The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0476  Monday, 26 November 2012


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

Date:         November 25, 2012 8:52:04 PM EST

Subject:     Q1 R&J


On 11/6 Steven Urkowitz had a suggestion for me about Q1 Romeo & Juliet:


> For R&J, he claims that “Q1 is the record of a performance,

> as a comparison of the prologues shows” . . . . Gerald can

> SAY . . . but in order for standers-by to believe him he really

> should do the showing. (I always told my writing students,

> “If you want someone to believe what you believe, show them

> what you saw that made you believe it yourself.”) Maybe Q1

> R&J indeed was performed as it appears in the printed text.


I will show some of what helped me to reach my conclusion and I’m willing to discuss all the evidence. I’ll also show how not to go about the evidence.


> Or a performance with quite different words and actions

> may have been badly transcribed and the transcriber

> accidentally and creatively came up with what we read in Q1.


Though it’s the only alternative to memory, transcription (accidental or creative), isn’t a promising explanation of a Q1 that’s manifestly corrupt, as is other early stolen Shakespeare. The bad quartos should never be wholly isolated; similar evidence added to the pile isn’t so easy to deny. Neither should the evidence I discuss be taken as the only evidence in Q1 R&J. Hoppe’s book is good, though it is flawed by his determination to fit the evidence to “memorial reconstruction” rather than to shorthand reporting. (The categories have a lot in common but are not mutually exclusive and I shouldn’t reject MR too hastily. I believe MR happened before shorthand reporting in a number of cases, such as Q1 Hamlet and A Shrew.)


Van Dam called Q1 R&J shorthand reporting (in an early article worth reading). Most editors acknowledge the memorial character of the text. Yet the authority most students consult in lieu of historical scholarship is probably Laurie Maguire’s Suspect Texts, wherein she pronounces Q1 “Not MR.” Among the criteria she lists is “External echoes: No” (301-2). Hoppe, however, cites quite a number of “Borrowings,” many of which I find convincing. Who’s right? How might one judge ‘echoes’ as evidence of reporting?


Maguire faults Hoppe’s examples as inconsequential. More important, she excludes (from consideration as evidence) possible authorial ‘self-echoes’, possible ‘non-self-echoes’ (authorial borrowings from other authors), common phrases, general resemblances, echoes of one line or less, and plain vocabulary. She recognizes the limits of her “suspect” analogy, where text is tried much as a lucky or rich criminal defendant, by excluding evidence: “Strictness . . . does not enable us to identify all plays reconstructed from memory” (165). Strictly speaking, all evidence should remain in play, “textual human rights” notwithstanding. The more text properly identified as memorial, the more reason to presume other “guilty” plays.


Maguire has been justly criticized (but not enough) for excluding “good” editions of the bad quartos as evidence. Q2 is indispensable for judging Q1 R&J; taking it off the table is not strictness, but tunnel-vision laxity. I propose a hard look at the ‘borrowing’ by analyzing Hoppe’s suggested instances together with the Q2 evidence. External echoes? Yes.


Maguire on Hoppe’s method: “the alleged borrowings frequently appear only in Q1 R&J; when they feature in both Q1 and Q2, the Q1 phrasing tends to be closer to that of the putative source [another Shakespeare text] than to Q2. However, variance and/or partial agreement may stem from causes other than memorial reconstruction” (161).


Maguire doesn’t take Q2 into account in forming her own opinion of Q1 (alternative texts are purposely ignored by her methodology), nor does she cite from Hoppe any Q2 counterparts to Q1 echoes of other plays (which aren’t themselves alleged borrowings). It’s not enough that there “may be other causes” than borrowing; the investigator’s responsibility is to rate causes (in general, since proposed instances vary in value).


From Hoppe's 161-5.


TA 3.1.156

And that shall be the ransom for their fault.


R&J 1.1.90

Q1 Your lives shall pay the ransom of your fault.

Q2 Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.


Q2 does not echo TA. If Q1 is an early version with an authorial self-borrowing, why should this be revised? Why any of the others? The evidence is not merely in the echo, but in the suggestiveness of a Q2 line that could induce the echo from the actor’s stock-in-trade memory, simply by the ‘cue’ of the first half of the line. Multiple instances add up to conviction that Hoppe is right and exclusion of evidence is mistaken. The echo is short but meaningful; why toss it out? Because we insist on an alternative, a priori explanation?


By itself this instance isn’t proof of memorial transmission. It possibly has another cause, as Gabriel Egan might point out (if memory serves). Is that a reason to ignore evidence? Exclusion allows other exclusions and allows the treatment of corroborative evidence in isolation.


2 Gents, 1.2.60   And how stand you affected to his wish?


Q1  how stand you affected to be married?

Q2  How stands your dispositions to be married?


2 Gents  5.4.26   How like a dream is this I see and hear.


Q1  All this is but a dream I hear and see,

Q2  Being in night, all this is but a dream,


2 Gents   . . . a ladder quaintly made of cords.


Q1  I must provide a ladder made of cords.

