"The stage history of Shakespeare's Cymbeline" by Gabriel Egan
In its own time
Cymbeline is one of a small group of plays for which we have an eyewitness account of performance in Shakespeare's lifetime (Chambers 1930, 337-41; Salgādo 1975, 30). [SLIDE] Shakespeare's contemporary, the astrologer and medical practitioner Simon Forman, recorded his impressions of seeing and hearing Shakespeare's Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, and Cymbeline and a play about Richard 2 that, from his account of it, cannot be Shakespeare's play. For Macbeth, The Winter's Tale and Richard 2 Forman recorded the venue as the Globe theatre and the occasions as particular days in April and May 1611. For Cymbeline Forman neglected to record the venue or date but as all the notes appear together in his manuscript we can reasonably assume it was around the same time and at the same venue, the Globe. Obviously it must have been before Forman's death on 8 September 1611(Kassell 2004).
When compared to the scripts we have, Forman's account of Shakespeare's plays appear to contain errors of recollection or misunderstanding [SLIDE]. When he wrote of Cymbeline that one of the king's stolen sons "slewe Clotan, that was the quens sonn, goinge to Milford hauen to sek the loue of Innogen the kinges daughter, whom he had banished also for louinge his daughter" Forman either confuses Cloten with the banished Posthumus or else in the piling up of clauses he neglects to include one explaining Posthumus's role. Forman might just have confused the roles of Posthumus and Cloten if they were doubled, which choice has a certain thematic appeal since they share the same clothes and are mistaken for one another. More than a quarter of Forman's account concerns Giacomo's means of conveying himself unseen into Innogen's bedchamber and his exploitation of this access, suggesting its considerable impact on early audiences. [SLIDE] Forman records that Belarius's cave is "in the wodes" and that Innogen is buried "in the wodes" and since neither of these details is in the Folio text--our only authority--we might suppose that the original staging used tree properties; an inventory of the properties of the playing company the Lord Admiral's men made in 1598 included three trees (Foakes & Rickert 1961, 319-21).
This was not the only time Forman mentioned woods where the script has none: his account of Macbeth has Macbeth and Banquo "Ridinge thorowe a wod". Horse-riding on stage was almost certainly impossible and nothing in the script of Macbeth indicates a wood; Leah Scragg plausibly proposed that Forman was remembering a woodcut from the history of Scotland in the 1577 edition of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles that shows Macbeth and Banquo on horses in a wood (Scragg 1973, 87; Holinshed 1577, Q2r). Such a misrecollection cannot explain Forman's reference to woods in Cymbeline, however: as Roger Warren pointed out there is no known source for Cymbeline that puts the action in a woods, so perhaps Forman just naturally supposed that the Welsh countryside is wooded (Shakespeare 1998, 5n2). Forman makes no mention of the most spectacular part of the play as we have it, the descent of Jupiter on an eagle, and this omission has fuelled speculation that the spectacle was add to the play after Forman saw it. [SLIDE] Forman's account twice calls the play's heroine Innogen rather than Imogen, as the Folio text has it, which suggests that the Folio's name is a misprint and that she was called Innogen in the first performances. John Pitcher has made the strongest argument to date against this conclusion (Pitcher 1993) but I will try to remember to call her Innogen when referring to the first performances and Imogen when discussing later performances based on the Folio text.
There is every reason to suppose that the Folio text reflects the play as it was first performed, perhaps mediated through a transcript by the scribe Ralph Crane (Wells et al. 1987, 604), although certain small additions such as trumpet flourishes would have been needed for royal entrances. When Shakespeare was writing Cymbeline his playing company, the King's men, had access to the Globe open-air amphitheatre on Bankside and the indoor Blackfriars playhouse. G. E. Bentley argued that what unites Shakespeare's late plays as a group is their being written for performance at the indoor Blackfriars theatre in front of "the sophisticated audience attracted to that house" (Bentley 1964, 97). Alfred Harbage laid the foundation for Bentley's view by arguing that the "Theatre of a nation", the open-air drama, gave way to the "Theatre of a coterie" when Shakespeare's company moved into the Blackfriars in 1608, forming 'rival traditions' for a while and then creating a "rift between plays and the populace, not repaired for centuries" (Harbage 1952, 27). Printed editions of King's men's plays, however, show an undivided repertory since well into the 1630s a single play's title-page might name the Globe and the Blackfriars as its performance venues (Farmer & Lesser 2000, Appendix B). In the 1630s there does appear to have developed a distinction in the generic associations that attached to indoor and outdoor playing (Taylor & Jowett 1993, 36; Gurr 1996, 131, 367). But in 1611, when Forman saw Cymbeline at the Globe, no such distinction existed.
