Shakespeare and James I


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0295  Thursday, 12 July 2012


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

Date:         July 10, 2012 2:49:34 PM EDT

Subject:     RE: James I


In response to the post by Larry Weiss on “Polonius” as an agnomen (July 7), let me recommend an article by Abraham Shiff: “Transition from Corambis to Polonius: The Forgotten Pun on a Diplomatic Scandal in a Hamlet Q2 Stage Direction.” This article is accessible at the Hamlet Criticism tab on the website.  It can be downloaded in one or another format.  This is a rather long and involved piece, so it may take time to download.


Nick Clary 



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0294  Tuesday, 10 July 2012


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

Date:         July 9, 2012 7:03:38 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand


Gabriel Egan advises:


> I’d be interested to hear Downs defend this claim:


>> . . .  Q1(c) at 3.6 has 'take vp thy master . . . Take

>> vp the King . . . '. F at line 102 has 'Take vp, take

>> vp . . .'; which Urkowitz describes as "unrelievedly urgent,

>> compelling, and threatening". That is, a Shakespearean

>> revision; who else could be so quick on the vp-take?

>> Well, Q1(uncorrected) has 'Take vp to keepe', an obvious

>> misreading (the compositor elsewhere proves to be

>> unconcerned with nonsense). F's reviser, without recourse

>> to the correction, sophisticated with a second 'take up';

>> nothing to do with the author, compelling or not.


> It’s not clear to me why F’s second “take vp” is

> attributed to the compositor by Downs.


Could be I wasn’t clear. I didn’t attribute the second “take up” to F’s compositor, but to F’s reviser (whoever the responsible party was at this point). Q2 also prints “take up to keep,” so the F compositor could have sophisticated that reading (which is not meaningful unless one is playing marbles or without them). One of the beauties of Q1 is that it preserves nonsense for analysis that doesn’t have to be nonsense.


I don’t know that the Q1 compositor misread the phrase or whether he followed someone who did. But as I say, the Q1 compositors were often content with terrible readings. “Take up the king” sounds correct; since that’s what the corrector came up with, presumably he’s right; but the important evidence is the error, compounded in F.


> Suppose we grant Gary Taylor’s claim that Shakespeare

> revised King Lear by annotating a copy of Q1 . . . and that

> F reflects the revised version.


That’s a two-parter. I grant that F revises Q1 anyhow; I credit Taylor for advancing that (following Stone, and possibly Blayney). The claim that Shakespeare revised Q1 itself sticks in a lot of craws that would otherwise swallow the revision rhetoric (Taylor wrote a whole article justifying his own brand of that).


Editors welcomed Howard-Hill’s bad argument that the “and appointed guard” mix-ups had nothing directly to do with the Q1 text. They did so because they didn’t like the “revised on Q1” hypothesis but did like the “revised foul papers” solution, which gets to be earlier than 1608. But F revises Q1; evidence of this sort proves it. Taylor hedged, as I recall, reducing ‘on Q1’ to ‘began on Q1.’


> In Q1(u) Shakespeare would have found the words

> “Take vp to keepe”. Not remembering what he had

> originally written (“Take up the king”)—why should he

> remember it 5-6 years later when doing the revision?


Maybe he doubled the King and was unconscious in that scene—for 5-6 years. But we are proliferating hypotheses; I don’t buy either one.


> —Shakespeare might easily have deleted the

> meaningless [we agree it's meaningless] “to keepe”

> and written above/near it “take up”, producing the F

> reading with the merits that Urkowitz identifies.


Highly unlikely: for one thing, “take up” looks very much like emending “to keep” on the assumption of a graphic error; achievable by anyone, and not to be taken as evidence for Shakespeare. Possibility? That’s not argument. More important, this is one of many shortcomings that Shakespeare (if the reviser, which I don’t believe) overlooks alongside, and inside, his revisions. Followers of the Oxford Shakespeare have to buy into that—even to express it. Non-Shakespearean revision accepts the Q1 text for what it was; something that needed fixing more than it got fixed.


I don’t believe Shakespeare would stoop to revising Q1 and leaving the F mess, nor would he be directly behind Q1. A few corollaries could be mentioned again.


First, it is a mistake to judge Q1 by F “merits.” The best way is to study Q1 for its own sake, as Blayney advises, and as Stone does. You’ll get a better idea of the corruptions. Second, the author can have done that much better than us, and found a travesty of his text. Heywood said of his reported play (thirty-five years on), “scarce one word true.” Would Shakespeare have felt different? I tend to agree with Philip Edwards; a revision by the author would have contained at least something other than the pussy-footing around corruption—something like revision.


