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In 1640, as is well known, John Benson of St. Dunstan's Church- 
yard issued a volume called Poems: Written by Wil. Shakespeare, 
Gent., which contained — together with many other pieces — most of 
the Sonnets of Shakespeare as they had been collected in 1609, and 
is therefore sometimes carelessly spoken of as the second edition of 
the Sonnets. This volume has usually been discussed in connection 
with the question of the arrangement of the Sonnets, since the entirely 
different order from that of 1609 furnishes some evidence that by 
1640 there was no tradition of a continuous sequence. But it has 
been very little considered with reference to the problem of its text, 
possible sources, and inferential significance. Almost the only excep- 
tion to this statement is the account given by Sir Sidney Lee in his 
introduction to the Clarendon Press facsimile edition of the Sonnets 
(1905), where he speaks of the 1640 collection as follows: 

Benson's text seems based on some amateur collection of pieces of manu- 
script poetry, which had been in private circulation. His preface implies 
that the sonnets and poems in his collection were not among those which he 
knew Shakespeare to have "avouched" (i.e., publicly acknowledged) in his 
lifetime. 1 .... The theory that the publisher Benson sought his copy 
elsewhere than in Thorpe's treasury is supported by other considerations. 
Sonnets 138 and 144, which take the thirty-first and thirty-second places 
respectively in Benson's volume, ignore Thorpe's text, and follow that of 
Jaggard's Passionate Pilgrim (1599 or 1612) . 2 The omission of eight sonnets 

tells the same tale It is difficult to account for [their exclusion] 

except on the assumption that Benson's compiler had not discovered them. 3 

Now if this is true it is of more importance than Lee points out. 
That in 1640 a practically complete collection of the Sonnets should 
be in existence in manuscript, different in order from that of 1609, 

i Lee also observes that Warren's commendatory verses, at the beginning of the 
volume, imply that the reader will make the acquaintance of the poems for the first time. 

2 Though I have not had an opportunity to examine the 1612 edition of the Pilgrim, 
I' have ascertained, by comparing Lee's account of it (Introduction to the reprint of 1905) 
with the Benson text, that the latter was printed from the second edition, that of 1612 — ■ 
as we should have guessed would be the case. 

» Pp. 57-58. 
17] 17 [Modeen Philology, May, 1916 

18 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

yet giving substantially the same text, would in itself be a circum- 
stance of great interest, suggesting a number of curious questions. 
What could have been the original source of such a text? Is it 
possible that its text and its order are at least as authentic as those 
of the manuscript used by Thorpe in 1609? Does the absence of 
certain sonnets suggest the possibility that they were originally 
written at a different time, or addressed to different persons, from 
the rest? Such matters would have to be subjected to the most 
careful scrutiny. If, on the other hand, the sonnets in Benson's 
collection should appear to have been printed from the Quarto of 
1609, as certain of the other poems appear to have been printed from 
The Passionate Pilgrim and other miscellanies, all these problems 

It will first be necessary to outline the arrangement of the Poems 
of 1640, or at least that of the first part of the volume, which includes 
the Sonnets. The following numbers refer to the usual numbering, 
that of 1609, and the single numbers or groups which are separated 
by semicolons are those which Benson's editor grouped by them- 
selves and provided with distinct titles. The Roman numerals in 
parentheses refer to the poems of the Passionate Pilgrim collection. 1 
67-69; 60, 63-66; 53-54; 57, 58; 59; 1-3; 13-15; 16, 17; 7 
4-6; 8-12; 138; 144; (III); 21; 23; 22; (IV); (V); 20; 27-29 
(VI); (VII); 30-32; (VIII); (IX); 38-40; 41,42; (XI); (XII) 
(XIII); 44,45; (X); 33-35; 36,37; (XIV); 24; 25; 26; 50,51 
46, 47; 48; 49; (XV); (XVI); (XVII); (XVIII); 62; 55; 52 
61; 71, 72, 74; 70; 80, 81; 116; 82-85; 86, 87; (XX); 88-91 
92-95; 97-99; 100, 101; 104-6; 102, 103; 109, 110; 111, 112 
113-15; 117-19; 120; 121; 122; 123; 124; 125; 128; 129; 127 
130-32; 133, 134; 135, 136; 137, 139, 140; 141, 142; 143; 145 
146; 147; 148-50; 78-79; 73, 77; 107, 108; 151, 152; 2 153, 154. 

