Shakespeare, Jonson, and the 1602 Additions The Spanish Tragedy


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0445  Wednesday, 11 September 2013


From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 10, 2013 10:07:18 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Spanish Tragedy Additions


Holger Syme provides a link to Douglas Bruster’s N&Q article, which fills out the NYT preview. The Hand D / Spanish Tragedy Additions spelling comparisons may be of interest to Shakespearians. Before getting to them, I see that Bruster does allude to the circumstance of my objection to his conjecture reported by the NYT; which he describes as “important, misreading” of the speech ascription ‘Ier’ as ‘I, or’:


“The added lines . . . may have

been written on another sheet, or another

place (including the margins) on the same

sheet featuring this part of the Additions.

Shakespeare could have prefaced them with

the identifying ‘Ier’ as a compositional

anchor—that is, a personal prompt for new

writing. Alternately, such a preface may have

been intended as an identifying label for

others, a group that may have started with

actors, but wound up including compositors.”


Bruster could have said, “This is no place for a speech prefix.” Instead, he suggests a “compositional anchor” or a failed “identifying label for others.” Although these substitutes sort of speak for themselves, a reader may not notice their role as necessary secondary hypotheses. DNA doesn’t need ‘could haves.’


However, the more important feature of the N&Q pages is the contention that Shakespeare’s spelling in “Hand D” indicates he wrote the additions of 1602. This may be worth examining in detail; it’s surprising how much something that hasn’t been thought through bolsters and is bolstered by the modern concept of Shakespeare.


Bruster lists twenty-four categories of Hand D spelling that are reflected in the added Spanish Tragedy lines, which is taken to indicate common authorship. I’ll contribute spellings from John of Bordeaux for further comparison. Readers should keep in mind the facts that Shakespeare is not only the best to read, but among the best-read of his era; and that Bordox’s scribe (while a shorthand whiz) is an orthographic nincompoop. How do they compare (using the ‘D = Shakespeare’ formula), and how can that be? One needn’t read all the examples to get the idea. I hope the editor’s automatic press-corrector doesn’t interfere:


1) Shortened past tenses: d for -ed; t for –ed


Q 1602: supt, vnsquard, vnhorst, Wrapt, burnt, blest


Bordox: whipte, destrest (desstressed, destressed), accurst, crost, imbrst [embraced], banest [banished], belegerd, conspiered, and on and on.


2) Single medial consonant: sorow, towling


Bordox: sorow, sorowes, beger (begg), penie, wepe, folow, to morow, theasaltes [the assaults], etc.


3) Doubled medial consonant: Reccons, kiernnell, vnuallued, collour


Bordox: beyonnd, dellicattes, pittieth, grattewlat (gratulat), thannckfull, etc.


4) Single terminal s: spotles, darknes


Bordox: comforles, haples [for sure], lucles, gerasles [graceless], etc.


5) Doubled final consonant:  runne, whippes, kiernnell, scornefull , Starres, sonne/Sonne


Bordox:  martiall, whell, quarell, faythfull, haristottell, etc., etc.


6) a and ai interchangeable:  humaine


Bordox:  staie


7) ai = ei: waigh


Bordox: waigh [meaning wait, however]


8) au = a:  traunce


Bordox:  Aunswer, straung, a boundaunce [common for the era], etc.


9) c and s interchangeable:  ballace [ballast, I think], trise, sences


Bordox:  senced, elce, excammin, Awnsester


10) Terminal -e omitted: wast, you’r, desperat


Bordox:  stat (whate), lat [common in the era], etc.


11) e, ei, and ie interchangeable: beleife, kiernnell


Bordox: heignes, dei, eiorne [iron], etc.


12) en = in:  encrease, entend [note also: intertaine]


Bordox:  cossen, driven, in trape, meadesen [long before Ali, medicine made sick], 'so lerndd a man hath he tought the ani latten', etc.


13) er = ar: ierring


Bordox:  Iarman, Iarmayne, (Iermani, etc.), hart, clarkes, desartes, begeart [begirt], etc., all phonetic.


14) i = ee or ei:  shriking


Bordox: empier, atier, sattier [satyr], natier [nature], frier, my nier [mine ear], etc., etc.


15) ie = y: prie, merrie, eiebrowes, iuttie, allie, crie


Bordox:  Common in the age, ubiquitous here


16) nck = nk:  rancke


Bordox:  thinck, drincke, thanncke, thannckfull, etc., a scribal habit.


