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  • Title: Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth
  • Author: Eleanor Lowe
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-513-1

    Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Eleanor Lowe
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    Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth

    1The Lottery

    Towards the end of Scene 7, the hen-pecked young Moren attempts to persuade his jealous wife to let him go to Verone’s ordinary for one meal. As a means of pacifying her, he explains the ‘reason’ for his visit is to buy the best of Verone’s Italian jewels for his wife (TLN 979-981). When the jewels are next mentioned the context of their appearance as part of the plot has transformed from a sale to a lottery. Jaques uses the news to delay Moren in Scene 13 while his wife is hot on his heels, after discovering through Lemot that Moren has been dining at the ordinary with ‘that light hussy Martia’ (TLN 1364). By now a ‘device’ has been created to frame the lottery of the jewels, and includes Jaquena playing Queen Fortune, and torchbearers. This framework inverts the more common representation of a maid or similarly lowborn character by a queen or lady, rather than vice versa.

    The lottery furnishes those purchasing jewels with an entertainment: exchange of money (here, five crowns) and receipt of jewels occurs as if guests were buying them outright. The lottery was a popular form of entertainment and gift-giving procedure rolled into one. A similar occasion is recorded by Sir John Davies as a lottery to entertain the Queen at Harefield House, the home of Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper during Elizabeth’s 1602 progress.[1] In place of Queen Fortune, or Verone’s maid Jaquena with her two pots, is a mariner who sings, delivers a short speech, and introduces a small box of booty in his possession by the grace of Fortune. The box contains ‘trifles’ which he promises to divide amongst the guests.

    There are twenty-nine lots listed, including Fortune’s wheel, a looking-glass, a ring engraved with the posy ‘As faithful as I find’, a pair of gloves, a pair of knives, a pair of writing-tables, a stomacher, a pair of scissors, a prayer-book, and a cushionet or pin-cushion.[2] The gifts, which are useful or decorative items, have been carefully selected for their female recipients, and the list contains jewelry, a religious item, and lots of some reasonable worth similar to Lemot’s lottery. A second record of the same lottery includes the allocation of the lots to their lucky recipients.[3] To add a frisson of chance, five items at the Queen’s lottery were blanks. The mariner explains that if one of the company receives a blank, it means that Fortune aims to pleasure that person in greater matters (perhaps some comfort for Labervele). It is noted that the Queen received Fortune’s wheel, suggesting that the lottery at Harefield was as little left to chance as the one in Chapman’s play.

    At the lottery in the play, which is put together somewhat hastily, Lemot is entrusted with making the posies at the suggestion of the King and with the agreement of the other characters. However, when the lottery begins in Scene 14, it becomes clear that posies have been penned for specific people and are not drawn from the pots by chance; the jewels also have pre-destined courses. The posies provide Lemot with the opportunity to issue warnings and advice to various characters about their behaviour. The lottery thus serves as Lemot’s vehicle of judgement, with the jewels allocated carrying further messages to their recipients. Labervele receives nothing, a blank, perhaps as an allusion to his childlessness, while his wife, the excessive Puritan, is given a crucifix as a warning against her superficially overabundant religiosity.

    5Up to and including this point, Lemot has been solely in charge of proceedings. This scene sees the gradual transfer of power from Lemot, who exercises his final control during the lottery, to the King, whose unifying speech ends the play. The presentation of this particular gift to the King begins a sequence in which each character receives their just desserts. The compact, orderly procedure of the lottery neatly summarises and concludes the events of Lemot’s day of omnipotence, the judgement of characters thus systematically and wittily executed, in parallel with Lemot’s exposition of their humours. The summary is a necessary and essential part of the action, suggesting that although Lemot has caused great discomfort and awkwardness between characters, the experience might be a productive and fruitful one for them if lessons can be learned. His warnings to them are condensed in his advice to Martia: ‘Change for the better’ (TLN 1946).

    The Queen’s heart of gold seems to signify her simplistic marital devotion. The King’s prize of ‘the sum of four shillings in gold’ (TLN 1918-1919) is possibly a reference to a coin, the old French crown, which was valued at 4s in 1562.[4] Since the play is set in France, awarding a French crown to the French King is entirely appropriate. The King’s response (that there is no such coin in France), is a joke aimed at the English audience, the tautological presentation of the French King with a French crown, thus restoring to him governance and power. It is also suggestive of the baldness caused by syphilis, itself known as morbus gallicus or the French pox, although no further references to the King having this disease have been found in the play.[5] In this context, the prize would function as a warning to the King to remain faithful to the Queen and not allow his roving eye to alight on young women such as Martia.

    Martia and Dowsecer’s prize allows several different angles of interpretation. Martia receives ‘the two serpents’ heads set with diamonds’ (TLN 1951-1952). The serpent is most overtly associated with the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Martia’s prize seems to warn her of the temptations her beauty provokes in the male characters. The OED lists ‘serpent’ as a symbol of envy (serpent n. 3a) and although Martia herself is not envious she has the ability to arouse envy in other women. Her list of suitors is long and impressive, equalling that of Rachel in The Case Is Altered, and is composed of Colinet, Labesha, Dowsecer, Moren and the King. Her beauty draws Dowsecer out of his melancholy, provokes affected melancholy in Labesha, and entices the King and Moren away from their anxious spouses, thus proving a large threat to the stability of the play’s social and political world.

    Woman with a caduceusSnakes also had positive connotations. When in 1556 John Caius gave, among other things, a caduceus to the Royal College of Physicians he explained that ‘the snakes, symbols of prudence, teach that one should rule and act with prudence’.[6] Walter Friedlander includes a description of Caius’s coat of arms: ‘two [separated] serpents, resting upon the square marble stone, wisdom [i.e., one of the serpents] with grace [i.e., the other serpent] founded and stayed upon virtue’s stable stone’.[7] Edelman persuasively suggests that Martia’s serpents’ heads are those on Dowsecer’s prize, so that the couple receive a joint prize (Edelman, 13.273n). The two serpents which coil round the rod of the caduceus suggest intimacy for the couple, but also that Martia will be controlled by the rod presented to her future husband; he will become head of her household and her self.

    Joseph A. Porter explains that the caduceus was a symbol of peace ‘because Mercury, having found two serpents fighting, threw between them the wand given him by Apollo, and so established concord’.[8] In this context, the donation of the caduceus to Dowsecer implies a bestowal of power upon him and governance of his wife-to-be. If Mercury is thought to have brought love out of hostility, then Lemot is also playing Mercury by throwing the mercurial rod between Dowsecer and Martia: in Scene 7 Dowsecer enters as a misanthropic scholar, disinterested in women or procreation until he spies Martia. The two would-be lovers have become embroiled in the intrigues of Lemot, who now offers them the caduceus as a sign of peace and fertility. Mercury is also known as god of thieves, and as such becomes a powerful patron of this love affair, since Dowsecer has stolen Martia from the person of the King and affections of her other admirers.