As a script for performance, the Folio makes no exceptional demands on the costume stock of the company. [SLIDE] The nationalities of "a Dutch-man, and a Spaniard" who do not speak (TLN 314-5), alongside a Frenchman who does, can have been conveyed to an audience only by distinctive costumes. On the other hand, since these characters are not needed, it may be that Shakespeare originally intended--at the point when he wrote the stage direction--more national diversity than was required as the scene developed in composition. [SLIDE] The Imperial Romans ought to look like Romans, but as the Peacham drawing of Titus Andronicus shows (Foakes 1985, 49) a mere sash could be sufficient gesture towards the toga. For battle scenes, the Romans have to appear as soldiers but the Peacham drawing shows that contemporary modern dress could suffice for this: a contrast with the less-well dressed Britons is all that is essential. Posthumus goes undetected as a "Britaine Pezant" after taking off his "Italian weedes" (2880-1). Having asked for a "Riding Suit" (TLN 1545), Innogen presumably enters in one (TLN 1671). Near the end of this scene, 3.4, she is given the "Doublet, Hat, Hose" and accessories that she subsequently uses to disguise as a man.
The play is equally unexceptional in its demands for properties. Innogen and Posthumus must exchange a diamond ring and a bracelet that become essential to the action (TLN 132, 143, 404, 413, 424, 443, 448, 462, 1192, 1198, 1210, 1264, 1287, 1292, 1297, 3412, 3414, 3421, 3466, 3469, 3485, 3740-41). Cornelius's "poysonous Compounds" (499) appear to be given to the Queen and thence Innogen in "a boxe" (TLN 1881). Giacomo needs a "Trunke" (TLN 819, 836, 917) to hide inside, and Forman saw what he recorded as a "Cheste". The same scene, 2.2, calls for Innogen to be thrust out on stage "in her Bed" (TLN 903) and to have a book of Ovid and a taper to read it by (TLN 910-1, 926, 951-3). The pictures that Giacomo says adorn her bedchamber may be imagined by the audience if they are not part of the playhouse fabric (Ronayne 1997), but he needs something with which to "write all downe" (TLN 931). Herbert G. Wright noted that the first English translation of Boccaccio's Decameron, published in 1620, added a detail not present in the original story (Day 2, Novel 9) that was a source for Cymbeline (Wright 1953, 20). [SLIDE] Boccaccio's Ambroginolo is described as "stepping forth [from the chest] in his sockes made of cloath" (Boccaccio 1620, N4r), and since the translator on other occasions made use of theatrical terminology alien to the original, Wright wondered if these socks might reflect contemporary staging of the parallel scene in Cymbeline. Guiderius must enter carrying "one Clotens head" (TLN 2402) and Belarius must carry a dummy that represents "the body of Cloten" (TLN 2601), since it is headless. [SLIDE] Weapons are of course needed for the battle scenes, and "Pikes and Partizans" (TLN 2731) are specifically mentioned. Partisans are halberds, the weapons carried by the Roman soldiers in the Peacham drawing of Titus Andronicus. Whatever holds the prophecy given to Posthumus by Jupiter, it must plausibly be referred to as a "Tablet" (TLN 3145), a "Book" (TLN 3170) and a "Labell" (TLN 3758) and it must be openable since Posthumus say to it "Be not . . . a Garment | Nobler then that it couers" (TLN 3171-2).
The play is famous for three coups de théâtre: Giacomo coming out of his trunk to creep around Innogen's bed-chamber (TLN 917-59), Innogen waking up next to the headless body of Cloten that she takes be Posthumus (TLN 2612-54), and Posthumus's dream in which he is visited by the ghosts of his family and by Jupiter descending on an eagle (TLN 3065-159). One additional, innovative aspect of this play's stagecraft is Shakespeare's expansion of the dramatic possibilities arising from the convention of the audience-directed aside. The best account of the aside convention is Humphrey Gyde's unpublished 1990 Stanford University PhD thesis in which he argues that there was a single rule governing soliloquies and asides, with the category of asides meaning both comments directed towards the audience and those shared amongst some but not all the characters on stage, sometimes called factional asides (Gyde 1990). Gyde argued that in this single convention, a character is allowed to, as it were, 'deafen' other characters on stage so that comments can be made directly to the audience or to others in their faction, and the crucial matter is what Gyde called 'represented awareness'. The 'deafening' technique requires that the aside-maker is aware of who is on stage, since anyone whose presence is unknown to the aside-maker is not 'deafened' and is thus privy to the comments made. This single convention works for all audience-directed asides and all scenes of overhearing such as Malvolio's reading aloud of his letter in Twelfth Night and the young men reading aloud their poems in Love's Labour's Lost. The convention also governs soliloquies, and it explains why so many of them end with a nervous self-silencing as the speaker becomes aware that someone else is present or approaching, as in "Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes" (Richard 3 1.1.41) and "Soft you, now, | The fair Ophelia!" (Hamlet 3.1.90-91).
