16b. Love's Labour's Lost, 1598-

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams


(Numbers in bold refer to the Documents section and bibliographical citations refer to the Bibliography of The Real Shakespeare II, on-line edition)



     1598 was the first year in which the name Shakespeare appeared on any title-page – in the second editions of Richard II and Richard III (248249) as well as the first edition of Love's Labour's Lost (246). That sophisticated comedy was published by Cutbert Burby (sic), who had just brought out Edward III 1596 (208,223). He is 'sometimes confused with Cuthbert Burbage' (Halliday 2/1964), theatre manager (c.1566-1636) and elder brother of the great actor Richard; both were the sons of James Burbage (1530-97) who built and managed the Shoreditch Theatre, where Shakespeare had begun his stage career (RS1 55-59).

     But the confusion could be significant, not trivial. Burbage and Burby look very like two Tudor forms of the same surname (cf. Lambarde and Lambert in Chapter 11), as Marlowe for example was also called Marley, and Carew Cary. A Burbage family connection would readily explain how Cutbert Burby came to be among Shakespeare's very first publishers, and in so poor a printing. The latter was provided by William White, then best known as a purveyor of ephemera; this was his own Shakespeare début (Halliday 1952, 526-7). In the following year, Burby brought out the second edition of Romeo and Juliet (267), which is much more professionally produced. Thereafter his recorded Shakespeare connections ceased until he became Master Burby, the distinguished representative of the Stationers' Guild who sanctioned the further publication of Love's Labour's Lost among other plays in 1607 (365), the year of his death.

     The Q1 1598 title-page formula 'Newly corrected and revised' (246) was presumably written or approved by the author himself. The internal evidence for revision (two different versions of two separate speeches) apparently passed unnoticed; that corrupt text was even incorporated unamended into the First Folio printing 25 years later. But Shakespeare surely wished his penchant for reconsideration and improvement to be publicly known. The title-page announcement was also a proper acknowledgement of the need to polish a play before presenting it at the court of Queen Elizabeth (246). There is an added significance; this was the first stylistic fact ever stated about Shakespeare. He was a reviser.1

     Playscripts were normally registered before publication. Not so Love's Labour's Lost; but the signal honour of special performance before one's sovereign was no doubt deemed tantamount to registration. The other earliest known references to the play are either dated 1598 (Meres 242, Tofte 253) or are datable to that year (the anonymous MS 250). There is no reason to suppose that a first version had already been published. All the many notions of a 'lost bad quarto' (e.g. Wilson 1962, 99; Kerrigan 1982, 241-2) are as chimerical as all the other 'bad quarto' theories (RS1 passim) whence they derive. The fact of variant speeches in Q1 is economically explained as the result of manuscript revision without clear cancellation, as if an earlier version had been duly written and perhaps performed but not printed.

     The earlier text may be dated c. 1593. First, Tofte's 1598 'I once did see a play' (253) suggests some lapse of time. Next, delay between writing and printing was customary; thus Titus Andronicus, c. 1589, was not published until 1594, when it had run its course on the stage. Again, the speech prefixes of Love's Labour's Lost1598 show that the characters were allotted generic (Commedia dell' Arte) descriptions as well as specific names; thus Don Armado is also Braggart, Costard Clown, and so forth, as if they had been so styled in a previous existence. Like Edward III, the play has clear links with the Earl of Southampton, and these were maintained over the years; thus in 1605 Love's Labour's Lost was staged at his home (344345). He may well have had a part to play, perhaps literally, in the first version.

     An early version of The Comedy of Errors was played at the Gray's Inn Revels of Christmas 1594; the Masque of Muscovites2 in Love's Labour's Lost (V.ii) was based on a Gray's Inn entertainment (Hibbard 1990, 47). Shakespeare's much-loved friend and patron Southampton had been enrolled at Gray's Inn at fifteen, in 1588. The first seventeen sonnets implore a young man (of seventeen?) to beget offspring, an injunction normally otiose; but Southampton was reputed effeminate and a misogynist (RS1 106-7). Love's Labour's Lost begins with a king's resolve 'not to see a woman' for three years, and to turn his court into an Academy by surrounding himself with sonneteers, which was the young Southampton's own aim and achievement.

