1611 Symposium, Rhodes College, November 10-11, 2011

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0076  Monday, 16 May 2011

From:          Scott Newstok <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 11 Mar 2011 16:23:31 -0600      
Subject:      1611 Symposium, Rhodes College, November 10-11, 2011

On November 10-11, 2011, the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College will host a symposium on the historical background and cultural legacy of the "King James" bible translation, in observance of its 400th anniversary.

On November 10, Robert Alter (UC-Berkeley) will deliver the keynote lecture on "The Question of Eloquence in the King James Bible." His visit will be co-sponsered by the Naseeb Shaheen Memorial Lecture of the University of Memphis Department of English, the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities (MOCH), Rhodes College, and Christian Brothers University (CBU).

On November 11, invited symposium speakers include Robert Alter, Brian Cummings (Sussex), Hannibal Hamlin (Ohio State), Ena Heller (Museum of Biblical Art), and Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster). These scholars' visits will be co-sponsored by Rhodes College programs in Art, English, History, Religious Studies, and Search.

All of these lectures will be free and open to the public.

A series of 1611-related events are being planned throughout Memphis, from museum displays to musical performances to lectures at other institutions:


Please contact Scott Newstok (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for further information.


Thanks to the generosity of the late Dr. Iris Annette Pearce, Rhodes College enjoys an unusually wide range of Shakespeare-related resources. The Pearce Shakespeare Endowment was established in 2007 to enrich courses in Shakespeare and support events for the entire campus as well as the greater Memphis community. Dr. Pearce attended Rhodes College in the 1940s, when it was named Southwestern at Memphis, before graduating from Vanderbilt University. During World War II, she joined the women’s corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES). As a medical student, she followed a long-established path in her family--where four generations of physicians preceded her. Yet she was also breaking new ground as a woman: she was one of only two female students in her University of Tennessee class; she served as the first female internal medicine resident at John Gaston Hospital (the Med); and she eventually became the director of the City of Memphis Hospitals while serving as a professor at UT. Her bequest generously continues to support her lifelong enthusiasm for Shakespeare. The late professor of Shakespeare studies at Rhodes, Dr. Cynthia Marshall, was instrumental in establishing preliminary planning for this bequest.

SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Groats-worth of Wit: Greene or Chettle?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0075  Monday, 16 May 2011

From:         Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011 18:49:27 -0500 (EST)       
Subject:     Groats-worth of Wit: Greene or Chettle?

Tom Reedy called attention to an article that I had not seen:
>Why is the attribution to Henry Chettle of Greene's Groatsworth of Witt
>so universally accepted among Shakespeare scholars? John Jowett,
>Katherine Duncan-Jones, Brian Vickers, and many others wholeheartedly
>endorse Warren B. Austin's 1969 computer-based study, despite the
>many flaws in its methodology pointed out by Richard Westley in his
>"Computing Error: Reassessing Austin's Study of Groatsworth of Wit,"
>_Literary and Linguistic Computing_, 21:3 (2006), pp. 363-78.

>As far as I have been able to determine, Westley's paper has never been
>rebutted or even reviewed, and I find his arguments persuasive.

Having now read the article I venture a few(?) comments. I have long accepted the likelihood that Chettle was behind Groatsworth, in part because of Austin's study. Although a number of prominent scholars agree, there is no reason in principle for the inquiry to end. Yet Westley's attempt to reopen discussion is faulty.

First, his criticism of Austin is needlessly ungentlemanly and accusatorial. Those who are impressed with Austin's collegiality and argumentation will not welcome personal attack as if it were argument. Here are a few examples of tone, if not substance:

"Austin deftly avoids . . ."; "One compelling reason to exclude _Messenger_ from study is that it does not support the hypothesis Austin wants to advance" (365); "Austin's bias emerges . . ."; "pseudo-mathematical. . ."; "Austin later admits . . ." (366); "Austin applies a perverse and unnecessary standard . . ." (368); "a kind of scholarly gerrymandering . . ."; "And he fudges . . ."; "And fantastically . . ."; "Austin's glibness . . ."(369); "an irreparable research gaffe"; ", , , for no good reason"; "The charge of derelict practice . . ."; "a pretext . . ." (371); "manipulations of the data . . ." (372); "Consequently, it is disingenuous . . ." (376). And so on.

It surprises me that name-calling was allowed by the journal, though of course an author's "style" is his own, and though some may be influenced by what others take to reflect a weak argument (else why resort to it?). Eminent scholars will simply ignore a whole production rather than condone such goings-off, or become the next targets of abuse. One of the problems facing Internet discussion is its ability to draw the acknowledged authorities out of solitary; criticism is essential, but there are right and wrong ways. Also, a faulty argument accompanying name-calling increases reluctance to reply. Many who approve of the case for Chettle's "main finger" (though they usually claim only a probability and call for further study) will spot Westley's missteps.

Perhaps all agree that if Chettle wrote Groatsworth (to shorten the proposition), we would like to know. Yet, far from universal acceptance of the hypothesis, many scholars don't even mention it when they should, or seem unaware. Personally, and more as time passes, I find Henry Chettle to be a central figure in the history of the literary age. I think well especially of the work and insight John Jowett brings to Chettle-based topics.

I take Westley's observations in no particular order. (An argument I lately find interesting is discussed farther along). To begin, he seems largely to miss the purpose of Austin's study. For convenience, Austin limited a control text, Greene's _Farewell to Folly_, to its first 25,000 words. Westley finds something sinister in that, "thereby creating interest in what the omitted part might reveal" (369). It reveals a "Folly" clause, "to whom hee had so many times beene beholding", paralleling two clauses in the Groatsworth letter to three scholars. Westley observes that "such stylistic congruence is a staple of Austin's study except that he only highlights those cases that connect [GW] to Chettle's corpus" (370).

