Richard III

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0152  Wednesday, 28 February 2018


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

Date:         February 28, 2018 at 6:46:28 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Richard III/Shorthand


Hi All,


Tad asked for some simple indications of how these shorthand people did what they did and got away with it. I don’t believe for a second they did. But that said there were shorthand stenographers at churches a-plenty. Maybe Gerald could find some indications of their methodologies? What Madeleine Doran said almost a century ago ain’t helping your argument. The warning in a play of 1623 of not letting in brachygraphers to take notes says diddley-squat too. 


Your default mode back to Bordeaux and your belief that it was a shorthand recorded play also displays no explanations of how on earth they could get away with it. You’ve been to an open outdoor theatre right? You can see everyone in the galleries and in the pit. It’s daylight. Someone scribbling notes even in the 21st C is noticeable. Hell’s teeth, try taking photos with your mobile phone. But if I ran the Globe I’d experiment with shorthand artistes trying their damnedest to record a play. You can try surreptitiously too but I don’t grant you any success. Get a court stenographer with their machine to do it. Your shorthand spies require teamwork so complicated it falls off Ockham’s razor edge. Not to mention: quill or pencil, wax tablet or rough parchment, lap desk or lap dog? Convince me of the ability to be able to take notes of speaking actors on a stage, by shorthand or phonetically and I just might give your shorthand a chance. Chances are you're backing up a fiction. Surely we can put this idea to bed forever.


Like Richard Field marrying the daughter, and not the wife of Thomas Vautrollier. 


Another fiction that some still hold on authority gone by.







A Couple of Announcements

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0151  Wednesday, 28 February 2018


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

Date:         Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Subject:    A Couple of Announcements


Dear Subscribers:


Ron Severdia finally discovered the issue I was having mounting Mark Alcamo’s essay “Henry V: A Genius (Ironic) Hoax?.” The announcement of it that I tried to post last week will follow in today’s Newsletter. Comments are welcome directly to Mark or to the list.


Professor Stephanie Chamberlain of Southeast Missouri State University and SHAKSPER’s Associate Editor is AMAZING. She is a very fast learner and has no difficulties with the intricacies of Joomla or my OCD. 


I will be on retreat at the end of March, so we have decided to let Stephanie take the helm for preparing Newsletters for a while so that I can assist if any questions were to come up. Beginning tomorrow, Stephanie will be your editor. Let us welcome her to this daunting task.





Mr. W.H. if you Will

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0149  Tuesday, 27 February 2018


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

Date:         February 27, 2018 at 12:22:16 AM EST

Subject:    Mr. W.H. if you Will


If William Holme included A Lover’s Complaint, then he was telling us that he knew that ALC was related to the Sonnets as its Prologue and was written by Shakespeare.


I wish to put readers on ‘track’ to ‘get’ the Sonnet story. First you must re-read and absorb A Lover’s Complaint and REALIZE that the young man of the poem is the seducer of the “fickle maid” of stanza one. He is as young and IS the fabled Narcissus and writing as if he were him. He is the image in the “glass” of the Sonnets, the ‘himage,’ Will, if you will. The “maid” is the Muse of tragedy, Melpomene, the narrator, the songstress, the Dark Lady, who is jealous of the new Narcissus who has created the Friend, his own image to love in his “glass,” the one she will woo away in sonnet 42, which annoyed Narcissus, the Poet, the bard himself, talking to himself in his glass. Please remember that in reading ALC that the bard is a teenager who has not yet started to shave. I hope it stimulates you to restudy both poems. 


MacDonald Jackson has written in his paper, The Distribution of Pronouns in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, the following:


“The nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries saw dozens of drastic reorderings, mostly designed to create a more intelligible “story.” The Quarto’s inclusion of  “A Lover’s Complaint,” almost universally rejected as spurious, bolstered belief that as a volume Shakespeare’s Sonnets was heterogeneous, unsanctioned, and unplanned.”


“Recently, evidence has accumulated in favor of the opposite conclusions. Shakespeare had prepared his sonnets as a sequence for publication, the Quarto numbers them correctly, “A Lover’s Complaint” is Shakespeare’s and integral to the overall structure (the addition of a “complaint” or other long poem having several precedents in authorially supervised collections of Elizabethan sonnets) and the Quarto preserves an artefact greater than the sum of its parts. While each sonnet can stand as a self-sufficient creation, individual sonnets are also part of a larger construct – or so the argument goes.”


The “story” of the Sonnets remains untold in Jackson’s article despite there being a “sequence,” but Jackson, astutely, points to sonnet 10, noting a collection of pronouns, alluding to the fact that line 9 contains the first use of the first person pronoun, “I,


“Oh, change thy thought, that I may change my mind."