    10Mercury’s rod is also particularly associated with scholarship and verbal proficiency. In John Eliot’s French language manual Ortho-epia Gallica: Eliots Fruits for the French (1593), the introduction explains that his rules will be ‘as Mercury’s finger to direct thee in thy progress of learning’ (C1). In his introductory letter, Eliot describes Mercury as ‘the God of cunning’ (A4v). Betty Radice describes the mercurial temperament as ‘lively, inquiring, ingenious’, which is certainly compatible with Dowsecer’s meditations in Scene 7. Radice also notes that for the Renaissance philosophers Mercury occupies an important position as ‘mediator between the human mind and the divine wisdom’.[9]

    But perhaps a different kind of eloquence and intelligence is being wished on Dowsecer. Stephen Batman elucidates that the caduceus ‘is a token of Peace, but the knot with two serpents, clasping each other about the said sceptre, doth intimate that no promise must be broken’.[10] An emblem of Cupid holding a caduceus carries the motto ‘The power of eloquence in love’, while the epigram reads ‘Eloquence has the power to sway a lady’.[11] The caduceus might therefore endow Dowsecer with emotional intelligence, wishing him good judgement in marriage, a wisdom different from scholarly learning.

    The lottery concludes for control to be returned to the King, and is signified in his final unifying speech, ending both the scene and the play with an invitation for all to return to his court, where they can ‘crown’ the mirthful day Lemot has orchestrated. The invitation also functions as an attempt by the King to bring his subjects back within his auspices, reassuring them that no harm has been done.

    Staging at the Rose Theatre

    In Scott McMillin’s study of plays known to have been performed at the Rose and the clues they provide as to the staging options available to actors in this theatre, The Comedy of Humours is included in List A of fourteen ‘Texts with no special stage areas’.[12] The other lists record plays including overt references to one or more raised scenes and enclosed scenes. From this study McMillin concludes that the Rose had a central stage entrance, indicated by the stage direction ‘in the midst’ from Patient Grissel, which may refer to a curtained discovery space (p. 160). He notes twenty-one texts that make reference to one or more raised scenes, and fifteen texts that require enclosed staging. McMillin supports the theory of a ‘curtained pavilion erected against a tiring-house façade’ which would provide enclosed space at stage level and an above space (p. 163).

    Certainly, The Comedy of Humours contains no explicit references to above or enclosed scenes; however, the play strongly implies such staging, either textually, or by way of suggestions for best use of the space. In Andrew Gurr’s study of the information provided by Rose plays about the stage, he concludes that most playwrights writing for London companies from the late 1580s ‘expected their venues to offer an “above”, a discovery space, two stage pillars, a stage trap, and possibly even suspension machinery in the heavens’.[13]

    15Many comparisons have been made between the Rose and Globe theatres in terms of size and audience capacity, particularly in remarking on the relatively small size of the Rose’s stage. However, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus includes a stage direction for a procession on the Rose stage, watched by Saturninus from above, which specifies drums, trumpets, a coffin, twelve named characters and ‘others as many as can be’ which suggests that the stage had the capacity for certain kinds of stagings involving several actors.[14] McMillin comments on the stage shape that ‘Twice wider than deep, it would have required predominantly lateral movement’ (p. 165). This has interesting implications for the original staging of The Comedy of Humours. The following commentary will focus on particular ways in which the stage could have been used, implications for past performances of the play, and hopefully aid understanding of the play’s dynamics for future productions.

    The width and shallowness of the stage allows proximity of actors to audience, whilst also permitting space between characters. The play makes plentiful use of asides and it is suggested that the shape of the Rose stage facilitates this. Its breadth allows the stage to be divided into parts, possibly using the stage posts to describe a virtual line, which becomes a real boundary in spatial and dramatic terms. Robert Weimann has written extensively on the difference between, and uses of, locus and platea on the Elizabethan stage and in the drama. Initially, Weimann described the loca as a ‘fixed and focused scenic unit’ and platea as an ‘entirely nonrepresentational and unlocalized setting’, developed from medieval street theatre’s less formally demarcated playing spaces.[15] Years later, Weimann returned to this topic, adding greater detail:

    While the dominant forms of poetic and rhetorical discourse ... dominated the locus and tended to constitute detached, more or less aloof worlds of their own, the platea in its adapted mode was usually marked by an entirely different type of prose discourse. It was a language close to the ordinary word and the native language of the jesting, riddling, punning ‘mother-wits’, serving the immediate give and take of unstilted, possibly ‘unrefined’ perceptions of status, conduct, and ideas, and deeply aware of ordinary, everyday objects and relations among people. Along these lines, this rather unfixed space was marked by its openness towards the world of the audience.[16]

    Characters inhabiting the platea were able to breach the invisible boundary between audience and stage, and interact with those watching them within their own time and place. In a process of theatrical osmosis, the audience could be drawn into the action through the permeable membrane the stage created, first by being taken into the confidence of the liminal character/s, and then into the action proper which inhabited the locus.

    However, the two types of staging and interaction with the audience do not necessarily have to be separated from one another. Weimann gives as an example the banquet scene in Timon of Athens, in which Apemantus sits at a separate table, set apart from the banqueting table. Weimann suggests that this set-up ‘does not implicate two entirely separate acts of staging, but rather the interface between a self-contained and an open site of action’.[17] It is suggested that exactly this sort of interface exists in The Comedy of Humours throughout the play, particularly in the character of Lemot, whose frequent asides to the audience and selected characters keep all parties well-informed of his scheming.

    In Scene 4, Labervele remains within sight of Lemot and Florila but far enough away to be out of their hearing, and vice versa. The Rose’s shallow stage enables lateral movement so that Lemot and Florila could withdraw to one side of the stage while Labervele remains on the other. Thus both parties are proximate to the audience, but symbolically distant from one another. During Scene 6, Labervele enters but Florila does not see him, implying she is downstage. The actor playing Florila has completed her soliloquy and perhaps moved to another part of the stage to facilitate the delivery of Labervele’s soliloquy out of his wife’s hearing. Labervele speaks his monologue, overheard only by the audience, and is instructed to enter ‘behind her’, presumably to suggest she doesn’t see him until he speaks aloud.

    The rest of Scene 6’s staging is rather complex: each of the characters appear to address one another individually, mostly as asides that the third party cannot hear. From TLN 703 onwards it is clear that Labervele cannot hear Lemot and Florila’s discussion, and speaks in asides overheard only by the audience until TLN 735 when he addresses Lemot directly. It is likely that this is prompted by Lemot raising his voice for TLN 733-734 to reassure Labervele of his wife’s (false) chastity. Asides between Labervele and Florila follow to agree further signs, before Florila again engages in private discussion with Lemot. The complexity of overhearing asides and alouds makes it a difficult to decide exactly who is meant to hear what without restricting actors’ choices. It is clear, however, that this scene possesses a great deal of comic potential in the definition and blurring of these boundaries.

