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The Case Is Altered: Textual Essay

Bob Miola

Henry Walley and Richard Bonian first entered The Case is Altered in the Stationers’ Register, 1609:

      26to Januarij

Entred for their Copye [Henry Walleys Richard Bonion in margin] vnder thandes of master Segar deputy to Sir George Bucke and of thwardens a booke called, The case is altered      vjd       (Arber, 3.400).

A second entry by Walley, Bonian, and Bartholomew Sutton appears later the same year:

      20 Julij

Entred for their copie [Henry Walley Richard Bonyon Bartholomew Sutton. in margin] by direction of master Waterson warden. a booke called the case is altered whiche was Entred for H Walley and Richard Bonyon the 26 of January Last.      vid       (Arber, 3.416).

In 1609 the play appeared in quarto with two distinct title-pages, both naming Sutton as the publisher:

STC 14757

BEN: IONSON, | HIS | CASE IS ALTERD. | As it hath been sundry times Acted by the | Children of the Blacke-friers. || [device 269] || AT LONDON | Printed for Bartholmew Sutton, dwelling in Paules | Church-yard neere the great north doore of S. | Paules Church. 1609.

STC 14758

A Pleasant Comedy, | CALLED: | The Case is Alterd. | As it hath been sundry times acted by the | children of the Black-friers. | Written by Ben. Ionson. || [device 269] || LONDON, | Printed for Bartholomew Sutton, and William Barrenger, | and are to be sold at the great North-doore | of Saint Paules Church. 1609.

[Variant title as above except | Written by Ben. Ionson. | omitted.]

The original title-page was altered to include the name of William Barrenger, who had formed a partnership with Sutton in the intervening months between the two SR entries for Case; Barrenger and Sutton registered their first entry 3 March 1609 (Arber, 3.403). The variant state of the second title-page, extant only in the Huntington Library Copy, seems to have resulted from a simple error, the omission of the line naming Jonson. After a few copies of the altered page without Jonson’s name were printed, the compositors seem to have discovered the mistake and ‘unskilfully inserted’ the author line. ‘The spacing of the page is more regular without the author’s name, and this particular line is badly centred’ (H&S, 3.95-6) . The quarto collates A-I4, K2 and consists of 38 unnumbered leaves. A1v is a blank, as are K1v and K2. The revised title, ‘A Pleasant Comedy called, The Case is Altered’ is repeated in the half-title (A2) and in the running title. The speech prefixes are in italics and indented.

In the 1609 quarto the first four acts are indicated and scene divisions occur in the first three acts only. In this edition I have followed the quarto’s act and scene divisions for Acts 1, 2, and 3, while correcting the obvious errors (2.5, 6, 7 misnumbered 2.6, 7, 8; 3.4 misnumbered 3.7; 4.1 misnumbered 3.1). The quarto features a short Act 3 (202 lines), which I have retained but which some editors have lengthened by adding scenes from Act 4. Gifford established the beginning of Act 5 with Angelo and Christophero’s entrance and most later editions, including this one, have concurred. In Acts 4 and 5 I have indicated a new scene after each clearing of the stage and, additionally, when several characters enter and change the direction of the action (4.2, 4.7, 5.3, 5.6).

The printer’s device (McKerrow, 269) is a fleur-de-lis set in a frame with the motto, In Domino confido, ‘In God I trust’. It identifies the printer as Nicholas Okes, who used the same device for Six Godly Treatises (1608), Taylor His Travels (1620, and Camden’s Remains (1620). The text appears in the same font as Okes’s King Lear (1607), i.e. Guyot pica Roman (state 1), containing Guyot capitals and a non-matched alphabet of lower-case letters (see Blayney, 1982, 500). The serifs on C, G, and M are identifying features, the outer ones on M contrasting with the inner and outer serifs in Thomas Dawson’s Guyot font. The double entry in the Stationers’ Register and cancel title-page, seen in context of Nicholas Okes’s activities, suggest to Blayney a complicated story (1982, 293) . Although Bonian and Walley had obtained permission to publish, Okes printed the original title-page naming Sutton. Sutton may have acquired a manuscript from another source and had the book printed (either in ignorance or defiance of the entry). The July entry indicates that Sutton, Bonian, and Walley had come to some sort of agreement over copyright. Blayney observes that Jonson’s The Masque of Queens also has a cancel title-page (correctly naming Bonian and Walley, who published it early in 1609), and speculates that the original named another publisher. The Court, perhaps tired of Okes printing plays in violation of copyright, assessed him a fine of 40 shillings, of which he paid ten on 4 July 1612. The rest of the fine was remitted.