The first thing that strikes the reader in a survey of this arrange- 
ment is the extent to which the order of the Sonnets of 1609 is pre- 
served, despite the alterations. Inside the separately titled groups it 

1 According to the correct numbering, amounting to twenty poems in all. Many 
editions, through a mistaken division of the 14th poem ("Good-night, good rest") 
into two, number poems 15-20 as 16-21. 

2 Here, before the final pair of sonnets on Cupid's brand, is inserted the "Tale of 
Cephalus and Procris." 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeare's Sonnets 19 

is almost never changed, and in the latter half of the collection it is 
followed as a whole, with a few notable exceptions. That is, it 
represents such an arrangement as could never have been arrived 
at fortuitously, unconnected with either the Quarto of 1609 or the 
manuscript on which that Quarto was based. Or, to put the matter 
a little differently, — if an editor had all the sonnets before him, not 
numbered or arranged as in the Quarto, and proceeded to group them 
freely in twos, threes, and longer series, with a view to giving them 
new titles, it is inconceivable that he should arrange them in the 
sequences 67-68-69, 13-14-15, 8-9-10-11-12, 27-28-29, and the 
like — that is, in the same order (as far as it goes) as that of the 
Quarto. And the same thing is true if we think, not of a publisher's 
redactor, but of a private collector arranging the sonnets in a com- 
monplace book. Benson's compiler, then, had before him either the 
1609 Quarto or a copy of the manuscript from which it was printed. 
In view of the improbability of the contents of the Quarto being 
copied and preserved substantially entire, it is far more natural to 
assume that it was the printed volume which he had, unless typo- 
graphical or other evidence is such that we must attribute the changes 
found in the text of 1640 to manuscript variation rather than to 
re-editing and reprinting of the printed page. We have next, then, 
to notice the exact character of the resemblances and differences 
between the two texts. 

I may anticipate the nature of this evidence by saying that I 
believe no one could proceed far in the exact collation of the texts 
without becoming confident that the later was set up directly from 
the earlier. Despite many differences, the general effect is that of a 
fairly close following of the spelling, punctuation, and capitalization 
of 1609. In the whole collection of reprinted sonnets there are 
but twenty-five words differently capitalized in the two editions, 1 

i These and other figures are no doubt to be viewed as subject to some correction, 
for they are based on a collation of the reprint of the 1640 collection made by A. R. 
Smith in 1885. This, the publisher stated, was "printed letter for letter, line for line, 
and page for page, as near the original as modern type will permit." I have tested the 
accuracy of the statement by an examination of the original (the copy in the Library of 
Trinity College, Cambridge) for all textual variants amounting to anything more than 
matters of spelling and punctuation, and in a number of cases for the latter also. A 
few errors in the reprint have been discovered, but there appears to be no possibility 
of the existence of any such number of them as to impair conclusions based on the figures 
here given. 


20 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

— and readers familiar with the Sonnets Quarto will recall that the 
capitalization of its text is not characterized by extraordinary uni- 
formity or reasonableness. With italicized words the case is still 
more striking; there are thirty-three of these, so printed — in several 
cases — for no reason which criticism has been able to discern, and in 
every case the 1640 text is identical with the earlier. In punctuation 
the changes, whether due to carelessness or to intended correction, are 
naturally more numerous; I have counted some 144 instances, found 
in 89 sonnets, all told. Roughly estimating that the whole text of 
the sonnets included in the volume contains something between 
2,700 and 2,800 marks of punctuation, one may say that of twenty 
such marks nineteen are identical in the two texts; and some 55 
sonnets show no variation in a jot or tittle. 1 Those acquainted with 
the habits of seventeenth-century penmen will best judge how far 
it is possible to conceive of this degree of accuracy having been main- 
tained by copies into manuscript books of any kind. Finally, some 
620 words are differently spelled in the two versions, out of a possible 
total of something like 18,000; but I place no stress on this propor- 
tion, since it is obvious that we cannot say with any accuracy in 
how large a number of the words there was any natural liability to 
error or change. 