      Further, Southampton was always obsessed with fame and honour. For example, as a Cambridge student of thirteen he had written in an extant Latin essay that every man 'burns with a certain boundless lust for fame' (Akrigg 1968, 30). The play begins with the King's invocation of  'Fame,3 that all hunt after in their lives'. He then speaks of 'brazen tombs', allegedly alluding to Horace's famous assertion that his own verse 'would survive the ravages of Time' (Kerrigan 1982, 148), monumentum aere perennius. But the dramatist is surely referring to his character's personal renown, as in the Sonnets (cf. 55. 1-2 and 107. 13-14, 'thou in this [sonnet] shalt finde thy monument/when...tombs of brasse are spent'. There too the poet also duly defers to his master's 'fame' (80.4, 100.13).

      Next, the King prays for posthumous 'honour', which will bate the edge of devouring Time's scythe; again, these are not only the themes but the very language of the Sonnets; 'honour' in 26.12, 'devouring time' 19.1, 'Time's scythe' 12.13, 60.12, 100.14, 123.14, with Time's knife 100.14 and a knife that loses its edge in time 56.2, 95.14.

     Southampton also burned to shine in another light, as A.L. Rowse confirms (1965, 57), namely 'as a patron of literature'. So Berowne, his chief henchman in Love's Labour's Lost, would colourably constitute a Shakespearean self-portrait. He is not only the main purveyor of proverbial phrases (Hibbard 1990, 37), a noted stylistic quirk of Shakespeare's own (Sams 1985, 2/1986, 330-2, 1996, 188, RS1 passim), but also a sonnet-writer (IV.iii.15) who sees eyes as windows to the heart (V.ii.838, cf. Sonnets 24. 10-11) and whose love Rosaline is a promiscuous dark lady with black eyes and hair (IV.iii.247-65, cf. Sonn 127f). He also sees eyes as windows to the heart (V.ii.838; Sonn 24.10-11). It all sounds like type-casting for Shakespeare the poet-actor; and this Berowne role has been identified as one specially augmented in the revision (Spedding 1874, 1-20), almost as if the playwright were seeking to impress his sovereign in propria persona. Even an anti-biographical commentator (Kerrigan 1982, 31-2) sees Berowne's feelings as inspired by Shakespeare's own. But such procedures could as readily exemplify the rule as the exception; so it seems sensible to accept that the play, like so much of Shakespeare's output, had personal and topical resonances from the first. The fact that these are not now fully or definitively identifiable, and in any event are undeniably subordinate to the art-work itself, is no reason for rejecting them or declaring them irrelevant. Nor can it justify a bias in favour of topical as against personal interpretation. A distinguished editor already cited (Hibbard 1990, 49) claims that 'the King is, in some respects, Henri of Navarre (1553-1610)' and adds, no doubt rightly, that he would have been thus identified by the original audiences. But what about Shakespeare? As the same authority repeatedly observes (ibid. 13, etc.) the King and his men are 'young'; Henri was pushing forty at the time. Of course it cannot be coincidence that he had henchmen called Biron (the name Englished as Berowne) and Longueville (= Longaville), and an adversary called De Mayenne (= Dumaine): or that Henri's popularity in England was at its height in the early 1590s. But that was because an expedition under the Earl of Essex (1566-1601) had been sent to aid Navarre's claim to the French throne. Essex had frequent meetings in Normandy, at Rouen, with this same Biron, (they besiged Rouen together that October) and also with Henri. One main inspiration for the play and its plot, as distinct from its nomenclature, is the fact that Essex was adored not only by the Queen but by Southampton, who in turn (as the Sonnets tell the world, not just the biographical school) was adored by Shakespeare.

