University of Virginia Library


It should, however, be mentioned that Professor Dover Wilson, who, in his contribution to Shakespeare's Hand in “Sir Thomas More”, dealt in some detail with this question of whether Harvey's peculiar spellings were traceable in his printed works, has in other books of Harvey found a very few instances of these spellings being preserved. For example he has found eight examples of -id, -ist, -ith, for -ed, -est, -eth, the `i' for `e' which is perhaps Harvey's most remarkable peculiarity, but as in order to find these he had to examine more than 200 pages of text, such a small number of obviously accidental occurrences only reinforces the general conclusion that the compositor had no intention whatever of reproducing Harvey's idiosyncrasies in this matter.


It may be worth while to point out that if this is true, and if we are right in supposing that the manuscripts from which some of the Shakespearian quartos were printed were exceptionally bad ones—from the compositor's point of view—there is a greater likelihood of finding traces in them of Shakespeare's own spelling than would be the case with the spellings of those authors whose works were printed from manuscripts more carefully prepared for the press. The point is of some importance in view of the discussion as to whether the famous “three pages” of the play of Sir Thomas More are or are not in Shakespeare's autograph. As I need hardly remind you, one of the arguments by which it has been sought to prove that they are, is that certain spellings found in the Shakespeare quartos suggest that the spellings of the MSS. from which they were printed were similar to those found in these three pages of More.