The typographical likeness of the two texts may be further illus- 
trated by noting such facts as these: that in Sonnet 1 the Benson 
version is identical with that of the Quarto — every detail of spelling, 
punctuation, and capitalization considered — with the exception of 
the variant " Feedst " for " Feed'st " ; that the same is true of Sonnet 
8, with the exception of "receiv'st" for "receau'st"; that it is true 
of Sonnet 44, except for the change of "heauie" to "heavy"; of 48, 
except for "un-used" and "unused"; and so on. To the same effect 
is the evidence drawn from observing the repetition of certain oddities 
or errors in the Quarto text. Of course if these errors are such as to 
leave the lines in question with an appearance of correctness, their 
repetition may be due to any kind or amount of reproduction; but 
if they are distinctively typographical, and of a character to imply 
the carelessly mechanical copying of the 1609 text, they become 

i All these computations refer to a total of 144 sonnets, eight of the 154 having been 
omitted in the 1640 collection, and two of them having been printed (as observed by Lee 
In the passage quoted above) from the Passionate Pilgrim version. 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeare's Sonnets 21 

significant. Such, it would seem, are matters like these: the odd 
spelling "leav's" ("lustie leav's quite gon") in 5, 7; the spelling 
"were" (for "wear") in 15, 8; the mistaken placing of the apostrophe 
in "ti's" in 24, 3; the singular form of "monument" (despite the 
guiding rhyme "contents") in 55, 1; the transposition of letters in 
"emnity," 55, 9; the unintelligible misreading "Our" for "One" 
in 99, 9; the misprint "wish" (for "with") in 111, 1; the misreading 
of "lack" for "latch," again despite the rhyme, in 113, 6; the 
blunders "Made" for "Mad" and "proud and" for "prov'd a" 
(according to the accepted emendation) in 129, 9-11. These by no 
means exhaust the list. A somewhat different bit of evidence is 
afforded by Sonnet 101. As we shall see a little later, Benson's 
editor or printer undertook to change this sonnet so as to make it 
read as if referring to a woman, altering 1. 11 ("To make him much 
out-live a gilded tombe") and 1. 14 ("To make him seeme long hence 
as he showes now") to "make her" and "she showes." Through 
negligence, however, in 1. 9 he omitted to change "he needs no praise," 
and so left this reminiscence of the Quarto text. Finally, for these 
typographical accidents, I may note the trifling but significant appear- 
ance of the capital L in "O Least the world," at the opening of 
Sonnet 72. In the Quarto the second letter of each first line is a 
capital, following the ornamental initial, and in the 1640 volume the 
same practice is followed when the sonnet stands by itself or begins 
a group, but not otherwise. In Sonnet 72, despite the fact that in 
the later version the sonnet is placed second in its group, the printer 
seems carelessly to have followed his copy. 

Further details would be wearisome. Enough has been said to 
indicate that to suppose the 1640 text to be based on fugitive manu- 
script collections is quite impossible; and that, if we substitute for 
this the notion of an exceedingly accurate copy of the Quarto or its 
manuscript source, the typographical resemblances between the 
printed versions are still such as to make the view that Benson's 
printer can have followed the manuscript copy a violation of all the 
laws of chance. 

What can we say, then, of the two specific proofs which Sir 
Sidney Lee adduces for his view that the Benson text was not based 
on that of 1609 — namely, that eight of the sonnets in the latter were 


22 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

omitted by Benson, and that he printed Sonnets 138 and 144, not 
from the Quarto, but from the Passionate Pilgrim collection ? I may 
as well admit at once that no wholly satisfactory explanation of the 
first point has occurred to me, though I shall make some effort to 
consider it, a little later, in connection with the problem of how the 
1640 arrangement of the Sonnets was made up. For the present I 
remark only (1) that the evidence for the printing of the second 
volume from the first is so unmistakable that the subsidiary question 
of the eight omitted sonnets cannot affect the main matter, and (2) 
that this puzzling question is not much less puzzling in case of the 
manuscript theory. No matter where Benson's text came from, 
the fact that it contains all the Sonnets of 1609 save eight, unless those 
are of a character to give some indication as to why they were 
omitted, is remarkable. 

As to the other point, the text of Sonnets 138 and 144, it is very 
easily disposed of. These two sonnets were, in fact, the opening 
poems in the Passionate Pilgrim volume; and a glance at the oulline 
of contents of Benson's volume, as given above, will show that, after 
setting up thirty of the sonnets from the Quarto, his printer turned 
to the Pilgrim and set up the first three poems it contained. He 
then turned back to the Quarto, set up three more sonnets, and 
returned to the Pilgrim for the next two; and so on, at irregular 
intervals. 1 He had no thought, then, of the poems which we call 
Sonnets 138 and 144 as being from the collection of Sonnets. Later, 
near the end of his task, when he came to them in his copy of the 
Quarto, he omitted them because they had already — in substance — 
been used. Or, as is perhaps likelier, the person who outlined the 
new arrangement and indicated titles for the sonnets crossed out the 
two in question as known to be among those chosen from the Pas- 
sionate Pilgrim. Their appearance, therefore, in a different text 
from that of 1609 has no bearing at all on the question of Benson's 
copy for the rest of the sonnets. 

1 It will be noted that the Passionate Pilgrim order was followed throughout, except 
that No. X was omitted from its proper place and inserted after XIII, and that XIX 
was omitted altogether. The latter circumstance is readily explained by the fact that 
Benson's editor knew of a fuller version of the poem (Marlowe's " Live with me and be 
my love") in England's Helicon, which he later introduced into the collection. The 
former was probably due to the printer's turning over two leaves when he set up No. XI, 
and later going back for the omitted poem. 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeare's Sonnets 


Thus far I have said nothing regarding those differences in the 
two texts of the Sonnets which amount to more than typographical 
details and which would therefore be of chief interest if we should 
regard the 1640 volume as deserving the name of a separate text. 
These must now be noticed, with a view to estimating their sig- 
nificance. Though it has become clear that Benson's printer used 
the text of 1609 for the actual setting up of the new volume, it is 
within the limits of possibility that there was another copy of the 
Sonnets, in manuscript, which guided him in forming a new arrange- 
ment and furnished him some new readings. We ought therefore 
to inquire whether there appear changes in the text which cannot 
well be attributed to the process of reprinting. 

To this end I shall give a list of the variant readings of the 1640 
text, classified — for convenience — according as they may be regarded 
as corrections of errors in the Quarto, or as new errors made by Benson 
(or his source). In some cases, of course, there may be a difference 
of opinion as to which group a given reading belongs in; but these 
are few. In these lists the Quarto (1609) readings stand first. 






91, 9 





You selfe 

Your selfe 

98, 11 







127, 2 







128, 14 







132, 2 






soyle 1 

140, 5 







147, 12 







153, 8 







153, 14 












22, 2 







28, 5 







37, 11 







41, 2 







54, 9 







54, 10 







55, 12 




Malone's correction 

to "solve" is 

preferred by 

the greater 

number of modern 




Raymond Macdonald Alden 

59, 8 



104, 14 



65, 5 



108, 5 

sweet boy 





108, 10 



73, 5 



111, 2 



77, 6 



114, 10 



83, 9 



117, 9 



84, 2 



118, 5 



84, 11 



119, 13 



84, 12 



129, 14 



88, 3 



131, 1 



95, 10 



133, 3 



101, 3 



134, 14 

am I 

I am 

101, 11 



139, 10 



101, 14 



142, 1 



101, 14 



146, 7 


in heritors 

104, 1 



153, 11 


with all 

104, 10 



154, 2 


in flaming 

If we consider the nature of the corrections in the first list, most 
of them are seen to be such as any reasonably intelligent corrector 
would perceive the need of and make half -automatically. 1 Two are 
of some importance — "dully" for "duly" in Sonnet 50, and "ruin'd" 
for the at first sight puzzling "rn'wd" in 73; for these we should be 
truly grateful, especially in connection with the magnificent image 
which the second error threatened to spoil. But even these are such 
as a corrector might conjecture from the Quarto text itself; and there 
is not one in the list which implies another text as a necessary source 
for the correction. 