Although the words of an aside are inaudible (or at least incomprehensible) to other characters on stage, a character making an audience-directed aside may be observed doing so by other characters, and this behaviour is baffling to anyone who observers it. [SLIDE] After Macbeth's aside "This supernaturall solliciting . . . And nothing is, but what is not" Banquo remarks to Ross and Angus "Looke how our Partner's rapt" (Shakespeare 1623, mm1r). [SLIDE] In Cymbeline, Innogen's aside "If Brothers: would it had bin so . . . To thee Posthumus" is baffling to Belarius who comments "He wrings at some distresse" (TLN 2169-73). In a bravura overloading of the convention early in his career, Shakespeare had Suffolk and Margaret of Anjou take turns to make 18 audience-directed asides upon their first meeting (3 Henry 6 5.5.16-143), several of them in close succession so that they are talking only to the audience and not one another. Under this pressure, the convention gives way and the 'deafened' person becomes aware that the other is speaking, so that Margaret say "(aside) He talks at random" but she cannot properly make out the words. Suffolk says "(aside) I'll win this Lady Margaret. For whom? | Why, for my king--tush, that's a wooden thing" to which Margaret responds "(aside) He talks of wood. It is some carpenter" (3 Henry 6 5.5.41-46). When Shakespeare does not want an audience-directed aside to baffle the other characters on stage, he takes care to give them something to do so they do not notice it. [SLIDE] In Cymbeline, after the physician Cornelius has apparently given the Queen the poisons she asks for, Shakespeare needs the audience to know that the drugs are in fact harmless so a long audience-directed aside is called for. Shakespeare brings on Pisanio to have a conversation with the Queen and so distract her--"Hearke thee a word" she says--while Cornelius makes his aside and when he is finished the Queen turns her attention back to him and sends him away with "No further seruice, Doctor, | Vntill I send for thee" (TLN 529, 543).
It has often been observed that Shakespeare's last plays revisited the themes and tricks of his earliest work, and I want to argue briefly that in Cymbeline he returned to the aside convention to use it in a new way that no-one had thought of before. (If anybody has analogous examples for other plays, I would be most grateful to hear of them.) In order to convince Innogen that he is transported to rapture at first sight of her, Giacomo uses the audience-directed aside convention with the specific intention of being observed doing to. That is, he knows that a character making an audience-directed aside baffles other characters who see it happening, and baffling Innogen is precisely what he wants to do. [SLIDE] In response to his first speech ("What are men mad? | Hath Nature giuen them eyes . . . Twixt faire, and foule?") Innogen asks "What makes your admiration?" (TLN 628-35), in response to the second ("It cannot be i' th' eye . . . allured to feed") she asks "What is the matter trow?" (TLN 636-44) and after the third ("The Cloyed will . . . for the Garbage") she asks "What, deere Sir, | Thus rap's you? Are you well?" (TLN 645-50). It is not simply that Innogen does not understand the content of Giacomo's asides--which appear to compare Innogen to an imagined rival for Posthumus's affection--but that his means of saying it is bewildering to her. Someone speaking an audience-directed aside is perceived by others on stage to be, as Banquo put it, "rapt". Giacomo commandeers this convention of extra-dramatic discourse to achieve his end within the drama, his end of convincing Innogen that she has had an extraordinary effect upon him. It is indeed, as he calls it, "Audacitie" (TLN 614). Editors are right to indicate that Giacomo is invoking a theatrical convention rather than simply talking here. Samuel Johnson used the marker "Aside" (Shakespeare 1765, 284), as did George Steevens (Shakespeare 1778, 203). Thomas Keightley coined the term "Half-Aside" (Shakespeare 1864, 407-08) to convey the idea that Giacomo wants to be noticed to be using the convention. This term did not appear in the standard text of the scene in the Henry Irving Shakespeare (Shakespeare 1890, CYM 1.6.14-51) but it was used in a later edition that purported to reflect the scene "As Arranged for the Stage by Henry Irving" for his performance at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 22 September 1896 (Shakespeare 1896, 2.1.21-28). In the first Arden edition of Cymbeline, Edward Dowden thought the trick to be "feigned soliloquy" (Shakespeare 1903, 38).