17) o = oa:  croking


Bordox:  aproching, etc. [one oa only, ‘cloake’]


18) oo = o:  foorth, mooue, prooue, doo’st


Bordox:  goote [got], ooft, fooe, goos, gooste [e.g. Casper], poot, etc.


(19) Ow = o, oo, oe: nowse (= noose), Rowle


Bordox:  fowe [few opportunities but obviously not a habit]


(20) ow = ou: thorow [three times]


Bordox:  thow [regularly], howse, stowtter, thowsand, nowne, etc.


(21) ow = o:  towling


Bordox: none, but few candidates with -oll


(22) rie = ery: Gallirie


Bordox:  verie, trecherie, anggerie, Cunteries, honggerie, weried, etc.


(23) then for than:  then (= than, x 2)


Bordox:  common in Bordox and elsewhere at the time


(24) y-spellings:  Syrha, Y’fayth, ryots, dyed, ynch, mynes, noyse, myne


Bordox:  yf, mynt, mynd, ayre, myn Awnsester, myghtie, faythfull, etc.


As the comparisons show, Bruster too readily supposes that Hand D and the Additions indicate common authorship. Bordox (even adjusted for length) confutes that notion all by itself. Yet ‘hand-to-hand combat’ is mistaken if spelling is taken as merely a personal characteristic, or if it is supposed to survive printing and transcription in measurable ways.


Bordox’s scribe was an accidental cacographer of the first order; his spelling was phonetic and without formal learning but laced with blurred concepts (e.g. he knew ‘highness’ had a g, so ‘heignes’). And yet his transcription is amazingly accurate and not too hard to read. Forms were interchangeable to him so long as they got the job done and these are categories without borders. With words like ‘thannckfull’ he was not taking dictation but getting carried away expanding shorthand notes. There are many indications of this in vestiges of short writing alongside the longer words. One comes to understand his orthography as the result of a peculiar but natural history. Why would Hand D have so many features in common with Bordox? Why would Shakespeare write this way? These are not identical questions.


Bordox’s S and STM’s D share a lot of traits besides the two dozen listed. For example, S used almost no punctuation; he didn’t have time the first go-round, then left it to others. Revising players pointed more of the text. Is that how Shakespeare treated his intricate syntax? Shakespearians seem to think so. S and D interchanged medial v and u in an odd way. Bordox’s ‘thravle’ (thrall) results from S’s persistent use of medial v for the ‘vee’ sound; from his lazy/hazy recognition of the u/v convention; and from his lackadaisical application to spelling that never made sense anyhow. D spelt with a medial v that ought to be a u in the same way. Why? Did Shakespeare/D just fall off the parsnip truck? Hadn’t he already read more than you could shake a spelling-bee at? What history can account for these characteristics? My answer is that Shakespeare/D is a big mistake. In the first place, D was a copyist.


When a strangely spelt manuscript was copied or printed it would be “normalized” by the lights of agents. The SpTr Additions are a mess, but they were worse to begin. The same for Hand D (in my opinion) so we can’t know how much they resemble Bordox. “In for a dime, in for a dollar” is my guess; ‘kiernnells’ didn’t live alone. Bordox is transmission on the hoof; the others are cur’d.


I have expressed the view that Hand D is transcribed from a report similar to Bordox. I’m not ready to say the same of the Additions, but I’m leaning that way even before I evaluate Vickers's article. Shorthand was about about that time: why not? I almost forgot; the Addition latten is no good.


Last, I like to repeat some of my favorite play. That gives a better idea of S at work than isolated idiotic spellings. Transmission (at a remove) and survival of a theatrical report is a miracle; it should be judged fairly:


and that yor maiestie had banest him he fecth a sigh and swore a

solom oth yor heignes had disparagd all this thought in reving

him of such a martiall fooe, how brav a man quoth he was      938


what meat wod we have why thow ould mapellfast matrone

thow rates collerd ruffen lok in my face and se yf thow canst spie

ani basser cattes then a could capon a fat pigge or a pasti of ven . . . 548


letes lose the Raynes of reson to conseve thinges past belefe

here of coniecturd is that poeates wrighte Sapience dominabeter



thy practies is plaged with feweris

how his conshince stinges

gerasles repent and thow shallt

yet find grace


van  grace I grace is a pretie wench I know her well

com hether phelossopher whates hell

tell me how manie drope of blud ther

is in the sea or thow diest non place tibe domene   1298


lastlie he that menes to Liv in this world must

hav his toung mad of a paynters apperne spotted

of all culleres he face brace cog ly and desemble

or elce yf he live never so honistlie he shall

di a starke begger)    357


[his face brass, codge, lie, . . .]


but harke my theinckes som Ientell is hard at hand   879


be not impatient myghty prince the night is Long

Booties hath not pitchd her Laboring waine

[[.....]nter John holland] (In a reviser’s hand)


betuwne aquarious armes  678


low how thow art tranncported


Gerald E. Downs


Qs: The SBReviews: SHAKSPER Book Reviews


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0444  Monday, 9 September 2013


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Monday, September 9, 2013

Subject:     Qs: The SBReviews: SHAKSPER Book Reviews


Dear Subscribers,


Last week, I asked about the future of The SBReviews, and only received one response, so let me repeat the questions that I asked.



