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themes, and because of all the evidence in the rest of the episode of Sol pointing in that direction.
Finally, apart from the possible allusion to the events of the year 1592, Sol's lines touch upon the theme of the silent pleader which was characteristic of Ralegh, who wrote:
"Our Passions are most like to Flood and streames;After the speech with which Sol answers to the accusations made against him by Autumn and Winter, Summer speaks again and brings some more evidence against Sol. Summer had been mostly silent, after the reproaches and the hostile interrogation at the beginning of the episode. Now, at the end, he comes forth with two speeches where we find allusions to two episodes in which the Queen herself plays a considerable part. The first of the speeches, in fact, raises the point of the nickname she used for Ralegh (Water), and alludes, directly I think, to a well-known letter of the Queen.
Summer in the passage (541-557) accuses Sol of irresponsible conduct: of removing all the water from the Thames, and of allowing, on another occasion, the water from the Thames to overflow, with disastrous consequences. There is no doubt that Water was a symbol and a name for Ralegh, because of the play on the pronunciation of his Christian name, and because of Ralegh's profession as a navigator1; and we have information of tokens and letters where he was represented as water2 . Ralegh uses water imagery very frequently in his poems, and finally he himself assumes the name Ocean.
But in particular Summer's accusation against Sol, where Sol is held responsible for letting the water of the Thames overflow its banks and bring death by water (546-557), brings to my mind the well-known episode3 of Queen Elizabeth's message to Sir Christopher Hatton referring to Sir Walter Ralegh as water (the element). Hatton in order to let the Queen know that he feared Ralegh might replace him in her affection, had sent her some tokens, among which was a bucket (implying that she should use it for getting rid of the water); and the reply the Queen sent to Hatton (whom she nicknamed Mutton or Bell-Wether) was
"that Pecora campi (Mutton) was so dear unto her, that she had bounded her banks so sure, as no water nor floods should overthrow them. And for better assurance unto you that you shall not fear drowning (she hath sent you a bird that ... brought) the good tidings that there should be no more destruction by water"4.Sol is accused of having belied these words point by point by his "tyranny". He is made to bear the responsibility for events which have shown that the Queen was mistaken in believing to be able to control water. In fact water had overflown the banks and brought death. The accusation against Sol - Ralegh, is either a fair reproach for abuse of power, or an expression of regret for having granted him such power, through which men5 have suffered death.
Incidentally, there is also a question of poisoned fish, and, curiously enough, the particular kind of fish mentioned in this connection is the eel (Eeles - 554) - the same animal on which Moth jokes in Love's Labour's Lost (I,ii, 29), thus exciting Armado's excessive resentment6.
Returning to Summer's accusations against Sol: the water of the Thames in our passage stands for "Water" - Sir Walter Ralegh going unwittingly beyond the limits. And there is another possible reference in the same passage. Sol is accused of having dried up the water of the Thames to such an extent that the river-bed is left bare and "playnes her of thy (Sol's) spite" (545). Considering that water (Water) is Ralegh, and considering Elizabeth's habit of keeping her favourites "tied to her apron strings", I believe that the passage refers to one of the incidents which must have occurred between the Queen and Ralegh because of his departures from the Court without her consent, or to her displeasure. The allusion, agains, is particularly applicable to the events of 1592 knowing that the ostensible reason for Ralegh's imprisonment actually was that he had left on his voyage in spite of the Queen's order to the contrary7.
As a matter of fact, in 1592, the Thames was really bare8; but this does not exclude the personal allusion; it is not the former in fact, but the latter which finds a sequel in Sol's answer:
"Shee (Diana) was eclipsed when that the Thames was bare". (563),an explanation which does not, this time, correspond to the "geographical" reality. There may well have been an eclipse that year, but eclipses occurred very frequently, while the drying up of the river was a very exceptional occurrence - a quite unprecedented one9. On the other hand, from the point of
1. M. C. BRADBROOK, The School of Night,cit., p. 34
2. W. OAKESHOTT, cit., p. 26 and p.82
3. An account of this episode can be found in most of Ralegh's biographies; I shall quote from M. A. S. Hume, Sir Walter Ralegh London, T. Fisher and Unwin, 1897, where the incident is recounted at pp. 36-37.
4. Ibidem, p. 37.
5. I think that the allusion to Hatton has probably been dropped or extended to anyone who might have been harmed by Ralegh.
6. W. SHAKESPEARE, Love's Labour's Lost, ed. by Richard David, London, Methuen, p. xxxvii. I have not gone further into the matter.
7. M. C. BRADBROOK, op. cit., p.5.
8. And this is also the main fact of internal evidence towards dating the play in 1592.
9. McKerrow's notes to this passage in: IV, p.427.
Contents © Copyright Maria-Luisa Minio-Paluello, 2005. The copyright of this thesis belongs to the author under the terms of the United Kingdom Copyright Acts. Due acknowledgement must always be made of the use of any material contained in, or derived from, this thesis.