For shame! deny that thou bear'st love to any,

Who for thyself art so unprovident.

Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,

But that thou none lovest is most evident;

For thou art so possess'd with murderous hate

That 'gainst thyself thou stick'st not to conspire.

Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate

Which to repair should be thy chief desire.

O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!

Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?

Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,

Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:

  Make thee another self, for love of me,

  That beauty still may live in thine or thee.


Note that the new Narcissus in the previous sonnet 5, line 10, has clued us that he is preparing to create the ‘child’ in his “glass” as he told us in sonnet 3.1-2, “Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest, / Now is the time that face should form another.” That ‘child’ is to be “A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass.” The very one he is talking to in sonnet 10 that I have included above, showing Jackson’s first person pronoun “I,” to whom the bard says, “O change thy thought, that I may change my mind.”  Of course, he does not have to be clairvoyant to read his own mind.  He and he alone knows his own “thought,” proving that he is the “image,”  This is the young man of the Sonnets, (me, I, mine) “my friend and I are one,” (S. 42.13, a phrase in which all words but two are pronouns, not to mention a hendiadys, a Shakespeareanism, a friend who will be stolen away by “that Muse” of sonnet 21.1, the “fickle maid” of  A Lover’s Complaint, who isn’t taking her rejection very kindly, after the bard seduced her.  Note too, that the image is to be the object of his self-love and still respected by the bard and addressed as “thou” since Lord Narcissus’ reflection has yet to be ‘born’ in the couplet of sonnet 18, “and this gives life to thee.”  


Above all, allow that this was an immature, young Shakespeare. who had yet to write his plays, possibly describing himself, knowing his own genius.


Lord Narcissus was the son of the river king, Cephisus and the naiad, Liriope, who swam in the stream of the king. Addressed as “Lord of my love” in Sonnet 26.1. A letter to the bard, a new Narcissus, telling him that she is leaving in the couplet, to cure the bard/friend of his “blindness” later. by showing him his own self-loving face on her own neck in sonnet 131, “one on another’s neck.”


In creating the ‘child’ of the Sonnets, note that the bard uses the word “kind” twice in sonnet 10, the German word for ‘child’ as he cleverly will pun us in sonnet 105, three times, “Fair, kind and true.”   (Fair child and true.)  A Lover’s Complaint isn’t “heterogeneous.” It is the “opposite” as Jackson concluded. I would say it is homogeneous, “of the same kind” origin and in “sequence” with A Lover’s Complaint. and with the Sonnets and with its epilogue, The Phoenix and Turtle, the loyal dove and the “treble-dated Crow,” the Dark Lady, the Muse, whose “breath” inspired the “spongy lungs” of the bard, She who wrote the letter of sonnet 26 to “Lord of my love.” The teenager of ALC, (92) “Small show of man was yet upon his chin.” 


I hope you agree, I know you will have very happy hours of creative Shakespearean thoughts.


Sid Lubow. 


Please forgive the macular typing errors.


[Editor's Note: I have informed Mr. S.L. How tired I am of his using every to repeat the same claims over, and over, and over again. It is something up with which I will no longer put.




Richard III

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0150  Tuesday, 27 February 2018


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

Date:         February 23, 2018 at 1:45:35 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Richard III


Tad Davis asks some basic questions:


Presumably the transcriber would . . . enter the theater with a substantial amount of paper, something to write with, and a flat surface to write on.


That’s all true, no doubt. To achieve ability and results, stenographers were faced with myriad preparations. Years of development and practice would be worthless otherwise; yet shorthand is an early modern certainty in respect of materials.


Wouldn’t the gatekeepers be suspicious of someone carrying a lap desk? And how would they avoid being caught in the act?


I’ve read a lot of shorthand accounts, none referencing ‘lap desks.’ Reporters dealt with trying circumstances. Madelaine Doran suggested in the ‘30s that we really can’t know the theater’s attitude toward shorthand.


My guess is that gatekeepers, had they got beyond collecting admission, wouldn’t believe it could be done even if told. Heywood and Sir George Buc (Master of the Revels) were certain.


What they were doing must have been obvious . . . . Did they hire enough co-conspirators to . . . hide them from view? (. . . . But seriously, I’ve never been able to visualize the mechanics of this proposed activity.)


As I recall, some seating was more select than other; shorthand would pay its way like everything else. I believe capable reporters employed apprentices as a matter of course for the limited industry; teaching was part of it, and all aspects were schooling. Knowledgeable writers emphasize the dedication and pride in ‘getting it down.’ The Devil’s Law Case (1623): ‘You must take great care that you let in / No brachygraphy-men to take notes’; a superfluous warning if for over 30 years they hadn’t got in.  


