Prediction: The next great wave of Shakespearean criticism, whenever it arrives, will be the work of prosodists.
Like the homicide detective I come before you to speak for the dead. It’s a cold case, ice cold. The dead man, the victim of a literary murder, was Albert Feuillerat. Like Caesar stabbed in the Forum, he was the recipient of many cuts. It was a bloodless blood bath but a blood bath nevertheless. Since his background and career will not be familiar to most, I will outline them here, for it is of vital importance to be aware of his standing as a Shakespearean scholar.
Feuillerat was born in Toulouse, France, in 1874. He received a B.A. from the Lycee of Toulouse in 1891, and was awarded the M.A. at the University of Toulouse in 1896. In 1908 Feuillerat was awarded the Docteur es Lettres at the University of Paris, and, in the same year, an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Louvain. He received the Doctor of Literature twice, first from the University of Manchester, in1914, the second from Yale in 1920.
Feuillerat was Professor of English at the Lycee and University of Clermont-Ferrand, 1899-1901, and Professor of English Literature at the University of Rennes, 1901-1927. He was Visiting Professor at Harvard, 1923-24, and Columbia, 1927-28. His visiting professorship at Yale, 1928-29, led to the position of Sterling Professor Emeritus. Feuillerat held numerous memberships: Modern Language Association (America), Modern Humanities Research Association, Andiron Club of New York City, Societe des Professeurs francais en Amerique, Malone Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and was National Honorary Member of Phi Sigma Iota. Feuillerat’s honors included Knight of the Legion of Honor (France), and Officer of the Order of St. Sava (Yugoslavia).
Feuillerat’s non-Shakespeare-related books include: French Life and Ideals (1925); Comment Marcel Proust a compose son roman (1934); Paul Bourget: Histoire d’un esprit sous la III Republique (1937); Baudelaire et la belle aux cheveux d’or (1941); and Baudelaire et sa mere (1944).
Early in his career Feuillerat conceived the project of publishing the records of the Master of the Revels from the reign of Henry VIII through Charles I. Two of the contemplated volumes appeared: Documents Relating to the Office of the Revels in the Time of Queen Elizabeth (1908), and Documents Relating to the Office of the Revels at Court in the Time of King Edward VI and Queen Mary (The Loseley Manuscripts, 1911), both with notes and comprehensive indexes. Le Bureau des Menus-Plaisirs et la Mise en Scène à la Cour d’Elizabeth [Office of the Revels and Scenery in the Court of Elizabeth] (1910) is a volume supplying the historical background to the Revels’ records.
Feuillerat also published, with notes and commentary, documents relating to the Blackfriars theatre in the Shakespeare Jahrbuch (1912) and in a volume of the Malone Society Collections, Vol. II, Pt. 1 (1913). Feuillerat’s study of John Lyly (1910) is important for its contribution to the history of euphuism and for its extensive bibliography. His edition of the complete works of Sir Philip Sidney is standard (4 vols., 1912-1926). Other Shakespeare studies include a series of articles on Shakespeare in France (Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 1910-1912), an edition of the narrative poems for the Yale Shakespeare (1927), and a French translation of selected Shakespeare plays with introductions and notes (1921-1925).
After this impressive publication history, it must have appeared odd that Feuillerat fell silent for many years. What had he been doing? He was scanning. Over a period of twenty-five-plus years, he accomplished a task that will never be equaled. Feuillerat scanned Shakespeare’s narrative poems, the Sonnets, all of the quartos (excepting reprints, which he did however compare with the other editions), as well as the First Folio. He scanned Shakespeare’s complete works!
Why did Feuillerat take on this massive study? Over the years the authenticity of Shakespeare’s plays or parts of them had been questioned and he was determined to discover the exact nature of Shakespeare’s contribution to the drama. One of his influences was J. D. Wilson who, in The Tempest, the first volume for the Cambridge New Shakespeare, set forth principles of critical bibliography to which editors of Shakespeare needed to give serious attention: a reference to a character who does not appear; passages of ‘verse’ which refuse to scan; an impossible dénouement; two versions of the same speech; disturbed verse-lining; broken lines at the beginning or end of speeches; discrepancies in character nomenclature; and contradictions of time, plot, and character.
Moreover, Feuillerat could not square the image of Shakespeare researching the subject of his choice, say, Richard III, and sitting down and writing a play about him with what he knew about Tudor dramatic conditions. From information in Henslowe’s Diary, Feuillerat noted three types of dramatic revision constantly cited: mending, additions, and altering.
“Mending” dealt with unimportant changes, simple alterations of detail such as deletion of dated passages, or adaptations to meet special occasions such as performances at Court. A playwright would receive 10s. for this type of work. “Additions” called for higher payments. In 1602 Birde and Rowley were paid £4 for additions to Doctor Faustus. “Altering” was the term applied to a profound and meticulous revision, usually changing the very nature of the play. The Pleasant Comedie of Old Fortunatus was an old play in 1599 when the Admiral’s men decided to revive it in a new form. For this work Thomas Dekker was paid £6, almost the price for a new play.
The custom of revision is acknowledged on the title pages of numerous quartos printed from manuscripts sold to publishers by Shakespeare’s company:
Love’s Labor’s Lost. Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespeare.
Romeo and Juliet. Newly corrected, augmented and amended.
The Malcontent. Augmented by Marston.
Hamlet. Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much againe as it was.
Mucedorus. Amplified with new additions.
The Maides Tragedy. Newly perused, augmented and enlarged.
Phylaster, Or Love Lies a Bleeding. The second Impression corrected and amended.
The Faithful Sheperdesse. Newly corrected.
Feuillerat was also influenced by J. M. Robertson. In his An Introduction to the Study of the Shakespeare Canon (432), Robertson pointed out that in the first act of David and Bethsabe George Peele begins 46 lines with spondees such as “Proud lust”. As it happens, Shakespeare does not use spondees in the first foot except sometimes in the case of an enjambment. But had Robertson followed his discovery to its logical conclusion, scanning suspected passages or whole plays, finding different types of versification and style, he would have changed the course of Shakespearean criticism. Unfortunately, once he decided that another writer was involved in the play he wasted his time hunting the vocabularies of Tudor playwrights trying to identify the other writer and ended up proving nothing. So near yet so far.
With all of these things percolating in his mind, Feuillerat began scanning Shakespeare’s works, line by line, noting along the way the number of feet in each verse, type of foot, enjambments, internal pauses, rhetorical devices, peculiarities of vocabulary, syntax and style, type of imagery employed, and studied the prose and its distribution. He then tabulated his results and reduced them to statistics. Feuillerat’s analysis was maturing for nearly thirty years. He could have easily published a Complete Works. But having chewed and digested everything that Shakespeare had written, or was thought to have written, as well as everything of significance that had been written about his works, he had something else in mind.
At the time of his death in 1952, at the age of 78, he had completed The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays, the first volume of a projected three-, possibly four-volume study. Armed with the marks of Shakespeare’s versification and style, based on the narrative poems and Sonnets, Feuillerat began his analysis of The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster and The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, both designated “Bad Quartos,” which now show up in the Folio as 2 and 3 Henry VI. The book also covers Titus Andronicus, Richard II, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet. Since the work was written in French, it was translated by Mrs. Charles Prouty (her husband an eminent Shakespearean scholar at Yale), the mind-boggling number of line references checked by a group of graduate students, seen through the press by Feuillerat’s colleagues at Yale, and published in 1953. We must be very grateful for this.
The first notice to appear was that of Hallett Smith in The Yale Review: “The two bases of Feuillerat’s method are the doctrine of ‘continuous copy’ [Wilson’s belief] and the device of versification tests as practiced by J. M. Robertson. The combination of these two shaky principles is fatal….The bibliographical critics will attack Feuillerat with heavy artillery, and it is a great pity that he did not live to conduct his own defense.” This was an ominous and accurate forecast of what was to come. In the 65 years since his death his work has not been defended— until now.
Peter Alexander, University of Glasgow, and Fredson Bowers, University of Virginia and former Sandars Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge, who had the most to lose if Feuillerat’s book gained acceptance, did their level best to make sure it would not and they were successful. Alexander’s reputation was built on the Reporter Theory of “memorial reconstruction” and Bowers was his caddy.
From the appearance of Edmond Malone’s Dissertation, until 1929—about one hundred and fifty years later—scholars believed that Shakespeare was not a playwright in the conventional sense, but rather a refurbisher of old plays. But in that year appeared Alexander’s Henry VI and Richard III, a work inspired by his expiring mentor, J. S. Smart. This book somehow converted the best minds of the day—A. W. Pollard (who had already conceived the rubric “Bad Quarto”), W. W. Greg, J. D. Wilson, and E. K. Chambers, to name a few—to the new idea that The Contention and The True Tragedy were mangled versions of their counterpart Folio texts. Actually, Smart did not originate the theory as Schoenbaum thinks (and who was convinced that the Reporter Theory is “irrefutable,” Shakespeare’s Lives, 510). According to F. J. Furnival, founder of the New Shakespeare Society in 1873, Thomas Kenny first floated the idea in 1864. Interestingly, in his comprehensive and masterful book Schoenbaum steers clear of Feuillerat [a glaring omission] except as a nemesis to C. W. Wallace in their respective research at the Public Record Office.
Just how the texts came to be mangled was the next subject for examination. Shorthand transcription in the theatre was the first explanation. Debunked by Chambers, a new answer was required. Hence Alexander’s “Reporter Theory,” in which a turn-coat actor, through a process of “memorial reconstruction,” provided a mangled manuscript to a publisher. Chambers did not believe that actors could produce such shoddy texts and settled upon a scrivener. In any case, the Bad Quarto-Reporter Theory is today deeply ingrained and shows no sign of being superseded.
