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A Lover's Complaint Cymbeline, and the Shakespeare canon: interpreting shared vocabulary.

A Lover's Complaint was published in the 1609 Quarto of Shakespeare's Sonnet and was given its own ascription to 'William Shakespeare', but in recent years several specialists in attribution have questioned its authenticity. Brian Vickers has argued that the true author is John Davies of Hereford. However, the Complaint and Cymbeline use certain rare words in similar contexts, and the links between the two works can best be explained as due to common authorship. Shakespeare's responsibility for the Complaint is further demonstrated by striking vocabulary links between the poem and other Shakespeare plays. 'Literature Online' researches reveal the strength of this association.


A Lover's Complaint was published in Thomas Thorpe's 1609 Quarto of Shakespeare's Sonnet and given its own separate attribution to 'William Shakespeare'. Since the 1960s, most scholars and editors have accepted the poem's authenticity. (1) It has attracted some stimulating criticism. (2) But several recent studies have concluded that the Quarto ascription is erroneous. (3) The most comprehensive of these is Brian Vickers's Shakespeare, 'A Lover's Complaint' and John Davies of Hereford, (4) which argues for Davies's authorship. Vickers's presentation of his case has already persuaded Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen to exclude A Lover's Complaint from their RSC Shakespeare Complete Works. They believe that Vickers has 'devastated' the Quarto claim. (5) think that all these distinguished scholars are wrong and that A Lover's Complaint belongs within the Shakespeare canon.

Vickers makes little attempt to explore links between A Lover's Complaint and Shakespeare's undoubted works, but those that he discusses are explained as due to (a) coincidence, 'Shakespeare and Davies sharing a Jacobean vocabulary' (p. 208), or (b) Davies's having imitated or echoed Shakespeare, or (c) Shakespeare's having been influenced by Davies' A Lover's Complaint which he read after Thorpe had fraudulently included it with Shakespeare's sonnets (p. 213). Thus, citing several triple rhymes shared by A Lover's Complain and The Rape of Lucrece, Vickers argues not that Shakespeare was recycling rhymes from the only other work of his in which triple rhymes were repeatedly needed for the rhyme royal stanzas (ababbcc) that the poems have in common, but that we can detect instead 'the methods of an imitator writing down rhymes in his notebook for future re-use'(p. 198). Any similarities between A Lover's Complaint and Davies's works, on the other hand, are apt to be seen as evidence that Davies wrote the poem.

Here, however, I want to focus on vocabulary, and especially on one set of verbal connections between A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline. They were pointed out in 1987 by A. K. Hieatt, T. G. Bishop, and E. A. Nicholson, who offered a very different explanation of them from that which Vickers prefers. (6) Some background information will clarify my own discussion.

Well over a hundred years ago the fine German scholar Gregor Sarrazin, working from Alexander Schmidt's Shakespeare Lexicon, listed for every play, the two narrative poems, the Sonnets, and A Lover's Complaint all the words that occur only twice or thrice in Shakespeare's oeuvre and gave references for these other occurrences. (7) His tables demonstrated a strong association between chronological proximity of plays or poems and the numbers of such rare words that they shared. A Lover's Complaint exhibited an overwhelming preponderance of vocabulary links with Shakespeare's seventeenth-century plays. (8) In 1965 I showed that words used in A Lover's Complaint and not more than five times in Shakespeare's canonical works followed the same pattern. (9) Eliot Slater's more refined statistical analysis yielded similar results. He confirmed Sarrazin's and my findings on A Lover's Complaint and, after compiling a card index of all words that Shakespeare used ten or fewer times, recorded a tendency for words considerably less 'rare' than Sarrazin's 'dislegomena' and 'trislegomena' to cluster chronologically. (10)

The fact that A Lover's Complaint s links in vocabulary are so predominantly with his seventeenth-century plays is good evidence that if it is by Shakespeare it is a work of his maturity, not of his youth, but in itself it is not, as Slater supposed, good evidence that Shakespeare was indeed the poem's author. Rare-word links between Shakespeare and works by other writers might display the same tendency to congregate in Shakespeare plays of about the same period of composition. New words were entering the language each year, so that poems or plays written in 1600, let us say, potentially shared items of vocabulary that they could not have shared with poems or plays written around 1590. Conversely, some elements of literary English current around 1590 were passing out of use by 1600. Slater found that a disproportionate number of the rare-word links between the anonymous Edward III (published in 1596 and perhaps first performed as early as 1590) and the Shakespeare canon were with the three parts of Henry VI and other early Shakespeare plays, and concluded that Shakespeare was sole author of Edward III. But M. W. A. Smith and Hugh Calvert showed that Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and Robert Greene's James IV exhibit the same concentration of word-links with Shakespeare's earliest plays. (11) In these two cases, the distribution of links to Shakespeare's dramatic canon was governed by chronology rather than authorship.

However, other aspects of the vocabulary linkages yield good evidence for attribution. Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson, following Slater, argue that Shakespeare began A Lover's Complaint around 1600-03 and worked on it again in preparation for its inclusion in Thorpe's 1609 Quarto. As they point out, the excess of observed over expected rare-word links with Shakespearian plays, though considerable for some composed earlier in the seventeenth century, is greatest for Cymbeline, dated 1610 in the Oxford Textual Companion. (12) They examine the contexts of these words within poem and play. The words, all of which occur no more than five times within Shakespeare's dramatic canon, are: gyves sb., physic v, amplify v, blazon v, ruby sb., outwardly adv., tempter sb., aptness sb., commix v, spongy a., slackly adv., feat a., rudeness sb., usury sb., and pervert v.

Dismissing the claim that the co-occurrence of these words in both A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline points to common authorship and Shakespeare's involvement with the poem not long before its publication, Vickers asserts that two other explanations are possible: either the fifteen words 'were circulating in general usage in London between 1603 and 1609' or, 'since Sonnets were published in about June 1609, and the composition of Cymbeline is usually dated to 1609-10, it may well be that Shakespeare had read A Lover's Com plaint and recalled it while writing the play' (p. 213). Vickers realizes that in this instance the option of casting John Davies of Hereford as Shakespearian imitator is precluded by the probable date of Cymbeline's first performance and the undoubted date, namely 1623, of its first appearance in print. Let us consider Vickers's alternative explanations.

Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson show that the contexts in which at least eight of the fifteen words appear are strikingly similar in one respect or another. For example, gyves denotes 'in both Cymbeline and Complaint imprisoning devices desired by the prisoner': Posthumus speaks of gyves | Desired more than constrained' (v. 5. 108-09, my italics, here and elsewhere in these quoted extracts), and the nun described in the Complaint is in 'unconstrained gyves' (l. 242). (13) Both uses of the verb physic relate to love: 'it doth physic love' (III. 2. 340), 'love to physic

your cold breast' (l. 259). Each instance of outwardly applies to a symbolic ornament connected with seduction. The word aptness 'relates in both works to shifts of amorous technique according to need'. (14) And so on. In discussing slackly they overlooked the detail that in the Complaint some of the Fickle Maid's hair, not quite breaking its 'bondage', is 'slackly braided in loose negligence' (ll. 34-35), while in Cymbeline the king's children were 'slackly guarded' due to negligence' (I. I. 65-67). The shared associations in these cases make Vickers's first explanation in terms of sheer coincidence very improbable. The whole 'Literature Online' (LION) electronic database, comprising over 350,000 works of English drama, poetry, and prose, yields only two works in which gyves are collocated with the words constrained or unconstrained--A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline. (15)

Moreover, at least two words might reasonably be added to the Hieatt list: the past-participial adjective seared and the word outward used as a noun (in the plural in A Lover's Complaint. (16) Some editors refuse to emend the First Folio's 'fear'd' to 'seared Cymbeline at II. 4. 6, but confusion between 'f' and long 's' is one of the most frequent of all errors in early modern texts and the imagery requires the emendation, adopted without comment in the Oxford Collected Works and fully defended by Martin Butler in his New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of the play. (17) The Folio contains the same mistake in Measure for Measure at II. 4.9. The word, meaning 'dried up, parched, withered', occurs in A Lover's Complaint within the initial description of the central character: 'spite of heaven's fell rage, | Some beauty peeped through lattice of seared age' (ll. 13-14). The broadly contextual link with Cymbeline is that shortly after Posthumus has spoken of his 'seared hopes' (II. 4. 6) and within the same conversation, he says of Innogen 'let her beauty | Look through a casement' (II. 4. 33-34). The whole of LION yields only one other instance of 'beauty' looking or peeping through a lattice or casement, and that is in an eighteenth-century play doubtless influenced by Cymbeline: in Henry Brooke's tragedy The Earl of Westmorland (1789), Rowena says of her husband that 'beauty from each limb, | As through a summer casement, look'd abroad, | And found no rival'. But the idea also turns up in Thomas Shipman's poem 'Beauty's Periphrasis' from Carolina: or, Loyal Poems (1683): 'She looks as Beauty prisoner was | And peeping through a double grate'. In literature before this date there is no parallel so close as afforded by Sonnet III's image: 'So thou through windows of thine age shalt see, | Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time' (ll. 11-12), where, as in A Lover's Complaint beauty is to be glimpsed through the lattice or window of 'age', and this 'despite' (or 'spite of) the ravages of time.

The noun outward is used in both A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline in praise of a man's exceptionally attractive physical appearance, or 'fair parts'(A Lover's Complaint l. 83). In the poem the woman's seducer is 'one by nature's outwards so commended | That maidens' eyes stuck overall his face' (ll.80-81), while in the play the First Gentleman reports of Posthumus, 'I do not think | So fair an outward and such stuff within | Endows a man but he' (I. I. 22-24).

These two additional items bring the number of 'rare-in-Shakespeare' words shared by A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline to seventeen, reinforcing the conclusion that, in view of the similar contexts in which so many of them are set, their presence in both poem and play is due to something more than coincidental use of words 'circulating in general usage in London between 1603 and 1609' (Vickers, p. 213).

A search of 'Literature Online' that extends the chronological limits five years before and after Vickers's dates and encompasses works of any genre published in the period 1598-1614 and all plays, masques, and entertainments (some 230 altogether) composed or first performed within these same years reveals that four of the seventeen words were seldom or never used in literature outside the Shakespeare canon: physic v, slackly adv., seared ppl.a, outward sb. Outside of Cymbeline and A Lover's Complaint physic is used as a verb only in Shakespeare's As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, and Addition iii of Sir Thomas More, and in John Norden's poem The Labyrinth of Man's Life(1614). Slackly, shared by A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline, is used elsewhere only in the anonymous Stonyhurst Pageants, dated 1617 in The Annals of English Drama and so falling outside the set 1598-1614 limits. (18)

Again, apart from the Complaint and Cymbeline, the only works to use seared as a participial adjective are Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and the play The Valiant Welshman (by 'R. A.'), dated 1612 in Annals and published in 1615. And outward is a noun only in the Complaint, Cymbeline, Troilus and Cressida, Sonnet LXIX, Sonnet CXXV, and one non-Shakespearian work. In all the Shakespearian examples of outward the word is clearly a noun. LION yields a small handful of non- Shakespearian examples of adjectival outward with a following noun understood, such as 'Fitting their outward to their inward hue' in Francis Rous' Thule; or, Virtue's History (1598). But there is also one somewhat enigmatic instance of substantival use in Samuel Rowlands's The Betraying of Christ (1598). Rowlands includes a series of lines describing Judas and beginning with successive letters of the alphabet, A to Z. The line for 'X' reads: 'X plan the outward, inward, not at all'. This becomes more intelligible with the comma after 'inward' deleted and the old abbreviation (normally 'Xpian') expanded to 'Christian': Judas was Christian in outward show but not inwardly. Although outward is here a noun, it is less distinct from the kind of elliptical 'outward ... inward' plus noun formation than are the Shakespearian examples: 'beauty's outward' in Troilus and Cressida (III. 2. 158), 'Thy outward thus with outward praise is crowned' in Sonnet LXIX. 5, 'With my extern the outward honouring' in Sonnet CXXV. 2.

So within Vickers's specified narrower range, about 1603-09, LION yields no non-Shakespearian instances of any of these four words, whereas, if, on the strength of Vickers's 'about', we allow slackly in Cymbeline, Shakespeare uses them all within that period.

Vickers lists ten of the fifteen Hieatt words shared by A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline that occur in Davies's writings. (19) Of these, the instance of physic v. comes within Wit's Bedlan (1617), which falls outside Vickers's 'between about 1603 and 1609' and also outside the wider limits of my LION search. Vickers has forgotten ruby, which truly is common in the period and which Davies uses in five of his volumes. Neither outward sb. nor seared ppl.a. is used by Davies. (20) So his canon contains examples of eleven of the seventeen words, and excludes three of the four rarest (slackly adv., outward sb., and seared v); also absent are outwardly, aptness, and rudeness.

Shakespeare, of course, employs all seventeen, since all are found in Cymbeline. But what we are attempting to determine is whether it is more likely (a) that A Lover's Complaint is by Davies and that Shakespeare, in writing Cymbeline, was influenced by reading the poem when it was published with his own sonnets, or (b) that Shakespeare wrote A Lover's Complaint as well as Cymbeline. The seventeen words have already been identified as linking poem and play. We may now examine their incidence in other Shakespearian works. As Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson record, all except commix and slackly are to be found in at least one, and usually in several, Shakespeare plays, besides Cymbeline. But the significant feature is their chronological distribution. The nineteen plays up to and including Henry V (1598-99) have seven instances, whereas the nineteen plays from Julius Caesar to The Two Noble Kinsmen have twenty-nine. (21) This is pertinent to dating the poem rather than to determining its authorship. More importantly, Measure for Measure (1603) has six, namely gyves, ruby, tempter, usury, pervert, and seared. Troilus and Cressida (1602) has five, namely physic, spongy, rudeness, outwards, and outwardly. Macbeth (with physic, outwardly, and spongy) and Coriolanus (with amplify, aptness, and usury) both have three. Measure for Measure follows Troilus and Cressida in the Oxford Shakespeare's chronological order of plays, so that two consecutively written plays (1602-03), covering about six hundred lines, contain eleven of the seventeen Cymbeline-A Lover's Complaint words, as many as the whole Davies canon, amounting to over 42,000 lines. (22) In the whole of LION, four works contain spongy, outwardly, and physic as a verb: Troilus and Cressida, Macbeth, Cymbeline, and A Lover's Complaint.

