Shakespeare's comedies, which “consists in thrusting and parrying fantastic conceits, puns, or antitheses.” Further, “the dispersal through Lyly's comedies of songs possessing every lyrical charm" is not the least interesting of the many striking resemblances (Life, ed. 1899, pp. 61, 62). I will collect here the more prominent verbal echoes of Lyly's plays. I have used Fairholt's edition (1858). I refer here to my notes.
See note at 11. i. 215.
See note at iv. iii. 151.
See note at v. ii. 597.
1 Tu-whit, Tu-who. See note at v. ii. 907-908. There are a few illustrations from Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses in my notes, and more might easily be added. One is worthy of separate mention, the pronunciation of “Nemean lion” (iv. i. 86), which occurs again in Hamlet. This
question may be set at rest. Shakespeare took it from his wellthumbed Arthur Golding's Ovid (1567).
Furness gives a useful recapitulation of the dates arrived at by the critics. The earliest is 1588, of R. G. White, which is also that assigned to quotations from the play in New Eng. Dict. To me it seems undoubtedly too early. White relies entirely on the want of experience of the author and the youthful genius that appears in the treatment. Knight and Fleay give 1589. Hertzberg, Ward, Furnivall and probably Staunton and Sidney Lee place it at 1590. Malone varied from 1590
Halliwell and Hunter arrived at 1596, or later. These wide discrepancies point signally to the impossibility of naming a date with certainty for the play as one whole. I incline to 1590 for the date of the earliest form of the play, with certain alterations and revision, which are of the date 1593-94, and may be classed as the "augmentations” of the play we have. Tièck and Sarrazin give the date 1593-94 for the play as a whole. The former (Furness, p. 331) is hardly to be taken seriously; the latter's grounds are of the slenderest.
Several commentators have endeavoured to distinguish the parts of the play due to revision. Craig says: “By far the finest passage in the play is the magnificent speech of Biron (IV. iii. 286-362). It is quite evident that this and a good deal more was not in the first draft of the play, but was brought in at the revision.”
The last scene of the play has swelled to its inordinate length by the means of additions carelessly huddled into it. It, and the speech just referred to, contain the bulk of the later work. Also the opening of the Hunting Scene (Iv. i.), to be presently referred to more fully, wears a more finished appearance than its surroundings. In the last Act, the plague references (see note, v. ii. 419) appear certainly to belong to the later work. Perhaps too the Muscovite masque may be added (see pp. xxvi.-xxviii.).
In the above list of dates, Furnivall's authority for 1590 appears.
I have already referred to his line of argument from metrical tests, but it is advisable to give his views at greater length, as expressed in his Introduction to Griggs'
facsimile of the first Quarto, because not only is his date the most acceptable to me, but he couples with that date (1590) his belief that Love's Labour's Lost was Shakespeare's earliest play. So do several other commentators of weight, but they get behind 1590. Furnivall says: “But the metrical facts are those which to me settle the earliness of L. L. L, over the Errors. I cannot believe that Shakespeare, having written the Errors with one couplet of rhyme in every six lines, and having found how ill-adapted rhyme was to dramas, would then go and write L. L. L. with six times more couplets in it. I cannot believe that he, having written the Errors with over twelve per cent. of extra-syllable lines in it, and one run-on line in every ten—and thereby got increased freedom and ease in expression-would turn and deliberately cramp himself again by writing L. L. L. with only a third of his extra-syllable, and half his run-on lines, of the earlier play. I cannot believe that in his second play he would two-fold the doggerel, four-fold the alternate rhymes, and increase the stanzas of his first play. He would not, in my belief, jump out of the frying-pan into the fire, even to try how he liked it. I conclude then that the first cast of L. L. L. was Shakespeare's first genuine play. And if his Second Period began with King John in 1595, and the Merchant in 1596, and he came to London in 1587 or thereabouts, I suppose L. L. L. to have been written in or before 1590, the other First Period works, of the five years 1590-4, being the Errors, Dream, Two Gentlemen, Romeo and Juliet, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, Richard II., Henry VI., Richard III., and possibly touches of Titus." (Furnivall.)
LATER APPEARANCES OF THE PLAY, OR REFERENCES
Grosart is responsible for the detection of allusions to Love's Labour's Lost (IV. iii.) in a poem by Robert Southwell (1594-5), Saint Peter's Complaint. The passages in the latter are quoted in Ingleby's Centurie of Prayse (New Shakes. Soc. 1879, p. 14). Grosart is enthusiastic over the "find,” but I agree with Furness, who also gives the passages, that the “sole basis of com