Cymbeline was included in a long list made around 12 January 1669 of plays formerly performed at the Blackfriars theatre and now allowed to be performed by the King's company after the Restoration of 1660 (Lennep 1965, 151-52). But Restoration and early-eighteenth theatres audiences did not get to see Shakespeare's Cymbeline: they had to make do with Thomas D'Urfey's markedly inferior adaptation of the play [SLIDE]. It is called The Injured Princess, or The Fatal Wager on the title-page of the first edition (1682)--where it is said to have been performed by the King's company at the Theatre Royal (Drury Lane)--but it is called The Unequal Match, or The Fatal Wager in its running headers (D'Urfey 1682) [SLIDE]. The second form of the title reflects the adaptation's amplification of the original's concern with the low social status of the princess's choice of husband. This adaptation of 1682 was revived at Lincoln's Inn Field Theatre in 1702, 1717, 1718, 1719 and 1720 and at Covent Garden in 1737 and 1738 (Hogan 1952, 102-04; Shakespeare 1960, xliii-xlv). D'Urfey altered and reassigned character names so that Innogen becomes Eugenia and Posthumus becomes Ursaces, while Giacomo is transformed into a drunken companion of Cloten and his function in calumniating the princess is given to the Frenchman Shattillion. Pisanio becomes a confidant to Ursaces (that is, Shakespeare's Posthumus) and acquires a daughter Clarina who is a confidant to Eugenia (that is, Shakespeare's Innogen) and this Clarina is almost raped by Giacomo and Cloten. In preventing the assault Pisanio kills Giacomo and is punished by Cloten putting out his eyes and, like Gloucester in Shakeseare's King Lear, he is told to smell his way around (D'Urfey 1682, F4r). Like Gloucester, Pisanio's grief provokes the sin of suicidal thoughts while he performs the memorable business--and all the more striking because so futile for a blind man--described by the stage direction "Crawls about to find his Sword" (D'Urfey 1682, F4r).
Aside from this melodramatic subplot, D'Urfey significantly altered the characterization so that Pisanio becomes as convinced as Ursaces that the princess Eugenia/Innogen has been unfaithful and Pisanio is accused of social ambition because of his daughter Clarina's closeness to the princess. Large chunks of Shakespeare's writing are incorporated into the play, and John Genest gave the most detailed account of exactly what pops up where (Genest 1832, 331-34). These include Shattillion's astonishment of Eugenia when they first meet with the inexplicable "Has Nature giv'n 'em eyes . . . 'Twixt fair and foul?", which like the original elicits the princess's "What makes your admiration?" (D'Urfey 1682, C3v). That this is a trick is emphasized by Shattillion preceding it with an audience-directed aside "Now to begin the Game, assist me Cunning", but D'Urfey does seem to have realized that the trick is misuse of the aside convention itself, and Shattillion does not keep it up as long as Shakespeare's Giacomo does. D'Urfey handles the invasion of the princess's bed-chamber much as Shakespeare did, and an added stage direction "She stirs and he starts back" (D'Urfey 1682, D2v) makes explicit a piece of business that many producers have lighted upon and that may well have been in the first performances.
The extended funeral that Shakespeare gave his princess, and its much-loved song "Fear no more the heat o' th' sun", are cut by D'Urfey, as is her awakening next to the headless body she takes to be her husband's. Also absent from D'Urfey's adaptation is an equivalent to Posthumus dream vision of the ghosts of his family and the descent of Jupiter on an eagle and hence there is no prophecy to be decoded. By cutting and simplifying the action, D'Urfey gave himself less work to do in the denouement: his final scene comprises 179 lines compared to Shakespeare's 572. To judge from a playbill for a production of D'Urfey's play in 1717 ("Not acted these Twenty Years") there was a revival in 1697 for which no other evidence survives (Avery 1960, 463).
Cymbeline in the eighteenth century
The first attempt to bring back Shakespeare's play in place of D'Urfey's adaptation was the London Haymarket Theatre in 1744, under the management of Theophilus Cibber (Charke 1755, 168; Cibber 1748, 13-18; Cibber 1744a; Cibber 1744b; Cibber 1744c; Cibber 1744d). Six months before the Cibber production, the poet Alexander Pope died and literary historians generally use this event to mark the end of the Augustan period, so named because Pope and other writers of the early eighteenth century likened their situation to that of writers (prototypically, Horace) in the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar (63 BCE to 14 CE). This, of course, is the Caesar on the throne in Cymbeline. D'Urfey's seventeenth-century adaptation of Cymbeline played down Augustus Caesar's role as the emperor demanding tribute from the British--mentioning him twice where Shakespeare mentions him five times--but [SLIDE] Cibber's announcements of revival of Shakespeare's original emphasized that it was set "during the Reign of Augustus Caesar", suggesting that he was sensitive to the literary zeitgeist (Cibber 1744a). Shakespeare's version was revived again at Covent Garden on 7 and 10 April 1746 (Scouten 1961, 1230-31) in a version that purported to be "As written by Shakespeare" (Anonymous 1746). [SLIDE] The next London of Cymbeline run was on 15, 17, 19 January 1759 (Stone Junior 1962, 711)--again at Covent Garden. [SLIDE] The script for this run was printed and it turns out to be an adaptation by William Hawkins, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, the first person to give university lectures on Shakespeare (Dobson 1992, 3; Binns 1987). [SLIDE] Hawkins rewrote Cymbeline "almost upon the plan of Aristotle himself, in respect of the unity of Time", as he put it in the preface to the published text (Shakespeare 1759, A3r).
Hawkins chose not to depict Innogen's bedchamber being surveyed by a would-be seducer emerging from a box and instead conveyed those events by narration. In Shakespeare's play this bedchamber scene a striking violation of the Unity of Time: in just 50 lines (around 2-3 minutes of stage time) the hours between midnight and 3am are supposed to pass. In Hawkins's adaptation there is no role for Cymbeline's queen: in the first scene she is reported dead by a lord who knows her to have been "bold, ambitious, cunning, cruel" (Shakespeare 1759, B2r). Cymbeline actively encourages Cloten's wooing of his daughter, unaware that he is in league with the Romans. Philario (Shakespeare's Pisanio) suspects that what Leonatus believes about Imogen is true: "Perhaps she's fall'n. -- | She's fair, -- that's much; -- she's young, -- that's more" (Shakespeare 1759, C4r). This uncertainty stays with Philario until almost the end of the play, and George C. D. Odell saw that as the lasting and pernicious influence of D'Urfey's adaptation, in which Pisanio is as convinced as his master that Eugenia/Innogen is unfaithful (Odell 1920, 369).
Because it is much closer than D'Urfey's adaptation to the 1623 Folio text, Hawkins's adaptation gives us an insight into how certain problems of language in the Folio text of Cymbeline were resolved in performance. [SLIDE] The letter from Posthumus that Pisanio gives to Innogen in 3.2 makes unusual use of the word as to create an antithesis between harm and benefit to Posthumus: "Iustice and your Fathers wrath (should he take me in his Dominion) could not be so cruell to me, as you: (oh the deerest of Creatures) would euen renew me with your eyes" (TLN 1509-11). The words "as you" in the second line here seem to mean "but that you" (would renew me with you eyes), but the sense is awkward. Pope suspected textual corruption and in his edition of 1723 he emended "as you" to "but you" to make the sense clearer (Shakespeare 1723, 170). [SLIDE] Hawkins () followed Pope, as did the editors Lewis Theobald in 1733 (Shakespeare 1733, 393) and William Warburton in 1747 (Shakespeare 1747, 283, although Samuel Johnson in 1765--six years after Hawkins's adaptation--put back the Folio reading of "as you" (Shakespeare 1765, 317), which has prevailed since. On the other hand, Bell's Acting Edition of 1774, of which there will be more to say later, stuck with Pope's reading of "but you" (Shakespeare 1774, 272).
Part of the problem is the colon after "as you" in the Folio text, since if one pauses there the sense of "but you" is particularly difficult to recover, and J. M. Nosworthy decided that the colon is "evidently an error" (Shakespeare 1955, 85). I wonder, though, if the Folio's colon is there purposely to make a pause that causes a misunderstanding. That is, what if Innogen is supposed to misread the letter by stopping after saying "Iustice and your Fathers wrath (should he take me in his Dominion) could not be so cruell to me, as you", which seems like a reproach of Innogen from her exiled husband? We know, but Innogen does not, that Posthumus thinks her unfaithful, and we might for a moment share with her the mistaken belief that in this letter he is reproaching her. Innogen might look up from the paper she is reading, perhaps look at Pisanio in horror, before reading on and realizing her mistake. If so, the pleasure for the audience when she reads on is dramatic irony: what Innogen decides is only a momentary misreading of Posthumus's letter is in fact what he truly feels, since he does think her cruel.