     An undated letter from Southampton to Essex, headed 'Diep (= Dieppe) the 2 of March', has been variously assigned to 1591 (Stopes 1922, 39-40; Hibbard 1937, 87; Rowse 1965, 57) or 1598 (Akrigg 1968, 34, 69). Either way, it shows that the younger Earl had crossed the Channel from his Southampton home to be near his idol Essex, who even at the earlier date was already famed as a brave soldier and a royal favourite. The letter runs: 'To continue the profession of service which I have heretofore verbally made unto your Lordship; which howsoever in itself it is of small value, my hope is, seeing it wholly proceeds from a true respect borne to your own worth and from one who hath no better present to make you than the offer of himself to be disposed of by your commandment, your Lordship will be pleased in good part to accept it, and ever afford me your good opinion and favour, of which I shall be exceeding proud, endeavouring muyself always with the best means I can think of to deserve it'.

     Essex reported on this French campaign to Queen Elizabeth in letters taking the same tone of deathless devotion. She too arguably has a part to play. In 1591 (Nichols 1788-1821) Queen Elizabeth is recorded as having killed a deer with a cross-bow, as in the hunting-scenes of Love's Labour's Lost (IV.i.ii). The academic mind automatically deprecates any actual links with the real world; thus Sir Edmund Chambers (1930, i, 334-5) calls the play's declared revision (246) a 'theory', and ignores the suitability of its performance before the Queen, by her own company including her own playwright, as a fitting occasion to applaud her hunting achievement (as she no doubt considered it). Indeed, Chambers claims that 'there is no reason whatever to suppose that Elizabeth shot a deer with a cross-bow for the first or the last time...in 1591'. But there is; 1591 is the date of the only such record. The incident took place at Cowdray, the girlhood home of Southampton's mother, whence the Queen processed to the Southampton seat at Titchfield. At both places, '"standings" were prepared for her to shoot from at deer in a paddock' (Wilson 1923, 129). No doubt the young Earl was present on both occasions; so, perhaps, was the playwright. At the very least, there is clear evidence of close interrelation among Elizabeth, Essex, Southampton and Shakespeare.

     This heartstring quartet made much immortal music, whether in close harmony or painful dissonance. No wonder that Willobie his Avisa describes not only Shakespeare and Southampton but their own unsuccessful suing of their sovereign; no wonder that Love's Labour's Lost was chosen for her delectation, and revived for Southampton's after the Essex rebellion and the accession of King James and his Queen, who also relished the play. It is surely relevant that in 1593 the King of Navarre, whose cause had been advanced by Essex, had famously espoused the Catholic faith in which Southampton had been reared. It has even been suggested (Wilson loc. cit.) that the deer-slaying Princess (IV.i.21-33) comments on this same conversion, in a daring as well as dazzling display of dramatic irony. Her phrases 'saved by merit' and 'detested crimes' may well allude respectively to the Catholic doctrine of justification by works, and to Henri's allegedly cynical conversion, which the Protestant Queen Elizabeth herself had described as an 'abominable act'. The arrow point would still have struck home in 1593, whereas the religious and political points (as Wilson supposes) would have become blunted beyond recognition by 1598, when Queen Elizabeth saw the play. All the same, Shakespeare is thereby envisaged as taking a liberty, if not indeed a risk. Only three years later, as we shall see, his friends at court were imprisoned rebels awaiting execution.

