The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0251  Friday, 15 June 2012


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

Date:         June 14, 2012 6:51:50 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand Example (Egan, Davidson) 


Gabriel Egan said of my PCC claims of shorthand evidence:


> Downs claims he has an example of a textual feature that

> can ONLY be explained by stenographic recording.


I wouldn't put it that way. I believe the text of Bordox in its entirety can only be explained as a shorthand report. Some parts are convincing in themselves of features corroborating the hypothesis, but my example is the whole text


> He then lists a lot of features of John of Bordeaux that

> point to stenographic recording, or perhaps memorial

> reconstruction.


When all of the text is taken into account it appears to be a theatrical report, not memorial reconstruction, as was argued by Harry Hoppe. For example, Hoppe assumed the text was taken directly by dictation but it is a transcript.


> But he doesn’t identify any of them as the clinching textual

> example.


When Bonnie & Clyde were gunned down did the crowner identify the clinching bullets?


> Egan reviewed the article favourably saying that the

> claim was plausible but not proven, for want of a

> clinching textual example.


At what point does an argument convince? Only when a portion of the evidence—by itself—convinces? That isn’t the way it works.


> Gerald: which bit of evidence do you think clinches the

> argument? One example will do. Twenty-five non-clinching

> examples won’t.


I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of such a requirement, or an intimation that a case can’t be made without a “clincher.” 25 bad examples may not work; however, the features of Bordox I described are individually powerful. I’ll go over one or two instances next posting.


Egan’s insistence reminds me of Ronald Knowles’s remark on Doran’s 2H6 view: “Though the extended list of memorial characteristics Doran finds is very convincing, it must be remembered that the hypothesis that Q is a reported text remains only a premise . . .”  Everyone knows a very convincing extended list is pointless without a clincher.


Still, critical passages may be overlooked. One influential to my thinking was described by van Dam, yet I haven’t seen reference to it other than my own noting, here and elsewhere; the text is from Q1 Hamlet:


   Lear. O he is welcome, . . .

   king   Leartes, content your selfe, be rulde by me,

            And you shall haue no let for your reuenge.

   Lear. My will, not all the world.

   King  Nay but Leartes, marke the plot I haue layde,


Van Dam astutely observes that "Line 1790 lacks any logical connection with the context . . . . The player who acts the part of Laertes hears the last words of line 1789 ‘no let for your revenge’, which remind him of the first half of [Q2 4.5.137]: ‘King. Who shall stay you?’ upon which he . . . answers . . ."


The relevant passages in Q2 read:


   Laer. . . .

            Let come what comes, onely I'le be reueng'd

            Most throughly for my father.

   King.  Who shall stay you?

   Laer.  My will, not all the worlds:   4.5.137

             And for my meanes I'le husband them so well,

            They shall goe farre with little.


   Laer.  . . . but let him come . . .

   King.  If it be so Laertes, . . .

             Will you be rul'd by me?

   Laer.  I my Lord . . .     4.7


In Q1 the 4.5 dialogue takes such a turn that Leartes has no chance to deliver “My will . . .”, which must have been on the tip of his tongue, so to speak, from his own cue-like ‘come what comes . . . I’ll be reveng’d’, and an expected ‘Who shall stay you?’


The Q1 4.7 equivalent looses the transposed phrase: ‘he is welcome’; and ‘no let for your revenge’ not only repeats ‘revenge,’ the phrase has a meaning similar to ‘Who shall stay you,’ where stay means support, not prevent.


Van Dam observes that after Leartes blurts out the now meaningless ‘My will . . .’ the king gets back to their place by ‘Nay but Leartes,’ and that the error and recovery can only have occurred in performance—to survive the nonce by shorthand reporting. I don’t see any other way to explain the transposition.


Maguire reports no transposition of course because she ignores Q2, where the phrase has its proper place. The error goes a long way to convince me that Q1 is a shorthand report. But other evidence (by the ton) shows the text is first a memorial reconstruction. Thus only a chain of unlikely events resulted in Q1 Hamlet, and they can’t all be decided by a single passage. On the other hand, the extended Bordox text will reinforce the opinion that Q1 Hamlet is a phonetic shorthand report.


Gerald E. Downs


From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Subject: Re: Shorthand Example (Egan, Davidson) 

Date: June 15, 2012 12:13:06 AM EDT

To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Gabriel Egan asks of my hypothesis (convincing to me) that John of Bordeaux is reported by shorthand:


> Gerald: which bit of evidence do you think clinches the

> argument? One example will do. Twenty-five non-clinching

> examples won’t.