Gerald E. Downs

Jowett’s N&Q R3 Proof


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0293  Tuesday, 10 July 2012


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

Date:         July 9, 2012 7:52:13 PM EDT

Subject:     Jowett’s N&Q R3 Proof


On the “Pedestrian” thread Gabriel Egan responded (5/28) to my view:


>>> Of course, since R3 is probably a memorial report

>>> the same questions may arise.


>> See John Jowett’s elegant proof that Q1 R3 can’t be

>> based on a memorial report (“’Derby’, ‘Stanley’, and

>> Memorial Reconstruction in Quarto Richard IIINotes

>> and Queries 245 (2000): 75-79.)


> I’ll look that up. In the meantime, I think R3 is

> probably a memorial report but probably not

> a memorial reconstruction. So I may agree with

> Jowett and maintain my opinion.


I’ve read the article a few times now. The textual history of R3 is a heavy topic that I haven’t really studied, but I’ve lately cited Jowett on the indications of memorial transmission in R3, which he agrees are considerable. He refers to the same paper himself as a refutation of Steven Urkowitz, so I suppose he stands by it. But now he suggests:


> If there is a colateral printed text against which to

> compare the candidate for memorial transmission,

> one would demonstrate, if possible, that the manuscript

> linkage between the two texts must consist of unbroken

> transcription. In the case of Q1 [R3] . . . such a

> demonstration can, with reservations, be advanced.


Since there are no manuscripts to link, his case is complicated. I think it quickly goes wrong in ways the series of close arguments can’t repair: Jowett doesn’t argue against “memorial” evidence; he erects a barrier to it. That isn’t apt to work if his first announced premise is misdirected:


> The following remarks concentrate on stage directions

> and speech headings, as written elements of the play

> that are not spoken on stage. Where they are illogical

> or inconsistent, their characteristics are unlikely to be

> preserved through memorial transmission, for their

> substance . . . is not what the actors need to remember

> when learning their parts.


First, Jowett should show that speech prefixes and set directions are preserved (rather than re-created after the memorial transmission). We learn from John of Bordeaux (a real manuscript) that recorded dialogue guided these matters, often mistakenly. The probability is that illogical or inconsistent speech headings are evidence against preservation of the original text. But his original text is an assumption anyway.


Though I like Jowett’s care in constructing an argument, any response will be long-winded enough without the temptation to mark his asides; but little things mean a lot (or so I’ve heard); I may not resist:


> The germ of my present investigation lies in Kristian

> Smidt's remark on this issue [Stanley = Derby in

> prefixes] that 'it seems likely that the manuscript

> underlying F had an inconsistency similar to that of

> the manuscript used by Q'.


Smidt’s remark is intriguing; might the F-copy manuscript itself be a report? Could be. Meanwhile, back at the Trust, Jowett refers


> to the manuscripts behind Q1 and F as entities

> . . . . [MSQ] and [MSF]. . . . I have elsewhere

> offered a summary of the compelling reasons for

> viewing [MSQ] as derivative. . . . Orthodoxy adds

> the particular interpretation that [MSF] is derivative

> in the special sense that it is based on a memorial

> reconstruction. . . . Rejection of the theory does not

> need to alter the status of [MSQ] as a derivative

> version. By the time the text reached [MSQ], it seems

> to have passed through minor revision of an authorial

> complexion and extensive adjustment for the stage.

> In contrast, [MSF] evidently represents the play before

> it was performed. (75)


By “derivative” Jowett means the F version predates the Q version, heading for the conclusion that unbroken transcription and revision account for Q1 differences on a minor matter—and therefore on all the rest. “Derivative” doesn’t account for Q1 or its memorial features.


I don’t know where “orthodoxy” calls [MSF] a memorial reconstruction. For example, Hammond claims the manuscript behind F is foul papers; if other editors opt for a second report, that sounds unorthodox to me. Jowett’s “[MSF]” in this reading [which threw me for a while] must then be a misprint for “[MSQ].”


What is “authorial complexion,” other than supposition? I’m not familiar with the evidence that F reflects a state that had not been performed. The summary list Jowett supplied earlier is speculative. How does one know what wasn’t performed over thirty years’ time? In case we should wonder, he later makes it clear what [MSF] may be:


> if ['Derby'] originates as a peculiarity of the authorial text (77).


