University of Virginia Library


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Mark Bland

It has increasingly been recognised that the forms of literary evidence are more complex than previous textual theories emphasised. Indeed, it is now a commonplace to suggest that the processes of production and reception involve forms of collaboration that are also part of the meaning of the book as a historical document.[1] It is, perhaps, less widely appreciated that every discussion of a literary work (even the most theoretical) is based on inferences about the physical history of the documents that are a testament to its existence. The point is crucial. Almost everything we claim to know about the biographies of Jonson and Donne, for instance, derives from early manuscript or printed evidence. If we make an error in the dating, or in the attribution, of this material, then the narratives we construct, from the context of the meaning of the documents to the social and intellectual history of the people involved, will be mistaken in their assumptions. Despite an impression that has sometimes been given to the contrary, then, the study of the associations and contexts involved in the production, transmission and reception of texts has not obviated the need for analytical bibliography; rather, it has modified the range of physical reference that may be drawn upon from manuscript and print, for a more complex appreciation of the history of the book requires that we now investigate traditional sources of physical information from a fresh perspective, and examine again the assumptions upon which our narratives are based. As Ernest Sullivan observes: 'Textual scholars need to ponder why as well as how a text and its versions were created'.[2]

Donne and Jonson have often been discussed as rival poets working through different social networks and media of publication, but such a view has ignored both their deep and enduring friendship and the manuscript evidence where their work is often found in the same volumes.[3] Though in some ways convenient, the wish to place them in antithesis with one another is not entirely appropriate, for the differences between manuscript and print


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are not necessarily as obvious as superficially we might suppose: the distinction being primarily technical and only incidentally sociological or intellectual. All documents are a record of something more than the text, something antecedent and only imperfectly recoverable: they are a witness to the circumstances of, and the use of the intellect in, the history of their creation.[4]

We need, therefore, to understand the bibliographical and textual history of Donne's and Jonson's manuscripts and printed books as involving more than an analysis of a collection of words, or items connected by the elegant and simplifying lines of textual stemmata. Donne and Jonson are linked by more than a few poems that could have been written by either of them.[5] They are linked not only by their association with certain printers, publishers and scribal copyists, but by their shared interest in the dissemination of their work. For Jonson, in particular, the association between manuscript and print, and the way in which they influence one another, was an issue that he repeatedly explored. Yet Jonson has been treated as an author who circulated material primarily through print.[6] Consequently, the concentration on Jonson and the printed book-trade, reinforced by the authority of (and assumptions informing) the Herford and Simpson edition,[7] has meant that Jonson's surviving manuscript material has not been interrogated for the physical, social and intellectual histories to which it bears witness.

Perhaps we know less about Jonson than we have assumed, mistaking the evidence that survives from the past for the larger history to which it belongs, and discounting other information that might be more significant than we supposed. In the first decade of the seventeenth century, we find Jonson writing three epigrams to, or about, Donne, Donne writing a Latin poem on Volpone, Jonson's gift of Nicholas Hill's Philosophia Epicurea, Democratiana, Theophrastica (Paris, 1601) to Donne, Francis Davison acquiring Donne's poems from Jonson, Donne's close friend George Gerrard sending his 'man' to Jonson for an epitaph on Cecilia Bulstrode, and the gift to Jonson by Edward Herbert of the 1598 edition of Tertullian's Opera.[8] Two other


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close friends of Donne's can also be connected to Jonson. Thus, Jonson (together with George Chapman and William Browne) was one of the contributors of preliminary verse to Christopher Brooke's The Ghost of Richard the Third, and late in his life Rowland Woodward gave Jonson a copy of De Agerribus et Pontibus Hactenus ad Mare Extructis Digestum Nouum (Paris, 1629) by Petrus Bertius.[9] Jonson and Donne are linked not only through their own testimony, their patrons, the book-trade and scribal copying, but also through mutual friends, and it is not surprising that at some point they worked together on a manuscript. The document in question is the Bodleian Manuscript of Biathanatos, given by Donne to Edward Herbert, and prepared initially by Jonson. What follows is the evidence for this statement and an explanation as to how Percy and Evelyn Simpson made an error of judgment that has misled scholars (not least Greg) for much of this century.


There is an important group of autograph Jonson manuscripts that were all written in 1609 and which are connected to one another through the physical evidence of handwriting and paper.[10] These are The Masque of Queenes, the epitaph on Cecilia Bulstrode, the epigram to Sir Horace Vere, and the Herbert Manuscript of Biathanatos. Another manuscript, a letter to Sir Robert Cotton, will also be discussed in connection with this material, as the letter was redated by Simpson without comment. The manuscript of Biathanatos (hereafter Herbert) was not included by Simpson in the record of Jonson's manuscript activities, though it was discussed by Evelyn Simpson in her study of The Prose Works of John Donne. The reasons for questioning the Simpsons' treatment of this manuscript material will be developed in the following pages. Before Jonson's manuscript activities in 1609 are discussed, however, it will also be necessary to make some preliminary comments about the corroborative information offered by handwriting and the stocks of paper that Jonson was using at the time the manuscripts were written.


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Handwriting and paper are two quite independent and impartial witnesses to the history of the preparation of a document, for neither is dependent on the other. While one might legitimately hesitate about the variations in the hand of an author, or about the dates between which paper with a certain watermark was used, in combination the evidence of handwriting and paper is stronger than either alone in establishing the origins of a document. When two independent manuscripts yield exactly the same result from both variables, the evidence of their common origin is strongly persuasive. In fact, it was according to these criteria that the holograph manuscript of Donne's Verse Letter to Lady Carew was dated. The poem shared the same watermark as a letter by Donne, probably to Sir Robert More, written on 7 February 1612 from Amiens.[11] Evidence such as this would obviously be further reinforced if further manuscripts could be shown to share the common elements (handwriting and paper) and particularly if a longer text than a single sheet could be shown to share the same idiosyncratic use of paper--for instance, that it had been gathered in folio and cropped, rather than folded in quarto. Such distinctions are the bibliographic equivalent of a fingerprint.

It is precisely the combination of handwriting, paper, and the idiosyncratic choice of format that links the Jonson manuscripts. In 1609, Jonson acquired a stock of Italian paper. It was most probably manufactured in Venice and is of a very fine quality.[12] The watermark consists of a double pennant flag with the initials 'G3'. Paper of this kind, with dozens of variant but broadly similar watermarks, can be traced over a period of about fifty years. As with all watermarks, however, the evidence from a specific mould can be dated more accurately because the weight of the pulp eventually led to distortions in, and the replacement of, both the wire used for the watermark and eventually the mould within a period of six to twelve months.[13] As Stevenson observed, 'the reams made in one week were seldom precisely the same in their markings as those made in another week'.[14]

Compared to paper from northern France, Italian paper was relatively


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uncommon in England during the early seventeenth century as it was of a better quality and, therefore, more expensive.[15] For present purposes a suggestive outline of the variant watermarks will be given, but the results of comparing Jonson's paper with other similar stocks have proved to be consistent. There are four moulds to be found in the paper-stocks that Jonson used in 1609. As watermarks are usually twins, these four moulds represent two pairs.[16] The most obvious difference between the two pairs is that the first has flagpoles 43 and 44mm high, while the other pair has flagpoles 54mm high. All four watermarks are found in Herbert and are reproduced from beta-radiographs (figure 1). As the beta-radiographs show, each mark is distinctive in its detail, with differing widths between the wires as well as in the sizes and shapes for the letters, flagpoles and pennants; each is also different in the way the various elements are sewn on the wires and chains of the underlying mould. Each watermark was also cumulatively affected by pulp movement, cleaning of the tray with a scrubbing brush and minor repair, with one mark (figure 1b) subject to a distinctive process of deterioration in which the lower curve of the 'G' became flattened and the pennant shifted: this paper can also be traced in a letter written by Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, on 8 August 1609.[17]

