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Bene. Peace! I will stop your mouth '.
Bene. I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of wit-crackers' cannot flout me out of my humour. Dost thou think, I care for a satire, or an epigram ? No: if a man will be beaten with brains, a' shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it, for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but, in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
Claud. I had well hoped, thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double dealer ; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
Bene. Come, come, we are friends.—Let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts, and our wives' heels.
Leon. We'll have dancing afterward.
Bene. First, of my word ; therefore, play, music !—Prince, thou art sad ; get thee a wife, get thee a wife: there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.
Enter a Messenger.
Bene. Think not on him till to-morrow : I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.-Strike up, pipers. [Dance.
s Bene. Peace! I will stop your mouth.] The 4to, 1600, and the folios assign this speech to Leonato; but it appears by a change of prefix in the corr. fo. 1632 to belong to Benedick, and such has been the usual regulation. When the Rev. A. Dyce takes so much pains by quotations (“Remarks,” p. 35) to prove that “I will stop your mouth" means I will kiss you, surely, it is mis-spent labour. He forgot that in this very play, A. ii. sc. 1 (p. 29), Beatrice says to Hero, “Stop his mouth with a kiss." Mr. Dyce goes “to Peru for a pebble” when he has one under his foot, and thinks too little of illustrating Shakespeare by Shakespeare. Our great dramatist is his own best annotator.
“A pleasant Conceited Comedie called, Loues labors lost. As it was presented before her Highnes this last Christmas. Newly corrected and augmented By W. Shakespere. Imprinted at London by W. W. for Cutbert Burby. 1598.” 4to, 38 leaves.
In the folio, 1623, “ Love's Labour's Lost” occupies 23 pages, in the division of “Comedies,” viz., from p. 122 to p. 144, inclusive. It was reprinted in 1631, 4to, “by W. S., for John Smethwicke;" and the title-page states that it was published “as it was acted by his Maiesties Seruants at the Blacke-Friers and the Globe.” It is merely a copy from the folio, 1623, with the addition of some new errors of the press.
There is a general concurrence of opinion that “Love's Labour's Lost” was one of Shakespeare's earliest productions for the stage. In his course of Lectures delivered in 1818, Coleridge was so convinced upon this point, that he said, “the internal evidence is indisputable;” and in his “Literary Remains,” II. 102, we find him using these expressions :—“The characters in this play are either impersonated out of Shakespeare's own multiformity, by imaginative self-position, or out of such as a country town and a school-boy's observation might supply !.” The only objection to this theory is, that at the time “Love's Labour's Lost” was composed, the author seems to have been acquainted in some degree with the nature of the Italian comic performances; but this acquaintance he might have obtained comparatively early in life. The character of Armado is that of a Spanish braggart, very much such a personage as was common on the Italian stage, and figures in Gľ Ingannati, (which, as the Rev. Joseph Hunter was the first to point out, Shakespeare saw before he wrote his “ Twelfth Night,”) under the name of Giglio: in the same comedy we have M. Piero Pedante, a not unusual character in pieces of that description. Holofernes is repeatedly called “the Pedant” in the old copies of " Love's Labour's Lost?," while Armado is more frequently in
Farther on this great psychological critic observes :-" If this juvenile drama had been the only one extant of our Shakespeare, and we possessed the tradition only of his riper works, or accounts of them in writers who had not even mentioned this play, how many of Shakespeare's characteristic features might we not still have discovered in Love's Labour's Lost,' though as in a portrait taken of him in his boy bood! I can never sufficiently admire the wonderful activity of thought throughout the whole of the first scene of the play, rendered natural, as it is, by the choice of the characters, and the whimsical determination on which the drama is founded - a whimsical determination certainly, yet not altogether so very improbable to those who are conversant in the history of the middle ages, with their Courts of Love, and all that lighter drapery of chivalry, which engaged even mighty kings, with a sort of serio-comic interest, and may well be supposed to have occupied more completely the smaller princes, at a time when the noble's or prince's court contained the only theatre of the domain or principality.”
? It was asserted by Warburton, that in the character of Holofernes Shakespeare intended to ridicule Florio, and that our great poet here condescended to personal satire: the only apparent offence by Florio was a passage in his “ Second Fruits," 1591, where he complained of the want of decorum in English dramatic representations. The provocation was evidently insufficient, and we may safely dismiss the whole conjecture as unfounded.