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Wynkyn De Worde's Setting-Copy for Ipomydon by Carol M. Meale
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Page 156

Wynkyn De Worde's Setting-Copy for Ipomydon by Carol M. Meale

It is still rare for the setting-copy used by an early printer to be positively identified.[1] Consequently, any evidence which can be gathered from the


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study of such texts is of considerable value, since visible signs left on the text and the textual changes accompanying the transition into print provide an insight into the practices of compositors and print-shop editors during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. This is the principal area of interest in the present article, where the research described explores a connection between the printed fragments of the 'B' version of the romance of Ipomydon printed by Wynkyn de Worde and the unique manuscript copy of the poem in B.L. MS Harley 2252.

Harley 2252 (hereafter referred to as H) is a commonplace book compiled in the early years of the sixteenth century by a London citizen and mercer, John Colyns. Two romances, Ipomydon 'B' and the stanzaic Morte Arthur, are, apart from personal memoranda made by a later owner of the MS, the only items not to have been written out by Colyns himself, or under his direction.[2] They were copied during the fifteenth century, possibly between 1460 and 1480.[3] Comprising seventy-nine folios out of a total of one hundred and sixty-six, they clearly dominate his 'boke'. It is a reasonable assumption that he obtained them together, and that they originated in the same scriptorium, since the scribe who copied all but one side of a folio of Ipomydon also wrote out the first sixteen folios of the Morte.[4] In addition, the first folio of Ipomydon and the last folio of the Morte are extremely dirty, indicating that the two romances jointly were left in an unbound condition for a not inconsiderable length of time. Fragments of two printed editions of Ipomydon survive; one leaf is to be found in the collection of Bagford Ballads (C.40.m.9) in the British Library, of which it forms item 18, and there is a substantial fragment of thirty-eight leaves in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, now catalogued as P.M. MS 20896. (S.T.C. 5732.5). These two printed editions


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will from hereon be referred to as BL and PM respectively. BL has had the excess paper around the text itself cut away, leaving a page measurement of approximately 141 mm. x 84 mm., and it has been inserted, through careful cutting and glueing, into the lower half of a larger sheet.[5] No watermark is visible, as is to be expected in a fragment of quarto. Underneath, in an eighteenth-century hand is inscribed "From the romance of 'Ipomydon' pr. by W. de Worde". The fragment is equivalent to ll. 261-320 in H, but there is a disruption in sense between the bottom of the recto of BL and the top of the verso, and a check against H suggests that four lines (289-292 in H) are missing. That the top of BL has been lost is confirmed by the presence of descenders which are just visible above the present first line of the recto. PM is complete but for the first signature, and corresponds to lines 193-2346 in H.

Although the dates suggested for the printing of BL and PM have varied in the past, in the revised S.T.C. BL is now assigned to c.1522, and PM to c.1530-31. That the two fragments are from different editions is certain. Although the types used appear to be the same, a change of compositor is suggested by variations both in word division and in spelling. For example, the reading of before in BL (l. 263, see below) is changed to vnto in PM, while the latter reverts to the MS reading of saluted in l. 303, as opposed to salewed in BL. Terminal 'e' is omitted from several words in PM, which might possibly reflect the later date of this edition. PM, as a later edition, may well have been set up from BL; de Worde's use of a previous printed edition as copy has been established in one case at least,[6] and an important point to bear in mind where Ipomydon is concerned is that the original manuscript may not have been available at a later date, a point which will be explored further. In the present discussion, therefore, attention will be focused on BL, not only because of its primacy, but also because of its shortness which, in the context of this article, enables a fairly exhaustive survey of the evidence and its implications to be carried out. Where relevant, support will be drawn from the longer, New York version.

The possibility of there being a close affiliation between BL and H was initially suggested by a note in J. Burke Severs' Manual of Writings in Middle English to the effect that BL corresponds "roughly" to ff. 57b-58a in H.[7]


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This claim proves to be an underestimation, for there are strong indications in H that it constituted the copy for de Worde's BL edition. The similarity between the two versions is striking, as can be seen below. The uncertainty of readings on the verso of BL is accounted for by bad staining; the line references are to Kölbing's edition of the poem.[8]                                                                                              
Harley 2252 f.57v   BL (Bagford Ballads)  
the lady comaunded sone Anone  The lady commaunded anone soone 
þat the gates were vndone  That the gates were vndone 
And bryng theym all by fore me  And brynge them all before me 
ffor wele at ese shall they bee  For well at ease shall they be 
They toke hyr pages hors & alle  They toke theyr pages horse and all 
þese two men went into þe halle  These two men went into the hall 
Ipomydon on knees hym sette  Ipomydon on knees hym set 
And the lady feyre he grette  And the lady fayre he gret 
I am A man of strange contre  I am a man of straunge countre 
And pray you yff youre wille to be  And praye you yf it your wyll be 
That I myght dwelle with you to yere  That I myght dwell with you this yere 
Of your norture for to lere  Of your nurture for to lere 
I am come from ferre lond  I am come out of ferre lande 
ffor speche I here by fore the hand  For I herde tell before hande 
That your norture And your servise  Of your nurture and your seruyse 
Ys holden of so grete empryse  Is holden of so grete empryse 
I pray you þat I may dwelle here  I praye you that I may dwell here 
Some of your servyse for to here  Some of your seruyce for to lere 
The lady by held Ipomydon  The lady behelde Ipomydan 
hym semed wele a gentilman  And semed well a gentyll man 
She knew non suche in hyr londe  She knewe non suche in all her lande 
So godly a man & wele farand  So goodly a man and well farande 
She saw also by his norture  She sawe also by his nurture 
he was A man of grete valure  He was a man of grete valure 
She cast full sone in hyr thought  She cast full soone in her thought 
That for no servyse come he noght  That for no seruyse came he nought 
But it was worship hyr vnto  But it was worship her vnto 
In feyre servyse hym to do  In her seruyse hym to do 
f.58r She sayd syr welcome ye be  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
And all þat comyn be with the  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
Sithe ye haue had so grete travayle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
of A service ye shall not fayle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
In thys contre ye may dwelle here  In this countre y(e) ma(y) dwell (here?) 
And at youre wyll for to here  And at y(our) wyll for to lere 
Of þe cuppe ye shall serve me  Of the cup ye shall serue me 
And all your men with you shall be  And all your men with yo(u) shall be 
ye may dwelle here at youre wille  Ye may dwell here at your wyll 
But your beryng be full ylle  But your berynge be full yll 
Madame he sayd grant mercy  Madame he sayd graunt mercy 
he thankid the lady cortesly  He thanked the lady courteysly 
She commaundyth hym to þe mete  She commaunded hym to mete 
But or he satte in Any sete  But or he sate in ony sete 
he saluted theym grete & smalle  He salewed them bothe grete and small 
As a gentillman shuld in halle  As a gentylman sholde in hall 
All they sayd sone anone  All they sayd soone anone 
they saw nevyr so goodly A man  They sawe neuer so goodly a persone 


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ne so light ne so glad  Ne so lyght ne so glad 
ne none þat so ryche atyre had  Ne none that so ryche araye had 
There was non þat sat nor yede  There was none that sate nor yede 
But they had mervelle of hys dede  But they had meruyale of his dede 
And sayd he was lytell syre  And sayd he was no lytell syre 
That myght shew suche atyre  That myght shewe suche atyre 
Whan they had ete And grace sayd  Whan they had eten and grace sayd 
And þe tabyll away was leyd  And the table awaye was layd 
vpp þan Aroos Ipomydon  Up than arose Ipomydone 
And to þe botery he went Anon  And to the buttry he went anone 
And his mantille hym aboute  And his mantell hym aboute 
On hym lokyd all the route  On hym loked all the route 
And euery man sayd to other there  And euery man sayd to other there 
will ye se the proude squer  Wyll ye se the proude squyere 
Taking into account the vagaries of scribal, and other, methods of transmission, it is unusual to find even two manuscript copies of a romance so closely related, and the similarity between the two versions here makes the dependence of BL on H seem highly likely. Leaving aside, temporarily, the precise nature of the changes between BL and H, confirmation of a connection can be gained from the manuscript itself. Making allowance for the missing lines at the top of BL, and working from the assumption that there were thirty-two lines to a page (which can be confirmed from PM), a check on f. 58r of the manuscript reveals that opposite what was undoubtedly the last line of the recto of BL is a scratched loop, faintly coloured, possibly by pencil, or perhaps by an accumulation of dirt.[9] On f. 57v, thirty-two lines back, there appears a further coloured scratch mark, plus a sign which could possibly be a numeral. Then, working forwards in the manuscript from what would have constituted the first line of the verso of BL on f. 58r, after thirty-two lines there appears to be no mark of any description; however after another sixty-four lines, on f. 59r, there is a definite loop, followed by a further faint


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stroke opposite the next thirty-second line. In other words, H contains a sequence of line-markings which, although disrupted, are appropriate to the setting-up of a printed text, and these line-divisions were indeed used in PM. Only one seeming mistake was made in this sequence in H, as noted in the analysis, below. The text of Ipomydon begins on f. 54r of H and a scratched horizontal line can be found opposite line 32 of the poem; marks continue at thirty-two line intervals down to a first break, as observed, on f. 58r. These marks are confined principally to a horizontal line scratched onto the paper with a drypoint or stylus. Occasionally ink is used. In addition to these lines other marks can be found, some of which may be numerals. These are much faded and some difficulty is experienced in attempting to interpret them, as will be seen.

An interesting piece of additional evidence which suggests that the manuscript was actually present in the printshop at some time is the occurrence of smudges throughout the text which could well be printer's ink; on f. 54v there is a definite ink stroke above a blurred mark, which could have been made at the same time, while on f. 71r there is a mark which looks very like a finger-print; a further possible finger-print, though less clear, is on f. 55v. The series of smudges along the outer margins of many of the recto leaves could be the marks left by someone turning over the pages in the shop. All these impressions are in the same, greyish-black, presumably printer's ink. This slight evidence of wear is a phenomenon often associated with a text having been in a printshop, and the point can be illustrated by reference to some of de Worde's other copy.[10]

The collation of BL can be hypothetically reconstructed on the basis of the signatures in PM; this would suggest that the format for both printed editions could have been the unconventional one, for this period, of quarto in fours. As already noted, PM is complete but for the first signature; a comparison with BL shows that the latter possibly formed Bii recto and verso (minus four lines at the head of each side). Working forwards in H up to the point where signature B begins in PM, it is evident that signature A would have consisted of three leaves or six pages; a more likely explanation is that the gathering is a full one of two double leaves and that the first leaf formed a title page, thus giving a final collation to the book of A-H4 I6; the total number of pages would then have been seventy-six. The numbers of the first three leaves of signatures A-H in PM were printed simultaneously with the text; Iii and Iiv have been added in a modern hand, as have I5 and I6, and this latter numeration confirms that the last gathering is in fact a ternion rather than two double leaves and one single. A mistake was made in the


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original type-setting whereby Hiii and Hiv were printed instead of Biii and Biv, but the book has been put together correctly. The note on the inside cover of the volume as it is now bound, where Ipomydon follows "the mylner of Abyngton", is thus incorrect in stating that leaves 3 and 4 of sheet I are misplaced.[11]

The following analysis takes into account all those marks observed in H which seem to bear some relation to the preparation of the text for its transference to the printing-press. They can, as already noted, be divided into two categories. Firstly, horizontal lines or loops found in the margins at intervals coincident with the page-division adopted in the printed editions, and secondly, marks appearing either in conjunction with these, or by themselves, at similar points of division. These latter marks can be seen as either alphabetical letters or numerals. Out of the total of seventy-four pages which can be assumed to have constituted the whole of BL, only twenty are not determined in one or other of these ways in H. The likely interpretation of all these marks is that they were made by a compositor as he cast off his copy prior to setting it in print.[12] Although it is by no means a proven rule, it is thought that it was customary at this stage to set up an edition by formes rather than seriatim.[13] This system had the advantage that less type would be required at any one time, but necessitated the casting off of each page of copy in order that the signatures could be correctly composed. In the following tabulation, the conjectural working page number used in the printshop (see note 20) is listed; this is followed in brackets by the line reference to Kölbing's edition of the text and the relevant MS folio number.

In all, forty-one pages as they would have appeared in the printed edition are cast off with either the line or loop; these are:

A3 to A8 (32,64,96,128,160,192;54r-56r); B2 (256;57v); B7 (416;59v); C1 (484;60v); C6 (640;62v); C8 to D6 (704,736,768,800,832,864,896; 63v-66r); E1 to E3 (992,1024,1056;67v-68r); E5 (1120;69r); E7 to F2 (1184,1216,1248, 1280;69v-71r); F4 (1344-71v); F6 to G2 (1408,1440,1472,1504,1536;72r-74r); G4 (1600;75r); G8 (1728;76v); H2 to H3 (1792,1824;77r-77v); H6 to I1 (1920,1952,1984,2016;78v-80r); I4 to I5 (2112,2144;81r-81v).


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The following fourteen of these pages are accompanied by additional marks or scratches, varying from simple diagonal or vertical strokes to complex, though indistinct, groups of marks:
A6, A7, A8, B2, B7, C8, D2, D3, D6, E1, E3, E5, F6, I5.
These more complex marks are found by themselves in a further thirteen instances:
B1 (224;57r); B3 (288;57v); B5 (352;58v); B6 (384;59r); B8 (448;60r); C2 (512;61r); C5 (608;62r); C7 (672;63r); D8 (960;67r); G5 (1632;75r); G7 (1696;76r); I7 (2208;82v); I8 (2240;82v).
It will be seen that marks occur less frequently in the second half of the MS; this might perhaps indicate that the compositor gained in confidence as he worked near the end of the text and was able to judge where page divisions should come without having to mark them. The single column lay-out, following that of the MS, would have been helpful in this respect. Alternatively, the lower frequency of notation might be explained, when taken in conjunction with some of the other evidence presented by H, by more than one compositor having been involved in the work.

Apart from the gaps in the sequence of strokes and the overall scarcity of additional signs in the latter part of the MS, there seems, around f. 69, to be a distinct change in the way in which page division is marked. Up until this point the divisions are usually scratched in; they extend from the margin into the column of text under the first word of the line; they are always made boldly and are occasionally in a form which can best be described as that of an extended caret sign lying horizontally, its lower limb longer than its upper, with its apex pointing away from the text. After f. 69 the line markings tend to be restricted to a faint stroke underneath the first letter of the first word of the line (sometimes it also appears under the last letter of the last word, e.g. f. 71r, or solely in this position, as on ff. 73r,74r), and often seems to bear traces of ink. It is significant that the change seems to occur at this point in the manuscript, for f. 69 is the last leaf of a quire, the romance being composed of two equal gatherings, ff. 54-69 and ff. 70-85.[14] On the basis of this natural division in H it is possible to make a more precise statement about the frequency with which marks occur. Out of the thirty-seven pages in each half, thirty-one pages in the first and twenty-three in the second appear to have been cast-off. The cumulative nature of the evidence might therefore suggest that two compositors had worked on the text and, whilst it is not possible to prove conclusively that this was the case,[15] it remains an interesting possibility.


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In the matter of casting-off and setting-up the type, the compositor(s) who worked on H had a relatively simple task to accomplish when compared with those who worked on other MSS now established as printer's copy. This is partly due to the fact that Ipomydon is in verse rather than prose and consequently the problem of estimating the number of words which would fit onto any given page does not arise.[16] The absence of chapters or headings within the poem eliminates any requirement for justification on aesthetic grounds. Further, the poem is in couplet form rather than stanzas, so again the compositors did not encounter the problems of lay-out with which Richard Pynson's workmen had to deal in the edition of The Fall of Princes. In this work an attempt to simulate the lay-out of the manuscript page was abandoned when it was found that this entailed the division of a stanza at the end of a page.[17] By comparison, therefore, the apportioning of lines of text to each page was a fairly straightforward operation in H, and only one mistake was made in the casting-off. This occurred at the end of f. 60v (C1), where thirty-six lines were counted instead of thirty-two. This was immediately rectified, however, with the next page-division coming after twenty-eight lines (f. 61v, C2).

The function of the groups of marks which appear in addition to the line or loop is more difficult to assess. From the evidence furnished from other contemporary copy, it seems that it was a fairly common practice to divide a text into signatures and mark these either with sequential alphabetical notation[18] or with a recurring 'signum',[19] within the divisions of which the page rather than the leaf number was noted, i.e., A3 instead of Aiir, etc.[20] Whilst such detail is not always found, some MSS being marked only with dashes or crosses,[21] the remnants of more elaborate signs in the margins of H would lead us to expect some correlation of these with the signatures as they finally appeared in the printed editions. Within the marks which do occur,


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there seem to be two groups which are worthy of note. The first of these is found on ff. 55v-56v. The least vague sign in this group is that on f. 56v (at l. 192), which could be the roman numeral 'viij'; the number of strokes is not clear, but there are three dots above the mark. Working backwards from this it may be possible to see the marks on ff. 55v and 56r, corresponding with pages A6 and A7 (ll. 128,160) in the printed edition, as 'vj' and 'vij' respectively. This interpretation works well, so long as it is assumed that the compositor wrote the number of the page he was casting-off at the bottom, rather than the top, of the appropriate section of text. A drawback to this understanding of the facts arises, however, if the page number was meant to refer to the portion of text immediately following it; assuming the text to have begun on Aii recto, the sequence would then be one number out. In other words, the mark after page A7 should be 'viij' and that after A6 'vij' and so on. If the latter suggestion as to working methods in the printshop is the correct one, the apparent discrepancy could be explained by an error on the part of the compositor who was calculating the apportionment of text on the basis of its beginning on Ai verso rather than Aii recto, but this must remain hypothetical.

The other group of some interest is that spread over ff. 63r-67r. Here, on f. 65r (at l. 1800) is found one of the clearest marks in the MS. Throughout this portion of H a curved 't' form is found, which could be interpreted as the letter 'C' (it certainly fits in with contemporary representations of the letter). Whilst the identification of this recurring mark remains conjectural, there is no doubt of the marks which follow it on f. 65r being the roman numeral 'iiij'. However, the apparent recurrence of this assumed letter 'C' into what appears as signature D in the printed edition is an anomaly in such a scheme, although the numerals which come after it, 'iiij' on f. 65r and 'vij' on f. 66r would correctly number the succeeding pages of the signature. There could be another explanation. If the original edition, BL, was to be set up as a quarto in ternions, rather than in fours, signature C would extend from f. 63v to 68v, and the numbers 'iiij' and 'vij' would still be in the appropriate places if this was the method followed.[22] It is possible that either this was the one adopted, and BL was issued in ternions with a collation of A-F12 G4, or that a change of policy was decided upon and BL issued, as PM later, as a quarto in fours. There is now no means of knowing for certain, and it should be stressed that any of these interpretations can only be tentative because of the faintness of the markings.

On the assumption that H was the printer's copy for BL, analysis of the variant readings may help to deduce the printer's and/or compositor's attitude to the poem. Amongst the modifications made by the compositor in


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BL in order to bring the spelling into conformity with his own practices was an element of updating. For instance, 'th' is consistently substituted for the 'þ' of the manuscript, as is single 'f' for double 'f'. The substitution of 'out of' for 'frome' in l. 273 may be due to a change in pronunciation; if the 'e' on 'ferre' was now silent the addition of an extra word would have served to maintain the metre. It is possible that dialectal changes also lay behind the reversal of 'sone' and 'anone' in l. 261, but the whole issue at this late date is a difficult one to resolve. Further attempts to improve the metre can be seen in ll. 301 and 303 with, in the first case one word omitted, and in the second one word added, in order to make their respective couplets flow more smoothly. In l. 279 the compositor has even gone so far as to change the spelling, and hence pronunciation, of the hero's name to achieve a perfect rhyme. These are not the only places where there seems to have been a deliberate attempt to alter manuscript readings in an effort to produce greater consistency and intelligibility in the text; a similar motive may lie behind the changes in the following lines (readings from H taken first):
  • l. 270 And pray you yff youre wille to be / And praye you yf it your wyll be
  • l. 271 That I myght dwelle with you to yere/ That I myght dwell with you this yere
  • l. 274 ffor speche I here by fore the hand/ For I herde tell before hande
  • l. 288 In feyre servyse hym to do/ In her seruyse hym to do
  • l. 294 And at youre wyll for to here/ And at y(our) wyll for to lere
  • l. 311 And sayd he was lytell syre/ And sayd he was no lytell syre
And attempts to create a more uniform metre can again be seen in:
  • l. 281 She knew non suche in hyr londe/ She knewe none suche in all her lande
  • l. 313 Whan they had ete And grace sayd/ Whan they had eten and grace sayd
Lines 274-277 show how the approach could be extended to make better sense of a fairly long passage, simply by changing one phrase, and by adding one word (modern punctuation indicates the modification of meaning):            
H   BL  
I am come from ferre lond,  I am come out of ferre lande 
ffor speche I here by fore the hand  For I herde tell before hand 
That your norture And your servise  Of your nurture; and your seruyse 
Ys holden of so grete empryse  Is holden of so grete empryse 
I pray you þat I may dwelle here . . .  I praye you that I may dwell here . . . 
Although this process of making the poem more intelligible is found throughout, at the same time an apparently contrary attempt is being made to achieve a degree of archaisation. This is seen in the spelling of certain words (the retention of final 'e' on 'anone soone" l. 261 and 'soone anone' l. 305, and in the addition of a final 'e' to many words as in, for instance 'brynge' l. 263, 'wente' l. 266, 'praye' l. 270, 'farande' l. 282, etc.)[23] and in some substitutions: the replacing of 'here' by 'lere' in ll. 278 and 294 might come into this category,


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as would 'araye' for 'atyre' in l. 308. Such a practice would not be inconsistent with the contemporary vogue for reading and publishing romance, since it could be argued that by the beginning of the sixteenth century, such works had become essentially archaic, far removed from the milieu in which they had originally been composed. In support of this idea there is evidence that texts were not only being adapted in this manner, but also that some were even written at this time in a consciously 'archaic' fashion, in which both style and theme echoed older traditions.[24]

Suggestions of careful editing or 'tidying-up' of the text can in fact be found in the manuscript itself, before the transition into print. It might again be supposed that this was part of a deliberate policy on the part of the printers to produce a more polished version. At several places in H there are corrections, made in a different ink and a different hand to those of the original scribe. The copyist of Ipomydon used an ink which has faded to varying shades of brown, whereas the corrector's ink has remained a decisive black. The corrections and interpolations are as follows:

  • f. 54r 'eke' inserted between '&' and 'of lesse' (l. 37)
  • f. 54v 'kynge' inserted before 'Ermones' (l. 43)
  • f. 54v 'hawkis' changed to 'haukis' (l. 61)
  • f. 55r 'theyr' substituted for 'hyr' (l. 93) (Cf. l. 265 in the extracts)
  • f. 57r 'no' inserted between 'ne' and 'man telle'; also on the following line 'where' replaces 'what' and 'go' replaces 'be', thus producing lines which read:
    ne no man telle what I am
    Where I shall go ne Whens I cam (ll. 233-234)
  • f. 61v 'fayre & well' substituted for 'I wille telle', thus eliminating the exact repetition of the rhyme from the line above (l. 550):
    Off the Eyre of Calabre here will I telle
    And of hyr baronage fayre & well
  • f. 62v 'had' substituted for 'herd' after 'tythingis' (l. 683)
  • f. 63r 'theyr' substituted for 'here'; also 'ley' crossed out, 'pourvay' inserted (l. 664)
  • f. 64r 'hym' inserted between 'mette' and 'in' (l. 729)
  • f. 64v 'ptere' expanded to 'portire' (l. 779)
  • f. 65v 'here' marked underneath with a dotted line, 'now' written in above (l. 838)
  • f. 66r 'hyr' replaced by 'theyr' (l. 889)
  • f. 68v 'rede' replaces 'ryght' to qualify 'knyght', and 'here' substituted for 'there' (ll. 1102, 1105)
  • f. 70v 'to' inserted between 'huntynge' and 'goone' (l. 1244)
  • f. 70v 'wild bestis' underlined, 'many a beast' inserted (l. 1253)
Several of these changes illustrate the point that the corrector made more sense of the text than did the scribe whose work he was revising. The amendment of f. 68v is a particularly good example, since the passage is dealing with Ipomydon's exploits in his guise of the Black Knight, fighting a Red Knight, whom the Lady of Calabria takes to be Ipomydon in his previous day's attire; 'ryght knyght' in this context is, to say the least, ambiguous, whilst 'rede knyght' clearly distinguishes the identities of the two combatants. The correction on f. 70v improves both the rhyme and the metre:


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For he hathe take many a beast
The grettest that was in the foreste
It seems unlikely that these revisions were made by a supervisor in a scriptorium at the time of the original copying of the romance because elsewhere in the manuscript the scribe has carried out his own corrections.[25] Perhaps the most probable explanation is that the revisions are the work of an editor in the printshop.[26] Whilst none of these revisions appear on the folios of H corresponding to BL, examination of PM confirms the fact of editorial intervention. Of the nineteen corrections which are found in H, fourteen are incorporated here without any change apart from minor variations in spelling similar to those already noted (ll. 233-34; 550; 638; 664; 729; 779; 889; 1105; 1253-54). Of the others, the interpolations in lines 37, 43 and 61 cannot be checked due to the loss of the first printed signature, while the remainder can be accounted for by assuming alteration by the compositor in order to improve the text still further. This would certainly seem to have been the case when the lines are compared in some detail (MS readings taken first, with initial 'editorial' corrections indicated by italics):      
f. 65v; ll. 837-838  Diiir 
praying hym as lord dere  Prayeynge hym as his lorde dere 
Come home now to thyne owne manere  Come home to thyne owne manere 
f. 68v; l. 1102  Eiiir 
the rede knyght full sone she see  Full soone the reed knyght dyde she spye 
The first line can be seen to have been regularised in length to improve the metre, while in the second example the rhyme word has been changed from 'see' to 'spye' to accord with 'on hye' which ends the preceding line; word order has also been modernised, and the line lengthened, again to improve the metre.

These discernible stages of what may well be called editorial revision do suggest that the manuscript was initially scrutinised and briefly corrected, and that the compositor was then left to effect further changes as he went along. This could be an indication of another way in which the techniques adopted by the early printers resembled those of scribal copyists. The manner in which the text was treated in composition both reinforces previous conclusions as to the freedom with which they approached their task[27] and reveals contemporary attitudes to the genre of romance.


Page 169

Having studied the physical evidence regarding the transition of Ipomydon from manuscript to printed edition, it is interesting to consider the possible reasons which prompted its publication. As has become clear, the MS was handled with considerable care, and not marked more than necessary. Other MS copy which received equally discreet treatment is known to have been loaned to printshops[28] and it is therefore appropriate at this point to look at the role which the owner of Harley 2252, John Colyns, may have played in the decision to publish the work.

It is known that Colyns was in possession of the two romances which formed the basis of his collection five years before the conjectural date of de Worde's first edition. The evidence for this is his inscription under the Explicit to the Morte on f. 133v, which runs as follows: "Thys Boke belongythe to John Colyns mercer of london dwellyng in the parysshe of our lady of wolchyrche hawe Anexid the Stockes in þe pultre yn Anno domini 1517". Colyns was therefore in a position to have lent the text to de Worde. In support of this it seems probable that Ipomydon was in the print-shop without its accompanying romance, since the last gathering of Ipomydon (ff. 70-85) is a complete one of sixteen leaves, and the first one of the Morte is similarly complete. Further, the Morte is in a far cleaner condition than Ipomydon, showing no corresponding signs of wear. Since, as has already been observed, the two romances were apparently not separated before Colyns' purchase of them, it seems probable that he was responsible for loaning only the relevant portion of the MS to de Worde.[29]

From this evidence it may be justifiable to assume that Colyns instigated the publication of Ipomydon in the same way as his fellow mercer, Roger Thorney, had done in the case of de Worde's editions of Trevisa's De Proprietatibus Rerum and the Polychronicon (Bone, op.cit.). It is unfortunate in this respect that no colophon survives from BL, for of course Thorney's patronage of de Worde was established from this source. An envoy to Ipomydon, written by Robert Copland, is found in PM, but its usefulness in clarifying Colyns' involvement is limited.[30] Copland's participation in de


Page 170
Worde's publishing enterprises is well documented; the two men continued to work together, and Copland published under de Worde's sign, even after he set up his own press at the sign of the Rose Garland in Fleet Street in 1515.[31] The suggestion has been made that it was Copland who may have initiated the publication of many romances by de Worde's printshop[32] and while this might be a reasonable assumption to make as regards the second edition of Ipomydon, no such certainty exists about the original decision to publish it. It is possible that Colyns' approach to publishing may have taken place through Copland's agency rather than through that of de Worde himself, but there is no firm proof either way.

It does seem, however, that Colyns' participation in the venture could have extended in more than one direction. Evidence survives which suggests that, in addition to supplying the text, he was also in a position to have undertaken to sell the finished product. Colyns was admitted to the Mercers' Company in 1492[33] but a document exists which implies that by 1520 his trading interests were concentrated on activities not normally associated with the Mercers. At an assembly of the Company held on September 26th of that year, he apparently requested permission to engage an apprentice on the same terms as those held by the "Vestment makers", by payment of an entry fee for him of 6s 8d. This was duly granted by the members present, on the grounds that ". . . the said John Colleyns doth nor occupieth no feat of Secrettes of the mercery but in Sellyng of Prynted bokes and other small tryfylles . . .".[34] The implications of Colyns' interests as reflected in this record are of some consequence both in assessing his own literary preferences, with regard to the rest of the contents of his 'boke', and in providing more indications as to the organization of the printing and bookselling trades at this time. Whilst an


Page 171
investigation of these areas is beyond the scope of the present article,[35] there remain more immediate conclusions to be drawn.

Firstly, the fact of Colyns' patronage goes at least part of the way towards explaining de Worde's publishing policy as regards romance.[36] Secondly, while the edition of Ipomydon can scarcely be said to have the same cachet as some of the other books produced under the widely-based tradition of mercantile patronage,[37] the connection of this work with Colyns provides a valuable insight into literary taste at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Romances were popular publications in the early years of printing[38] and while those issued by Caxton, mainly in prose, were directed largely towards the tastes of the nobility,[39] the printing of a comparatively unsophisticated work such as Ipomydon gives some idea of the reading matter of the middle classes at this slightly later date.[40]



Printers' setting-copy used in England has been established as follows (in approximate chronological sequence): Caxton's sole known copy is Traversagni's autograph MS of his Nova Rhetorica (pub. 1479); see J. Ruysschaert, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 36 (1953-54), 191-196. The first Oxford Printer's copy for the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus is discussed by A. C. de la Mare and Lotte Hellinga in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 7 (1978), 184-244. For Wynkyn de Worde's copy for his editions of The Siege of Thebes, The Assembly of Gods, De Proprietatibus Rerum and The Orcherd of Syon see respectively, for the first two works, Gavin Bone: "Extant MSS printed from by Wynkyn de Worde with notes on the owner, Roger Thorney", The Library, 4th ser., 12 (1932), 285-306; R. W. Mitchener: "Wynkyn de Worde's Use of the Plimpton Manuscript of De Proprietatibus Rerum", The Library, 5th ser., 6 (1951), 7-18 and N. F. Blake: review of The Orcherd of Syon ed. Phyllis Hodgson and Gabriel M. Liegey in Anglia, 85 (1967), 208-212 and Caxton: England's First Publisher (1976), pp. 90-92. For de Worde's use of a printed book as copy, see below note 6. Examples of Richard Pynson's setting-copy, for Lydgate's Fall of Princes and Dives and Pauper, are analysed by Margery Morgan in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 33 (1950-51), 194-196 and The Library, 5th ser., 8 (1953), 217-228. Some of William Thynne's copy for his 1532 edition of Chaucer is discussed by James E. Blodgett in The Library, 6th ser., 1 (1979), 97-113. H. C. Schulz, after publishing his discovery of a "Manuscript Printer's Copy for a lost Early English Book" in The Library, 4th ser., 12 (1942), 138-144 established that the copy was in fact used as the basis for Robert Wyer's edition of the Book of Purgatorye; see Huntingdon Library Quarterly, 29 (1965), 325-336. Gavin Bone, op.cit., pp. 304-306, suggested that The Court of Love found in Trinity College Cambridge MS R.3.19, owned by John Stow, was used by the printers for Stow's 1561 edition of Chaucer. Work on later sixteenth-century copy has been carried out by John Bromwich in "The First book Printed in Anglo-Saxon Types", Transactions of the Cambridge Society, 3 (1962), 265-292 and by Sir Walter Greg, who found Richard Field's copy for his edition of Harington's translation of Orlando Furioso (1591); see The Library, 4th ser. (1924), 102-118. Dr Percy Simpson's work on the copy for the 5th Book of Hooker's Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie (1597) in "Proof-Reading by English Authors of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Oxford Bibliographical Society's Proceedings Papers ii, 1 (1928), 5-24 has been considerably developed by W. Speed Hill in Studies in Bibliography, 33 (1980), 144-161. For a general survey see Percy Simpson: Proof-Reading in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1935, repr. 1970). Considerable work has been done on continental printers' copy and much of this is relevant to the study of English compositorial habits. Early copy used by Netherlandish printers is discussed by Wytze Gs Hellinga in Copy and Print in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, 1962) and this is dealt with in greater detail by Lotte Hellinga-Querido in Methode En Praktijk Bij Het Zetten van Boeken in de Vijftiende Eeuw (Amsterdam, 1974, thesis), where the main centre of interest is the relation between Jacob Bellaert's edition of the Historie van Jason (Haarlem 1485) and its British Library copy. See also "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book" by the same author, in Quaerendo, 4 (1974), 64-69, and "Problems about technique and methods in a fifteenth century printing house" in Villes d'imprimerie et moulins a papier du XIVe au XVIe siecle. Colloque International. Collection Histoire Pro Civitate serie in-80 no. 43 (Brussels, 1976), pp. 301-312. The printing of Pontanus' De prudentia by Mayr in Naples (?1508) is dealt with by W. H. Bond in Studies in Bibliography, 8 (1956), 147-156, and further bibliography on Italian printers' copy is found in de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., note 79. Bertram Colgrave and Irvine Masson discussed the first edition of Bede's Prose Life of St Cuthbert (Basle, 1563) in The Library, 4th ser., 19 (1939), 289-303.


A full analysis of the hands involved in the copying of items in the MS, together with a descriptive catalogue of its contents will be found in a thesis by the present author, currently under preparation for presentation to the University of York.


The evidence from the watermarks of the paper used, though not in itself conclusive, when taken into account with the two copyists' hands, datable in broad terms to the second half of the fifteenth century, would seem to indicate a date around the middle of the second half of the fifteenth century. I should like to thank Dr David Smith of the Borthwick Institute for Historical Research, York, for his assistance in dealing with the palaeographical aspects of the texts.


Folio 83v is in a different hand, but there is nothing to associate it with a date later than that of the main copyist. This is contrary to the opinion expressed by Valerie Stewart Roberts in An Edition of the Middle English Romance: The Lyfe of Ipomydon (University of Michigan Ph.D thesis, 1974), p. vii, where she states that the hand is early sixteenth century, and "probably that of Colyns himself". The forms of many of the letters are so different as to preclude such an identification.


The fact that there is another excerpt from a romance inserted into the top half of the page has been responsible for the erroneous statement that three leaves of Ipomydon were preserved in the British Library (see e.g., H. S. Bennett: English Books and Readers 1475-1557 [Cambridge, 1952], p. 254). The mistake apparently originated with the compiler of the Index to the Bagford Ballads, where item 18 is described thus; the mistake has since been corrected by a later cataloguer and the two leaves on the upper portion of the page assigned to a Charlemagne romance.


It has been proved that Wynkyn de Worde used the 1486 edition of the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing off Arms by the Schoolmaster Printer, now in the British Library, for his edition of 1496. See the discussion by George D. Painter under "Notable Acquisitions of Printed Books 1961-62: Incunabula" in The British Museum Quarterly, 27 (1963-64), 100-101. An extended examination of the relationship between the two texts will be in the forthcoming volume BMC XI.


Vol. I (1967), 154.


Eugen Kölbing: Ipomedon in drei englischen Bearbeitung (Breslau, 1889).


Both Bone and Mitchener refer to 'pencil' being used to mark MSS (op.cit., pp. 306 and 8, respectively), whilst Schulz suggests a plummet and red crayon; "Manuscript Printer's Copy for a lost Early Book", p. 141. An interesting reference in this connection can be found in the roughly contemporary Garland of Laurell by John Skelton (pub. 1523), where there is a passage describing writing instruments:

castyng my syght the chambre aboute,
To se how duly ich thyng in ordre was,
Towarde the dore, as he were comyng oute,
I sawe maister Newton sit with his compas,
His plummet, his pensell, his spectacles of glas,
Dyvysynge in pycture, by his industrious wit,
Of my laurell the proces every whitte. (ll. 1093-99)
I am indebted to Professor V. J. Scattergood of Trinity College, Dublin, for bringing this to my attention; he suggests that Newton, though unidentified, might have been a scrivener or illustrator who worked for the Howard family, patrons of Skelton. Apart from this, the earliest recorded usages of 'pencil' and 'plummet' in the O.E.D. as marking instruments in the modern sense are from the seventeenth century. The light greyish-black colour of some of the markings in H could be accounted for either by an accumulation of dirt (admittedly selective), or by the use of one of these instruments.


Cf. Mitchener's discussion of the smudges in the Plimpton MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum (op.cit., p. 9), also Plate VIIa, of the MS of the Expositio Symboli, in de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit. Lotte Hellinga, in her article with Hilton Kelliher, "The Malory Manuscript", in The British Library Journal, 3 (1977), 92-94 has established that this MS was in Caxton's workshop through an analysis of such marks under infra-red light, some of which proved to be off-sets of type.


I am indebted to Professor Derek Pearsall of the University of York for his help in looking at PM in situ; additional information has been gained through examination of a microfilm of the text.


For various theories as to the function of compositors' marks see Wytze Gs Hellinga: Copy and Print, pp. 95-98 and Harry Carter in the 'Foreword to the Reprint' of Percy Simpson's book, op.cit., p. viii. More recently Lotte Hellinga has confirmed, through her detailed work on the copy for Bellaert's edition of the Historie van Jason that at least some of the marks found in the B.L. text were indicative of casting-off. See Methode en Praktijk, Summary in English, p. x, and "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book". Following the results of her work on this text she was able to establish similar practices in the two early Netherlandish prints by Ketelaer and de Leempt, previously described by W. Gs Hellinga; see "Problems about techniques and methods" pp. 304-305, 308.


Lotte Hellinga makes the point that although the printer's copy so far examined does conform to these findings, each case must be judged independently; see de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 198.


Ipomydon ends on f. 84r; f. 85 was originally left blank but Colyns later copied various poems and short prose pieces onto it.


One way of checking to see whether two compositors had worked on the text would be to compare differences in spelling and vocabulary between H and the assumed halves of the printed edition; but sufficient text to make this a feasible proposition only survives in PM, and, as already noted, the compositor(s) here have effected further changes from BL.


