« PreviousContinue »
augmentation in the later quartos. Q 3 is indeed responsible for numerous variations from its predecessors : many of these, where they happen to agree with readings in the folios, have taken their place in both the established versions of the text; and it has been a very general opinion that Q 3 was used as one of the authorities for the first folio. But, even if we allow the highest importance to these readings, they cannot be described as "augmentations.” It seems unjust to conclude that the printer wished to attract fresh customers by false pretences. Nor have we any evidence that the author, having guaranteed some additions, failed to make good his promise, and that the title-page, printed in anticipation of the fulfilment of that promise, could not be cancelled. The most probable sense which the words can be made to bear is, that the Q text in all its forms is an augmentation of some earlier play, and that these words should have appeared on the title-pages of Q I and Q 2, as well as of the later quartos.
The F text, which is common to all the folios, leaves the general form of the play unaltered; but the variations from the Q text which it contains are so many and important, that the question of its derivation and independent value becomes a most intricate problem. The discrepancies between F and 2 (as it is convenient, for the sake of brevity, to call the two versions of which F i and Q i are the original forms) may be summed up under the following general heads :
(1) Lines or passages peculiar to F;
(3) Variations in lines, phrases, or single words, pointing to a possible revision of one version by the other;
(4) Variations in stage-directions. The problem which these points raise is concerned with the priority of the texts. Is F a revised and lengthened form of Q; or is Q a revised and shortened form of F? Or, supposing them to be independent revisions of a common original, which should we prefer as the basis for a modern text of the play?
(1) There are in F about 196 lines of ordinary length, 15 short lines, and 17 half-lines or parts of lines, which are additions to the text as represented by Q. In some cases the omission
of these passages from Q can be accounted for quite simply, e.g. at 1. iv. 36, 37, where the first printer of Q evidently has united the beginning of one line to the end of the next, by a careless, but quite intelligible mistake, which the printer of F has not made. But there are many passages which, if they existed in the original text, cannot have been overlooked accidentally by the original editor or printer of Q. At I. ii. 155-66, II. ii. 89100, III. vii. 144-53, IV. i. 97-103, IV. iv. 222-35, the F additions are of some length and importance; while at iv. iv. 291-345 the new matter amounts to 55 lines. It is obvious that, at the first appearance of Q in 1597, these passages either did not exist, or were omitted deliberately by the editor. In the first case, they must be later additions, forming part of a revision the result of which was F; in the second case, they must have formed part of the original text, and, as such, establish a claim for F to represent the play as written by the author.
(2) On the other hand, Q contains twenty-three ordinary and nineteen short lines which are not to be found in F. Of these, fourteen ordinary and four short lines occur in a single passage, vis. IV. ii. 98-115. When this is deducted from the rest, the matter peculiar to Q is seen to be inconsiderable. Either the editor of F omitted these lines, in some cases wilfully, in others perhaps accidentally; or he had access to a text of the play which supplied the authority for their omission. That text, it is clear, either was revised by Q, or was itself a revision of Q. On the first supposition, these additions are easily explained: on the second, it is hard to see on what principle the reviser, while adding so much, cut out so little, and that little so unimportant; while it is impossible to account for his omission of the one important passage in iv. ii.
(3) The numerous minor differences between Q and F are recorded in the collation which accompanies this text. No attempt at their classification can be wholly satisfactory. In general, they are variations on words and phrases, and indicate that a very minute revision has been exercised, either on:Q by the editor of F, or by the editor of 2 on the text of which F is representative. Certain systematic differences may be noticed. For “which" in Q, we usually find “that” in F. Where has "betwixt," F has "between." In F we find greater metrical consistency throughout: lines which, in Q, are irregular or hypermetric, become smooth and regular. The passage at 1. iv. 84-159, which is printed by Q in a kind of spurious verse, is arranged in F as prose. F also avoids repetitions, which occur in Q, of the same word in a few lines, or transposes words from their arrangement in Q. The student who compares the two texts for himself can hardly fail to recognise that, in point of regularity and order, the balance is in favour of F.
(4) The stage-directions in F are fuller and more perfect than those in Q. Certain minor parts appear in F, which Q either neglects or partly suppresses. The result is a gain in clearness to F, although, in one case, the duplication of the part of Brakenbury in 1. iv. by that of the Keeper, the alteration seems unnecessary. It is of course possible that the addition of entrances, exits, and other more minute directions may be entirely due to the editor of F; and the utmost that they can be made to prove is his zeal for accuracy and definiteness.
