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script before it was printed. Lastly, the mask in the fifth act, where the King and his lords appear in Russian habits, and the allusions to Muscovites, which this mask produces, are supposed by Warburton to have been suggested by the public concern for the settlement of a treaty of commerce with Russia in 1591. But the learned commentator overlooks a passage in Hall's 'Chronicle,' which shows that a mask of Muscovites was a court recreation in the time of Henry VIII.
In the extrinsic evidence, therefore, which this comedy supplies, there is nothing whatever to disprove the belief which we entertain that, before it had been "corrected and augmented," 'Love's Labour's Lost' was one of the plays produced by Shakspere about 1589, when, being only twenty-five years of age, he was a joint-proprietor of the Blackfriars theatre. The intrinsic evidence appears to us entirely to support this opinion; and, as this evidence involves several curious particulars of literary history, we have to request the reader's indulgence whilst we examine it somewhat in detail.
Coleridge, who always speaks of this comedy as a "juvenile drama "—" -"a young author's first work," says, "The characters in this play are either impersonated out of Shakspere's own multiformity by imaginative self-position, or out of such as a country town and a schoolboy's observation might supply." For this production, Shakspere, it is presumed, found neither characters nor plot in any previous romance or drama. "I have not hitherto discovered," says Steevens, "any novel on which this comedy appears to have been founded: and yet the story of it has most of the features of an ancient romance." | Steevens might have more correctly said, that the story has most of the features which would be derived from an acquaintance with the ancient romances. The action of the comedy, and the higher actors, are the creations of one who was imbued with the romantic spirit of the middle ages—who was conversant with their Courts of Love, and all that lighter drapery of chivalry, which engaged even mighty kings with a sort of
* 'Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 102.
serio-comic interest, and may well be supposed to have occupied more completely the smaller princes."+ Our poet himself, in this play, alludes to the Spanish romances of chivalry :—
"This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
For interim to our studies, shall relate, In high-born words, the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate."
With these materials, and out of his own "imaginative self-position," might Shakspere have readily produced the King and Princess, the lords and ladies, of this comedy; and he might have caught the tone of the court of Elizabeth, the wit, the play upon words, the forced attempts to say and do clever things,-without any actual contact with the society which was accessible to him after his fame conferred distinction even upon the highest and most accomplished patron, The more ludicrous characters of the drama were unquestionably within the range of "a schoolboy's observation."
And first, of Don Armado, whom Scott calls "the Euphuist." The historical events which are interwoven with the plot of Scott's 'Monastery' must have happened about 1562 or 1563, before the authority of the unhappy Queen of Scots was openly trodden under foot by Murray and her rebellious lords; and she had at least the personal liberty, if not the free will, of a supreme ruler, Our great novelist is, as is well known, not very exact in the matter of dates; and in the present instance his licence is somewhat extravagant. Explaining the source of the affectations of his Euphuist, Sir Piercie Shafton, he says— "it was about this period that 'the only rare poet of his time, the witty, comical, facetiously-quick, and quickly-facetious John Lyly--he that sate at Apollo's table, and to whom Phoebus gave a wreath of his own bays without snatching'§-he, in short, who wrote that singularly coxcombical work
Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 104.
§ Extract from Blount, the editor of six of Lyly's plays, in 1632.