Had The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays been embraced, Alexander and Bowers (along with many others) would have lost their influence and fallen from the rarefied atmosphere atop the Shakespeare Establishment. For in no uncertain terms, Feuillerat destroyed the Reporter Theory and memorial reconstruction.
Putting on their hobnail boots, Alexander and Bowers stomped on the Frenchman’s corpse. Alexander states “…[Feuillerat’s] friends and admirers have done him a disservice: they should not have allowed the Yale University Press to offer this volume to the scholarly world as ‘a major work of scholarship, one of the milestones in Shakespearean criticism’ or to introduce its author as one equipped ‘to demolish well established myths’; for scholars who are instructed in the matters at issue [himself in particular], including those who are unwilling to speak anything but good of the dead, will see from this work that its author was not so equipped and that the work itself should not be described in such eulogistic terms.”
To Bowers, the book is “a travesty of scholarship …. I think the case may rest here, for if one can believe this, one can believe anything, and the fantasies of Mr. Looney are only one step further in the same direction. This book, which, in all seriousness, verges on the lunatic fringe of scholarship, is introduced on the dust jacket as follows: ‘This is, we believe, a major work of scholarship, one of the milestones in Shakespearean criticism.’ If a similarly misleading statement were made about any another commodity, the FTC would have cause to step in. I say this advisedly: it is a major scandal that this book should ever have been offered—especially with such a recommendation, which has behind it the whole prestige of the Yale University Press—to earnest Shakespeare students and libraries hard-pressed for funds, first, by a university press of major standing and, second, by a university press which is simultaneously preparing a revised edition of the plays of Shakespeare.” Bowers touched all the bases, though he left out mention of the kitchen sink.
I might as well state right now that The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays is a study of versification and style, and that Feuillerat was an accomplished prosodist in two languages specializing in English and French renaissance poetry. He has left us the best analysis of Shakespeare’s writing to date. It is interesting to note that of 17 reviews to appear, only two or three, Alexander’s being one, mentions the word prosody and here is what he says [italics his]: “As English verse is primarily accentual, spondees and trochees, if such entities do indeed exist in English verse are not as in classical verse fixed and definite units.” First, we are not talking about English verse generally. We are talking specifically about blank verse which is not only accentual but also syllabic. The reference to classical verse is irrelevant and any prosodist worth his salt will tell you trochees and spondees do indeed exist! If not, scansion would be impossible. Since Alexander has a wrongheaded view of prosody, anything he says about Feuillerat’s methodology can be safely ignored.
Feuillerat’s analysis of the narrative poems and Sonnets reveal the elements of Shakespeare’s versification and style.
 “From those who tried to give distinction to their style by applying the figures of speech recommended by the ancient rhetoricians, Shakespeare borrowed the practice of dividing a thought into two symmetrical and balanced parts of more or less equal length, often constructing each part according to the same grammatical model, a scheme dear to the Greek orator Isocrates.
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the bird’s (Venus, 454-5)
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
This dying virtue, this surviving shame (Lucrece, 222-3)
 “The similarity of the form is sometimes accentuated by the repetition of a word or the same grammatical construction at the beginning of the parallel clauses, according to the figure called anaphora:
Still he is sullen, still he lours and frets (Venus, 75)
Or like a fairy trip upon the green,
Or like a nymph with long dishevelled hair (ibid., 146-7)
 “Shakespeare has a marked preference for the association of two words—nouns, adjectives, or verbs—expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction such as and or, nor:
More white and red than doves or roses are (Venus, 10)
Who blushed and pouted in dull disdain (ibid., 33)
“This a form of the figure called hendiadys. With Shakespeare its use was in part due to that overflowing facility which Ben Jonson censured in him. It is, in fact, dangerous to use for it leads easily to tautology, and Shakespeare did not always avoid this fault.
 “Shakespeare also cultivated antithesis for itself, the two opposing parts not necessarily being balanced or of equal length:
Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee (Venus, 155-6)
Showing love’s triumph in the map of death,
And death’s dim look in life’s mortality (Lucrece, 402-3)
 “From the admirer’s of Italian poetry Shakespeare borrowed that kind of concetto which consists in repeating a word in a phrase, in either its proper form or under a grammatically derived form, for the simple pleasure the ear takes in the repetition of the same sound (jingle):
Hunting he loved, but love he laughed to scorn (Venus, 4)
Strong tempered steel his stronger strength obeyed (ibid, 111)
 “These conceits, of an almost mechanical nature, have little to do with imagination; they affect above all the structure of the sentence; they are in truth plays upon words, occasionally degenerating into puns. Shakespeare has other more refined conceits, concetti proper in the Italian manner, which required a real concentration of thought. The fancifulness at the source of this other kind of figure is manifested by a laborious development of farfetched comparisons, ingenious sometimes to the point of extravagance, original by their very strangeness. Venus, feeling the hot breath of Adonis on her face,
Feedeth on the steame, as on a prey,
And calls it heavenly moisture, aire of grace,
Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers
So they were dued with such distilling showers. (Venus, 63-6)
“In such a passage, if we forget the affectation of the thought, poetry receives its due by the imaginative effort which transposes a real experience into an unusual image. But other conceits keep no possible contact with reality. Adopting a stylistic device which Sir Philip Sidney employed to excess, Shakespeare lent human sentiments to objects the least susceptible to being moved; for example, the sight of Lucrece, asleep with her hand under her cheek, suggests the wrath of the pillow at being deprived of its pleasure.
 “French poetry also exercised its attraction and influence as shown by the numerous compound words which Shakespeare liberally distributed throughout the two poems under discussion. [Here Feuillerat quotes Du Bellay, Ronsard, Du Bartas, and Sidney, recommending this practice, and citing a long list of examples with line numbers from Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece including: angry-chafing, bottom-grass, butcher-sire, cold-pale, deep-sore, true-sweet, etc. etc.]
 “To the French influence must also be attributed a certain taste for words which, though they were in use in the Middle English period, had preserved something of their French consonance. [Here another list with line numbers: closure, embracement, forage, moisture, semblance, conduit, mot, parling, pillage, rigol.]
“Because they are to be found in all poets of the age, these mannerisms cannot be considered a distinctive mark of Shakespeare’s style….[he] was not slow in discovering their superficiality…. The dramatists prior to Shakespeare rarely used that kind of ornamentation…so that for the earlier plays, where they appear in especially great numbers, they are practically a proof that the passage is Shakespeare’s.
 “The essential trait of Shakespeare’s originality is the extraordinary activity of his imagination. He can hardly conceive an idea without immediately perceiving its similarity to some manifestation of the exterior world and blending the two in a natural and indissoluble association….See, for example, this little description of nightfall in Venus and Adonis:
Look, the world’s comforter, with weary gait,
His day’s hot task hath ended in the west;
The owl, night’s herald, shrieks, “Tis very late;”
The sheep are gone to the fold, birds to their nest,
And coal-black clouds that shadow heaven’s light
Do summon us to part and bid good night (529-34)
“In such passages Shakespeare is inimitable and it is by these above all that he can be distinguished from the dramatists preceding him.
 “In addition to the style there is in a poet another element which is even more personal—his versification. Style can be imitated, but not the manner in which the composition of a verse is conceived. Each poet has his own way of hearing inwardly the verses he feels urged to write, and that way is recorded in the verse when they have been given utterance. Shakespeare adopted the most common type of verse in the English language, the iambic pentameter or five-stress iambic meter, in both the rhymed and unrhymed forms (60-68).”
Feuillerat goes on to discuss the means by which a poet can inject variety into his verses, discussing the trochee, spondee, internal pauses, enjambments, and the feminine ending. He gives an example of how he scans a line, for the sake of clarity reducing the number of accents to two: strong (marked 2) and weak (marked 1):
2 1 2 1 2
Coura | geously | to pluck | him from | his horse
“The two narrative poems yield the following percentages:
Venus and Adonis Lucrece
Total number of feet 5970 9275
Trochees 239 or 4.1% 278 or 2.9%
Spondees 249 or 4.1 % 369 or 3.9%
[Taking a sampling of early and late Sonnets Feuillerat arrived at the following statistics:]
Early Group Late Group
Total number of feet 700 700
Trochees 21 or 3.0% 16 or 2.3%
Spondees 27 or 3.8% 24 or 3.4%
“If I may anticipate, his most frequent proportions in his plays will be roughly around 3% for trochees and 4% for the spondees (70-3).” As for the feminine ending, “In [Shakespeare’s] early works a percentage between 0 and 5% and even more is not distinguishing, for to produce any effect a phenomenon of this kind must be repeated at fairly close intervals. Shakespeare at this period had not yet discovered the advantage of the hypermetrical syllable. Little by little, however, he noticed the service that those light prolongations of sound at the end of a line rendered to the end of the verse by freeing it from too definite a termination, thus creating a modulation pleasing to the ear; and moderately at first, possibly with the restraining idea that he was doing something irregular, he began to employ consciously what he had previously considered a license. In this period of discovery the percentages can fluctuate around 10-15%. A third period followed rapidly when Shakespeare went so far as to use the feminine ending every three or four lines; that is to say the percentages range between 25 and 33%. After that, the use of the hypermetrical syllable at the end of a verse developed further and in the late plays could reach 60% and even more (80).”
The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, 1594 Quarto
“A careful analysis of the versification, line by line, shows distinctly that two authors worked upon The Contention. The first, whom I shall call author A, has a versification recognizable among many others. He adopted the five-stress iambic blank verse which from the time of Gorboduc was considered the best mode of dramatic expression; the greater part of the play is written in that form. But author A is far from holding to his choice. One finds in the play verses of almost every length from two syllables to sixteen. Lines of one to three feet (a score) can be the result of a cut or an interpolation or they can come at the end of a scene or a long speech, and in such cases they may not constitute an anomaly. Nor is the presence of alexandrines extraordinary except for their number (about fifty), for they are found mingled with the pentameters in almost all the dramatic writers of the period. But lines of eight to sixteen syllables cannot be considered accidents or examples of allowable license, for they are conscious or unconscious deviations from the chosen norm.”
