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13. Hij maakte het raam open, opdat de frissche morgenlucht hem het brandende voorhoofd zou afkoelen, liet zich in den leuningstoel voor zijn schrijftafel neervallen en klemde het hoofd tusschen beide handen. 15. Toen vielen zijn oogen op een brief ; de hand was hem welbekend; hij had ze vele malen eerder gezien. 15. Hij scheurde den brief open: ja, hij was van zijn zuster. 16. Wat had zijn zwager Breitenburg ook weer tot hem gezegd ? 17. Ja, dat was het! 18. Hij keek uit het raam en zag achter het dennenbosch de zon opgaan en voor hem het korenveld liggen. 19. O, als dat maar rijp was en gedorscht, en het had twintigvoudig vrucht gedragen, ja, dan neen, neen, dan kon het hem nog niet helpen.

The Text of Shakespeare's Hamlet. By B. A. P. VAN DAM, M. D.

John Lane, London. 1924. pp. viii. 380. Dr. van Dam's monograph on the text of Hamlet must contain, in addition to the play, nearly a hundred thousand words: it is crowded with detail and is throughout laboriously argumentative. To review it thoroughly would require

would require another monograph of almost equal length, and the time to write it. I must do the best I can in a reasonable space.

Dr. van Dam's first and longest chapter deals with the 'stolne and surreptitious' quarto printed in 1603, which he calls QS, denoting the good quarto of the following year by Q. At the end of the chapter he sums up his conclusions as to the character and origin of QS as follows:

"The QS. represents the drama as it was acted, taken down from the players' mouths. The genuine copy of the play was to a great extent curtailed, and in some cases altered, for the sake of the performance. All minor and vital changes by which the QS is distinguished from the Q are, apart from printers' and reporters' mistakes, satisfactorily explained by such curtailment, by such alteration, and by the mistakes made by the actors in reciting their parts.

This presentation of things is in keeping with the opinion of those who have pleaded in favour of the unity of QS and Q. But it differs from every former hypothesis by the supposition that the mistakes of the actors have largely contributed to the smaller and greater differences between the QS and the Q.

The supposition as to the alterations made for the sake of the theatrical representation is the reverse of the first sketch hypothesis. The QS was not rewritten into the Q, but in a few places the Q was rewritten

into the QS.” Dr. van Dam's first approach to this subject is by an extremely able and clear-sighted analysis of the kinds of mistakes that can with certainty be attributed, not to the printer, but to the scribe, or to the stenographer, or to the actor. He exhibits most ingeniously the scribe making precisely the same mistakes as are mostly regarded as characteristic 'printer's errors'; he also shows that mistakes claimed as necessarily those of the stenographer might equally well have been made by a printer. But in the case of the actor he points out that, unlike the scribe and the printer, “he has the whole part in his memory, he knows what is coming both in his own part and in the parts of his fellow-actors”, and that thus every now and then actors may make mistakes of anticipation impossible to their fellow sinners. Thus in QS. 113 the line which should have been printed :

And then it started like a guilty thing

appears with 'faded' instead of 'started'. Nine lines further on we come to:

It faded on the crowing of the cock. An actor would have this later line in his memory, and might thus make an anticipatory use of 'faded' in line 113, whereas neither a printer nor a transcriber could make this error. Thus Dr. van Dam would be quite justified in claiming that even a few such mistakes suffice to show that the passages in which they occur were "taken down directly from the lips of the actors.” Unfortunately he makes two extensions of this deduction neither of which is logically legitimate, assuming (i) that when the words were taken down from the lips of actors they were taken down by a stenographer from the text spoken on the stage, and (ii) that because certain passages were taken down from the lips of the actors therefore the QS. may be regarded as wholly derived in this way, to the exclusion of any rival theory that it was printed from a stage-manuscript. There is no reason why the words should not have been taken down just as well at a tavern as in a playhouse, and if the actor happened to be in possession of one or more player's parts, the fact that for the rest of the play he was reciting from memory need not have prevented him from using his ‘parts', or even fragments of a stage copy, if he had any.

The great weakness of this section of Dr. van Dam's case is that he is obliged to attribute to the Chamberlain's men, soon to be the King's Players, at the Globe, a slovenliness which not even his pretty plea as to accuracy being a modern ideal makes it easy to regard as possible. As long as the belief in the play having been taken down in shorthand held the field the origin of the surreptitious quarto was necessarily located in London, as only in London would writers of shorthand abound. But the first mention of this method of pirating plays is later than 1603 and there is no obligation to call in a stenographer for the Hamlet QS.

