The Politics of Horse-Racing and Regional Identity in the Humorous Magistrate

By Pasupathi, Vimala C. | Early Theatre, July 2011 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Horse-Racing and Regional Identity in the Humorous Magistrate


Pasupathi, Vimala C., Early Theatre


In their respective treatments of the amateur household play The Humorous Magistrate, Mary Polito, Jean-Sebastien Windle, and Margaret Jane Kidnie have noted several significant differences between the two extant manuscript versions. (1) In addition to lacking the prologue and epilogue that appear in the Arbury 414 version (itself heavily revised), the copy purchased by Edgar Osborne omits one character entirely, a figure described by Polito and Windle as 'Scottish Jony, a horseman'. (2) This omission entails the removal of hundreds of lines; none of the character's speeches are reallocated to other characters, nor are the dialogues in which he takes part reproduced even partially in the later copy's version of the play.

As with any apparent omission or emendation in two versions of any play-text, the omission of Jony raises questions about the agent or agents responsible for the differences we detect; the differences themselves likewise invite consideration of the impact of such lacunae on the plays' plot and thematic content. Moreover, much like the variants found among printed plays produced and licensed for performance at the public theatres, the differences between the Arbury and Osborne copies encourage us to examine social and historical contexts as well as other literary works as factors that may have occasioned variants in the manuscripts. Polito and Windle have presented convincing cases for dating each manuscript, establishing the Arbury copy's composition between 1632 and 1637, and the Osborne's composition shortly after 1640. (3) The range of likely dates for both manuscripts locates the composition and revision of the play within a period of escalating conflict between England and its neighbour to the north and growing discontent between subject and crown within England itself.

Because the play offers two examples of amateur household drama in manuscript form, Jony's presence and absence may also provide insight into the lives of English subjects in the country in those years. Jony's character is configured in the Arbury copy of the play primarily in brief exchanges with his master, Wild, a young man whose recreational pursuits involve riding, racing, and wagering on horses. Jony apparently cares for and prepares the horses for riding and racing and thus his lines not only provide accounts of these animals' condition but also give readers a rather colourful impression of Wild's leisure activities and the labour of 'jockeying' as it is dutifully performed by his man. As I will argue here, Jony's removal in the Osborne copy bears the traces of a complex and compelling negotiation of larger political developments that had a bearing on both the state and local pleasures.

Among the many questions raised by the omission, this essay primarily focuses on two broad facets of Jony's characterization: his dialect and his profession. Because Jony's dialect provides somewhat inconclusive evidence about whether he was intended to represent an Englishman from the north or a Scot, we cannot positively identify his speech as a regional form of English or as the voice of what Shakespeare's Henry V referred to as England's 'giddy neighbor' (1.2.145). (4) Nonetheless, I read the verbal markers of regional identity embedded in Jony's speech and his subsequent omission from the later work as an unambiguous act of erasure of cultural difference from the play. Along with the removal of other passages that resonate with the northern or Scottish sensibility that the horseman brings to the text, the Osborne copy, I will suggest, seems to indicate a concerted effort to remove any marker of geographical diversity and site specificity from the social world of the play.

I will consider, in this regard, the potential impact of the deteriorating relationship between England and Scotland in the late 1630s, exemplified in the rise and fall of James Arran, the Scottish marquis of Hamilton, at one time Charles I's master of the horse and, later, his chief advisor on Scottish affairs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Politics of Horse-Racing and Regional Identity in the Humorous Magistrate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.