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Differences of spelling and punctuation may be disregarded as of minor significance. On the one hand, then, there are divergences from the quarto version which might indicate that Jonson did not supervise the edition of 1616. Exit and Exeunt are dropped; the name of the first speaker at the beginning of each scene is dropped; the stage directions preceding the speech of Envy and the prologue disappear; so with the lines from Martial, Ad Lectorem, and with Numa in decimo nono, 1. 3. 3-4; Livor becomes Envy, etc. As to these, it is clear that the stage directions are of slight importance in a reading version, and Poetaster, was of course not on the boards in 1616. The lines from Martial, and Numa in decimo nono, are really non-essential. The passage in Jupiter's speech, 4. 5, given in quarto, but omitted in folio (cf. 1. 130 and variants), was evidently dropped because it describes a bit of by-play which the mere words do not make clear—and the omission is perhaps a gain to the proprieties. Finally, even the Apologetical Dialogue might conceivably have been added by a printer who had somehow obtained a MS. copy.
On the other hand, the interpolation of the Horace-Trebatius dialogue, act 3, sc. 5, would certainly not be made by any but the proud translator. There are, moreover, changes in detail carried out so consistently as to presuppose a supremely interested and careful editor: I) words such as knight, knighthood, are replaced by others less anachronistic, cf. the variants for 1. 2. 27, I. 2. 158 and 165, et passim; 2) flat-cap and velvet cap become tradesman and dressing (cf. 2. 1. 108, 3. 1. 48), probably because the new terms would be either less offensive to citizens, or more in accord with current fashions of speech; 3) corrections are made of errors in the quarto reading, e. g. disgeste becomes disgust, 3. 4. 37; 4) brief additions are made cf. 2. I. 100-103, 109-111; 3. 4. 164-6; 5) certain stage directions contributing to clearness of apprehension on the part of a reader are added—cf. 2. 1. 111, 3. 4. 20 and 364, and act 4 passim. Note especially changes scattered here and there, which none but an author would have made, and the author only for publication: Caprichio becomes Pantalabus, 3. 4. 168; Paunch becomes stiffe toe, 3. 4. 187; Twentie ' the hundred becomes shifter, 3. 4. 189; Via sacra becomes holy street, 4. 3. 17; Pyrrhus becomes Neoptolomus, 4. 3. 25; six pence becomes a sesterce, 4. 7. 9; two pence becomes drachme, 5. 3. 190; 'To the Reader' of quarto is replaced by another address. Lines 5. 3. 429-433, confused by the printer of the quarto, are rectified by the printer or the editor of the first folio.
But to all this it may be replied that the printer in 1616 was simply dealing with a revised manuscript, containing additions determined upon by Jonson. Such a manuscript alone would not account for the facts. The copy Jonson submitted to the publisher in 1602 was probably neither worse nor better than that he gave to the publisher in 1616; nor is it likely that Matthew Lowndes had a much more careful or intelligent printer in the second instance. Moreover, the fact that the new material was obtained for the folio implies Jonson's knowledge, consent, and supervision, for the selection, rejection, addition, rearrangement, and the text in general are more intelligent and final in the folio of 1616 than in the quarto of 1602. So far as Poetaster is concerned, then, there appears no reason to agree with Messrs. van Dam and Stoffel that Jonson did not supervise the first folio edition.
1640. The 1640 folio, printed three years after Jonson's death, has a few peculiarities that may be noted here. It regularly changes the conjunctive adverb then of 1616 to than, and pray thee of 1616 to pr’y thee; it makes a few absurd errors, such as changing gods, and fiends! of 1616 to gods, and friends! (3. 4. 45, 5. 3. 451); it has a number of small omissions; it improves the spelling of the folio 1616; it does not show any influence of the quarto. The
10 folio, then, so far as Poetaster is concerned, is a rather careless reprint of the 1616 folio.
1692. The 1692 folio closely follows the 1640: note its continuance of the error of friends for fiends, 3. 4. 45, 5. 3. 451; my for thy, 4. 5. 125; his for this, 5. 3. 190. It initiates some slight improvements in spelling (methinks for Mee thinkes, 1. 2. 59).
1716. The edition of 1716 follows the folios of 1640 and 1692 in changing the 1616 enforme to enforce, Envy 54; fiends to Friends, 3. 4. 45, 5. 3. 451. It follows 1692 in changing certified of 1616 to satisfied, 4. 2. 66; sire of 1616 to Fire, 3. 4. 235; into earth of 1616 to into the Earth, 4. 5. 105. Such parallels make it probable that the 1716 edition is a reprint of the 1692, which is a reprint of the 1640.
