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INTRODUCTION

TO

LOVE'S LABOUR’S LOST.

Love's Labour's Lost was first published in a quarto pamphlet of thirty-eight leaves in 1598, the title-page reading as follows : “ A pleasant-conceited Comedy called Love's Labour's Lost : As it was presented before her Highness this last Christ. mas : Newly corrected and augmented : By W. Shakespeare. Imprinted at London by W. W. for Cuthbert Burby: 1598." There was no other known edition of the play till the folio of 1623, where it is the seventh in the division of Comedies. From the repetition of certain errors of the press, it is quite probable that the second copy was reprinted from the first; while, on the other hand, there are certain differences tha. look as if another authority had in some points been consulted : the editors of the folio prob. ably taking the quarto as their standard, and occasionally having recourse to a play-honse manuscript. In the quarto neither scenes nor acts are distinguished ; in the folio only the latter; and even here, as may easily be seen, the division into acts is very unequal and inartificial : yet no modern edition has ventured upon any change in this respect.

In the Accounts of the Revels at Court, under the date of January, 1605, occurs the following entry : “ Between New-years Day and Twelfth Day, a play of Love's Labour's Lost." As success on the public stage was generally at that time the main reason of a play's being selected for performance at court, we may infer that this play continued popular after many better ones had been written. The play was also entered in the Stationers' Books, January P2, 1607, the right of it being passed over from Burby to Ling, probably because the latter contemplated a new edition. The design, however, if any such there were, seems to have been given up, as no impression of that date has come down to us.

Love's Labrvur's Lost is mentioned in the list of Shakespeare's plays given by Francis Meres in 1598. The same year one Robert

Tofte put forth a poem entitled “ Alba the Months Minde of a Melancholy Lover." wherein the play is thus referred to :

“ Love's Labour Lost! I once did see a play

Yeleped so, so called to my paine,
Which I to heare to my small joy did stay,

Giving attendance on my froward dame :
My misgiving mind presaging to me ill,
Yet was I drawn to see it 'gainst my will.

This play no play, but plague, was unto me.

For there I lost the love I liked most;
And what to others seemde a jest to be,

I that in earnest found unto my cost.
To every one, save me, 'twas comicall,
While tragic-like to me it did befall.

Each actor plaid in cunning wise his part,

But chiefly those entrapt in Cupid's snare;
Yet all was fained, 'twas not from the hart,

They seeme to grieve, but yet they felt no care ;
'Twas I that grief indeed did beare in brest;
The others did but make a shew in jest."

These are all the contemporary notices of the play that have reached us. In our Introduction to The Two Gentlemen of Verona we have stated our main reasons for assigning an earlier date to the Poel's first dramatic efforts than has been generally supposed. That this play was among the earliest scarce admits of question, from the character of the thing itself. Though it be apparently designed as a satire upon book-men in general, yet it displays in almost every part, and a good deal more than any other of the Poet's dramas, just such a preponderance of book-knowledge as were to be looked for in one fresh from school. Moreover. after the first writing a considerable time must naturally have passed before it was “ newly corrected and augmented," as stated in the title-page of the quarto. There may be some question as to what year “it was presented before her Highness;" but as the year was then reckoned from the twenty-fifth of March, it seenis quite likely that “this last Christmas” refers to the Christmas of 1598. Though we need not suppose so many as ten years to have elapsed between the writing and the revising, yet there is nothing that apparently makes against such a supposal. And Tofte's expression, “ I once did see a play," may well enough inser that it was some years since he saw it.

The fact of the play's having been “ corrected and angmented," of course invalidates wbatsoever of evidence on this score might else be drawn from allusions to contemporary matters. The dancing horse," spoken of in Act 1. se. 2, is plainly an allusion of this sort. Bankes and his wonderful horse made their debut in London in 1589. But all that can be thence inferred is, that the passage in question was written after that date; and Bankes au his horse were so much and so long distinguished, that the refer. ence may well enough have been made eight or nine years after their first appearance, when the play was revised. The many allusions to the same matter in other writers of the time show that it was a more remarkable performance than to pass out of thought with the day that brought it forth; though much of this celebrity was loubtless owing to the alleged fate of Bankes and his horse when they fell under the papal discipline. The “ finished represeutation of colloquial excellence," as Dr. Johnson calls it, at the opening of Act v., has been thought to have been borrowed from a passage in Sidney's Arcadia, which came out in 1590. But the resemblance is not so close but that it may very well have been a mere coincidence. The passage is Sir Philip's fine description of Parthenia : “ That which made her fairness much the fairer was that it was but the fair embassador of a most fair mind, full of wit, and a wit which delighted more to judge itself than to show itself: her speech being as rare as precious; her silence without sullenness; her modesty without affectation; her shame. fastness without ignorance : in sum, one that to praise well, one must first set down with himself what it is to be excellent." Even granting the imitation in this case, still there is no reason but that the similar passage may have first appeared in the augmented copy of the play. We lay no stress on the circumstance that the Arcadia was considerably read in manuscript before it was printed, and so may have come to the Poet's knowledge before the original writing of Love's Labour's Lost ; for we suppose this play to have been one of the exhibitions that brought the Author into Sir Philip's acquaintance, and recommended him to Southampton's patronage. As for the notion of certain critics, ibat Holoferne: was ineant for satire upon John Florio, whose Second Fruits appeared in 1591, containing some reflections on the indecorum of the nglish stage, we cannot discover the slightest ground for it. Shakespeare, no doubt. had ample occasion to laugh at the pedantry of pedagogues long before he knew any thing of Florio.