    20The bulk of Labervele’s asides would be labelled the ‘conventionalised monological aside’ according to Manfred Pfister.[18] This category includes asides spoken almost as soliloquies, in that they are not addressed to another speaker onstage. However, the speaker ‘is neither alone on stage, nor does he imagine he is alone, nor has he forgotten that he is in the presence of others’ (p. 138). Pfister explains that this form of aside enables the character to ‘give a frank commentary on a particular situation free of any strategic considerations’, exactly the kind of outlet Labervele needs to convey his thoughts to the audience (p. 138). This is not technically an aside ad spectatores, in which the audience is directly addressed. In Labervele’s case, his asides comment on his wife’s behaviour and are overheard by the audience, but are not directly addressed as prescribed by the second category mentioned.

    A similar withdrawal of two characters occurs in Scene 5. Since Labesha comments that Martia is ‘talking alone’ with Lemot at TLN 541, it seems likely that Lemot has led Martia away from the group. They could withdraw to the back or one side of the stage (which seems more likely given the Rose stage’s broad, shallow dimensions) or even the discovery space, to allow the sword action plenty of room downstage. They need to be within earshot for Lemot to overhear Labesha’s question at TLN 542. The suggestion of lateral movement across the stage seems most pragmatic, so that Labesha threatens to cross the stage, his way barred by the three gentlemen, with Lemot crossing towards Labesha to question him.

    In Scene 8, Verone communicates his feelings for his maid, Jaquena, through a series of asides while she argues with the servant Jaques. Verone retreats from the party to avoid the confrontation he is later called to adjudicate, resulting in his reluctant admonition to Jaquena. But perhaps the most entertaining use of the aside occurs later in the same scene and is made possible through the dramatic use of a card game onstage.

    Staging the Card Game

    Throughout Scene 8, the characters arrive at the ordinary and play a game of cards whilst waiting for dinner to be ready. Although the game has a very clear beginning, with Berger calling for the cards from Verone and inviting Rowley to play, only occasional reference is subsequently made to it. By analysing each small reference it is possible to decipher that the most likely game being played is Primero, also referred to by Shakespeare in Henry VIII Internet Shakespeare EditionsTLN 2778–780, where Gardiner has left the King playing the same game with the Duke of Suffolk.[19]

    Identification of the card game is useful not only for the sake of labelling the game, but also to aid understanding of the dynamics of the scene. It helps to be aware that Primero can involve any number of players, who may enter or leave the game at any point, such as happens in Scene 8. The popularity of this game amongst gentry and commoners also suggests that while the audience are watching gallants of the King’s court, they would be able to identify easily with the game being played onstage. The game chosen fulfils the demands of the dramatic action: the majority of characters are involved with the game, apart from Lemot and Catalian, who circumnavigate the action, commenting and plotting. However, the rules of Primero also allow Lemot to pick out characters and draw them from the game with ease and realism. These details inform an editor’s choices in terms of directing stage action through inserted stage directions, but also through commentary, which enlightens readers who do not have the benefit of witnessing the action themselves.

    25The card game appears to give Lemot and Catalian, who exclude themselves from it, a good opportunity to observe the other characters, speak about them and experiment with Lemot’s predictive word games. This kind of aside, whereby the dialogue between two characters is audible to the audience but not any other characters present on stage, is known as the ‘dialogical aside’.[20] Pfister observes that it requires particular staging, by grouping ‘the figures participating ... together at the front of the stage, well away from the other figures’ (p. 140). Theatrically, the card game focuses the other characters’ attention and keeps them stationary, so the audience can observe them, while Lemot and Catalian’s running commentary continues. If those playing the card game were positioned in the middle of the stage, the stage posts would perfectly frame their idiosyncrasies and humours, just as in Every Man out of His Humour, the Grex frames the action with commentary. The broad stage of the Rose would allow Lemot and Catalian space away from the card players, with the stage posts serving almost as a physical boundary framing the card players and providing a private space for Lemot and Catalian to discuss the gamers, overheard only by the audience. Since Verone and his servants have set up at least one table onstage, it seems sensible that the card players are seated at it when playing their games.

    Pfister further comments that the dialogical aside ‘is generally conditioned by conspiratorial dialogue or dialogue in an eavesdropping situation’ (p. 140). Lemot and Catalian are conspiring with one another, as well as ‘eavesdropping’ in their observation of the other characters, and interruption of the game. Through these two characters, the audience become eavesdroppers and conspirators also, drawn into the action by the osmotic device of the aside. Chapman exploits the aside almost exclusively for Lemot’s usage, particularly the aside ad spectatores, which Pfister observes is generally reserved for comedic drama and most often for ‘The speakers who are keenest to make contact with the audience’, mainly ‘scheming villains or servant figures’ (p. 139). Lemot arguably merges both categories, being the King’s scheming servant. The point of his asides is to inform the audience of his schemes, ‘and thus both to create a level of suspense for what is to follow and to ensure that the audience has an informational advantage over the victims of the intrigue – an important factor in the creation of a comic effect’ (p. 140). The anticipation of what is to come is further heightened by ensuring the audience’s complicity, which in turn renders Lemot less harmful and more of a trickster.

    Rowley is persuaded to begin playing cards by Berger. This first reference to the game is clear but the actual start of play is more complex. By TLN 1212 Rowley has lost the 'two or three crowns' he ventured in the game. When Rowley decides to quit at this point, Catalian persuades him to continue with his financial backing, ‘to him again’. This suggests an alternative scenario to the Primero hypothesis: Rowley might be engaged in a game with Berger, while the other three card players, Moren, Foyes and Labesha, play a different game.

    The card game is still being played at TLN 1234-1235 where Lemot asks Rowley if he is winning or losing. If only Lemot and Catalian are excluded from the card game, it would be necessary to include Blanvel in the gaming party, despite his not being invited to join them. In fact, he seems to have been forgotten about altogether and doesn't speak for the rest of the scene after his final words at TLN 1129. Blanvel often ‘disappears’ from scenes, a possible indication of a pre-theatrical manuscript used as copy text for this quarto. However, another explanation lies in Lemot’s description in Scene 2 of Blanvel’s humour, in which he retreats to stand by a wall or chimney with his arms folded and refuses to budge. Blanvel’s lack of lines in Scene 8 might suggest that he has once again taken up his position and will remain silent for the rest of the scene. Alternatively, he might be allowed to join in the card game.

    Hiding from Dowsecer

    Many of Dowsecer’s lines in Scene 7 are spoken as a monologue, as if he were alone. Having spotted Labervele at TLN 921, he engages in dialogue with him, directly addressing him as ‘father’. Only at TLN 948 does Dowsecer suggest that he is aware of the other characters watching him, where he promises he’ll stand quietly ‘And trouble none of you’. However, this line makes unclear whether Dowsecer is referring directly to the people around him, or reassuring his father in more general terms. It is possible that Dowsecer remains ignorant of his onlookers, for, when at TLN 952 Moren expresses concern that Dowsecer has spotted them, the King reassures him that this is not the case, indicating that Dowsecer is instead looking at Martia. Whether the picture of Martia or the real woman receives his gaze is unclear, a point again relevant when Dowsecer delivers his final speech to ‘Martia’ at TLN 962-968. In response, Martia speaks to his departing person.