But GW is full of parallels to Greene, as everyone is aware; to suppose them necessary to the study is to misunderstand the hypothesis. In the first place, what is surprising about GW that leads to the hypothesis? Nothing, actually; it seems and claims to be Greene's work. The surprise is in the preface to Chettle's Kind-Heart's Dream (KHD), where we learn from Chettle himself that he is suspected of forgery. Nashe calls GW "a scald trivial lying pamphlet," but Chettle supplies his own indictment. This might be accounted for by the obvious possibility that Chettle forged GW. That is the hypothesis, backed by a number of circumstances. It is not tested by parallels, the putative forger's tools, but by the habits of the forger, as differentiated from the usage of Greene that does not include, as far as possible, his distinctive verbal characteristics.

That may seem unfair, but the investigator has to guard against parallels and unusual usage because of what I call "fallacy of the odd occurrence," or the "forger's choice." The perp is free to choose coincidental material that may later seem meaningful to attribution studies. If Greene "yarkt up" a book in a day-and-a-half, Chettle might do the same in a couple of weeks with a supply of Greene publications, including 'Folly.' Study should be designed to bypass likely tools, which Austin does; honestly, it seems. Westley continually recommends the mistake of testing GW for Greene (while he refers to the suspect Chettle as an "eyewitness." Unless we clep burglars eyewitness, which they are in a sense, the term presumes innocence a bit much).

Westley cites the deft derelict Austin himself to the effect that "Elizabethan compositors were 'faithful to the author's copy'" (375), to prepare an argument that spelling differences in GW and KHD corroborate Chettle's claim that he had only copied GW from Greene's holograph (The explanation, apparently, for both a missing Greene ms. and printer's copy in Chettle's hand). Forgery needs no such explication, though a forger might. Westley finds these differences: leisure / leysure; aire / ayre; Maistership / Mastershippe & Maship; mistris / mistrisse; musike / musicke; otherwise / otherwayes; sorie / sory; and verie / verye. In all, he lists 37 (or so) pairs or multiples of different spellings. They bespeak Westley's unfamiliarity with the reality of compositorial practices, which allow little opportunity for inference in these works. Rather than argue this point I'll similarly list words from Greene's _Planetomachia_ (1585), alongside the same words in _Penelope's Web_ (1587), from a passage of a little over 250 words transferred from the early work into the later. Greene copied almost word-for-word; what do we learn about his spelling? (Taken from Goree, Phil. Q 3, 1924, u/v modernized).

1) marveile / marvaile 2) Egipte / Aegipt 3) woont / wont 4)  councell / counsell 5) Parleamente / Parliament 6) hee/he 7) leaste / least 8) counsayle / counsaile 9) fall / falles 10) cuppe / cup 11) lippe/lip 12) hindrance/ hinderance 13) sodayne / sodaine 14) onely / only 15) hear / heare 16) denial / denyall 17) yeeld / yeelde 18) dispight / despight 19) menne / men 20) wee / we 21) shee shall / she shal 22) al / all 23) marry / marrie 24) persuade mee / perswade me.

Goree quotes other similarly large Greene "borrowings" from himself, e.g. 300 words from _Planetomachia_ to _Perimedes_ (1588). The first of the lines run:

. . . hardly admitting any into familiaritie unlesse he might sell his courtesie for profite, and they buy his favour with repentaunce.

. . .  he admitted none into familiarite, unless he might sell his courtesie for profit, and they buie his favor with repentance.

One-third of the spellings vary; the same words from the same author. It could go without saying that authors alter their spelling and that even the same compositors spell variantly, sometimes for reasons (i, e, y, ie, and 'Mastershippe & Maship' come and go to justify line-to-margin); and sometimes for no reason. Only evidence out of the ordinary might point to Chettle or Greene. Westley's short list for GW & KHD (and a cursory look of my own) indicate unusually invariant spelling, which one might expect from two manuscripts in the hand of Chettle; who as a professional closely associated with the printers probably directed the composition. None of the spelling exonerates Chettle from forgery. And it may be that Chettle's and GW's 'O' and Greene's 'Oh' preferences are not meaningful, as Westley suggests (he makes much of orthography otherwayes). Yet the usage ratios are perhaps large enough to observe Greene's borrowing again. From R W Dent, "_Gwydonius_: A Study . . . in Plagiarism":

Greene (_Gwydonius_ 1584, one of Westley's alternatives not included in Austin's study):

. . . O lawlesse Love, O witless will, O fancie, fraught full of phrensie and furie.

George Pettie's _Petite Pallace_:

. . . O love without law, O rage without reason. O will without wit, O fansy fraught full of fury and frensy.

A complete count of O's and Oh's must of course reduce Greene's O numbers by these three, atop a big can of Greene worms. In 1906 H C Hart (N&Q) noted (before any need for 'fudge charges') "one interesting result in this process of appropriation: Greene's text and glossary become possessed of many terms to which he has no claim whatever." He has no better claim to the spelling. Hart reports as many as ten plagiary pages at a clap, plenty of which Greene uses again in later yarkings-up. For example, Thomas Bowes's translation of La Primaudaye (1586), 138-148 "is bodily lifted into Greene's . . . _Second Part of Tritameron_ (1587)."