Internal evidence in such questions is necessarily a matter of

ividual judgment and opinion ; so that no great weight can be given it, save where we have a concurrence of several experienced and judicious minds. Here, however, the best critics all agree in fixing the date in accordance with whatsoever of evidence is thus producible from without. Coleridge in 1819 set it dowe as a "ju. venile drama," and as “ Shakespeare's earliest dramatic attempt, - perhaps even prior in conception to the Venus and Adonis, and planned before he left Stratford ;” and his judgment herein ig the more considerable, forasmuch as he once thought otherwise

individ

I marke their gloze, and it disclose
To them whom they have wronged so;
When I have done, I get me gone,
And leave them scolding, ho, ho, ho!
When men do traps and engins set
In loope-holes, where the vermine creepe,
Who, from their foldes and houses, get
Their duckes and geese, and lambes and sheepe ;
I spy the gin, and enter in,
And seeme a vermine taken so;
But when they there approach me neare,
I leap out laughing, ho, ho, ho!
By wells and rills, in meadowes greene,
We nightly dance our hey-dey guise;
And to our fairye king and queene
We chant our moonlight minstrelsies :
When larks 'gin sing, away we fling;
And babes new-borne steal as we go,
And elfe in bed we leave instead,
And wend us laughing, ho, ho, ho!
From hay-bred Merlin's time have I
Thus nightly revell’d to and fro;
And for my pranks men call me by
The name of Robin Goodfellow.
Fiends, ghosts, and sprites, who haunt the nightes,
The hags and goblins, do me know;
And beldames old my feates have told;

So, Vale, Vale! ho, ho, ho!? 9 This ballad has been generally attributed to Ben Jonson and Mr. Collier has a version in a manuscript of the time, with the initials B. J. at the end. This copy, he says, varies somewhat from that given above, and has an additional stanza, which we subjoin :

" When as my fellow elfes and I
In circled ring do trip around,
If that our sports by any eye
Do happen to be seene or found;
If that they jo words do say,
But mum contmue as they go,
Each night I do put groat in shoe,
And wind out laughing, ho, ho, ho !"

INTRODUCTION

TO

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.

Love's LA BOUR's Lost was first published in a quarto pamphlet of thirty-eight leaves in 1598, the title-page reading as follows : “ A pleasant-conceited Comedy called Love's Labour's Lost : As it was presented before her Highness this last Christmas : Newly corrected and augmented: By W. Shakespeare. Imprinted at London by W. W. for Cuthbert Burby : 1598.” There was no other known edition of the play till the folio of 1623, where it is the seventh in the division of Comedies. From the repetition of certain errors of the press, it is quite probable that the second copy was reprinted from the first; while, on the other hand, there are certain differences tha: look as if another authority had in some points been consulted : the editors of the folio probably taking the quarto as their standard, and occasionally having recourse to a play-house manuscript. In the quarto neither scenes nor acts are distinguished ; in the folio only the latter; and even here, as may easily be seen, the division into acis is very unequal

change in this respect.

In the Accounts of the Revels at Court, under the date of January, 1605, occurs the following entry : “ Between New-years Day and Twelfth Day, a play of Love's Labour's Lost.” As success on the public stage was generally at that time the main reason of a play's being selected for performance at court, we may infer that this play continued popular after many better ones had been writ. ten. The play was also entered in the Stationers' Books, January 22, 1607, the right of it being passed over from Burby to Ling, probably because the latter contemplated a new edition. The design, however, if any such there were, seems to have been given up, as no impression of that date has come down to us.

Love's Labour's Lost is mentioned in the list of Shakespeare's plays given by Francis Meres in 1598. The same year one Rohert

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