Jonson appears to have had nothing to do with the printing of The Case is Altered. The quarto lacks any sign of his presence – title-page claims, Latin motto, dedication, commendatory verses, epistle dedicatory, preface, acrostic argument, prologue, and epilogue. Such absence contrasts revealingly with Jonson’s intrusive practices elsewhere, especially in the quartos of Every Man Out Of His Humour (1600), Poetaster (1602), and Sejanus (1605), which has fourteen pages of prefatory material. The quarto, ‘a rare example of a Jonson text which may be described as thoroughly bad’ (H&S, 3.96) , shows no sign of his revising eye and meticulous hand. It contains numerous errors in the French and Latin, inconsistencies with names, and a jumbling of verse and prose. A review of psycho-mechanical attributes, like spacing between speech prefixes and stage directions, and a computer-assisted analysis of selected Q spellings (here, hear, do, go, is’t, does, Chamont/Chamount) reveal no significant patterns of compositorial preference.

After Sutton and Barrenger first sponsored its publication in 1609, The Case is Altered appeared in Peter Whalley’s edition of Jonson’s Works (1756) : But mine and the public thanks are more particularly due to Mr. Garrick, for enriching this edition with a comedy, unquestionably written by Jonson, and which was never published in any collection of his works. . . . This was really reviving a lost or forgotten play: for it was hardly known, and what I could no where find but in his treasury of antient dramatic wit. The edition with which he favoured me is a quarto, printed in 1609, and perhaps the only edition that was ever printed. And it seemeth like many of the old quartos, to have been printed from the playhouse copy, without the knowledge of the author. Mr. Garrick hath always shewn great taste and judgment in doing justice to the genius of our old dramatists; by the revival of such pieces, from which the elegance of the present times could receive an agreeable entertainment. (1.xxv)

Including the play in his edition of Jonson’s works (1816), William Gifford asserted Jonson’s authorship as being ‘beyond all rational question’ and dismissed suggestions to the contrary as ‘crude’ assertions vented in ‘intrepid ignorance’ (6.320). He revised stage directions, established the division of acts and scenes, and rearranged lines to show the verse structure. Other editions followed: Barry Cornwall (1838) , William Gifford revised by Francis Cunningham (1871-2) , H. C. Hart (1906) , Felix Schelling (1910) , C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson (1925-52) , and G. A. Wilkes (1981-2) . There is also an edition of the play based on the University of Chicago production (1902) and a fully annotated one by William E. Selin (1917) .

The quarto was much corrected in press and accident produces variants throughout. In some copies a fleck or foreign substance alters readings, making a period look like a colon at C1v:12 (‘Pau.’), or a comma a semicolon at G1:17 (‘thee,’) and G3:31 (‘sences,’). A blot or smudge appears at C4:4 (‘I’); inconsistent inking appears at E4:17 (‘nest’) and on the comma at G2v:7-8 (‘kins-man,’), and the letters sometimes appear to have shifted randomly in certain lines, e.g., E4:30 (‘within’), G3:2 (‘my’), H3v:22 (‘rapier’). Some interesting peculiarities include alterations for no apparent reason: ‘doe’ for ‘do’ (F3v:22) and the lineation and spacing of H3.

This edition collates 13 copies of the quarto, all that are known to exist.

STC 14757 [earlier title-page]

1 British Library (missing I4-K), 644.B.54

2 British Library (contains second state of title-page also), Ashley 958

3 Folger Library, STC 14757

4 Pforzheimer Library, University of Texas at Austin, Wh.J738.609c

STC 14758 [later title-page]

