(3) The Treatment of the Texts

For this new edition of 1 and 2 The Honest Whore I have personally collated all the copies of the original editions listed by Bowers in his Dramatic Works. I have thoroughly examined, manually and in situ, as well as subsequently on microfilms, all those that survive for Part 1 (both Q1 and Q2 copies). I have also inspected a considerable number of copies of Part 2 directly, but, as a very large number has survived, I have seen others only in microfilm versions. As I collected microfilm versions of all surviving copies of Part 2, I was able to compare them thoroughly by using a Lindstram stereoscopic comparator at Monash University in Melbourne. I found no variants in the 2 The Honest Whore copies I inspected beyond those listed by Bowers. I have also personally collated all of the other printed editions mentioned in my list of abbreviations.

The quarto for 2 The Honest Whore is of course straightforwardly used as the copy-text: it is the only text we have, and an editor should only depart from it when there are compelling reasons for doing so. In a number of cases it is in error, and I have listed those in the collation, with the emended forms incorporated in my text.

In the case of Q1 and Q2 for 1 The Honest Whore the matter is somewhat less straightforward, although not, in my view, unduly complicated. Thorough comparison of Q1 and Q2 shows that a great many of the readings in Q2 are new, clearly superior to their equivalents in Q1 and most likely authorial – the more so because there is no reason for assuming that anyone other than Dekker extensively revised his text. I have of course adopted the superior Q2 readings in my text. Furthermore, given the general quality of Q2, in its presentation of both accidentals and substantives, I have used Q2 as my copy-text. I add that, to the extent that Dekker when revising clearly looked at Q1 with some care, those readings from Q1 which were maintained in Q2 have in principle a high level of authority, though that is not to say that none of them are faultless. It is clear that some mistakes inherited from Q1 must be corrected, as would have been the case had Q2 never appeared. As well, a number of – generally easily recognisable – new mistakes have crept into Q2 which are almost certainly compositorial and which, particularly if of poor quality, must be rejected. Thus, while Q2 is to be followed where there are good reasons for accepting its authority, which fortunately is generally the case, an editor must nevertheless keep an eye out for potentially deceptive, spurious mistakes, and in a number of cases this means adopting variants from Q1, not Q2. In other instances an editor must emend Q2’s readings when it has copied faulty Q1 readings which should have been corrected.

90At all times where Q2 has been departed from, either because Q1 readings have been adopted as superior, or because emendations were necessary, the collation, together with relevant remarks in the commentary, provides all the information needed. A distinction is made between reset Q2 readings (‘R’) and those which are in standing type (‘S’). The collation does not record those very many readings from Q1 which have been rejected. Readers interested in checking these are referred to the Appendix in Daalder-Moore (see Abbreviations), or, if they can consult them, of course to copies of Q1 (the better avenue to pursue).

In each instance, the earliest date for emendation accepted in my text is recorded, and the source acknowledged. In two categories it proved impractical to acknowledge my debts in such detail. Where I have re-lineated the text of the original quartos the departures are listed in Appendix A, but it would have been very difficult to express more than a general debt to the editors who have influenced my choices. Similarly, the texts for both 1 The Honest Whore and 2 The Honest Whore in this edition contain a much larger number of editorial stage directions than have ever been offered before. It would have demanded a great deal of space to acknowledge in each instance just who was the first person to provide an editorial stage direction, and then, as well, to differentiate these from the many that I supplied myself (prior to seeing Mulholland’s edition of 1 The Honest Whore, who has in a number of instances independently provided similar solutions). I acknowledge my debt to all editors from whom (pre-Mulholland) I have derived stage directions, and I submit those that are my own to the judgement of my readers. Some – especially those which Mulholland agrees with – may well prove ‘permanent’, though we may also both be wrong. At any rate, readers will readily observe that I have attempted to make the stage actions in the plays far more intelligible than they have hitherto been. This procedure is not only of use to theatre practitioners, but also to those very many readers who will probably never see the plays performed. All stage directions that are incorporated and not those of the original text of course appear, according to convention, in square (editorial) brackets.

The text has been thoroughly modernised in keeping with current practice for modernised texts of Renaissance plays found in series such as the Arden Shakespeare, the Revels Plays, etc. In particular I concur, as a matter of principle, with the now generally accepted idea that the modernisation of spelling and punctuation in a modernised text must be thorough and in line with current correct and idiomatic English usage. If this is not done, and instances of Jacobean spelling or punctuation are preserved for no absolutely compelling reason, the text comes to look as a curious mixture of modernity and some quaint kind of ‘archaisms’. Jacobean punctuation may at times be grammatical, as it is today, but in other cases is grammatically confusing, and probably meant to indicate e.g. pauses in rhetorical delivery. By contrast, my editorial punctuation is purely and solely grammatical. The losses that result from abandoning early forms of spelling are usually very small, and if important can be discussed in notes, for example where a rhyme is now no longer apparent because sounds – and often spellings – have changed since Dekker’s time. Modern spelling is usually much clearer, as well as less often ambiguous. I also believe in consistency of modernisation where the original may have a mixture of formal differences which is not important to us and indicates nothing of importance in the Renaissance text. Thus, for example, the word an in the texts often means ‘if’. Occasionally, however, and is used with the same meaning. In such cases I have, for the sake of consistency and convenience for a modern reader, silently used an.

I am strict on matters prosodic where the original texts provide guidance. So, for example, in the many cases where the early seventeenth century past participle ending in –ed is prosodically syllabic but not easily recognised as such by a modern reader, I have provided an accent mark in my text, whereas if the prosody of a line does not indicate that it was pronounced, the ending is simply offered as –ed, without an accent mark (in such cases the original often has just –d or –t). I also make a number of comments on accentuation and syllabification in my commentary. For the ending of verbs after thou forms like standst are chosen if such a word is monosyllabic, not the ugly stand’st, which would soon cause an unnecessary clutter of apostrophes on a page.

During the past two decades or so modernisation of Renaissance texts has become less controversial and more uniform as a result of the impact of two important studies by Stanley Wells: Modernizing Shakespeare’s Spelling (Oxford, 1979; with Gary Taylor), and Re-editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader (Oxford, 1984). Not everyone would accept all the recommendations, and there are still some policy differences between series dedicated to Renaissance plays, but by and large something like an accepted way of modernising these texts has evolved. My modernisation of the early seventeenth century quartos from which this edition of 1 and 2 The Honest Whore is derived adopts the practice which has been used in recent editions for the Revels Plays.