The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0308 Tuesday, 11 April 2006
Date: Monday, 10 Apr 2006 21:53:26 -0400
Subject: 17.0300 Caracalla
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0300 Caracalla
As the person who found the cache of mainly dramatic manuscripts at
Castle Ashby in 1977 (see my "The Castle Ashby Manuscripts, A
Description of the Volumes in Bishop Percy's List." +The Library+, 6th
ser., 2 [l980], 39l-4l2.) I suppose I should put my hand up and say that
perhaps Mr. Centerwall is on to something here.
When the manuscripts were discovered most curiosity centered on whether
or not the manuscript of +The Captives+ mentioned by Percy was a
translation of Plautus and/or another manuscript of the Heywood play.
All that turned up was a very small damaged fragment of a translation.
"Caracalla," which is now bound up with the +Captives+ fragment (BL
Addit. MS. 60281), is quite a different case from many of the other
manuscripts in this find, and I must confess that when it was discovered
no one gave a thought to the play being by Chapman. It is a careful
copy of this verse drama with fairly heavy correction by what appears to
be another hand. The corrections are of a sort which could have only
been made by the author, or by someone being guided in some way by the
author. Many of the manuscripts which I found can be directly connected
with Castle Ashby because of their paper and binding, particularly those
written by Cosmo Manuche and by James, 3rd earl of Northampton, but the
"Caracalla" is written on a different kind of paper and without evidence
of ever having had any sort of cover.
If on stylistic and other grounds Mr. Centerwall can demonstrate that
the likely author is Chapman, then he will also need to explain how this
manuscript, whenever produced, made its way to Castle Ashby.
William Proctor Williams
Department of English
University of Akron
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