Davies never used outwardly, aptness, slackly, rudeness, outward sb., or seared ppl.a. Before the 1609 publication of A Lover's Complaint Shakespeare had used outwardly in Troilus and Cressida (1602), Macbeth (1606), and possibly The Winter's Tale 1609); aptness in Coriolanus (1608); rudeness in Julius Caesar (1599), Twelfth Night (1601), and Troilus and Cressida (1602); outward sb. in Troilus and Cressida (1602) and Sonnets LXIX and CXXV (1593-1603); and seared in Measure for Measure (1603). Of course, he used all these words in Cymbeline. By 1609 Davies had not used physic as a verb, his sole example coming from Wit's Bedlam(1617), whereas Shakespeare had used it in As You Like It (1599-1600), Troilus and Cressida (1602), Sir Thomas More, Addition iii (1603-04), Macbeth (1606), and possibly The Winter's Tale (1609). (23)

In the light of all the preceding data it seems highly improbable that in Cymbeline Shakespeare echoed a Complaint by John Davies of Hereford. It seems much more likely that in Cymbeline Shakespeare recycled some of the words he himself had used not only in A Lover's Complain but in various other works, and placed several of them in strikingly similar contexts because they formed part of a network of associations in his mind.

Further scrutiny of the Complaint contexts of some of the seventeen words confirms this conclusion. We have already said something about seared. A Lover's Complaint tells us in regard to the 'fickle maid' that 'spite of heaven's fell rage, | Some beauty peeped through lattice of seared age' (ll. 13-14). The word seared thus occurs within lines that have a close, and almost unique, parallel in Cymbeline's 'let her beauty | Look through a casement', besides a striking similarity to Sonnet III's: 'So thou through windows of thine age shalt see, | Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time', which offers the same idea of glimpsing beauty through the lattice or windows of withered or wrinkled age, and in similar wording: through [...] age [...] spite of/Despite of. In A Lover's Complaint the criss-crossed strips of lattice-work themselves evoke the sonnet's 'wrinkles'. It seems probable that Shakespeare three times used variations on the same image, not that in Cymbeline he was reclaiming an image that Davies had borrowed from one of his sonnets.

Moreover, the metaphorical 'peeping through' of the Complaint can be paralleled in Shakespeare, but not in any other LION work of 1598-1614. In other authors, cases of literal peeping through (often through 'crannies') are common enough, and the sun, morning, heaven, or light may peep through some space or other. But only in Shakespeare can we find a figurative peeping through comparable to beauty's in the Complaint: 'I'll force | The wine peep through their scars' in Antony and Cleopatra (III. 13.192-93); 'your youth | And the true blood which peeps so fairly through it 'in The Winter's Tale (IV. 4. 147-48), where 'true blood' means both 'virtuous passion' and 'noble lineage'; 'I can see his pride | Peep through each part of him' in All Is True or Henry VIII (I. I. 68-69). None of these plays was published until 1623, and yet the composition of Antony and Cleopatra certainly pre-dated the writing of Cymbeline and the publication of A Lover's Complains Davies has only the one example of the commonplace 'Heaven's bright eye [...] Peeps through the purple window of the east', in Summa total is (1607). (24)

The rare noun outward was seen to have similar associations in the Complaint and Cymbeline. Its context in the Complaint also connects with other Shakespearian works. In the poem, the Youth is said to be
   O, one by nature's outwards so commended
   That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face.
   Love lacked a dwelling and made him her place,
   And when in his fair parts she did abide
   She was new-lodged and newly deified.


Sonnet LXIX's use outward as a noun begins:
   Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
   Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend.
   All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due,
   Utt'ring bare truth even so as foes commend.
   Thy outward thus with outward praise is crowned.

                                           (11. 1-5)

Here, as in A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline, the noun outward relates to praise of a man's exceptional physical attractiveness, with the sonnet and the poem sharing 'parts' and 'commend'. Like A Lover's Complaint, the sonnet goes on to suggest that the inward man, as manifested in his deeds, 'matcheth not thy show' (1. 13). The Complaint stanza's 'maiden's eyes stuck over all his face' may seem grotesque, but 'stuck over' probably has little more metaphorical content than our 'all eyes were fixed upon him'. Maiden's eyes lingered over him. There are good Shakespearian parallels: Timon speaks of 'The mouths, the tongues, the eyes and hearts of men |[...]| That numberless upon me stuck' (Timon of Athens, iv. 3. 162-64), and the Duke in Measure for Measure exclaims: 'O place and greatness, millions of false eyes I Are stuck upon thee' (IV. 1. 58-59). The Complaint stanza's idea of 'love' (or 'Love') using the beautiful Youth as 'a dwelling' recalls a passage in Venus and Adonis where 'Love', imagining his own burial in the hollows of Adonis's dimpled cheeks, knows well that 'if there he came to lie, | Why there love lived, and there he could not die' (ll. 245-46). And of the Young Man of Sonnet XCIII it is said that' heaven in thy creation did decree | That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell' (ll. 9-10). (25)

The Complaint stanza thus has notable parallels with a sonnet published in the same volume as itself, a narrative poem published in 1593 and therefore available for Davies to borrow from, and two plays that did not reach print till 1623 and, in the case of Tinton, had almost certainly not been staged by 1609.

It must be emphasized that I am not offering these parallels as in themselves proving that Shakespeare wrote A Lover's Complaint. Rather, I have cited them as further evidence that can help us determine the most plausible explanation for the presence in both the Complaint and Cymbeline of the rare noun outwards. The fact that outwards occurs as a noun in a stanza of the Complaint that affords such Shakespearian parallels surely tells against the idea that the Complaint was written by Davies, and that Shakespeare, reading it for the first time in 1609, echoed Davies in Cymbeline, taking over from him a word that Shakespeare himself had used in Troilus and Cressida and in two sonnets but that Davies never used in his acknowledged canon.

Among the Hieatt words is feat. In A Lover's Complaint letters are 'With sleided silk feat and affectedly l Enswathed and sealed to curious secrecy' (ll.48-49). The whole LION database yields only one other instance of 'sleided silk'--in the Gower chorus of Pericles that, in unmistakably Shakespearian terms, describes the accomplishments of 'absolute Marina' (sc. 15. 21). (26) Shakespeare could not have appropriated this phrase after encountering it for the first time in the Complaint as printed in the Sonnets Quarto of 1609, since Pericles had been first performed some time within the period 1606-08. Davies could have borrowed the phrase from Pericles only if he had heard it at a performance of the play or read it in the 1609 Quarto of Pericles after the unknown month of the play's publication but before publication of the Sonnets Quarto, which had been entered in the Stationers' Register on 20 May 1609. It is more plausible that Shakespeare reused his own unique phrase. Again, the word common to A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline is found in the poem in association with a phrase that affords a unique parallel to a different Shakespearian play.