The paper that Jonson used can be shown to differ from other paper with similar characteristics from the period. For instance, the letters and receipt written by Donne between 2 February and 6 July 1602, following his elopement with Anne More, were all on paper with a watermark of a draped flag with a 'G3' countermark.[18] None of Donne's other manuscripts shares exactly the same watermark, nor does the letter that Christopher Brooke wrote on 25 February 1602, on Donne's behalf (it was written on a sheet of pot). This material, like that used by Jonson seven years later, is linked by a common date, handwriting and paper, and forms a self-contained set within the larger group of Donne's manuscripts. Francis Bacon also used Italian paper: his letters from 1597-98 have a crossbow and 'G3' mark, while another from 1605 has a flag and 'G3' initials within a circle. A similar circled flag and initials is to be found in a letter signed by the Privy Council on 21 November 1602. The paper used for other letters by Bacon includes watermarks with a 43mm flagpole and a circled lamb and flag countermark on 7 February 1611, a 56mm high flagpole on 2 July 1613, a 50mm flagpole on 23 July 1619, and a 58mm


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FIGURE 1. Four beta-radiographs: John Donne, Biathanos. MS. e Musaeo 131. With the permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

[Description: watermark in paper, four examples]


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flagpole with large 18mm initials on 18 September 1623. Yet another variant of the watermark occurs in Donne's letter to Sir Robert More on 10 August 1614, which has a flagpole only 38mm high with the '3' joined to the pennant, while the Dobell Manuscript of Donne's sermons and poems, which may have been prepared around 1620, has a flagpole 54mm high, but in every other respect the watermark differs from that found in Herbert. Another undated miscellany, prepared c.1630, has a flag pole 48mm high, and the letters written by the Earl of Pembroke in 1628 and 1629 (used by Sullivan to date Herbert) have flagpoles 51 and 55mm high within initials 16mm high. Yet another flag watermark is to be found on a scribal copy of Jonson's epigrams on Inigo Jones from the early 1630s with a flagpole 62mm high, a shorter, dropped flag and a countermark on the outer edge of the other side of the sheet.[19] In dating Jonson's manuscripts by the paper, then, we might be wrong by a few months or a year, but not (with care) by decades. Jonson simply used too much paper and is known to have lived and travelled in too many places for him to be consistently using the same stock of paper in 1603, 1609 and, say, 1635.

The first example of the paper Jonson used is taken from the autograph manuscript of The Masque of Queenes (figure 2).[20] It is the most famous and elegant of Jonson's manuscripts and it is probable that Jonson prepared it for Prince Henry within a few months of when the masque was performed in February 1609, as at that time the manuscript would still have had the most resonance as a gift. The paper is Italian and is consistent throughout: the watermarks are of a double pennant flag with the initials 'G3' that conform in every respect (and not otherwise) to the four marks illustrated in figure 1. Physically, perhaps the most distinctive and obvious fact about the manuscript, after the carefulness of the script (it is a work of very fine penmanship), is that despite its size, The Masque of Queenes is not a quarto but a cropped folio gathered in single sheets (the page area is 210 x 170mm). Rebinding in the eighteenth century probably reduced the overall size of the page, but the point is that Jonson both used more paper than was necessary and provided generous margins, surrounding the text with a much larger area of space than was required and emphasising the luxurious nature of the manuscript. It is an important and impressive document that reveals how clearly Jonson thought about the structure of the page down to its finest details. With its carefully positioned sidenotes, it is clearly influenced by the scholarly printed books


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FIGURE 2. Ben Johnson, The Masque of Queenes. Royal MS. 18.A.xlv, f. 2r. With the permission of the British Library, London.

[Description: manuscript page]


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with which Jonson was familiar. The Masque of Queenes is also, in every sense, a manuscript that has been shaped from Jonson's memory, papers and library. From Jonson's reference to such books as Philipp Ludwig Elich's Dæmonomagia (Frankfurt, 1607) and his knowledge of others, such as Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx's Le Balet Comique (Paris, 1582), to his record of the performance and the immaculate layout of the textual elements, the manuscript of The Masque of Queenes is more than a record of an entertainment. As Stephen Orgel observes, it anatomises 'in a way that is all but unique in English, the relation of a Renaissance poet to the sources of his invention'.[21]

The date of the manuscript can also be confirmed by reference to another of Jonson's manuscripts. The Lowell Manuscript of the Epitaph on Cecilia Bulstrode, now in the Houghton Library, can also be shown to share exactly one of the same watermarks as the Masque (1b).[22] This manuscript was written in August 1609 while the servant of one of Donne's closest friends, George Gerrard, was apparently waiting for Jonson to finish writing the poem and the letter that follows it—Jonson excused himself as 'staightned wth time (as yor Man knowes)'. The letter makes quite clear that Jonson was responding to an unexpected request and that he 'was not so much as acquainted' with the matter before the request arrived. Cecilia Bulstrode died on 4 August 1609.

Another manuscript, the epigram to Sir Horace Vere, also suggests that the manuscript for Prince Henry of the Masque was written no later than 1609. The manuscript shares the third watermark to be found in Herbert and The Masque of Queenes (1c).[23] Vere returned to England in 1607, after many years in the Low Countries, before leaving for Europe again as Governor of Brill in October 1609.[24] Jonson would have had less reason to write the poem after Vere's return to Europe when he would have not been able to present it to him, than while Vere was in England and could be approached. On literary and historical grounds, then, a date for the manuscript of between 1607 and 1609 would also seem to be right. The point, however, is that if we accept the dating of the Vere epigram to no later than 1609, we must also admit other evidence that corresponds to such findings. Three autograph manuscripts, all sharing paper with common associations, written by Jonson within a short period of time from one another, are compelling evidence that he was using a


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common supply of paper, or consistently acquiring paper from the same source at that time.


Before showing the relationship between these three manuscripts and Herbert, it is appropriate to give another example, both of Jonson's use of Italian paper and, more importantly, of Simpson's mis-description of manuscript material. The example is Jonson's letter to Sir Robert Cotton in British Library Cotton MS. Julius C. III, reproduced by Greg as Jonson's last surviving manuscript in English Literary Autographs.[25] The manuscript is in a collection of letters to Sir Robert Cotton, with no letter written later than 1629. The volume was at one time arranged in approximate chronological order with Jonson's letter bound in at f. 62.[26] It was subsequently broken up and re-arranged in alphabetical order with Jonson's letter placed at f. 222. Because the original binding has been destroyed, it is impossible to tell whether the letter was inserted at a later date, or indeed to determine when the volume was originally bound—which is why it is dangerous to modify the physical structure of historical documents. There are, in fact, errors in the original placement of undated letters—one from Donne to Cotton was, for instance, written in 1610, not 1614—but someone had made a fairly serious attempt to get the order approximately right. The confusion that the British Library introduced, however, by re-ordering the letters allowed Simpson to redate the letter without further comment.

When the Cotton Catalogue was first prepared, Joseph Planta (the librarian concerned) did not recognise Jonson's hand and thought the letter had been written by someone called 'Bell'. This is significant because it shows that there was no reason for Planta to have placed the letter out of order on the basis of a mistaken inference. The overwhelming probability must, therefore, remain that the Cotton Catalogue records the placement of the letter at an earlier date by someone with a sense of its position in the chronological sequence. It was Simpson who discovered that 'Bell' was 'Ben'. The letter is slightly cryptic.

Sr, as seriously, as a man but fayntly returning to his despayr'd health,
can; I salute you. And by these few lines request you,
that you would by this bearer, lend me some booke, that would
determinately satisfy mee, of the true site [of canceled] & distance
betwixt Bauli, [and canceled; next word interlined with caret] or portus Baiarñ,
and Villa Augusta into wch (if I erre not) runnes Lacus lucrinus.
They are neere by my historicall ayme to Cumæ Chalcidensium
Misenñ , Avernus. in Campania./
Good Sr adde this to many other Courtesies you haue done mee
that though I chance to suruiue now, I may herafter dye
more in yor Debt./


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The Booke shall be returned this night
wthout excuse./

Your infirme
BEN. now./

In and of itself, all this undated letter reveals is that Jonson had been seriously ill, that he wished to borrow a book, and that he was concerned about the geography of Campania and 'the true site & distance betwixt Bauli, ... and Villa Augusta'. In the Catalogue, the letter was placed with other undated material after the letters written in 1609 and thus 'c.1609?' is the pencilled note on the stub in the binding. More generally, this group of material might represent letters that were thought by whoever gathered them to have been written during the first decade of the seventeenth century. Simpson, however, concluded that the letter must have been slipped in later and that it was written towards the end of Jonson's life. He assumed that as Jonson was 'a man but fayntly returning to his despayred health' and signed himself 'Your infirme | BEN. now.', these were the rather desperate laments of an aged sick man who might 'herafter dye more in yor Debt'. In the Oxford edition, he placed the letter after the one to Newcastle on 20 December 1631 and described the letter as 'written in [Jonson's] latest years after the attack of palsy'.[27] He did not mention that there might be a problem with date or infer doubt as to its place in the historical sequence. The next step was taken by Greg, who realised that Cotton's library had been closed by royal order in 1629 and that Cotton had died in May 1631.[28] Access was not permitted to the Cottonian library again till after Sir Robert's death. Greg therefore redated the manuscript c.1635 and assumed that rather than being written to Sir Robert, it had been written to his son, Sir Thomas Cotton.