     On any analysis, the play's audiences, readers and commentators over the centuries do not deserve to be disparaged as 'topical-satirical interpreters' (Kerrigan 1982, 9). On the contrary; there is no reason why the demonstrable and typical allusions should not extend much further down the cast-list, just as many commentators have proposed (Wilson 1923; Yates 1936; Oakeshott 1961, 22-3; Akrigg 1968, 207-215). Don Armado for example may well be related to Antonio Perez, emissary of the King of Navarre, and also to Sir Walter Raleigh (c. 1552-1618). Both were well known to Essex and Southampton; and Raleigh's fall from favour in 1592 is touched upon in the Sonnets (25.9-12). 'Armado', as Shakespeare called a fleet of warships in Edward III(1111), divertingly blends a Spanish envoy with his warm reception. There is of course no need to assume that the name 'Armado' alone suffices to allocate the play to 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada; and the fact that this date is still adopted in the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary shows only that nineteenth-century academic notions were naive. But the same may also apply to their modern rejection. In reality, the choices are not exclusive. On the evidence, the play was deliberately patterned in terms of actual individuals in intersecting social circles, of which some readers and playgoers would have been well aware.

     Thus it has not been generally noted that other real-life rival poets, such as Barnaby Barnes (RS1 108-9), were also courtiers of Southampton and had indeed addressed sonnets to him and also invoked the spirit world (Chapter 27). The Shakespeare-Berowne flouting of the high-flown Barnes style as Longaville's 'liver vein...goddess' (IV.iii.72-3) may well allude to Barnes's exaggerated love-poetry imagery, as in Parthenophil and Parthenope, e.g. 'the vulture which is by my goddess' doom/assigned to feed upon my endless liver'. There is a further connection; Barnes had served as a soldier with the Earl of Essex in the Navarre campaign of 1591. He also spoke fluent French. During his time at Oxford, furthermore, his servitor was John Florio, who would later become Southampton's Italian teacher. Perhaps, as Dowden suggests (1876, 231), they were both envisaged as present at 'a great feast of languages' and having 'stolen the scraps' (V.i.37); and John Florio's analogies with the pedantic schoolmaster Holofernes have often been remarked. Even the play's title is adumbrated in Florio's phrase-book First Fruits (1578), which announces that there are so many books about love 'that it were labour lost to speake of Loue'. No doubt the playwright who would later be described as 'one of the most passionate among us to bewail and bemoane the perplexities of Loue' (242) thought Florio's apothegm worth preserving. In the play, Holofernes sententiously comments that 'as the traveller [says] of Venice: Venetia, Venetia/Chi non ti vede, non ti pretia' (LLL IV.ii.96-7), i.e. only those who have not seen Venice will fail to praise her; that same sentiment appears verbatim in Florio's Second Fruits (1591). Even closer is the correlation between the pedant's definitions 'caelo, the skie, the welkin...terra, the land, the earth' and Florio's dictionary The Worlde of Wordes(1598), which both Shakespeare and Southampton would have seen, and no doubt chuckled at, in manuscript; its published text has 'Cielo,…the skiewelkin...Terra,...earth...land'. Hence also the Florio allusions and quotations from his Giardino di Recreazione found in Willobie his Avisa. The play's intense linguistic effervescence can always be assisted by such catalysts, however minimal their own part in the reaction. And that ebullience has not only delighted readers and playgoers with flashing phrases but also inspired modern poets.4

     So there is no reason why the churchman Sir Nathaniel should not have some affinity with the Catholic Shakespeare's Protestant enemy Robert Greene, whom he personally identified as a minister of religion (274). Above all there can be no rational doubt (pace Hibbard 1990, 52-5) that the role of Moth visibly glances at the adversarial satirist Thomas Nashe (1567-c.1601).

     He and his mentor Robert Greene, two élite academic Latinists, both professional writers on the London scene, had jointly and severally attacked the overly successful provincial lack-Latin Shakespeare from 1587 to 1592, when Greene died (RS1 65-78). Nashe was also a rival for Southampton's favours (an unsuccessful one, his tetchily satirical tone suggests). He too may also have indited a sonnet to Southampton, to whom he certainly inscribed his Unfortunate Traveller, 1593. In 1589 he contemptuously called Shakespeare's manuscripts 'candle-stuff', i.e. composed by candle-light, as observed by the visiting Nashe - who would thus be well named Moth.5 There, his famously diminutive stature is also described. Nashe insisted on his own youthful appearance; he was still beardless at twenty-nine, and called himself a 'stripling' three years later (McKerrow 1958, iii, 129, 214). No wonder then that the first word addressed to him on his first appearance (I.ii.1) is 'Boy', soon followed by 'imp', with 'thy young days' a few lines later, together with 'tender Juvenal' four times and 'little' thrice, plus 'dear boy' and 'sweet my child', with further allusions to 'boy', 'child' and 'infant'.