5 British Library (missing I-I3v, K), T492.9

6 Dyce Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, 25.A.87

7 Dyce Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, 25.A.88

8 Dyce Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, 25.A.89

9 Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Mal. 225.2

10 Huntington Library (with variant title-page), 62109

11 Edinburgh Library, National Library of Scotland, Bute 302

12 Boston Public Library, G.3973.5

13 Houghton Library, 14427.15.5*

A (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 4v
21 dost doo’s

state 1: copy 7, 8, 9

state 2: all other copies

B (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 1
3 Maximllian of Viceniza Maximilianof Vicenza
8 valient, valient.
12 well Well
12 Inniper Iuniper
14 heauns heauens
15 Capricioi Capriceio
20 Angelio. Angelio,
21 him (om.) him
21 means. meanes,
30 scence sence
33 weakes weaknes
34 concepted conceited
35 Angelio Angelo
sig. 2v
1 Angello Angelo
10 Sebast, Sebast.
17 Matino Martino
20 nought nought,
34 crost crost,
sig. 3
7 your his
sig. 4v
8 prauer deprauer
11 presently: presently.
14 Maddame. Maddame,
31 my mine
32 sound. sound,

state 1: copy 7

state 2: all other copies

B (inner) state 1 state 2
sig. 2
17 No? No.

state 1: copy 1

state 2: all other copies

C (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 3
22 Tho The

state 1: copy 4, 10

state 2: all other copies

C (inner) state 1 state 2 state 3 state 4 state 5
sig. 1v
1 Maximilian Maximilian. ~ Maximilian,
4 ranged rang’d ranged rang’d ~
12 well, ~ ~ ~ well.
23 returned ~ ~ return’d ~
24 heauily ~ ~ heauily, ~
25 nothing ~ ~ ~ nothing.
26 nothing, ~ ~ nothing? nothing?
27 all ~ ~ ~ all:
29 sweet ~ ~ ~ sweet,
35 soule soule. ~ ~ soule,
36 Rsceiue hi ~ ~ Receiue his Receiue him
36 loue ~ ~ ~ loue,
36 deffects, ~ ~ ~ deffects
sig. 2
1 a bscence ~ ~ ~ ~
5 you, ~ ~ you. ~
7 Faith [turned t] ~ ~ Faith ~
12 meane [turned a] ~ ~ meane ~
13 good ~ ~ ~ good,
22 Satrapas. ~ ~ Satrapas ~
24 no ~ ~ not ~
25 go: go. ~ go go.
29 sweat, ~ ~ ~ sweat
sig. 4
8 Though ~ ~ ~ Thought

state 1: copy 1

state 2: copy 3

state 3: copy 6

state 4: copy 12

state 5: all other copies

D (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 2v
5 it-- it-

state 1: copy 2, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13

state 2: all other copies

D (inner) state 1 state 2
sig. 1v
3 cerimon y cerimony
16 Iealous: Iealous.

state 1: copy 2, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13

state 2: all other copies

F (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 1
35 Chamont Chamount
sig. 3
14 signior signior.
20 Finio, Finio.
25 abroad, abroad.
26 Mounsieur: Mounsieur.
sig. 4v
26 a l eeke a leeke
31 Onion Onion,
34-5 para-hrase para-phrase
37 (Catchword) make; makes

state 1: copy 1, 4, 12

state 2: all other copies

F (inner) state 1 state 2
sig. 3v
9 pray Pray
22 do doe

state 1: copy 4

state 2: all other copies

G (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 1
4 heauy heauy,
7 baekside backside
7 speakefor speake for
7 will wil
7 be ingratitude being ratitude [miscorrection]
8 ould old
8 all, all.
11-12 cir-cumference cir-cumference,
16 Rachel, Rachel.
22 ye’are y’are
23 election e lection
sig. 2v
14 dur, tno durt, no
35 firsbush: firsbush.
36 teare, teare
36 reloulue reluolue
sig. 3
18 ground, ground.
sig. 4v
3 Count [turned t] Count
5 spaeke speake
14 prtext pretext
15 ccanno canno
16 Lord, Lord.
26 lotah loath
29 willy ou will you
33 substance: substance,
33 Chamont, Chamont:
36 secreet secret

state 1: copy 7, 9

state 2: all other copies

G (inner) state 1 state 2
sig. 1v
3 I that I, that
4 practise, practise.
9 leau leaue
16 n ow now
sig 3v
3 wit h with
sig. 4
12 gupgeon gudgeon

state 1: copy 7, 9

state 2: all other copies

H (outer) state 1 state 2
sig. 3
28SD as one line as two lines opp. 26-7
33 Rachel? Angelo? Rachel? Angelo?

state 1: copy 8

state 2: all other copies

H (inner) state 1 state 2
sig. 2
6 giuet rue giue true

state 1: copy 2, 4, 10, 11

state 2: all other copies

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