    30Moren’s unease that the company will be seen by Dowsecer suggests that they are not occupying the above space. They could press themselves against the tiring house wall, while Dowsecer occupies the medial front of the stage, and Labervele moves forward to talk to his son. Another option would involve use of the discovery space, occupied by Dowsecer or his observers: the former option seems unlikely since the other characters might obscure the audience’s view of Dowsecer, while the latter seems impractical since the ‘hidden’ actors number ten. Other possibilities involve the use of hangings for concealing characters, either in the discovery space or across the wall of the tiring house, from which their heads could peep in a comedic style reminiscent of Tarlton’s clowning entrance.[21]

    In Every Man in His Humour, Giuliano ‘walks over the stage’ in 4.2,[22] muttering his frustration at not being able to find Bobadilla and Matheo, while they stand with Lorenzo Junior and Stephano, and watch him cross the stage and exit. Giuliano’s appearance throws the two into a comedic panic, fearing confrontation with him, before he reappears and challenges them. This example illustrates the flexible use of the stage and extent to which onstage characters could be ignored by other characters. This case further proves the latter point, since Giuliano is actively seeking Bobadilla and Matheo in a rage, but misses them; the self-absorbed, melancholic Dowsecer is not expecting an audience, nor does he seek one, and is perhaps the reason he does not see the other characters onstage with him. Only when Labervele moves forward does he become aware of company.

    Hiding Catalian

    Catalian’s last designated lines in Scene 4 are TLN 297-300, but it is apparent that he remains onstage until the end of the scene, since Lemot refers to him as ‘sirrah’ at TLN 421. Since Lemot talks about Labervele and his wife at TLN 421-422 it seems logical to assume that Labervele exits with Florila, so that the only remaining character onstage to necessitate Exeunt, instead of Exit, must be Catalian. If it weren’t for these two clues, the most obvious place for Catalian to exit would be as Lemot enters at TLN 310. Since no reference is made to Catalian throughout the rest of the scene it seems that he lingers onstage, witnessing Lemot’s cunning, but hidden from Florila and Labervele, the latter thinking he has rid himself of Catalian. The actor playing Catalian may have used the stage posts to conceal himself from view, or maybe he was hidden behind hangings on the frons.

    This is the not the first example of a scene in which Catalian disappears. In Scene 2, he advises Lemot that Blanvel has ‘taken up his stand’ (TLN 111), which is his last line in the scene. Since Colinet exits to visit Martia at TLN 127, this edition includes Catalian (who next appears in Florila’s private walk) in the general exit of Lemot and Blanvel at the end of scene. Blanvel, another character who systematically disappears from scenes, is discussed in Staging the Card Game.

    Lord and Ladies

    In Scene 8, Lemot directs his welcome at TLN 1293-1294 to the King, Florila and Martia; however, it is unclear whether the royal party appears on stage at this point, either at one of the doors or as they pass across the stage to the inward parlour. Alternatively Lemot could be speaking to the party offstage, perhaps through one of the doors. This seems more feasible since although Jaques indicates the party by saying ‘here is a gentleman ... ‘ (TLN 1286), Lemot then directs Jaques to hide them in the inward parlour in return for payment, suggesting that they have not yet appeared onstage.

    35If the King and ladies enter the stage at ‘See where they come’ (TLN 1293), they only have Lemot’s short welcome, less than two lines, during which to traverse the stage and leave again. This latter staging option also raises the issue of whether the other characters on stage notice; perhaps they are so absorbed in their cards that they do not observe passage of the little party across the stage. However, if the card players were positioned as suggested, the King’s party would have to pass across the front of the stage either before or behind the stage posts, to put as much space as possible between themselves and the card players, who include Labesha, the tell-tale gull, and Foyes, Martia’s father.

    When designated in the text, ‘passing over the stage’ can either mean moving across the frons from one door to the other or a more lengthy procession down to the front of the stage and back up to the other door, ‘a sweep using the full breadth of the stage’.[23] In Every Man out of His Humour, 4.2 opens with a stage direction which reads: ‘Enter Deliro with Macilente, speaking as they pass over the stage’, for an exchange totalling eight prose lines. They might pass across the back or round the front, or experiment with pace, to allow them time to speak all allocated lines before exiting.

    It must also be remembered that the King is disguised (TLN 1295) and probably the two women also, so perhaps the card players would not recognise the party. Several of the characters attending the ordinary are doing so against the wishes of their spouses or parents, therefore creating a very amusing comic effect if the King and women were paraded before the others’ noses. Lemot’s language and the fact that he addresses the royal party directly possibly indicate that they do appear onstage and pass across it. They don’t speak because they don’t want to get caught: Martia is walking past her father, and Florila, as a strict Puritan, would not want to be seen in such a place. A modern director could experiment with the various options.

    Close Walk Scenes

    Labervele refers to the setting of Scene 1 as ‘my wife’s close walk’ at TLN 9. An obvious location for the performance of Scene 1 is the discovery space, being a confined space representative of a private garden which easily accommodates one character; however Scenes 4 and 6 also share the same setting and involve four and three characters respectively. To play three scenes within a small space with several characters would be impractical, especially since the staging of the latter two scenes requires physical distance between characters. In Scene 4, for example, Lemot withdraws with Florila, and in Scene 6 Labervele can see his wife with Lemot but does not hear what they are saying. The dynamics of these scenes require use of the whole stage, not just the discovery space. The ‘lateral movement’ (McMillin, 165) invited by the stage’s shape may involve groups of characters occupying different parts of the stage, so that they can interact with each other and be overheard by the audience, but not by the other group.

    Furthermore, Labervele enters the stage rather than being ‘discovered’. This word can indicate a scene inhabiting the discovery space, as in Doctor Faustus, the protagonist of which is ‘discovered’ in his study.

    40Above Space

    Scene 9 is inserted between the two parts of continuing action of which Scene 8 is comprised. The characters onstage at the end of Scene 8 part one (of which there are at least six) either have to clear the stage for Scene 9, or Scene 9 occurs elsewhere. Various locations of these over-lapping scenes on the physical space of the stage can be suggested. The action at the ordinary could be manipulated so that the one scene is interrupted by Scene 9 whilst the characters physically occupy the discovery space, the intervening action occurring on the main stage. McMillin’s study of the ‘raised space’ and ‘curtained enclosure’ used by Rose plays suggests this might be possible. However, the comparatively small size of the Rose stage suggests that its discovery space might not comfortably accommodate six to eight actors. Jean Wilson approximates the stage’s total area as a maximum of 500 square feet, compared with the Fortune’s 1,600 square feet (without accounting for the tiring house).[24] Another possibility involves the use of the discovery space by Lemot and the Countess for Scene 9 while the other actors remain on the stage proper, frozen, quiet, or silently interacting.

    More convincingly, the short dialogue of Scene 9 could be exchanged in the ‘above space’ of the Rose, for which McMillin provides substantial evidence in other Rose plays. The actor playing Lemot could use the remaining ten lines dialogue of Scene 8 part one to run upstairs to the above space and appear with the Countess. This suggestion finds textual support in the Countess’s first line of this embedded scene: ‘What, you are out of breath, methinks, Monsieur Lemot?’. It is also more convincing that this scene takes place away from the larger number of actors occupying the stage proper. Thomas Marc Parrott, editor of the play’s 1914 edition, very simply summarises the proposed locations of various actors: ‘This scene is laid at the house of Count Moren. It was probably played on the balcony while the other actors remained seated on the main stage representing Verone’s ordinary, to which Lemot returns in the next scene’ (693).