The new errors of 1640 are more difficult to analyze. A consider- 
able number — about twenty, I should say, or a little less than half — 
are obviously printer's errors, some of them of a wholly insignificant 
character. Perhaps an equal number suggest a process of unintel- 
ligent correction. In 7, 9, for instance, "care" is a possible reading, 
and was made plausible by the rhyme with the contemporary pro- 
nunciation of "are." So in 28, 5, "others" is one possible correction 
for the plain error of "ethers." In 95, 10, the compositor might 
well guess that "chose" was intended for the present tense. In 

1 1 admit that it is odd that one who exerted himself to do this should have left, 
so negligently, some of the errors previously noted as reproduced from the Quarto text. 
But it is obvious that the correction of a typographical error is a matter of no evidential 
significance for the relation of the texts — it may be accomplished in any one of several 
ways — whereas the reprinting of such an error is at once a probable indication of source. 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeare's Sonnets 25 

111, 2, the context, for a stupid or superficial reader, justifies the 
change of "harmfull" to "harmelesse," and the same is true of the 
"my" for "thy" in 142, 1. In 114, 10, the word "kingly" is used 
somewhat daringly as an adverb, and it was natural, again, for a hasty 
observer to change to the more commonplace "kindly." 

Five of the changes belong in a class by themselves — those which 
alter the sex of the person addressed, in Sonnets 101, 104, and 108. 
These might well be attributed to another version, in manuscript, 
which had been in circulation apart from all contextual allusion to 
the man or boy addressed in a number of the sonnets; and the more 
so, perhaps, because the corresponding change is not made in the case 
of other sonnets containing nouns or pronouns of masculine gender. 
We have already seen some evidence, however, indicating that the 
changes are due to the editor or corrector, — the unchanged pronoun, 
for example, in 101, 9. It will be seen by a reference to our table of 
contents that Benson's editor not only followed Thorpe in putting 
in the opening pages of the volume the sonnets addressed to a man 
friend who is urged to marry, but (unlike Thorpe) brought into the 
opening pages most of the other sonnets plainly having reference to 
one of the male sex. 1 In the Quarto of 1609, between Sonnets 68 
and 101 there is none which cannot be read as referring (or addressed) 
to a woman, and that Benson's editor so understood the greater 
number of them his titles abundantly indicate. When, reaching 
Sonnets 101, 104, and 108, he came upon such disconcerting words 
as "he" and "boy," he did not scruple to alter them rather than 
impair the unity of that portion of the collection. 

Finally, it is to be admitted that among the new errors of 1640 
there are one or two which of themselves would suggest a misreading 
of manuscript as their cause. The chief instance is "unmoov'd" 

i These include 54, 57, 63, 67, 68. Sonnets 19 and 126, which are of the same class, 
were among those omitted from the 1640 volume. There remain Nos. 20 (the "master- 
mistress" sonnet), 26 (beginning "Lord of my love"), and 41 and 42 (referring to the 
stealing of the poet's mistress), which we might think would also have been introduced 
before the 16th page of Benson's text, where the first woman-sonnet was introduced from 
the Passionate Pilgrim. Sonnets 20 and 41 and 42 might have been mistaken, by a hasty 
reader, for woman-sonnets, but one can hardly suppose this in the case of 26, which occurs 
on Benson's 38th page. Perhaps, then, the editor did not think of the conventional 
love-poems as beginning until some point beyond this page. The first sonnet groups 
entitled as if having reference to women are 80-81, 116, and 82-85 (called "Love- 
sicke," "The Picture of true love," and "In prayse of his Love"), which occur on the 
fifty-first and following pages of the text. 


26 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

for "vnwoo'd" in 54, 10; another is "hungry" for "hunny" in 
65, 8. With adequate evidence for the existence of a manuscript 
as a subsidiary source for this text of the sonnets, we should assume 
that it furnished the explanation of these readings. As it is we can 
only say that of themselves they cannot be viewed as sufficient evi- 
dence, and that it is possible to explain them, as we have done the 
others, as due to misreading or blundering correction of the Quarto. 
Both "unwoo'd" and "honey," like some other altered words that 
we have noted, are rather unusual or daring adjectives in the places 
where they stand, and it may be conjectured that a prosaic cor- 
rector preferred the familiar terms most closely resembling them. 
"Unmoov'd," indeed, does not make absolute nonsense of the line, 
as "hungry" must be admitted to do. 1 

On the whole, then, there is little or nothing in the way of new 
readings in Benson's text to call for the assumption of another source 
than the Quarto. Most of the alterations are naturally explained, 
and all can be explained, as due to natural conditions of correcting 
or reprinting. 

