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the ladies who are wearing them. There is perhaps in these plague mentions a suggestion of the great London plague of 1592-1593, but Mr. Charlton argues that such jesting would not be natural while the actual plague was raging.
V. ii. 491. You cannot beg us. This slangy way of saying, “We are no idiots,' seems to have arisen from the practice of suing for the guardianship of wealthy incompetents.
V. ii. 517, 518. Where seal strives to content, and the contents Dies in the seal of that which it presents. Where the unintelligent zeal of the actors strives to content the audience, and the gist (contents) of the entertainment is destroyed by this very zeal in performance.
V. ii. 545. Abate throw at novum. Alluding to a game called novem quinque, in which the two principal throws were nine and five. The Cambridge editors explain the words as 'referring to the presentation of nine worthies by five players.'
V. ii. 549. With libbard's head on knee. Theobald explained this by quoting Cotgrave's definition of the French word masquine: "The representation of a lion's head, etc., upon the elbow or knee of some oldfashioned garments.'
V. ii. 566. it stands too right. The point seems to be that Alexander's head sat crookedly on his shoulders. Shakespeare can have got this fact from North's Plutarch. Boyet may, however, simply mean that Nathaniel's nose is not aquiline enough for that of a worthy.
V. ii. 576. You will be scraped out of the painted cloth for this. That is, you will lose your place as one of the worthies. Painted cloths were a more humble substitute for tapestry in wall-coverings, and the nine worthies were a common subject of their decoration.
V. ii. 577. your lion, that holds his poll-axe sitting operties on a close-stool. Theobald illustrated this Rabelaisian
witticism very neatly by quoting the description of the is Alexander's arms in Gerard Leigh's Accidence of
Armory, 1591: 'a lion or (of gold color] seiante (sitting] in a chair, holding a battle-axe argent.'
V. ii. 601. A kissing traitor. Alluding to the kiss of Judas Iscariot. Berowne gets the hint for this gibe from Dumaine's clipt in the line above. Dumaine uses the word in the sense of abbreviated, and Berowne seizes
upon another sense, from 'clip,' to embrace. V. ii. 607. Judas was hanged on an elder. An old belief. Sir John Mandeville reported that the tree was still standing.
V. ii. 619. worn in the cap of a toothdrawer. The brooch in the toothdrawer's cap appears to have been a distinguishing mark of his costume. Halliwell quoted a passage from the works of John Taylor, the Water-Poet (1630) 'In Queen Elizabeth's days there was a fellow that wore a brooch in his hat like a toothdrawer. One of the costume sketches made by Inigo Jones for a mask at James I's court represents a toothdrawer wearing a very high hat with a brooch in the left side. (See publications of the (Old) Shakespeare Society, vol. 39, 1848.)
V. ii. 692. More Ates. Ate was goddess of dis
cord. She is introduced at the opening of Peele's 0 Arraignment of Paris and again in the fourth book of
the Fairy Queen.
V. i. 731, 732. I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole of discretion. 'To see day at a little hole' was a proverbial saying.
V. ii. 748, 749. The extreme parts of time extremely forms All causes to the purpose of his speed. The closing moments of a period force concentrat
pon the matter in hand, or subordinate everything else to the necessity of making the most of time.
'Forms' is the old northern English plural, frequent
V. ii. 762. And by these badges understand the
V. ii. 824. Hence ever then. The Folio reading.
V. ii. 825-830. These six lines evidently come from
V. ii. 844. The liker you; few taller are so young. Time in being long is the more like Longaville, who is ‘long' both by name and by being tall for his age.
V. ii. 899. This side is Hiems, Winter; this Ver, the Spring. The poetical argument between winter and spring was a famous subject of the medieval debate. One version, entitled Conflictus Hiemis et Veris, is ascribed to the celebrated Alcuin (A.D. 735-804).
SOURCES OF THE PLAY
The central idea of Love's Labour's Lost-that a scholarly prince binds himself and his chosen associates to a quasi-monastic scheme of life, which is immediately shattered by the intrusion of amorous sentiment?—would seem much too obvious to be the original invention of Shakespeare; yet no earlier work, either of fiction or of history, has been discovered which can reasonably be regarded as a source of the play, and modern scholarship can only repeat, as regards the main plot, the confession of the first great detector of Shakespearean sources, Langbaine (1691): 'Loves Labour Lost (sic), a Comedy: the Story of which I can give no Account of.' Even more, then, than A Midsummer-Night's Dream and The Tempest, Love's Labour's Lost stands out as an example of Shakespeare's rare practice of inventing rather than adapting a dramatic plot.
Like the main plot, the constituent elements which make up the play owe little, apparently, to Shakespeare's reading. They seem rather to be drawn from two non-literary sources upon which the play depends in nearly equal degree. The less conspicuous half of it--involving the characters of Costard, Jaquenetta, Dull, Holofernes, and Nathaniel, and the show of the Nine Worthies—is a heightened study of English country types, evidently founded upon personal observation. The other half, dealing with the French lords and ladies, seems based—in so far as it has a basis outside the poet's imagination—upon the politi
1 This idea is evidently a kind of reverse of that in Tennyson's poem, The Princess.
| cernij l of thi | lous
devis when and
cal talk of London in the period about 1589. In 1880 (Sir) Sidney Lee pointed out three features of this part of the play which bear an analogy to contem
corite porary history:
(1) The King of Navarre, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine have names which are identical or practically so with those of four conspicuous leaders in the French civil war of 1589-1593: Henri IV (Henry of Th Navarre); his two generals, Marshal Biron and the able
, Duke of Longueville; and his great opponent, the Duke du Maine, or de Mayenne, brother to the Duke sugg of Guise.
(2) In 1586 Catherine de Medici, Queen-Mother drar of France, conducted a diplomatic conference with temp Henry of Navarre at St.-Bris, at which the Queen bis attempted to influence the course of negotiations by means of a band of gay and charming ladies in waiting.
1 Several recent writers see English topical references in the Princess of France's visit to Navarre. Thus Mr. Arthur Acheson (Shakespeare's Lost Years in London, 1920, p. 119, Na 165 ff.) conjectures that Love's Labour's Lost 'was written
in late in 1591, or early in 1592, as a reflection of the
sib! Queen's progress [August, 1591] to Cowdray House, the home of the Earl of Southampton's maternal grandfather,
tior Viscount Montague, and that the shooting of deer by the the Princess and her ladies fancifully records phases of the th entertainments arranged for the Queen during her visit? Cf. note on IV. i. 112.
2 Dumaine is prominent in Marlowe's Massacre at Paris as an enemy of Navarre. It is very likely, as Hart and Charlton diffidently suggest, that Shakespeare confused him with Marshal d'Aumont, who, though originally anti-Hugue: not, was one of the first to recognize Navarre after Henri III's death (1589) and shared with him in the victory at Ivry (1590). Longueville gained a great victory for the Huguenots at Senlis in 1589. Lee's further assumption that Moth is named after La Motte, a French ambassador at Elizabeth's court in earlier days, lacks probability.
3 Lefranc would substitute for the meeting at St.-Bris an earlier meeting of Catherine and Navarre at Nérac in 2580.