Yet if Sir Thomas Cotton had inserted the letter in the volume, the chances are that (like the Desmond Ode in the Christ Church Salusbury Manuscript) it would have been gathered with other papers that had been inserted out of order in the same place.[29] The surrounding letters were written by Sir Anthony Mildmay (who died in 1617), Sir Humphrey Winch (d. 1625), John Holles, later Earl of Clare (d. 1637) and Sir John Harington (d. 1612). The likelihood of Jonson's letter being inserted randomly in the wrong place with this other material at a later date must be viewed as improbable. Instead of Simpson's interpretation, what seems more likely is that Jonson meant, with wry humour, that he was recovering—he was 'infirme', no longer seriously ill.

The codicological evidence that this letter was written earlier rather than later in Jonson's life is corroborated by the paper and handwriting. The strongly cursive hand (which shows no sign of palsy) is also to be found in Jonson's copy of Selden's De Dijs Syris (London, 1617: figure 3), but it is unlike the marginalia found in books from his library printed towards the end


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FIGURE 3. John Selden, De Dijs Syris, London, 1617. Shelfmark STC 22167.2, front flyleaf. With the permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.

[Description: handwritten note on flyleaf]
of his life (i.e. those in which the evidence for his later hand is unquestionable), or his inscription in one of the Folger copies of Camden's Annales, written after 1627, but almost certainly in the 1630s (figure 4). Similarly, the watermark (though cropped) is clearly the double pennant flag with the initials 'G3' (figure 5). The principal difference between the watermarks found in the 1609 manuscripts and this one is that the bottom of the flagpole of the Cotton Manuscript has a double base and the initials are more distant from the flag. As has been shown, this is not surprising as there were literally dozens of variant marks and moulds. In fact, it is exactly the same watermark as that in Robert Cecil's letter to Sir John Peyton in March 1603 about Queen Elizabeth's final sickness.[30]

The disparity of thirty years between the date assigned by Simpson and Greg and the watermark evidence is certainly sufficient to make one pause. It would therefore help if what may seem to be an obscure letter could be connected to a passage in either a Jonson play, poem or masque. The places that Jonson mentions are all to be found on the coast to the north of Naples, and were fashionable resorts for Roman aristocrats. Cumae was the town furthest north, an ancient Greek settlement famous for the sibylline oracles. While none of the places mentioned in the letter occurs in Jonson's texts, the general area, 'Campania', was referred to twice, the first time in Poetaster and the second time in Sejanus. The passage in Sejanus indicates that the watermark


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FIGURE 4. William Camden, Annales, London 1615, 27. Shelfmark STC 4496 copy 1, recto of engraved portrait. With the permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.

[Description: recto of engraved portrait]


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FIGURE 5. Photograph. Ben Johnson to Sir Robert Cotton, [1603]. Cotton MS. Julius C. III, f. 222. With the permission of the British Library, London.

[Description: watermark in paper]
evidence is correct and that Simpson and Greg were wrong. At the end of Act Three, Tiberius informs Macro that he is leaving Rome:
We are in purpose, Macro, to depart
The Citty for a time, and see Campania;
Not for our pleasures, but to dedicate
A paire of Temples, one, to Iupiter
At Capua; Th'other at Nola, to Augustus.[31]

While the towns Jonson mentions are different, reference to a classical dictionary quickly confirms that the places he writes of in both Sejanus and the letter are in close proximity to one another. Jonson was clearly establishing the geography of the area as background to the play.

To summarise: the original order in which the letter was bound indicates a general date in the first decade of the seventeenth century, the cursiveness of the hand indicates that it was written earlier rather than later in Jonson's life, the watermark dates the letter to 1603, and the passage from Sejanus dates the letter to 1603. We also know that in 1603 Jonson was staying with Cotton in Conington when he had the dream of his son as the burning babe and news the following morning that he had died. The redating of the letter now means that it is possible that Jonson did not so much abandon his family in London, but rather that he retired to the country in order to protect his wife and son from an illness that had almost killed him. Perhaps Camden thought Jonson's dream was a hallucination from the fever. Perhaps the unstated reason for the emotional force of Jonson's famous epigram is the sense that (however unwittingly) he was directly responsible for his son's death.

The misdating of the letter has created two problems. First, this letter was apparently only one of two manuscripts that could be dated after Jonson's illness in 1628-29. We now know that dating to be wrong. As a consequence, the Cotton Manuscript cannot be securely reproduced as evidence for Jonson's handwriting in his final years. The other putative witness to Jonson's hand towards the end of his life, the Ellesmere Manuscript of 'The Expostu-


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FIGURE 6. Ben Johnson, 'An Expostulation with Inigo Jones' (scribal copy). MS. EL8729, f. 44r. With the permission of the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino.

[Description: handwritten page]
lation with Inigo Jones', has also never been reproduced, nor has any of Jonson's late marginalia. What can be stated for certain is that the Ellesmere Manuscript is not holograph (figure 6). It is a scribal copy.[32] The two other


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late examples of Jonson's hand are the inscription on the front fly-leaf of Marmora Arundelliana in pencil and ink (the pencil inscription showing no sign of illness), and the inscription in Camden's Annales. Of these two examples, that in the copy of Camden's Annales is almost certainly later.

Second, restoring the original date to the letter alters what is known about Jonson's biography. It is not only that Jonson nearly died in 1603 and that both Sejanus and the epitaph on his son must now be read with that knowledge. He would also appear to have been far more active in the 1630s than we have assumed. Simpson believed that the illness referred to as 'palsy' was the after-effect of a stroke and this has become the standard story. His partner, Charles Herford, had asserted that Jonson was 'struck down with paralysis in 1628', while David Riggs suggested that Jonson suffered a second stroke in 1626, adding that the stroke in 1628 rendered Jonson 'a paralytic invalid' and 'confined to his house for the rest of his life'.[33] It is possible, of course, that 'palsy' might equally refer to a condition such as Parkinson's Disease. More importantly, what neither Herford nor Riggs knew was that, on 3 May 1632, Jonson in his capacity as city chronologer was amongst the esquires who walked in the funeral procession of Sir John Lemmon, Lord Mayor,' from Grocers hall to St Michaells church in Crooke Lane'.[34] It is possible that he may have been helped, but there is no indication of this in the document, and unless further evidence can be produced it must be concluded that Jonson's physical disability late in his life has been substantially mis-represented.

Jonson may have left his house only rarely and occasionally spent some days in bed, though we do not know this for certain, but it would appear he could walk and it is quite possible that he attended the opening (and only) night of The New Inne on 19 January 1629 as his prefatory comments suggest.[35] It is, in fact, extremely unlikely that if Jonson had been seriously paralysed by two strokes within a short period, he would have lived for another eight years (particularly given the limitations of early modern medical care).[36] Perhaps the only other piece of information that now need be added is that another circumstantial witness adduced to substantiate the severity of Jonson's ill health in his later years is less than reliable. John Pory certainly knew both Cotton and Jonson and in his letters of 15 and 20 September 1632 reported that The Magnetic Lady had been advertised for performance. In the second letter, he also mentioned that he had thought Jonson to be dead. On another occasion, in June 1632, Pory had also reported the death of Hugh


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Holland, thirteen months before Holland's demise.[37] Though used uncritically by Jonson scholars, Pory's reliability as a witness has been viewed rather differently by historians: the letters were once described as concerned with 'the last new rumour' and 'unescapably trivial'.[38] Though they certainly knew each other, one must also wonder how much Pory really knew of Jonson's circumstances at all.

