The Date of "Love's Labour's Lost"
Modern Language Review
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... I. THE RUSSIAN MASQUERADE. APPARENTLY the Muscovite masque is a piece of extraneous amusement without immediate regard to the main play. Consequently its casual introduction has been accounted for by imagining that it owed its occurrence to some historic circumstance or other which gave it topical point. Sir Sidney Lee has suggested that it owes its introduction to a Russian mission to Queen Elizabeth in 1583 to seek a wife in her court for Ivan the 'rerrible. But the suggestion does not carry conviction. The parallel is much too slight and the reference too remote in time. We suggest, however, that other events explain the introduction of the masque. Hakluyt shows us that the years 1590-1592 were very remarkable for the special interest then taken in Russian affairs; not only were the English and Russian governments in close communication, but the English court, indeed Elizabeth herself, was involved in 1591 in a dispute with the Czar, and moreover, in a dispute which, we believe, lends itself especially to the underlying theme of L. L. L. Moreover, this interest in Russia was explicitly represented by the publication in 1591 of Giles Fletcher's Of the Russe Commonwealth, with which book, as we shall see, Shakespeare has been thought to have had some acquaintance. Hakluyt's documents show that in 1590-1592, there was much diplomatic traffic between England and Russia, mainly concerning trade problems. English merchants protested strongly against the hindrances and taxes to which the Russians submitted them; one Antony Marsh had been seized; the money of one Wm. Turnbull, deceased, was wanted by English creditors and was kept back by the Russians; Elizabeth's envoy, Jerome Horsey2, had proved himself persona non grata at the Russian court, etc., etc. So Hakluyt gives us the diplomatic correspondence: Boris Pheodorowich writes to Burghley (1590); Elizabeth writes 1 Continued from p. 266. 2 In II, i, 22 'A message well sympathised; a horse to be ambassador for an ass,' the horse is most unaccountably dragged into the wit. Commentators generally note the unintelligible introduction-and confess their inability to see the application. I suggest that Jerome Horsey has something to do with it-but am unable to carry the suggestion further. This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 06:51:46 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions dorowich (1591); the Czar writes to Elizabeth (1592); Pheodorowich writes to her and also to Burghley (1592). Russian affairs were clearly then of some public moment. Moreover, the English regarded themselves as offended, and therefore free to make fun of the obnoxious Muscovite. Further still, one element of the dispute affected the Queen herself, and at the same time revealed a ludicrous characteristic of Russian official life, a love of verbal pomposity, which is, so to speak, the official counterpart of those literary affectations which are the main theme of the play. The Russian Emperor, Fletcher informs us, had inordinate pride in the pompous style of his title. Everyone having audience or writing to him, must address him: Theodore Ivanowich, by the grace of God great Lord and Emperour of all Russia, great Duke of Volodomer, Mosco, and Novogrod, King of Cazan, King of Astracan, Lord of Plesco, andgreat Duke of Smolensco, of Twerrio, Joughoria, Permia, Vadska, Bulghoria, and others, Lord and great Duke of Novogrod of the Low countrey, My selfe when I had audience of the Emperour, thought good to salute him only with thus much, viz. Emperour of all Russia, great Duke of Volodomer. Mosco, and Novogrod, King of Cazan, King of Astracan. The rest I omitted of purpose, because I knew they gloried, to have their stile appeare to be of a larger volume then the Queenes of England. But this was taken in so ill part, that the Chancelour...with a loude chafing voice, called still upon me to say out the rest. Whereto I answered, that the Emperors stile was very long, and could not so well be remembered by strangers, that I had repeated so much of it, as might shew that I gave honour to the rest, &c. But all would not serve till I commanded my interpreter to say it all out. And precisely in 1591, Queen Elizabeth herself had to apologise for a similar offence to the pompous Emperor, which she did with fine satire in the following letter: Elizabeth by the grace of God Queene of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. to the right high, mighty and right noble prince Theodore Ivanovich, great Lord, King, and great Duke of all Russia, Volodemer, Mosco, Novogrod, King of Cazan, and Astracan, Lord of Vobsko, and great Duke of Smolensko, Otver, Vghory, Perme, Viatski, Bolgory, and other places: Lord and great Duke of Novogrod in the low countrey, of Chernigo, Rezan, Polotsky, Rostove, Yeraslave, Bealozero, and Lifland, of Oudorsky, Obdorsky, Condinsky, and commander of all Iversky, Grisinsky, Emperor of Kabardinsky, and of the country of Charkasky, and of the country of Gorsky, and Lord of many other countreys, our most deare and loving Brother, greeting....As touching your Majesties conceit of the brevitie which we used in the setting downe of your Majesties stile and titles of honour: as nothing is further from us, then to abridge so great and mighty a Prince of the honour due unto him...so shall we need no further nor surer argument to cleare us of the suspicion of the detracting from your Majesty any part of your just and princely honor and greatnesse, then the consideration of our owne stile, which is thus contracted, videlicet, Elizabeth by the grace of God Queene of England, France, and This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 06:51:46 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions