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In quest of the nature of printer's copy for Errors we must then turn, to quote Evans again, to the "variety, ambiguity, and inconsistency" in the naming of characters in the stage directions and speech prefixes. What chiefly separates us from Greg in evaluating these is the detailed reconstruction of the printing of the Folio that Hinman has provided and that has been modified by subsequent investigation.[6] The most significant part of this bibliographical project, for our purposes, has been the discrimination of three compositors at work on Folio Errors and the identification of their pages and columns. The order in which the pages were printed and the stints of the three typesetters are as follows:

Compositor  Page or Col.  TLNs  Act, scene, line[7]  
H3v  616-742  III.i.1-81  (Hinman, Howard-Hill, Werstine) 
H4a  743-808  III.i.82-III.ii.22  (Howard-Hill) 
H4b  809-874  III.ii.23-83 
H3a  486-549  II.ii.92-154  (Howard-Hill) 
H3b  550-615  II.ii.155-219 
H4v  875-997  III.ii.84-IV.i.15 
H2v  354-485  II.i.78-II.ii.91  (Howard-Hill) 
H5  998-1127  IV.i.16-IV.ii.21 
H2a  230-288  I.ii.65-II.i.14 
H2b  289-353  II.i.15-77  (Howard-Hill) 
most of H5v  1128-1234  IV.ii.22-IV.iii.51 
lower H5vb  1235-1254  IV.iii.52-71  (O'Connor) 
H1va  100-164  I.i.97-I.ii.2  (Howard-Hill) 
H1vb  165-229  I.ii.3-64 
H6  1255-1381  IV.iii.72-IV.iv.93 
H1  1-99  I.i.1-96  (Howard-Hill) 
H6v  1382-1503  IV.iv.94-V.i.37 
I2v  1889-end  V.i.400-end 
I1v  1631-1760  V.i.159-282 
I2  1761-1888  V.i.283-399 
I1  1504-1630  V.i.38-158 


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As a general rule, one can trace to copy inconsistencies that are found in the work of more than one of the compositors—for example, the failure, on all but a few occasions, to distinguish between the speech prefixes for the two Antipholi until both are onstage at the same time. By the obverse of the same rule, inconsistencies that are concentrated in the work of just a single compositor need not be attributed to copy, unless the compositor was demonstrably incapable of introducing them himself; an example is Compositor B's apparent refusal to distinguish between the speech prefixes of the two Dromios, in contrast with the regularity with which both Compositor C and Compositor D maintained the distinction.

Most—but by no means all—of the inconsistency in Errors probably does derive from printer's copy, although editors have exaggerated its quantity and seriousness to support Greg's position that printer's copy cannot have been a playbook. Four major characters (the Antipholi and the Dromios) and six minor ones are affected. Antipholus of Siracusa is called 'Antipholis Erotes' or 'Antipholis Errotis' in stage directions until the scene now numbered III.ii, when he becomes 'Antipholus of Siracusia'. Antipholus of Ephesus is called 'Antipholis Sereptus' in the opening stage direction of II.i, but thereafter becomes 'Antipholus of Ephesus'. Neither the use of Latinate epithets nor the spelling Antipholis is compositorial, for Compositors C and D each used both spellings—Antipholis and Antipholus—and both kinds of naming.[8]