The answer for serious questions is to get it backwards: My article (‘Memorial Transmission . . .  Bordeaux’, Studies in Bibliography 58, free Online) presents evidence that Greene’s play is from shorthand. There seems no other explanation; the mechanics worked, visible, visualized, or not.


I’ve learned a lot about the hows. A large number 19th century works describe the experiences of phonetic shorthand inventors, as well as their own; all had to overcome the same difficulties; it’s analogous (somewhat) to ‘convergent adaptive radiation,’ where different animals evolve alike. Shorthand improved but methods necessarily persisted: “It is the writer who counts. A system may be almost worthless, but in facile . . . hands it can work wonders” (E.H. Butler, 1937). Bordeaux’s is a good system (e.g. much like Pitman’s in spirit and function); it preceded Willis’s 1602 ‘invention.’


Here’s a Bordeaux smattering; the evidence speaks mostly for itself. I take nearly total silence (optimistically) as a sign that no one will speak against it. I’d appreciate some back-and-forth: At 308-09 Ferdinand asks the magician Vandermast a favor:


[Rossacle]  ha vandermast Daphnie was ner so [q] coye . . . 293

          ferd   . . . 294

                    let magick be amenes to get me grace of Lovlie Rossaline

                    and I will mak the partener of my wellth  309

      vander ha ferdenand the mynd is such a thinge as is beyonnd the reach

                    of ani art she that is chast cannot be won with charmes

Ross]fferd then all my love is buried vp . . .

         vand  not so my Lord welle have another plot . . .          


The request is exactly repeated more than 300 lines later (my lining is / ):


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

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

                    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


Burdiox’s scribe (S), despite unusual spelling, accurately records the playtext while giving notice of shorthand at almost every line. Early on he took Rossacler (Bordeaux’s son) as an alternative name for Ferdinand (German emperor Frederick’s son). Theatrical hands fix speech headings and add them when missing. This is powerful evidence of theatrical reporting; how else might a full text be transcribed with this result?


Punctuation is almost none; because the inks differ I’ve identified that added by revisers. S had no time for prefixes or commas and little concern while transcribing. ‘q’ was erased [--] at ‘coye’ though not elsewhere; the same letter-sign stood for both. Metrical lineation is not attempted much, and wrong then.


Ferdy’s ‘I will what will I’ is short; a second short line (‘tut tut my Lord’ or ‘too soon forgot’) is also unmetrical. Intentional repetition can’t account for this or the insensible reference to a ‘forgotten oath.’ The players didn’t follow script. Earlier, Vandermast interpolates a vocative 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 (310ff) denied the request ‘to get me grace’ as impossible; he reminds the Prince that he hasn’t forgotten the promise he did make:


Not so my Lord welle have another plot, / where weallth

Wines not a woman vnto love / ther 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 . . .


S is generous with letters in transcription but vestiges of short-writing recur: ‘ned’, ‘mak’. The corrector misunderstood the text to erase ‘in’ and write ‘or’. S is free too with ‘Shakespearean’ spellings: ‘shrincke’, ‘a boundaunce’, ‘ther’; or is it the other way round? S consistently writes medial ‘v’ for ‘v’ and sometimes for ‘u’, as Hand D. Shorthand u and v are entirely different. S writes the first comma, a playhouse corrector the second. Notice that the verse is regular and easy to align; where not, it is generally actor-error.


Vandermast’s promise reference at 643 probably cues 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 turns to his ‘fellow,’ who wittily alerts auditors to the error by noting the irony that an oath (the proper line) was literally forgotten:


                            . . . favor me so much

To get me grace of Lovely Rosaline

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


Repetition at this distance is memorial error. Ad lib recovery confirms it, as does Ferdinand’s loss for words. A significant anticipation also occurs, which is even less likely scribal. Features abound to converge on the shorthand inference. This passage is a drop in the evidence bucket. I truly wonder why no one appears interested in this text; it is the key to the bad quartos.


Gerald E. Downs





The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0148  Tuesday, 27 February 2018


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

Date:         February 22, 2018 at 10:17:42 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Ardenwatch Update


One thing that I forgot to mention about the Lander & Tobin Arden3 edition of King John: as it is a Folio-only text, they have introduced the following innovation. In the margins, in addition to the line numbers, they indicate the start of a new column in the First Folio (TLNs might have been more useful, but they are claimed as copyright!) This is done using the following convention: signature for folio, followed by a superscript “r” or “v” for page, followed by “a” or “b” for column. The innovation and convention are neither mentioned nor explained (they should have come as a surprise to the General Editors, but presumably just slipped past them...) and may well baffle students - particularly American ones.


John Briggs




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