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Compositor Determination and other Problems in Shakespearian Texts by Alice Walker
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Compositor Determination and other Problems in Shakespearian Texts
Alice Walker [*]

My aim in this paper is to suggest what purposes compositor determination may serve and, in view of these purposes, on what basis the analysis should be made. The focus will be on the thirty years or so in which our substantive texts of Shakespeare's plays were printed; but although the focus is on Shakespeare the matter is of interest to all concerned with printed books of the period, whether as bibliographers or editors.

Very little is known about printing-house spelling. A philologist can, of course, relate spelling to the derivation of a word and to the sound changes, or other influences, which at one time or another have affected it. He knows why variant spellings like 'blood' and 'bloud' originated; but he does not know what their distribution is in this period. The O.E.D. is, of course, the main authority on the spelling of printed books; but although it gives a good general conspectus (though not always a complete record) or the range of spellings for a particular word, and although it sheds a great deal of light on what lies behind anomalies in modern spelling, it was no part of its programme to treat the subject either comprehensively or systematically: it is a history of the meaning of words, not their form. Thus, to take a simple example, it explains the origin of the spellings 'show' and 'shew' and remarks that the two spellings reflected different pronunciations originating in the Old English period and surviving (on the evidence of rhymes) down to about 1700; it observes that the 'shew' spelling was prevalent in the eighteenth century and not uncommon in the first half of the nineteenth century; but it sheds no light on the distribution of these two spellings in Shakespeare's day or on the distribution of the longer forms with a final 'e'. We cannot even be certain that the O.E.D. extracts from this period (however numerous they may


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be) necessarily give a just picture. The extracts cited were intended to illustrate meaning, not spelling: consequently, though most of the reading for the Modern English period was of printed books (not manuscript), some of the extracts were taken from modernised texts. Thus, after remarking that the present-day spelling 'blue' was hardly known in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the normal spelling was 'blew', it cites under 'blue-bottle' a modernised (quarto) spelling for 2 Henry IV , V.iv.20. The Folio spelling with 'blew' follows in parenthesis, but only because the Folio has the error 'blew- Bottel'd', not because Jaggard's spelling differed from that of Simmes's quarto.

It is not, of course, surprising that no effort has been made to study the spelling of Elizabethan and Jacobean books systematically. This is partly because the view has been widely held that it was chaotic and, now that it is recognised that there was certainly method in its seeming vagaries and that investigation must proceed on the basis of compositors, it is clear that little good might have come of a survey even if it had been made. The natural line of attack in the past would have been chronological, by printers or by authors, and might therefore have failed to penetrate to the compositor-basis which is of prime importance. The subject has, anyway, not roused much interest. The phonologist recognises that it was mainly conventional spelling and out of touch with the spoken word. Consequently, it can tell him little about the pronunciation of Shakespeare's day. His attention is focused on the 'phonetic' spellings of uninstructed writers and, therefore, on manuscript spellings — and the naiver the writer, the better for his purpose. From a phonological point of view John of Bordeaux is far more exciting than the First Folio or even Sir Thomas More D . Among textual critics, though wiser heads have never supposed that the spelling of printed books was the author's (the Old Cambridge editors, for instance, rejected the idea of an old spelling Shakespeare on this account), there is even yet a great deal of muddled thinking. Spellings of one writer are compared with those of another on the evidence of printed texts of different dates from different printing houses[1] and the vagaries of compositors are being erratically introduced into modernised texts of Shakespeare.[2] A systematic study of printing-house spelling is plainly wanted, if only to act as a curb on this kind of folly.


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Unfortunately, Willoughby's interpretation of Satchell's observations on spellings in Macbeth was not at once followed up, but Hinman's reopening of the matter has stimulated keener interest. This is partly, no doubt, because of the close link between compositor-analysis and presswork, but partly too because it is now recognised that an analysis of the spelling of printed texts can shed a great deal of light on what has been the focal point of twentieth-century Shakespearian textual criticism — the problem of transmission; and that we know all too little about the stage in the transmission of substantive texts about which we could know most — their metamorphosis into print — is now, I think, generally recognised. The study of the ways of compositors should enable us to isolate with some confidence not only the accidentals of printed texts which were not due to copy but also (even more important) the substantive errors of compositors.