Although I can offer any number of passages as supportive (in one way and another), I listed eleven general and two specific features of the text that together make a strong case. It is misleading to refer to features as "non-clinching" if they help to establish the nature of the text by which other features must be judged. Any alternative explanations of specific passages will have to qualify for inclusion in the tests by some accommodation to these features.


For example, scholars are quick to believe repetitions in Shakespeare texts are evidence of "first and second thoughts." But those alternatives would be unlikely of text in phonetic transcription not descended from authorial copy. My examples should be considered from the point of view demanded by all the evidence. That's why Egan is mistaken in this evaluation of my article:


> He then lists a lot of features of John of Bordeaux that

> point to stenographic recording, or perhaps memorial

> reconstruction.


The Bordox manuscript is not in the author's hand (as all agree); neither is it compatible with memorial reconstruction. Its phonetic spelling (most notably in the Latin speeches) and its severely botched speech prefixes indicate a stage of oral transmission without assistance for the scribe. An early assumption of reconstruction by dictation is precluded by large numbers of errors typical of transcription from written texts; by vestigial tales of speed writing (the=thee, the=thy, the=then), and by words so long that a cast would have fallen asleep during their writing. The whole text is accommodated by transcribed phonetic shorthand. What doesn't fit can't be made to fit by perhapses.


Unwonted repetition in playtexts can be meaningful, as Greg and others have noted. If dialogue is misplaced a transcriber or compositor is not the usual suspect. A likely cause is an actor, who has committed much of the text to memory. This is especially so when the error anticipates its proper place; copyists generally can't know what's coming and S seems no exception, practically speaking.


Laurie Maguire observes that what "is beyond dispute is that distinctive, extensive, and pervasive internal repetitions are strong diagnostic evidence of faulty memory" (Suspect Texts, 172). She has spent some time denying these features in Bordox but her arguments are not good. I agree with Egan that repetitions needn't be especially pervasive, so long as they are convincing. I offer two for analysis. The first occurs as Perce, Bacon's clown, hogs the sunlight to feed two visiting scholars.


Let the text fill the page; take note of the bracketed (lined-out) words at lines 508-510, which anticipate 529-530. Note too, 'Reviser A' repeated a s.p. ('2. sc.', for positioning), added 'platte' at 519, and the s.p. 'Perce' at 537, which S had neglected. In other words, its par for the coarse text, except for 8 middle S commas, the only pointing on the page:


perce     why are yow scollers of hosborge and can you not geet meat with oute

              mony why I am a shamd of yow ye shall not say but perce hath a head

ij scoller like an aqua vite bottell ye shall se me furnish ye with meat and a figg for monie

2. sc.     how pearce I promies the whe know not) perce) why is there anie alle howse