     Even 'Juvenal' is turned into a pun on 'juvenile'. But this appellation is a proper name, twice spelt (though modern editors suppress this salient fact) with a capital J, in evident allusion to the Roman satirist (c. 55 - c. 140). Further: (a) 'Juvenal' was the affectionate alias bestowed on Nashe by Greene in his Groatsworth of Wit1592, in the context of the most famous and explicit of all their attacks on Shakespeare; (b) Meres (1598) was still calling Nashe by that same cognomen six years later; (c) in the Parnassus plays, some three years later still, the character Ingenioso, based on Nashe (RS1 87-8) enters 'with Juvenal in his hand', and quotes from the Latin text of the Satires; (d) Moth is twice called 'ingenious' (I.ii.27, IV; III.i.58).

     After Greene's death in 1592, his protégé Nashe remained touchingly faithful to his mentor's memory, and hence hostile to Shakespeare, who had been so wounded by Greene's attack as to implore the Earl of Southampton (Sonn 112.4) to 'o'er-greene my bad' a verb found in no other context and rather clearly invented for the purpose of deliberate personal allusion. So it is no surprise that Moth soon commends the colour 'greene' as the best of the four complexions (I.ii.84), and deprecates white and red, which was Shakespeare's own favourite colour-contrast (as evidenced in e.g. 1H6R2E3VenSonn and a deliberate parody in a Parnassusplay: RS1 88). Next, Moth cites the Cophetua story of the King and the Beggar-Maid, and amusingly adds 'I think now 'tis not to be found'; this too was a favourite allusion in early Shakespeare (Rom II.i.14, R2 V.iii.80, LLLIV.i.65, etc.). Before long, Moth is again addressed as 'boy', 'child', 'tenderness of years' and 'juvenal' (III.i.1, 4, 36, 66). He quotes the refrain 'the hobby-horse is forgot', also found in the early Hamlet which Nashe had already lampooned in 1589. And Moth's speech at III.i.11f has long been recognised as a telling parody of Nashe's prose style.

     Further, Moth is represented as something of a misogynist, like Nashe (as evidenced in e.g. his Anatomy of Absurdity 1589). Conversely the lover Berowne gratifyingly shoos Moth away with 'be gone, you rogue' (V.ii.174). When Moth returns, he is again described as 'this imp', and 'a babe, a child, a shrimp', and is divertingly allotted the part of Hercules in a pageant (V.ii.588f), with yet another allusion to his infancy. If further pointers are required, Nashe was called 'sweet Tom' by Meres 1598, and that name is spelt 'Thom' in LLLV.ii.514; Moth is not far away. Again, Nashe is cognate with 'nesh', which to this day means 'tender' in Midland English; and Moth is called 'tender' five times in eight lines (I.ii.8-15).

     The play also abounds in allusions to the title of Nashe's autobiographical Pierce Penniless 1592, which itself puns on the name Pierce and the word purse. As already demonstrated (RS1 74-8), its satirical shafts were aimed at Shakespeare – and some had struck home quite painfully. So Moth/Nashe is called, in good-humoured retaliation, a 'halfpenny purse of wit' (V.i.74) who is promised a penny (V.i.71), presumably to replace the 'penny of observation' (III.i.27) he has invested in his personal experience (III.i.26-7), while Nathaniel/Greene descants on 'person/pierce one', 'pierced' and 'piercing' (IV.ii.83, 87). The editors (Quiller-Couch and Wilson 1923) who pointed out such quips and quibbles in quantity have been deprecated as '1920s scholars', not a Tudor theatre audience (Hibbard 1990, 53); but it is surely sensible to prefer the real Shakespeare, who lived in Tudor history, to modern theory, which has elevated him out of sight. Further, that theory has no foothold of its own and offers none to any reader. In any event, it had already been replaced by the commonsense comment that 'the likeliest explanation of the quips about Nashe in Love's Labour's Lost is that they belong to the same quarrel and to the same date' (Honigmann 1982, 69). Without some such topical explanation, the puns and allusions will remain incomprehensible.

