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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hand D

That is Shakespeare's handwriting -- a manuscript page of Sir Thomas More, a probably-Elizabethan play  published only centuries later.  Politics.  There's much to say about all this, but, well, not here and now.  What is undeniable is that Shakespeare was a horrifically bad speller.  No insult there -- orthography was fluid in his day.  But even within a few lines of each other, "sheriff" is spelled five different ways, sometimes capitalized, and sometimes  More is spelled More, or Moo, or Moor, or Moore.

This sort of explains how he could have spelled his own name, in its six known examples, six different ways -- three of them in the same document, his Last Will.  Thus, Willm Shakp, William Shaksper, and Wm Shakspe; and  William Shakspere, Willm Shakspere, and William Shakspeare. At least  he knew how to spell 'William.'  You'll hear the Oxfordians sneer at this.  But, abbreviations are not misspellings, so we can discount Shakp --  and just trailing off,  Shakspe, is my own habit -- Ja... Ha... instead of Jack Haytch, my true and full name.  And Shakspere is spelled the same way twice.  So, uh, there's a point there, that proves my point, whatever it is.

I too have been a horrific spellor, and remain a not-very-good one.  (Spellchecker is a fantastic heuristic aid. I still miss sometimes on occurred, and consider.  Hey, got both of them right, first try.  Um, decision.  Yep, that one too!)  Likewise with handwriting.  My own is functionally illegible, even to me, all too often.  Needs to be remembered, as much as deciphered.  It's a bother.

As for Shakespeare's example, above, what a nightmare.  Not just because letter-shapes could be different --  the long s, ſ, that should be familiar to those who have read the Constitution (and his h's and y's are quite something to see).  All that's just the convention of the day, secretarial hand:
And not because of scribal abbreviations (p̱ for pro), or a line over a letter to indicate preceeding letter omissions.  But Shaksper closed his u's and didn't round his r's -- that sort of thing.  m n r i u w might all look the same, just an ambiguous cluster of troughs and peaks.

So, here follows the modernized text.

MORE: Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,          5

He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising ’gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? What do you to your souls          10

In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,      
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!          15

Tell me but this. What rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name          19
Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?          20

Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel                     
To qualify a rebel?   You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,                   
And lead the majesty of law in line,          25

To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)                          
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,          30

Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,            
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,          35

That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,                         
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants          40

Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think  
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.          44

The  link is Sir Ian bringing life to the matter.

In any case, how, how, how could anyone read the manuscript, the holograph?  Here's a start:
What I have labeled lines 42, 43 and 44.  Here's the decipherment:

but chartered unto them, what would you think 
to be thus used, this is the strangers case.
and this your mountanish inhumanity 

 I recognize a w, and an o.   And his commas are really nice.  Punctuation and capitalization are almost entirely from the editors.

As for the three crossed-out lines of the manuscript  -- 16, 17 and 18  -- they turn out to be:
is ſafer warrs, then ever you can make          16
                                          in in to yor obediene.
whoſe diſceipline is ryot , why euen yor warrs hurly          17
     tell me but this   
cannot ceed but by obedienc what rebell captaine           18
as mutynes ar incident, …

I have buried the lead, here -- this being of the most interest to all truly intelligent readers.  We see the creative mind at work. So Shakespeare wrote lines 16, 17 and part of 18 (replacing warrs with hurly),  then he crossed out the end of 17 with 18 and interlineated above 17 (preserving   obedience), then he crossed out the interlineation along with 16 and the first part of 17, and interlineated above line 18  and finished that line.   He gave up on obedienc and warr and settled on mutynes.

...your unreverent knees, / make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!  / In safer wars then ever you can make, / whose discipline is riot?  Why, even your wars -- no, your hurly / cannot proceed but by obedience...    No.   ...whose discipline is riot?  In ... Into your obedience...  No.   ...make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!  / Tell me but this: what rebel captain / as mutinies are incident...  

All this is just me, mind you, supposing.  But I am as great a genius as Shakespeare, so I'm undoubtedly correct.

When the hurly-burly's done...

So many lessons here.  About opinions and dogmas and evidence and humility and meaning. I mean lessons in the handwriting and trying to read it.  As for the meaning of the speech, yeah, I suppose that's good too.

I'm thinking of writing The Autobiography of God.  If you have bothered to look at my Jesus as Human Being, you'll have an idea.  If you bothered.  But The Kardashians! is on, so there's that, if they're still a thing.  Is Huny Bubu still a thing?


J

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