'Euphues and his England' began first that language." It is somewhat difficult precisely to define what "that language” is ; but the language of Armado is not very different from that of Andrew Borde, the physician, who, according to Hearne, "gave rise to the name of Merry Andrew, the fool of the mountebank stage." His 'Breviary of Health,' first printed in 1547, begins thus: "Egregious doctours and maysters of the eximious and archane science of physicke, of your urbanitie exasperate not your selve.”§ Nor is Armado's language far removed from the example of "dark words and ink-horn terms " exhibited by Wilson, in his 'Arte of Rhetorike,' first printed in 1553, where he gives a letter thus devised by a Lincolnshire man for a void benefice :-" Ponderyng, ex
called 'Euphues and his England-was in the very zenith of his absurdity and reputation. The quaint, forced, and unnatural style which he introduced by his 'Anatomy of Wit' had a fashion as rapid as it was momentary;-all the court ladies were his | scholars, and to parler Euphuisme was as necessary a qualification to a courtly gallant as those of understanding how to use his rapier, or to dance a measure."* This statement is somewhat calculated to mislead the student of our literary history as to the period of the commencement, and of the duration, of Lyly's influence upon the structure of "polite conversation." "Euphues,the Anatomy of Wit,' was first published in 1580; and 'Euphues and his England' in 1581-some eighteen or twenty years after the time when Sir Piercie Shafton (the Eng-pendyng, and revolutyng with myself, your glish Catholic who surrendered himself to the champions of John Knox and the Reformation) explained to Mary of Avenel the merits of The Anatomy of Wit'-" that all-to-be-unparalleled volume—that quintessence of human wit—that treasury of quaint invention that exquisitely-pleasant-to-read and inevitably-necessary-to-be-remembered manual of all that is worthy to be known."+ Nor was the fashion of Euphuism as momentary as Scott represents it to have been. The prevalence of this "spurious and unnatural mode of conversation" is alluded to in Jonson's 'Every man out of his Humour,' first acted in 1599;—and it forms one of the chief objects of the satire of rare Ben's 'Cynthia's Revels,' first acted in 1600. But the most important question with reference to Shakspere's employment of the affected phraseology which he puts into the mouth of Armado is, whether this "quaint, forced, and unnatural style" was an imitation of that said to be introduced by Lyly; if, indeed, Lyly did more than reduce to a system those innovations of language which had obtained a currency amongst us for some time previous to the appearance of his books. Blount,
it is true, says.
"Our nation are in his
debt for a new English which he taught them.
*Monastery,' chap. xiv. † Ibid.
Gifford's Works of Ben Jonson,' vol. ii. p. 250.
ingent affabilitie, and ingenious capacitie for mundane affaires, I cannot but celebrate and extoll your magnificall dexteritie above all other. For how could you have adapted suche illustrate prerogative, and dominicall superioritie, if the fecunditie of your ingenie had not been so fertile and wonderfull pregnaunt?" In truth, Armado the braggart, and Holofernes the pedant, both talk in this vein; though the schoolmaster may lean more to the hard words of Lexiphanism, and the fantastic traveller to the quips and cranks of Euphuism. Our belief is, that, although Shakspere might have been familiar with Lyly's' Euphues' when he wrote 'Love's Labour 's Lost,' he did not, in Armado, point at the fashion of the court "to parley Euphuism." The courtiers in this comedy, be it observed, speak, when they are wearing an artificial character, something approaching to this language, but not the identical language. They, indeed, "trust to speeches penn'd "—they "woo in rhyme ”—they employ
"Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise, Three-pil'd hyperboles;"
they exhibit a "constant striving after logical precision, and subtle opposition of thoughts,
§ Quoted in Warton's History of English Poetry,' vol. iii. p. 355: 1824.
Ibid., vol. iv. p. 160. ¶ Blount.
together with the making the most of every conception or image, by expressing it under the least expected property belonging to it."* But of no one of them can it be said, "He speak's not like a man of God's making." Ben Jonson, on the contrary, when, in 'Cynthia's Revels,' he satirized "the special fountain of manners, the court," expressly makes the courtiers talk the very jargon of Euphuism; as for example: "You know I call madam Philautia my Honour; and she calls me her Ambition. Now, when I meet her in the presence anon, I will come to her, and say, Sweet Honour, I have hitherto contented my sense with the lilies of your hand, but now I will taste the roses of your lips; and withal kiss her: to which she cannot but blushing answer, Nay, now you are too ambitious. And then do I reply, I cannot be too ambitious of Honour, sweet lady." Armado,
"A refined traveller of Spain;
A man in all the world's new fashion planted, That hath a mint of phrases in his brain," is the only man of "fire-new words." pedant even laughs at him as a "fanatical phantasm." But such a man Shakspere might have seen in his own country-town: where, unquestionably, the schoolmaster and the curate might also have flourished. If he had found them in books, Wilson's ‘Rhetorike' might as well have supplied the notion of Armado and Holofernes, as Lyly's 'Euphues' of the one, or Florio's First Fruits' of the other.