The links in vocabulary between A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline, to which Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson drew special attention, are important because the poem was published before Cymbeline was available for imitation, even by a playgoer hearing it in performance, let alone a reader, the play's first appearance in print having been in the First Folio of 1623. But of course there are also several very rare words in the Complaint that, although not found in Cymbeline, do occur within other Shakespeare plays: the verbal substantive appertainings and the adjective credent (as distinct from the Latin third-person plural verb), for example. LION yields no non- Shakespearian instances of either word before the nineteenth century. But appertainings occurs in the Complaint (1. 115) and in the Quarto of Troilus and Cressida (1609) at 11. 3. 79 (where F 1623 has 'appertainment'), while credent occurs in the Complaint (1. 279), Hamlet (1. 3. 30), Measure for Measure (IV. 4. 25), and The Winter's Tale (1. 2. 144). Since The Winter's Tale was composed in 1609-10, credent was thus used by Shakespeare in plays written both before and after the probable composition date and certain publication date of A Lover's Complains All the extant evidence points to its having belonged to Shakespeare's word-stock, but not to Davies's. Indeed, before the nineteenth century it appears to have been Shakespeare's alone.

Another rare word, pelleted, occurs in the Complaint (1. 18) and in Antony and Cleopatra (iii. 13. 168), and, as Kenneth Muir noted, 'In the poem, the tears are the pellets of sorrow; in the play, Cleopatra's frozen tears, turned to hail, are the pellets of her grief.' (27) LION's only other pre-nineteenth-century uses of the word are in civic pageants by Heywood, Munday, and Middleton, and in every case it is used in a technical, heraldic sense ('marked or charged with [heraldic] pellets'), especially with reference to 'pelleted lions', often 'golden'. OED places its citations from the Complaint and Antony and Cleopatra under a separate headword: they are the only citations in which the verb pellet means 'form or shape into pellets' and in each case it is water that is so formed-as teardrops, as hailstones. Since Antony and Cleopatra was first printed in the First Folio (of 1623), Vickers has again to suggest that either Davies 'may well have seen it in the theatre' or to invoke pure coincidence (p. 168).

The Complaint stanza containing pelleted is another with many connections to Shakespeare's works:
   Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
   Which on it had conceited characters,
   Laund'ring the silken figures in the brine
   That seasoned woe had pelleted in tears,
   And often reading what contents it bears;
   As often shrieking undistinguished woe
   In clamours of all size, both high and low.
                                   (ll. 15-21)

Vickers finds much to deprecate here (pp. 167-68). But there are many striking Shakespearian parallels, whatever one's critical judgement on the way the images are developed. The use of a napkin to wipe away tears may seem commonplace, but among LION plays of 1590-1610 I found it only in Titus Andronicus (twice) and 3 Henry VI. (28) Davies never mentions a napkin and the sole handkerchief ('handkercher') in his verse does not wipe away tears. In the Complaint, the woman's napkin, embroidered with 'conceited characters' and 'silken figures', is reminiscent of Desdemona's, which had 'magic in the web' (III. 4. 69), and was sewn with 'silk' (III. 4.73) embroidery that included 'straw-berries' (III. 3. 440). (29) Vickers reviles as 'laboured' the 'spelling out of the chain of associations' in 'Laund'ring [...] brine [...] seasoned [...] pelleted in tears' (p. 168). But Shakespeare, like many of his contemporaries, repeatedly thinks of tears in terms of their saltiness, and 'tears', 'brine', and 'season' are brought together in All's Well That Ends Well: tears. | 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in' (II. 1. 44-46). (30) The metaphorical content of Shakespeare's verse is customarily produced or enhanced by the kind of submerged punning that leads from the brine of tears to salt as a seasoning: the associations in the Complaint lines are not 'spelt out' at all. Romeo and Juliet adds washing or laundering (though of the cheeks, not a napkin), when Friar Laurence, learning of Romeo's new love, exclaims:
   Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine
   Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!
   How much salt water thrown away in waste
   To season love, that of it doth not taste!

In Twelfth Night, Valentine reports to Orsino of Olivia that
      like a cloistress she will veiled walk
   And water once a day her chamber round
   With eye-offending brine--all this to season
   A brother's dead love [...]
                                  (I. I. 27-30)

In The Rape of Lucrece, the heroine 'must sit and pine, | Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine, | Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans' (ll. 795-97). (31)

In the Complaint, 'seasoned woe' is of long duration, established, matured over time (like seasoned timber), but the wordplay helps create 'pelleted in tears'. The same punning is present in The Merchant of Venice in Portia's 'How many things by season seasoned are I To their right praise and true perfection!' (V. 1. 107-08): as M. M. Mahood explained, in 'season' there is 'a play on the meanings "time" and "spice", which is extended to "seasoned"'. (32) In fact, the same wordplay seems present in the Twelfth Night passage: Olivia preserves in the brine of tears the memory of her dead brother, maintaining the piquancy of her sense of loss, but there is a suggestion also of her allowing her grief to ripen and mature.

Vickers, retailing eighteenth-century editor George Steevens's assertion that pellet was 'the ancient culinary term for forced meat ball', finds such an extension of the image 'from the kitchen' that is touched on in 'seasoned' to be an offence against 'the Renaissance concept of decorum'(pp. 167-68). OED lends no support whatsoever to Steevens's gloss. If the sense claimed by Steevens did indeed exist and was known to the poet, it may have operated as an unconscious association. But the sense of pellet relevant for a reader is OED's 'globe, ball, or spherical body, usually of small size'. The woman's 'seasoned woe' has produced globular tears. Vickers believes that 'This poet has been thinking too literally about tears and their shape' (p. 168). To me, it is through the workings of a Shakespearian visual imagination that teardrops are so economically brought into focus. The pellet as 'shot, projectile, gunstone' is also pertinent, as John Kerrigan explained. As he noted, Shakespeare's use of pelleted in Antony and Cleopatra also 'associates tears with a destructive bombardment. Accused of being cold-hearted towards Antony, Cleopatra protests that, if she is so, heaven should "engender hail" from her tears and in a "pelleted storm" destroy herself, her heirs, and nation' (III. 13. 161-70). (33)

As for 'Laund'ring', this first use of the verb known OED is a natural extension of the washing with tears that, while common enough in early modern texts, turns up with special frequency in Shakespeare. (34) 'Laund'ring' refreshes the commonplace, particularly in association with the napkin or handkerchief.

