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News from the New World survives only in F2 (masque section, sigs. F4-G3v, numbered 39-46). Unlike some other masques from the 1620s (Pan’s Ann., Augurs, Time Vind., and Neptune’s Tr.), News NW was not entered in the Stationers’ Register before it was printed or at the time of its performance, and there is no documentary evidence of quarto publication. This group of masque quartos (along with Lovers Made Men and The Fortunate Isles) has attracted considerable attention from scholars, not least for what they reveal of Jonson’s presentational strategies in the 1620s (Loewenstein, 2002, 203-4; Heaton, 2010, 236-40).
In the case of News from the New World, the absence of an extant quarto does not necessarily mean that none was printed. W. A. Jackson, describing the sole exemplar of Time Vindicated, notes that, until that copy was discovered in 1930, that masque also seemed not to have been printed before F2, and he specifically suggests there was a quarto printing of News NW (Jackson, 1940, 2.569). Martin Butler has argued that copy for Pan’s Anniversary in F2 probably derived from a quarto text that is no longer extant (Pan’s Ann., Textual Essay). It is at least possible that a quarto of News NW was planned but copies simply have not survived.
Evidence about the underlying copy is difficult to determine. Interestingly, the text has an epigraph, a feature common to the masques that were printed in separate quartos, and there are some similarities of layout at the outset to that seen on the title-pages of extant quartos. Although the text retains a few Jonsonian features (‘’hem’, ‘phant’sie’, and the etymological spelling ‘weapontakes’), it is remarkably free of Jonson’s classicizing tendencies. Digraphs are employed in Latin vocabulary (Lunæ, Epecænes, Epicænes), but not for words Jonson often presented in classicized forms, such as ‘poetrie’ or ‘poet’, and there are no examples of the Jonsonian diaeresis. This might suggest that some tidying of the copy consonant with quarto publication has occurred, but this must be balanced by the strikingly simple and vernacular nature of the fiction and diction, which, beyond the Menippean moon journey, lacks any of Jonson’s customary erudition.
Press corrections were made on F4 and G1v (detailed below), although numerous errors
remain uncorrected. These include:
6 new (news)
91 isthis (is this)
96 stages (stage’s)
142 Endenburgh (Edinburgh)
151 Minipus (Menippus)
180 doe (do)
223 doe’s it (does it)
246 be your eye (be of your eye)
315 and (And)
In addition, there are instances of foul case (SH 14 uses medial Greek ‘E’; 77, ‘I’ in ‘ifaith’), missing punctuation (apostrophe at 77); misplaced points (SH 123 lacks a point, SH 314 reads ‘CHORUS.’); and the catchword on G1v was missed in some copies. There is no discernible pattern in the treatment of the SHs for the Chronologer (‘CHRO.’, ‘CHR’., ‘CH.’, ‘Chro.’), Factor (‘FACT.’, ‘FAC.’, ‘FA.’), or Printer (‘PRINT.’, ‘PRIN.’, ‘PR.’), although each sees increased abbreviation, and hence a reduction in type usage, as the masque progresses. The printing of SH 201 as ‘Chro.’ seems another instance of the untidy work on this text.
The final – and most frequent – SH for the Heralds varies between ‘HER.’ and ‘HE.’ Interestingly the treatment of the SH changes between G1 (all ‘HER.’, except catchword ‘HE.’) and G1v (all ‘HE.’). On G2 the SHs are evenly divided (‘HER.’ appears eight times, ‘HE.’ six times), although on G2v ‘HE.’ dominates again (nine times, against a solitary use of ‘HER.’). This may offer evidence of two compositors, but without a clear-cut work pattern after G1v and without any other notable spelling variants to separate them.
The three press corrections are as follows:
|F4||State 1||State 2|
State 1: 5, 9, 10
State 2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13
|G1v||State 1||State 2||State 3|
State 1: 13
State 2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
State 3: 6, 7
Some corrections were made when the text was reprinted in F3, at 32, 144-5, 152 (itself an erroneous change), and 234. The masque was reprinted in the ensuing collected editions, and in John Nichols’s The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James I (1828), Henry Morley’s Masques and Entertainments by Ben Jonson (1890), and H. A. Evans’s English Masques (1897).
The copies of F2 collated for this edition were:
1. British Library, C39.k.9 (= H&S copy M1)
2. British Library, 79.l.4 (George III copy)
3. British Library, C28.m.12
4. Aberdeen University Library, II.f.822342
5. Durham University Library, Cosin AA.III.29
6. Edinburgh University Library, Df.4.55
7. Glasgow University Library, Sp Coll 306f
8. Huntington Library, San Marino, California, HN62103
9. Huntington Library, HN499972
10. Huntington Library, HN62101, v2 (large paper copy)
11. Huntington Library, HN606598
12. Huntington Library, HN606601
13. National Library of Scotland, Newbattle (Lothian) copy