The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0302 Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Date: Monday, 19 May 2008 13:13:30 -0400
Subject: Malone 34: Steevens's Drawing
Yesterday, in a long "Editor's Note" that I attached to William Sutton's
posting in the "Extant Copies of the Q1609 Sonnets" thread, I supplied
the link to the Bodleian Library's Malone 34 copy of Q 1609
Anyone who visited that link would have been delighted to have found a
drawing of a periwigged man being addressed by a Shakespeare character.
For those who may have wondered about this drawing, let me explain --
but first some background.
One of my favorite memories of scholarly detective work occurred when I
was at the Bodleian Library four years ago, looking up the variant
readings in Q1 Lucrece
(STC 22345) for my note "Unnoticed Variant Reading in Q1 Lucrece, 1594"
(NOTES AND QUERIES, 52 (2005): 193-95). ASIDE: Another of my other
favorite times was being in the Folger Library and realizing that I had
uncovered a variant reading in Q1 Lucrece that no one had noticed in 400
The first quartos of Malone's copies of the Sonnets and of Lucrece are
bound in the same volume, so not only did I examine Lucrece when I was
at the Bodleian, I also looked at the Sonnets, and I came upon Malone's
note and Steevens's drawing.
The note at the bottom of the page is in Malone's hand and reads,
"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 was attended by Mr Atkinson the Apothecary, of whom the above figure
whom Shakespeare addresses, is a caricature.-E. M."
Above, the Shakespeare character addresses the periwigged fellow, Mr.
Atkinson, with the following:
If thou couldst, Doctor, cast
The water of my sonnets, find their disease.
or purge my editor till he understood them,
I would applaud thee, &C.
At the time, I was thrilled at the opportunity to study this page. I had
a vague memory of reading about the drawing. Now, I remember that the
source was in the Introduction to Sidney's Lee facsimile edition of the
Bodleian Library copy of the Sonnets: "A year before Steevens borrowed
of Malone a volume containing first editions of the Sonnets and Lucrece.
On returning it to its owner, he pasted on a blank leaf a rough sketch
in which Shakespeare is seen to be addressing William Atkinson, Malone's
medical attendant" (60).
I found the Lee facsimile with Google Books:
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