    McMillin’s study of Rose plays catalogues in detail those containing one or more raised scenes as referred to by the text. Some of these plays have provided interesting comparisons with The Comedy of Humours and the time in lines allotted to characters who have to descend from above and appear immediately upon the main stage. For example, in Chapman’s The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, Elimine enters Scene 2 ‘above on the walls’ for a sixteen line soliloquy, but only has three lines during which to descend before entering the main stage space. Elimine then has a gap of sixty-one lines before speaking, possibly to allow the actor to get his breath back.

    The text of The Two Angry Women of Abingdon (1598) causes confusion due to a possible misplaced stage direction. At l. 1432 the direction reads ‘Enter Mall in the window’.[25] Mall’s exit direction is placed above another of her lines, but before she seems to appear on the stage proper. This suggests either that the actor must speak the line whilst descending the stairs, or that the direction is misplaced (due to error or lack of space on the correct line), and that Mall should exit after her line. Without including Mall’s odd line, the actor has eight lines of dialogue in which to descend from above and appear on the stage. Garland editor Marianne Brish Evett and Nottingham Drama Texts editors Michael Jardine and John Simons disagree over where to place the stage direction, the former moving it after Mall’s disputed line, the latter favouring the quarto reading.[26]

    In Titus Andronicus, 5.2, Titus leaves his study and exits above at l. 69, entering the stage proper in time to begin his next speech eleven lines later. Maria Clara Versiani Galery suggests that Tamora is allotted eleven lines in order to give the actor playing Titus enough time to descend from above.[27] Therefore it would appear from other evidence of plays performed at the Rose that the ten lines allocated to Lemot in which to descend from above are reasonable and realistic. One additional possibility involves staging the scene on another part of the stage, for example, downstage of other characters. However, the textual evidence of the Countess’s ‘out of breath’ line strengthens the suggestion that Scene 9 occurs in the above space.

    45If the other characters remain onstage, they could be miming action, or freeze. In her commentary to Every Man out of His Humour, Helen Ostovich describes 3.1 as a scene requiring expert choreography which she likens to a dance: ‘Clove and Orange have been strolling together, without overhearing the other men’s conversation, since 42. It is understood that each group of strollers mimes private chat when not delivering lines, and overhears only snatches of other conversations in passing’ (3.1.168-70n). So it is possible that characters in The Comedy of Humours continue miming while Lemot visits the Countess. Similar miming could occur during Scene 8 amongst those participating in the card game, while Lemot and Catalian discuss them in private.

    Staging and Properties


    ‘Many scenes in which meaning is closely linked to decisions about staging have no directions whatsoever’, writes Alan C. Dessen. ‘Moreover, the signals that are provided often are uninformative or confusing or inconsistent’.[28] The first instruction of Scene 1 of The Comedy of Humours provides a good example of an incomplete stage direction: ‘Enter the Count Labervele in his shirt and night-gown, with two jewels in his hand.’ The action of the scene resides solely in placing the jewels in Florila’s private walk, while Labervele’s speech serves as exposition. At the end of the monologue, Labervele pointedly leaves the jewels in the walk where they can be ‘discovered’ by Florila.

    Labervele vocalises his actions, making it very clear to the audience that he is placing the jewels somewhere onstage in preparation for their discovery by Florila later in the play; however, this discovery does not take place until Scene 4, roughly 150 lines later, during which a maximum of four characters are onstage at any one time. The actors playing the seven characters who appear onstage in this intervening action must be aware of the properties’ presence, suggesting the agreement of a pre-determined location, for example, safe placement next to a permanent feature of the stage, such as a door or stage-post, or within the proximity of the discovery space. This edition inserts a direction for Labervele to put the jewels down at TLN 29.


    Scene 8 is set in an ordinary, an inn serving food. In his survey of tavern scenes, Dessen notes that commonly all that is required to set the scene is ‘the presence of such a drawer (or host or vintner) along with hand-held bottles and glasses’ plus some dialogue.[29] So Chapman’s inclusion of tables exceeds usual requirements, especially when considering that this play was written for performance at the Rose theatre and its comparatively small stage; later in the scene it has to accommodate six to eight actors, plus tables.

    The tables emphasise the location as being an ‘ordinary’, i.e. an inn that serves not only drink, but food as well. With reference to the table in Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness, Catherine Richardson points out: ‘Seeing a table on stage then, and being told that it is in a parlour [or for Chapman’s play, read ‘ordinary’], permits an early modern audience to complete the representation from memory in ways that it has been possible to begin to reconstruct here’.[30] Richardson does so with the help of inventories listing household goods. The tables would serve firmly to establish the setting of the scene in an ordinary, in contrast with private dwellings as locations, and remind the audience that characters are congregating to share a meal. This semblance of civility is comically undermined by the chaotic scenes which follow.

    50The host’s opening lines of Scene 8 specify these large properties quite clearly: ‘Come on, my masters, shadow these tables with their white veils ...’. Thus Verone directs the Boy and Jaques to lay tablecloths upon ‘these tables’, indicating that at least two tables (probably trestles since they are easily portable) have been set up onstage before the beginning of the scene or as part of the stage action. The omission of a stage direction dictating the action of setting up the tables possibly points to the copy text’s pre-theatrical status, since no mention of them is made by either the author, or what William B. Long prefers to term the ‘glancing bookkeeper’.[31] Long further adds: ‘Regularization and completeness simply were not factors in theatrical marking of an author’s papers. Theatrical personnel seem to have marked the book only in response to problems’ (123). Perhaps Chapman felt no need to insert a stage direction in the pre-theatrical script when the action is made clear by Verone’s lines.

    The flow of the performance is interrupted by the need to erect tables, and the potentially laborious action of doing so serves not only to prepare the scene but also to set up a joke at TLN 1038-1039. Once the tables have been erected, Verone instructs Jaques and the Boy to lay the tables with cloths, a task which in performance could be carried out at some length and with laboured efforts. Jaquena enters whilst Verone is otherwise engaged (or at least out of earshot) and challenges the use of the room, threatening to dismantle all the hard work previously witnessed onstage: ‘Come, whose wit was it to cover in this room, in the name of God, I trow?’ (TLN 1038-1039).

    Verone must remove himself to another part of the stage in order that his asides are not heard by Jaquena or, more importantly, his son or servant. Verone withdraws himself from the Boy and Jaques with his final comments at TLN 1035-1036, since the dialogue between the latter two and Jaquena indicates that Verone must be standing apart from them. His aside indicates that he is aware of her presence and although he can observe the debate, it may or may not be audible to him. He is introduced to the argument by Jaques at TLN 1051. Verone’s withdrawal from the main action allows him to reveal his secret affair with Jaquena for the benefit of the audience, as well as carry out other stage business, for example, setting the other table/s.