The main purpose of compositor-determination as I see it is, therefore, to clarify a stage in transmission about which we know very little and ought to know more. But we shall be neglecting a great many important ramifications if the enquiry results in no more than a short list of words which serve to distinguish the hand of one compositor from another. This kind of rigidity is at variance with the fundamental characteristic of printing-house spelling — its fluidity — nd the treatment of the subject should partake of its character. Some habits of compositors were fixed (at any rate over a period of years) and these fixed habits included not only spellings which serve to differentiate between the hand of one compositor and a fellow-workman but also spellings which serve to bind. From The Merchant of Venice Q1 , Titus Andronicus Q2 , and Hamlet Q2 , for instance, it would appear that both of Roberts's compositors were 'doe', 'goe', 'heere', 'young', 'blood', 'devill', and 'yeere' spellers. At the same time, spellings common to a pair of compositors (or peculiar to one) were liable to alter, either temporarily (under the influence of copy) or more permanently (possibly in response to changing fashions). We cannot even treat the First Folio as a unit. My own differential spellings have special reference to the plays printed in 1623 Many of them (and certainly most of A's) are


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no use for the Comedies. Changes in habit can even be seen in the plays printed in 1623 In the Comedies printed (according to Willoughby) in 1621 the capitalising of 'heaven' is erratic. In the plays printed in 1623, A's practice (almost invariable) is to capitalise the word. B (almost invariably) uses a lower case letter until Macbeth . In this play and thereafter B's practice (though never so steady as A's) is to capitalise. Another change one can watch in progress is the spelling of 'prithee'. The usual spelling in the 1621 Comedies was 'prethee'. This holds for The Winter's Tale . In the Histories of 1623 there is much wavering and B's struggles to be off with the old love are interesting. It was plainly his intention to substitute 'prythee' for Q5 's 'prethee' in 1 Henry IV . He managed it on the first four occasions but succumbed to past habits and the influence of copy on all but two subsequent occasions and continued as a 'prethee' speller throughout 2 Henry IV . His new spelling comes to the fore in 3 Henry VI and Richard III , is established in Henry VIII , and never wavers in the Tragedies.

Changes such as are apparent in the Folio are not, of course, exceptional. What serves to differentiate between two Danter compositors in 1593 is partly obsolete in 1594 What serves to discriminate between Roberts's two compositors in The Merchant of Venice 1600 is in some cases irrelevant to Hamlet 1604-1605 A pair of compositors might draw together over some spellings but apart over others, and how often their spelling changed in one particular or another is of as much importance as their fixed habits.

My expectation is that, if a study of printing-house spelling could be made on a broad basis, including not merely what serves to distinguish between one compositor and another but also what serves to unify, as well as what is variable and what is fixed, we should have an instructive and serviceable conspectus of use to bibliographers and editors alike.

For the analytical bibliographer, compositor-determination is plainly an important link with press-work and there is no need for me to enlarge upon the way in which the one kind of analysis is complementary to the other. As regards another field of bibliographical work, fuller information about compositors, if broadly based, should serve to identify printers, where other means fail, and to date (at any rate approximately) undated books and cancels. There are, for instance, a number of plays in Greg's Bibliography whose printers are either unknown or doubtful. These may have been written off as Lost Property merely because no one has had occasion to use them. They may even have been under scrutiny since the Bibliography was published. But assuming they have not yet been assigned to a particular printer, I judge that anyone acquainted with the spelling of


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Simmes's, Creede's, and Eld's compositors could determine, almost at a glance, to which of the three No. 242 (The Fair Maid of the Exchange , 1607) should be assigned, and similarly whether No. 278 ( Mustapha , 1609 was Windet's or not. In Lodge's Wounds of Civil War , printed by Danter in 1594 for instance, there are plainly two hands: the first characterised by the spellings 'prowd', 'young', 'friend', 'Romaine', 'sirra', 'powre', 'thrise', 'fruit' and 'poore'; the second by 'proud', 'yong', 'frend', 'Romane', 'sirrha', 'power', 'thrice', 'frute', and 'pore'. Both compositors were 'goe', 'here' spellers (firm Danter compositor characteristics in 1593-4) and other Danter texts exemplify the ending 'icke' as common ground during this period. Not all of these spellings are relevant to Romeo and Juliet Q1, printed in 1597, but when we find that the first Romeo and Juliet compositor (A-D) was a 'goe', 'here', 'young' speller and the second (E-K) was a 'goe', 'yong', 'frend' speller we are on the way to establishing that Lodge's Wounds and Romeo and Juliet Q1 were set by the same pair of men. And when we find in Fair Em , assigned tentatively to Danter by Greg (on the evidence of an ornament), the characteristic 'goe', 'here', ' — icke', 'proud', 'power', 'yong' spellings of the second Wounds compositor, we can be reasonably certain that Danter was indeed the printer of this play. The quarto is undated, but the spelling places it (as the Malone Society editor did) before Jack Straw in 1593.

