A note on early modern handwriting
The images of the manuscript found throughout this project show examples of early modern handwriting that in many cases look unfamiliar to the reader today. In particular, English “secretary” hand uses some letter forms that bear little resemblance to modern handwriting. Transcriptions are provided where necessary. To gain greater familiarity with handwriting of the period, please see the Folger’s resources for early modern English paleography.
Meanwhile, here is an illustration of Carington’s hand, followed by a transcript:
and twixt his fingers and his thumb he held
A pouncet box: wch euer & Anon
he gaue his nose: & tooke Away agayne
who therewith Angry: When it next cam there
Tooke it in Snuffe: & still he smil’d & talkt
Most lower-case letter forms are represented in this passage. Some of them are distinctly unfamiliar to the modern eye. Also illustrated are Carington’s habits of contraction (“wch” for “which”, “&” for “and”) and irregular capitalization. These features, and the preference for a lower-case first letter at the beginning of a verse-line, are all departures from the printed copy Carington was following.
For comparison, here is Dering’s hand:
Of hostile paces. Those opposed eyes,
which like ye meteors of a troubled heauen,
All of one nature, of one substance bredd,
Did lately meete in ye intestine shocke
And furious Close of Ciuill butchery,
Shall now in mutuall well=beseeming rankes,
March all one way: and be no more oppos’d
Against acquaintance, kindred and allyes.
The heavier ink and less even script are clearly seen. Dering punctuates mainly with commas (some of the fainter ones at line ends might have been added after the initial writing), and he is more inclined than Carington to follow the initial capital of verse lines in his copy.
References to the manuscript and quartos
The Dering Manuscript is foliated, rather than paginated. This means that each leaf is numbered in the upper right-hand corner of the recto (front) side. The foliation has been added in pencil and is not original.
References to the manuscript use these standard abbreviations:
fol. Folio. Refers to the leaf number.
r Recto. The front of a leaf, on the right-hand side of an open book.
v Verso. The back of a leaf, on the left-hand side of an open book.
So, for example, “fol. 3v” means the back of the third leaf.
In references to the printed quarto editions of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays that were used in preparing the manuscript, the usual conventions for identifying pages in an early modern printed book by the printed or implied signature of the leaf are followed. A reference to a page in a printed quarto will take the form “sig. B1v”, meaning that the page is the verso of the first leaf of quire B.
A note on dates
Dering frequently uses old-style calendar, where the year runs from March 25 to March 24 and so the months of January to March are part of the previous year. The present account converts these to the new-style calendar running from January to December.
References and further reading
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John Jowett is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham. He is a general editor of the New Oxford Shakespeare Complete Works (2016-17) and of the Arden Early Modern Drama series. He was an associate general editor of the Oxford Collected Works of Thomas Middleton (2007). He has prepared Richard III and Timon of Athens for the Oxford World’s Classics series, and Sir Thomas More for the Arden Shakespeare. He is author of Shakespeare and Text (2007, revised edition 2019).