Wit and Science

Wit and Science

Wit and Science

Wit and Science

Excerpt

JOHN REDFORD'S play Wit and Science is preserved in the British Museum Additional MS. 15233, an oblong quarto of 65 leaves measuring 5 3/4 X 7 3/4 inches, which also contains music by Redford, fragments of two other interludes, one certainly and the other probably by him, and a number of poems by Redford, John Heywood, Myles Huggard, John Thorne, Thomas Prideaux, 'Master Knight', Richard Edwards, and George Gascoigne. The calf binding is contemporary, with blind tooling: each cover has a roll border of conventional design, and in the middle an ornament with blank centre, over which are more deeply impressed the initials 'S B'. Nothing is known of the early ownership of the manuscript: any information there may have been at the beginning has been lost with the opening leaves. Amongst some scribble on the final verso, however, appear the names ' Ann Chuntle' and 'Mr Heyborne'. There is extant, in MS. Harley 6996, fol. 33, a letter from an Edward Heyborn to the Lord Keeper Puckering, dated 13 September 1593, recommending Richard Mulcaster for the Prebend of Gatesbury -- he duly obtained this stall in the cathedral of Salisbury on 29 April following -- and the connexion of both Redford and Mulcaster with St. Paul's suggests that the Mr. Heyborne of the manuscript may possibly have been the Edward Heyborn of the letter. The manuscript was first described in the sale catalogue of the library of B. H. Bright (Sotheby, June 1844) when it was bought by Thomas Thorpe for £15; since, according to an inscription by Sir Frederic Madden, the British Museum purchased it from Thomas Rodd on 19 June 1844, there would seem to have been some private deal between the two booksellers.

The whole manuscript, so far as it survives, except for the musical portions, was edited by Halliwell-Phillipps for the Shakespeare Society in 1848; his text of Wit and Science was reprinted by Manly in his Specimens of the Pre-Shaksperean Drama ( 1897), but Manly's promised reconstruction of the missing opening never appeared. J. S. Farmer included a modernized text in his volume of 'Lost' Tudor Plays: in 1907, . . .

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