    During the following dialogue, Jaquena removes one of the tablecloths from the table to display her dissatisfaction with the current room and her intention to set up the tables in another. At TLN 1061 Jaquena acknowledges that she ‘did but take up the cloth’ which suggests she takes it up before TLN 1051, when Jaques calls on Verone to admonish her. The exchange between her and Jaques becomes somewhat heated, presumably in exasperation at her interference and threat to dismantle his efforts. Placement of the stage direction at TLN 1045 explains Jaques's sudden outburst at TLN 1047 and his calling her ‘baggage’. Placing the action here therefore prompts the spiteful exchange, culminating in the intervention of Verone.

    Another option is to place the stage direction after Jaquena’s first lines (TLN 1038-1039). At this point the Boy rather pathetically tries to defend his and Jaques’s actions, but proves himself no match for Jaquena’s cutting retorts. It seems more appropriate to place the action of removing the tablecloth just after Jaquena’s final remark in her exchange with the Boy, allocating the duration of Verone’s aside to remove the tablecloth. Finally, in her explanation of events to Verone, Jaquena points out that ‘I did but take up the cloth ... and he called me baggage’, situating the removal of the cloth very firmly as a prompt to Jaques’s outburst.

    55Once the tables are onstage, their removal becomes another point of consideration. They could remain onstage for the rest of the play, positioned centrally between the stage posts, therefore leaving the rest of the stage free for alternative locations (such as the street). In this scenario, the tables could have the cream, cake and spoon placed on them in Scene 11, highlighting their presence for Labesha. His fixed central position would make it easier for the other characters to creep up on him and ‘catch’ him eating the cream, increasing the comic potential of his denial of its existence.

    In Scene 14, the tables might either help or hinder the lottery: those in the audience could be seated at them, however, the tables may also obstruct the lottery. Participants in the lottery spectacle could enter through the central doors, and removal of the tables would facilitate this entrance. If the tables remain onstage until the end of the play, they and the stage posts would mark a theatrical boundary between the site of the ordinary and the street outside, since action from Scene 10 onwards appears to occur in these two locations, blending into one another in Scene 14. Parrott suggests that Scene 10 takes place in the street outside the ordinary: ‘After the exit of the actors in the preceding scene, the main stage, cleared of its tables, chairs, etc., is supposed to be the street on which Labervele and the others appear’ (p. 693). Parrott thus posits the alternative view that the tables are removed at the end of Scene 8, possibly as part of the action.


    Scott McMillin points to evidence in Rose plays for three doors serving the frons, unlike De Witt’s drawing of the Swan stage. A stage direction in Patient Grissel reads ‘Enter Urcenze and Onophrio at several doors, and Farnezie in the midst’, with a similar stage direction occurring in the plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins (160). McMillin suggests the middle door could have been a curtained entrance that doubled as a discovery space. It may have been larger than the other two on either side, since ‘“In the midst” says something about location, but nothing about size’ (160).

    The action of Scenes 8 and 10 suggests that the three doors could represent various locations. At the end of Scene 8, Lemot instructs Jaques to ‘shut the doors. Let nobody come in’ (TLN 1385). Since this exit involves several characters it seems obvious to suggest that they leave through the central opening, particularly if it is larger than the other two, as McMillin suggests. The doors are then shut before Labervele and his heated crew storm on stage and begin knocking at the same doors, craving admittance.

    If the tables from Scene 8 are left onstage, Labervele and company can still knock on the central opening, as if wishing to gain entry to an internal private room within the ordinary. However, dialogue specifies that they are standing in the street (TLN 1393), which is rendered less credible if they are amongst the tables. In this case it is suggested that they knock at a door other than the central opening. Scene 10 consists of a series of entrances and exits by groups of characters, (without bumping into one another), thus requiring the use of two separate doors, e.g. the two doors either side of the central opening. However, as with much other drama of the period, this is not to say that the doors onstage must lead to prescribed, fixed locations; the space’s fluidity accommodates the action’s demands.

    60In Scene 7, the King erroneously predicts the entrance of Dowsecer with the words, ‘See where he appears’ (TLN 821), when it is Lavel who enters, heavily burdened with a picture, a pair of large hose, a codpiece and a sword. This misidentification suggests that either Lavel’s burdens are piled high and obscure his face, or he enters backwards, in order to push through the door or curtain from the tiring house without risk of dropping his objects.

    It has been established that the Rose had two doors either side of a central discovery space. In recent years debate concerning these doors has occurred, mainly in Theatre Notebook. Initial discussion was inspired by Gabriel Egan’s suggestion that the ‘strange geometrical hinges’ referred to by the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi (4.2.213) might refer to a new kind of hinge used on theatre doors, allowing them to open into the tiring house, or onto the stage, and be pinned back.[32] Andrew Gurr responded by pointing to A Knack to Know an Honest Man (1594), in which plural doors are referred to in one location, and are ordered to be removed from their hinges, while another location refers to an individual door, thus suggesting that the Rose had the option of hinged doors both at either side of the stage and covering the central entrance into the tiring house.[33] Gurr suggests that a combination of hangings (also referenced in plays) and doors could be employed to best serve dramatic requirements, and supports Dessen’s warning that the difference between ‘fictional’ and ‘theatrical’ stage directions must be observed. Reference to a door does not mean it is literally onstage, but may simply call the audience’s attention to the fact that it is imagined.

    The z-hinges thought referred to in The Duchess of Malfi appear to be a new invention, given that they are described as ‘strange’. Egan points out that the play must have been written before December 1614, due to the death of a named actor in this month (p. 63). His discussion is largely concerned with the Globe rather than the Rose; however, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that Lavel might enter backwards, to open the door or push aside the curtain masking his point of entrance, and thus lead the King to believe he is Dowsecer.

    Smaller properties used in the play consist of the usual requirements for Elizabethan drama and are items easy to acquire: swords, a tobacco pipe, cards, various table-linen, a halter, pots, prizes and posies for the lottery, money and Labervele’s jewels. They are inventoried in Dessen and Thomson’s helpful dictionary.

    Two Textual Issues Originating in the Printing House

    Chapman's Handwriting

    In the textual notes accompanying his edition of Chapman’s Comedies, Parrott records an interesting emendation in An Humorous Day’s Mirth.[34] At TLN 850-851, where the quarto reads ‘he cares he cares he cares’ Parrott identifies corruption of the passage, presumably pointing to the compositor’s erroneous reading of the copy. The words are found within a metrical line of verse, mistakenly printed as prose (although this is not remarkable since the majority of the play is printed as such). Suggested emendations must be monosyllabic to fit the verse line and ‘have a meaning opposed to honest drifts‘ (Parrott’s emphasis; p. 697). As a substitute Parrott suggests ‘snares snares snares’ as ‘no improper contents, at least in a satiric speech, of lawyer’s bills’. Charles Edelman, the play’s most recent editor, is also convinced by this suggestion and augments the argument by quoting Cicero’s De Officiis: ‘Cicero deplores sharp legal practices, especially fraudulent dealing in real estate, when a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of a house is tamquam plagam, “just like a snare”’.[35]

    65‘Snares’ meets the requirements of the verse line and satisfies the sense of the passage as the possible contents of a lawyer’s bills. The heart of the issue concerns what Chapman might have written in order that the compositor mistook it for ‘he cares’, which does not appear to fit the sense of the passage. Although examples of both Chapman’s English and italic hands are extant, it is not known which hand he used for the writing of plays. If Chapman was writing in secretary hand (of which there is only one dubiously authentic example), could ‘snares’ be mistaken for ‘he cares’ as Parrott proposes?