More generally, the point about the Cotton letter and Simpson's treatment of manuscript material is that our understanding of the literary evidence is predicated on the inferences we make about the origins of the material and the conditions of its production. D. F. McKenzie made this observation in these pages almost thirty years ago and it is worth repeating the passage he recalled (via Popper's Logic of Scientific Discovery) from Black's Lectures on the Elements of Chemistry: 'A nice adaption of conditions will make almost any hypo thesis agree with the phenomena. This will please our imagination, but does not advance our knowledge'.[39]


It is now time to return to the Herbert manuscript of Biathanatos. During 1609, Jonson wrote and had staged Epicœne, The Masque of Queenes and Britains Burse, and he wrote several short poems. He also prepared the manuscript of Herbert.[40] Although photographs of the hand have been published very recently by Peter Beal, neither the Simpsons, Greg, nor Sullivan, who edited the manuscript of Biathanatos, illustrated the hand of the 'scribe', or the error of not connecting it with Jonson would have been noticed long ago (figure 7).[41]

The only book to acknowledge that Jonson may have been responsible for the manuscript was Evelyn Simpson's The Prose Works of John Donne, which first appeared in 1924. Percy and Evelyn Simpson had married three years earlier. Perhaps because Evelyn was the Donne scholar, the manuscript was discussed in her book rather than in the first volumes of the Oxford edition of Jonson which appeared in 1925. In the first edition of The Prose Works, Evelyn Simpson indicated there might be a problem:

The Bodleian manuscript raises some difficult problems. The hand in which it is written bears an extraordinary likeness to that of Ben Jonson. But in the absence of any clear external evidence—such as an allusion in Donne's introductory letter—it is


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impossible to suppose that Jonson had undertaken the arduous task of copying out a treatise of this length. Further there are palaeographical difficulties when a detailed comparison is made with the holograph manuscript of Jonson's Masque of Queens, preserved among the Royal Manuscripts in the British Museum. The numerous marginal notes are in Donne's own hand....[42]

We must respect Evelyn Simpson's genuine scholarly caution, for her hesitation is understandable: identifying another person's handwriting accurately can prove deeply embarrassing, as (theatrically) Malvolio discovered in Twelfth Night. With no further evidence, she prudently decided to regard the manuscript as a problem. The following year, Greg was supportive of her doubts:

It should be added that other hands occur liable to be confused with Jonson's. A manuscript of Biathanatos is preserved in the Bodleian Library (MS. e Musaeo 131) which shows an extremely close general resemblance, though certain technical distinctions make identity improbable.[43]
By 1948, Evelyn Simpson altered the passage concerned:
The hand in which the Bodleian manuscript is written has a resemblance to that of Ben Jonson, though it is certainly not his. The numerous marginal notes are in Donne's own hand....[44]

This opinion has been accepted without question. In 1972, Robert Pirie referred to the manuscript as 'in a scribal hand'; while in 1984, Sullivan observed that it was the work of 'a single professional copyist' and this was also assumed by Speed Hill.[45] Although these are accurate, though partial, statements, the other manuscripts of this 'professional copyist' (unlike, for instance, the Feathery scribe) have not been identified. In 1925, it might have bee n adequate for Greg to write that 'other hands are liable to be confused with Jonson's': seventy years later, the work of this supposed scrivener has remained limited to a single manuscript.

The real problem with the 'certain technical distinctions' that Greg and the Simpsons made is that they were comparing, as it were, apples with oranges. The Masque of Queenes is a very special manuscript that Jonson prepared for Prince Henry. The manuscript shows Jonson's hand at its most stylised and contrived. A similar example can be found in a copy of Martial that he gave to Richard Briggs in 1619.[46] Comparison with The Masque of


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FIGURE 7. John Donne, Biathanatos. MS. e Musaeo 131, p. 177. With the permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

[Description: manuscript page]


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FIGURE 8. Ben Johnson, 'An Epitaph on Cecilia Bulstrode'. Lowell MS. 1455. With the permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

[Description: manuscript page]


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was, of course, the test Simpson always applied against any other possible Jonson manuscript, but that is scarcely reassuring, for the variety of the evidence concerning Jonson's handwriting found in his manuscripts and marginalia is far more complicated. The moment Herbert is compared with the Lowell Manuscript (figure 8), the fallacy is obvious. The Lowell Manuscript is a fine example of Jonson's typical hand in 1609, carefully written but far more fluent than The Masque of Queenes.

Another document, however, shows that Evelyn Simpson decided to suppress material originally intended for her book before the first edition of The Prose Works of John Donne appeared. These alterations involve more significant matters than merelyan adjustment of tone. At the bottom of an uncatalogued cardboard box titled 'Printed Pieces, Notes and Proofs' among her papers, now in the Osborn Collection at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, is an envelope which contains part of the original typescript for the Prose Works. The passage that has been quoted, before it was altered for publication, first read:

The Bodleian manuscript raises some difficult problems. The hand in which it is written bears an extraordinary likeness to that of Ben Jonson. Mr. Percy Simpson, who as an editor of Jonson is thoroughly familiar with the latter's hand, has examined the manuscript of Biathanatos and declares that the general resemblance is so striking, as well as the agreement of individual letters and groups of letters, that he is disposed to believe the manuscript is in Jonson's autograph. If this can be substantiated it will furnish an additional proof of Jonson's admiration for Donne. The numerous marginal notes are in Donne's own hand....[47]
There was also a further passage that was removed:
But if the Bodleian manuscript is really in Jonson's hand, we cannot date it as late as 1619, and a date between 1602 and 1608 would seem probable. Mr. Simpson believes that it shows a slightly earlier form of Jonson's handwriting than that exhibited in the Masque of Queens (1609), of which the holograph manuscript is to be found among the Royal MSS. in the British Museum.

It is quite clear from this that Percy Simpson believed the manuscript to be in Jonson's hand. If he changed his mind, he left no statement as to why he did so. It would be possible to speculate why the Simpsons decided not to address the manuscript in the context of the Jonson edition (including the problems it would have created for the first two volumes of the edition while it was already at the press), but that is not the main issue. Put simply, the scholarly opinions of Percy and Evelyn Simpson on Jonson's manuscript material cannot be accepted without question. In the case of both the Cotton manuscript and Herbert, Percy Simpson began with an assumption about Jonson's biography and then made a judgment about the nature of the evidence before him based on those opinions. In both instances, he was wrong.


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Of course, we do not have a letter or similar document by Jonson that explicitly states that he copied Biathanatos—therefore, another form of corroborative evidence would help 'determinately satisfy' the question of his involvement. Paper, as a neutral record of such associations, is the best witness we could have, and that is why it is such an important control when discussing these issues.

Simpson, though considered a perfectionist, never took records of watermarks or other forms of evidence provided by paper. Sullivan, however, did—though he dated the manuscript on inferences about when it might have been copied, and did not record the distinctive evidence that could be derived from the characteristics of the mark or differences in the mould. The account that Sullivan provided of the paper to be found in the manuscript therefore needs to be modified.[48] The manuscript consists of 142 leaves, not all of which are conjugate, folded as folio but cut down to quarto size.[49] The paper has four variant watermarks of a double pennant flag with the initials 'G3' (figure 1). The volume is quired in a combination of single sheets and in fours.

As well as the paper used for the manuscript, there is a group of front and rear endpapers. A pair of front and the rear flyleaves are folded as quarto, the rear without watermark and the front with a small bunch of grapes with a stalk. The front flyleaves are quired with a folio sheet of which the first leaf is a stub (which has been numbered) and on the verso of the second is the record of Herbert's gift of the volume to the Bodleian: the watermark was on the cropped leaf. Following the leaf with the record of Herbert's gift is another single folio leaf with a stub bound in before the manuscript. This leaf, on which Donne wrote his letter to Sir Edward Herbert, is without a watermark. These pages have been recorded by the Bodleian as i-x—in order to avoid confusion, the Bodleian method of numbering the preliminary leaves of the manuscript has been retained here. There is also a single folio leaf after the manuscript (but before the rear flyleaves) with a crown and grape watermark—whether this was originally conjugate with Donne's letter is uncertain, but it is probable as the distance between the chainlines (which are much wider than the other paper) is the same. The structure is suggestive of the way in which the manuscript was put together and then turned into the book that was given to Sir Edward Herbert. The volume was bound in gilt-ruled reverse calf with a central ornament of five crossed arrows and a bow, quartered with brown morocco and secured with blue silk ties, of which the stubs remain.