Closer to home, lots of Primaudaye is copied into "Folly," most of which Austin used as a control text; about which Westley faults Austin for not using it all. In another instance, Greene uses Primaudaye in "Perimedes" and he "copies this whole passage into 'The Royal Exchange' . . . ." Before any early work of Greene's could be properly used in a comparative study, his "carloads" of plagiarism, his direct translations, his repetitions aplenty from his own books (stolne or not), would have to be excised. They're either not his words nor style, or they double or triple the data. In this respect Austin is probably right to have limited his study to later text, though "Folly" shows itself a poor control. The extent of plagiarism is unknown, but massive.

Keeping Chettle's works in the forefront of the study helps matters. The accurate way to handle the stylistic mess is to ask whether GW agrees more with Chettle than it does with "Greene and others." After all, Henry is the suspect and the data for Greene will never be accurate. Expanding it to the Greene canon will not help and since any such result would be skewed, improvement on Austin's choice is unlikely. That ties in with the Westley criticisms, which seldom actually dispute Austin's results. An imperfect study that points to Chettle still points to Chettle, but Austin's work easily withstands the confused attack.

Westley seems to think that all possible evidence had to be evaluated by Austin, rather than to allow the researcher to formulate a limited number of tests determined by his own rationale. For example, Austin was led "to exclude much of the data needed to determine the authorship . . ." by the criteria of a specific test, in this case "Greene- or Chettle-plus words" which [as I understand the quotation] occurred in one or the other corpus at least ten times, where one author's usage was at least one-and-one-half times as frequent, but that it's variation within the works of the high-use author had to remain less than between the two authors. Now obviously these restrictions are meant to pare down the list of tested words. Westley says the words "are anything but randomly chosen" (368), but the criteria have nothing to do with the choice of candidate words, from which the list derives.

The last criterion is that a test word's "range of use in the works of one author had to be clearly distinguished from, and not overlap, its range in the works of the other." Westley notes that it "is not clear what the fourth criterion is saying nor why Greene and Chettle had to differ in the grammatical forms of certain words they used, assuming that is what Austin means." If one does not understand a sentence, why assume a meaning only to criticize the assumption? The rule is not about grammar (other than its own, of course). What Austin means is that the average of the numbers of each author's use of the word must reflect the use in each work. Anomalous use in a work or two (of either author) removes a word from those measured against Groatsworth. This appears to be a fairly designed test. Westley doesn't report results, doesn't disagree with them, doesn't say how the test is rigged against Greene, or why the results should be distrusted. That is his way.

Westley's alternative insistence is that rare words should be the evidence. As I noted, that is the mistaken way to judge possible literary forgery, which can draw words out of a hatful of Greene and others. Westley remarks that "because such words are unique or rare, they are statistically decisive when they occur in discernable patterns." But how do unique words form patterns?

"Austin follows this up with still more heavy-handed exclusions: all auxiliary verbs, inflected verb forms, and even personal pronouns are omitted from his study, the latter because they are 'dependent on the relative prominence of male and female characters, the author's choice of point of view, and the relative amount of dialogue' in a given work . . . . This is tantamount to carving out the particular words Austin does not want studied. [And? Seems intelligent carving to me.] . . . He studies only those exceptions that favor Chettle as the author of _Groatsworth_" (369). Westley is accusing Austin of rigging results by designing tests around evidence that had already been found to favor Chettle. Isn't it possible that Austin (an eyewitness, amongst others, no doubt) devised the tests before they were run, and that they favor Chettle's authorship because he was the author? Again, Westley does not dispute the results.

"Of course, scholars often must use their materials selectively in order to detect and study the right lexical patterns. Still, Austin's persistence in overlooking vital data constitutes an irreparable research gaffe" (370). So why is Austin criminally selective? Why is non-use of data irreparable? The data hasn't gone anywhere. Where is the argument against Austin's tests and results? Alternative tests are only meaningful in the doing.

Examples of Westley's loaded terminology are bad enough in themselves; where do they ultimately lead? "And fantastically, Austin reverses himself to make a single exception to his exclusionary rules: 'Thus *you* and *ye* were eliminated with the class of personal pronouns; but each writer's preference for *ye* and *you*, the alternatives being open to him, was noted and proved significant.' . . . Consider Austin's glibness. [These words] are excluded . . . but then are reinstated because they represent each author's preferences . . . ."

Yet there is nothing wrong with testing the perceived difference. Even Westley has "no objection to including *you* and *ye* as data helpful to determining the authorship of [GW] . . . (369)." Then why fantastic and glib? Though Austin's counts seem meaningful, showing Greene seldom uses *ye*, whereas Chettle and GW have a greater *ye* percentage (38% and 19%, respectively). Westley returns to the issue with results of his own, derived from the six LION Greene prose texts. He reports a 20% *ye* use, in agreement with GW; his figures are *ye* 218 times, *you* 874 times -- far from what would be predicted by Austin (372, 377n.).

Observant readers might notice that Austin utilizes the text of _A Quip for an Upstart Courtier_; and so does Westley. "Quip" uses more than 200 *you* and only 4 *ye* (my counts are subject to correction, but close). That means the *ye* percentage must be more like 25% in the rest of the LION texts. But "Pandosto" uses 'thee' and 'thou' predominately, where you/ye is only 25/1. The later "Menaphon" is 120/8, so we are down to about 450 *you* and 210 *ye* to account for in three texts. "Morando" shows 90/3. What is going on?