I got the idea a number of years ago to institute The SBReviews: SHAKSPER Book Reviews: http://shaksper.net/scholarly-resources/book-reviews


I had a dedicated group of volunteers to whom I offer my wholehearted thanks: http://shaksper.net/about/book-review-panel.


However, I have allowed The SBReviews to become moribund. 


There is an inherent problem with having active scholars, especially with their various academic responsibilities, working in volunteer capacities on a peer-reviewed project like The SBReviews or the Roundtable. 


So I thought I would ask the membership two questions for your private reactions:

  1. Did you find The SBReviews a valuable part of your SHAKSPER subscription and of the SHAKSPER web site?
  2. Would you like to see The SBReviews continue?

Any responses will be kept between the responder and myself and will not be posted.


Hardy Cook



Penguin Random House’s Hogarth Imprint


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0442  Monday, 9 September 2013


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Monday, September 9, 2013

Subject:     Penguin Random House’s Hogarth Imprint


Two More Writers for Shakespeare Effort

Compiled by ADAM W. KEPLER




September 9, 2013


Margaret Atwood and Howard Jacobson are the latest authors to be commissioned by Penguin Random House’s Hogarth imprint to write their interpretations of plays by Shakespeare, the publisher is to announce on Monday. Ms. Atwood will tackle “The Tempest,” while Mr. Jacobson has chosen “The Merchant of Venice.” They join Anne Tyler, who will provide her own take on “The Taming of the Shrew,” and Jeanette Winterson, who will reimagine “The Winter’s Tale.” The plays are scheduled to be published in print, digital and audio formats in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project. In a news release, Ms. Atwood said that she had selected “The Tempest” because it “has always been a favorite of mine, and working on it will be an invigorating challenge. Is Caliban the first talking monster? Not quite, but close.” Mr. Jacobson also gave his reasons for selecting “The Merchant of Venice”: “For an English novelist, Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish, ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is where it all snarls up.” He added: “ ‘Who is the merchant and who is the Jew?’ Portia wanted to know. Four hundred years later, the question needs to be reframed: ‘Who is the hero of this play, and who is the villain?’ ” Hogarth plans to announce more writers for the project in the future.


[Editor’s Note: I am a great fan of Margaret Atwood and find her one of the most talented fiction writers of today. In honor of the recently published MaddAddam the final volume in the MaddAddam Trilogy, I have decided to go back and reread the first two volumes Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. What wonderful excuses I give myself for reading materials. –Hardy]


Shakespeare, Jonson, and the 1602 Additions The Spanish Tragedy


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0443  Monday, 9 September 2013


From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

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

> hands.


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


University of London Not to Sell Shakespeare Folios


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0441  Friday, 6 September 2013


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Friday, September 6, 2013

Subject:     University of London Not to Sell Shakespeare Folios



University of London abandons plans to sell Shakespeare folios

By David Batty

The Guardian, Thursday 5 September 2013 18.26 EDT


Proposed sale of the works will not go ahead in light of negative response from academic community, says vice-chancellor


The University of London has abandoned its proposal to auction a rare set of early printed editions of William Shakespeare’s plays following an outcry by senior figures in theatre and academia.


It emerged this week that the university’s library intended to auction the set of Shakespeare’s first four folios, left to the Senate House library in 1956 by Sir Louis Sterling, in an effort to raise £3m to £5m for its historical research collection.


The editions had been photographed and evaluated by Bonham’s auction house. But the vice-chancellor, Prof Sir Adrian Smith, said on Thursday that the proposed sale of the works – a set bound together in the 19th century – would not go ahead in light of the negative response from the academic community.


Smith said: “The university has decided to focus its attention on examining alternative ways of investing in the collection. The money raised from any sale would have been used to invest in the future of the library by acquiring major works and archives of English literature.”


The university would have required permission from the Charity Commission to go ahead with the auction because the sale conflicted with the terms of the bequest, which states that the four folios should be permanently housed there.


[ . . . ]


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