Reprints are, of course, a trickier problem than first editions, since we must expect the trail to be confused by the spellings of the print used as copy. Roberts's reprint of Titus Andronicus certainly gives a much distorted picture of the habits of the compositors who set it and suggests that it may be little use to try to arrive at a compositor's normal practice from a reprint. This is, I judge, what makes it difficult to identify the compositor (or compositors) responsible for the Folio texts of Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet . The spelling is mixed not because the compositor was a 'mixed' speller but because these texts (especially the latter) were hurried and careless reprints.[3] By far the most systematic spelling in the Folio Histories and Tragedies , on the part of both Jaggard A and B, occurs in plays which were certainly set up from manuscript. In 1 Henry VI , Julius Caesar , and Macbeth , for instance, spellings which fail to conform with the normal habits of the two compositors are strikingly rare.


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They are much commoner in Richard II , 1 Henry IV , and in the half dozen plays set up, I believe, from corrected quartos. It was, in fact, the somewhat 'mixed' spelling of 2 Henry IV , Hamlet , and Othello which partly led me in the first place to range them with Richard II , 1 Henry IV , Richard III , Lear , and Troilus and Cressida rather than with plays for which Jaggard must certainly have had manuscript copy.[4] In Troilus and Cressida for instance, Jaggard A seems to have abandoned most of his characteristic spellings in favour of Eld's. Possibly the mechanical reproduction of copy induced relaxation of effort in the interests of speed and what caused steadier spelling in setting from manuscript may have been the necessarily slower pace.[5]

But although I suspect that reprints will seldom provide a safe- guide to a compositor's usual habits, the contamination from an earlier print that we should expect to find can be turned to advantage. I feel certain that, if a copy of Titus Q1 had never come to light, an analysis of the habits of Roberts's compositors when working from manuscript would have made it clear that the spelling of the 1600 quarto was too mixed to be that of a first edition and a legitimate inference would have been that some characteristic Roberts habits had been superimposed on an earlier print with 'here', 'yeare' and final ' — icke' spellings. It is easy, of course, to be wise after the event; but what can be established on the basis of this reprint and some Jaggard reprints might be applied to other texts which may be reprints of a lost predecessor. Is, for instance, the spelling of Love's Labour's Lost Q1 fully typical of White? What about The Spanish Tragedy (Greg, No. 110), Edward II (No. 129), David and Bethsabe (No. 160)?

The need to know all we can about compositors' habits is manifestly of considerable importance to an editor. I do not for a moment suppose that increased knowledge will enable us to recover enough of Shakespeare's own spelling to transliterate substantive prints into that; nor, on the other hand, will it ever be possible to translate the vagaries of the early texts into a kind of standardised old spelling The former would be a


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mingle-mangle of spellings neither fully representative of Shakespeare nor of his compositors. The latter would be linguistic lunacy — much as if we were to devise a standard Middle English and re-write texts from different parts of the country and of different periods in terms of that. Only one standardisation is possible — full modernisation — nd for an old spelling text we must accept the spelling of Shakespeare's printers and explain their different conventions in terms of date and compositors in the way that Middle English texts are explained in terms of date, dialect, and scribes. For the rest, the most we can hope to recover from behind the veil of compositors' spellings is a clearer impression of the manuscript, or other copy, with a view to elucidating textual problems. How disruptive any tinkering with the accidentals of a copy-text would be is plain from the spellings of Sir Thomas More D. Even if we made the unlikely and unwarranted assumption that Shakespeare's spelling was much the same from the early 1590s to 1608, we could not introduce 'yf', 'yt', 'coold', 'shoold', 'woold', 'ar', 'wer' into, for instance, Jaggard texts, nor break down Short's consistent 'sheriffe' spelling of 1 Henry IV , II.iv into the variable spellings of the More fragment.

