The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2203 Tuesday, 5 November 2002
Date: Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 06:14:31 EST
Subject: Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query
The following is printed in J. O. Halliwell, The Marriage of Wit &
Wisdom... to which are added Illustrations of Shakespeare &c...
Shakespeare Society, London, 1846, pp. 92-93. Said there to be "taken
from the Middlehill MS., No. 9569, written about 1638."
To a valentine
Faire valentine, since once your welcome hand
Did call mee out, wrapt in a paper band,
Vouchsafe the same hand still, to show therebye
That fortune did your will noe injurye.
What though a knife I give, your beautyes charme
Will keep the edge in awe for doing harme:
Wooll deads the sternest blade, and will not such
A weake edge turn, meeting a softer touch?
On a Butcher marrying a tanner's daughter
A fitter matche hath never bin:
The flesh is married to the skin.
I have not seen these occasional poems mentioned in any survey of
Shakespeare's minor verse, not even to deny them. Have they been
exploded? Does the Middlehill MS. exist? (A Google search of Shakespeare
middlehill valentine brings nothing.) Of course J. P. Collier was high
in the Shakespeare Society but I see no evidence in the presnt volume of
Collier's specific involvement.
Am I being fanciful when I say that it sounds to me more like
Shakespeare than Collier? Note in line 4 what sounds like the kind of
pun on his Christian name that he makes repeatedly in Shakespeare's
"...fortune did your [W]ill noe injurye."
"Wooll deads the sternest blade..." -- how would Shakespeare know? His
father was a wool-dealer [as well as a glover, usurer, etc]. Does the
speaker give wool gloves with the knife? or is the knife wrapped in
wool? or is it just a metaphor for her strong softness? When was it
known John Shakespeare dealt in wool? by 1846? And for what it