To move to the stanza's lines 19-21, reading the contents of something is far from unusual, but in an earlier study I found the verb and the noun juxtaposed only in three plays of 1590-1610, one of them being King Lear. (35) Vickers regards the woman's 'shrieking undistinguished woe' as 'excessive, melodramatic', points out that the shrieks in Shakespeare are 'mostly associated with night, omens, and unnatural behaviour', and argues that Davies was under the influence of Spenser (pp. 60-61). But the melodramatics are no blemish. The 'I' of the poem's opening stanza is a detached spectator to the woman's histrionics and an eavesdropper on the story of her seduction as she relates it to a 'reverend man'. Even that initial 'I' cannot be equated with the poet, whose sympathy towards the main character in this little drama is complicated by his sense of the ridiculous. As John Kerrigan has written, 'In Venus and Adonis Shakespeare is drily sceptical about the kind of lamenting amplitude which features so largely in A Lover's Complaint. The Complaint has its share of 'the ingrained tonal wit which comes from derivativeness in the genre'. The poem's 'knowingness' about its 'Spenserian trappings' imparts an air of the 'urbane and droll'. (36)

The self-conscious drollness extends into the stanza's final 'clamours of all size, both high and low' (1. 21). Vickers objects: 'The collocation of "clamours" and "size" leads us to expect such qualifying epithets as "great" and "small", which makes either "size" or "high and low" an inappropriate word choice' (p. 219). Yet, among LION dramatists of 1590-1610, Shakespeare is the only one to use either 'size' or 'both high and low' in connection with sounds. (37) In The Winter's Tale, a servant reports that Autolycus 'hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes' (IV. 4. 192). The Arden 2 editor, J. H. P. Pafford, glossed 'sizes' as 'lengths, kinds', citing OED, s.v. 12, and Schmidt, s.v 3. (38) The songs are thus both short and long and for male (low) and female (high) voices. Likewise, the complaining woman's 'clamours' or wailings vary in pitch and duration. The Complaint's 'both high and low'(which also includes 'loud and soft'), is not 'an unmotivated piece of padding', as Vickers supposes: it adds a further descriptive element. In Twelfth Night the 'true love' of Feste's song 'can sing both high and low' (II. 3. 40)--again both pitch and volume seem relevant. As OED makes clear, 'size' had a wider range of meanings than Vickers recognizes, but even in its ordinary modern sense, it is not at odds with' high or low', which need not be taken as in apposition. As Katherine Duncan-Jones remarks, the line has a tinge of 'mockery or burlesque' about it, but this does not make it inept. (39)

Vickers cites six examples of 'high or low' in Davies's poetry (p. 220). But the phrase is used seven times in Shakespeare's plays, and, as in the complaint and Twelfth Night, in The Merry Wives of Windsor (II. I. 109) we find the full phrase 'both high and low' (my italics), which Davies never user 'Nor does he ever apply 'high and low' to sounds. The web of Shakespearian connections with the stanza in which 'pelleted' is placed renders incredible Vickers's offered explanation of the word's occurrence, with the meaning 'formed into (non-heraldic, water-based) pellets', in both 4 Lover's Complaint and Antony and Cleopatra but in no other LION work. Coincidence is inconceivable. And even if we were to suppose that Davies, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek collecting unfamiliar words that tickle his fancy, not only jotted down 'pelleted' after attending a performance of the play but also remembered its context, we would still have to postulate a degree of intimacy with other Shakespearian works (some not published by 1609) of which there is no evidence in his acknowledged verse--or none, at least, that Vickers supplies.

Vickers's interpretation of another link between A Lover's Complaint and Shakespeare is especially vulnerable. The seduced woman of the poem is seen 'storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain'(l. 7), which furnished OED's earliest citation of storm as a transitive verb. (41) It has long been known that there is an analogous use in The History of King Lear (sc. 8. 9-10), where Lear 'Strives in his little world of man to outstorm | The to-and-fro conflicting wind and rain'. The parallel is most unlikely to be coincidental, because it not only covers the newly minted verb and the reference to the microcosm but also encompasses the phrase 'wind and rain'. (42) Vickers claims that 'since Lear was published in 1608, the Complaint's author could easily have imitated those lines' (p. 208). But had Davies read The History of King Lear in the 1608 Quarto he would have encountered not outstorm but outscorne. Steevens was able to cite A Lover's Complaint's line, 'Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain', in support of an emendation to Lear that has rightly been followed by almost all editors. Lacking such an analogue, Davies would not have recognized the authentic verb behind the misreading, especially when 'outstorm' had never before appeared in print. (43)

In the course of the above discussion, I have mentioned the following eight words that occur in A Lover's Complaint and in the undisputed Shakespeare canon but are very rare in other LION works of 1598-1614, whether first published during that period or, in the case of plays, first performed then: appertainings, credent a., outward sb., pelleted (pellet v), physic v, seared ppl.a., slackly, sleided ppl.a. There are nineteen instances of these words in Shakespeare's acknowledged works, only three in other LION works of 1598-1614, by three different authors, Davies not being one of them. (44) Pelleted, meaning 'formed into pellets', and sleided do not appear outside Shakespeare at all, while appertainings and credent are not found outside his work till the nineteenth century. One might add to the list. Within the period 1598-1614, a-twain is used only in the Complaint (l. 6), The Tragedy of King Lear (II. 2.74), and Othello (Q 1622, v. ii. 213; 'in twain' in F 1623); plurkisures appears only in the Complaint (l. 193), The Merchant of Venice (I. I. 68), Timon of Athens (II. 2. 125), and the anonymous Nobody and Somebody (1606); the Complaint's reworded (reword v) is used only in Hamlet (III 4. 134); laugher occurs only in the Complaint (l. 124) and Julius Caesar (l. 2. 74); (45) origin appears once in the Complaint (l. 222), twice in Hamlet (Additional Passages B.10, III. I. 180), and once in The History of King Lear (sc. 16. 32); disciplined (discipline v) is used only in the Complaint (l. 261), Troilus and Cressida (II. 3. 255), Coriolanus, and Arthur Gorges's Lucan's 'Pharsalia' (1614); dialogued (dialogue v) is found in the period only in the Complaint (l. 132), Timon of Athens (II. 2. 52), and William Warner's Albion's England (1602). When these seven words are added to the eight, we have fifteen words that are used thirty-one times by Shakespeare within the period 1598-1614 and six times by other authors, all different and none of them Davies.

I have concentrated on the period 1598-1614, because it adds five years to both the upper and lower limits of the 1603-09 in which Vickers suggests that all the rare words common to A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline 'were circulating in general usage in London' (p. 213), and because it serves to test Vickers's further suggestion that vocabulary links that I cited in 1965 between the Complaint and Shakespeare's maturer plays 'may only show that the poem reflects word usages of [c. 1601-08]' (p. 145). On the contrary, many of them appear to have been used within the period exclusively, or almost exclusively, by Shakespeare.

The evidence of the fifteen words, with their thirty-one appearances in Shakespeare and mere six in all other authors of the period, heavily outweighs the evidence that in his section on 'Diction: Rare Words' Vickers advances as connecting the Complaint to Davies (pp. 214-17). He discusses the following words: lover with reference to a woman, platted, maund, affectedly, fancy with reference to a person, forbod, and spongy. Vickers concedes that while Davies uses lover of a woman once, Shakespeare does so five times, so we can summarily dismiss this usage as evidence of Davies's rather than Shakespeare's authorship. The form forbod (for 'forbidden' or 'forbade') is common in LION poetry published in the period 1598-1614, occurring eleven times, apart from the single instance in Davies's Wit's Pilgimage (1605). Besides, it is used by Shakespeare, although outside the period--within The Rape of Lucrece (1. 1648), though most editors modernize to 'forbade'. Maund occurs ten times in LION poetry of 1598-1614, besides the instance that Vickers notes in Davies's Microcosmos (1603).