In Hawkins's adaptation, the 'cordial' that Philario gives to Imogen is his own creation--not from Doctor Cornelius via the Queen, as in Shakespeare--and it serves to test her fidelity. When she starts to feel its effects, Philario tells Imogen that he knows her to be unfaithful and in the hope of a extracting a confession he says "you have your death . . . That draught was tinctured with a mortal juice" and tells her that her infidelity is known to him (Shakespeare 1759, G2v). Instead of confessing, Imogen forgives Philario this wrong and asks the gods to pity her benighted husband and exits, so she thinks, to die. Philario's response "It goes well" (Shakespeare 1759, G3r) is starkly unrepentant and he continues his deceit by maintaining that Leonatus is dead. As in Shakespeare, Palador (Shakespeare's Polydore/Guiderius) kills Cloten but does not decapitate him and there is no scene of Imogen mistaking the headless corpse for that of her husband. In the battle scene, Palador overcomes Pisanio, who makes a dying confession that he lied about Imogen (Shakespeare 1759, I4v-K1r). Leonatus enters to receive this news and is followed by Philario, who fails to mention that in fact Imogen is alive and well (Shakespeare 1759, K1v-K4v). Hawkins gives Philario rather too little motivation here, perhaps because he wanted to have a final scene of multiple revelations, like Shakespeare's, but lacked the skills as a plotter to achieve this without straining upon credibility.
For the final scene, Philario invites Cymbeline into the cave--"our poor hermitage" (Shakespeare 1759, L2r)--so that once the action has moved from court to country it never returns again to the court; this is not quite the Aristotelian Unity of Place but it is a gesture towards it. Philario asks Imogen's forgiveness for putting her honesty to trial, and receives it, but then makes an audience-directed aside "pardon me, Gods, | One fiction more" (Shakespeare 1759, L4r) before lying to Imogen that Leonatus is dead and that his last words were that he hoped to plague her in hell. Once Palador is declared the heir to throne, he gives to Leonatus and Imogen the moiety of the land that Cymbeline had reserved for Cloten after accepting his daughter's marriage that disinherited Cloten. Hawkins takes more care than Shakespeare to think through the various twists in the monarchical succession and who gets what by way of settlement. He also significantly shifts Cymbeline's motivation. In Shakespeare's play Cymbeline says that his queen and her son Cloten encouraged him to resist Rome [SLIDE] and when he comes out from under their influence he sees that he should join with Rome: "Although the victor, we submit to Caesar, | And to the Romane Empire; promising | To pay our wonted Tribute, from the which | We were disswaded by our wicked Queene" (TLN 3792-95). [SLIDE] In Hawkins's version Cloten is in league with the Romans and Cymbeline ends the play all the more convinced that Rome must be treated as the vanquished enemy: "Caesar shall pay | Large ransom for the lives we have in hold" (Shakespeare 1759, N2v)
William Hawkins's adaptation of 1759 show the persistence of a desire to improve upon the script inherited from the First Folio. Two years later, [SLIDE] David Garrick produced a highly influential script that was essentially the Folio text with certain strategic cuts and reorderings, which are worth considering in detail for their effect on the play's meaning (Anonymous 1761). Garrick's most important alterations to Cymbeline are i) the shortening of the funeral rites for the supposedly dead Fidele, ii) the ending of that scene with those rites and the removal of Fidele's body and the following of this with a short scene that Shakespeare placed later (showing Cymbeline in his court worrying about the queen and her son), after which we return again to Wales for Imogen's awakening next to Cloten, and iii) the cutting of the lines and whole scenes that show Posthumus being captured, visited in jail by the ghosts of his family and by Jupiter who gives him a prophecy, and the explication of the prophecy at the end of the play. [SLIDE] A fourth alteration was made after the first night's performance: the cutting of the 45 lines in the last scene in which Doctor Cornelius, supported by the ladies-in-waiting, tells of the queen's desperate confession and death. Garrick kept these 45 lines in the published script but marked them off in italics and explained in a note that they were omitted after the first performance (Shakespeare 1762, A3r, C11r-C11v).