It is the old spelling editor who naturally most needs the kind of guidance which a survey of printing-house spelling will provide. It is obvious that when the Folio error 'Vassailes' (Antony and Cleopatra , I.iv.56) is emended to Pope's 'wassails', all that is wanted is the substitution of an initial W for the Folio's V. It is equally obvious that Hamlet Q2's 'lowlines' (III.i.46), to be corrected to the Folio's 'lonelinesse', requires no more than the substitution of 'ne' for 'w' and that it would be quite wrong to introduce the Folio's long termination into Roberts's text where short spellings in 'nes' are the rule. It may be less obvious that when the Folio's 'counsell' is supplied at III.ii.137 it must be altered to 'counsaile'. As our eyes get more critical of old spelling we shall find increasingly offensive anomalies like Duthie's 'Then prethee' in Lear , IV.i. This spelling (imported without alteration from the quarto) gives one a jolt as it has no business in any of the Tragedies set by Jaggard B. Nor is the Lear quarto's 'dearer' the correct emendation of the Folio 'deere' (III.v.24); since Jaggard B was a 'deere' speller, 'deerer' is wanted.

To an eye trained to register the characteristic spellings of a compositor, errors sometimes acquire an added significance. In Romeo and Juliet Q2 (IV.i.83) the error 'chapels' (for 'chapless') is not a simple case of two letters having been accidentally transposed. The termination ' — lesse' is invariably used throughout this text. What the error signifies, therefore is that the compositor never intended to set up 'chaplesse' but misinterpreted as 'chapels' the spelling of his copy which must have had the short


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spelling 'chaples'. If the copy had had the long spelling the error would not have occurred. The correction of the error in an old spelling edition requires notwithstanding 'chaplesse', since the Old Spelling editor must emend in accordance with the compositor's normal practice. Similarly, Compositor A's error of 'Naples' (for 'napless') in Coriolanus , II.i.224, would probably not have occurred if the manuscript had had the long spelling. The error is best explained as due to the misinterpretation of a manuscript short spelling, which (if Jaggard A had understood it) would have appeared in the Folio as 'naplesse'. Again, if we accept the Folio correction of Q1's 'that accord' to 'it action' in Titus Andronicus V.ii.18, we must postulate that the quarto compositor misinterpreted 'yt' (for 'it') as the contraction. All the same, the text requires the 'it' spelling (not the postulated 'yt' of the copy) since 'yt' in Danter's quarto would be anomalous. Similarly, a number of Jaggard B's errors in Antony and Cleopatra , due to the misreading of final 'd' as 'e' (owing presumably to the absence of an apostrophe in his copy) require the apostrophe when the correction is made: 'dumbe' at I.v.50, for instance, should be corrected to 'dumb'd', since it was B's custom to use the apostrophe.[6]

It is perhaps failure to recognise that an Old Spelling edition of Shakespeare requires primarily an understanding of the habits of compositors that encourages the idea that there is something peculiarly difficult about it. The only difficulty is that it is an expensive pastime — and I use the words 'expensive' and 'pastime' advisedly, because it demands freedom from all other responsibilities and consequently considerable independent means. So far as substantive readings go, the old spelling editor's task is no different from that of the editor of a modernised edition; and so far as old spelling is concerned, the problem is no different from that of editing any of Shakespeare's contemporaries whose works survive only (or mainly) in print. Consequently, attempts to penetrate to Shakespeare's own spelling (though important for the detection of errors in transmission) are irrelevant to the emendation in old spelling of an Old Spelling text; nor can they wisely be made until compositors' normalisations have been stripped from substantive quarto and Folio texts set from autograph. A. C. Partridge's recent inferences from Venus and Adonis and Lucrece exemplify, for instance, the wrong way of tackling the problem.[7] What


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we need to know is what the normal habits were of the compositor who set these prints and until these are known we cannot guess in what particulars he followed copy.

