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DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

FERDINAND, king of Navarre.

BIRON,

LONGAVILLE, lords attending on the King.
DUMAIN,

BOYET, lords attending on the Princess of France.

MERCADE,

DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO, a fantastical Spaniard.
SIR NATHANIEL, a curate.

HOLOFERNES, a schoolmaster.
DULL, a constable.

COSTARD, a clown.

MOTH, page to Armado.

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INTRODUCTION

'LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST I once did see,' wrote Robert Tofte, in 1598, in his The Month's Mind of a Melancholy Lover. The play was therefore then no longer new. In its original form it no longer exists. A few months before Tofte wrote, it had been revised and expanded by Shakespeare for performance before the Queen as a part of the Christmas festivities at Whitehall. The text thus 'newly corrected and augmented' was published in the following year, and is known as the first quarto. Soon after the accession of James I. the play, which had pleased Elizabeth, was resorted to by Shakespeare's company in one of the embarrassments created by the vigorous dramatic appetite of the new Queen. 'I have sent and bene all thys morning huntyng for players Juglers and such kinde of Creaturs,' wrote Sir Walter Cope in 1604 to Lord Cranborne, 'but fynde them hard to finde, wherefore leavinge notes for them to seeke me, Burbage ys come and Sayes ther ys no new playe that the quene hath not seene, but they have Revyved an olde one, cawled Loves Labore lost, which for wytt and mirthe he sayes will please her excedingly. And thys ys apointed to be playd to Morowe night at my Lord of Sowthamptons. Burbage ys my messenger.' Certainly Anne's pronounced taste for the artificial style and elaborate allusiveness of the

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Masque, which she did so much to encourage, made the choice of this play not inapt. Two years later, in 1606, another visitor from Scotland, Drummond of Hawthornden, inserted 'Loues Labors Lost, comedie,' with only two other plays of Shakespeare -Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream -in a list of books that he had 'red.' So late as 1631 it was thought worth while to publish another quarto edition, reprinted from the folio of 1623. But the play owed much of its popularity to a passing phase of taste; it was too intensely of the Elizabethan age to be quite congenial to the next; allusions to it became rare, it entirely disappeared from the stage, and a disparaging mention of it by Dryden in company with The Winter's Tale and Measure for Measure, as an example of Shakespeare's incoherent comic plots, must be reckoned to it for an honour. Throughout the eighteenth century it continued to be, in England, among the least regarded of his works. At length the discovery of Shakespeare in Germany suddenly provided an audience of delighted readers for the neglected play. The band of young Shakespeareans who gathered round Herder and Goethe at Strassburg revelled in its young vivacity, its 'whimsicality' and 'quibbles';1 and a generation later the very profusion of caprice and fancy which disturbed the commonsense criticism of Johnsonian England, secured for it the peculiar favour of the Romantic Tieck.

The original version of Love's Labour's Lost was among the earliest of Shakespeare's original plays, if not, as is generally supposed, the first of all. The 'correc

1 Cf. Goethe: Dichtung u. Wahrheit, Buch xi. Goethe's friend, Lenz, translated the play, and appended his translation to his 'Anmerkungen übers

Theater.' 'No one,' says Goethe, 'could have been better qualified to enter into and reproduce all the eccentricities and vagaries of Shakespeare's genius.'

tions' of 1597 have, doubtless, removed many marks. of early style; happily, however, they have also, indirectly, given us a unique clue to them; fragments of the original version having, in at least three cases, remained embedded in the 'corrected' text. Two of these occur in Biron's great speech (iv. 3. 296 f. and 320 f.). Here the 'correction' has merely served to heighten the vigour of the phrasing. The third, however, throws the divergences of the Shakespeare of 1597 from the Shakespeare of eight years earlier into glaring relief. The earlier version of Rosaline's compact with Biron (v. 2. 827-832) is singularly jejune. The past mistress of quips and cranks seems to take up the rôle of moral censor as a new phase in the game of outwitting the lords, and to impose her penalty by way of flinging a last decisive shot at her adversary. In the later version (v. 851 f.) she has passed, like the princess, into a serious and feeling mood (announced to the reader by Biron's question: 'Studies my lady ?'), and the demand, before petulantly tossed at him in somewhat jerky iambics, is now gravely formulated in lines of subtly varied movement and eloquently rounded phrase, and with a moral dignity for which certainly nothing in her previous bearing prepares us. But then Shakespeare, when he thus 'corrected,' was already the creator of Portia.

Many youthful traits, however, remain: the characters symmetrically grouped and on the whole slightly drawn; the comic parts loosely attached and inclining to burlesque and caricature; the language bristling with verbal antitheses; the verse, running with a facility and a frequency unapproached in any other play, into lyric strophes and into doggerel. The last is the most decisive ground for giving this play a very early date. Lyric strophes, which here occupy

236 lines, Shakespeare continued to use occasionally, in exalted passages, as late as Much Ado and As You Like It (1600); but doggerel was a relic of the preMarlowesque drama, which, after making the most of it in the present comedy (194 verses) and The Comedy of Errors (108 verses), and allowing a few lines to Speed in the Two Gentlemen, he practically abandoned. And nowhere but in this comedy does it serve for the dialogue of high-bred persons. For reasons given in the next section it cannot be dated earlier than 1589-90. The grounds just stated forbid us to date it later.

Love's Labour's Lost is full of topical and allusive matter, but seems to owe very little to any previous literature. The most important of these topical allusions, so far as they affect the structure of the play, are the following::

(1) The scene is laid at the court of Navarre ; the King therefore stands unquestionably for Henry IV., whose fortunes excited the keenest sympathy in England. This was especially the case between 1589, when he became titular King of France by the assassination of Henry III., and 1593, when he bought Paris with a mass and became King de facto. The three lords, Biron, Longaville, Dumain, also derive their names from three conspicuous figures in the war, Henry's Captains, Marshal Biron and the Duke du Longueville, and the General of the Catholic League, the Duke du Maine. Of these, Biron was well known by repute and highly popular in England; the English contingent sent by Elizabeth in 1589 usually serving under his command, and finding him 'very respective to her Majesty and loving to her people.' His gaieties were proverbial, and the de1 These have been worked Magazine, Oct. 1880; cf. also out by Mr. S. Lee, Gentleman's Sarrazin, Jahrbuch, xxxi. 200.

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