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Common errors. Dr. Walker reminds us that Professor Dover Wilson lists eleven identical errors in Q2 and F.[7] She rejects one of these, but adds four others. Her suggestion of course is that F took these errors from Q2. The alternative is to suppose that the two texts derived them independently (Q2 directly and F via one or more transcripts) from Shakespeare's own manuscript: either they stood as errors in the autograph or the autograph was twice independently misread. I give the list of fourteen with the Globe line-numbering:

I.  i.94  Q2 desseigne, F designe (for designd)  
I.  iii.74   of a most select  
I.  v.43   wits  
II.  ii.612   Q2 of a deere, F of the Deere (omitting father)  
III.   ii.295   Q2 paiock, F Paiocke  
III.  iii.18   somnet  
III.  iv.121  haire  
IV.  v.119  Q2 browe, F brow  
V.  i.71   Q2 ô the time, F O the time  
V.  ii.29   Q2 villaines, F Villaines (for villanies)  
I.  ii.209   Whereas (= Where as)  
II.  ii.510   A rowsed (= Aroused)  
III.  iii.66   cannot (= can not)  
IV.   vii.126   Q2 indeede, F indeed (= in deed)  
Little need be said of Dr. Walker's four additions. Even if 'cannot' is an error, which is not certain, she herself admits it likely enough that in these wrong word-divisions two compositors could have made the same mistake. Equally of course such readings could have been in Shakespeare's autograph. Of Professor Dover Wilson's original list, the most striking is the reading of I.iii.74, which is certainly obscure, though the trouble may lie, as Professor Dover Wilson admits,[8] not in 'of a most select' but in 'chiefe' (F cheff) later in the line. Q1 agrees in both readings. This may therefore be a case where a good text has been contaminated by a bad; but it is also possible that the three texts agree because their readings are the right ones, though we do not understand what Shakespeare meant. Malone and the N.E.D., by variously glossing 'chiefe', have tried to explain the line as it is. In V.i.71, 'ô', to represent the grave-digger's breath-pause,[9] is anomalous only in comparison with 'a' three times in this line and the next, and could easily go back to Shakespeare. So of course could 'wits', 'haire'


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and 'browe'. The plural form of the first, echoed by the singular 'wit' in the next line, seems to have been influenced by the 'gifts' with which it is associated, but is as likely to have been due to the author as to a compositor. 'Haire', subject of two plural verbs, and 'browe', governed by 'betweene', are both unsatisfactory in the singular; but the objection is in each case to grammar only, not to sense, and I see nothing beyond what Shakespeare could in haste have written.[10] One must not give too much weight to such anomalies. "The Q2 passage may well be an unresolved tangle", explains Dr. Walker herself on one occasion,[11] and we have to allow for the presence in Shakespeare's foul papers of a number of these, which may have been transmitted independently to F. F's 'designe', 'Paiocke', 'somnet' and 'Villaines', all indubitably wrong, are more difficult to explain. But e for d, i for c, mn for mm, in for ni are very easy misreadings, and if Shakespeare's handwriting led the Q2 compositors to make them, as it apparently did, it may easily have given rise to the same errors in the scribe who copied Shakespeare's foul papers for the playhouse-as Professor Dover Wilson indeed suggests.[12] One might, it is true, have expected 'designe' and 'somnet' to be corrected before they reached F, but it should be noted that 'Villaines' is satisfactory to sense and condemned by metre only. As the most significant identical error we are left with the omission of the word 'father', which Q1 supplies, at II.ii.612. The capital for 'Deere' in F shows that this word was mistaken for a noun and that 'father' was therefore absent from the F copy; but the erroneous substitution of the definite for the indefinite article in F might be against its dependence on Q2 even here.

Altogether the identical errors on which one might argue F's dependence on Q2 make a very small bag for a text of the length and difficulty of Hamlet. Nor can it be much enlarged from the possibles that Dr. Walker from time to time suggests: I.ii.198, wast, where Q1 reads 'vast'; I.iii.130, bonds ( ? bawds); II.ii.397 hand saw (F Handsaw); III.ii.262, mistake, where Q1 has 'must take'; III.ii.269, ban, where Q1 has 'bane'. Of these 'mistake' has been well defended[13] and all are certainly defensible. F's running 'Handsaw' into one word does not suggest copying from Q2

Anomalous spellings. Among the spellings in which F agrees with Q2, Dr. Walker finds a score or so which are anomalous either in relation to contemporary custom or to the Folio practice elsewhere. Some of these do not seem to me to be anomalous at all, viz: I.i.55, Q2 ont, F on't; I.ii.204, Q2 distil'd, F bestil'd; II.i.99, Q2 adoores, F adores;


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III.ii.117, Q2 O ho, F Oh ho; III.ii.144, Q2 for ô, for ô, F For o, For o. F's 'adores' is due to a misreading, but a compositor could have committed this quite as easily in working from a manuscript as from Q2.

I see nothing odd that cannot have descended from Shakespeare's original manuscript in F's 'Illo, ho, ho . . . Hillo, ho, ho' (I.v.115-6) or 'ennactors' (Q2 ennactures, III.ii.207). Slightly, but not very much, more significant, may be I.i.40, of (for 'off', which some copies of F have); I.i.73, brazon; IV.v.206, Q2 colaturall, F Colaterall; V.i.310, Q2 cuplets, F Cuplet. Whatever significance attaches to 'smot' (I.i.63) and 'sent' (= scent, I.v.58) comes from their occurring also in Q1, from which it is suggested that Q2 may have taken them. But both are common spellings in the period, and 'sent', which is the F spelling of the corresponding noun in The Shrew and Twelfth Night, may be regarded as normal. For 'smot', however, it is to be observed that it occurs in the same line as 'pollax' (see below).