I was unable to find satisfactory texts of Mamillia and Morando on the Net; the other texts are available in modernized form, which preserves the you/ye usage well enough. But I noticed in C J Vincent's "Pettie and Greene" (MLN, '39) Mamillia spellings reproduced as "ye fairest" and "ye wolfe"; it occurred to me that "old spelling" texts left to dumb-bundly computers would render the "thorn and superscript e" definite article as "ye" when an uncontrolled Control-F would up ye pronoun count. As it happens, the LION texts do just that; Mamillia has 180 *you* and 94 *ye*, none pronominal. Morando has 91 you, 3 ye pronoun, and 11 "ye the." Double-checking Gwydonius, where I had counted zero "ye's," LION shows 162/88 you/ye; no pronoun ye.

Westley's count of 218 *ye* in the six LION prose texts can only be accounted for by his failure to separate ye from ye. One may generously infer that he did not read a single "ye" clause in all these works and that he has no knowledge of "ye" as an abbreviation of "the." The corrected results confirm Austin's test as favoring Chettle's usage in GW by a wide and consistent margin. I am not especially concerned to conclude that the data pool is over Westley's head; more importantly, personal attack shouldn't be rewarded by easy approval of his hugely mistaken counter-argument.

Westley's introductory remarks reflect a poor understanding of the issues surrounding GW: "And so the justly famous attack on the playwrights that identified Shakespeare as a _Johannes fac totum_ (jack of all trades) in the midst of a roiling London theatre scene in 1592 may be a fiction, or else does not refer to Shakespeare at all (Erne, 1998; see Carroll, 1994a)." But Erne accepts that Shakespeare was the person alluded to in GW, as does Carroll. The "attack" was primarily on the player Shakespeare and Erne reargues the case that Chettle's apology in KHD was not to Shakespeare, the player attacked, but to George Peele, one of the three playwrights specifically addressed in the GW letter. The apology is a different issue. Carroll, in an article (1994a) separate from his edition of GW, discusses the identity of the player in "Roberto's Tale," not that of the player attacked in the letter to the playwrights. There's no way these immensely human topics should be neglected to pursue an ill-informed inhuman bean count.

Much more can be said of Westley's essay, only to continue on an unproductive tangent. But the topic itself is not played out. From the work of Chauncey Sanders, Austin, Carroll, and Jowett, a substantial hypothesis developed, that Chettle is most responsible for GW. The alternative to Greene's authorship should get more attention.

Gerald E. Downs
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

New Feature on SHAKSPER Web Site: Donate

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0073  Monday, 16 May 2011

From:          Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:          Monday, May 16, 2011
Subject:      New Feature on SHAKSPER Web Site: Donate

Dear All,

The Donate to Support SHAKSPER function is now up and running.

Let me be clear that there is not, nor ever has been, a fee or any other charges for subscribing to SHAKSPER or using the materials on the SHAKSPER web site. Nevertheless, there are costs to operating SHAKSPER that I have taken care of for the years I have been its editor.

One of the principal virtues (perfections) as taught in the Pali canon of Buddhism, as practiced in Southeast Asia, is that of DANA: generosity, giving, offering, liberality.  In this tradition, giving benefits the giver as well as the receiver of those gifts.

If you would care to make a donation to support the work of SHAKSPER, use the DONATE button on the SHAKSPER web site.

Hardy M. Cook
Editor of SHAKSPER

SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Thoughts on Double Falsehood

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0074  Monday, 16 May 2011

From:          Ward Elliott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 23 Apr 2011 23:45:39 -0700
Subject:      Thoughts on Double Falsehood

April 23, 2011

Dear Mr. Partridge,

I’ve been meaning to send you an update on our work on Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s contributions to Double Falsehood, got  a bit more involved in the subject than I anticipated, and am finally getting around to giving you a fuller answer as a Shakespeare’s birthday present.  Your first reference should still be Brean Hammond’s excellent edition (2010), which you probably used for your script.  It’s a wonderful, handy, up-to-date survey of the many, often-conflicting schools of thought and evidence on Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s contributions to the play.  Following Oliphant, Metz and Kukowski, Hammond “largely endorses” Metz’s summary:  Double Falsehood has “a drastic alteration of the first half and a less comprehensive editing of the last. In essence, Double Falsehood is mainly Theobald, or Theobald and an earlier adapter, with a substantial admixture of Fletcher and a modicum of Shakespeare” (Metz, 1989, 283, quoted, Hammond, 98).  Metz also accepts “Fletcher’s dominance of the writing from 3.3 onwards” (101).  All of these divisions seem to me in the right ballpark, as far as they go, but we would probably phrase them more cautiously, especially as to Shakespeare.  We would put it something like this:  “Mostly Theobald or an earlier adapter, with an substantial admixture of possible Fletcher from 3.3 onwards, and, at most, a modicum of Shakespeare prior to 3.3.”   Like others, we have found the Shakespeare parts, if any, hard to identify.

Hammond did not wish to be seen as a disintegrationist, still a term of reproach in scholarly circles. He was commendably cautious but, for people like us, frustratingly reticent, as to just where in their respective halves of the play the buried Shakespeare and Fletcher treasure might be found.  Our new-optics methods are designed to pick up features that other approaches may miss, and we do have a good track record of accuracy in distinguishing single-authored Shakespeare from non-Shakespeare.  The distinctive features are these: We start with our large, highly crunchable, modern-spelling Claremont Text Archive.  We use multiple tests based on profiles of like-sized text blocks.  Measuring discrepancy is our specialty; we don’t pay as much attention as others to resemblances (more on this below).  We have developed innovative composite measures of discrepancy which, in blocks of sufficient size (let’s say over 1,200 words), are 95-100% accurate in distinguishing pure Shakespeare from pure non-Shakespeare.  This accuracy falls off as the text blocks get shorter and more variable, and passages become too stylistically scattered to reach with computers, ours at least, where the blocks are shorter than 400 words or so.  But even passages as short as a sonnet, 100-150 words, maybe shorter, can still be tested with about 90% group accuracy, by our panel of “Golden Ears,” established in 2008.  We have not hesitated to consult them in otherwise-doubtful cases, and we have done so here.  I suppose I should add that in a world divided between Canonizers and skeptics of new Shakespeare ascriptions, we have more often been found among the skeptics than among the Canonizers.

