2003

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2174  Thursday, 13 November 2003

From:           Ivan Lupic <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Nov 2003 15:55:30 +0100
Subject:        Malone's Apothecary

Dear all,

I'm puzzled by plate 6 in Katherine Duncan-Jones's edition of the
Sonnets (Arden Shakespeare, 1997; repr. 2001). The drawings and the text
I'm curious about appear on pp. 76-7. The note informs the reader that
the drawings are 'inscribed on the verso of the first flyleaf of
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (1609)', a book which was once in the possession
of Edmond Malone and is now, I presume, in Bibliotheca Bodleiana,
Oxford. I am puzzled by Malone's note and would greatly appreciate any
clarification.

Malone writes, as far as I can decipher from the photograph, the
following: 'Mr Steevens borrowed this volume from me in 1779, to peruse
the Rape of Lucrece in the original edition, of which he was not
possessed. When he returned it, he made this drawing. I was then
confined by a sore throat, and attended by Mr Atkinson the Apothecary,
of whom the above figure whom Shakspeare addresses, is a caricature.'

The things I find confusing are as follows:

1) How could Steevens have read Lucrece (and 'in the original edition'
at that) in the 1609 volume, which prints only the sonnets and A Lover's
Complaint?

2) Why would Malone write what he does above Steevens's drawing of
Shakespeare, namely: 'If thou could'st, Doctor, cast the water of my
sonnets, find their disease, or purge my editor till he understood them,
I would applaud thee &c'? That is, why would he mention the sonnets
above the drawing and Lucrece below it?

Hoping that I'm not missing some important point,
Ivan Lupic

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