The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0499 Friday, 14 March 2003
From: Bill Lloyd <
Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2003 19:07:57 EST
Subject: Echo of Shakespeare?
What does anyone think about whether the following is an actual echo
[reminiscence? parallel?] or whether it's due to coincidence, common
source or my imagination?
A. from King Edward III [the 'Countess scenes'].
The Earl of Warwick speaks of his daughter:
War: Even she, my liege, whose beauty tyrants fear,
As a May blossom with pernicious winds,
Hath sullied, withered, overcast, and done.
King: Hath she been fairer, Warwick, than she is?
War: My gracious king, fair is she not at all,
If that her self were by to stain her self,
As I have seen her when she was her self.
[1.2.95-101, Cambridge ed.]
B. from Humour Out of Breath by John Daye
Q1608; acted by the Children of the King's Revels c1607-08
Duke Antonio speaks of his daughters:
Antonio: They once were faire, sorrow from that hath changd them;
They once knew wealth, but chance hath much estrangd
Francisco: Have they bin fair? what[,] fayrer than they are?
Why tis not possible, this heavenly faire
Hath only in it selfe beauties exceed,
O then rich, fayre, and onely selves exceed.
3.2 [Bullen p.448. s,u/v
Similarities between A and B [ignoring the number of daughters]:
1. The father states that his daughter's looks have decayed due to hard
2. The lover replies incredulously, Hath she been fairer than she is?
3. It's then said that her beauty is so great that it can only be
compared to itself.
4. Possibly as part of the conceit, the last two lines end with the same
Daye's play is full of echoes of Shakespeare's plays, borrowing
characters, situations and wording, and at different times evoking Romeo
& Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like it, and Twelfth Night
among others. Since Daye is so enamored of Shakespeare's example it may
be significant that he also seems to be echoing these lines from Edward
III. But where did he encounter them? Daye came to London c1593<>97--
Could he have remembered them from the original performance? Or did he
see the play in manuscript? Or is there any reason to believe that there
may have been an unrecorded revival of Edward III in the 1600s? Perhaps
even by a children's company? Or is there a common source, say a riff
from Ovid? Speculation runs rampant...
Two further quotations may bear on the question:
C. from Two Gentlemen of Verona:
Silvia: Belike she thinks that Proteus hath forsook her?
Julia: I think she doth, and that's her cause of sorrow.
Silvia: Is she not passing fair?
Julia: She hath been fairer, madam, than she is:
When she did think my master lov'd her well...
[Riverside II, 4.4.146-50]
D. from Double Falshood by Lewis Theobald
[based on Fletcher & Shakespeare's Cardenio?]
Julio: Is there a Treachery, like This in Baseness,
Recorded any where? It is the deepest:
None but Itself can be its Parallel.
In Passage C, line 150 closely echoes the 'fairer questions' from A and
A Hath she been fairer, Warwick, than she is?
B Have they been fair? What, fairer than they are?
C She hath been fairer, madam, than she is...
The resemblances in rhythm and phrasing almost make me wonder if all
three lines are echoing a common source, say a line from a popular
ballad or some such.
Passage D resembles all three in that a question is asked; and resembles
C in that it is a betrayal that is the cause of sorrow. But the
interesting resemblance is that of D with A and B, for in all three the
answer to the question is the paradox of something being comparable only
to itself. Pope found the line "None but itself can be its parallel" to
be absurd. Is it possible that it survives from the pre-Theobald stratum
of the play and that it harkens back to the other end of the Shakespeare
Apocrypha? Or is it all a case of 'salmons in both'?
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