As some of the above errors (like 'chapels' in Romeo and Juliet ) show, a consideration of a compositor's normal habits in relation to his errors will sometimes throw light on the features of his copy; but the most satisfactory evidence for the extent to which he followed copy will be found in prints set in conjunction with another workman or in reprints. Either will serve as a control, though the former is the better evidence for accidentals and the latter for substantive readings. In Hamlet Q2, for instance nearly all of the erroneous apostrophes occur in the work of one compositor and we cannot therefore suppose that these apostrophes were a feature of Roberts's manuscript. The same holds for the frequency with which erroneous apostrophes occur in the work of Jaggard B. There are no signs that he knew (or even tried to fathom) the difference between 'wert' and 'wer't', 'wast' and 'was't'. All the erroneous apostrophes in 3 Henry VI and Richard III , for instance, are in his stints and consequently the large number of erroneous apostrophes in Antony and Cleopatra which he set single-handed, were likely enough not in the copy at all any more than the apostrophe in 'dumb'd' (already mentioned). On the other hand, we must postulate, on the same evidence, that when anomalous apostrophes appear in the work of Jaggard A he followed copy. We may not always find the differences between a pair of compositors so marked as in the case of Jaggard A and B, but the differences may prove greater, when analyses have been made, than is immediately apparent.

I have so far concentrated on spelling as a main clue to compositor determination. It is not, of course, necessarily the quickest and certainly not the only way in which we can determine where the stint of one workman ended and that of another began. Typographical evidence and presswork may sometimes provide a speedier or alternative means of determining whether more than one compositor was engaged on a print and may also assist in diagnosing the maladies of a text. But, whatever the means which best serve for differentiation, an analysis of spelling habits is none the less necessary if full use is to be made of the evidence which compositors provide for refining on what are, at present, often no more than generalisations about the transmission of Shakespeare's plays and for establishing the basis on which Old Spelling texts should be emended in the appropriate spelling. Anomalies representing manuscript spellings (or the spellings of other prints) will look as alien as words introduced into one Middle English text from another in a different dialect. And although I have kept the focus on spelling, all accidentals (especially grammar and


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punctuation) require analysis of the same kind. Very especially, work on a single text or a few texts is quite useless. A compositor's hand needs to be established in a sequence of printed texts before inferences can be drawn concerning his habits. Anyone who generalises about Jaggard A's habits from Troilus and Cressida will, for instance, get a sadly distorted impression of his normal spelling habits in the Histories and Tragedies.

Few editors of Shakespeare are likely to be confronted with the specialised problems of old spelling, though it should be everyone's concern that the project of an old spelling edition is realised as quickly as possible. A definitive text is an idle fancy, except in so far as the facts about quarto and First Folio readings are concerned. In this respect, what McKerrow projected can be more definitive than he foresaw, since mechanical collation has since made possible what then seemed beyond attainment. But so far as certainty in emendation enters into the matter, we are almost as much in the dark as ever we were about substantive readings; and although more knowledge about compositors should make it clearer what kind of errors (and how many) they may have made, it will never locate the errors or emend them. What I judge from my own experience is most perplexing for the editor of Shakespeare is not general issues, like the choice of a copy-text or the authoritative text. Though problems remain (as in the case of Lear ), an editor has in most cases (as editors have always had) Hobson's choice. The teasing problems (and they occur by the hundred) are individual readings — whether emendation is necessary and, if so, how to emend. Was, for instance, Portia hedged by her father's 'wit' (as the quarto has it) or by his 'will' ? Were the sweet bells of Hamlet's reason out of 'time' or out of 'tune' ? Is Antigonus's threat to 'landdamne' the slanderer of Hermione right; if so, what does it mean and, if not, what should be substituted? These are still an editor's problems (as they always have been) and, whatever an editor's personal decision may be, there can mostly be nothing definitive about it; the verdict rests with the future. If the history of the editing of Shakespeare has anything to teach, it is that no editor (so far, of course, as we know) has always been right and that confidence that the text of Shakespeare (or even the text of a single play) has been 'settled' has quickly brought down Nemesis. It is, therefore, much to be hoped that no one will be encouraged to think that a definitive text is within the compass of a single edition.

What is wanted from an old spelling edition is leadership — the application of the lessons that have been learnt in the present century, combined with recognition of what remains to be done and how to do it. Repeatedly making a fresh start is wastage of ground gained. Naturally, an old spelling edition twenty years hence should achieve more than McKerrow's


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could, but this is no argument for delay. On these grounds, it would be better to wait two hundred years for greater certainty. An Everyman Shakespeare would meet the needs. There is no need to be pompous about old spelling (which in many ways presents fewer difficulties than a modernised text) and, as we have old spelling in popular editions of Chaucer and Milton, there is nothing peculiar about an Old Spelling Shakespeare. What is wanted is merely an up-to-date text with the kind of definitive Folio line numbering McKerrow used. It is little use our longing for a more sensibly planned and up-to-date Concordance and a more critical Shakespeare Grammar so long as reference is tied to the line numbering of an antiquated edition. Every editor must have felt at times that undesirable and old-fashioned conventions in act, scene and line division (hampering as they are) must be preserved, in order to keep in line with out-of-date works of reference.