Spongy (sometimes spelt with medial 'u'and sometimes with '-ie' ending) is even more common. Davies employs it only once, whereas Shakespeare employs it in Troilus and Cressida (II. 2. II), Macbeth (I. 7. 71), Cymbeline (IV. 2.351), and The Tempest (IV. I. 65). There are twelve further examples in LION works of the set period. Vickers makes much of the fact that the Complaint has the phrase 'spongy lungs' (1. 326, 'spungie' in the original spelling), and that, although none of the four instances of spongy in Shakespeare's plays associates it with the lungs, Davies tells us in Microcosmos:
   The lungs therefore are spongy, soft, and light,
   That air might enter, and from them depart,
   Which guard the heart (on left side and the right)
   From bord'ring bones, that else annoy it might.

But Davies's prosaic retailing of physiological information is strikingly different from the Complaint's turning of the lungs' sponginess to poetic use: 'O that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed' (l. 326), exclaims the woman of her seducer. 'His lungs, like a sponge, can squeeze out the sighs stored in them', as Colin Burrow explains. (46) Vickers judges the epithet 'spongy' to be 'incongruous' (p. 216). Burrow shows that it is not. (47) Shakespeare is apt to place 'lungs' in negative contexts. In the Complaint 'that infected moisture of his eye' (l. 323) is the first of the brief catalogue that includes the 'spongy lungs', and Pericles has the phrase 'belched on by infected lungs' in one of the brothel scenes (sc. 19. 194), while Troilus and Cressida collocates 'raw eyes' and 'wheezing lungs' (Additional Passages A, V. I. 17). Vickers agrees with me that Shakespeare had dipped into Microcosmos, so he may well have read Davies's doggedly informative lines and turned fact to poetic account. (48) But among the quite numerous examples of 'spongy' in 1598-1614 is Thomas Winter's allusion to 'our spongy lungs' in The Second Day of the First Week (1603). In any case, 'spongy' is not a rare word in the period.

Nor is platted as rare as any of the fifteen Shakespeare words we have considered, since it occurs as a participial adjective in Robert Chester's Love's Martyr (1601), Arthur Gorges's Lucan's 'Pharsalia' (1614), Joseph Hall's Virgidemiarum (1598), and the King James Bible (1611), besides several times as a verb. In Humour's Heaven on Earth (1609), Chronos has a 'platted' beard. Shakespeare does not use the participial adjective, but in Mercutio's Queen Mab speech in Romeo and Juliet, Mab 'plaits the manes of horses in the night' (I. 4. 89): 'platted' and 'plaited', 'plats' and 'plaits' are spelling variants of the same word. Plaited mane and plaited beard seem about equally close to the Complaint's 'plaited hive of straw' (l. 8).

This leaves (a) affectedly and (b) the noun fancy applied to a person. Vickers states that the only two instances of affectedly in the LION database for poetry and drama between 1590 and 1620 are in A Lover's Complaint and in Davies's Select Second Husband for Sir Thomas Overbury's Wife (1616) (p. 215). But this is wrong, because affectedly occurs in Cyril Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy published in a Quarto of 1611. And of course Davies's use of the word in 1616 falls outside the defined period, 1598-1614. Davies instructs the husband to 'Teach not thy wife to speak [...] affectedly', and Puttenham had used affectedly in anatomizing faults in speech and writing in his The Art of English Poetry (1589). It also occurs twice in George Whetstone's Heptameron (1582). These instances are earlier than our period, of course. In the Complaint, letters are 'With sleided silk feat and affectedly Enswathed and sealed to curious secrecy' (ll. 48-49). The primary meaning here hardly seems to be 'with affectation'; rather, the enswathing and sealing have been done 'with loving care'. Davies is closer to Puttenham than to the Complaint.

In A Lover's Complaint the lamenting woman is called 'this afflicted fancy' (l. 61). Vickers points out that Davies three times uses the noun with reference to a person-a tubby, over-dresssed lecher in Humour's Heaven (1609), the effeminate Glaucus in an epigram in The Scourge of Folly (1611), and male lovers (of women) in Microcosmos. In his undisputed works Shakespeare does not apply the word in this way. Editors differ in their understanding of fancy in the Complaint. Katherine Duncan-Jones glosses afflicted fancy as 'unhappy apparition' or 'victim of delusion', appealing WED senses 2 and 3. (49) Others have accepted Schmidt's explanation that here and in the plural wounded fancies at line 197 the noun is a kind of metonym from the very common Shakespearian meaning 'love', that it is a case of 'the abstract for the concrete', so this afflicted fancy means something like 'this woman who is distressed by love-sickness' This tendency for the abstract to shade into the concrete makes it very difficult to assess the degree of likeness between Vickers's three Davies examples and the Complaint examples, and no less difficult to decide how many of the scores of instances of fancy or fancies in the period 1598-1614 come close to matching either Davies or the Complaint. In one of Richard Alison's songs in An Hour's Recreation in Music (1606) the singer laments 'I weep and she's a-dancing', and 'O cruel, cruel, cruel fancy' seems directed at the desired 'she', not simply the state of mind that possesses him and makes him dote on her. Thomas Greaves has 'Farewell sweet Flora, sweet fancy adieu' in a song (1604). In John Dowland's 'To catch young fancies in the nest' the fancies may be persons (1603). In Thomas Lyly's 'a lady's heart, though it harbour many fancies, should embrace but one love' in Love's Metamorphosis (1601) both 'fancies' and 'love' seem to be at once the emotion and its object. Robert Armin's The Two Maids of More-Clacke affords 'I must have fancies, playfellows' and goes on to specify pet animals and things-the objects of his fancy. And in Nicholas Breton's An Old Man's Lesson (1605) 'they that will be fools to give money for fancies' are disparaged, where the fancies are again the objects of desire. Davies's human fancies are all male, and the first two are more 'fantastic' than lovesick, whereas those in the Complaint are female. Too many ambiguities surround this particular Davies--Complaint link for it to carry much weight.