Garrick's changes are inter-related Shortening the funeral rites for Fidele, including reducing the song "Fear no more the heat o' th' sun" from 24 lines to 6, is necessary because in Garrick's adaptation Fidele is not given an onstage burial alongside Cloten but rather is carried off at this abbreviated scene's end. There can be no extended funeral rites because there is no funeral. In Shakespeare's script there is some recognition that perhaps the lamentation goes on too long, for Guiderius says "Prythee haue done, | And do not play in Wench-like words with that | Which is so serious. Let vs bury him, | And not protract with admiration, what | Is now due debt. To'th' graue" (TLN 2540-44). But why did Garrick break the action after the apparent death of Imogen-as-Fidele to take us to Cymbeline's court before returning to Wales for Imogen's awakening beside Cloten? There may have been a practical consideration here. The published script does not indicate how scenery, painted flats and shutters were used to alter the visual signs of each scene's imagined location, but the opening stage directions of scenes indicate those locations [SLIDE]: "ACT I. SCENE I. | SCENE, A Palace", "SCENE II. | Philario's House in Rome", "SCENE V. A Forest with a Cave" (Shakespeare 1762, A4r, A8r, B8v), and so on. The scene of Imogen's awakening begins [SLIDE] "SCENE V. A Forest. | Imogen and Cloten, on a Bank strew'd with Flowers" (Shakespeare 1762, C7r). Presumably this stage picture was artfully composed, with the two bodies raised on a slope to make them clearly visible to the audience If a carefully made stage picture was wanted, then cutting away to Cymbeline's court provided the time to construct it out of sight behind closed shutters or a curtain without interrupting the action.
The largest of Garrick's cuts was the removal of the jail scene with the ghosts and Jupiter and the prophecy, and the concomitant removal of the Soothsayer's explication of the prophecy in the final scene. This supernatural visitation Pope dismissed as "plainly foisted in afterwards for meer show, and apparently not of Shakespear" and he relegated it to the footnotes of his edition of 1723 (Shakespeare 1723, 219, 239). In his edition of 1733, Theobald restored this material on the grounds that interpolation or not ". . . 'tis found in the earliest Folio Edition . . ." and thus he thought he lacked "Authority to discard it" (Shakespeare 1733, 449). Warburton included this material in his edition of 1747, but footnoted Pope's objection to it (Shakespeare 1747, 337). In this debate, Garrick, like Hawkins before him, sided with Pope by deleting the ghosts, Jupiter and the prophecy, and thereby removed the reason for Cymbeline's decision to pay the Roman tribute. The prophecy shows to Cymbeline a divine purpose underlying what has happened and its fulfilment places upon him an obligation to accept his place under Rome despite his military victory. He accepts this in the same breath as blaming his queen for his earlier refusal to pay the tribute (TLN 3791-95) and Garrick cut these lines too. Michael Dobson has argued that by omitting Cymbeline's decision to pay the Roman tribute Garrick ends his play with Pax Britannica in place of Pax Romana, much as Hawkins's adaptation did (Dobson 1992, 207).
I would distinguish Hawkins's openly bellicose ending from Garrick's, which is rather ambiguous on this point. The question of the tribute is left unresolved by Garrick. Without the submission to Rome, the closing lines perhaps suggest some kind of equal and independent status for Britain: "Set we forward: let | A Roman, and a British Ensign wave | Friendly together; so through Lud's Town march" (Shakespeare 1762, D3r). In this context, Garrick's cutting of Doctor Cornelius's 45 lines about the deathbed confession of the queen is crucial. With those lines spoken, as they were on the first night, Cymbeline admits to having been misled by this queen and his withholding of the Roman tribute can be laid at her door. With the cutting of these lines, Cymbeline is not perverted by anyone and is thus firmly in control of events. Leaving the matter of the tribute unresolved seems intentional, suggesting--as do several of Shakespeare's plays' endings--that the problems that gave rise to the action have not been solved but merely deferred. I will conclude today by drawing out this idea of deferred endings.