I have so far dwelt at some length on two points. I have first emphasised the need for as broadly based an analysis of compositor's spellings as possible, in case it is not generally realised how little is known about printing-house spelling in Shakespeare's day (since its history has still to be written) and in the fear that, unless the problem is tackled comprehensively from the outset, much of the reading will need to be done again if the fullest possible use is to be made of the evidence — by bibliographers (in assigning and dating prints) and by editors (necessarily concerned in determining the characteristics of the copy which reached the printer). I have dwelt secondly on the importance of printing-house spelling for the Old Spelling editor, as this is the spelling in which emendations must be made and because there seems a persistent tendency to suppose that Shakespeare's own spelling and an Old Spelling Shakespeare are somehow more crucial problems than, say, Dekker's own spelling and an Old Spelling Dekker. There is no need for me to stress my third point — the need for compositor-determination as one means of assessing the number and kind of substantive errors a compositor may have made. This is all the more important in view of the mounting evidence that the reading of proof with copy was the exception and not the rule, at any rate with Shakespeare's plays. Where we have collateral texts, the traditional method has been to use the evidence of the one as a means of estimating the damage sustained by the other in the course of transmission. I believe the method to be sound, though one would naturally wish for as much objective evidence as possible to show at what stage in transmission and by whom the damage was done. Unfortunately, the text of most of Shakespeare's plays rests on a single authority. The only means of assessing their trustworthiness in the past has been an editor's literary taste and, however valuable


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this may be, everyone would prefer to have all possible objective evidence for the likely extent of corruption, its character and source. If the object of the twentieth-century emphasis on transmission is (as I take it to be) prompted by the determination to find out the facts, then compositor determination at once broadens the basis on which the enquiry can be made. We have, for instance, only one substantive text of Shakespeare's plays printed by Eld; but Eld was an active printer of plays, and by reference to other plays set by the two compositors concerned in the Troilus and Cressida quarto we should be able to eliminate much hazardous speculation about Eld's manuscript. In the case of Shakespeare's plays the maximum demand will always be for modernised texts and the reliability of substantive readings is, therefore, every editor's concern.

What I have said about compositors must obviously affect, both now and in the future, the editing of nearly all Elizabethan and Jacobean writers. No one concerned with printed books of the period can remain entirely aloof, though editors concerned with dramatic texts, by reason of the varied channels through which copy reached the printer, have perhaps most to gain by taking a cross-section of Elizabethan and Jacobean works on the compositor basis.

The task is one, in the initial stages at least, for the analytical bibliographer, who is fortunate in being able to apply bibliographical techniques which are complementary to compositor-identification on the basis of spelling.[8] We need, in fact, in conjunction with a conspectus of printing-house


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spelling, a press-work analysis of Shakespearian substantive texts. The only way of tackling the problem of spelling is, of course, chronologically and by printers, on the compositor basis, and the task may not prove as arduous as might be supposed if compositors hung together over long periods, like Danter's two compositors or Roberts's. Prints of plays are obviously a good starting point by reason of the fact that many were printed from unsophisticated copy and that spelling runs truer to type in verse than in prose. Given the material on which to work, two or three could cover the dramatic field in a year. What takes longer than compositor-determination on the basis of spelling is the assessment of the quality of the work, especially in cases where texts have never been edited or have been edited uncritically. Here, at any rate, the editor of Shakespeare has no lack of material on which to draw.



Read, in absentia, before the English Institute on 14 September, 1954.