Q2  To fetch a ladder by the which your love


2 Gents  How he her chamber-window will ascend


Q1  Ascend her chamber-window, hence and comfort her

Q2  Ascend her chamber, hence and comfort her


Q1 mis-remembers, with a little help from 2 Gents. Though Q2 doesn't borrow, a word or two is enough to direct the player to another line in his memory. He wouldn't skip a beat, but notice that 'chamber-window' adds a couple, which in iambic pentameter is corruption.


R3  Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity.


Q1  O peace for shame, if not for charity.

Q2  Peace ho, for shame, confusion's care lives not


Again Q1 is led astray. The essence of the pattern is not that words in common show up in Q2 and elsewhere, which is going to happen in any dialogue, but that they shake out other dialogue from the memory tree. The examples of borrowing that haven’t counterparts in Q2 (suspected echoes added to a parent text) are corroborated by the Q2-reinforced instances. A last interesting echo:


R3 1.4.16-18:  As we paced along (Q2-8 passed)

Upon the giddy footing of the latches

Methought that Gloucester stumbled.


R&J 5.3.77 & 126:


Q1  Did not regard him as we passed along

       . . .

      Stumbled at graves as I did pass along


Q2  Did not attend him as we rode? I think

       . . . 

       Have my old feet stumbled at graves. Who's there?


The first line in each quarto is Romeo’s, the second the Friar’s. An MR reporter might be responsible for passing along ‘pass along,’ but each player in performance could make the same error. Yet a scribe is not being creative here, nor would he have reason to be. This is memory, one way or the other; the coincidence of ‘stumble’ in R3 and R&J is of no account until memory associates the word with ‘pass along.’ In the first instance Gloucester stumbles aboard-ship (in a dream), whereas the Friar is remarking the bad omen of stumbling over graves.


Q2 proves the Q1 borrowings. Anyone disposed to deny them must also deny the evidence of memory in other categories. For example, Hoppe lists numerous transpositions (he counts 85):


Q1  thou resemblest a sea, a bark, a storm.

Q2  Thou counte[r]feits a bark, a sea, a wind.


Though a scribe or compositor might occasionally transpose words or phrases, that can’t explain Q1 numbers. Maguire’s take: “transposition is of no value in diagnosing memorial reconstruction” (194). That is a mistake, given all the evidence—and all the other evidence. Consider R&J 1.4.9 & 33, 24 lines apart:


Q1  A torch for me, I am not for this ambling

       . . .

      Give me a torch; let the wantons light of heart


Q2  Give me a torch, I am not for this ambling

       . . .

       A torch for me; let wantons light of heart


A scribe or compositor could not transpose the requests for a torch. But the actor portraying Romeo could, and probably did. Transposition at a distance is as telling as “anticipation,” which itself abounds in Q1:


2.5.5-6 and 5.1.67-68


Q1  And run more swift than hasty powder fired

      Doth hurry from the fearful cannon's mouth.

      . . .

      As suddenly as powder being fired

      From forth a cannon's mouth.


Q2  Which ten times faster glides than the sun's beams

       Driving back shadows over lowering hills.

       . . .

       As violently as hasty powder fired

       Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.


It is of course possible that Shakespeare used the same image twice in an early version, but that argument would have to be repeated for each of the numerous anticipations.


1.5.131-133 and 3.4.6-7, 34


Q1  I promise you, but for your company,

       I would have been abed an hour ago.

       Light my chamber, ho.


Q2  More torches here; come on, then; let's to bed.

       Ah, sirrah, by my fay it waxes late;

       I'll to my rest.

       . . .

       I promise you, but for your company,

       I would have been abed an hour ago.

       . . .

       Farewell my lord. Light my chamber, ho.


Hoppe notes, “Because it is the most substantial . . . anticipation in Q1 this variant has caught the attention of scholars, and because Capulet is the speaker, it has led some to identify the actor as a reporter. In so doing, they have failed to perceive that it is merely the most distinctive member of a large family.” In a shorthand report every player “reports” his own role. That causes problems for the MR mind-set, but Hoppe is right about one thing here; anticipation is a convincingly large category in Q1. The alternative (compositors and scribes eliminated) is that our author went through an early play (Q1, somehow a travesty of his later Q2 version) swapping phrases by the kilo (anticipations, recollections, transpositions, and repetitions) for no apparent reason. We can’t blame Shakespeare where it suits us and creative compositors where it don’t.


I wouldn’t characterize these examples as a berg-tip since the corrupt Q1 is wholly visible and described elsewhere. The memorial evidence is overwhelming in every category. I’m even impressed by the probable Chettle-meddling in Q1 because he and his print-pals were instrumental in the publication of sermons taken by shorthand. He also was in on the theft by shorthand of John of Bordeaux.


Now if the shorthand cats are let out of the bag there’s no getting them back in; therefore—to textualize the Matthau logic—don’t let them out. Is that really better than coming to grips with the evidence? I will go about R&J in a different way next time, but the results will be the same.


Gerald E. Downs

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