Garrick's text of Cymbeline was fossilized by repeated reprintings, on its own and as part of publisher John Bell's Acting Edition over the following decades (Murphy 2003, 34, 116-117, 329-330). [SLIDE] The final eighteenth century version I want to look at took an edition of Garrick's text from 1784 as the basis of a promptbook owned by Sir Lumley St George Skeffington and used for an amateur production of Cymbeline in 1786 at the Newcome School in Hackney, London, in which Skeffington, aged 14 or 15, played Cymbeline's queen (Shakespeare 1786; Courtney & Reynolds 2004). Charles H. Shattuck and Edward A. Langhans date this promptbook to around 1785 (Shattuck 1965, 81; Langhans 1987, 147) but the epilogue we are about to consider fixes the date to "[seventeen] eighty-six" (Shakespeare 1786, C12v+4). The Newcome School was famous for its amateur theatricals to which Garrick himself contributed material (Sargeaunt 1898, 185), and the promptbook's annotations show a thorough knowledge of professional theatre terminology, marking entrances and exits as "PS" and "OP" for "Prompt Side" (that is, stage left) and "Opposite Prompt" (stage right). However, the promptbook substantially rejects Garrick's text in order to restore readings from the 1623 Folio, most importantly in respect of Cymbeline's queen and the Roman tribute. When Caius Lucius is first seen demanding the Roman tribute, the Folio gives the queen a 20-line speech encouraging Cymbeline to refuse payment (TLN 1393-1412), using language redolent of John of Gaunt's celebrated eulogy from Richard 2 on the subject of Britain's natural, geographical autonomy, which by the time Shakespeare was writing Cymbeline in 1610 had been published in four editions, indicating great popularity. [SLIDE] Garrick cut this speech (Shakespeare 1762, B7v) but the Hackney schoolboys restored it by writing it into the promptbook, although not exactly following the words of the Folio or any edition I can trace. The queen tells Cymbeline to "Remember . . . The natural bravery of your isle, which stands | As Neptune's park, well fortified | With rocks unscaleable" (Shakespeare 1786, opposite B4v), clearly echoing Gaunt's "this sceptred isle, . . . This fortress built by nature . . . Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege | Of wat'ry Neptune" (2.1.40-63). The boys also restored one of Cloten's speeches defying the Romans' demand for tribute (Shakespeare 1786, opposite B5r), and the combined effect is to make the queen and her son active in British resistance to Rome and what is more they give good reasons for that resistance. That is to say, these speeches are persuasive and likely to attract audience sympathy. Garrick's omission of the queen's speech lessens the awkwardness of her simply disappearing from the play, which disappearance is all the more awkward if Doctor Cornelius's account of her death is also omitted. [SLIDE] Cornelius's account of the queen's death was evidently restored by the Hackney boys, since the promptbook shows small alterations to it, including doing without the ladies-in-waiting who corroborate what Cornelius says (Shakespeare 1786, C7v-C8r).
The Hackney boys' promptbook does not, however, restore the long version of the song "Fear no more the heat o' th' sun", nor put back Shakespeare's continuous action of the burial of Innogen-as-Fidele followed by her waking up beside Cloten, nor does it put back the jail scene, the ghosts, Jupiter, the prophecy, and the Soothsayer that its base text, Garrick's text, omits. In other words, Garrick's most important omissions remain as omissions. However, the promptbook suggests sensitivity to the problems of the Roman tribute and the queen's story being unfinished if Cornelius's account of her death if omitted. [SLIDE] Sensitivity to unfinished business is apparent in an epilogue by the poet George Keate (Mason 2004) that is handwritten into the promptbook and shows Skeffington as the queen lamenting her existence in a miserable afterlife. Any epilogue is to some extent an admission of artistic failure to end a story satisfactorily, a failure of closure, a failure of Aristotelian organic unity. Keate's epilogue makes clear that the queen's story is incomplete, that more needs to be said, and it begins [SLIDE] "Th' Arabian Nights [for Ladies of high breeding | Ne'er plague there heads with any other reading] | Tell us, that when this mortal life is o'er | We in chang'd forms still the world's haunts explore".
Antoine Galland's French translation of The Arabian Nights got its first English translation in 1706, which had gone through more than 50 editions by the time of the Hackney boys' production of Cymbeline in 1786 (Thomson Gale and the British Library 2004). The central structuring device of The Arabian Nights is the non-completion of stories as the heroine Scheherazade repeatedly defers her own execution by telling the king a new story every night and failing to finish it. In Keate's epilogue, Cymbeline's queen is unable to die and miserably haunts the fashionable walks of London trying to pass for a younger woman, and there is some rather unpleasant dwelling on desperate feminine prosthesis with hair and makeup. The opening direction for the epilogue has the queen "at her Toilet", which presumably carried visual overtones of the boy actor Skeffington preparing to discard the costume and makeup that made him look like Cymbeline's queen. But instead of removing these visual accoutrements, [SLIDE] the direction insists that we see "a Lady in the extreme of every modern fassion", and in her speech the queen laments her enforced endless preparation for fresh toil as an object of fashionable gaze. This was rather prophetic of the poet Keate, for Skeffington himself went to become one of London's most celebrated, and mocked, fops. As a way of ending Cymbeline, however, this epilogue acknowledges that the play's story itself is unfinished. Equally unfinished is my stage history of the play, for we have barely reached the end of the eighteenth century and I must stop.
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