The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.167 Monday, 24 April 2017
Date: April 24, 2017 at 12:49:30 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Texts of King Lear
After comment on two interesting, dense prose pages (I3v–I4r) I’ll suggest (for no good reason) that an F addition could restore Q omission (in preparation for “good reason” examples). Coincidentally, 4.6 was cited recently, though without exhausting the issues. [F in Blue]:
[Lear.] . . . giue the word ? Edg. Sweet Margerum.
Lear. Passe. Glost. I know that voyce. (Q1 4.6.90ff)
Lear. Ha Gonorill, ha Regan, they flattered mee like a dogge,
‘Ha! Gonerill with a white beard?’ [If that’s a restoration (and ‘ha Regan’ a Q cop-out), I suppose Lear recognizes Gloster but responds to the “blindfold” (bandage) as a reminder of his ‘unseeing’ daughter. Stone: “on the whole, Shakespeare is at pains to avoid portraying Lear’s madness as mere delirium” (209). Bordeaux writes ‘ha’ when modern ‘ah’ is appropriate; BQ spellings mean little.]
and tould me I had white haires in my beard, ere the black ones
were there, to say I and no, to euery thing I saide, I and no toe,
was no good diuinitie . . .
To say I, and no, to euery thing that I said : I, and no too, [As usual, F mispunctuates: ‘they said I was wise young (Foakes): to say “aye and no” to everything I said “aye and no” to was irreverent’ (Matt. 5.36–37.) Shakespearians say Shakespeare didn’t punctuate only to excuse Hand D (a copy). Q1, Q2, and F Lear show that can’t be true.]
Glost. The tricke of that voyce I doe well remember, ist not
Lear. I euer inch a King when I do stare, see how the subiect
quakes, I pardon that mans life, what was thy cause, adultery?
[Lear has Gloster’s ‘Wanted Poster’ in his hand.]
. . . let copulation thriue,
for Glosters bastard son was kinder to his father then my daugh-
ters got tweene the lawfull sheets . . .
[However, Lear must not yet suspect Edmund’s character; only Regan could “proclaim” Gloster’s death. Lear speaks of Gloster’s supposed “crime.”]
behold yon simpring dame whose face between
her forkes presageth snow, that minces vertue . . .
[Of ‘forkes’, Furness had “no inclination to emphasize an unsavory question by discussing it.” Snow is a bit ambiguous: Eskimos have a million words for it.]
Glost. O ruind peece of nature, this great world should so
weare out to naught, do you know me?
Lear. I remember thy eyes well inough, dost thou squiny on
me, no do thy worst blind Cupid, ile not loue, reade thou that
challenge, marke the penning oft.
[Now the bandinage says Cupid. Lear again shows Gloster the “proclamation.”]
Glost. Were all the letters sunnes I could not see one.
Edg. I would not take this from report, it is, and my heart
breakes at it.
[Edgar reads his father’s death warrant and learns the cold, hard ‘facts.’]
. . . Lear. Read. Glost. What! with the case of eyes
Lear. O ho, are you there with me, no eyes in your head,
. . . yet you see how this world goes.
[Hey, you really are blind!]
Glost. I see it feelingly . . .
Lear . . . thou mightst
behold the great image of authoritie, a dogge, so bade in office,
. . . through tottered raggs, smal vices do appeare, robes &
furd-gownes hides all, [Place sinnes with Gold, and the strong
Lance of Iustice hurtlesse breakes, Arme it in ragges a Pigmies
straw does pierce it. None does offend, none I say none Ile
able ‘em, take that of me my Friend, who haue the power to
seale th’accusers lips.] get thee glasse eyes, and like a scuruy po-
lititian seeme to see the things thou doest not . . .
Edg. O matter and impertinencie mixt reason in madnesse.
Lear. . . . I knowe
thee well inough thy name is Gloster . . .
Gost. Alack alack the day.
Lear. . . . wee are come to this
great stage of fooles, this a good blocke. It were a delicate stra-
tagem to shoot a troupe of horse with fell, & when I haue stole
vpon these sonne in lawes, then kill . . .
[F corrects the spoonerism to ‘shoo . . . with felt.’ I guess blocke results from confusing shorthand b with p again; cke misreads tte. Read plot for block, for a theatrical ambush.]
Q1 evidence indicates omissions (restored or not) in its printing. F adds lines. It’s not difficult to imagine a Q1 omission about the size of the F interpolation above. However, I don’t suggest these lines were accidentally left out, or their independent excision. But if omission occurred elsewhere in composing the crowded pages, the printer’s options were limited: leave the lines out; adjust several formes to enable restoration; restore partially; or replace unimportant text with the omission (to its different spot.)
Stone observes that F additions are generally irrelevant to the sense or action of the play, so much so as to question their motives as revisions. He seems to go out of his way to fault the reviser. But on reading the interpolations as if they formed part of the “original” Q1 text, most are not noticeably out of place. Reading them as candidates for removal to gain space plausibly suggests investigation of nearby text for like-sized restorations in foul proofing. Results consistent with that hypothesis not only explain unlikely “revisions”; they establish a probability that even more F additions are restorations from Q1 copy or the printer’s records. Stone offers a number of instances of possible F recoveries (alongside failed correction of Q error) and Sir Brian Vickers supposes many F restorations.
Gerald E. Downs