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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
The Use of Rolls?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0754  Thursday, 21 April 2005

From:           Gerald E. Downs <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Apr 2005 16:28:13 EDT
Subject: 16.0632 The Use of Rolls?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0632 The Use of Rolls?

Marcus Dahl discussed some important issues in respect of the
relationship between the manuscript of Alleyn's player's part of the
title character in Greene's "Orlando Furioso" and the 1594 quarto of
that play. These relics are of great importance to the study of
Shakespeare's texts, despite their recent neglect.

My object is not merely to criticize Dahl's inferences, but to suggest
the utility of these texts as introduction to problems and solutions
touching the most important textual questions of the Shakespeare canon;
namely, the bad quartos.

One of the most influential books of recent times is Laurie Maguire's
_Shakespearean Suspect Texts_, wherein she judges whether various bad
quartos (Shakespearean or not) result from "memorial reconstruction,"
the criteria for which most of us have some understanding. Her answer in
most cases is "no," and in all cases her method is pointedly to ignore
comparisons of parallel texts. John Jowett lately asks, "Is it
methodologically better to evaluate a text according to an abstract
conception of how it should be, rather than according with how elsewhere
it actually was? . . . However plausibly it is justified, the effect of
excluding comparison between variant texts is to seal off a rich quarry
of potentially significant evidence." (After Oxford, 77).

To understand the fatal handicap Maguire labors under, we need only read
her tabulated result: "Omissions: Not detectable." (292).  Yet Orlando
Q1 reproduces roughly 67% of the lead character's lines and fails to
include many of the ms. cue lines. These are evidence of omission unless
one assumes the texts are not even related, and that is highly
improbable. Each of Maguire's criteria is similarly affected by her
failure to compare the parallel texts.

Assuming the necessity of comparison, I will briefly examine Marcus
Dahl's remarks:

 >Alfred Hart, like Greg, thought the quarto text of Orlando Furioso
 >to be inferior in poetic merit to Alleyn's part and in his 1942 book
 >'Stolene {{Stolne}} and Surreptitious Copies' argued that Orlando
 >Furioso Q1 retains "barely three hundred lines of the version of
 >Orlando's Part which appears in the Dulwich MS [Alleyn's Part]
 >but the mistakes made by the actors offer proof that Q1 is
 >surreptitious."

To be clear, Hart rationalizes 474 ms. lines, of which 33 are prose.  Q1
retains 296 verse lines and seven of prose; and adds about 100 lines,
mostly in prose. Greg suggests that Alleyn's part originally comprised
800 lines. In any case, 300 lines in common offer a lot of evidence.

 >Hart then argues that the Q1 lines: (Q1.604-6)
 >
 >Faire Flora make her couch amidst thy flowres,
 >Sweet Christall springs, wash ye with roses,
 >When she longs to drinke. Ah, thought my heavn;
 >
 >are "defective metrically and in sense" and that the lines in
 >Alleyn's part are the correct ones - an answer to the "defective
 >stupidity" of the other line.

Dahl conflates quotation of Hart, where a fuller citation may be more
clear: "Why does such a monotonously regular metrist as Greene write two
irregular lines of verse? . . . Interpolation of the words 'amidst thy
flowers' caused the metrical disorder; the defective sense is due to
stupidity and the insertion of 'with' for 'her.' " (171)

 >Hart argues that the Quarto is wrong to have ' with' for 'her'.
 >Surely though, Hart is wrong: e.g.
 >
 >Kinde Clora make her couch, fair cristall springs
 >Washe you her Roses, yf she long to drinck
 >Oh thought, my heaven, etc.

 >It is the Alleyn part that makes no sense - why would "clora"
 >(Chloe meets Flora?) want her roses washed if she wanted
 >to drink?