There remains the inquiry whether it is possible to account for 
the arrangement of the sonnets in the 1640 volume, and for the omis- 
sion of eight of those which were included in the source-text. After 
a great deal of thinking — and, I might add, reckless imagining — on 
this subject, I still find myself unable to form any complete picture 
of the process which was followed in the making of the Benson 
collection. But some things are fairly obvious, and some others may 
be conjectured, which I shall set down rather for the gratification 
of innocent curiosity than because of any important bearing on the 
question of the text. 

In the first place, our 1640 volume is, in a peculiarly definite 
sense, one of those tasks described by Dr. Johnson as undertaken by 
those who "lay two books before them out of which they compile a 
third." This applies literally, if we confine ourselves to the first 
half of the Poems, which is made from the Sonnets and the Passionate 
Pilgrim; whereas we must recognize more than two books if we 
include the second half, wherein Benson made use of Heywood's 

» This error, of course, and perhaps the "unmoov'd" also, may be explained by the 
familiar process of an error of the ear. 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeabe's Sonnets 27 

Epistles, of England's Helicon, and various other sources. 1 It would 
seem to have been the publisher's object to represent this as a new 
publication (see the remarks of Sir Sidney Lee, quoted at the begin- 
ning of this paper), and we may assume that he instructed his com- 
piler to intermingle the materials drawn from different sources, and 
to rearrange them at the same time in such a way as both to enhance 
the attractiveness of the book and to conceal its unoriginal character. 2 
Perhaps the first task of the redactor (if I may so dignify him, in the 
manner of higher critics of Homer or the Pentateuch), on taking up 
the Sonnets of 1609 as his first principal source, was to furnish titles 
for the pieces it contained. This would seem to have been done, at 
any rate, before their rearrangement was undertaken; for if they had 
been freely shuffled and then furnished with group headings, they 
could not well have kept the original order, inside the groups, which 
we have seen is a general characteristic of the 1640 text. We may 
suppose, then, that in a copy of the Quarto the redactor noted the 
title "Loves crueltie" for Sonnets 1-3, "Magazine of beautie" for 
Sonnets 4-6, "Quicke prevention" for Sonnet 7 alone, and "An 
invitation to Marriage" for Sonnets 8-12, and so on, with con- 
tinuous titling, until Sonnet 63 was reached. Here the continuous 
grouping is broken, and, as I conjecture, for some such reason as 
this: the redactor had given Sonnet 60 the title "Injurious Time," 
61 the title "Patiens armatus," and 62 "Sat fuisse." (He was quite 
right in this, for the three sonnets have no apparent connection.) 
When he came to 63 he observed that for it and its immediate suc- 
cessors the title "Injurious Time" would again be very appropriate, 
and therefore indicated, in a note, that these sonnets were to be 
grouped with 60 under the caption already given it. 3 Then he pro- 
ceeded to entitle 67-69 and 70, and thereafter made another break 
in continuity, for some reason not so easy to guess. That is, he 
omitted Sonnet 73 from the natural group 71-74, entitled "A Vale- 
diction," and marked it to go with 77 instead (with which it has much 

i For some account of these, see Lee's Introduction to the Sonnets in the Clarendon 
Press facsimile of 1905. 

2 For the devious ways of these pirating stationers, see Lee's account of Jaggard in 
his Introduction to the reprint of The Passionate Pilgrim, and, for Benson in particular. 
Professor W. D. Briggs's account of the makeup of the Jonson Quarto of 1640, in Anglia, 
XXXVIII, 115-17. 

3 Making the group consist of 60, 63-66; he might better have stopped with 65. 


28 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

less to do), under the title "Sunset." I can see no adequate cause 
for this, 1 and am consoled only by the fact that this is the only case 
in the whole collection where, within the separate groups of sonnets, 
the arrangement of the Quarto was changed unreasonably. There 
is no further break of this kind until we reach Sonnets 128 and 129, 
which were properly omitted from the sequence 127, 130-32 (called 
"In prayse of her beautie though black"), and separately entitled 
"Upon her playing the virginalls" and "Immoderate Lust." The 
final instance is the omission of 138 from the sequence 137, 139 and 
140, called "His heart wounded by her eye," for the double reason 
that it interrupted the sequence and had already been reprinted 
from The Passionate Pilgrim. 

