The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0443 Monday, 9 September 2013
Date: September 8, 2013 2:36:25 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Spanish Tragedy Additions
Holger Syme remarks:
> Gerald Downs and others suppose that The Spanish Tragedy
> had been print “a long time” by the end of the 16th century;
Eight years or so does seem a long time, era- & topic-wise. A lot happened, and the time frame, at least, is not supposed.
> I think it’s worth pointing out that there is no evidence
> whatsoever of a professional company taking over another
> company’s play(s) without the manuscript playbook changing
Holger Syme himself observes that printed plays (e.g. The Two Merry Milkmaids) were apparently prepared for performance. A Looking Glass For London was so used (per Werstine).
However (per usual), the best evidence of a company of taffeta fools taking over a playtext is John of Bordeaux. The manuscript cannot derive from authorial text, it is revised (some) by Chettle, theatrical persons have begun further preparation, and the actor John Holland is assigned to parts of the play. Moreover, other texts are explained by the Bordox evidence. For instance, Orlando was apparently played by two professional companies, and Q looks much like a similarly reported text. Q1 Hamlet didn’t result from ‘changing hands.’
Professor Syme’s website looks good to me. I would like to see him comment on my Bordox article.
In his piece on The Spanish Tragedy Syme notes that “In or around 1602, the Children of the Queen’s Revels stage the Chamberlain’s Men’s “comodey of Jeronymo,” possibly because it hadn’t been performed by the adults for a while. Or perhaps simply because.” That doesn’t jibe with “no evidence.”
Otherwise, Syme raises some interesting issues about Henslowe’s “Jeronimo” references. It’s hard to be sure about anything on the authority of Henslowe, who had his own way of spelling and record-keeping. I tend to agree that Q1 Spanish Tragedy (now lost) was a bad quarto. If so, the name of the play may not be that supplied by the author.
Gerald E. Downs