H. T. Price, for instance, in English Institute Essays 1947 (1948), 143-58.


I have remarked on this in a recent review of the New Arden Titus Andronicus . It is the general policy of the new series 'to preserve all older forms that are more than variant spellings' — policy which has not I suspect, been seen in relation to its logical linguistic conclusions. When Muir, for instance, in the New Arden Lear , followed the Folio's 'murther', what was he reproducing — the compositor's spelling or a scribal alteration of the Q1 spelling on the authority of the Lear prompt-book? If it was the prompt-book spelling, was it Shakespeare's? Further, if consonant variants, like 'murther' and 'vild', are preserved, why not the vowel variants in 'show' and 'shew 'blood' and 'bloud'? Why not the commoner 'alablaster' or 'abhominable' and (contrariwise), in early texts, 'clime' for 'climb' or 'limmes' for 'limbs'? Muir went so far as to reproduce Compositor B's arbitrary distinctions between — 'd and — ed of weak preterites and past participles in prose. But what will happen in the New Arden As You Like It where there are two compositors favouring different conventions? Modern English is one thing; the habits of the compositors of Shakespearian texts are quite another, and the arbitrary preservation of a selection of the latter has no linguistic principles behind it.


I do not, of course, rule out the possibility that we have in the Tragedies reprints (as here and there in the Comedies reprints) a third hand. What I suspect is that, if we have a third hand in these Folio reprints, we cannot isolate his normal habits from the influence of printed copy any more than we could isolate the normal habits of Roberts's compositors from Titus Q2. What is wanted, in order to determine how many compositors Jaggard employed, is a survey of all Jaggard prints between (say) 1619 and 1624 with special emphasis on works set up from manuscript.


That is, I believe the disturbing factor to have been printed copy. So far as my observations go, spelling tended to become progressively more mixed the oftener a text was reprinted. I am sceptical of attempts to explain mixed characteristics as due to transcription of the quartos. Jaggard's manuscript copy must have been very diverse. How came it then that transcripts of quartos were singled out for different treatment from other manuscripts ? And if a third hand was responsible for the mixed spelling of these texts, how chanced it he was not employed in the Histories and Tragedies which were certainly set from manuscript? None of these are in mixed spelling.


Roberts Y's work in Titus Q2 provides a parallel. In view of the fact that a compositor's spelling habits were not static and that some spellings must always have been more a matter of habit than others, we cannot assume that systematic changes were made with equal facility. Under stress, only spellings which were second nature may have been used at all systematically.


There are oversights, of course, in B's use of the apostrophe, which an editor should not normalise. A compositor's substantive errors, that is, should be corrected in the light of his normal habits, but this is no reason for all-out standardisation of what was variable in accidentals.


In Shakespeare Survey, VII (1954), 35 et seq. Inferences are drawn from the two Field prints and a selection of early quartos of the plays, without any investigation of the normal habits of the compositors who set them.


The one will often assist, or refine upon, the other. After a spelling analysis has been made, it may sometimes prove far from clear which variations are significant. Fredson Bowers's account of the Hamlet Q2 's running-title evidence, for instance, at once revealed to me which variants in spelling were important and which were of no account. On the other hand, as has been shown elsewhere in this volume with reference to L4v of Roberts's quarto, spelling tests may be necessary to refine on typographical evidence. In my experience, difficulties with compositors mostly occur when too limited a range of spelling tests is used or when 'block' spellings obscure some difference in the spelling of a particular word within the group. These last should be used with the greatest caution. Recognition of what is significant depends, I think, mainly on observation, and the following spellings, additional to those earlier listed on p. 9 of Textual Problems of the First Folio , materially assist in distinguishing the hand of Jaggard A from that of Jaggard B in the Histories and Tragedies. They should be amalgamated with those presented by Cauthen in an earlier volume of Studies in Bibliography . The combined lists will be far from complete, as I have no doubt that those who have repeatedly read these plays will be able to add others.

---  --- 
madame  madam 
wee'le (etc.)  wee'l (etc.) 
prowd  proud 
ta'ne  tane 
ougly  vgly 
widowe  widdow 
honie  hony 
Heauen  heauen 
I include the last with the reservation mentioned earlier in this article. Though it is sometimes difficult to discriminate between the one hand and the other in prose if there is much justification of lines by spelling, there is usually something within the orbit of a particular text to assist: in Coriolanus for instance, there is A's 'Scicinius' (except at the foot of 8b a column set by B) or 'toth' (as one word). The important thing to remember, in connection with A's habits, is that he was systematic This comes out in his analytical use of italics (very noticeable in Richard II and 1 Henry IV ) in contrast with B's more erratic ways. He could normally maintain a system and I have no doubt that if A had decided to turn every tenth 'e' he could have held his head to the business.


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