     The play's basic style is also that of the Sonnets. The same hand leaves the same imprints: Latin tags and allusions, especially to Ovid; the Bible; proverbs; puns in profusion; bawdry; law and oath-taking; chiasmus. That last feature often passes unnoticed, and is hence worth documenting: 'aright...watch...watched...right' (III.i.192-3), 'pitched..toil...toiling...pitch' (IV.iii.2-3). The same figure of speech has recently been documented in Edward III (Sams 1996, 233) and in the Sonnets (Vendler 1997, 29 et passim); it is ostensively Shakespearean. The two sources also share the same idiosyncratic vocabulary, such as 'steep-up' and 'world-without-end'.

     Now that Edward III has been included in a standard edition (Riverside 1997, 1700f) the plenitude of striking parallels among all the works of the 1590s becomes even more relevant. Thus the 'tender horns' (LLL IV.iii. 335;Ven 1033) of the snail that 'shrinks' (Ven) are also the 'snaily horns' that will be made to 'shrink' (E3 144). The brusque rejection of blackness (LLL IV.iii.243; Sonn 147.14) or paint (LLL II.i.14; Sonn 21.2, 67.5, 82.13, 83.1-2) is also shared with Edward III (932, 1404-6). Even more striking are the direct parallels between Edward IIIand Love's Labour's Lost in passages about the relation between love and war; these are the former's themespassim, while 'military imagery' is common in the latter 'especially when love is under discussion' (Kerrigan 1982, 149). There is also a measure of precise verbal correspondence, e.g. in the idea of converting miles into infinite steps (LLL V.ii.184-199), or in the so-called 'blot' cluster of linked images (Muir 1960, 22). Both plays are plainly the work of a revising writer; and the same time-scale of two lustra at two years' remove (c. 1591-6, c. 1593-8) applies equally to each. And both plays feature a kingly figure and his faithful secretary or follower. The significance for world literature of the Southampton/Shakespeare relationship can hardly be overestimated.

     At any stage, those well versed in Shakespeare might expect any of his plays to contain a deliberate cross-reference to his own work (RS1 xv); and the utterance 'my sweet ounce of man's flesh, my incony jew' (III.i.135), can hardly fail to remind any lay Shakespeare-lover of The Merchant of Venice, registered (241) in the publication year, 1598, of Love's Labour's Lost. But it is rare to acknowledge any such allusion, however typical.

     Nor is proper attention paid to textual analysis of the 1598 first edition. Its speech-prefixes include:


Armado: A./Ar./Arm./Arma./Armado/B./Bra./Brag.(=Braggart)

Berowne: Be./Ber,/Ber./Bero./Berow./Berowne.

Boyet: Bo./Boy./Boyet.

Costard: Cl./Clo./Clow./Clowne./Col.[sic]/Cost.

Dull: Antho./Constab./Dul./Dull.

Dumaine: Dum./Duma./Duman.

Ferdinand, King of Navarre: Fer./Ferd./Ferdinand/Kin./King./Na,/Nau./Nauar.

Forester: For./Forr.

Holofernes: Holo./Ped./Peda./Pedan./Pedant.

Jacquenetta: Iaq./Iaqu./Iaquenetta./Ma./Maid./Maide./Mayd.

Lady: 1. Lady./Lad./Ros./Rosa./Rosal.