“Author A’s versification is not merely heterogeneous; it has another characteristic which renders it exceptional for its period. A great number of lines of four, five, six, or seven feet contain a trisyllabic foot which, as I have already said (p. 68), was not in general use at the end of the sixteenth century.
Trisyllabic feet in four-stress lines:
Cosin Yorke, | the victories thou has wonne (sc. i.120)
There goes | our Protec | tor in a rage (sc. i. 93)
All in this place | are thy bet| ters farre (sc. iii.80)
Trisyllabic feet in five-stress lines:
Proud Protec | tor, enuy in thine eyes I see (sc.i.85)
Then what | shouldst thou lacke | that might content thy mind (sc.ii.7)
Stood readie to set it | on my Prince | ly head (sc.ii.28)
Trisyllabic feet in six-stress lines:
| Come sirrha, | thy life shall be the ransome I will have (sc.xii.26)
My lord. | I pray you | let me go post vnto the king (sc.iv.189)
And I am go | ing to cer | tifie vnto his grace (sc.x.189)
Trisyllabic feet in seven-stress lines:
| Oh Henry, | reuerse the doome of gentle Suffolkes banishment (sc.x.137) (91)
“Another characteristic of author A is an excessive use of trochaic feet. The proportion of this kind of rhythmic variation rarely goes below 5% of the total number of feet, generally varies around 6%, and sometimes reaches 10% and even more. Trochees are found not only at the beginning of a verse line or after a strong pause, where they produce their effect more naturally, but also in the middle of a phonetic group or at the end of the line, where they are most disturbing. These trochees produce a jerky modulation; and when they appear in excessive numbers in one verse, which happens fairly often, the fundamental rhythm is destroyed. This is illustrated in the following lines (the trochaic feet are italicized):
And that is the mightie Duke of Suffolke (sc.ii.75)
Gloster is no little man in England (sc.ix.13)
Yet let not that make thee bloudie minded (sc.xii.13)
“The result is a rather high number of lines which are rhythmically poor, and author A’s versification often gives the impression of being not only irregular but also without principle.
“These peculiarities have a common cause. The author adopted the fashionable instrument of dramatic expression while he was still not completely free from the influence of the old versification. When the decasyllabic principle of the iambic pentameter had already been established and was even undergoing a crisis of purism, it was still possible to find examples of old verses in the work of those who had contributed to the radical transformation of the prosodic system—in poets such as Wyatt, Andrew Borde, Udall, Tusser, Spenser. Author A’s numerous four-stress lines make one think of the Chaucer’s octosyllabic verse; there are also some examples of decasyllabic verse, the first foot of which is monosyllabic, again as in Chaucer:
Faith | my lord. It is but a base mind (sc.v11)
Go | take hence that Traitor from our sight (sc.vii.74)
Ah | Gloster, now thou doest penance too (sc.viii.17)
“The Contention must have been written during the period when the newly favored form had not yet completely ousted the old versification, that is to say around 1570-80.
“The vocabulary, like the versification, retains several elements of another age: “sith,” “I trow,” “maugre”; “that” used as a conjunctional affix, “if that,” “before that,” “for” in the sense of “because,”; “for to” before an infinitive; the third person plural of the indicative ending in s as in “strangers in the Court takes her for the Queene, “Bewfords firie eyes shows his enuious minde”, “The Commons cries”; a redundant pronoun after the subject of the verb, “Gloster he is none”. (92)
“The style is without distinction. Author A uses the language of everyday life, which when spoken by persons of high rank is rendered even vulgar by the use at every turn of exclamations and interjections—look you, come, but soft, why, how now, ay, nay, well, oh, ah, loe, tush, marry, forsooth, faith, etc.
“There are, it is true, a few similes, but they limited to such notions of animal life as had been made popular by the bestiaries—of wolves, fox, lamb, bees, kite, partridge, puttock; and to knowledge derived from books of husbandry—wheat drooping when it is too ripe, planting and harvesting. Not one is introduced into the dialogue to give a picturesque or poetic tone, they are all employed for their explanatory or demonstrative value.
“Author A’s versification and style are thus as different as possible from Shakespeare’s….[T]hough it cannot be compared in any manner with the most juvenile of Shakespeare’s productions, it is an honorable specimen of the skill of a pre-Shakespearean author in the technique of dialogue (89-94).
“In this book I shall not try to identify the anonymous authors we may meet along the way; that will be possible only when we are better informed on the versification and style of Shakespeare’s predecessors (n. 89).” It should be clear that if you have two, possibly three more volumes to write, there’s no time to get caught up in scanning plays by writers other than Shakespeare. In the conclusion of his book Feuillerat states, “The ghosts of three authors whom I have called A, B, and C have throughout haunted the analysis of the plays (331).” This prompted Alexander to shoot some more arrows at the Frenchman, calling the book “a highly fanciful ghost story.” He added, “It is not within the power of a reviewer to prove that ghosts do not exist; but when he is told in all seriousness about ghosts he has a right to ask for very firm evidence for their existence. Feuillerat cannot be said to have provided evidence.” Seriously?
Let’s extend a little help to Professor Alexander. George Peele has been mentioned so many times as having a hand in the Henry VI trilogy, Titus Andronicus, as well as other Shakespeare works, that it’s time to have a peak at his versification and style.
In just the first scene of The Arraignment of Paris we find a number of archaic words—raught (twice), i-wis, wot, nill (three times, meaning “will not” ), dight, whilom, wight; the exclamations lo, yea, forsooth; a 14-foot line, 4 ½ foot lines, trisyllabic feet; and Peele’s favorite line-filler “and the rest,” a phrase as Feuillerat points out that author A uses not only in dialogue, but also in stage directions. Multiplied by the score throughout the text of The Arraignment these marks of George Peele are enough to convince me that he is the primary author of The Contention.
“Another passage, written in an entirely different versification, is given below:
YORKE. Anioy and Maine, both given vnto the French,
Cold newes for me, for I had hope of France,
Euen as I have of fertill Eng[e]land. 145
A day will come when Yorke shall claime his owne,
And therefore I will take the Neuels parts,
And make a show of loue to proud Duke Humphrey:
And when I spy advantage, claime the Crowne,
For that’s that golden marke I seeke to hit: 150
Nor shall proud Lancaster vsurpe my right,
Nor hold the scepter in his childish fist,
Nor weare the Diademe vpon his head,
Whose church-like humours fits not for a Crowne:
The Yorke be still a while till time do serue, 155
Watch thou, and wake when others be asleep,
To prie into the sccrets of the state,
Till Henry surfeiting in ioyes pf loue,
With his new bride, and Englands dear bought queene,
And Humphrey with the Peeres be falne at iarres, 160
The will I raise aloft the milk-white Rose,
With whose sweete smell the aire shall be pefumde,
An in my Standard beare the Armes of Yorke,
To graffle with the House of Lancaster:
And force perforce, ile make him yield the Crowne, 165
Whose bookish rule hath puld faire England downe (sci.143-66)
“This second author, whom I shall call B, employs a normal versification, too normal in fact. It is as regular and strongly marked as that of author A is capricious and uncertain. The verse is strictly decasyllabic: in the whole passage there is only one feminine ending, at line 148. The rhythm is vigorous: the accents fall on essential words and the last word of the verse is often monosyllabic and sonorous. There are only two trochaic feet (lines 145 and 156), but on the other hand a substantial number of spondees—9 in 120 feet, or 7.5%. The flexibility of the rhythm is reduced to a minimum in this tick-tock metronomic versification, for the internal pauses are scanty, 6 in 124 lines (143, 144, 149, 156, 163, 165), or 25%; and although the passage is a monologue, favorable to enjambments, there are only two verses (158, 161) where the meaning overflows into the following line. One could not imagine a versification more opposed to that of author A and to Shakespeare’s.
“Author B’s style is more literary than author A’s. Clearly oratorical in tone, it never falls into the familiarity of spoken English. On the other hand, it is without archaisms and makes no exaggerated use of exclamatory words. Although this author can repeat some of the most euphuistic comparisons of the period—the lizard’s sting, the snake’s hissing, the ill-omened cry of the owl (sc.10.162), the basilisk whose glance was death-dealing (sc.10.27), the mandrake that groans when torn from the earth (sc.10.147)—he has two or three similes which prove that he was capable of appreciating the contribution to dramatic style of the poetized evocation of incidents in real life. He compared the separation of Suffolk and the Queen to a jewel locked in a casket and to a boat breaking up on the rocks (sc.vi.216-18), and in hyperbolic language which classes him as an imitator of Marlowe he made Suffolk say:
Well could I curse away a winters night,
And standing naked on a mountain top,
Where byting cold would neuer let grasse grow,
And think it but a minute spent in sport (sc.x.167-70)
“In its lack of verisimilitude, and though based upon knowledge culled from books on husbandry, the speech is undoubtedly imaginative…. The versification and styles of these two authors are so different that it is not very difficult to distinguish the passages written by one from those written by the other….Altogether there are a little more than 600 lines inserted into the scenes written by author A, and they are discernible by their declamatory tone and their anecdotal character, as in the guilty love of Suffolk for the Queen.” (95-6)
As for the identity of author B, J. D. Wilson laid out the case for Thomas Nashe quite convincingly in each of his introductions to the Henry VI plays. Nashe’s favorite sources of ideas, and often in nearly the same language, are on display throughout his pamphlets and the Talbot play [1 Henry VI, not treated by Feuillerat in this volume]: Sandford’s translation of Cornelius Agrippa’s De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum; Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton’s theological treatise A Defensatiue against the poyson of supposed Prophecies (1583); and the so-called Sibylline Oracles a series of pretended prophecies compiled in Alexandria during the second century A.D.
