The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0152  Thursday, 4 April 2013


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

Date:         April 2, 2013 1:45:36 AM EDT

Subject:     “Quit” as “Requite” R&J


Duncan Salkeld remarked:


> The question that intrigues me is—what happened

> to make R&J Q1 such a good ‘bad’ quarto?


If Q1 reports a performance (as I argue) the textual quality depends on how well players delivered their lines. Heywood suggests of You Know Not Me that “at first” it was well performed but the extant report (as he asserts) is embarrassingly corrupt. Memorial reconstruction implies bad text for various reasons but theatrical reporting accommodates such botching as “Queen Mab”; we needn’t assume the actors took things all that seriously.


As I observed in another post, minute agreement between quarto passages doesn’t indicate a ‘good’ Q1 when it undoubtedly shared copy-duty for Q2’s printing; it indicates compositors worked primarily from Q1 at those points, rather than manuscript copy. It’s then hard to tell how ‘good’ Q1 is.


Conjecture has it that Chettle took a hand with Q1’s text (Thomas, Jowett); who else intervened is hard to know. Assuming Q2 was printed from authorial foul papers is even less warranted now (Werstine, 2012). And Q2 has its own problems, over and above contamination from Q1.


As for quit, Tiffany rightly equates to requite. Aphaeresis of re is common; the words can mean the same anyway: ‘quittal’, Lucr. With no first syllable pronunciation might vary, but e's an iffy guide. For example (and 500 words), my putative John of Bordeaux stenographer does it in style (as always):


                             . . . my lord the fayth                      277

of Iohn of Burdiox his servies in yor royall fathers wares

his wondes his blud in Cunteries quarill sheed deserve the

this **requittall**


                                           . . . for provf I men to **quit**

thy traveles well thow shalt reseve theas Iewells . . . 340


ij scolle but perce hath he tought to distungush a noune

adgative from a none substantive                               370


perce    I that he hath and this it is a noune agative is a

bariell of strong beere for yf it be epse he in beralle ter

or tittulid by the nam of hufcape it will mak a man

not able to stand by him selfe but throw him for a noune

adgetive **quit** vnder the table) j scoller) well sayd perce

now whates a nowne substantive) perce) ho my masters

war of a noun substantive ites a Dangerius poynt of

lerninge for I knew a wench in oxford dell so longe

with a noune substantive that fyrst she cried out of a

chopping boye and after was whipte vp and doun the

toune for Lecherie) ii scoller . . .


[Lyly: a nowne adjective is that can not stand by hymselfe . . .

         a nowne substantive is that standeth by himself.]


I now me semes I clime the sacred spher of paphian

quine, and trembling bow my knes befor the Commander

of my hart ha be not coy for I am **quit** consumd     682


As transcription from authorized playtext this is all impossible. Transcribed from phonetic shorthand, the text is ‘good.’


Gerald E. Downs


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