Warburton, in his usual "discourse peremptory," tells us, "by Holofernes is designed a particular character, a pedant and schoolmaster of our author's time, one John Florio, a teacher of the Italian tongue in London, who has given us a small Dictionary of that language under the title of 'A World of Words.' What Warburton asserted Farmer upheld. Florio, says Farmer, had given the first affront, by saying, "the plays that they play in England are neither right comedies nor right tragedies, but representations of histories without any decorum." Florio says this in his 'Second Fruites,' pub
* Coleridge's 'Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 104.
lished in 1591. Now, if Shakspere felt himself aggrieved at this statement, which was true enough of the English drama before his time, he was betrayed by his desire for revenge into very unusual inconsistencies. For, in truth, the making of a teacher of Italian the prototype of a country schoolmaster, who, whilst he lards his phrases with words of Latin, as if he were construing with his class, holds to the good old English pronunciation, and abhors "such rackers of orthography as to speak dout, fine, when he should say doubt,” &c., is such an absurdity as Shakspere, who understood his art, would never have yielded to through any instigation of caprice or passion. The probability is, that, when Shakspere drew Holofernes, whose name he found in Rabelais*, he felt himself under considerable obligations to John Florio for having given the world "his First Fruites; which yeelde familiar speech, merie proverbes, wittie sentences, and golden sayings." This book was printed in 1578. But, according to Warburton, Florio, in 1598, in the preface to a new edition of his 'World of Words,' is furious upon Shakspere in the following passage: "There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarl than bite, whereof I could instance in one, who, lighting on a good sonnet of a gentleman's, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a poet than to be counted so, called the author a rhymer. Let Aristophanes and his comedians make plays, and scour their mouths on Socrates, those very mouths they make to vilify shall be the Warburton means to amplify his virtue." maintains that the sonnet was Florio's own, and that it was parodied in the "extemporal epitaph on the death of the deer," beginning "The praiseful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket."
pitifull povertie prayeth for a penie, but puffed presumpcion passeth not a point." Indeed, there are many existing proofs of the excessive prevalence of alliteration in the end of the sixteenth century. Bishop Andrews is notorious for it. Florio seems to have been somewhat of a braggart, for he always signs his name Resolute John Florio." But, according to the testimony of Sir William Cornwallis, he was far above the character of a fantastical pedant. Speaking of his translation of Montaigne (the book which has now acquired such interest by bearing Shakspere's undoubted autograph), Sir William Cornwallis says, "Divers of his (Montaigne's) pieces I have seen translated; they that understand both languages say very well done; and, I am able to say (if you will take the word of ignorance), translated into a style admitting as few idle words as our language will endure."* Holofernes, the pedant, who had "lived long on the almsbasket of words”—who had "been at a great feast of languages and stolen the scraps,"'—was not the man to deserve the praise of writing "a style admitting as few idle words as our language will endure."
As far then as we have been able to trace, the original comedy of 'Love's Labour 's Lost' might have been produced by Shakspere without any personal knowledge of the court language of Euphuism,-without any acquaintance with John Florio,—and with a design only to ridicule those extravagances which were opposed to the maxim of Roger Ascham, the most unpedantic of schoolmasters, "to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do."+ The further intrinsic evidence that this comedy was a very early production is most satisfactory. Coleridge has a very acute remark (which in our minds is worth all that has been written about the learning of Shakspere) as to his early literary habits :-"It is not unimportant to notice how strong a presumption the diction and allusions of this play afford, that, though Shakspere's acquirements in the dead languages might not be such as we suppose in a learned education, his habits had, nevertheless, been scholastic, and those * Essays. 1600. Toxophilus.