Nashe, moreover, was a master of vituperation and malediction as displayed in the Henry plays, but especially in Richard III which, as we shall see, he had a large share. For confirmation of these abilities, we need only recall his literary jousts in print with Gabriel Harvey, clearly getting the better of the self-styled “inventor of the hexameter.” Nashe’s signed plays are Summer’s Last Will and Testament, a play about Will Summer, Henry VIII’s jester, and a share in Marlowe’s Dido Queen of Carthage. Scanning will need to be done on these works to certify that Nashe is in fact author B.
“The fragmentary character of the passages written by author B precludes the possibility of a collaboration between the two authors. We have here an example of those partial reworkings [“additions”] which were frequent at the time and which the study of the manuscript implied. Author B was called in to rejuvenate a play which was beginning to appear old-fashioned at a moment when the English drama was veering toward a more magniloquent conception of great historical events (97).”
“What cannot be doubted is that in The Contention there is not a line that can be attributed to Shakespeare (99).” This observation, of course, is diametrically opposed to the accepted view that The Contention is a Bad Quarto, a memorial reconstruction of 2 Henry VI.
2 Henry VI, First Folio
Feuillerat’s scansion of 2 Henry VI reveals the following:
“In the first place, 337 verse lines are identical in the two texts. They appear from time to time throughout the play, often alone, sometimes in small groups of two to seven verses, in one instance forming a long passage of 24 lines (I.i.233-56, York’s soliloquy).
“Mingled with these verses in which there is an absolute identity of expression are about 800 lines that may be called mixed; they contain fragments of the quarto embedded in a different text but expressing the same idea. The size of these fragments varies; sometimes most of the mixed line is identical in the quarto and the folio [two examples]. Sometimes only a few words are identical [two examples]. It may even happen that only parts of a word are in both texts [two examples].
“Finally, 1482 verses (out of 2011 in the whole play) are independent in the folio, that is, they do not contain a single word in common with the quarto. This is by far the most important part of the play, and this time the verses appear not only singly or in little groups but also in fairly long passages varying from 10 to 44 lines, sometimes expanding an idea from the quarto, sometimes constituting and entirely new development [dozens of examples].
“I have analyzed [the rhythm of] the longer passages….The percentages of rhythmic variations are as follows: Weakly accented feet, 463 or 26.9%; Trochees, 54 or 3.1%; Spondees 64 or 3.7%.
“And when we examine the style of these passages we find the same mannerisms that abound in Venus and Adonis and Lucrece: 1. Division of the thought into symmetrical and balanced parts of more or less equal length [two examples]. 2. Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction [two examples]. 3. Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction [two examples]. 4. Antitheses [two examples]. Concetti appear less frequently than in the Poems, that kind of mawkishness being hardly suitable to the violence of the incidents in the play. A few, however, can be found: (a) Concetti which consist in a repetition of a word or jungle [two examples]. (b) Concetti proper, in the Italian manner [several examples]. 6. Compound words after the Greek and Latin manner [15 examples]. 7. Words of French consonance [three examples](108-112).”
Feuillerat next discusses the imagery of 2 Henry VI which “are not images which search the mysteries of life, for the author is still marveling at the beauty of the universe, and some are perhaps a little too familiar [three examples].
“But there may also be found some images that already have that rare quality which is one of the marks of great poetry, like the simile lent to York:
And this fell Tempest shall not cease to rage,
Vntill the Golden Circuit on my head,
Like the glorious Sunnes transparent Beames,
Doe calme the furie of this mad-bred Flawe (III.i.351-4) [111-113]
“Most of the longer passages among those that are entirely in Shakespeare’s hand (see p.110 n.) have a small number of feminine endings….These passages must have been written at a period when Shakespeare was just beginning to understand how the feminine ending could give flexibility to the verse….The average proportion is 8.4%. In four passages the proportions are higher…. A total of 19 feminine endings on 80 verse lines or an average of 23.7%. These four passages must belong to a later period. It is to be noted that they all seem to have been added with the intention of rendering King Henry sympathetic, possibly on the occasion of a performance at the Court where, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, one of her ancestors had to be presented in a favorable light (120).”
The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, 1595 Quarto
“The True Tragedy, was as a matter of fact, written by the same authors as The Contention. And all the characteristics of author A’s versification and style are to be found again in this text: A. Verse lines of every length from two to seven feet. B. Trisyllabic feet: in four-stress lines [example]: in five-stress lines [example]: in six-stress lines [example]: in seven-stress lines [example]. C. Excessive proportion of trochaic feet, often reaching more than 10% and in all positions in the verse [five examples]. D. Five-stress lines with the first foot truncated [10 examples]. E. Conversational language, overloaded with exclamations and interjections suh as come, look, what, how now, I (ay), nay well, oh, ha, tush, marry, loe, God. F. Colloquial and obsolescent expressions [numerous examples].” Feuillerat then quotes a passage [105-120] containing “9 trochees out of 88 feet, or a proportion of 10.2%, 2 trisyllabic feet (106, 122), 2 four-stress lines (110-115), 1 three-stress line (112), 1 truncated five-stress line (119).
“There is not a scene in which this versification cannot be found: The True Tragedy, like The Contention, was first conceived by author A. But author B has also had his share in the play. His regular lines, heavily accented, anchored at the end with a sonorous word, frequently a monosyllable, with few trochees and rather numerous spondees, oratorical in tone, easily rising to hyperbolism, can also be discerned, mixed with the variable, spasmodic versification of author A [example of speech from sc.iv.137-53].
“The share of author B in The True Tragedy is infinitely more important than his share in The Contention. There are few scenes retaining indubitable traces of author A’s versification or style which do not have the ring of author B’s versification, the two being so intimately intermixed that only an analysis of the rhythm of the verse permits distinguishing them…Richard [Crookback] was entering a career of ambition and crime that has something of the unquenchable thirst for power of a Tamburlaine. Here was a possibility of transforming a simple “historie” into one of those impressive plays which Marlowe liked to call “tragedies.” Hence the change of what must have been the original title, The second part of the contention between the two Houses Lancaster and Yorke, into The true Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke. This title, it should be noted, discloses the aim of the reviser rather than describes the result of the revision.…[And] again as in The Contention, there is not one line that can be attributed to Shakespeare (123-128).”
3 Henry VI, First Folio
In 3 Henry VI “the percentages are nearly the same as in Lucrece: Trochees 2.6%, Spondees 3.1%….The style is full of the mannerisms which abound in Shakespeare’s poems: Division of the thought into symmetrical and balanced parts of more or less equal lengths [two examples]; Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction [three examples]; Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction [two examples]; Antitheses [three examples]; Concetti [two examples]; Compound words in the Greek and Latin manner [15 examples]; Images [ten examples]. (133-34)
“Thus 3 Henry VI is composed of a large portion of a pre-Shakespearean play, of another, still larger portion fundamentally pre-Shakespearean but more or less modified in the expression, and of a third portion entirely by Shakespeare. The pre-Shakespearean element, both in its identical and mixed forms, constitutes about two-thirds of the whole play and provides the entire structure of the action; the Shakespearean element is inserted by fragments of sometimes only one or two lines and indisputably has the character of amplifications or accessions. 3 Henry VI, exactly like 2 Henry VI, is an old play, written by author A, first amended by author B, and finally revised and partly rewritten by Shakespeare (136).”
“First of all, in the mixed portion [Shakespeare’s revision] it consisted in freeing the versification of its abnormalities. Lines either too long or too short were, with rare exceptions, transformed into decasyllables; trisyllabic feet were eliminated. Numerous improvements were made on the dialogue. For a banal expression there was substituted a more precise or more suggestive synonym. Ideas too curtly or too simply expressed were expanded and often enriched with poetical embellishments… (137).” The influential E. K. Chambers declared that he did not believe in line-by-line revision, an argument challenged by J. D. Wilson, and proved by Feuillerat.
“Two periods can be distinguished in the Shakespearean additions….[early] A total of 10 feminine endings in 173 lines or an average of 5.7%. A few passages have a distinctly higher proportion of feminine endings: A total of 19 feminine endings105 lines or an average of 18%. These passages must belong to a later revision, and this revision must have been made at the same period and for the same reason as the second revision of 2 Henry VI not only because three of these passages have pretty much the same percentages as the passages with the higher percentages in 2 Henry VI, but also because they have the same aim—to make King Henry a sympathetic figure. (139)
“Now on March 3, 1591/2, Lord Strange’s men performed for the first time (marked “ne[w]” by Henslowe in his Diary, ‘harey the vi’ (fol. 7). It is generally admitted that this Henry VI was the first part of the Henry VI that has come down to us in the first folio of 1623. This identification rests on a passage of Nash’s in his Pierce Pennyless (Stationers’ Register, August 8, 1592), where mention is made of the great success on the stage of the role of “brave Talbot,” which certainly can apply to what we call 1 Henry VI. But this play dramatizes incidents from the Thirty Years War; its principal characters are Talbot and Joan of Arc; King Henry, still a child, appears only in three scenes toward the end, and his role is without importance: it is highly improbable that such a play should ever have been entitled ‘Henry VI.’ And it will be seen in a subsequent volume that it is only after a considerable revision that it was later linked to the Shakespearean 2 and 3 Henry VI to form a trilogy on the reign of that king. The “harey the vi” which Lord Strange’s company performed in 1592 was certainly 3 Henry VI, recently revised by Shakespeare as one of the new additions to the repertoire.” (140-41)
Titus Andronicus, 1594 Quarto
“First, the characteristics of the versification and style of author A are in evidence throughout the play: Verse lines of irregular length from one foot to six feet; a few five-stress verses with the first foot truncated; Trisyllabic feet; Excessive use of trochaic feet [8.5% – 12%]; Commonplace style vulgarized by too many exclamations and interjections; Obsolescent expressions and colloquialisms (150).