Excluding the endpapers that have been described, the remainder of the volume was initially prepared by Jonson before Donne added the sidenotes. This section entirely consists of paper with flag watermarks, and indicates


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something of the history of its preparation as a document. The watermarks are twins, and these twins change approximately halfway through the manuscript when the sheets begin to be mixed together. The second pair of watermarks first occurs at pages 135-138 and 175-178, where the new paper is bound as the inner sheet of the quire (in fours). The first group of papers is indicated by roman type and the second group by italic. The division between them is as follows:
c.250 x 165mm 2°, pp. 284: ; xi-xiv xv-xxxvi, 1-134 135-138 139-174 175-178 179-184 185-212 213-228 229-258.

There are two parts to the preliminaries and the differences in paper are suggestive. Pages xi-xiv include the title and a list of authors cited. Pages xv-xxxvi is a descriptive list of contents.[50] It would appear that this second section was prepared while the manuscript was being written, as it is on the first group of paper. The first two leaves were then written after the rest of the manuscript had been finished: they are on the second group of paper. The way in which the second group of papers gradually replaces the first suggests that Jonson was steadily working through a single supply of paper that had been mixed together when the sheets were first placed in a heap at the papermill. The conclusion is corroborated by the presence of all four watermarks in the much shorter manuscript of The Masque of Queenes.

As Herbert is also a Donne manuscript, with Donne's marginal notes added to the text, most of Donne's manuscripts have also been examined for their watermark characteristics, to discover whether any of them share the same paper. There are thirty-eight surviving letters and one poem in Donne's hand and six other documents written by him. Like Jonson, Donne appears to have liked fine papers and, as has been shown, he used paper of this kind. While it has not proved possible to examine every holograph Donne manuscript for this study, none so far seen shares exactly the same watermarks as those used by Jonson. The only holograph letter written by Donne that has been dated to 1609 is on a sheet of pot.[51]

Paper and handwriting are two quite independent and impartial witnesses to the history of the preparation of a document. Three acknowledged manuscripts in Jonson's hand written in close proximity to one another are also associated by common watermark evidence. When the paper is also used in the same unusual manner (folded as folio, rather than quarto, and cropped) as another manuscript to which it is in other ways related, it is a piece of evidence that is particularly compelling. In the one manuscript that was


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prepared as a presentation text, The Masque of Queenes, the paper was prepared in exactly the same manner. The conclusion is unavoidable: Jonson was responsible for preparing and copying the Herbert manuscript of Biathanatos. When Herbert is compared with all the available evidence, the euphemism of 'certain technical considerations' dissolves in its imprecision.

What we know of Donne and Jonson's biographies also reinforces the likelihood that Jonson prepared Herbert about the same time as he was working on the manuscript of The Masque of Queenes. Donne was on the Continent between November 1611 and August 1612, while Jonson travelled with Ralegh's son between the spring of 1612 and early 1613. They are unlikely, therefore, to have collaborated on Herbert while either was absent or when they were both in Europe. This suggests that the possible dates between which Herbert must have been prepared can not have been before late 1608 (when Biathanatos was first written by Donne) or after November 1611 (when Donne travelled overseas).[52] For other reasons, an undated letter to Sir Henry Goodyere, that is accepted as having been written in 1609, would also seem to confirm that Herbert was being prepared at that time.[53] The contextual evidence increases the certainty with which Herbert can be dated and, once again, the date that seems most plausible is 1609: paper, biography and correspondence coincide.

The most important issue, however, remains the cumulative evidence that Jonson prepared Herbert : the problem is not if he did so, it is why, and what his involvement might imply. In 1619, Donne famously commented to Sir Robert Ker that 'I have always gone so near suppressing it [Biathanatos], as that it is onely not burnt: no hand hath passed upon it to copy it, nor many eyes to read it: onely to some particular friends in both Universities, then when I writ it, I did communicate it'.[54] In fact, as Peter Beal has recently shown, a second manuscript of Biathanatos survives.[55] Known as Canterbury, the manuscript is textually variant from both Herbert and the 1644 Quarto prepared by Donne's son. At best, then, Donne's comment to Ker is a little disingenuous.

Canterbury is also important for present purposes, because it contains a textual variant that casts some light on Jonson's involvement with Herbert. As Beal has shown, Jonson mis-read the name 'Hillel' and wrote 'stilled'; the same error was made in the 1644 Quarto. The scribe of Canterbury, however, understood the reference and copied Donne correctly.[56] The implication is that Jonson was copying from Donne's papers, and that Donne did not notice the error when adding his sidenotes and making corrections. It is clear that


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they must have worked closely together. This is not, of course, to claim Jonson as an author, but rather as a collaborative participant in the creation of the text. It is not impossible that two friends would have discussed the issues as they worked toget her.

There are many reasons why Jonson might have helped Donne, from a wish to collaborate and a genuine interest on his part in the issues involved, to being paid in cash or kind (and the two are not mutually exclusive). The reason he prepared the manuscript is, of course, an ultimately insoluble problem, but it does indicate a serious ellipsis in our knowledge about Jonson and Donne. Rather than suppressing the connection, we need to recognise their close association with one another. It is not satisfactory to elide the space and construct a narrative that ignores the problem as has happened in the past. For, as Jeffrey Masten's work on textual collaboration makes clear, such co-operation between authors was habitual in the early modern period.[57] Evelyn Simpson's hesitations are understandable, but they also derived from a view of authorship that we now recognise to be too narrowly focused.


That Jonson was involved in the preparation of Biathanatos indicates that we need to adjust our understanding of textual production in two ways. First, Biathanatos is deeply instructive as to how the preparation of a manuscript might be influenced by the culture of print, for the layout of the page indicates a consciousness about structure and design down to the use of running-titles and the creation of the preliminary matter. In this, Jonson departs from the traditional manuscript practices of the medieval period—he had been influenced by the printed books with which he was familiar. Similarly, the depth of the script on the page and the width of the line is typical of a quarto printed in great primer on large paper. The care with which the manuscript was produced, then, suggests that Jonson wished to create a document with the physical elegance of a private manuscript and the formal structure of a printed book. It is a visual essay on the way in which the variety of textual forms affect each other, and it reinforces the point that is implicit in both The Masque of Queenes and the 1616 Workes about the importance that Jonson attached to the visual structure of the page. Given that this is so, the cumulative evidence of Biathanatos and The Masque of Queenes must also oblige us to reconsider the typographic and literary authority of the 1616 Workes from a perspective that is deeply influenced by the social and personal networks of manuscript culture. For Jonson to have recorded on the title-page of his Workes that he was 'Contentus paucis lectoribus' is only the most obvious manifestation of these connections.

