University of Virginia Library

The Manuscript Copy for Q

What sort of manuscript served as copy for the Quarto of Appius? R. G. Howarth claims: "Obviously the text was prepared for the press, though no title-page (with a motto, in Webster's usual fashion) and no dedication or preliminary address have been drawn up" (PQ, 46, 137). Nor is there any Dramatis Personae, such as heads The Duchess of Malfi and The Devil's Law Case. That the manuscript had been "prepared for the press" is not obvious to me, though it is divided into acts, not scenes, with the formula Actus Primus Scena Prima, and so on, and each act but the last (followed by FINIS) ends with an Explicit. The explicit, used by Heywood in his autographs of The Escapes of Jupiter and The Captives, reappears in the Quartos of several of his plays—The Iron Age (both parts), The Wise Woman of Hogsdon, and The Fair Maid of the West (both parts); but it can also be found ending Acts II and III of Webster's The Devil's Law Case.

The text is comparatively clean, requiring few substantive emendations, and the speech prefixes give little cause for complaint, though Lucas plausibly transfers five words from Numitor to Appius at F4v, IV.i.61, and there is ambiguity in the frequent abbreviations for Virginius and Virginia, both usually Virg. in the Quarto, even when present in the same scene. Corbulo, so named in the speech prefixes at the opening of II.i and III.i (C2, C2v, D4v, E1), abbreviated to Corb. in III.iv (F3, F3v, F4), is Clown. or Clow. in III.ii (E2v, E3, E3v). The Quarto's one Cl. and seven Clo. speech prefixes for Marcus Clodius could cause confusion with the Clown, but Compositor B may have been solely responsible for the abbreviations. Lucas adds a score of exit directions and supplements a few entries, while on F1v Enter Valerius is a minor error, as it is Sertorius who has been called for on E4v and who is dismissed on F2v. So prompt-book provenance seems unlikely. On C1v the stage direction has Virginius enter where Virginia is required, but this error may well have been the compositor's.

In the Quarto minor characters are often designated by a number: 1. Cozen., 2. Cozen., 1. Petitioner., 2. Petit., 1. Serving., 2. Serving. (for servingmen), for example. In three scenes numbers alone are used: in II.ii "six Souldiers" are given numerals as speech prefixes (22 times); in III.ii two of "foure Lictors" speak alternately with the numerals 1 and 2 (10 speeches); and in IV.ii "two Souldiers" are indicated in the same way (19 speeches). The use of unqualified numerals as speech prefixes is not a feature of either Webster's or Heywood's undoubted plays as they have come down to us, though


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in The Duchess of Malfi, especially, Webster has a great many prefixes of the type in which a numeral precedes a generic title—for two servingmen, four officers, two pilgrims, and four madmen; and Heywood also has many in his autographs of The Captives and The Escapes of Jupiter, and in other plays. The unaccompanied numerals occur in scenes of Appius that will be shown to be wholly or largely Webster's. Their presence suggests foul papers copy.

Perhaps pointing to the same conclusion is the fact that fifteen prefixes in Appius are assigned to Omnes, twelve in II.ii, one in II.i, one in IV.i, and one in IV.ii. Some of the speeches go far beyond simple exclamations of a united rabble, and in performance they would obviously need to be allocated to individuals among those assembled, rather than uttered in chorus. The designation Omnes is an author's conventional shorthand, common enough in dramatic texts of the time. Neither Heywood nor Webster is elsewhere given to such frequent use of collective speech prefixes, and Heywood normally prefers All when he does use them, though there are three examples of Omnes in The English Traveller and two in Webster's The White Devil. II.ii is the first scene in which a sizable group of soldiers must be incorporated into the dialogue and action: hence the special need for the group prefixes here.

Many of the entry directions seem authorial, most notably: Enter Virginius with his knife, that and his arms stript up to the elbowes all bloudy; coming into the midst of the souldiers, he makes a stand. (H1) There is a descriptive tinge to several: Appius enters melancholly on B3, as does the Clowne, meaning the character named Corbulo in speech prefixes, on F3. Iulius enters troubled on D2. Corbulo, called Clown again, enters whispering Virginia, after her M. Clodius with presents on C2: Clodius's entry here is inconsistent with the direction some twenty-five lines later, Enter Clodius and Musicians, which Lucas modifies to Clodius comes forward, with Musicians, supposing that Clodius "should lurk in the background" (III, 250). On F4 Virginius and Virginia each enter like a slave, and on H1 the first mutinous Souldier enters in haste. On I1 Enter Appius, and Marcus Clodius, fettered and gyved. Numbers of minor characters entering are precisely specified except on B4, where the stage direction ends with &c, C2v (Musicians), and D2v (Lictors). On B2v Enter a Servant, whispers Icilius in the eare, spread over three lines against the right-hand margin, begins at least a line too late and is moved up by Lucas.

Another feature of the Quarto that tells against a theatrical origin for the printer's copy is the tendency in some scenes for short speeches that continue a line of verse to occupy the same line as the preceding speech ending. As Greg explained, "In all manuscripts intended for stage use every speech begins a fresh line of writing, irrespective of the metrical division. The habit of writing speakers' names in the middle of a line would be distracting for prompt purposes, and may be taken to indicate a purely literary intention in the writer. The speakers' names are in the margin, and the beginning of speeches are not indented as is usual in print, but a short horizontal rule is


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drawn separating the speeches."[7] The untheatrical setting out of some short speeches in the Quarto[8] is unlikely to be a printing-house strategy for the saving of space, because it occurs in the stints of both compositors and in various positions on the pages, which are seldom unduly crowded. Moreover, the practice is characteristic of Webster in all three of his unaided plays, and in Appius it is confined to scenes in which there are other strong indications of Webster's authorship, as I shall show.

On the other hand, of the few directions for action that are set to the right of the page, one looks very like a book-keeper's annotation: on H3v Wine, against the right-hand margin, comes ten short speeches before Virginius actually calls "Wilt a, wilt a give me some Wine?" The direction A Shout on I2 might be from the same source.

The evidence suggests to me authorial papers, which may have received some attention from the prompter.