“Characteristics of author B’s versification are also found here: a strictly regular verse, end-stopped, strongly accented with a high number of spondaic feet, oratorical in tone, hyperbolic in sense (151).
“All the characteristics which in the Poems permitted us to define Shakespeare’s style and which we found in the Shakespearean parts of 2 and 3 Henry VI appear and reappear in Titus Andronicus in considerable number and with remarkable continuity. 1. Division of the thought into symmetrical parts of more or less equal length [two examples]. 2. Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction [two examples]. 3. Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction [two examples]. 4. Antitheses [two examples]. 5. Concetti [four examples]. 6. Compound words in the Greek and Latin manner [23 examples].
- Words of French consonance [five examples] (152-54).
“In addition to these mannerisms Titus Andronicus contains numerous images characteristically Shakespearean, precise and suggestive, the fruit of attentive observation; their authenticity, in many cases, is proved by the presence of a similar image in the Poems, sometimes expressed in words that are almost identical [nearly seven pages of examples] (154-61).
“But as the basic original has not come down to us it will not be possible to determine with absolute certainty, as we have done in the preceding chapter, all the portions that can be traced back to Shakespeare….differences in rhythmical variations…combined with the list of mannerisms and images, will permit us to establish four degrees of importance for Shakespeare’s modifications.
- If a passage clearly has the characteristic versification of author A’s or author B and has neither mannerisms nor images, there will be a good chance that it is a portion of the original play, which has been preserved word for word in the definitive text.
- If a passage has the versification characteristic of Shakespeare and at the same time contains his mannerisms and images, it will be pretty certain that it was either rewritten or added by Shakespeare.
- If a passage has a versification somewhat resembling that of authors A ir B, yet contains a small number of Shakespearean mannerisms or images, it can be identified as a part of the original play slightly modified by Shakespeare.
- If a passage has a versification approaching that of Shakespeare and in addition exhibits a considerable number of his mannerisms and images, it will be a portion of the original play profoundly modified by Shakespeare.” (161-3)
There follows a long list of mannerism and images covering 13 scenes. “This list leads to some important deductions. There is not one scene but has its share of mannerisms and images: Shakespeare’s revision in Titus Andronicus, as in The
Contentions and The True Tragedy, has been extended over the whole play.
- PASSAGES OF THE OLD PLAY RETAINED VERBATIM
[List of 9 scenes, percentages of trochees, spondees.] No trace of Shakespeare.
- PASSAGES SLIGHTLY MODIFIED BY SHAKESPEARE
[List of 9 scenes, percentages of trochees, spondees, mannerisms and images.]
- PASSAGES MORE RDICALLY MODIFIED BY SHAKESPEARE
[List of 12 scenes, percentages of trochees, spondees, mannerisms, images.]
- PASSAGES REWITTEN OR ADDED BY SHAKESPEARE
[List of 22 scenes, percentages of trochees, spondees, mannerisms, images.]
“The passages rewritten or added are by far the longest of the four catergories; they comprise 1046 lines, nearly half the play, The passages radically modified come next with 774 lines; if we could know the exact composition of those passages the number of lines entirely in the hand of Shakespeare would surely be considerably augmented, for it is noticeable that in many cases the percentages of rhythmical variations are almost like those of Shakespeare. How many additions proper, now invisible, will forever be hidden in those mixed passages?” (164-9)
“The distribution of feminine endings in the class IV shows three distinct periods. A first period is remarkable for the very small number of feminine endings [List of 11 passages.] 15 feminine endings in 526 lines or an average of 2.8%. The period when Shakespeare made this revision is certainly contemporaneous with or possibly a little anterior to that of 3 Henry VI with its percentage of 5.7%. A second period comprises three passages [List] 15 feminine endings 172 verse lines or 8.7%….The average number of feminine endings in the first revision of 2 Henry VI is 8.3%: the two plays must have been revised at about the same time….A third period comprises the remaining passages [List of six passages.] 37 feminine endings in 260 verse lines or an average of 14.2%. This revision must have taken place not very long after the second revision.
“The company of Lord Strange had in its repertoire a play on the pseudo-historical subject of Titus Andronicus, written by author A; rejuvenated, with a Marlovian flavor added, by author B; first incompletely revised by Shakespeare early in 1591/2 and perfected during the period from March to October 1592. This play was ceded to the company of Lord Pembroke when it was formed and was trying to assemble a repertoire of its own for the intended tour of 1592. When Lord Pembroke’s company went bankrupt Titus Andronicus passed to the company of the earl of Sussex, and when the latter troupe, which had been on tour in 1593, came back to London and played for a six-week season (December 27 1593-February 6, 1593/4) at Henslowe’s theater [the Rose], it gave three performances of “Titus and ondronicus.” On February 6, the day of the last performance, the manuscript of Titus Andronicus was registered for publication and appeared the same year.
“In transferring the play to Lord Pembroke’s actors the company of Lord Strange did not abandon its right to retain it in its repertoire: no company would part so easily with a successful play. And indeed when it was reorganized in the spring of 1594 under the patronage of Lord Hunsdon, the lord chamberlain, “Andronicous” was one of the first plays to be presented in Henslowe’s theater, on June 5 and 12, 1594. The manuscript ceded to Lord Pembroke’s company was only a transcript of the company’s promptbook… (173-6).”
Richard II, 1597 Quarto
“Three types of versification and of style can be easily distinguished. First of all a considerable portion of the play—more than five hundred lines—is in rhymed verse. Of these about a hundred have certainly been either added or touched up by Shakespeare; all the others are of such inferior quality that they could not have been perpetrated except by a man who may have understood something of the theater but who was not a poet. These verses are distributed in passages of variable length, ranging from simple distichs to long developments, one of which has sixty lines (sc.xvi.68-135 or V.iii.70-136). This passage seems to be given exactly as it was written, and it is long enough to yield valid conclusions and percentages.
“The verse adopted is strictly decasyllabic iambic pentameter. The number of rhythmic variations in trochees as well as in spondees is high, with a marked preference for spondees (trochees 6.3%. spondees 9.3%). This combination of opposite rhythmic effects no doubt enabled the actors to deliver the lines with easy contrasts between flippant lightness and ponderous gravity (and that is why, I imagine, this passage was preserved). But the general impression that remains is that of a verse mechanically monotonous, each line being a unity within itself and in this long passage there is but one enjambment or a proportion of 1.5%.
“If some value can be granted to this versification from the point of view of dramatic diction, the same cannot be said from the point of view of style. The author—let us call him C—no doubt prided himself on cultivating the ornate language of his time; it is true enough except his style is a caricature of that language. The only effects he seeks consist of a monotonous repetition of two rhetorical devices:
Mine honor liues when his dishonor dies (68)
The traitor liues, the true man’s put to death (71)
His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast (100)
He prays but faintly, and would be denied (101)
His weary ioynts would gladly rise I know,
Our knees still kneele till to the ground they grow (10-3-4)
His prayers are full of false hypocrisie,
Ours of true zeale and deepe integritie (105-6)
A beggar begs that neer begd before (76)
This festered ioynt cut off, the rest rest sound,
This let alone will all the rest confound (83-4)
Loue louing not it selfe, none other can (86)
And neuer see daythat the happy sees (91)
Till thou give ioy, vntil thou bid me ioy (92)
Vnto my mothers prayers I bend my knee.
Against them both my true ioynts bended be (95-6)
The word is short but not so short as sweet (115)
Dost thou teach pardon pardon to destroy? (118)
I pardon him as God shall pardon me (129)
Twice saying pardon doth not pardon twaine,
But makes one pardon strong (132-3)
“These are the only mannerisms on which author C might be confused with Shakespeare. But all the other mannerisms are absent, especially those which required some facility of invention. The versifier totally lacked imagination; the few expressions that might be considered as metaphors are either old clichés or drawn from the familiar stock of comparisons borrowed from husbandry, like those knees that will “kneele till to the ground they grow” (103-4) or that ear which the duchess of York asks Bolingbroke “to plant” in his “piteous heart.” And these would-be images are less absurd than that “tongue” which is to be “set” in an “eye” that “begins to speak” (123). The rhymes are not always of good quality: “liege” rhymes with “beseech,” “pierse” with “rehearse”; and if it is difficult to find a rhyme any make-rhyme will do, however senseless it may be:
We pray with heart and soule, and all beside (102)
Or some acrobatic inversion:
More sinnes for this forgiuness prosper may (82)
Shall thy old dugs once more a traitor reare? (88)
“The rhymed verses of author C are found in all the scenes but two, the fourth (Richard describes the efforts of Bolingbroke to render himself popular) and the ninth (Bolingbroke gives the reasons why he ordered the execution of Bushie and Green). They are too mediocre to make us suppose that they were meant to raise the dialogue in moments of particularly poetic tension. Unquestionably they are the remnants of an old play written entirely in rhymed verse and belonging to a period when the English drama was not yet using blank verse. This is so true that if we bring together those dispersed fragments we shall ipso facto reconstruct the skeleton, so to speak, of this primitive play [45 examples] (192-7).”
Author C is identified below in Q1 Romeo and Juliet.
“The remainder of the play is entirely in blank verse. But not all the blank verse is of the same quality. In many passages are noticeable the characteristics of the versification and style of our old acquaintance, author A. 1. Verse lines of irregular length from one foot to eight feet [numerous examples of each]. 2. Trisyllabic feet [35 examples]. 3. Excessive use of trochaic feet [numerous examples ranging from 5.4% to 11.5%]. 4. Commonplace style vulgarized by too many exclamations and interjections [more than two dozen examples]. 5. Obsolescent expressions and colloquialisms [nine examples]. Figures of speech borrowed from bestiaries or books of husbandry [13 examples].
“In the preceding chapters author A has appeared as responsible for the invention of the subject; this time he shows himself in the role of reviser of a play written by someone else. The revision must have been comprehensive enough since traces of his manner are visible in the majority of scenes. Probably the reason for his intervention was to bring the play up to date: the rhymed verses of author C must have looked antiquated and particularly stiff from the moment the superiority of blank verse as a means of expression in the drama was recognized. The fact that author A retained so many of the rhymed verses which he had untaken to eliminate proves, however, that this was not his only aim. If we judge from The Contention and The True Tragedy he was in contrast to author C, more interested in the historical events which he carefully collected from the chroniclers….The taste for history of author A is also manifest in the care with which obscure pamphlets of the time…were searched for details on Richard’s life.
“But before drawing up the list of Shakespeare’s mannerisms and images we must make a reservation. Antitheses and jingles cannot always be counted as Shakespearean mannerisms since the author of the rhymed verses uses them constantly. We cannot know whether they were introduced by author C, retained by author A, or added by Shakespeare. The safest way will be not to take them into account, and I shall not include them in the tabulation of Shakespeare’s mannerisms, even though this will no doubt deprive us of the help of a considerable number of these figures by means of which we could with more certainty identify Shakespeare’s stylistic work.
- Division of the thought into symmetrical parts, of more or less equal length: [two examples].
- Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction: [one example].
- Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction: [two examples].
- Concetti in the Italian manner: [one example].
- Compound words after the Greek and Latin manner: [29 examples].
[About nine pages of examples]
- PASSAGES OF THE OLD PLAY RETAINED VERBATIM
[Four examples with percentages of trochees, spondees, irregular lines, trisyllabic feet]
- PASSAGES SLIGHTLY MODIFIED BY SHAKESPEARE
[19 examples with percentages of trochees, spondees, mannerisms, images, trisyllabic feet]
III. PASSAGES RADICALLY MODIFIED BY Shakespeare
[13 examples with percentages of trochees, spondees, trisyllabic feet, mannerisms, images ]
- PASSAGES REWRITTEN OR ADDED BY SHAKESPEARE
[18 examples with percentages of trochees, spondees, mannerisms, images]
“The proportions of feminine endings in the passages of class IV, the only ones which can be considered as almost entirely in the hand of Shakespeare, indicate three distinct periods of revision.
- Six passages have a proportion of feminine endings varying from 0 to 5%…15 feminine endings in 376 lines, average 3.9%.
- Six other passages, with a remarkable regularity, have a proportion somewhere about 9%…. 32 feminine endings in 338 lines, average 9.4%
- Three passages have a proportion about 18%…35 feminine endings in 196 lines, average 17.8%.
“The first revision with its percentage of 3.9% must have been made at about the same period as the first revision of Titus Andronicus (average 2.8%) and somewhat earlier than the first revision of 3 Henry VI (average 5.7%)….The second revision has a percentage of feminine endings slightly higher than that of the first revision of 2 Henry VI and of the second revision of Titus Andronicus….The third group is not, properly speaking, a revision but the outcome of a single intention. The three passages of that group concern Bolingbroke, and each of them contributes to the comeliness of his character.
“Though the play existed in a Shakespearean form as early as in 1591-92, there are good reasons to believe that it never was performed publicly before 1595….From whichever side it was considered, the subject of Richard II for a play was politically dangerous; and the spectacle of an English king deposed and murdered was so intolerable as to pass for seditious…. But in 1595 the situation was quite different: since 1594 their protector had been Henry Lord Hunsdon who, as the lord chamberlain, exercised authority over the office of the revels. It was difficult for Sir Edmund [Tilney, Master of the Revels] to refuse an authorization if the lord chamberlain thought his players should have it. The price for the favor was no doubt the promise that the abdication scene should be left out and, possibly that Bolingbroke would be represented in such a favorable light as to obliterate his guilt [Bolingbroke was in fact a usurper] (192-226).”
The abdication scene was published for the first time in Q4, 1608. It was possibly not performed until 1603 after the death of Elizabeth.
Q1, Richard III, 1597
Feuillerat’s study of the versification and style shows “abundant traces of the versification and style of author A: 1. Excessive use of trochaic feet [28 examples, 6.0-17.0%]. 2. Verse lines of irregular length from one foot to seven feet [dozens of examples]. 3. Trisyllabic feet [64 exampes]. 4. Common place style vulgarized by too many interjections and exclamations [dozens of examples]. 5. Obsolescent expressions and colloquialisms [10 examples].
“It is not so easy to distinguish the part written by author B in the text that has come down to us. To be sure, there are many passages in which the rhythm is exceptionally spondaic, but nearly all are too short to furnish reliable percentages. In some scenes, notably in those marked by a tone of lamentation or malediction, a vigorous declamatory, hyperbolic verse recalled author B’s imitation of Marlowe’s style is apparent….I am convinced that many passages which could have been attributed to him are today no longer recognizable beneath the sweetness and flexibility with which Shakespeare must have endowed them.
“For no matter what some critics have said, Shakespeare revised that pre-Shakespearean Richard III just as he revised the other plays that I have been discussing so far. This is clear from the presence of his habitual mannerisms and images.
- Division of the thought into symmetrical parts of more or less equal length [34 examples].
- Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction [28 examples].
- Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction [dozens of examples].
- Antitheses [dozens of examples].
- Repetition of the sound of a word or jingle [24 examples].
- Concetti proper in the Italian manner [26 examples]
- Compound words after the Greek and Lain manner [21 examples].
- French words od words of French consonance [4 examples]
[Five pages with line references]
- “There are only seven passages of any length with characteristically pre-
Shakespearean versification and bearing no trace of revision by Shakespeare that can be supposed to have been retained verbatim from the pre-Shakespearean play [list].
- Thirty-five passages totaling 1680 verse lines seem to have been slightly modified [list].
- Nine passages totaling 573 verse lines seem to have more substantially modified by Shakespeare, but they have preserved many traces of author A [list].
- Twenty-one passages totaling 1125 verse lines have percentages of rhythmic variations that are distinctly Shakespearean. A few have retained a trisyllabic foot, which proves that the passage was in the pre-Shakespearean play and was merely rewritten; in all the other cases it was probably added or, at least, constitutes an important amplification (236-251).”
“The whole revision, however, was not completed at the same time. From the proportions of feminine endings in the passages which seem to have been rewritten or added by Shakespeare two periods are distinguishable: [List of 11 scenes, the range is 8.3% to 14.2%.]. This first revision must have followed p0retty closely after the first revision of 2 Henry VI and the second of Titus Andronicus.
“In a second group the proportions of feminine endings are nearly twice as much as in this first group: [List of 8 scenes with a range of 17.7 to 25.0%]. This second revision seems to have been less thorough than the first; it may have been made between the third revision of Richard II (average 17.7%) and the second revision of 2 Henry VI (average 23.7%) [236-256]
Q1 Romeo and Juliet
“About three hundred verses of the First Quarto are rhymed. Several passages are composed of a simple distich and a few others of four verses. Of these it is impossible to say whether the rhymes were intentional or accidental. But there are longer rhymed passages of 6 lines [list, to] 86 lines; and in these we must presume that the rhymes were deliberately employed. A great many of these passages, as we shall see later, were recast by Shakespeare; nothing definite can be based upon them for the moment. But there is one passage, the longest of all (II.iii.1-92), which (though it begins with four verses, indubitably Shakespearean and contains two blank verses, an obvious interpolation) has certainly preserved its original form which is not in the least Shakespearean. This long dissertation by the friar on the virtues of plants is that of a man who was accustomed to see nature only through herbaries and books of rural economy; the style and versification are mediocre. When [the interpolated verses are omitted], there remains a passage long enough to provide certain facts giving an idea of the author.
“[The] rhymed verses of Romeo and Juliet and the rhymed verse of the old play, which has been partly preserved in Richard II, were written by the same author, who I have called author C. They have in common the same versification with the same percentages and types of rhythmic variations, the same sprinkling of imperfect lines, the same flat style with involved sentences, and the same exclusive taste for antitheses and jingles. The resemblance is really striking: and the mind that conceived the dissertation on the virtues of medicinal herbs is the same mind that compared the government of a state with the management of a garden in which the trees are carefully pruned (285-287).”
In 1948 Harry Hoppe published The Bad Quarto of Romeo and Juliet making the extravagant claim, for which he must have endured some ridicule, that it was written by William Bird and Gabriel Spenser. Who would have thought that in 2017 Hoppe would be proved at least half right. Of course Hoppe had no documentation to back up his assertion but sometimes one can make a lucky guess. We can immediately forget Spenser for he is not known to have written or revised any plays, though he was a hired man playing minor roles in Shakespeare’s company. He is certainly not to be found among Henslowe’s hacks in the Diary. But Bird’s authorship is another story altogether.
At this point in time any Shakespeare discovery comes by accident. For example, A. L. Rowse was not searching for the Dark Lady when he found Emilia Bassano.
I was rereading a favorite essay with the lengthy title “The Authorship of ‘The Taming of A Shrew’, ‘The Famous Victories of Henry V’, and the Additions to Marlowe’s ‘Faustus’, in H. Dugdale Sykes Sidelights on Elizabethan Drama. Sykes was a brilliant literary detective working in the early 20th century who, in this series of essays, established the canon of the actor-dramatist Samuel Rowley. Having done so, it was not a difficult for him to distinguish Rowley’s hand from Bird’s.