Second, we need to adjust our understanding about the circulation of manuscripts in the early modern period away from the author and back to the scribe, for one of the problems behind editing Jonson and Donne is identify-


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ing the person responsible for the scribal transcriptions, and their relationship with the author or patron involved. Equally, we need to understand, as the first point also suggests, the complex social network behind the preparation of manuscripts and printed books. Sir Henry Spelman, for instance, was closely associated with Camden, Selden and Cotton, and the fact that a manuscript that belonged to him, now in Cape Town, contains poems by Jonson, Donne, Carew, Herrick and others, written in that part of the miscellany by a single hand, is a matter that must receive closer attention than it has in the past.[58]

The larger problem that the association with Donne and the redating of the letter present is biographical. As the approximately three hundred surviving books from his library also testify, Jonson was not quite the person that legend would have him be. It is not just his learning, friendships and character that have been mis-represented, or simply that his late plays are more thoughtful and finer works of literature than their reputation might have us believe. The fact that Simpson and Greg got Jonson's late handwriting wrong, for instance, means that it is quite possible that there are yet other autograph manuscripts by Jonson, written in the 1630s, that have not been identified. Equally, Jonson's intellectual biography needs to be rewritten from a perspective that also includes such associative manuscript activity as his marginalia. If a copy of Martial had been owned and as heavily annotated by Shakespeare as the 1615 and 1619 editions once owned by Jonson are, they would have long ago been photographically reproduced, edited and intensively studied.[59] Similarly, Jonson's marginalia in his copy of Francisco Modio's Pandectae Triumphales have only ever been briefly discussed, and it


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remains generally unknown as a witness to his work as a writer of masques.[60] The point could be expanded by further reference to the marginalia (both verbal and non-verbal markings) in such unrecorded books from Jonson's library as Viperano's De Obtenta Portugalia, Brisson's De Formulis et Sollemnibus (an important source for Sejanus ) or the De Re Culinaria of Apicius.[61] The importance of this material is not confined to the ways in which it might be incorporated into any future edition of Jonson but, also, the way in which it documents the history of Jonson's reading practices and the development of his ideas.[62]

This awareness of the connections between people and manuscripts, books and readers, must also, in the end, be the point behind the creation of an archive of digital images intended to complement the literary texts that we are now creating in electronic form. Editing in this way is both a fashionable and inevitable consequence of computerisation, and the implications that it will have for textual scholarship are only beginning to be appreciated.[63] As Jerome McGann has observed, the problems associated with the physical form of the codex 'grow more acute when readers want or need something beyond the semantic content of the primary textual materials'.[64] Indeed, as McGann recognised, the most primary images 'beyond' the semantic field of words are the historical documents, not only because 'the book's (heretofore distributed) semantic and visual features can be made present to each other' but also 'since all [the] separate books and documents can also be made simultaneously present to each other, as well as all the parts of the documents'.[65]

The dates and attributions that have been made in this study for the letter to Sir Robert Cotton, Herbert and the Ellesmere Manuscript illustrate in their respective ways the care that must be taken both in preserving access to the primary materials (in order to ensure that such research is possible) and in


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considering all the evidence before representing early modern texts in a visual medium. The real issue, however, is that any archive that is too narrowly conceived around a single author (particularly in the early modern period where the evidence is usual ly more diffuse) will, finally, be merely illustrative. This is not to deny the author, but to suggest that a sociology of texts requires that we recover, in far greater complexity, the communities of interest that link these documents together.

To some, this may seem deeply unfair, but the simple truth is that the textual problems created by collaboration and association will not go away. Whether it be in the association of writers, the typographic or calligraphic design of the page, the physical materials that are used, the activities of those involved in the production of textual material, or the history of the preliminary documents (personal papers, printer's copy, typescript) prior to a completed version, the composition of the elements, the choices involved, the adaptions and alterations made, will all reveal the history of the use of the intellect. To read the surface of a text without recognising its historical significance as a document is to reduce language to a historical abstraction that is separated from the socio-cultural and physical constructions of its meaning.

Indeed, simply to assume that the reproduction of an original document in codex or digital form is satisfactory as a representation of historical understanding and that it absolves an editor from further responsibility in that regard is a fallacy that the work of McKenzie, McGann and others long ago exposed. As Hugh Amory observed: 'The issues are not merely theoretical: every question about the author's intention involves a question about the intentions of the editors, correctors, compositors and printers, who are also his or her earliest readers' and, one must also add, the same is true of scribal copyists.[66] The facsimile serves a useful purpose, but its representation is not the same as an appreciation of the processes that create such a document, the compromises that may have been involved, or the uses to which it was put. The facsimile (at one remove) makes rare documents accessible. The editorial problem, however, is not only to understand what those documents represent and what they mean, but what they do not record. This is, ultimately, the justification for historically edited texts. It is not only that modern spelling is a historically constructed concept that is both anachronistic and under pressure from popular culture, though that is undoubtedly true. Old spelling registers, in all and in the most simple of ways, the difference (difference and diffÉrance) of early modern texts, and the fact that they are not of this historical moment—with all that implies about marriage, gender, cultural materialism, power, privilege and the other multitudinous interests that we wish to explore. 'The no longer for their truth as one might seek to define that by authorial intention, but for their testimony, as defined by their historical use'.[67]

Further, we need to appreciate that the study of the associations and contexts involved in the production, transmission and reception of texts does not,


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in the end, lead to greater confusion of information but to a greater clarity as connections are made and historical issues resolved. It may be, for instance, a laborious and difficult task to recognise the same hand and common sources of paper in the documents of different authors, but the results of such work have profoundly enriched our understanding of the social and personal networks that link the circulation of texts in early modern England. As contemporaries, as friends, as the finest verse poets of their generation, Jonson and Donne are linked in manuscript after manuscript, and it is only by drawing the thread through this material that we will ever supersede the Herford and Simpson edition. Just as Donne and Jonson collaborated on a manuscript of Biathanatos, so too must Jonson and Donne scholars collaborate both in the creation of new scholarly resources and in the resolution of common textual problems. Rare poems ask rare friends.[68]



The standard points of departure are: D. F. McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts (London, 1986); J. J. McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago, 1983). For proble ms associated with manuscripts, see: W. S. Hill, 'Editing Nondramatic Texts of the English Renaissance: A Field Guide with Illustrations', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 1985-1991, ed. W. S. Hill (Binghamton, 1993), 1-24.


E. W. Sullivan II, 'The Renaissance Verse Miscellany: Private Party, Private Text', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 297.


The most important exception is: H. Kelliher, 'Donne, Jonson, Richard Andrews and The Newcastle Manuscript', English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700, 4 (1993), 134-173.


See, S. A. Morison, Politics and Script: Aspects of Authority and Freedom in the Development of Graeco-Latin Script from the Sixth Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D., ed. N. J. Barker (Oxford, 1972), 1.


See, E. M. Simpson, 'Jonson and Donne: A Problem in Authorship', Review of English Studies, 15 (1939), 274-282; D. Heyward Brock, 'Jonson and Donne: Structural Fingerprinting and the Attribution of Elegies XXXVIII-XLI', Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 72 (1978), 519-527.


For instance, R. C. Newton, 'Jonson and the (Re-)Invention of the Book', Classic and Cavalier, ed. C. J. Summers and T-L. Pebworth (Pittsburgh, 1984), 30-65; M. de Grazia, Shakespeare Verbatim (Oxford, 1991), 22-37; A. F. Marotti, Manuscript, Print and the English Renaissance Lyric (Ithaca, 1995), 238-247.


C. Herford, P. Simpson & E. Simpson, Ben Jonson, 11 vols. (Oxford, 1925-52); hereafter H&S. Herford wrote Jonson's biography and the literary assessment, Evelyn Simpson collated the late plays (Volume vi) and assisted with Volumes vii and viii, and Percy Simpson edited the remainder of the material (including the 'Conversations with Drummond') and wrote the commentary and stage history. For an account of the more familiar problems associated with the Herford and Simpson edition, see C. I. E. Donaldson, 'A New Edition of Ben Jonson?', Ben Jonson Journal, 2 (1995), 223-231.


B. Jonson, Workes, STC 14751-2 (1616), Epigrams XXIII, XCIIII, XCVI; B. Jonson, Volpone, STC 14783 (1607), A1r [Workes (1616), ¶6r]; Hill's Philosophia Epicurea is in the library of the Middle Temple, London; for Davison, British Library Harleian MS 298, item 60; for Gerrard, Houghton Library Lowell MS. 1455; the Tertullian is in the library at Charlecote House, Warwickshire, shelfmark L6-22. I would like to thank Jim Riddell and Henry Woudhuysen for this last reference, and the National Trust for permission to mention the volume. Jonson also wrote an epigram to Herbert.


C. Brooke, The Ghost of Richard the Third, STC 3830-0.3 (1614), A4v ; the Bertius is British Library, shelfmark 568.b.22, with Jonson's note 'Ex dono Amicissim. Row: Woodward'. Not listed in D. McPherson, 'Ben Jonson's Library and Marginalia', Studies in Philology, 71 (1974), suppl., 1-106. Recorded by T. A. Birrell, The Library of John Morris (London, 1976), item 170. There are more than ninety surviving books from Jonson's library not recorded by McPherson.


