University of Virginia Library

(1) The Two 1695 Editions of Wycherley's Country-Wife

The first edition of William Wycherley's Country-Wife appeared in 1675 with the collation 40, [A]2 B-O4. Before the end of the century four more quarto editions were published, each regularly derived from its predecessor: 1683, collating A2 B-K4; 1688, a line-for-line paginal reprint of 1683; and two editions in 1695 collating [A]2 B-I4, one a line-for-line paginal reprint of the other.

Before the appearance of the Woodward and McManaway Check List of English Plays 1641-1700 the fact that there were two editions, not one, in 1695 had not been recognized; but the Check List separated them, assigning no. 1325 to the edition with "Country Wife" (no hyphen) in the running-titles, and no. 1326 to the edition with the hyphenated running-titles "Country-Wife."[1] Other


Page 253
differences may be added for identification. In 1325 the imprint contains plain italic caps; on sig. C4, line 33, Pinchwife's aside "Will nothing do?" is enclosed in parentheses; and on sig. D1v the first speech-heading reads "Sr. Jas." In 1326 swash italic caps head the imprint names Briscoe, Russel-street, and Daniel Dring; the aside is bracketed; and the speech-heading reads "Sir Jas."

These two 1695 editions have not previously been subjected to bibliographical examination to determine their order, but when this is done it is seen that the Woodward and McManaway order should be reversed: 1326 is the true fourth and 1325 the true fifth edition. Since one is a paginal reprint of the other, independent derivation is eliminated and the question resolves itself to the simple determination of which edition was set from 1688 and which was not. Of 86 variations between the two 1695 editions in Act II, for example, 77 in no. 1326 follow 1688 where no. 1325 differs. Three of these are substantives:

  • 1688-no. 1326: that is no wit, out of friendship to me? (C3v, line 47)
  • no. 1325: that is no whit out of Friendship to me.
  • 1688-no. 1326: to our honours (C4v, line 38)
  • no. 1325: to our honour
  • 1688-no. 1326: do not use that word naked. (D1, line 3)
  • no. 1325: do not use the word naked.
In 46 cases, no. 1326 follows 1688 in spelling, capitalization, or contraction where no. 1325 differs; and in 28 punctuation variants no. 1326 conforms to 1688, where no. 1325 does not. In the light of this overwhelming evidence that no. 1326 was printed from 1688 and that, as a paginal reprint, no. 1325 must derive from 1326, the four minor examples of spelling and punctuation variants in which no. 1325 and 1688, but not no. 1326, agree may readily be dismissed as fortuitous.

Collation against the 1675 and the 1683 editions discloses that no. 1326 did not consult these editions and that it is a straight reprint of 1688.

Robert N. E. Megaw