Who is this William Bird? Bird (alias Bourne) makes his debut on the world’s stage as a member of the short-lived Pembroke troupe in 1597. In that year he and his colleagues were complainants in a lawsuit against Francis Langley owner of the Swan playhouse. “Bird on August 10, 1597 offered to bind himself to Henslowe to play with the Admiral’s men at the Rose, and on October 11 his name is found in the company’s accounts. From this time to 1602 he appears in the Diary as repeatedly authorizing payments, borrowing from Henslowe, paying personal debts, selling properties, acknowledging company debts in the capacity of shareholder, and occasionally as a witness. On November 26, 1600, Henslowe lent Bird’s wife £3 to free her husband from jail ‘for hurting of a felowe’ (Nungezer, 48).” Bird, then, was a senior member of the Admiral’s men entrusted with serious responsibilities. He was also engaged in playwriting.
In December, 1601 Bird and Rowley in collaboration completed Haughton’s Judas (not extant), for which they received £6. On November 22, 1602 Henslowe paid Bird and Rowley £4 “for the adycions in Doctor fostes.” Bird is mentioned in the patent for Palsgrave’s men of January 11, 1613, and their lease of the Fortune theatre October 31, 1618. He was likely a member of Palsgrave’s until 1622. He is last heard of on May 20 of that year (Nungezer, 49). This is mostly what we know of Bird outside of some roles he played.
According to Sykes, “Bird’s share in the Faustus alterations is, I think, confined to those made in the closing scenes of the play. The presence of a hand other than Rowley’s is suggested by the frequent use of antithesis, e.g.:
…now sword strike home,
For horns he gave, I’ll have his head anon. (Faustus, 1214-15, p. 215)
We’ll rather die with grief than live with shame. (113, p. 217)
And so have hope that this my kind rebuke,
Checking thy body, may amend thy soul. (1283-4, p. 226)
His store of pleasures must be sauc’d with pain. (1364, p. 227)
Why weep’st thou? ‘tis to late, despair, farewell!
Fools that will laugh on earth must weep in hell. (1439, p. 228)
To want in hell that had on earth such store. (1439, .p. 228)”
Sykes adds in a footnote: “Note also that, simultaneously with the appearance of these antitheses, we find rimed couplets interspersed in the blank verse. Rowley employs the terminal couplet in his independent play, but does not mix rime and blank verse lines together.” Bird wrote old-fashioned rhyming verse, learning his craft during the period before the superiority of blank verse was established. Sykes might have added that Bird’s work, as the extracts above show, betrays constant moralizing. There is a tantalizing account of an unnamed man that might be him in the work of Robert Greene. See my “‘Autobiography’ of Robert Greene.”
Feuillerat notes, “And like the rhymed verse of Richard II the rhymed verse of Romeo and Juliet is embedded within the blank verse in which most of the play is written. There is no reason why it should be there at all, for it is an integral part of the idea of the surrounding blank verse and there is no change in the dramatic tone by which its existence might be justified. As in Richard II these rhymed fragments are remnants of a pre-Shakespearean play, the old play, which the examination of the manuscript has led us to expect—possibly the play that Arthur Brooke, in the introduction to his Romeus and Juliet, published in1562, said he had seen “lately set forth” on the same subject as his own poem.
“For the sixth time I have to note the presence of author A, who more and more appears to have been the regular purveyor of plays to Shakespeare’s company before Shakespeare himself, for all the characteristics of versification and style which distinguish this author are found in the play from beginning to end. 1. Excessive use of trochaic feet [12 examples with percentages from 7.6 to 11.9%]. 2. Verse lines of irregular length from one foot to seven feet [dozens of examples]. 3. Trisyllabic feet [31 examples]. 4. Commonplace style vulgarized by too many interjections or exclamations. There are no less than 240 examples of the free use of those forms of speech. 5. Obsolescent expressions and colloquialisms.
“These characteristics of author A appear in most of the scenes: his intervention, therefore, as in Richard II, resulted in a nearly complete recasting that was meant to replace with blank verse the rhymed verse of his predecessor [author C]. And it is worth noticing, by the way, that these characteristics are less numerous in the first two acts, which the examination of the manuscript as shown to have been corrected: these corrections must have been made upon the text of author A.
“It is precisely in the first two acts that the characteristics of Shakespeare’s versification and style are more often found, as the list of Shakespearean mannerisms and images will indicate. In drawing up this list we come upon the same difficulty we met in Richard II. It is possible that some of the mannerisms that author C had in common with Shakespeare may have been retained; to tabulate the antitheses and jingles would assuredly magnify Shakespeare’s share unduly; I have accordingly omitted those two types of mannerisms, even though by doing so I have diminished the importance of a valuable “detector” of his presence.
- Division of the thought into symmetrical parts of more or less equal length: [two examples].
- Repetition of a word or grammatical form to accentuate the symmetrical construction: [example].
- Marked preference for the association of two words expressing two aspects of the same idea and connected by a conjunction: [two examples].
- Concetti in the Italian manner [two examples].
- Compound words after the Greek and Latin manner [six examples].
- French words: [two examples].
[More than four pages of examples]
“Most of the passages having the normally Shakespearean percentages are in the first two acts….In the last three acts I have found only one passage that has Shakespeare’s rhythmical variations….The text reproduced by the First Quarto was certainly composed of two parts, the first mainly by Shakespeare, the second containing only a few passages having a Shakespearean ring….[It] is not, as long has been believed, a first draft by Shakespeare of his play about Romeo and Juliet; it is still less a badly reported text of the play we have in the First Folio. It is simply an unfinished revision of a pre-Shakespearean play, set aside by the company when, as we shall see, Shakespeare provided an entirely revised form.
“This imperfect revision was made at a very early period in Shakespeare’s career. In the six passages that have the normal percentages of Shakespeare’s rhythmical variations, I have counted only 3 feminine endings in 235 blank verses or 1.2%. This is probably the first attempt made by Shakespeare to improve one of the pays belonging to his company.
“An allusion in the play enables us to propose a fairly precise date. Speaking of the time when Juliet was weaned, the nurse says: ‘Tis since the Earth quake nowe eleven years.’ There was a memorable earthquake in London on the evening of April 6, 1580, and ‘almost generally throughout all England,’ which, according to Holinshed, ‘caused such as amazedness among the people as was wonderful for the time and caused them to make their prayers to Almighty God.’ This puts the production of the play in the year 1591. The critics who would have it that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet in 1595 or 1596 refuse to admit the validity of the allusion; this, they say, is giving the accuracy of the nurse an improbable value. But it is the author, not the nurse, who, by recalling such an event, introduced a realistic note into the action and thus tried to awake in the audience a remembrance of their own experience. At any rate, the date 1591 agrees perfectly with the type of versification to be found in this form of the play (287-300).”
Q2 Romeo and Juliet
“With the difference that in the first nine scenes (I.1-II.iv) Shakespeare was often revising his own text, the relation of Q1 to Q2, is on the whole the same as that of 2 and 3 Henry VI to The Contention and The True Tragedy: we have a good part of the pre-Shakespearean play which Shakespeare revised, and we can therefore see with some precision what this revision consisted of.
“As in 2 and 3 Henry VI three kinds of verses can be distinguished in the text of Q2: a) verses retained verbatim; b) mixed verses or pre-Shakespearean verses more or less modified; c) verses entirely new, amplifications or additions.
- VERSES RETAINED VERBATIM
“As might be expected, the passages or scenes in the first two acts that has already been extensively recast in the First Quarto have carried over the largest number of verses reproduced word for word, 417 in the first eight scenes (II.iv is mostly in prose) in a total of 1591 verses. Only in the parts of Act III already retouched in the first revision are they moderately numerous. In the rest of the play there are but a few.
- MIXED VERSES
“This class is by far the most important of the three. The similarity of Q1 to Q2 in the first two acts has been greatly exaggerated. It is true that, as I have shown, certain passages are identical, but it is no less true that in part of the play there are 522 verses that have been recast in the course of the second revision. And, on the other hand, the dissimilarity of Q1 and Q2 in the last three acts has been still more unduly magnified, and here the truth is that there are more than 600 mixed verses in a total of 1591 lines and that there is not any fundamental difference in the development of the action or in the meaning of the dialogue. The revision consisted principally in improving the wording of the speeches, which is sometimes so different as to constitute a complete rewriting of the passage. The long speech of the friar at the denouement (V.iii.229-69) is a good example.
“The modifications in the mixed lines greatly resemble those that have been noted in 2 and 3 Henry VI. Many were inspired by the desire to purge the text of such deficiencies in style as had survived the first revision. Irregular lines, except three (I.i.206; II.i.4; III.v.228) were brought to the normal five feet, and the trisyllabic feet have disappeared; only three (Iiii.8; III.1.61; III.iv.34) have not been rectified. Repetitions of the same word in neighboring sentences have been avoided….Many variants are motivated by the desire to substitute a word more precise or, as in the preceding instance, more suggestive….The following example shows how Shakespeare took pains to have his images in keeping with reality. In Q1 the pre-Shakespearean author had written
So shines a snow-white Swan trouping with Crowes (I,v,50)
Swans do not ordinarily flock with crows; Shakespeare in Q2 changed the swan to a dove, which is at least possible, though such a spectacle, I suppose, is not frequent.
“And last but not least, if we sought the inner meaning of most of those changes we should find that the real intention of Shakespeare was to replace ill-sounding lines that could be more easily pronounced by the actors, as in the following:
Q1 Indeed I should haue askt thee that before
Q2 Indeed I should haue askt you that before (I.ii.81)
III. VERSES ENTIRELY NEW, AMPLIFICATIONS OR ADDITIONS
This class of revisions, also numerous, reaches a total of nearly 600 lines. Most of them are short passages varying from one to four verses, simple details of an idea already expressed in Q1.But there are also longer passages, a few of which exceed 14-20 lines, and these can be considered as added or new material (316-18).