As editor after editor has shown (however inadvertently), it is easy to overemphasize the ambiguity arising from this variety in naming.[9] Indeed no ambiguity at all could have arisen in the theatre from the naming of Antipholus of Ephesus as 'Sereptus' in the opening stage direction of II.i because he does not even enter in this scene—Adriana, who does enter, is merely being identified, superfluously from a theatrical point of view, as 'wife to Antipholis Sereptus' (TLN 273). The only ambiguity that a book-keeper might have encountered would be in determining whether the character called, in the printed text, 'Antipholis Errotis' or 'Erotes' who occupies the stage for most of the first two acts is to be identified as 'Antipholus of Siracusa' or as 'Antipholus of Ephesus', each of whom must get on stage and off during the last three acts. But the extent to which this particular inconsistency would even have been a problem for a putative book-keeper is difficult to determine. We now have only the opaquely corrupt Latin 'Errotis' and 'Erotes'—both spellings obviously errors and probably Compositor C's, if not a scribe's—for whatever Shakespeare may have originally written.[10] A putative book-keeper may well have had the correct Latin before him, which may have designated the character in question in a quite unambiguous way. In spite of the corrupt Latin in the Folio, no editor has ever had any difficulty associating Antipholus 'Errotis' with Antipholus of 'Siracusa'. This association is enforced by an important theatrical consideration, the so-called "law of reentry"; the 'Antipholis Errotis' who exits with Luciana and Adriana at the end of Act Two cannot be the 'Antipholus of Ephesus' who enters with Angelo and Balthaser at the beginning of Act Three. It may be dangerous for editors to assume that


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they have so much more expertise in interpreting theatrical texts than did the companies who performed them. Yet editors make just such an assumption when they assert that printer's copy for Folio Errors cannot have been a playbook because of such a minor ambiguity—and one that may well have been compounded or even introduced only when the play was printed.

Whatever the terms of the distinction, the Antipholi are distinguished from each other in stage directions for their entrances by all three compositors. There are only two exceptions; these are Compositor B's only attempts to reproduce the entrances together of Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio of Ephesus: 'Enter Antipholus Ephes. Dromio from the Courtizans'; 'Enter Antipholus, and E. Dromio of Ephesus' (TLN 995, 1665). Neither attempt is quite satisfactory, the first hanging the modifier 'Ephes.' between the names it may modify, the second leaving Antipholus unmodified and duplicating the modification of Dromio. Since both directions were set by a single workman, he is the likely source of such confusion, which therefore can hardly be taken to indicate the nature of his copy; the other two compositors, who presumably used comparable printer's copy, did manage, after all, invariably to reproduce unambiguous entrances for the Antipholi, and so did Compositor B on all but two occasions.

But in the speech prefixes the Antipholi are rarely distinguished from each other until they meet for the first time in the last scene. Then Compositor B, who alone set type for the last scene, invariably used 'E. Ant.' for Antipholus of Ephesus and 'S. Ant.' for Antipholus of Siracusa. There are two reasons why we cannot credit B in this scene with imposing the necessary distinction on the prefixes: never before in the play did Compositor B attain anything close to consistency in preserving a distinction between the Antipholi in speech prefixes—what a compositor fails to do in one place he can hardly be credited with doing in another; and furthermore, earlier in the play, the distinction is occasionally found not only on B's pages, but also on those of his fellow compositor, D—what is common to the pages of two different compositors would seem more likely to derive from copy than from the independent intervention of two different typesetters.[11] Indeed it is quite impossible to attribute to Compositor D addition of the initial E to the five E. An(t)(ti). speech prefixes that he set in the first column of page H3v because this was the first column of the play on which he worked, and so he could not have known yet that there were two different characters both named Antipholus, between whom it might be necessary to make a distinction. So it would appear that copy occasionally made a distinction between the Antipholi in speech prefixes even when it was not strictly necessary to do so, and that copy maintained a consistent distinction between the speech prefixes of the two characters on the only occasion that matters in the theatre, the occasion when they are on stage at the same time in the play's last scene.