Now though Dr. van Dam in this monograph has rendered excellent service by demonstrating that parts of the QS. must have been taken down from the lips of actors', his ‘supposition that the mistakes of the actors' must have largely contributed to the smaller and greater differences between the QS. and the Q' is not quite so original as he claims. Ever since 1910, when Dr. Greg in editing the pirated quarto of the Merry Wives of Windsor suggested that the actor who played the Host of the Garter must have helped in producing that text, English students have thought much more of the old suggestion that the actor or actors who played Marcellus and Voltemand in Hamlet may have had a share in producing the QS. of 1603. In 1918 Professor Dover Wilson elaborated this theory in his articles on 'The copy for Hamlet' in The Library, and in 1919 in the same periodical Dr. Greg, in an article entitled “Bad Quartos outside Shakespeare

Alcazar and Orlando,pointed out that the defects in the 1594 quarto of Greene's Orlando Furioso may best be explained by “imperfect memorization" and "memorial reconstruction" on the part of actors, and connected this theory with the problem of the four piracies of plays by Shakespeare. In 1923 Dr. Greg restated his theory in his Two Elizabethan Stage Abridgements (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press), and in the same year Mr. Crompton Rhodes in his study of Shakespeare's First Folio (Oxford, Blackwell) propounded a 'simple explanation of the pirated quartos as promptbooks prepared by an actor in the Chamberlain's company by dictating to a confederate what he could remember of the plays and making use also of his ‘parts'. Dr. Greg suggests that not one actor but several collaborated in the 'memorial reconstruction of Orlando, and attributes their efforts to the need of adding to their repertory when on tour in the provinces, a much more likely inducement than the small sum a publisher would be willing to pay for such poor texts. It seems to me that the good work which Dr. van Dam has put into his opening chapter lends much more support to some theory on these lines than to his own improved) revival of the old hypothesis of a stenographer taking notes at the Globe. One remark of his seems peculiarly apposite, that on page 63 where he says 'The written text seems to have sometimes been not much more than a kind of guidebook.' That Shakespeare's text was used for no more than this by Burbage and his fellows at the Globe is surely incredible, but to actors used to vamping in the provinces the worst scenes in the QS. would serve as useful notes, and if the piracy was in the first instance only put together for this purpose we can understand why no pains were taken to make it better.

Before passing from this we must note an interesting suggestion by Dr. van Dam, that the QS., while omitting part of the soliloquy of Claudius (III.iii.) when he attempts to pray, preserves a dozen lines which have been omitted both in the good quarto and the Folio. There is a great advantage in having a third text, even though it be a bad one. In Lear III.i. the Quarto omits lines 22-29, and the Folio lines 30—42, and if a third text survived we should probably find that Q and F in their weariness of the good Kent's speeches had in some instances both curtailed them in the same way. Dr. van Dam's suggestion is thus very attractive. It must be said, however, that 'white as snowe' comes in both sections of the speech of Claudius, and it remains possible that these are alternatives.

In his second chapter Dr. van Dam considers what he regards as the interpolations in the quarto of 1604 (Q) and the Folio. He lays down the rule that "insertions by a strange hand in the work of a great poet are rendered conspicuous by more or less characteristic peculiarities : they are redundant, they break the metre, they are inferior, and what is no less important – they suit some purpose", for instance they help actors to make their exit ('pray you goe with me', etc.), or are natural salutations ('welcome good Marcellus'), or supply words to accompany an actor's movements (Ophelia's 'there, my lord' when she returns Hamlet's gifts), or agai explanatory (Hamlet's ‘my vnkle' regarded as explaining the serpent that did sting thy father's life Now weares his crowne') or they make a conversation less abrupt. After considering in much detail in his next two chapters the formal and verbal variations between the Q and the F and the original text, and the omissions in the Q and F, Dr. van Dam asks “what is the Q and what is the F" and summarizes his own conclusions by saying ::

"There are printers' mistakes which the QS. and the Q have in common, so that the Q is partly a reprint of the QS. For the rest there are reasons that make it probable that the Q was printed from Shakespeare's autograph, which had been adapted for the stage.

There are printers' mistakes which the Q and the F have in common, so that the F is partly a reprint of the Q. For the rest the F was printed from a prompt-copy older than the Q or from a transcript of

that prompt-copy." Dr. van Dam quotes in justification of his belief that the Q was printed from Shakespeare's autograph (i) uncommon phonetic spellings, as 'deale' (for devil') and 'warn't' (for 'warrant); (ii) the occurrence of different præfixa for the same person, Claudius or King, Queen or Gertrard, Courtier or Ostricke, (iii) the stage direction 'Enter old Polonius, with his man or two'. Of course an obsequious scribe might have reproduced these peculiarities in a transcript; but there is no reason for dragging in obsequious scribes, and the three points are all good. That the autograph had been 'adapted for the stage' is a much more disputable proposition. There is no reason for accepting it unless Dr. van Dam's views as to actors' interpolations are previously accepted, and treated as the basis for this further argument. In like manner the statements that the Q is partly a reprint of the QS. and that the Folio is partly a reprint of the Q, seem to need careful examination. That to some extent the F was printed from a prompt-copy (or transcript from it) is certain; but again the priority which Dr. van Dam claims for this prompt-copy over the Q is not lightly to be admitted, unless Dr. van Dam's views as to actors' interpolations are accepted en bloc.

