University of Virginia Library

Speech Prefixes

No explanation of the anomalous distribution of stage-direction annotation can be offered without first considering the speech-prefix variation. The most striking instance of the latter is the reorganization of prefixes for Richard and Bolingbroke. For Richard, Q1 invariably has 'King' except for (a) the first prefix in 5.1, and (b) throughout 5.5, the prison scene. For the latter, he is unkinged 'Rich.'. Still in Q1, Bolingbroke's prefixes change from 'Bull.' or 'Bul.' (once 'Bulling.') to 'King H.' or 'King' for 5.3 and 5.6. F leaves 1.1 unchanged, but thereafter systematically (without exception) changes Richard's 'King' prefixes to 'Rich.' (occasionally 'Ric.' or 'Ri.').[28] Bolingbroke's 'King (H.)' prefixes all become 'Bul.' in F. These changes go far beyond anything that could be expected by way of regularization. They clearly must echo the pattern found in the promptbook; there is no other reason why the trouble should have been taken to effect such a detailed change when the prefixes


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in Q1 were perfectly logical according to their own system.[29]

Most of the 'King' / 'Ri(c)(h).' variants are in corrected areas, and many of those that are not do occur in indeterminate or bordering areas. This correspondence is probably not between the categories of variant themselves, but between areas of annotated text and scenes in which Richard is on stage. (There is no comparable patterning of 'King (H.)' / 'Bul.' variants.) At first sight this correspondence might appear to be explained by the coincidence of heavy annotation in the first 900 lines and the exceptional number of scenes in which Richard is present in the same part of the play. After 870 (2.1.222) Richard does not appear for almost 700 lines, and after 994 (2.1.295) there are only very brief snatches of correction until Richard returns to the stage. Such a situation may in itself be no coincidence. But even within the first 900 lines, the parts of the text with Richard present are more consistently annotated than the others. The same also holds true after 1000, when both Richard's appearances and the signs of annotation are scantier. The dramatic falling-off of annotation around 1000 may be a (belated) response to Richard's long absence. The presence of the play's principal character seems to have been one factor which influenced the annotator's fluctuations.

Other significant F alterations of Q speech prefixes are limited and localised. Some, such as 'Herald' / 'I Har.' (401), 'Herald 2' / '2 Har.' (407) and 'H. Per.' / 'Percie' (1130, etc.) suggest but do not demonstrate annotation. More definite are two altered character assignations, 'King' / 'North.' (2346) and 'yorke' / 'Bul.' (2612); a moved prefix ('Bag.', 1100-1); and the distinctive changes 'Welch' / 'Capt.' (1285, 1291) and 'Man' / 'Ser.' (1850, 1865, 2657, 2660). Of the changes more definitely associated with promptbook annotation, only those at 2346, 2612, 2657 and 2660 fall within corrected areas. Stage directions whose rewording may be connected with the speech-prefix variants are 'a Welch captaine' / 'a Captaine' (1284), 'Gardeners' / 'a Gardiner, and two Seruants' (1833), and '&c.' / 'and Seruants' (2651). However, the reassignations at 2346 and 2612 are not particularly near changed stage directions. There are some signs that the annotated speech prefixes resulted from quite careful collation; there is no reason to associate it with annotation of the dialogue, and little evidence for an association with the annotated stage directions—though if (as appears to be the case) both speech prefixes and stage directions were collated thoroughly and systematically, such an association


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could exist, without being detectable. If the collator caught all of the speech-prefix and stage-direction variants, then coincidence of annotation in the two categories would result only from coincidence of variation between Q3 and the manuscript. The lack of a discernible association between stage-direction and speech-prefix annotation therefore demonstrates nothing; but the lack of association between speech-prefix and dialogue annotation is significant.