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The earliest edition of Love's Labor's Lost appeared in 1598, with the following title-page:-“A Pleasant conceited Comedie called Loues Labors lost. As it was presented before her Highness this last Christmas. Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere. Imprinted at London by W. W. for Cuthbert Burby." (Reproduced in photo-lithography by W. Griggs with forewords by Dr. Furnivall, Shakespeare-Quarto Fascimiles, No. 5.)

The Folio Edition of 1623—probably reprinted from the Quarto-gives on the whole a somewhat better text of the play, though in two or three instances the earlier Quarto is helpful in restoring correct readings; both editions are marked by carelessness; some of the errors are of singular interest as throwing light on Shakespeare's workmanship. The title-page of the Quarto indicates that the play as published in 1598 represents a revised version of an earlier production. Various attempts have been made to separate the earlier and later portions; the text of the Quarto and Folio gives us a valuable clue; Act IV, üi, 299-304, and Act V, ii, 827-832, are obviously parts of the first sketch of the play printed by mistake; had the proofs of Quarto 1 been carefully read these lines would most certainly have been deleted; the former passage represents the rough draft of the great speech in which they occur; the latter gave place to Rosaline's speech “Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Biron” (V, ii, 851864). Probably a great part of the last Act has been rewritten, especially the close of the play from the entrance

vii

of Mercade. Mr. Spedding as far back as 1839 pointed out that the inequality in the length of the Acts gives us a hint where to look for the principal additions and alterations: in Act I Biron's remonstrance, and in Act IV nearly the whole of the close and a few lines at the opening of the Act, may probably be classed with the passages already. noted as belonging to Shakespeare's maturer work.

DATE OF COMPOSITION

All the recognized tests place Love's Labor's Lost among the earliest of Shakespeare's regular plays; it may certainly be regarded as among the first of his comedies. External evidence bearing on the date is somewhat scanty ; in addition to a mention of the play in Palladis Tamia in 1598, we have some lines by Robert Tofte in a poem entitled Alba; or, the Month’s Mind of a Melancholy Lover, published the same year, wherein our play is referred to in words suggesting that it was not then a recent production : "Love's Labour Lost I once did see.” Similarly in a letter by Sir Walter Cope to Lord Cranborne (1604) similar mention is made of this as “an old play” :-“Burbage is come and says there is no new play that the queen hath not seen, but they have revised an old one, called Love's Labour Lost, which for wit and mirth, he says, will please her exceedingly.” 1

All this, however, adds little to the information given on the title-page of the first Quarto.

Dr. Grosart, in his edition of Robert Southwell, contends that certain lines, written about 1594, apply to the eyes of Christ the idea contained in Biron's speech in the fifth Act:

“O sacred eyes ! the springs of living light,

The earthly heavens where angels joy to dwell. 1 Tofte and others call the play Love's Labour Lost; it is doubtful whether the correct title is Love's Labours Lost, or Love's Labour's Lost; the apostrophe is found in the headline of Quarto 1.

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