Even if, despite these doubts, we were to accept fancy as a lexical link to the Complaint of the same order as the Shakespearian ones, there would still be fifteen items of the Complaint's rare vocabulary shared with Shakespeare and only one with Davies. Allowing Davies's physic v. in Wit's Pilgrimage (1617) and affectedly in Second Husband (1616)--although (unlike all the Shakespeare items) they do not fall within the period 1598-1614--would bring the Davies total to a mere three. Yet, since performance or publication within the period 1598-1614 cuts out ten of Shakespeare's plays and his two early narrative poems, Davies's total searched output is more than half the size of Shakespeare's and has the advantage of being all in the same genre as the Complaint--poetry, not drama. (50)

The findings of this analysis may be summarized as follows. Vickers's explanations of why A Lover's Complaint and Cymbeline have so many rare-in-Shakespeare words in common are open to serious question. Several of the words were not 'circulating in general usage in London between 1603 and 1609' (p. 213). In fact, four of them physic v, slackly, seared ppl.a., outward sb.--were used by no non-Shakespearian writer during those years, whereas there are nine instances of their use within this period in works by Shakespeare other than Cymbeline. Nor is it in the least likely that Shakespeare, in writing Cymbeline, was influenced by a Complaint of which Davies was the author, borrowing from it rare words that he himself had used in other plays, but that Davies never used. The view of Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson-that Shakespeare wrote A Lover's Complaint and was still working on it not long before its publication-best fits the data. Moreover, there are words that do not recur in Cymbeline but do appear in other Shakespearian works, so that altogether at least fifteen words link the Complaint to Shakespearian plays first published and/or performed 1598-1614 or to sonnets in the Quarto entitled Shakespeare's Sonnets (1609) and to not more than one non-Shakespearian work. (51) These fifteen words are used thirty-one times by Shakespeare within this period and only six times by all the other writers of poetry, drama, or prose, and never by John Davies of Hereford. Commenting on the list of Complaint words that I published in 1965 as 'rare' in the Shakespeare canon, occurring not more than five times, Vickers writes: 'Neither in this study, nor in the intervening years, did Jackson perform the "negative check" by examining the occurrence of these words in other Jacobean authors'. (52) The electronic database LION facilitates such checking. The results confirm my earlier conclusions that the author of A Lover's Complaint was William Shakespeare.



(1) Two studies argued for Shakespeare's authorship and a seventeenth-century date of composition: Kenneth Muir, '"A Lover's Complaint": A Reconsideration', in Shakespeare 1564-1964: A Collection of Modern Essays by Various Hands, ed. by Edward A. Bloom (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1964), pp. 154-66; MacD. P. Jackson, Shakespeare's 'A Lover's Complaint': Its Date and Authenticity, University of Auckland Bulletin, 72, English Series, 13 (Auckland: University of Auckland, 1965). The following major editions have appeared: The Sonnets and 'A Lover's Complaint', ed. by John Kerrigan (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986); The Poems, ed. by John Roe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. by Katherine Duncan-Jones (London: Nelson, 1997); The Complete Sonnets and Poems, ed. by Colin Burrow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Throughout this article I quote the Complaint and other works by Shakespeare from the compact edition of William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, gen. eds Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).

(2) John Kerrigan returned to the poem in his excellent Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and 'Female Complaint'. A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). For a summary of recent work, plus new essays, see Critical Essays on Shakespeare's 'A Lover's Complaint', ed. by Shirley Sharon-Zisser (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006); also Catherine Bates, 'The Enigma of A Lover's Complaint', in A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. by Michael Schoenfeldt (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), pp. 426-40.

(3) Ward Elliott and Robert J. Valenza, 'Did Shakespeare Write A Lover's Complaint? The Jackson Ascription Revisited', in Words That Count: Essays on Early Modern Authorship in Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson, ed. by Brian Boyd (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), pp. 117-40. Marina Tarlinskaja, 'The Verse of A Lover's Complaint: Not Shakespeare', ibid., pp. 141-58; 'Who Did NOT Write A Lover's Complaint', Shakespeare Year book, 15 (2005), 343-82.

(4) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Simple page references to Vickers's book are incorporated into my text.

(5) The RSC Shakespeare: William Shakespeare. Complete Works, ed. by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2007), p. 2397.

(6) A. K. Hieatt, T. G. Bishop, and E. A. Nicholson, 'Shakespeare's Rare Words: "Lover's Complaint", Cymbeline, and Sonnets', Notes and Queries, 232 (1987), 219-24.

(7) G. Sarrazin, 'Wortechos bei Shakespeare', Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 33 (1897), 121-65, and ibid. 34 (1898), 119-69. 'Words' in Sarrazin's tables are essentially different OED headwords or entries Schmidt's Lexicon. I have used Alexander Schmidt, Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary: Third Edition, rev. by Gregor Sarrazin, 2 vols (New York: Dover, 1971). However, my own analysis includes one or two rare usages or inflexions, such as plural leisures. My list in Shakespeare's Lover's Complaint': Its Date and Authenticity of words occurring no more than five times Shakespeare's works followed Schmidt in not distinguishing participial adjectives from the verbs from which they derived, but here I do make the distinction, as does OED.

(8) Sarrazin's tables on pp. 34 and 132-33, display nine links between A Lover's Complaint and Shakespeare's first seventeen works but fifty-five between the Complaint and his next twenty-two. These figures exclude links to the Sonnets.

(9) Jackson, Shakespeare's 'A Lover's Complaint': Its Date and Authenticity, pp. 8-14.

(10) Eliot Slater, 'Shakespeare: Word Links between Poems and Plays', Notes and Queries, 220 (1975), 157-63; The Problem of 'The Reign of King Edward III': A Statistical Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988): see especially the tables on pp. 158-96.

(11) M. W. A. Smith and Hugh Calvert, 'Word-Links as a General Indicator of Chronology of Composition', Notes and Queries, 234 (1989), 338-41.

(12) Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, with John Jowett and William Montgomery, William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 131-32. There was a minor flaw in the way that Slater calculated figures 'expected' on a random distribution of links, but this does not seriously affect his conclusions. See MacDonald P. Jackson, Defining Shakespeare: 'Pericles' as Test Case (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 41. Correctly calculated figures would still give Cymbeline themost significant excess of actual over expected links, with All's Well That Ends Well coming next.

(13) Hieatt, p. 221.

(14) Hieatt, p. 222.

(15) 'Literature Online' is available to subscribing institutions at It is now administered by ProQuest UK. Checking collocations with gyves necessitates also searching giues, a common early modern spelling of the noun. When quoting LION texts, which reproduce early manuscripts or printed texts, I have modernized spelling and punctuation, but in making searches I have, of course, been aware of the full range of possible original spellings.

(16) Seared ppl.a is given a separate headword in OED; outward is OED B sb. Schmidt gives outward(s) as a substantive ('external form, exterior') its own separate entry.

(17) Cymbeline, ed. by Martin Butler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 131, II. 4. 6 n.

(18) Alfred Harbage, Annals of English Drama 975-1700, rev by S. Schoenbaum (London: Methuen, 1964). LION's datings derive from Annals, but one or two plays may sometimes be included erroneously in a period set for searching.

(19) Vickers, p. 217. He states that Davies uses 'all but three' of the fifteen Hieatt words but counts 'apt' as though it were aptness and 'slack' as though it were slackly.

(20) Davies used seared as a verb (Vickers, p. 243) but not as a participial adjective.

(21) I have relied on the chronology in the Oxford Textual Companion, pp. 109-34. Hieatt (p. 222) says that feat occurs in The Two Noble Kinsmen, but instances of the word in that play are of the modern noun meaning 'exploit, action, skill', not of the archaic adjective meaning 'dexterous, neat, trim' (with adverbial force in A Lover's Complaint) The instance of gyves in The Two Noble Kinsmen falls within a Shakespeare scene (III. I. 73). Not counted in the figures given is the one link to Addition in of Sir Thomas More.

(22) This figure is from Vickers, p. 202. The concentration of rare Complaint-Cymbeline words in Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure is consistent with Hieatt, Bishop, and Nicholson's belief that Shakespeare began writing A Lover's Complaint around 1600-03 and prepared it as late as 1609 for inclusion in the Sonnets Quarto.