What editors display as a most serious ambiguity in printer's copy is the single instance very early in the play (TLN 409) when Antipholus of Siracusa is designated by the speech prefix 'E. Ant.', the speech heading later associated


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only with Antipholus of Ephesus. It is more likely, however, that Compositor C introduced this form under the influence of the name Antipholis Errotis that he had seen in the stage direction he had last set into type (TLN 394), and so this anomalous speech prefix cannot be assumed to derive from copy.[12] Compositor C was the only compositor to encounter in stage directions the Latinate form that he reproduced as Errotis or Erotes and the only one to typeset a speech prefix for Antipholus of Siracusa as E. Ant.; anyone who wished to trace the speech prefix to copy would have to dismiss this conjunction of evidence as mere coincidence.[13]

Whereas the lack of any consistent distinction between the Antipholi in speech prefixes until absolutely necessary in the last scene probably originates with printer's copy, failures to distinguish between the Dromios in speech prefixes are comparatively rare, and most of them probably compositorial in origin. Dromio of Ephesus is always identified as such in entrance directions; Dromio of Siracusa is merely Dromio only twice in entrance directions (TLN 162, 1476). The first lapse is probably Shakespeare's, since it involves the character's first entrance in the play, but, in the order of printing, it involves the second and last entrance set for him by Compositor C, who had previously used the unambiguous designation Dromio Siracusia (TLN 401). The second lapse is hardly a lapse at all: 'Enter Antipholus and Dromio againe' (TLN 1476) must refer to the Siracusian pair who had left the stage only a dozen or so lines above (TLN 1461).

Two of the Folio compositors almost invariably distinguished between the Dromios in speech prefixes, using 'S. Dro.' and 'E. Dro.' ('Dromio.', 'Drom.', 'Dr.'). Compositor C's pages contain thirty-five examples of these forms, Compositor D's forty-eight. Compositor C omitted the distinguishing initial only three times, Compositor D five times. In numerical terms then these two compositors maintained the distinction 91% of the time. Compositor C's three omissions form a sequence at the end of II.i that stretches from the bottom of column H2b into the top of column H2va (TLN 352, 355, 358). Earlier in this scene, in column H2b, Compositor C set 'E. Dro.' six times (TLN 320, 324, 328, 333, 335, 347). Since column H2va was already in type before the compositor turned to column H2b, the sequence of omissions does not correspond to the sequence of his typesetting, and so he was probably not responsible for the omissions. It would seem instead that Shakespeare never bothered to include the distinguishing initials for Dromio of Ephesus' last three speeches in this scene, and that Compositor C merely followed copy. Five times in Compositor D's pages a speech is headed simply 'Dro.' Three times the omission of distinguishing initials on Compositor D's pages may have been caused by justification of long lines. The most convincing example concerns the last speech prefix that Compositor D set at the bottom of column H4b (TLN 872; see Fig. 1); here the first line of the speech is so tightly set that there is much less white space to the left and to the right of the speech prefix than is ordinarily found in D's work, and no room for the usual initial. Although the first line of Dromio of Siracusa's penultimate speech in the


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same column is much more generously spaced, the suspicion still may arise that Compositor D again left out the S in order to justify the line (TLN 868; see Fig. 1). A third instance of Dro. alone as a prefix in a long line occurs immediately after the entrance of 'S. Dromio' near the top of the first column of page H5v (TLN 1136; see Fig. 2). Since, as I will discuss later, there is a possibility that speech prefixes were sometimes omitted from copy immediately after such entrances, perhaps Compositor D alone was responsible for the choice of the form Dro. here—a choice that he may have taken when he came to justify the line. In two other cases, however, Compositor D may have reflected copy in setting Dro. alone as a speech head; neither of these instances displays any evidence that the exigencies of typesetting interfered with the faithful replication of copy forms (TLN 179, 550). Printer's copy may not then have been perfectly consistent in distinguishing between the Dromios in speech prefixes—only nearly perfect, to judge by the work of Compositors C and D.