All our tests are validated on pure, single-authored passages, but not on jointly-authored passages with blurred or no dividing lines.  Hammond helpfully describes many conflicting dividing lines offered by previous scholars for Double Falsehood but offers very few of his own beyond putting Shakespeare somewhere in the first half, Fletcher somewhere in the second.  For quantitative, pure-case analyzers like us, testing the whole undercharted play seemed rather like trying to find Conan Doyle’s drop of Gascony in a firkin of ditchwater, outside our normal range of competence.  We needed something more bounded and specific, and we looked for it in three ways:  Plan A was simply to divide the entire play into seven sequential roughly-1,500-word blocks (the shortest length where we can reasonably claim 95-100% accuracy in identifying a single-authored text as pure Shakespeare) and testing them all, one after the other, perhaps mindful of the old engineer’s maxim, “when brute force fails, try more.” Maybe, we thought, this comprehensive approach could show sections with greater or lesser Shakespeare/Fletcher resemblances or discrepancies, “hot spots” or “cold spots” for one or the other.  Plan B was to ask the two most skilled members of our Golden Ear panel to scan the entire play for sections that they thought sounded like Shakespeare. Plan C was to ask MacDonald Jackson, whom many consider the dean of Shakespeare authorship scholars, which parts he thought sounded most like pure, testable Shakespeare or Fletcher.

Plan A, block-and-test-everything in sequence, was a partial success, though it turned up no hot-spot blocks that tested much like pure Shakespeare or Fletcher.  Each of the three “Shakespeare-half” blocks had far too few open lines (that is, lines not ended by a piece of punctuation) and too many I’m’s  to be Shakespeare in 1613, when his lost Cardenio was written.  The I’m’s could arguably have been added later, perhaps by Theobald for his eighteenth-century audience, but it is harder to make this argument about open lines.  Shakespeare was an extreme outlier in the frequency of his open lines by 1613, consistently using many more of them than his peers, and none of our “Shakespeare-half” blocks comes anywhere near to fitting his profile. It is true that open lines are a function of punctuation, that punctuation can vary somewhat from one editor to another, and that our Double Falsehood e-text had a different editor, Richard Proudfoot, from our Riverside Shakespeare baseline, but the differences seem too large to be explained away by normal editorial variance.  Hammond kindly sent us his own edition, and it, too tests much lower than Shakespeare in 1613.  On present evidence, we would say that whoever wrote the three “Shakespeare” blocks was not a Shakespeare-level outlier, and it seems to us a serious obstacle to a pure Shakespeare ascription to any of the “Shakespeare” blocks, far less all three of them.  

We consider it a serious obstacle because, as mentioned, we weigh discrepancy much more heavily than resemblance.  There are good reasons for this preference.  Even where you find many resemblances, as we did, and usually do, all it takes is one or two strong, unexplained discrepancies to mark an ascription as unlikely.  We know of no perfect authorship tests, like fingerprints or DNA, for authorship, with no false negatives or positives.  Instead, we use something like the old, pre-fingerprinting Bertillon system of applying multiple imperfect tests, where one or two strong negatives can outweigh a peck of positives.  Only in fairy tales does fitting Cinderella’s slipper prove that you are she.  In practice, anyone with a size-five foot could pass the slipper test.   But not fitting the slipper, or having the wrong eye color or blood type, is strong evidence that you are not Cinderella, no matter how much else seems to match.  Bottom line:  none of the three first-half blocks test much like pure Shakespeare, consistent with Hammond’s, Metz’s, (and Jackson’s) conclusion that there is no more than a modicum of Shakespeare in the first half.  As Jackson put it, “Anybody approaching Double Falsehood in the hope of reading scenes of pure Shakespeare is doomed to disappointment (his 2010).” 

Under Plan A, something similar could be said of Fletcher’s contributions.  Our four Plan-A “Fletcher” blocks were likewise Fletcher mismatches:  too few enclitic microphrases and feminine endings, too few ye’s and ‘em’s, too many I’m’s.  Even putting aside the ye’s, the ‘em’s, and the I’m’s as possible micro-updates, we would consider the shortage of enclitics and feminine endings fatal to the notion that any of the blocks as found could be pure Fletcher.  Fletcher, on average, used three times as many enclitic microphrases as Shakespeare, and more feminine endings. Feminine endings are lines of verse ending with an extra unstressed syllable, that is, lines ending with words like “take him,” or “given.”  Enclitics are too complicated to define in detail here, but they appear when a “clinging monosyllable” stressed in normal speech loses its stress in a line of verse for metrical reasons, and they are countable (see our 2004, 376, 1996, 201, and Tarlinskaja, 1987, 208-22 for progressively more detailed definitions of enclitics).  Hence, none of our straight-sequential blocks from “Fletcher’s half” look like pure Fletcher.  This, too, seems to us consistent with Hammond’s and Metz’s very cautious formulation of Fletcher’s contributions to the play as a “substantial admixture” in the second half.