Lady: Kath./Kather./La./Lad.2./2. Lad./Lady Ka.

Lady: Lad./3. Lad./Lad.2./Lady Maria./Ma./Mar./Marg./Mari./Maria.

Longaville: Lon./Long./Longavill..

Moth: Boy./Pag./Page.

Nathaniel: Cura./Curat./Curat Nath./Nat./Nath.

Princess of France: Pri./Prin./Princ./Prine.[sic]/Prince./Que./Quee./



     The Ladies' descriptions are too confused to categorise clearly. Indeed, all the speech-prefixes are so very variable that only one modern editor has ever attempted an exegesis (Hibbard 1990, 58-77), and this begins with the flat misstatement that Longueville (sic), Dumaine, Biron (sic), Boyet and the Forester 'have each a single consistent speech-prefix for their parts'. On the contrary, all the speech-prefixes are flagrantly inconsistent; and this feature not only indicates a theatre manuscript but confirms its origins as authorial copy, with the same amazing variation as in the More MS. Thus the 1598 first edition 'gives every sign of having been printed, whether directly or at one remove, from foul papers' (i.e. amended authorial holograph) (Taylor and Wells 1988, 270).

     Yet the obvious inference, namely that no one who wrote thus could possibly have been anything other than educationally disadvantaged, always remains unmentioned. Indeed, it had already been expressly denied by the same authority in the same work, who hailed the sixteen-year-old school-leaver Shakespeare as a high-level Latinist (Wells 1986, xiv). But then how did he come to spell the word 'immured' as 'emured', in his late twenties? There it is, in a play printed from copy in his own hand: 'thou wert emured, restrained, captiuated, bound' (III.i.124). This first edition 'abounds in gross errors' (Wells loc. cit.); but 'emured' could hardly be a compositorial misprint for the required 'immured', especially since it recurs in Edward III. There, in a scene universally attributed to Shakespeare, the King explains that it is 'the prisoner' who is best qualified to describe 'emuréd dark constraint', again meaning 'immured'. No Latinist could have written thus; so the Shakespeare whose copy for Love's Labour's Lost 1598 contained the words printed as 'commaund', 'dispence', 'perswade', 'proclaymed', 'prophane', 'sence', 'vertue' and ' vertuous', as well as 'emured', could hardly have been a skilled Latinist either, at any stage of his education.

     It can hardly be coincidence, conversely, that the same spellings of the same words also occur in Edward III1596. This too abounds in errors, presumably because the holograph copy was difficult to read, both per se and in its many variant forms, as in More; and it had been further complicated by revision and amendments in the light of stage performance. Even so, the wide overlap of orthography strongly suggests the same hand behind both printings – a hand that also spelt 'oath' as 'oth' and 'othe', so that all three variants appear in both texts. Other shared variants include Angell/Angels, beautious/bewtious, been/bin, breast/brest, cald/calde, crie/cry, eie/eye, eies/eyes, els/else, employ/imploy, false/falshood, far/farre, France/Fraunce, gon/gone, he/hee, her/hir, if/yf, Ladie/Lady, lies/lyes, lippes/lips, manie/many, me thinkes/me thinks, O/oh, painefull/paynefull, periurd/periurde, run/runne, sence/sense, she/shee, sin/sinne, sommer/summer, therefore/therfore, time/tyme, tong/tongue, verie/very, vild/vile, we/wee, wel/well, wil/will. Again, both texts exemplify the occasional use of 'au' for 'a' (chaunce), Launces (=lances)', 'e' for 'ea' (fether) or conversely (least = lest), 'ee' for 'ie' (theefe, yeeld) or for 'ea' (yeere), 'ie' for 'y' (anie, verie, drie, skie, and many others), 'im' or 'in' for 'em' or 'en' (imbrace, indure, ingage, intirely, intreat), final 'll' (ciuill, continuall, deuill, dreadfull, eternall, euill, extemporall and many others), doubled medial 'l' (schollers) or 'm' (comming) or 'n' (annother, pennance) or 'r' (morrall, Starre, warres) or 't' (pittie), or conversely (peny), 'oa' for'o' (choake) and conversely (approch, grone, grones, groning), 'oo' for 'o' (prooue, prooued, loose = lose), final 't' instead of 'ed' in past tenses (curst, markt, nipt, stopt, watcht), 'ue' for 'u' (duetie, trueth), 'y' for 'i' (choyce, fayre, ioynt, noyse, poynt, poyson, rayse, sayle, toyle, traytor, tytle), together with such special spellings as Armado (=Armada), despight, dismaid, Ile (=I'll), persing (=piercing), her selfe, your selfe, etc. (but 'himselfe', all one word), privat, repleat, sower (=sour).