Chapters vi and vii deal with Shakespeare's Prosody, and the relation in his plays between rhyme, blank verse, broken verse and prose. The earlier of the two chapters starts with Theobald's note on Hamlet I.i.37. (“Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven") in which that eminent critic defended his proposal to read 'l'illumine' with the remark that “too nice a regard must not be had to the numbers of Shakespeare: nor needs the Redundance of a Syllable here be any objection; for nothing is more usual with our Poet than to make a Dactyl, or allow a supernumerary Syllable which is sunk and melted in the pronunciation.” To Dr. van Dam this remark of Theobald's marks the beginning of a wholly wrong theory of Shakespeare's prosody, which has so obsessed all English critics and commentators that they become merely abusive when any one, more especially Dr. van Dam himself, tries to convince them that the fact that a given way of reading a line of Shakespeare's blank verse sounds entirely satisfactory to our modern ears does not prove either that Shakespeare wrote the line in this form, or that (if he wrote it in this form) he intended that it should be read in this way. Quite rightly Dr. van Dam insists that before we can dogmatize as to how Shakespeare intended a line of his verse to be read we must enquire and learn how all the words in the line were pronounced in Shakespeare's days, and he shows that some words were, or might be, pronounced with more syllables than we should now give them, and many other words with fewer syllables. The distinction between “were pronounced”, and "might be pronounced" is important, but for a fair discussion it is necessary to admit (taking the simplest possible example) that there was nothing more monstrous in an Elizabethan Englishman saying 'th'effect with a total elision of the 'e' in 'the' than in a Frenchman saying 'l'effet' with a total elision of the 'e' in 'le'. The most we can plead in diminution of this necessity is to stress the fact that whereas in French the elision is compulsory, in Elizabethan English it was clearly only optional. Here, hower, Dr. van Dam interposes with quotations to show that according to the assertions of fairly contemporary poets and critics the only legitimate addition to the ten syllables of an English blank verse is a light extra syllable at the end, and however easy and pleasant it is for us to read ‘the effect without injuring the rhythm of the line, if it would add a syllable too many to the verse, the 'e' must have been totally elided, when it was read in Shakespeare's day. In the same way he argues that the extra syllable sometimes found after the “break' in a line must be an interpolation; also that Shakespeare never left any uncompleted lines, and in dialogue where a line is shared between two or more speakers never treated this division as a reason for using additional syllables. By the aid of his elaborate theory of interpolations by actors set forth in Chapter ii Dr. van Dam

succeeds in ridding the lines of any syllables which he cannot render silent by evidence of pronunciation and still finds redundant. He is equally drastic in dealing with uncompleted lines, and resorts to violent rearrangement to get rid of them. After a time the most patient reader will find it difficult to avoid experiencing a reaction against these methods. There are too many lines to be altered, and we feel that if Shakespeare did not keep to his ten syllables, Dr. van Dam is prepared to make him, no matter what it costs. The war waged against the extra syllable after the break in the line is particularly productive of bad results. Thus l.ij.160.

Hora. Haile to your Lordship

I am glad to see you well!
becomes curiously American when I am is omitted.
Facing this at 1.11.198-99 we have the lines :

In the dead wast and middle of the night

Beene thus incountred, a figure like your father ... These, to get rid of the extra syllable in the second line, Dr. van Dam would print :

In the dead wast and mid of night beene thus

Incount[e]red, a figure like your father ... where the second line is deplorable. The fact that an extra syllable was permitted at the end of a line makes it reasonable that a similar licence should be permitted after the break; and the instances are so numerous, and the temptation to actors to interfere in such matters so slight, that these repeated attacks on the Quarto text seem unreasonable. Dr. van Dam has indeed to meet a double difficulty: if the actors were moved to emend Shakespeare's verses the theory that a blank verse could not have more than ten syllables must have been lightly held at least by some of those whose business it was to say the lines. On the other hand when Bysshe and other critics declared that no more than ten syllables were allowable, they had bundreds of lines of Shakespeare contradicting them in the Folios, and if they could make their assertions in the teeth of these lines, the lines may very well stay as they are in the teeth of their assertions. It would be easy to quote similar instances of the unreasonable excision of uncompleted lines. Of these again there are too many for a general attack on them to succeed, and the structure of Shakespeare's verse at this period, when sentences so frequently ended and began within the line, makes their appearance easily intelligible.

Dr. van Dam will be quite within his right if he tells me that a bibliographer has no qualification, as such, to deal with these high questions. I cheerfully admit it. But I gather that it is these alleged tamperings with the text as Shakespeare wrote it which cause him to assert that the Quarto of 1604 had been "adapted for the stage” and I do not think that they afford any adequate ground for the assertion. But whether one agrees with Dr. van Dam or not, he is always ingenious as well as painstaking, and I know no other book on the text of Hamlet which raises so many interesting points.


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De Engelsche Literatuur sinds 1880, by A. G. VAN KRANENDONK. 18 X 12 c.M., pp. 143. Uitgevers-Maatschappij „Elsevier”, Amsterdam.

1924. Price f 1.40; geb. f 1.90. It is gratifying to note that the first book in which the history of modern English literature is brought right up to date was written by a Dutchman E.S. VI. 1924.


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