Also consistent with the Hammond thesis are three pronounced stylometric differences between the “Shakespeare half” and the “Fletcher half.”  Even if the “Shakespeare” blocks are far from pure Shakespeare and the “Fletcher” blocks far from pure Fletcher, the “Fletcher half” is less Shakespearean across the board, with more than three Shakespeare rejections per average block, compared with just two for the “Shakespeare half.”  The difference is especially pronounced with our two best tests for distinguishing Shakespeare from Fletcher, Bundle of Badges 9 (BoB9) and Enclitic Microphrases.  Both of these point much more to Shakespeare than to Fletcher – or should we say “away from Fletcher?” – in the first half, and much more toward Fletcher than toward Shakespeare in the second.  BoB9 highlights differences in frequency of Shakespeare “badges” (that is, Shakespeare-favored words), such as you, th’, which, my, as, of, good, by, so, with, and his, and Fletcher badges, ye, and, me, are, for, all, I, a, ‘tis, too, yet, and must.  All three first-half blocks were positive and in Shakespeare’s range by this test, but not Fletcher’s.  All four second-half blocks were negative, and three were in Fletcher’s range, but not Shakespeare’s.  By the same token, all three first-half blocks tested within Shakespeare’s enclitic range, but far too low for Fletcher.  The four second-half blocks had twice as many enclitics as the first-half blocks, still too low for Fletcher, but twice as high, on average, as the first-half blocks.  This is high enough to suggest that something like an “admixture” of Fletcher might well be in the second half somewhere, pulling up its average enclitic rates.  All we had to do was find it.

In sum, our Plan-A sequential testing seemed to show, consistent with Hammond’s thesis, that the two halves are different, the first more like Shakespeare – or should we say less like Fletcher? – the second more like Fletcher, but with no sequential block from either half looking like a pure hot-spot example of either author’s work.

That suggested that there could indeed be some Shakespeare or Fletcher treasure buried in the respective halves, but our Plan-A sequential blocking gave little clue as to how or where to find it.  Our Plan B was to consult the two most skilled members of our Golden Ear panel, both anonymous by their own request, and both over 92% accurate in distinguishing Shakespeare from non-Shakespeare in 38 test-passages of known authorship.  This was an off-label use of our two best ears, but one only a very stodgy and incurious person with access to a panel like ours would not have tried.  We are neither. Normally we do not just invite individuals to choose their own passages, but ask the entire panel about specific preselected passages, and calculate aggregate answers by majority rule (see our 2008 for details).  But it would have seemed perverse, with a Shakespeare-validated panel like ours on hand, not to see whether the best of them could pick out some Shakespeare hot spots (though not Fletcher, because none of them are Fletcher-validated).  Double Falsehood turned out to be too big a hurdle for this expedient.  The two top respondents disagreed with one another diametrically, one selecting enough Shakespeare-like passages, all from the first half, to make up a testable block, the other finding nothing in the play that sounded like Shakespeare.  When we computer-tested the first one’s resultant “Shakespeare block,” we found that it, too, had two Shakespeare rejections and seemed no closer to pure Shakespeare than our three Plan-A in-sequence blocks from “Shakespeare’s half.”  Our verdict on Plan B: the second, skeptical one was more likely right.  It was worth a try, but it did not find us a hot spot.

Plan C, our most successful, was to ask MacDonald Jackson,  a grand master of Shakespeare authorship studies,  and a published authority on Double Falsehood (his 2010), to identify for us the most Shakespearean and Fletcherian passages.  He turned to an earlier master, Ernest H.C. Oliphant (1862-1936), who identified 310 lines as Fletcher-like, 3.3.21-153, 4.1.1-27, 4.1.148-188; and 4.2.1-15, 24-26, 31-82, 5.2.105-158.  He identified just two passages of ten and four lines, respectively, as Shakespeare-like, short enough to quote here entire:
<1.02.63-72> I do not see that fervor in the maid,
Which youth and love should kindle. She consents,
As ‘twere, to feed without an appetite;
Tells me, she is content; and plays the coy one,
Like those that subtly make their words their ward,
Keeping address at distance. This affection
Is such a feigned one, as will break untouched;
Die frosty, ere it can be thawed; while mine,
Like to a clime beneath Hyperion’s eye,
Burns with one constant heat.
<1.03.54-56> What you can say, is most unseasonable; what sing,
Most absonant and harsh: Nay, your perfume,
Which I smell hither, cheers not my sense
Like our Field-violet’s breath.

This gave us two blocks worth of possible Fletcher to computer-test, and a sonnet’s worth of possible Shakespeare, far too short for computer-testing.  The two Plan-C Oliphant-selected “Fletcher” blocks do look much more like Fletcher than the Plan-A everything-in-sequence “Fletcher” blocks.  In particular, they pass both of our two best Shakespeare-Fletcher tests, enclitics and BoB9, with flying colors, both blocks falling well within Fletcher’s range and, for what it is worth, outside of Shakespeare’s.  There are still too fewye’s and ‘em’s for Fletcher, and too many I’m’s, but these, like the I’m’s in the first half, could be explained as micro-modernizations by Theobald without straining credulity.  The biggest remaining flaw in the case for Fletcher is the low percentages of feminine endings, 20 and 17 percent respectively, substantially below our original pure-Fletcher’s range of 23 to 40 percent, based on 19 blocks from Woman’s Prize, 1604, and Bonduca, c. 1613.  It’s also below our follow-on pure-Fletcher range of 25 to 45%, based on 25 newly-counted blocks from Valentinian, 1610, and Monsieur Thomas, 1616. Combined with the original, these new blocks would give us a consolidated pure-Fletcher range of 23 to 45%, based on 44 blocks from four plays.  That seems to us a very consistent Fletcher baseline profile.  Both of the observed “Fletcher-block” rates are well below it, and the discrepancies can’t as easily be blamed on editors’ whims as open lines.   I’ve got a spreadsheet and an appendix with some of our test-score numbers, if you would like more detail, but I suspect that it is more than most people would want, and am not including it here. 