Greg seems rightly to observe that Orlando asks the fountains to "well
up and kiss her rosy cheeks . . . . Of course, 'wash you her Roses' is a
conceit that seems strained to modern sense, but it would certainly not
have been obscure to an Elizabethan.  The version offered by Q is
hopeless." (215)

 >. . . However the Quarto also contains what appear to be blind
 >repetitions (or transpositions to an earlier scene) e.g. l.759-769
 >not in Alleyn's plot:
 >
 >Villaine, provide me straight a Lions skin,
 >Thou seest I now am mightie Hercules:
 >Looke wheres my maisies [massie, 'massy'] club upon my necke.
 >I must to hell, to seek for Medor and Angelica,***
 >Or else I dye.
 >You that are the rest, get you quickly away,
 >Provide ye horses all of burnisht gold,
 >Saddles of corke because Ile haue them light,
 >For Charlemaine the Great is vp in armes.
 >And Arthur with a crue of Bristons comes
 >To seeke for Medor and Angelica.***

 >The above . . . thus raises questions concerning (1) originality and
 >literary value -namely -is a single playwright capable of this kind of
 >repetition (or as in the earlier example, senselessness); - and (2)
 >bibliographic- namely - whether the repetition is not more likely to
 >be an unwitting printer error -either a misreading of the author's text
 >or a mechanical print mis-setting rather than an author's or actor's
 >mistake (3) The new text could be a playhouse alteration: whereby
 >an actor creates a 'new' part by writing down his original part from
 >memory - perhaps to replace a lost or damaged part. This seems
 >a likely explanation of many obvious Quarto errors and such errors
 >as those found in Alleyn's part.

Marcus Dahl's speculations are mostly obviated by his choice of example.
Despite his statement to the contrary, Q lines 759 - 69 are represented
in Alleyn's part at 104ff. Rather than raise these issues, the parallel
lines confirm corruptions of a 'bad' quarto.

I must to hell to fight with Cerberus       ms 107
and find out medor ther, you Vilaynes or Ile dye

"To seek for Medor and Angelica" (Q l. 762) comes from ms 116, which is
properly given at Q 769. Greg observes, "The phrase 'to seeke . . .' has
crept in here by anticipation . . . " (318). This must be the correct
interpretation; confirmed as Hart adds, when "The complete line of Q1 is
repeated in an interpolated scene (ll.888-9) of Q1. (228)  Anticipation
and repetition are signs of bad quartos.

None of Q at this point seems to be new, though the manuscript is
imperfect. In fact, Q cuts some of the passage. According to Greg,
"After this Q omits a reply . . . and the beginning of the next speech
by Orlando. A [i.e., the ms.] is mutilated here . . . but if, as I
believe, Q 764 corresponds to A 113 the text is substantially preserved
between them." (224-5).

Hart comments further on the meter of 762-3: "The complete line and
Alexandrine of ms. become a fourteener and a four-syllable line in Q1."
Corruption of meter is characteristic of Q. However, Alleyn's part is
also somewhat defective in this respect: The alexandrine "and find out
medor ther, you Vilaynes or Ile dye" is probably itself a corruption of
Greene's verse, as described by B A P Van Dam. While it is important to
compare ms. to Q, it is also important to study them independently, as
the quarto obviously did not derive directly from the player's part.

Profitable investigation of the bad quartos has been at a low ebb for
some time. Progress will come only with renewed interest in the best
evidence. Unfortunately, recent efforts (as Maguire's) tend to
discourage interest in complete review of that evidence.  It is much
more rewarding to read Greg and Hart; and in my opinion, to study the
correctives to Greg in Van Dam's two articles in _English Studies_ Vol.
Eleven, 1929).

Van Dam's years-long study of the prosody and text of the era led him to
what I believe are reasonable presumptions and inferences that were
never given their due, in large part because he was not loathe to
criticize excesses of the New Bibliography.  As a result Van Dam is
almost never cited or (apparently) read; though I believe he was ahead
of his time-and even further ahead of our own.

Gerald E. Downs

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