Four Honorable Loves, The

William Rowley, date unknown

Historical Records

Stationers' Register

From a list of plays entered into the Stationers' Register by Humphrey Moseley on 29 June, 1660:

"The None such. a Comedy.                                }
The booke of ye 4. Honoble. Loves. a Comedy.   } by Willm Rowley.
The Parliament of Love.                                      }"

(S.R.2, 2:271; Greg, BEPD, 1:69; Bentley, 5:1022). Arber (in S.R.2) transcribes the last word as "Lovers", but Greg does not agree.

Warburton's List

Folio 1 of British Museum MS Lansdowne 807 is a list by John Warburton (1682-1759) of dramatic manuscripts that had been in his possession until inadvertently burned or used as pie-trays by his cook. Its veracity is debated; Greg claims that it is merely a "wish list" derived from the Stationers' Register ("Bakings", 258-9), but Freehafer is more prepared to accept its veracity, arguing that it is independent of the Register (164). The list includes:

"The Honr. Loves by Will. Rowley".

(Greg, "Bakings", 230).

Lansdowne ms 807 f001r.jpg

(British Library, Lansdowne MS 807, fo.1r. Reproduced by permission of the British Library. Click image to view full page; click here for more information on Warburton's list)

Greg notes that the second word of the title can be misread as "Hond", i.e. "honoured", but that "'r' is certainly intended" (230, note 1). Note that The Parliament of Love and The None Such also appear in the list, but the three plays are not grouped together.

Oldys's annotations

William Oldys (1696-1761) annotated Rowley's entry in Gerard Langbaine's An Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) thus:

"He writ The Hond Loves -- The Parliament of Love and Nonsuch, a comedy, but I know not if they were ever printed and the MSS are destroyd." (British Museum, C. 28. g. 1, p. 428, qtd. in Lancashire, note 35)

Lancashire notes that Oldys was aware of Warburton's list, but may not have seen it.

Malone's "Attempt"

In his "Attempt to Ascertain the Order in which the Plays attributed to Shakspeare were Written" (1778), Edmund Malone listed 34 plays not known to have been printed. He included:

The honoured Loves -- The Parliament of Love -- and Nonsuch, a comedy; all by William Rowley

(Malone 331)

Freehafer claims that Malone derived this entry from Warburton (159-60), but Lancashire shows that Oldys was the true source, as Malone copied Oldys's note into his own copy of Langbaine (244-5).

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

None known.

For What It's Worth

In 1660, a play entitled Die 4 bestendigen Liebhabers was performed at the Court of Count Gustav Adolf of Mecklenburg (Herz 68). G.E. Bentley suggests that it may have derived from Rowley's play (5:1023).

Works Cited

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 23 July 2010.