The exception is the newly identified manuscript of Britains Burse, or The Key Keeper (Public Record Office PR 14/144, ff. 144-147), which is partly written in Jonson's hand (ff. 144r -145 r, 146r lines 1-10) and partly by two other amanuenses. It was written on two sheets of pot. These hastily written sheets were not, however, meant for public circulation and it may be that Jonson distinguished between good paper for formal use and cheaper paper for his own purposes.


Bodleian Library MS. Eng. Poet d. 197 and Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. L.b.535. See also, H. Gardner, John Donne's holograph of 'A Letter to the Lady Carey and Mrs Essex Riche' (London, 1972); N. J. Barker, 'Donne's "Letter to the Lady Carey and Mrs. Essex Riche": Text and Facsimile', The Book Collector, 22 (1973), 487-493; P. J. Croft, Autograph Poetry in the English Language, 2 vols. (London, 1973), i, 24-27. L. Yeandle, 'Watermarks as Evidence for Dating and Authenticity in John Donne and Benjamin Franklin', from The First International Conference on the History, Function, & Study of Watermarks (1996), publication forthcoming.


E. A. Heawood, 'Paper Used in England After 1600', The Library, IV, 11 (1931), 274.


A. H. Stevenson, 'Paper as Bibliographical Evidence', The Library, V, 17 (1962), 197-212. See also, J. Bidwell, 'The Study of Paper as Evidence, Artefact, and Commodity', The Book Encompassed: Studies in Twentieth-Century Bibliography, ed. P. Davison (Cambridge, 1992), 69-82; P. Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford, 1972), 57-77 (especially 60-66); G. Pollard, 'Notes on the Size of the Sheet', The Library, IV, 22 (1941), 105-137; A. H. Stevenson, The Problem of the Missale Speciale (London, 1967), 26-99; A. H. Stevenson (ed.), Briquet's Opuscula: The Complete Works of Dr. C. M. Briquet without Les Filigranes (Hilversum, 1955), xxxiv-xliii; G. T. Tanselle, 'The Bibliographical Description of Paper', Studies in Bibliography, 24 (1972), 27-67.


Stevenson, Briquet's Opuscula, xxxviii.


See, D. C. Coleman, The British Paper Industry 1495-1860: A Study in Industrial Growth (Oxford, 1958), 18-21. Indicatively, in 1621 61,684 reams of French paper were imported into England and only 1,156 reams of Italian. The figures for later in the century are proportionately similar: in 1662-63, 116,698 reams of French were imported and 1523 reams of Italian; in 1672, 114,740 reams of French were imported and 2,255 of Italian.


A. H. Stevenson, 'Watermarks are Twins', Studies in Bibliography, 4 (1951), 57-91.


Public Record Office, PR14/145, f. 119.


Almost all of the early correspondence is kept together with other letters by Donne as Folger Shakespeare Library MS. L.b.526-543. The letters and receipt concerned are numbers 526-530, 531-534 and 543. Brooke's letter is f. 530. The other letter from the period is British Library Cotton MS. Julius C. III, f. 153. E. A. Heawood, Watermarks: Mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries (Hilversum, 1950), plate 202 (1368), gives a close comparison of the watermark.


The manuscripts are respectively: Huntington Library MS. HM 2861, 2864 and 128; Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. X.d.30 (40), X.d.158 (1-4), L.b.535; Houghton Library, Harvard, MS. Eng. 966.4; Folger Shakespeare Library MS. V.a.125; Magdalen College, Oxford, MS. 281 items 17 and 18, and Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. X.d.245. See also, J. Donne, Biathanatos, ed. E. W. Sullivan II (Newark, Delaware, 1984), xxxviii. Some other Folger manuscripts with flag watermarks, and/or G3 countermarks include: L.a.138 (1 March 1612), L.a.351 (1 February 1607[/8?] = 1c), L.a.401 (11 July 1620), L.a.403 (18 September 1621), L.a.850 (30 September 1620), L.a.853 (17 April, no year), L.a.899 (no date), X.c.29 (3 January 1639), X.d.134 (12 February 1623), X.d.223 (10 January 1601), X.d.428(2) (27 June 1607 = 1c) X.d.428(50) (no date), X.d.428(56) (11 August 1597, crossbow with G3), X.d.428(172) (13 August 1633), X.d.428(179) (26 July 1613), X.d.438 (no date, c. 1601, earlier state of X.d.223), X.d.490(18-19) (undated), X.d.502(II.10) (1 August 1607 = damaged state of 1b).


British Library MS. Royal.18.A.xlv, f. 2r.


S. K. Orgel, 'Jonson and the Amazons', Soliciting Interpretation: Literary Theory and Seventeenth-Century English Poetry, ed. E. D. Harvey and K. E. Maus (Chicago, 1990), 134.


Houghton Library, Harvard University, Lowell MS. 1455.


British Library Add. MS. 29,293, f. 87. If anything, the c and d variants in Herbert lend themselves to a dating earlier than 1609, rather than later. Another Francis Bacon letter (Huntington Library, MS. FBL7) written on 4 August 1606 shares an earlier state of the d variant, without the dent at the top of the pennant, the loosened bottom joint (the white spot) or other signs of wear: the two manuscripts represent the extremes of the life of the mould and the circulation of the paper. Similarly, Folger MS. L.a.351 and X.d.428(2) from 1607-8 both share the c variant of the watermark. The poem written by Jonson to the Earl of of Somerset (pasted in the front of a copy of the 1640 Workes: British Library, C.28 m.11) is a single half-sheet without a watermark.


DNB, XX, 236 (235-239).


W. W. Greg, English Literary Autographs 1550-1650, 4 parts (Oxford, 1925-32), I, plate XXIII.


J. Planta, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Cottonian Library Deposited in the British Museum (London, 1802), 9-10.


H&S, I, 215.


K. Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton 1586-1631: History and Politics in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1979), 80-81. Also, C. G. C. Tite, The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton (London, 1994); C. E. Wright (ed.), Sir Robert Cotton as Collector (London, 1997).


The Desmond Ode is Christ Church MS. 184, f. 40. For further details: '"As far from all Reuolt": Sir John Salusbury, Christ Church MS. 184 and Jonson's First Ode', English Manuscript Studies, 8, forthcoming.


Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. X.c.43.


B. Jonson, Sejanus his Fall, STC 14782 (1605), G4v -H1r ; H&S, IV, 415.


Henry E. Huntington Library, MS. EL8729. Indicatively, the manuscript is signed 'Ben: Johnson:/'. In the same hand, on the verso of the final leaf, is also written 'M r Ben: Johnsons Expostulatiõ wth Inigo Jones'. Apart from the significant differences in the hand, Jonson would not have spelt his name with an 'h', 'with' would have been contracted 'wth', and he would not have recorded himself in the third person.


H&S, I, 91; D. Riggs, Ben Jonson: A Life (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), 298, 307-338.


British Library Add. MS. 71,131 F. Jonson was in a group of City dignitaries with the Town Clerk, the Auditor, the Beadle and the Chamberlain. Although his pension had been suspended the previous year, the context of this group confirms the identification as genuine. He was probably participating to ensure his pension was paid. The manuscript is amongst recent acquisitions.


Jonson, The New Inne, STC 14780 (1631), (*)8v. H&S, VI, 402. Jonson remarked that the Host was 'playd well' and that Lovel was 'acted well too'—comments that would only have any meaning if he had witnessed the performance.


A medicinal recipe dated 16 April 1637 and signed by '[Robert] Fludde' is to be found in Jonson's copy of Bede (Cologne, 1612). It was sold by Quaritch (Reference EB 138, 1985). At the time of writing I have not had the opportunity to examine this document.


DNB, XVI, 201-202. W. S. Powell, John Pory/1572-1636: The Life and Letters of a Man of Many Parts (Chapel Hill, 1979), microfiche 294 and 284-286 (transcriptions of British Library Harley MS. 7000, pp. 336-337 and Public Record Office, C.115/M.35/8408). Pory certainly knew Jonson and they had co-operated together as late as 1630 on The Summe and Substance of a Disputation (part 2 of STC 10773).