of a student. For a young author's first work almost always bespeaks his recent pursuits, and his first observations of life are either drawn from the immediate employments of his youth, and from the characters and images most deeply impressed on his mind in the situations in which those employments had placed him;—or else they are fixed on such objects and occurrences in the world as are easily connected with, and seem to bear upon, his studies and the hitherto exclusive subjects of his meditations." The frequent rhymes, the alternate verses, the familiar metre which has been called doggrel (but which Anstey and Moore have made classical by wit, and by fun even more agreeable than wit)—lines such as
"His face's own margent did quote such amazes, That all eyes saw his eyes enchanted with
the sonnets full of quaint conceits, or running off into the most playful anacreontics,
the skilful management of the pedantry, with a knowledge far beyond the pedantry, and the happy employment of the ancient mythology, all justify Coleridge's belief that the materials of this comedy were drawn from the immediate employments of Shakspere's youth. Still the play, when augmented and corrected, might have received many touches derived from the power which he had acquired by experience. If it were not presumptuous to attempt to put our finger upon such passages, we would say that Biron's eloquent speech at the end of the fourth act, beginning
"Have at you then, affection's men at arms,”—
and Rosaline's amended speech at the end of the play,
"Oft have I heard of you, my lord Biron,"-must be amongst the more important of these augmentations.
CHARLES LAMB was wont to call 'Love's Labour's Lost' the Comedy of Leisure. It is certain that, in the commonwealth of King Ferdinand of Navarre, we have—
"All men idle, all; And women too."
lovers, because marriage ought to be at the
The courtiers, in their pursuit of "that | Aminte. They dismiss their plain honest angel knowledge," waste their time in subtle contentions how that angel is to be won; -the ladies from France spread their pavilions in the sunny park, and there keep up their round of jokes with their "wit's peddler," Boyet, "the nice ;"-Armado listens to his page while he warbles Concolinel;' -Jaquenetta, though she is "allowed for the dey," seems to have no dairy to look after;-Costard acts as if he were neither ploughman nor swineherd, and born for no other work than to laugh for ever at Moth, and, in the excess of his love for that "pathetical nit,” to exclaim, “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread;"— the schoolmaster appears to be without scholars, the curate without a cure, the constable without watch and ward. There is, indeed, one parenthesis of real business connected with the progress of the action—the difference between France and Navarre, in the matter of Aquitain. But the settlement of this business is deferred till to-morrow". -the "packet of specialties" is not come; and whether Aquitain goes back to France, or the hundred thousand crowns return to Navarre, we never learn. This matter, then, being postponed till a more fitting season, the whole set abandon themselves to what Dr. Johnson calls "strenuous idleness." The King and his courtiers forswear their studies, and every man becomes a lover and a sonneteer; the refined traveller of Spain resigns himself to his passion for the dairy-maid; the schoolmaster and the curate talk learnedly after dinner; and, at last, the King, the nobles, the priest, the pedant, the braggart, the page, and the clown join in one dance of mummery, in which they all laugh, and are laughed at. But still all this idleness is too energetic to warrant us in calling this the Comedy of Leisure. Let us try again. Is it not the Comedy of Affectations?
Molière, in his 'Précieuses Ridicules,' has admirably hit off one affectation that had found its way into the private life of his own times. The ladies aspired to be wooed after the fashion of the Grand Cyrus. Madelon will be called Polixène, and Cathos
The affectation of the King and his courtiers begins at the very beginning of the play. The mistake upon which they set out, in their desire to make their court". a little academe," is not an uncommon one. It is the attempt to separate the contemplative from the active life; to forego duties for abstractions; to sacrifice innocent pleasures for plans of mortification, difficult to be executed, and useless if carried through.. Many a young student has been haunted by the same dream; and he only required to