Counterfeiting Shakespeare: Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford's Funerall Elegye

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Prosody, punctuation, pause patterns

In several places Foster claimed to identify distinctly Shakespearian characteristics in the Elegye's verse style. Yet, strangely enough, he made no attempt to use the many studies of Shakespeare's prosody which have appeared over the last two centuries. One might expect a scholar making such a bold attribution to have taken stock of the extant scholarship addressing Shakespeare's metrical practices. Anyone seriously interested in this topic could be expected to know the work of Edward Capell, Charles Bathurst, F. G. Fleay, John Ingram, F. S. Pulling, Goswin König, Hermann Conrad, David L. Chambers, Philip W. Timberlake, Ants Oras, Henri Suhamy, Marina Tarlinskaja, and George T. Wright. 1 Foster briefly referred to Bathurst (1989, p. 86), and cited Chambers and König once each (p. 244), but only to indicate that their statistics differed. Not having taken sufficient account of this scholarly tradition meant that Foster seemingly failed to realize that these studies have established the nature of Shakespeare's prosodic development with remarkable accuracy. Charles Bathurst pointed out that over the course of Shakespeare's career his prosody changed in at least three respects: he varied the position of 'the caesura or division of the pauses'; he made fewer pauses at the end of a line, often 'making the verse end upon a perfectly weak monosyllable', carrying the movement on to the line following; and he made increasing 'use of double endings, like the Italian metre' (Bathurst 1857, pp. 1 –3). Bathurst's intuitive observations were confirmed by several nineteenthcentury scholars, English and German, who produced detailed statistical analyses of mid-line pauses, run-on lines, 'light' and 'weak' endings. These verse-tests were produced so intensively in the 1870s and 80sas to temporarily exhaust the topic, and when E. K. Chambers prepared his influential survey of Shakespeare scholarship he could simply take over the 'metrical tables' of Fleay, Ingram, Pulling, Conrad, and König, with minor corrections (Chambers 1930, II. 397–408). It was not until

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