The longstanding editorial impression that printer's copy was far from perfect in this regard is based primarily then on Compositor B's pages. Until


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the last scene, when the appearance of the Dromios onstage together makes distinction mandatory and when Compositor B scrupulously maintained the distinction, his pages contain only eighteen examples of the initials S and E in speech prefixes for the Dromios, compared to thirty instances of Dro. alone. That is, Compositor B made the distinction only 38% of the time, in sharp contrast to Compositor C and D's 91%. Nevertheless, it might be argued that the breakdown of the distinction in the printed text merely reflects a comparable breakdown in copy for the last half of the play, which was chiefly the work of Compositor B alone. But B's stint overlaps those of C and D, B having set pages H4v-5 and 6-6v, C and D having shared page H5v. While on pages H4v-5, Compositor B maintained the distinction only three of a possible twenty-three times, Compositors C and D kept it up eighteen of nineteen times on page H5v—the single exception on TLN 1136 probably arising, as has already been noted, from a lack of space for the initial S in a long line. It seems likely then that whoever wrote what became printer's copy for the Folio was, with isolated exceptions such as I.ii and the end of II.i, generally careful to distinguish the Dromios, but his care had little effect on Compositor B.

Printer's copy seems to have been much less consistent in the naming of five of the six minor characters whose names editors have cited as evidence that Folio Errors is based on "foul papers." It is true that none of the alleged confusion surrounding these five can be compositorial in origin, but again editors may have overstated the difficulties. (1) Egeon is never called by his proper name in either stage directions or speech prefixes. Yet in both his entrances, he does appear under the same unambiguous designation—'the Merchant of Siracusa'; he is 'Marchant', 'Mer.', or 'Merch.' in the speech prefixes of the play's first scene, and first 'Mar. Fat.' (Marchant Father) and then simply 'Fa.' or 'Fath.' in the speech prefixes of the last scene (TLN 2, 4, 30, 35, 101, 127, 160, 1599, 1671, 1761, 1771). The shifts in his speech prefixes do not, however, produce further ambiguity in the designation of speakers; instead they serve, in the play's final scene, to distinguish Egeon from the nameless 'Merchant' who is also a speaker in this scene. (2) A second minor character enters as 'Angelo the Goldsmith' and 'Angelo' in Act Three, but simply as 'Goldsmith' twice in Acts Four and Five (TLN 617, 955, 981, 1466). His speeches are prefixed 'Angelo.' or 'Ang.' during his initial appearance, but in Acts Four and Five the prefix becomes 'Gold.' (TLN 715, 783, 956-972, 988-1071, 1467-1869). There is no other goldsmith in the play, however, and no other Angelo; here we have some inconsistency in naming but no ambiguity. (3, 4) A third minor character, the 'Marchant' who speaks to Antipholus of Siracusa in I.ii as 'Mer.' (Compositor C's preference, TLN 163) or 'E. Mar.' (D's preference, TLN 187, 195), is in no way distinguished from a fourth character, the 'Merchant' who speaks in the last two acts set by Compositors B and D (TLN 981, 982, 1038, 1045, 1056, 1466 and so on). But it is so obvious that the two characters cannot be the same that no one before Alexander Dyce in his 1857 edition saw the ambiguity as serious enough to warrant


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editorial interference. (5) Three names are used for the 'Kitchen wench' ('Luce', 'Nell', and 'Dowsabell'), but on her single entrance she is invariably called 'Luce' both in the stage direction and in the speech prefixes (TLN 679-704). Since the names Nell and Dowsabell are found only in dialogue references to her when she is not onstage, one wonders why her various names have ever been cited by textual critics as a reason that printer's copy could not have been a theatrical manuscript, since this inconsistency has no bearing on performance (TLN 900, 1099).[14] (6) Finally, a sixth variant name arising from the substitution of 'Juliana' for Luciana in column H4a (TLN 786-787) is almost certainly compositorial. Compositor C probably misread 'Luciana' on seeing it for the first time here in the first column of the play that he set into type. From the inconsistencies just recorded, Greg, in The Shakespeare First Folio, drew what I believe is too strict a conclusion: "since it is difficult to believe that the confusion in the character names and prefixes would have been tolerated in a prompt-book, it would seem that the manuscript [behind Folio Errors] was most likely foul papers" (pp. 201-202).