(23) Davies's only use of feat was in The Muse's Sacrifice(1612). Shakespeare anticipated him with the example in Cymbeline (1610). Davies's uses of the verb pervert in Humour's Heaven on Earth (1609) and The Holy Rood (1609), were also anticipated by Shakespeare--in Measure for Measure (1603) and All's Well That Ends Weld 604-05).

(24) Vickers discusses 'Some beauty peeped through lattice of seared age'(p. 255), but cites no passage in which Davies has beauty figuratively peeping or looking through a lattice, casement, or window. 'Peeping through' is juxtaposed to 'lattice' not only in A Lover's Complaint but also in 2 Henry IV, II. 3.72-76, and in only one other LION work of 1580-1640-Thomas Brewer's prose Merry Devil of Edmonton (1631), where 'Smug [...] stood peeping through his lattice'.

(25) Vickers (p. 245) quotes Davies's 'Love, leave lodge (my heart) and enter hers' in Wit's Pilgrimage (1605) and 'Thus interchang'd we either's form impart | To other's liking by the love we have, I And make the heart the lodge it to receive' in Microcosmos (1603). These variations on the commonplace exchanges of hearts or the love within them seem very different from the figure in the Complaint, Venus and Adonis, and Sonnet XCIII whereby a young man's beautiful face or 'fair parts' is the dwelling-place of a personified Love.

(26) Moreover, the First Folio (1623) text of Troilus and Cressida has the variant 'Sleyd silke'(that is, 'sleid silk'), where the 1609 Quarto has sleiue silke' (that is, 'sleave-silk')'At 1. 28. OED found no instances other than those in the Complaint and Pericles of the irregular form sleided (spelt 'sleded' in Pericles).

(27) Muir, '"A Lover's Complaint": A Reconsideration', p. 159.

(28) MacD. E Jackson, 'A Lover's Complain Revisited', Shakespeare Studies, 32 (2004), 267-94 (p. 283).

(29) Napkin and handkerchief were interchangeable terms, as in Othello, where 'handkerchief' is the usual term but 'napkin' appears at III. 3. 291, 294, and 325. Othello asks for Desdemona's handkerchief in order to wipe away 'a salt and sorry rheum' (III. 4. 51). In Richard III, Queen Elizabeth mockingly tells Richard to present her daughter, whom he wishes to marry, with a handkerchief with which to 'wipe her weeping eyes' (IV. 4. 264). And in All's Well That Ends Well Lafeu, declaring, 'Mine eyes smell onions, I shall weep anon', requests of Parolles, 'lend me a handkerchief' (V. 3. 322-23).

(30) A quick look through entries for 'salt' in an online Shakespeare concordance ( reveals at least sixteen references to salt tears, while 'salt' and 'season' are juxtaposed again in Much Ado About Nothing, IV. 1. 143, and Troilus and Cressida, 1. 2. 251, and tears form a 'brine-pit' in Titus Andronicus, III. 1. 129.

(31) Vickers (pp. 243-44) cites a passage in Davies's The Holy Rood (1609) that collocates 'tears', 'brine', and 'season'. The parallel is good, but no better than the Shakespearian ones, which Vickers ignores, and which I quote simply as contributing to the various Shakespearian ideas and images surrounding the very rare word pelleted.

(32) The Merchant of Venice, ed. by M. M. Mahood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), P. 159, v. 1. 107 n.

(33) Kerrigan, Sonnets, p. 398, 1. 18 n.

(34) LION, or scrutiny of a Shakespeare concordance, reveals at least twenty Shakespearian instances of washing associated with tears.

(35) Jackson, 'A Lover's Complaint Revisited', p. 283.

(36) Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, pp. 65-66.

(37) Jackson, 'A Lover's Complaint Revisited', p. 283.

(38) The Winter's Tale ed. by J. H. P. Pafford (London: Methuen, 2000), p. 100, IV. 4.193 n.

(39) Duncan-Jones, Sonnets, p. 433,1. 21 n.

(40) LION readily traces Shakespearian examples of the collocation 'high and low', which was given a separate entry in John Bartlett's Complete Concordance (London: Macmillan, 1894). in The Merry Wives it refers to social standing, which Burrow considered of possible subsidiary relevance to the Complaint context (Complete Sonnets and Poems, p. 696,1. 21 n.).

(41) Vickers retains the 1609 Quarto's 'sorrowes wind and raine', which editors have rightly modernized as 'sorrow's wind and rain': the woman creates a storm in her little world with the wind and rain (sighs and tears) of her sorrow.

(42) LION detects 'wind and rain' in only a handful of other plays first performed, or poems first published, between 1598 and 1614, including Shakespeare's As You Like It (written 1599-1600, first printed 1623) but also Davies's The Scourge of Folly (1611). Of course 'the wind and the rain' occurs in the song with which Feste ends Twelfth Night (written 1601, published 1623).

(43) The transitive use of storming in the Complaint and of outstorm in King Lear is quite distinct from Davies's intransitive use of the verb (Vikers, p. 242) on three occasions between 1611 and 1617.

(44) But Davies does, as we have seen, use physic as a verb in Wit's Bedlam (1617).

(45) The Oxford Complete Works does not, however, follow most editors in emending F's 'a common laughter', which seems to me utterly unidiomatic.

(46) Burrow, Complete Sonnets and Poems, p. 717, l. 326 n.

(47) So also does Duncan-Jones, who glosses spongy as 'soft, absorbent', adding 'presumably here suggesting a treacherous capacity to generate false breath, or words'(Sonnets, p. 316, l. 326 n.).

(48) MacDonald P. Jackson, 'Shakespeare's Sonnet CXI and John Davies of Hereford' Microcosmos (1603)'Modern Language Review, 102 (2007), 1-10; Vickers, pp. 41-46.

(49) Duncan-Jones, Sonnets, p. 435,1. 61 n.

(50) Vickers notes that Davies used the collocation' fell rage' and was 'very fond' of the adjective 'fell', using it thirty--seven times (p. 219). But Shakespeare used it forty-three times. Davies has a 'conjuring, proud, remorseless priest | Rend, in fell rage [...] pompous vestures'(The Holy Rood, 1609). The Complaint's phrase about the woman's retaining some beauty in 'spite of heaven's fell rage' is really more akin to 'time's fell hand', as agent of decay, in Sore. Within the period 1598-1614 'fell rage' occurs in Edward Fairfax Godfrey of Bulloigne (1600) and John Marston's Antonio and Mellida (1602), and LION detects forty-two examples of the collocation in the whole database.

(51) One might reasonably add to this total. OED's first example of sistering ppl.a. is from A Lover's Complaint (1. 2), while its first citation for the verb sister is from Shakespeare' Pericles: Marina's art' sisters the natural roses'(sc. 20. 7). But OED puts the verb and the present-participial adjective under separate headwords. No other examples of verb or participial adjective appear in LION 1598-1614.

(52) Vickers, p. 206; Jackson, Shakespeare's 'A Lover's Complaint': Its Date and Authenticity
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Author:Jackson, MacDonald P.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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