If it doesn’t—if it isn’t—the case fails. So the author’s manuscript is assumed (not as [MSF], to be sure, but as the “entity” determining the [MSF] features). I’ve noted often enough that bad quartos were used as copy for later editions; no one disputes that R3 in quarto, despite [MSF], was the basis for the Folio text. (The Big Argument is whether it was Q3 or Q6.) The upshot is an untrustworthy F redaction, even though another manuscript shared copy-duty.


> The complexion of the speech headings and stage

> directions has become that of the independent and

> highly variant manuscript, not that of the quartos.


That is also an assumption. The regulation of these matters was taken on by the Folio redactors. For reprinting, the quarto needed curing (F "healed" many plays in many ways). We can't base 'proof' on what we don't know.


Jowett makes his case on Q/F switching from “Derby” to “Stanley” (the same person, though the title wasn’t bestowed in R3’s era) in dialogue, speech headings, and stage directions. I’ll follow Jowett’s argument as it is presented and add some comments, particularly about a flaw in the anointment.


> In 1.3 [Stanley] is five times called Derby [in the

> dialogue]. That this anachronistic name is preserved

> in Q1's as well as F's version . . . is a significant

> detail in its own right; if it originates as a peculiarity

> of the authorial text its apparent survival into and

> beyond performance is surprising, and all the more

> so if Q1 is memorial.


The Derby/Stanley identity originated: surprising or not, it’s in the texts. Why not survive performance and memory? Why must it be authorial?


> From 3.1 onwards, he is consistently 'Stanley' [in

> the dialogue]. There is therefore a single shift,

> consistent with a change of authorial practice . . .


Why authorially consistent? May as well say inconsistent.


> The theatrical identifiers [s.p.'s & s.d.'s] show a

> more complicated and less easily reproduced pattern.

> Q1 nevertheless does reproduce the sequence, with

> the important exception discussed below . . . .


Technically (chronologically) speaking, Q1 produces and F reproduces. Jowett will turn this around so much as to deny any real possibility that the sequence (and its exception) was governed by the reprinting of Q1. Readers should keep this probability in mind.


Jowett lists five sections of the play where Q and F agree: A) Early on, where ‘Derby’ as the prefix matches the dialogue; B1) 3.2, prefix and dialogue ‘Stanley’; C1) 3.4, prefix ‘Derby’, dialogue ‘Stanley’: B2) 4.1, ‘Stanley’ only; C2) 4.5 - 5.8 ‘Derby’ prefix, ‘Stanley’ dialogue.


> This shared pattern of fluctuation is so distinctive

> that, if it were not found in [MSF] also, it could only

> be perpetuated from the quartos if the names in

> question were uniquely and deliberately exempted

> from the Folio annotator's usual practice of thorough

> annotation. Such a procedure would be inexplicable.


I don’t agree. By 3.4 the prefixes were interchangeable; there was no need to alter the Q readings. In all these instances F reproduces Q; there isn’t much to explain. If Q is a report its speech headings simply could not be the same as those from another source. That’s surely true of a shorthand report, whose ascriptions are created independently of the play’s producers. Jowett argues for unbroken transcription through to the Q1 theatrical version; what evidence do we have?


At Q1 5.2 Richmond enters to address his ‘fellows in arms.’ Their prefixes are 1 Lo., 2 Lo., and 3 Lo. Why? They aren’t named in the dialogue, that’s why. F identifies them, but that’s F’s job. That would have been necessary also in any theatrical transcription. Would those names be the same in F? Who knows? We have no manuscripts, if sometimes we act like we do:


> In any case, the theatrical identifiers for . . . Stanley

> actually disagree between Q1 and F throughout a

> single section of the play [4.2 & 4.3] . . . These variants

> demonstrate the independence of F from its quarto copy

> with respect for the names of Lord Stanley.


There’s no reason F must depend on either Q or F-manuscript copy for the forms of names or, for that matter, for dialogue. At 4.2 Q1 reads:


How now, what neewes with you?

   Darby. My Lord . . .


There is nothing to identify Derby in the dialogue; if Stanley is the right character, either name will do (as usual). F, on the other hand, has:


How now, Lord Stanley, what's the newes?

   Stanley. Know . . .


Whether the dialogue I.D. came from Ms. or the redactor, the speech heading naturally follows up. 4.4 is essentially the same. Nothing whatever can be proved about a manuscript supplying the “identifier.” Remember, by these very passages Jowett means to nullify memorial reporting, for which there is a lot of good evidence.