From the dates of publication, it is obvious that F, as a printed text, is later than Q. Probably it was never edited for the press until a little before its appearance in 1623. Appearing at that time, it is probably a revision, to a certain extent, of Q, the hitherto accepted text of the play. There are three main possibilities with regard to the genesis of this revision. It may have been the arbitrary work of the editor. It may have been derived from an original source which was either inaccessible to the editor of Q, or was used by him with arbitrary alterations. Or, thirdly, it may represent a personal revision of the text by the author, after the appearance of the play on the stage and the publication of Q 1.
This third view is substantially the view taken by Pope and Johnson. It involves the existence in 1623 of a MS. of the play, or, at least, an annotated copy of one of the quartos, containing the author's final alterations of his original text, with additions and a few excisions. It seems certain, if this corrected text existed, that the editor of F compared it with Q. The result would be a text which, depending for the most part on
this conjectural document, would accept here and there a reading of Q whose origin is probably to be found in the later quartos. Oversights on the part of the editor, and mistakes on the part of the printer, must be allowed for in this as in all other theories.
Many editors, in more recent times, have taken the clearly defined view that is a revision, for dramatic purposes, of an original text represented by F. Howard Staunton regarded the long passages peculiar to F as deliberately omitted “to accelerate action," and to "afford space for the more lively and dramatic substitutions which are met with in the quartos alone.” For the first of these statements there is much to be said : the omission of such passages as those in iv. iv. for this purpose, is more credible than their subsequent addition for no apparent purpose at all. But the presence of those substitutions which Staunton praised is very questionable. As we have seen, the additions in Q are, with one exception, insignificant and immaterial.
The authority of Q was asserted on other grounds by the Cambridge editors. In their view both Q and F are of Shakespearean origin. Of the author's original MS., which they called A 1, a transcript (B I) was made for the theatre library; and from this transcript, with its accidental faults and omissions, Q I was printed. However, at some unspecified time, the author undertook a complete revision of the play, correcting the original MS. with marginal notes and interlineations, and adding new matter here and there on inserted leaves. At some time, probably after the author's death, this corrected MS. (A 2) was taken in hand by a transcriber, whose copy of it (B 2) was intended probably to take the place of B 1, now worn and tattered, in the theatre library. To judge from the internal evidence of F1, which was printed from this new transcript, the transcriber “worked in the spirit, though not with the audacity, of Colley Cibber," altering words, even where it was unnecessary, to avoid their recurrence, or to correct a supposed metrical defect; or now and then modifying a word that, in the course of time, was become obsolete. The editor of F I, therefore, in addition to some unique Shakespearean matter, accepted much that is
non-Shakespearean. It follows that the Cambridge editors, while admitting all the additions (two lines excepted) which are peculiar to F, took Q I as the basis of their text.
The cardinal point of the Cambridge theory is the existence of the lawless transcriber. In 1872, Delius, writing in the Jahrbuch of the German Shakespeare Society, brought forward his theory that I was nothing more than a pirated edition of the play, in which an unknown editor mangled the original text at his own discretion. Delius' contempt for this poetaster” surpassed in measure the Cambridge editors' allusions to their “nameless transcriber.” For his theory there is one strong argument, to be derived from the preface to F 1.
His hypothesis makes good the editors' statement that they were restoring the plays "cur'd, and perfect of their limbes; and ... absolute in their numbers,” to a public that hitherto had been "abus'd with diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies."
Spedding's exhaustive paper, read before the New Shakspere Society in 1875, maintained the case for F against the Cambridge editors. The most interesting part of his argument is his enumeration of alterations in F which, in his judgment, could not have been made by the author, but were due, for the most part, to editorial and press misunderstandings of marginal corrections, etc., in the MS. from which F I was prepared. In a detailed criticism of Spedding's paper, Mr. E, H, Pickersgill supported the main contentions of the Cambridge editors. He definitely regarded the author's final version of his MS. as anterior to the publication of Q 1, which was founded on the actors' copy of the play, omitting the long passages, afterwards inserted in F, for the sake of shortening the dramatic representation. He admitted the presence of a number of blunders in 2, which were afterwards corrected or avoided in F. But the "nameless transcriber” was still made responsible for much tampering with the text. The theory advanced by Koppel, in his Textkritische Studien über Shakespeare's Richard III. (1877), is similar in detail to Pickersgill's, but does not adopt the conclusion as to the "nameless transcriber."
The exceptional scholarship and judgment of the Cambridge editors gives much weight to their elaborate theory. But very