For illustration of the different ways in which compositors belonging to various printing houses tackled this problem see Mitchener, op.cit., pp. 15-17, Margery Morgan, "Pynson's MS of Dives and Pauper", pp. 219-220 and L. Hellinga, "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book", pp. 65-66; also de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., pp. 198-200.


See Morgan, "Pynson's MS of Dives and Pauper", p. 218, note 3, and "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", pp. 195-196.


As in the Rylands MS of the Fall of Princes, see Morgan, "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", p. 194.


For de Worde's use of this system in the MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum see Mitchener, op.cit., p. 9; it is also found in Hervagius' copy for Bede's Life of St Cuthbert, see Colgrave and Masson, op.cit., p. 299.


This seems to have been the common form of printers' numeration; the wide geographical and chronological span of its adoption in printing houses is commented upon by Bone op.cit., p. 306 and Colgrave and Masson op.cit., p. 298.


See de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 198; cf. W. Gs Hellinga, op.cit., Plate 13, which shows that at least part of Ketelaer and de Leempt's 1473 edition of Aquinas' Tractatus de divinis moribus is marked only in this way. A similar system of marking is found in the MS of The Court of Love used by Stow in his 1561 edition of Chaucer; see Bone, op.cit., pp. 304-306.


If this was the scheme adopted, it would mean that the mark on f. 63r, which is admittedly extremely vague, could no longer be read as a 'C' (it could perhaps be a cross), and that the two marks towards the end of the text on f. 82v, which can be seen as the letter 'I,' should instead be viewed simply as vertical strokes. If it had been planned to set up BL in ternions these pages would have formed part of signatures B and F respectively.


Even this practice was not adopted throughout; for example in l.17 final 'e' is removed from 'dwell' but added to 'praye'. Differences between BL and PM on this point have been noted, above.


See, for instance, the discussion of the Court of Love by R. H. Robbins in Vol. 2 of A Manual of Writings in Middle English, ed. A. Hartung (1973), pp. 1087-89.


On ff. 58r, 63r and 74v he inserted words which he had accidentally omitted; on ff. 59r, 70v, 75v and 80r he placed dots under words wrongly copied, supplying the correct word either above or in the margin. On f. 95r of the Morte Arthur he made a more serious mistake, misplacing two whole couplets; here also he indicated his error, presumably a deviation from the text in front of him.


A "number of tiny, very neat marginal corrections" are similarly found in the Rylands MS of the Fall of Princes according to Margery Morgan; see "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", p. 195.


Cf. the comments by H. C. Schulz in "A Middle English Manuscript Used as Printer's Copy", p. 327.


Cf. the care which Caxton took of Traversagni's autograph MS, Ruysschaert, op.cit., and the clean condition of the St John's College MS of the Siege of Thebes and the Plimpton MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum as seen in the plates in Bone, op.cit., Simpson, op.cit., frontispiece, and Mitchener, op.cit., See also de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 201 and plate VIIa, for the Sloane MS of Rufinus' Expositio Symboli. For an exception to this rule, see plate 38 in Blake, England's First Publisher, a folio of the Harley MS of The Orcherd of Syon, and the discussion of the probable reasons for the comparative carelessness with which it was treated, on pp. 90-92.


It is interesting to speculate as to the reasons why no edition of the Morte was published; part of the explanation could perhaps lie in the fact that this romance was one of the major sources used by Malory in the final books of his Morte d'Arthur; this had been published by Caxton in 1485 and further editions were issued by de Worde in 1498 and 1529. To this extent perhaps a potential market had already been captured.


The verses run as follows:

'Lenvoye of Robert C. the prynter'
O lytell Jest / vndepured of speche
Vnto thy reders I alway me excuse
Go take thy mater I hertly the beseche
Though þu rudely / no other termes vse
This is thy copy thou can it not refuse
Syth þt no wryter / wolde take þe to amende
In this my labour / I myght it not entende
Enprynted at London in the Flete-strete / at
the sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde


Only about twelve books printed solely by Copland survive from the period up to 1535. See, amongst others, H. R. Plomer: A Short History of English Printing (1912), pp. 47-50.


For the most recent theory concerning de Worde's publishing rationale see the articles by N. F. Blake: "Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years" and "Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years" in Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1971 and 1972, respectively. For a discussion of Copland's role, see "The Early Years", p. 66.


I am indebted to Jean M. Imray, Archivist to the Mercers' Company, for her kindness in supplying me with this, and other, details from the Register of the Freemen of the Mercers' Company compiled by the Company's Clerk in 1528.


See Acts of Court of the Mercers' Company, edited with Introduction by L. Lyell assisted by F.D. Watney (1936), p. 509.


They are dealt with in greater detail in the thesis by the present author, above mentioned.


It also qualifies the comment made by Blake that Roger Thorney "was the only merchant to patronise Wynkyn" in "Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years", p. 67.


For details of the patronage of such merchants as Hugh Bryce, William Bretton and Roger Thorney see E. Gordon Duff: The Printers, Stationers and Bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535 (1906), Graham Pollard: "The Company of Stationers before 1557", The Library, 4th ser., 18 (1937), 1-38 and N. F. Blake: Caxton and His World (1969), passim.


For a general view see Bennett, op.cit., pp. 149-150, 191; also Paul A. Scanlon: "A Checklist of Prose Romances in English 1474-1603", The Library, 5th ser., 33 (1978), 143-152.


See N. F. Blake: "William Caxton: His Choice of Texts", Anglia, 83 (1965), 301-307.


I should like to express my gratitude to Mrs Mirjam Foot and Dr Lotte Hellinga for their generous advice and criticism, and to Professor N. F. Blake and Professor V. J. Scattergood for their kindness in reading an earlier draft of this article.