Interesting certainly are II.i.3, Q2 meruiles, F maruels (for 'marvellous'); and IV.v.100, Q2 impitious, F impittious. But if the odd Q2 spelling is Shakespeare's own, this could equally well have been retained by a playhouse transcriber of his autograph and so transmitted to give the F readings without any contamination from Q2. (Cf. 'adores' above.) Dr. Walker notes, however, that among 20 other instances of marvellous in A, 'maruel's' occurs but once and that when the F spelling derives from Q. The F spelling 'impetuositie' in Twelfth Night is less pertinent.

The striking common spellings seem to me to be the following:

  • I.iii.73 ranck, with a c unique in F in the spelling of the noun and rare even in adjectival use, though its occurrence is to be noted in The Merchant of Venice and Henry VIII;
  • II.ii.531 ore-teamed, which contrasts with 10 instances of 'teem(ing)' in F;
  • II.ii.566 dosen, instead of 'dozen', which is found in all 33 other instances of the word in F;
  • II.ii.578 fixion, contrasting with 'fiction' in Twelfth Night and Timon;
  • V.ii.322 how, as a cry, which, though normal enough in Elizabethan spelling, tends in F to be replaced by 'hoa' (see, e.g., Hamlet, III.ii.57; III.iv.22,23; IV.iii.16);
and most remarkable of all,
  • I.i.63 pollax (F Pollax), for 'Polacks'.
This last seems inexplicable as a reading of any manuscript and has to be attributed to a phonetic rendering of something said and heard but not understood. It occasions no surprise in the reported text Q1, from which it is reasonably held to derive in Q2 and to have been transmitted through to F.


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To what is suggestive about these spellings Dr. Walker adds the not negligible weight of two anomalous apostrophes common to Q2 and F: I.v.162, can'st; I.v.167, dream't. These in themselves are not remarkable, but since they occur also in Q1, that may have been their source, in which case they must have been transmitted to F through Q2. There seems, then, enough evidence from spelling to suggest that some, though not necessarily extensive, use was made of Q2 in preparing or in printing the text of F.

Punctuation. The errors in punctuation common to Q2 and F are, again, not numerous, and the three examples to which Dr. Walker gives prominence could find other explanation. They could derive independently in each text from Shakespeare's practice of underpunctuating, but it would be foolish to deny any significance to them and especially to the second. It is Dr. Walker's view that in all three cases "the F1 compositor either followed or was led astray by, the pointing in Q2."[14]

  • I.ii.17 Q2 'Now followes that you knowe young Fortinbrasse. . .' F's introduction of a comma after 'followes' and no point where one is required,after 'knowe', shows an obvious misunderstanding.
  • II.ii.420 Q2 'nor Plautus too light for the lawe of writ, and the liberty: these are the only men.' It must have been some such unintelligible punctuation as this that led the F compositor to print 'nor Plautus too light, for the law of Writ, and the Liberty. These are the onely men.'
  • III.i.6off. Q2's omission of pointing after 'sleepe' in line 60 and 'die' in line 64 is repeated in F.

Stage-directions. Dr. Walker also notes one or two correspondences between Q2 and F in stage-directions. There is nothing much perhaps in F's retention, at the opening of I.ii, of Enter Claudius, [F Claudius] King of Denmarke, Gertrad [F Gertrude] the Queene. A little stronger-cumulatively at least-are: I.i.18, Exit Fran.; III.iii.26, Exeunt Gent.; and IV.i.31, Enter Ros. & Guild. The striking direction at I.v.149, Ghost cries under the Stage, probably came from Q1, but the irregular entry for Osric at V.ii.360 may have originated in the autograph. The F speech-heading Qu. at III.ii.238 when the Player Queen's other speeches are in F headed Bap(t). is clearly due to an oversight in the copy; but it permits no deduction about what the copy was.

Even after Dr. Walker's very thorough scrutiny of the texts, it is possible that a few further significant resemblances may be detected. It is very unlikely that she has overlooked either the orthographic interest of 'soop- stake' (F Soop-stake) at IV.v.142 and 'vnsinnow'd' (F vnsinnowed) at IV.vii.10 or the probability that in both cases the Shakespearian spelling


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has simply been retained.[15] She hints herself at further instances in F of punctuation derived from Q2, and one may note such minutiae as the comma after 'vs' at I.i.25, the absence of a comma after 'them' at I.ii.258, and the period after 'loue' at I.v.23. None of these is surprising, but none is quite satisfactory, and they may all have been taken by Q2 from Q1. In addition to the stage-directions noticed above there might be significance in some of the following: I.i.1, Enter Barnardo, and Francisco, two Centinels (F omits the commas); II.ii.169, Exit King and Queene (F & Queen); IV.v.96, A noise [F Noise] within (set up in each case to the right of the text); V.i.1, Enter two Clownes (plus the regular use of the speech-heading Other for the second).

Altogether it does not seem possible to deny that F may depend in some measure upon Q2 and that an occasional reading may therefore occur in F simply because it was already present in Q2. What a survey of the resemblances between Q2 and F does not justify is a whole-hogging theory that Q2, however much corrected, rather than a manuscript served as the principal copy for F.