    Studies of Chapman’s handwriting have been consulted and they provide a complex crop of palaeographic discussions regarding his work. Several assumed examples of Chapman’s hand are in existence and there are abundant disputations as to their authenticity. Two examples of Chapman’s handwriting are found in Henslowe’s Diary and are provided by Greg in English Literary Autographs 1550-1650, reproduced in Plate XII (a) and (b).[36] Close work on these examples suggested that Chapman’s ‘h’ and long ‘s’ were very different, the ‘h’ a typical secretary hand with loops ascending and descending, while the long ‘s’ was usually signified by a distinctively straight downstroke; confusion between the two was not probable.

    L. A. Cummings’s comprehensive monograph concerning Chapman’s autograph, entitled Geo: Chapman his Crowne and Conclusion, seeks to clarify which examples of Chapman’s supposed hand are genuine and from them establish a chirography.[37] A full discussion of Cummings’s analysis is not appropriate here, but it is sufficient to say that the two examples from the Diary are concluded to be inauthentic for two reasons. In order to establish a reliable set of examples from which to draw analysis, Cummings decided to exclude all specimens that could have been in contact with the notorious forger John Payne Collier, advice issued by Greg, Samuel A. Tannenbaum and G. F. Warner. The latter summarises the case thus: ‘The taint of suspicion necessarily rests upon all his work. None of his statements or quotations can be trusted without verifying, and no volume or document that has passed through his hands ... can be too carefully scrutinised’.[38] Since it is known that the Diary was at one point in Collier’s possession for many months, Cummings treated any evidence found within it with caution.

    Furthermore, Cummings identifies the first of Greg’s examples of George Chapman’s hand as actually that of Robert Shaa. Cummings provides Plates of Shaa’s writing (see Plates Va and b, VI) with which to compare the example and argues that only the signature is in Chapman’s hand. The second of Greg’s examples is a clipping from Henslowe’s Diary, apparently unknown to Collier. However, Cummings identifies the piece as ‘an unknown hand, dubiously Chapman’s’ (196). He further adds that ‘If this is Chapman’s it is the only known specimen of his writing in an English hand’. Some of the ‘untainted’ examples of Chapman’s hand are written in cancellaresca corsiva, a humanistic cursive used by the Papal chancery of Pope Eugenius IV, while the others are a hybrid of rapid, facile and set hands, described by Anthony G. Petti in his introduction.[39]

    After careful study of the specimens of Chapman’s hand untainted by Collier, Cummings concludes that a certain number are authentic and to be trusted. These include the British Library fragment of the Diary dated 1599 (Cummings, Plate IV; Greg, Plate XII (a), example 2), signature on the Diary receipt dated 24 October 1598 (Cummings, Plate III; Greg, Plate XII (a) example 1), signature on the Diary receipt dated 22 January 1598 (Cummings, Plate II), signature on a Public Record Office legal document discovered by Mark Eccles (Cummings, Plate Ia), signature pasted into a copy of The Blind Beggar of Alexandria (Cummings, Plate Ib), several examples of Chapman’s holograph in Ficino’s translation of Iamblichus De Mysteriis etc., (Lyon, 1577), and some of the allegedly authentic inscriptions by Chapman to various recipients of his books.

    70A fuller study of this issue by an expert palaeographer would require careful consideration of h and s in the above items. One also has to consider that a misreading of one word by a compositor is easier to accept than the misreading of words repeated three times. It is possible that some external effect might have disfigured the words at this point. Cummings suggests that writing posture, paper surface, condition of the pen and handmade ink might all contribute to create illegible specimens, left ‘to the reader to unscramble the results of his difficulties’ (67).

    An alternative to Parrott’s suggestion is described below. In his study of Renaissance handwriting, Samuel A. Tannenbaum notes that p ‘compares very favorably with h, r, and s’.[40] Cummings notes that formation of Chapman’s s, t and p requires ‘special comment’ (81). If h and p might easily be mistaken for one another, peccares, meaning ‘he might sin’, might be the word misread by the compositor for ‘he cares’.

    Reference to sin is subject matter not uncommon in lawyer’s bills, and could feasibly be offered in opposition to ‘virtue or honest drifts’ (TLN 850); however, the form of pecco necessary to make this an accurate alternative to ‘he cares’ does not really fit the sense of the line, and neither does peccares fit the metre. Arguably, peccares contains one ‘c’ more than is required for ‘he cares’. However, the compositor was undoubtedly unfamiliar with Latin, as the opening Latin lines of Dowsecer’s speech testify in the quarto. If the compositor had the copy read to him as he composed lines of text, the errors might either have been introduced by the reader, misreading the copy, or the compositor, mishearing the reader.

    Alternatively, perhaps the corruption of Dowsecer’s speech can be explained not by Chapman’s handwriting but by some accidental disfiguring of the copy, for example by some stain or liquid obscuring the ink and words.

    Catalian Versus the Countess

    Because of the similarity between character names, speech prefixes in the quarto are often misleading or equivocal. An example occurs at TLN 1695 where the control text has an abbreviated speech prefix, ‘Ca.’. Catalian is the only character whose name is abbreviated to ‘Ca.’, which occurs twenty-three times, while the abbreviation ‘Cat.’ is employed in thirty-two instances.

    75Before spontaneously lengthening this abbreviation to ‘Catalian’, it is necessary to take note of the stage direction preceding the scene: ‘Enter the Queen, and all that were in before.’ If this refers to all those who were onstage with the Queen during her previous appearance in Scene 12, the direction must include Lemot, Labervele, Foyes and the Countess, not Catalian; he appears in Scenes 11 and 13, thus sandwiching Scene 12, to which the stage direction concerned refers. Catalian exits Scene 13 without giving a clue as to his direction, and has no lines in Scene 14 until TLN 1839; to allocate him TLN 1695-1696 ignores this dramatic fact.

    Another confusing factor is the abbreviation of the speech prefix. There are several instances in the copy text of speech prefixes that are wrongly abbreviated, or, due to the similar nature of some of the characters’ names, could be lengthened to signify a number of characters. For example, ‘La.’ could refer to Labervele, Labesha or Lavel, while ‘C.’ could signify Catalian, Colinet, Countess, Count Labervele or Count Moren. On these occasions, abbreviated prefixes can only be lengthened after careful study of the scene and lines designated to that character. Another prime example is the muddle of ‘Mor.’ and ‘Mar.’ at the beginning of Scene 5.