Feuillerat believes “the second revision of Romeo and Juliet followed close upon the first revision, and the tragedy on the subject of the lovers of Verona was one of the first plays, if not the first, that Shakespeare revised for his company (326).”
For many years, editors of Shakespeare have been using Q2, not the Folio version, for their editions of Romeo and Juliet.
In his concluding chapter, Feuillerat briefly summed up Shakespeare’s contribution to the plays he revised. “There was no premeditated method in the way these revisions were made. One thing remained pretty constant: Shakespeare kept the action much as it had been organized by his predecessors. Only once, in Richard II, did he materially alter the subject by suppressing incidents in order to find room for the development of the principal character. In a few cases he added some short, picturesque bit of scene such as the garrulous watch of the soldiers who guarded King Edward or the bustling preparations of the hall for the feast at the Capulets’. But this is very little compared to the changes made in the characters or in the dialogue, which were extensive and varied, depending entirely upon the kind of play to be revised or its weaknesses. In Richard III, a tragedy of the Marlovian type, Shakespeare gave his attention mainly to the flexibility of the dialogue. In Titus Andronicus, a play of revenge, he emphasized the sorrows of Titus, giving a justification of the transformation of that disciplined soldier into an insurgent and bloodthirsty avenger of his wrongs. In the two parts of Henry VI he sought chiefly to humanize the characters in order to counterbalance their political roles. In Romeo and Juliet it was less the characters of the two lovers than the exaltation of their love that he brought into prominence. As to the poetical element with which he sprinkled all the plays, its importance increased or decreased according to the attractiveness the subject had for his imagination (330-31).”
I feel that I have done justice to Feuillerat’s methodology and consequent findings. But there are many observations and other matters, such as the character of the manuscripts that served for the printed plays I have not addressed. Nor have many of the reasons for Shakespeare’s changes been addressed. For example, “The Margaret of The Contention is only an intriguing queen, jealous of her importance; the Margaret of the folio is that too, but she is more than that: female jealousy of the coarsest kind can rankle in her heart; she is a woman sharing with women their petty vanities, and from the dramatic point of view this makes a great difference, for she is a human being (105).” To fully appreciate Feuillerat’s book one must read it.
Amidst the plethora of attacks, G. B. Harrison was the voice of reason: “Professor Feuillerat’s methods can be checked only by independent investigations of a panel of scholars, each of whom must have the same kind of critical tact, industry, and detachment.” For good measure he added, “But what a godsend to harassed directors of graduate studies, for The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays opens up a hundred topics for Ph.D. theses!” If we consider that the whole of Tudor and Stuart drama can be impacted by this book, Harrison might have said a thousand.
That an idea is popular is no guarantee that it is correct. Perhaps the most popular concept ever entertained by man, after God, was that the earth was flat. This idea was universally accepted until it was proven to be false. The new concept could not have taken hold readily, however, flying in the face of centuries of hardened belief. And, communication being what it once was, generations must have passed until the peasant in the field had the image of a spheroid earth firmly fixed in his head.
Is there a “flat earth” theory current in Shakespearean criticism? I dare say there is.
But no matter how widely believed we must not forget that the theory is just that—a theory. While time and repetition have made it seem like fact, it is not a fact. It has never been proven because there was no methodology to do so. Albert Feuillerat has provided the methodology to disprove it, and he has done so.
POSTSCRIPT, June 2019
Though we had heard from the influential Peter Alexander and Fredson Bowers, I suddenly wondered why we hadn’t heard from the biggest names in Shakespearean criticism. With a little research, I learned that A. W. Pollard, the eldest, died in 1944. E. K. Chambers gave up the ghost a few months before Feuillerat’s book was published in 1954. That left W. W. Greg and Dover Wilson. As bibliographers they would have been keenly interested in Feuillerat’s study. They undoubtedly read the book but refrained from reviewing it. I can only conclude that they kept silent for the same reason.
Greg would have to rewrite The Editorial Problem in Shakespeare, one of his most important books. Wilson was in an even worse, nay impossible, position. As he tells us, he undertook the New Shakespeare series for Cambridge University Press figuring that the project would take 10 years. When The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays was published, he had spent 33 years on it and was still not finished. It should be obvious why he did not enter the fray.
But I think Wilson would have loved Feuillerat’s book. After all, he was one of two influences on the Frenchman. It was after reading the Introduction and Note on the Copy of Wilson’s first book, The Tempest, that Feuillerat, who had previously held the orthodox view of Shakespeare’s plays, saw the plays in a new light. Wilson had uncovered the textual scars in the play which was evidence of revision. It was then that Feuillerat was inspired to scan Shakespeare’s complete works. While many of Wilson views, as he admits, have been superceded, his bibliographical discoveries are as relevant as ever.
(Based on the accelerating % of feminine endings.)
1591 Romeo (1st revision) 1.2% Q1
Titus (1st revision) 2.8% Q1
1592 Romeo (2nd revision) 2.4% Q2/Folio
Richard II (1st revision) 3.9% (not performed)
The Contention (1st revision) 5.7%
Titus (2nd revision) ` 5.7%
The True Tragedy (1st revision) 8.4% Folio
Richard II (2nd revision) 9.4% (not performed)
Richard III (1st revision) 11.4%
Titus (3rd revision) 14.2% Q1/Folio defective
1595 Richard II (3rd revision) 17.8% (performed)
The True Tragedy (2nd revision) 18.0% Folio (3Henry VI)
Richard III (2nd revision) 20.6%
The Contention (2nd revision) 23.7% Folio (2Henry VI)
1608 Richard II Q4 Abdication scene first published
(Not annotated if quoted in the text)
Alexander, Peter. “The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,’ in “Reviews,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 5, 1954, 70-7.
Anonymous., “Shakespeare at Work,” Times Literary Supplement, Mar. 5, 1954, 154.
“[Feuillerat’s study] can hardly be accepted without further corroboration.”
Anonymous. [Fredson Bowers, U. of Virginia?]. “The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Notes on Current Books,” Virginia Quarterly, 30, 1954, 17-18.
“Since throughout the book the facts on which theories are based are often wrong, or no line is drawn between speculation and fact, there would seem to be insufficient grounds for anyone to accept Feuillerat’s subjective literary criteria as evidence to be taken as seriously as the results of patient scholarly investigation which points in quite the opposite direction.”
Bentley, G. E. “The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Reviews,” Modern Language Review, 49, 1954, 496.
“To me, the complete dependence on the poems to provide all the necessary characteristics of Shakespeare’s dramatic style seems in the extreme.”
Bowers, Fredson. “The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Book Reviews,” Modern Philolgy, 51, 1953, 132-3.
Clemen, Wolfgang. “Albert Feuillerat: The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Bibliographie,” Archivum fur das Studium der Neuren Sprachen, 191, 1955, 88-9. Translated by Joseph Morgan and Donato Colucci.
“Feuillerat’s book, with its fatally flawed conclusions, begs to examine the problem arising from the use of statistics ad absurdum.”
Heuer, Hermann. “Albert Feuillerat: The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Sammelbericht uber in-und auslandisches Schriftum,” Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 90, 1954, 326-8. Translated by Joseph Morgan and Donato Colucci.
“More acceptable proof is needed about whether the particular material advanced by the professor is plausible and whether it offers a sufficient basis for authorizing such far aiming conclusions.”
Harrison, G. B. “Book Reviews,” Saturday Review, Oct. 10, 1953, 20.
Kozul, A. “Composition des pieces de Shakespeare,” in “Etudes Critiques,” Etudes Anglaise, 7, 1954, 213-19. Translated by Prof. Albert Milanesi (ret,).
“The more we progress in this bold inquiry, the more astonishment and the misgivings keep re-occurring.” [A mixed review.]
Law, R. A. Texas Studies in English, 34, 1955, 43-7.
“[Feuillerat’s] statistical technique for determining authorship is wholly fallacious.”
Muir, Kenneth. “The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Reviews,” Review of English Studies, new series, 5, 1954, 411-13.
“Professor Feuillerat makes out a plausible case for his heresy; but in spite of his efforts it will probably be a case of Love’s Labor’s Lost.” [He doesn’t explain why.]
Shaaber, M. A. “The Composition of Shakespeare’ Plays,” in “Reviews,” Modern Language Notes, 69, 1954, 427-30.
“The last book of so distinguished a scholar as Professor Feuillerat should have been a crowning achievement. Unhappily it is not.”
Shucking, L. L. “Albert Feuillerat, The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” in “Buchbesprechungen,” Anglia, 73, 1956, 527-32. Translated by Joseph Morgan and Donato Colucci.
“[The] form and manner which Feuillerat considers coming out of The Contention about the origin of 2 Henry VI are highly unlikely.”
Smith, Hallett. “New Books in Review,” Yale Review, 43, 1953, 121-5.
Swart, J. “Shakespeare Without Tears,” Neophilologus, 38, 1954, 221-4.
“The methods used are an actual danger to criticism.”
Vallette, J. “A. Feuillerat— The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays,” Les Langues Modernes, 49, 1955, 90-91. Translated by Prof. Albert Milanesi (ret.).
“A triumph of labor with solid results.”
Williams, Philip. “Recent Shakespeare Scholarship,” South Atlantic Quarterly, 53, 1954, 270-2.
“[The] fallacies in this method are too obvious to require comment.”
 References are to William Grigg’s facsimile, reproducing the duke of Devonshire’s copy (Shakespeare Quarto Facsimiles, 1890, No. 17. The numbering of lines is about the same as that of the Globe edition.