1756. Whalley aims to follow the text of the first folio, but has at hand the quarto, from which he occasionally draws (cf. 1. 3. 3-4). He seems, however, to have depended often upon the 1716 edition alone, for collation would not have permitted changes like the following: I not whether of 1616 to I know not whether, 3. 5. 57; puet to Poet, 4. 3. 68; better to doe to better do, 4. 5. 222. In many cases, also, he follows the readings of 1692 and 1716, without having corrected them by reference to quarto or first folio: satisfied for certified, 4. 2. 66; into the earth for into earth, 4. 5. 105; even the inexcusable Junio for Ivno 4. 5. 219. He makes some corrections, but is inconsistent in his alterations: the 'hem of folio 1616 he sometimes makes into 'em, and again into them, often putting both forms into the same sentence. He makes some new errors of which no real critic would have been capable: one of our cates for the 1616 of our cates, 4. 5. 41; best for blest, 4. 9. 103; half my days for all my dayes, A.D. 220. Whalley's text is therefore not critical, and his notes are of but moderate value.
1816. The text of Gifford might be called licentious in respect to its alterations of arrangements, diction, and metre. At the end of act 5, he inserts the quarto address to the reader, which did not appear in folio; he transposes the Horace-Trebatius dialogue to the end of the play proper; after this dialogue he prints the 1616 address to the reader, and then gives the Apologetical Dialogue. With Jonson, the entrance of a character who alters the situation regularly makes a new scene; Gifford marks a scene only when the place of action is changed. As for minor alterations, Gifford, like Whalley, changes Jonson's 'hem to 'em or them without consistence; he usually, but not uniformly, gives the full form of words purposely abbreviated in folio 1616; he arbitrarily interpolates or excludes a; he has a gentlemanly shrinking from Tucca's gent man, metamorphosing him into gentleman; he calls attention to ungenteel words by emasculating them: d-n'd for damn'd, 3. 4. 272. Censuring the textual criticism of Whalley, he yet follows him often in the most unscholarly errors or emendations: cf. beforehand, 1. 2. 23-4; I know not whether, 3. 5. 57; better do, 4. 5. 222; into the earth, 4. 5. 105; one of our cates, 4. 5. 41.
Gifford's notes are much more copious and important than Whalley's, notably in respect to classical sources of Jonsonian passages; but all the matter offered by Gifford needs verification and reconstruction to make it of present value. Certain notes are quoted from Whalley, which yet did not appear in Whalley's edition. Probably Gifford gathered these from MS. Jottings made by Whalley subsequent to 1756.
1893. In the Mermaid Series, vol. 1 of Jonson's Plays contains Poetaster. Dr. Nicholson explains in the editor's preface the construction of his critical texts: he draws from the quartos, the 1616 folio, and the two-volumed folios of 1631-40'; he rejects various emendations and additions made by Gifford; in the verse, he introduces or excludes apostrophes with the aim of approximating the author's metrical idea; while 'with regard to the punctuation, Jonson's, excessive though it may appear, has in great
measure been followed.' The object, then, was a modernized, critical text, and that presented is certainly better than Gifford's. The unpardonable liberties of Gifford are avoided, though his arrangement of scenes is adhered to; but the inclusion of quarto passages not printed in the early folios seems a new audacity. Only a few particular points with reference to Poetaster need be mentioned here. I know not whether 3. 5. 57, is uncritically imitated from Whalley and Gifford, who followed the booksellers' reprint of 1716; one of our cates, 4. 5. 41, again appears; the gent man is sometimes unnecessarily rehabilitated; a few out of many exasperating bits of carelessness in the edition are recorded in our Variants. It is regrettable that the popular features of the Mermaid Series precluded the sort of notes we had a right to expect from Dr. Nicholson's Elizabethan scholarship. Finally, this edition of Jonson is typographically about on the level of the 1640 folio, which fact alone would prevent its becoming the standard for scholars.
B. The Stage-QUARREL Much has been written concerning the dramatic war waged, some time between 1598 and 1603, by Jonson against Marston, Dekker, and certain other of his literary contemporaries. From the address to the reader subjoined to the 1602 edition of Poetaster, and from the similar address appended to the 1616 version, we might conclude that this particular play was of controversial nature; while the scarcely humble Apologetical Dialogue appearing in the 1616 folio would confirm us in such an opinion. What could be plainer than the Author's statement (A.D. 70 ff.) that, having been for three years assailed on every stage, he had at last produced a drama, dealing with the fortunes of the great poets of Augustus Caesar's time, but supplying a hint to the detractors of an Elizabethan Horace? Within the play itself, the following passages are found peculiarly sig