On the other hand, we can think of three ways that these discrepancies might be minimized.  One would be to augment our four-play, single-authored Fletcher baseline, described above, with the parts of Two Noble Kinsmen and Henry VIII conventionally assigned to Fletcher.  For what it is worth, we have analyzed both of these plays separately, and our unpublished evidence strongly supports the consensus; Shakespeare and Fletcher by themselves don’t seem hard to tell apart.  There are seventeen of these inferred “Fletcher blocks,” and one “Fletcher” block from H8, Act 2, Scene 1, has just 20% feminine endings.  Hence, we could add these inferred 17 blocks to the others for a grand total of 51 blocks, 50 with 23% or more feminine endings, one with 20%, and could argue plausibly that a block with 20% feminine endings, though rare, is not unheard of for Fletcher. This logic might support an inference that 20% or perhaps even 17% are improbable, but not impossible rates for Fletcher.

A second minimizer for the observed Fletcher discrepancy might be this:  all of our feminine-endings counts are generic machine-counts, which are generally lower and less accurate approximations of conventional hand counts (our 1996, 198-99). We use them because they are much faster and more replicable than hand counts.  Could one argue that the 3-6% observed discrepancy is within our method’s rather large expected margins of error, compared to hand counts?  Such an argument would make perfect sense if we had used a mixture of the two counting systems on any of our Fletcher baselines or our Double Falsehood blocks, but not so much sense, in our view, if every block is counted the same way, as we did, and subject to the same systemic biases. It’s testable, but we are not volunteering for the job.  We would welcome someone else’s manual counts, of Oliphant’s “Fletcher” blocks and some or all of the Fletcher baseline to verify our expectation, but we have tried the same exercise on Shakespeare with negligible effect on the outcome and see little reason to do it again ourselves with Fletcher, especially where, in the end, we conclude, as we are do (below), that it could be mostly Fletcher’s even if the observed discrepancy is rock-solid.  

For us the final and most important minimizer is our one-strike rule.  Even we, who rely on negative evidence and seldom tolerate more than 5% false negatives on a given test, don’t avoid them altogether. For our default 1,500-word play-verse blocks, two or three percent of our individual Shakespeare baseline test-runs produce false-negative Shakespeare rejections. About a fifth of our 140 Shakespeare baseline blocks have one rejection in 11 to 13 tests, but are Shakespeare, nonetheless. Hence, we have a one-strike rule which properly allows one rejection for a Shakespeare block.  Only when there is more than one rejection do we start talking about “improbable, but not impossible” or “wildly improbable” discrepancy levels.  We see no reason not to make the same allowance for a Fletcher block, even for two Fletcher blocs, though we might have a problem making it for a set of five blocks ascribed to Fletcher, each with the same strike.   Hence, on present evidence, it seems to us that the Oliphant “Fletcher” blocks might not quite be pure Fletcher, but they do test much closer to Fletcher than the rest of the second half. They help explain why the whole second half tests more like Fletcher, but not like pure Fletcher, and they seem to us consistent with Hammond’s and Metz’s cautious theory that the second half of Double Falsehood contains a “substantial admixture” of Fletcher.

That leaves the pièces de résistance, the fourteen first-half lines that Jackson thought sounded like Shakespeare, and maybe the extended  37-line variant of Kenneth Muir <1.02.63 ff 63-79? 1.02.106ff = 106-123?>.  Both passages are too short for our computer tests to distinguish reliably, but not too short for our Golden Ear panel to identify by intuition, with about 90% accuracy as a group.  We gave the panel two passages to identify -- all of Jackson’s 14 lines, above, and 18 lines of Muir’s, 1.2.106-123, not included in Jackson’s.  We have gotten fourteen responses from our panelists, enough, we believe, to cast doubt on the Shakespeare ascription if the test is good.  For the first passage, “I do not see that fervor in the maid,” three of the fourteen respondents recognized the passage and thought it was Shakespeare’s, yielding a gross Shakespeare percentage of 21%.  None of the ten who did not already know the passage thought it sounded like Shakespeare, yielding a net Shakespeare percentage of zero.  Gross percentages count every vote, including those who already know the passage and may be working from memory, not intuition; net percentages count only the votes of those to whom the passage is new. These are presumed to be using untinctured intuition. We consider net percentages more telling than gross, but neither measure gives much support to a Shakespeare ascription.  The same is true of the passage that Muir thought sounded like Shakespeare:  Only four of the fourteen respondents thought the passage was Shakespeare; two of these remembered it.  Only two of the twelve who did not recognize it thought it was Shakespeare.  Gross percentage for Shakespeare: 31%, net, 17%.  This amounts to two clear non-Shakespeare verdicts from the panel.

No one yet knows what to make of our Golden Ear process, which wasn’t fully validated and reported till 2008 (our 2008) and has not been widely discussed or debated by Shakespeare scholars.  Some will surely object to it as a black box of unexplainable hunches. It is that, but certainly not the only one.  Black boxes abound in authorship studies.  The problem with this one is not that it is black, but that it is new and untested, other than by us.  Others – we hope it will be others, not the same ones who say they object to black boxes in principle – will note that other black boxes have more established reputations.  As M.N. Gasparov put it, “Intuition must be earned,” and there are many authorship masters outside our panel of greater reputation; indeed, we have tested two of the very best and found them unsuitable for the panel because they recognized 90% of the supposedly obscure passages immediately, and there was no practical way to test their intuition on cases of first impression. Who would credit our less-heralded panel’s black-box intuitions over those of the grand masters?  Our short answer for now is this:  the grand masters are no more infallible than our panel and our computers.  They often disagree with one another, especially in difficult cases like Double Falsehood, where the supposed source authors, if there at all, seem deeply buried. Moreover, no one has “earned” their intuition more solidly than the Golden Ear Panel by actual testing on passages of known authorship.  They choose correctly between Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare four times out of five as individuals, nine times out of ten as a group. If they are a black box, they are a very good one, and the only one in town that has been formally tested for accuracy.  If authorship matters, it would be as perverse not to consult such a tested resource as not to consult the grand masters.  We use the panel routinely as a possible tiebreaker in close cases and believe that this looks like such a case.