D. Mathew, The Social Structure in Caroline England (Oxford, 1948), 15.


D. F. McKenzie, 'Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices', Studies in Bibliography, 22 (1969), 2.


Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. e Musaeo 131.


P. Beal, In Praise of Scribes: Manuscripts and their Makers in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford, 1998), 31-57. I would like to thank Peter Beal and Oxford University Press for allowing me access to advance uncorrected page proofs.


E. M. Simpson, The Prose Works of John Donne (Oxford, 1924), 147.


Greg, English Literary Autographs 1550-1650, I, section XXIII, second page.


E. M. Simpson, The Prose Works of John Donne, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1948), 162.


R. S. Pirie, John Donne: A Catalogue of the Anniversary Exhibition of First and Early Editions his Works Held at the Grolier Club (New York, 1972), 5 (item 10). Sullivan, Biathanatos, xxxvii. Sullivan had earlier published three articles, the first of which also referred to 'a single professional copyist' (54): 'The Genesis and Transmission of Donne's Biathanatos', The Library, V, 31 (1976), 52-72; 'Manuscript Materials in the First Edition of Donne's Biathanatos', Studies in Bibliography, 31 (1978), 210-221; 'Bibliographical Evidence in Presentation Copies: An Example from Donne', Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography, 6 (1982), 17-22. See also, W. S. Hill, 'John Donne's Biathanatos: Authenticity, Authority and Context in Three Editions', John Donne Journal, 6 (1987), 109-133.


Folger Shakespeare Library, STC 17492, Copy 1, A1v.


Beinecke Library, Yale University, E. M. Simpson MSS, Uncatalogued Box containing Printed Pieces, Notes and Proofs of material primarily relating to Evelyn Simpson, in an envelope with the following note in Evelyn Simpson's hand 'Part of the typescript for the 1st edition (1924) of A Study of the Prose Works of John Donne. Much of the typescript was cut up and used for other works.'


Sullivan, Biathanatos, xxxvii-xxxviii. Sullivan identified only a single generic watermark (the flag). He stated that the text and the preliminaries may have been written at different times and that the watermarks between the two parts are different, the text having a flag with G3 and the preliminaries and endpapers a grape and table watermark.


For instance, the leaf pp. xxi-ii is a cancel. In both the final section of the manuscript and the second part of the preliminaries Jonson used the half of the sheet with the watermark for the extra leaf—the two halves are not common to each other.


Indicatively, Jonson signed p. xi 'A' and p. xv 'B'. Any other signatures were cropped.


Of the other most immediately pertinent material, there are ten letters, the Verse Letter and three of the documents written between January 1609 and January 1615. P. Beal, Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1625, 2 vols. (London, 1980), I, 243-245; R. C. Bald, Donne and the Drurys (Cambridge, 1959), Appendix, 159-165, items 65, 69 and 71. The letter written to Sir Robert More on 28 July 1614, for instance, has a crowned eagle watermark with a crozier on its breast, that to William Trumbull on 10 September and to either Sir George or Sir Robert More on 3 December has a pot watermark with a half crescent and the initials 'PO'.


R. C. Bald, John Donne: A Life (Oxford, 1970), 201; J. Carey, John Donne: Life, Mind and Art (London, 1980), 204-209; Sullivan, Biathanatos, ix, xxxiii; Hill, 'John Donne's Biathanatos', 110.


Donne refers to Hugh Broughton's conversion to Rome. The letter is reproduced in E. M. Simpson et al. (eds.), John Donne: Selected Prose (Oxford, 1967), 130-133. See also, Sullivan, 'Genesis and Transmission', 53.


Simpson, John Donne: Selected Prose, 152.


Beal, In Praise of Scribes, 31-57.


Beal, In Praise of Scribes, 45-46.


J. Masten, Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (Cambridge, 1997).


L. F. Casson, 'The Manuscripts of the Grey Collection in Cape Town', The Book Collector, 10 (1961) 154-155; Beal, Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1475-1625, I, 257 (Δ60), MS Grey 7 a 29. See also, M. Hobbs, 'Early Seventeenth-Century Verse Miscellanies and Their Value for Textual Editors', English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700, 1 (1989), 182-210; S. W. May, 'Manuscript Circulation at the Elizabethan Court', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 273-280; E. Doughtie, 'John Ramsey's Manuscript as a Personal and Family Document', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 281-288; Sullivan, 'The Renaissance Manuscript Verse Miscellany', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 289-297. Although he is not present in the Dalhousie Manuscript, discussed by Sullivan, Jonson is closely associated with all the other participants: perhaps this is the reason for Sullivan's slip when he suggests that it was Jonson who altered line 8 of Wotton's poem (written c.1638) in deference to the religious sensibilities of Digby and others (297). See also, M. H. Butler, 'Sir Francis Stewart: Jonson's Overlooked Patron', Ben Jonson Journal, 2 (1995), 101-127. As well as the dedication of Farnaby's Lucan to Stuart (107), Farnaby also gave copies to Jonson (Bodleian Arch. H.f.27) and John Wilson (St. Paul's School, London). This links Wilson, who was headmaster of Westminster, into this circle: Jonson's large-paper gift copy of his Workes to Wilson is now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, shelfmark 16254/W4D, his large-paper gift copy to Farnaby is now in Japan.


Both are now at the Folger Shakespeare Library: STC 17492 Copy 1, and PA 6501 A2 1619 Cage. Three studies of Jonson's marginalia have recently appeared: R. C. Evans, Habits of Mind: Evidence and Effects of Ben Jonson's Reading (Lewisburg, Penn., 1995); J. A. Riddell and S. Stewart, Jonson's Spenser: Evidence and Historical Criticism (Pittsburgh, 1995); A. L. Prescott, 'Jonson's Rabelais', New Perspectives on Ben Jonson, ed. J. Hirsh (Madison, N.J., 1997), 35-54.


Clare College, Cambridge, H.4.5. See also, D. C. McPherson, 'Ben Jonson's Library and Marginalia', 71-72.


Respectively: Cambridge University Library, M*.10.282 (noticed in passing by McPherson as bound with another book of Jonson's, but not recorded by him despite the evidence of the contemporary vellum binding typical of Jonson's books, his writing on the spine and his marginalia in the text), Emmanuel College, Cambridge, S5.2.41, and British Library, 453 d.26.


Also, N. J. Barker, 'Manuscript into Print', Crisis in Editing: Texts of the English Renaissance, ed. R. McLeod (New York, 1994), 1-19; A. F. Marotti, 'Malleable and Fixed Texts: Manuscript and Printed Miscellanies and the Transmission of Lyric Poetry in the English Renaissance', New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 159-173; B. M. Rosenthal, The Rosenthal Collection of Printed Books with Manuscript Annotations (New Haven, 1997).


For instance: McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, 60-61; J. J. McGann, 'The Rationale of HyperText', Text, 9 (1996), 11-32; W. Chernaik, C. Davis and M. Deegan (eds.), The Politics of the Electronic Text (Oxford: Office for Humanities Communication, 1993); W. Chernaik, M. Deegan and A. Gibson (eds.), Beyond the Book: Theory, Culture, and the Politics of Cyberspace (Oxford: OHC, 1996). On the implications of electronic archives as a form of non-reading: D. F. McKenzie, 'Computers and the Humanities: A Personal Synthesis of Conference Issues', Scholarship and Technology in the Humanities: Proceedings of a Conference Held at Elvetham Hall, Hampshire, U.K., 9th-12th May 1990, ed. M. Katzen (London, 1991), 157-169.


McGann, 'The Rationale of HyperText', 13.


McGann, 'The Rationale of HyperText', 14.


H. Amory, Review of 'The Life and Work of Fredson Bowers', Text 9 (1996), 471.


McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, 20.


I would like to thank Lois Potter, Kristen Poole, Julian Yates and the English seminar at the University of Delaware to whom I presented an earlier version of this paper, and also Jim Riddell, Robert Pirie, Stephen Orgel, Barbara Mowat, David Vander Meulen, Don McKenzie, Jeff Masten, Nicolas Kiessling, David Kastan, Speed Hill, David Gants, Arthur Freeman, Ian Donaldson, David Bevington and Peter Beal for their interest and their comments. I would also particularly like to thank Ian Gadd for consulting material on my behalf in Oxford and London.