    Previous editors have dealt with this particular example in various ways. Shepherd did not notice the problem caused by this abbreviation and let it remain as ‘Ca.’ to signify ‘Catalian’. Parrott alters ‘Ca.’ to ‘Countess’, which is feasible since the Countess is abbreviated to ‘Cou.’, ‘C.’ and most commonly, ‘Co.’ in speech prefixes. A more obvious single letter error occurs at TLN 1826 where ‘Elo.’ has been set instead of ‘Flo.’ for ‘Florila’.

    Holaday retains Catalian as the speaker, signified by ‘Cat.’ and there is good reason for doing so. Although Catalian first speaks in Scene 14 at TLN 1839, just after the entrance of Queen Fortune and companions, there is no entrance marked for him. So, if one agrees with Parrott that ‘Ca.’ is a mis-spelling of ‘Co.’ for the Countess, where does Catalian enter? If it is decided that ‘Ca.’ is indeed Catalian, he needs to be added to the list of people who enter under the umbrella stage direction, ‘and all that were in before’, even though he doesn’t speak in the previous scene. One final possibility involves the equal likelihood that if ‘Ca.’ could be an error for ‘Co.’, it could also erroneously represent Labervele, signified by ‘La.’.

    A similar confusion involving speech prefixes for Catalian and the Countess occurs in Scene 5 at TLN 478-479. The prefix has been abbreviated to ‘Cat.’, yet Lemot’s next line addresses the speaker as ‘madam’. The only other female character onstage with the Countess is Martia, thus pointing to the possibility of altering the prefix ‘Cat.’ to ‘Countess’. The Countess is also abbreviated to ‘Count.’ (6), ‘Coun.’ (8), ‘Cou.’ (2), ‘Con.’ (7), ‘Co.’ (22) and ‘C.’ (2) in speech prefixes (numbers in brackets indicate the occurrences of each example counted in the quarto).

    80Reasons for such mistakes include the high possibility of compositor error, or confusion prompted by Chapman’s handwriting. Another feasible suggestion is that the compositor read the manuscript correctly, but reached for the wrong compartment in his case of type: ‘o’ and ‘a’ are in adjacent compartments, one above the other. This also raises the issue of foul case, which would, to a certain extent, absolve the compositor.

    There are other examples of similar speech prefix confusion. Beth Goldring discusses the case of ‘Cor.’ in the first scene of King Lear.[41] This prefix could signify Cornwall or Cordelia, and Goldring discusses the options on bibliographical and dramatic levels. The physical staging is also discussed in terms of how the decision might reflect the characters’ past behaviour and at that moment in the play. Such editorial decisions need to be in with the ‘usual’ presentation of other characters, the whole play and the dramatist’s common practice. Goldring draws upon McKerrow’s warning against ‘those simple and obvious things that we tend most easily to overlook because for generations everybody else has been doing the same’.[42]

    In the case of An Humorous Day’s Mirth, there is no pattern to break: previous editors have all made different decisions. One reason for ascribing the disputed lines to Catalian is to avoid having to insert an entry for him later in the scene. His entrance is unmarked, and although he speaks just after the entry of the performers in the lottery, it does not seem appropriate for him to enter with them, since theirs is a stage entrance for the show which is about to take place. So if the disputed lines are not ascribed to Catalian, a separate entry point must be sought for him. Since he leaves Scene 13 warning Moren, ‘Your wife comes ranging with a troop of dames, like Bacchus’ drunken frows’ (TLN 1667-1668), it seems unlikely for Catalian to enter with the Countess and others in Scene 14.

    Attributing TLN 1695-1696 to the Countess is a decision backed by several forms of support. The palaeographical evidence supports the argument for misreading by the compositor (although he may also have reached for the wrong compartment or been subject to foul case). So the possibility of error is substantial. Secondly, it makes dramatic sense for the Countess to have these lines. She has been onstage in the Queen’s previous scene and thus definitely can be included in the direction ‘all that were in before’. Her response to Lemot complements the Queen and adds comedy to a moment dominated by the verbally confident women. The lines are not out of place for the gutsy Countess either. In Scene 5, the Countess makes to attack Martia (TLN 604-605) for talking with her husband, and at the end of Scene 9, she speaks of using a razor-sharp knife and burning hot iron with which to brand Martia. Thus, on Brereton’s advice this edition alters ‘Cat.’ to ‘Countess’.

    With the case for the Countess concluded, Catalian seeks an entry point in Scene 14. Rather than creating an entirely new entrance point in the action, it is less invasive to find a suitable existing group of entrants to which Catalian can be added. As has been established, there is no reason for Catalian to be included in the first stage directions of Scene 14, ‘and all that were in before’. This does not refer to Catalian, and is what initially casts doubt on the speech prefix at TLN 1695.

    85The next two stage directions in Scene 14 are supported by Lemot’s lines from TLN 1624 onwards where he describes how the King took Martia, and that another lord (Dowsecer) fell in love with her and with a friend ‘Broke desperately upon the person of the King’ (TLN 1627-1628). Lemot confirms the identity of the characters involved at the end of Scene 12 where he names the mystery protagonists of the described dramatic sequence. Quite fittingly then, Dowsecer enters Scene 14 with his friend, Lavel, at TLN 1703, while the King and Martia enter next at TLN 1712. There is no dramatic reason why Catalian should enter with either of these pairs.

    The next entrants are Jaques and Verone. The former last appeared in Scene 13 in his role as intermediary organiser of the lottery, coming from Verone to speak to Moren to ask Lemot to speak to the King about Verone’s lottery. The chronology of orders is purposefully long, designed to delay Moren in comic fashion while he is desperate to run away from his wife. Jaques has not necessarily seen Catalian in this scene, his entrance occurring in the same textual lacuna as Catalian’s exit. Jaques’ mind is principally on the task in hand, that is, the organisation of the lottery. It would seem that in Scene 14 Jaques and Verone come to Lemot purely on this matter and no other. There is therefore no specific dramatic or textual reason why Catalian should enter here (although conversely there is no pressing reason why he should not).

    Clearly, Florila enters alone. There is no reason why she might enter with Catalian, especially as she comes to reassure Labervele that she has been in her private garden. Entering with one of Lemot’s friends might ruin her puritan entrance. This leaves the option for Catalian to enter with Lemot and Labesha. Previously, at the end of Scene 11, he, Verone and Berger had tempted Labesha with cream. In the final lines of Scene 11, Verone instructs Catalian to inform Labesha that his mistress, Martia, has drowned herself for his love. Catalian rightly predicts that this will turn Labesha to suicide, at which point the scene ends. It is feasible that Catalian finds Labesha and gives him the ‘news’, gets back in time to warn Moren of the Countess’s approach, then returns to Labesha with Lemot to find a halter round his neck. It is therefore suggested that Catalian’s entrance in Scene 14 could fittingly be made with Lemot and Labesha at TLN 1808. Although Catalian does not speak until TLN 1839, this is not such a long time to be silent, especially when compared with the option posited by the erroneous speech prefix of an entrance at the beginning of the scene and speaking only two lines until TLN 1839.