The last of a list of Jowett’s supporting evidence is typical:


> . . . . Qq 'L. Stanlie, F 'Stanley' ( These

> readings point to consultation of [MSF] and so

> confirm that the name Derby or Stanley stood

> in [MSF] as thereabouts in Q1.


At 5.3.146 the s.d. reads, Q1-2 Hastings, Q3-6 L. Hastings, F Lord Hastings. Where is the need for a second manuscript for Q3, or for F? The only need is whimsy. Jowett’s case is built on repeating the same inversion:


> F's reproduction of the erratic pattern in Q1

> indicates a transmission from [MSF] to [MSQ]


I don’t get it; “F’s reproduction” indicates Q’s reproduction?


> [A suggested assumption] brings one no closer

> to understanding why the Derby/Stanley conundrum

> should have reappeared in [MSQ].


Once more: the sequence reappeared in F, not Q1. Getting it backwards over and over is not elegant proof; it’s just backwards.


> This conclusion is not as secure as one might

> wish, as erratic human behaviour cannot always

> be attributed safely to the least erratic cause.


Although Jowett denies the least erratic cause outright—F copied Q—he finally gets on the right track. You can’t safely conjure manuscript evidence from erratic behavior. Someone (or two) assigned the task of splicing a manuscript to a R3 quarto did so according to his lights. It appears they showed him to the Q Derby/Stanley usage. The only non-agreement seems to be the two short scenes of Act 4 where ‘Stanley’ was added (consistently) to dialogue for clarity in F; the prefixes were changed accordingly (from Q's Derby to Stanley).


Other “theatrical indicators” in Q vary and seem uncertain. That is perfectly consistent with shorthand reporting, but not memorial reconstruction. That’s not exactly added hypothesis; it’s more of a prediction borne out in the text of yet another candidate for reporting.


Gerald E. Downs



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0292  Tuesday, 10 July 2012


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

Date:         July 7, 2012 8:10:38 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Justin Alexander’s Reliance on Hibbard’s Hypothesis


I have long made the point that “Polonius” should be regarded as an agnomen, like “Coriolanus,” awarded to the young Corambis for his contributions as a warrior or statesman (more likely the latter) in the conquest of Poland. The play suggests that Poland was a traditional enemy of Denmark. 


This view explains why Polonius is held in esteem by Claudius, why he still has some political skill. 


Shakespeare and James I


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0291  Tuesday, 10 July 2012


[1] From:        Ros Barber <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 9, 2012 6:33:17 AM EDT

     Subject:     RE: Shakespeare and James I 


[2] From:        Ros Barber <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 9, 2012 6:33:17 AM EDT

     Subject:     RE: Shakespeare and James I 




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

Date:         July 8, 2012 3:37:44 PM EDT

Subject:     RE: Shakespeare and James I


>I was recently watching Simon Schama’s recent Shakespeare

>documentary, and he essentially makes a point that, during an early

>production of Hamlet, you would have a staging of the dumb show

>prefacing The Mousetrap, within Hamlet, all watched by King James I,

>whose recent familial history would have given the scenes telescoping

>in front of him additional personal significance. 


>It got me wondering more about Shakespeare’s relationship to James,

>and I thought that I might ask if anybody had any good recommendations

>for books that discuss this relationship, or just good books about the life

>of James.


Reply to Aaron Azlant: I enjoyed Alvin B Kernan’s Shakespeare, The King’s Playwright


Sylvia Morris



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

Date:         July 9, 2012 6:33:17 AM EDT

Subject:     RE: Shakespeare and James I


The first full exploration of the connections between Hamlet and James I was Lilian Winstanley’s book Hamlet and the Scottish Succession (CUP, 1921).  Although her thesis was apparently scorned and dismissed at the time, it contains numerous interesting observations, some of which have recently been revived (without crediting Winstanley) by Howard Erskine-Hill and Andrew Hadfield.


You can find the full text of Winstanley’s book here:


Andrew Hadfield’s brief exploration of Hamlet/James I links can be found in “Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics” (Arden Shakespeare, 2004, pp.87-88)


See also 


Erskine-Hill, Poetry and the Realm of Politics (OUP 1996, pp.99-111)


Stuart M. Kurland, ‘Hamlet and the Scottish succession’, SEL 34 (1994), 279-300.


Rosalind Barber


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