   Again, all these words, and many others, with or without variants, are found in both plays. There is no reason for shared words, and still less for shared spellings (in the absence of settled authority, and indeed amid a ceaseless flux) except the hand of the same author in manuscript copy. It might also be possible to infer from such sources what rules Shakespeare was applying to the questions of capitals and italics, since his papers, being intended or at least available for printing, surely included instructions to the compositor. Both plays, for example, not only contain but capitalise the words (this time in modern spelling) Air, Amber, Angel, Antique, Ape, Art, Cannon, Cloake, Corne, Country, Court, Crown, Drum, Duke, Eagle, Epitaph, Father, Fox, Herald, Hermit, Jewels, Knight, Lady, Ladies, Lances, Law, Lion, Lord, Lords, Majesty, Moon, Muscovites, North, North-east, Northern, Oaks, Oracle, Poet, Prince, Queen, Raven, Sea, Shirt, Soldier, Soldiers, Star, Sword, Town, Winter, Worms. For the sake of completeness, it can be added that the spellings and variants observable in Love's Labour's Lost are also visible throughout the Sonnets, often in the same words, although many of those poems are doubtless much later in date than the play, and all of them remained unprinted until 1609. To save space, comparison is restricted to the following list of words (again in modern spelling) which begin with a capital letter in both the play and the poems: Age, Antique, Art, Arts, Beauties, Boy, Day, East, Embassy, Epitaph, Father, Horse, Hound, Jewel, Ink, Jewels, King, Kings, Knight, Ladies, Lambe, Lark(s), Lily, Lion, Lord, Lords, Love, Lover, Majesty, Master, Mistress, Moon, Nature, Painter, Physic, Poet, Princes, Rhetoric, Rose, Roses, Simplicity, Son(s), Spring, Star, Stars, Summer, Sun, Time, Virgin, West, Will, Winter, Woman (Women).

     Neither of these lists displays the least consistency; any such word may also begin with a lower-case letter in a different context. And of course a compositor may perhaps have decided that a given authorial capital was unnecessary or inappropriate in print. But in general it was presumably Shakespeare himself who decided the categories for which he would doff or retain his cap. And if all the other examples that occur only in a single source are also taken into consideration, a pattern is indeed discernible. Thus flora and fauna, compass points, types and classes, artistic categories, heavenly bodies and so forth are entitled to (though they may not always receive) capitalisation. That impulse and that variability – the rules and their infringement – must have emanated from some mind, in accordance with some system or lack of it. Prima facie, that mind was Shakespeare's; and the results are thus worthy of special study.


1so, prima facie, was the W.S. mentioned on the title-page of Locrine, which is another reason for identifying the two; revision was rare.

2 which may have been used by Da Ponte in his libretto for Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte; there too the heroes exeunt and return in foreign costume.

3sic; but the capital letter is now silently 'corrected'.

4such as W.B. Yeats, whose verse play The Green Helmet exploits the hexametric verse-form employed here, e.g. at IV.i.133f). 

5there is no justification for the amendment 'Mote' found in the Penguin and the Oxford editions (cf. Hibbard 1990, 245-6).