« PreviousContinue »
This play was one of those published in certain that in the commonwealth of King Shakspere's lifetime. The first edition ap Ferdinand of Navarre we havepeared in 1598. In the first collected edi
“* All men idle, all; tion, the folio of 1623, the text differs little
And women too." from the original quarto.
But still all this idleness is too energetic to From the title of the first edition of 'Love's warrant us in calling this the Comedy of Labour's Lost,' we learn that, when it was pre Leisure. Let us try again. Is it not the sented before Queen Elizabeth, at the Christ Comedy of Affectations ? mas of 1597, it had been “newly corrected Molière, in his 'Précieuses Ridicules,' has and augmented.” As no edition of the co-admirably hit off one affectation that had medy, before it was corrected and augmented, found its way into the private life of his is known to exist, we have no proof that the own times. In 'Love's Labour's Lost' Shakfew allusions to temporary circumstances, spere presents us almost every variety of which are supposed in some degree to fix affectation that is founded upon a misdirecthe date of the play, may not apply to the tion of intellectual activity. We have here augmented copy only. In the extrinsic evi many of the forms in which cleverness is dence, therefore, which this comedy supplies, exhibited as opposed to wisdom, and false there is nothing whatever to disprove the refinement as opposed to simplicity. The belief which we entertain that, before it had affected characters, even the most fantastibeen "corrected and augmented," 'Love's cal, are not fools; but, at the same time, the Labour's Lost' was one of the plays pro natural characters, who, in this play, are duced by Shakspere about 1589, when, chiefly the women, have their intellectual being only twenty-five years of age, he was a foibles. All the modes of affectation are dejoint-proprietor in the Blackfriars theatre. veloped in one continued stream of fun and The intrinsic evidence appears to us entirely drollery; every one is laughing at the folly to support this opinion.
of the other, and the laugh grows louder and There is no historical foundation for any louder as the more natural characters, one portion of the action of this comedy. There by one, trip up the heels of the more afwas no Ferdinand King of Navarre. We fected. The most affected at last join in the have no evidence of a difference between laugh with the most natural; and the whole France and Navarre as to possessions in comes down to "plain kersey yea and nay,” Aquitain.
—from the syntax of Holofernes, and the Charles Lamb was wont to call ‘Love's “fire-new words” of Armado, to “greasy Labour's Lost' the Comedy of Leisure. 'Tis Joan" and "roasted crabs.”