Our bottom-line conclusions, on present evidence, would be an even more conservative variant of Hammond’s, Metz’s, and Jackson’s already-cautious formulations.  Double Falsehood seems to us mostly non-Shakespeare and non-Fletcher (i.e., Theobald or some other writer), with an arguably substantial admixture of Fletcher from 3.3 onwards, and a modicum, at most, of well-hidden Shakespeare somewhere prior to 3.3. Hammond’s division of the play between 3.2 and 3.3 seems to us sound; the two halves do have stylistic differences closer to Shakespeare early and closer to Fletcher late.  Jackson’s and Oliphant’s “Fletcher” passages from the second half are more Fletcher-like than the rest of the second half, and most of their Fletcher discrepancies can be explained away or minimized.  The “Fletcher” passages seem to us as close to Fletcher could-be’s as you are likely to find in a drastically-rewritten play.  Jackson’s and Muir’s “Shakespeare” passages from the first half are not so convincing.  Taken at face value, they seem awfully short hot spots for a play originally peddled by Theobald as a Shakespeare adaptation, and certainly too short for our kind of computer testing.  Both passages were firmly rejected by our Golden Ear panel and seem to us doubtful Shakespeare ascriptions.   After all the filtering and analysis, we still don’t have the feeling of having found or confirmed the longed-for drop of Gascony in the firkin of ditchwater.

All this, of course, is our judgment based “on present evidence.”  What could change it?  We could think of several possibilities.  Flaws in the present evidence.  Different, better boundaries for the supposed Shakespeare or Fletcher hot-spot passages.  Re-examining the editing of open lines.  Manual recounting of feminine endings in Double Falsehood and in a broadened Fletcher baseline.  More thorough examination of Theobald’s own stylometric quirks.  Was it really Theobald, or was it Davenant or Betterton or someone else?   Doing fuller composite workups of the data we have, in particular, calculating Continuous Shakespeare discrepancy and a more worked-out measure of Fletcher discrepancy.  These last draw on my co-author Valenza’s skills, not mine, and further work on Double Falsehood is not at the top of my list of things I most need from him.  The same is true of Marina Tarlinskaja, who has a dozen tests which could add light to this, or to several other Shakespeare co-authorship questions I consider more likely to benefit from her attention.  We have not pursued these follow-on tests, but merely applied the simplest of our existing Shakespeare/non-Shakespeare and Fletcher/non-Fletcher tests.  Conceivably, having and applying some Theobald or Davenant tests, if someone wanted to do the work of creating them, might help dispel some of the remaining murk. 

These are just some possibilities that occur to me.  Others will no doubt think of more.  In the meantime, we are indebted to Brean Hammond for freshly marshaling and weighing the arguments and evidence that have accumulated over the years, and to MacDonald Jackson for giving us some actual best-guess Shakespeare and Fletcher passages to test.  It does seem to us that most of the play is neither by Shakespeare nor Fletcher; that Hammond’s division of the play into two halves is justifiable and helpful; that 310 lines, about a sixth of the play, could well have been adapted from Fletcher; and that Shakespeare’s contributions to the play, if any, are too diluted to be easily retrievable, more than justifying Jackson’s warning:  “Anybody approaching Double Falsehood in the hope of reading scenes of pure Shakespeare is doomed to disappointment (his 2010).”

Ward Elliott
Elliott, W. E. Y. and R. J. Valenza (1996). “And Then There Were None: Winnowing the Shakespeare Claimants.” Computers and the Humanities 30: 191-245.
Elliott, W. E. Y., and Valenza, Robert J. (2004). “Oxford by the Numbers: What are the Odds that the Earl of Oxford Could Have Written Shakespeare’s Poems and Plays?” Tennessee Law Review 72(1): 323-453.
Elliott, W. E. Y., and Valenza, Robert J. (2008). “Shakespeare by Ear: What Can Intuition Tell Us About What He Wrote?” The Shakespeare Newsletter 57(Winter 2007/08): 99-117. http://www.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/welliott/ShakespearebyEar.pdf
Hammond, B., ed., and Shakespeare, William (2010).  Double Falsehood. London, Methuen Drama.
Jackson, M. P. (2010). “Thought-executing fires: A Review of Brean Hammond, ed., Double Falsehood.” The Times Literary Supplement, May 21, 2010.
Metz, G. H., ed. (1989). Sources of Four Plays Ascribed to Shakespeare. Columbia, MO, University of Missouri Press.
Tarlinskaja, M. (1987). Shakespeare’s Verse: Iambic Pentameter and the Poet’s Idiosyncrasies. New York, P. Lang.
Ward Elliott
Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions
Claremont McKenna College
Frazee Office, 850 Columbia Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
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Booking AFTLS for 2012/13

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0072  Friday, 13 May 2011

From:          Actors from The London Stage <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           May 12, 2011 1:18:46 PM EDT
Subject:      Announcement: Booking AFTLS for 2012/13

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