             [so por that hath not a post and a pece of chalke or ani] all wif so vn

             [skillfull in Arethmetick that can not fuger vp forte pence] be wise       509

             [and Ill tech yow to] gett meat with out monie can not you com in to an allhowse

              and seet yor cape a tone sid hufte tuftie and loke as bigg as though yow

              had a mynt in yor pocket and say osties what meat hast thow for ous

              hast thow ever a could capon a pastie of venesen or a ribe of roste beefe

              thes wordes ties the good wif to a low curtesie, that she taking yow for

              som Ientell men sayes and please yor worship, marke the phrayes, I am

              not providid for yor worshipies diead, then must you say agayne fayth

              osties all thowgh I could go to a pasti of venese, yet I hould it not

              the part of a Ientellman to forsacke his ostes howse therfor seet

              such meat as thow hast vpon the bord, at that word the ould wife   platte

              trotteth the ambrie flies open the comes me forth marching in a wodden

              hand in hand a brace of blake puddinges sutted in lether Ierkines

              a broune loffe a hogges face a mess of musterd, and to make the show

              mor excelent ij Read heringes clad in tawnie, as morning for the

              the death of ould Iacke of Lente

j scoller  I marie perce but wen we have eaten this good how shall we do for

              monie to pay fort) perce) how shall we do for moni to pay fort fayth

              I thincke thy head was mad of an ould bagpipe that hath no wind

              but what is blown in to it nor thow no wit in thy head but whate

              must be put in to it why is there ani all howse so pore that hath not

              a post and a pece of chalke or anie all wife so vnskillful in                530

              Arethmetick that can not fuger vp fortepence Ill tell the my frend

              as mani wrighting ar the bewtie of a scriveners shope so manie

              scores ar the glori of an allhowse) ij scoller) but how yf she will not

              trust vs) perce) but how yf she will not trust ous now comes he in

              sneking how and she will not trust ous bring me to a nalle howse

              and let me a lone (ij scoller) mari perce and here one letes se yor conning

Perce     how who kepes howse here whates the dore shut and an alle howse<  

              wher be theas whores cargo com forth and let ous se yor Com<

              was not this spoke as yf everi word rattelid from a satten dub<

                                           Enter ould woman


Maguire suggests that as S copied text descended from authorized copy he intended to cut Perce's lines from 507 to 529, but changing his mind (presumably for the benefit of posterity), he crossed out the lines he had misplaced and resumed copying the full text. Maguire did not realize that Reviser A, not S, had stricken the lines. With S, what 'a heard was what A got; no one should believe the text descends from Greene's by transcription.


Closer inspection shows Perce was meant to speak at 510 of an alehouse "huftie tuftie," where one could 'ties' (tease?) the alewife to provide for their 'worshopies diead' (diet); he recalled instead the alehouse speech coming 20 lines later. We can't accuse Perce of shortwindedness (I can't, for sure), but Reviser A saw 'be wise and I'll teach you to get meat without money' as a redundant ad lib to get back to the proper speech. A knew what he was doing (this time anyhow); he got the goods on Perce and he probably knew where he got the rest of the (stolne) goods.


A more elaborate repetition shows an exchange straying off-script and on again, which I have also discussed. At lines 308-09 Prince Ferdinand asks of his magician Vandermast to 'let magick be amenes to get me grace of Lovlie Rossaline / and I will mak the partener of my wellth'. The request to help win Bordox's wife is exactly repeated more than 300 lines later (my verse-lining is indicated):


ffer    a vandermast thow flower of Iermani, / famous for cunning

          favor me so much / to gett me grace of Lovlie Rossalin /   647

          and I will make the partener of my welth / I will what will I /

vand  tut tut my lord your othes ar Lovers othes / to sone forgot /

          I <t >ak no promes to one othe you swere                       650


Ferdinand's 'I will what will I' is left short; adding a second short line ('tut tut my Lord' or 'too soon forgot') is hypermetrical. Authorized repetition doesn't account for this deficiency or the insensible reference to a 'forgotten oath.' More likely, the players failed to follow script. In the preceding lines, Vandermast interpolates a vocative (a common feature of suspect texts) and reassures Ferdinand:


nay stay my gratious Lord / even now my promis past shalbe

pformd / and Rossalin whos rigore wronged yor hart /

shall by my arte inforced be to love                         645


Vandermast had earlier (310ff) denied Ferdinand's request 'to get me grace of Rossalin' as impossible; he now reminds the prince he hasn't forgotten that he did subsequently promise to force her submission:


not so my Lord welle have another plot, where weallth

wines not a woman vnto love there rather is a boundaunce

[in] or contempt, but let that damsell be opprest with wante

tuch her with ned and that will mak her shrincke       316


Vandermast’s later reference to this promise at line 643 is probably meant for Ferdinand to confirm his reward for a scheme; but the actor mistakenly repeats earlier lines that no longer have any point. Aware of his error, he fails to recover and turns to his fellow actor for help, who wittily regains momentum by alerting the audience to the error (marking the irony of an oath literally forgotten). Modernized:


           Favor me so much to get me grace of Lovely Rosalin

           And I will make thee partner of my wealth . . .

           I will . . . what will I?

Vand.  Tut tut, my Lord,

           Your oaths are lover’s oaths too soon forgot

           I break(?) no promise to one(?) oath you swear; but sit you down

           And while you feed on spleen . . .                       651


Renwick suggests 'break' for '<b? >ak' at 650, but correction still leaves an appearance of modification to fit performance. Memorial reconstruction allows on-the-spot correction. The sixteen-word repetition must then be considered in light of its contextual dialogue, as with Perce's anticipation.


The page (as usual) adds "a parint provf" of the restrictive manuscript I have described: mislineation, corrupt verse, botched Latin, incomplete speech headings, etc. Alternative explanations of the repetitions should be consistent with these inconsistencies. At line 315 the reviser misunderstood the text, replacing 'in' with 'or', for another bad quarto moment.


Anyone unprepared to argue against my inferences might yet allow each a probability, unless in a world where 'nothing is certain' one may 'certainly not' be convinced. The probabilities are high (If not, why not?), leading independently to reinforcing conclusions. Similarly, the evidence (more per square inch than anywhere) may be compared to other unexplained texts. I've done that a bit and may mention an instance that looks like shorthand reporting. I may even say it's convincing.


Gerald E. Downs

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