The groups of sonnets now having been formed and named, 
instructions were probably given for printing without reference to 
the existing order of the groups; on the contrary, the Quarto arrange- 
ment was to be distorted, as we have guessed, for the very reason that 
the new collection was to look different from the old. " Print a few 
groups from the Sonnets Quarto, then two or three selections from 
the Pilgrim; then return to the Sonnets for more, and so proceed." 
Something of this sort we may suppose to have been the printer's 
instructions. But we cannot suppress a desire to know why he 
should have plunged into the middle of the Quarto and begun with 
the inconspicuous group 67-69. To be sure, its title, "The glory 
of beautie," is a promising one for the opening of the anthology. 
Is any other reason discoverable ? Only, so far as I see, what has 
already appeared. These readers of 1640 understood the great part 
of the Sonnets to have to do with a woman or women; on the other 
hand, some of them were clearly concerned with a man; let these be 
got out of the way at the beginning. 2 Perhaps it was to avoid 
ambiguity in this regard that there was set at the very beginning a 
sonnet whose first line determines the sex of the person addressed: 
"Ah, wherefore with infection should he live?" 

■Perhaps it is not the "redactor" who is to be held responsible, but merely the 
printer, who may have skipped 73 by mistake, and done the best he could with it later. 

2 Just the opposite process, it will be observed, from that which seems to have been 
followed by Thorpe or his editor, in 1609, when all the sonnets obviously not addressed 
to a male friend were gathered at the end of the collection. I do not know why Benson's 
order should include Sonnets 57-59 in the opening pages; in at least one sonnet of all 
the other groups there is no room for doubt as to the sex. (Could "sovereign," in 57, 
have suggested a man ? Perhaps so, by 1640.) 


The 1640 Text of Shakespeare's Sonnets 29 

But what, in this process, became of Sonnets 18 and 19? We 
may infer that they had been entitled as a pair, like 13-15 and 
16-17; and though they do not, like their predecessors, have to 
do with the theme of marriage or procreation, they belong with 
them as clearly addressed to a man. The absence of any internal 
reason for their omission suggests that, to further the new arrange- 
ment, a couple of copies of the Quarto had been clipped, and the 
sonnets intended for the several groups pinned or pasted together. 
In that case 18 and 19 may have been lost. Another pair, 75 and 76, 
seems to have disappeared in like manner, together with four single 
sonnets, 43, 56, 96, and 126. The last-named, however, may have 
been omitted intentionally, as it is the twelve-line poem (often, 
though wholly without warrant, called the "envoy") which the 
printer of the Quarto had marked as incomplete by inserting 
parentheses where he supposed the last two lines were missing; Ben- 
son's compiler may therefore have crossed it off, possibly hoping 
to find a fuller version as he did for the incomplete Marlowe poem in 
The Passionate Pilgrim. 1 If, indeed, he was really disposed to be 
critical in such matters, we may also see a reason for the omission 
of 96; for this is the sonnet whose final couplet is repeated from that 
of 36, and may therefore again have seemed to be an imperfect copy. 
This conjecture, that Sonnets 96 and 126 were excluded intentionally 
rather than by accident, seems to be confirmed by the fact that the 
sonnets numbered from 88 to 150 show no such general disarrange- 
ment as those in the earlier part of the Quarto text. In other words, 
after the last insertion had been made from The Passionate Pilgrim, 
following Sonnets 86 and 87, the compiler seems to have wearied 
of the process of rearrangement, and to have resolved to proceed 
by the straightest road toward the end. Indeed we need not suppose 
that the latter portion of the Quarto was cut up for rearranging at all. 2 

Another hypothesis 3 deserves consideration, as a means of avoid- 
ing the notion that any portion of the Quarto copy was clipped for 
reprinting; namely, that the omitted sonnets had been marked by 

1 See p. 22, note 1, above. 

' The irregularities in this portion are (1) the transposition of 102-3 with 104-6, 
(2) the deferring of 107 and 108 to a place near the end of the series, and (3) the omission 
of 116 as having been introduced earlier, between 81 and 82. 

> I am indebted for it to Professor W. D. Briggs. 


30 Raymond Macdonald Alden 

a note indicating that they were to be grouped with others later in 
the volume (as we have seen appears to have been done with 60, 127, 
and a few others), and that the printer, through lack of a correspond- 
ing note reminding him of the point from which he should go back for 
the deferred poems, failed to do so and lost them altogether. In 
itself this is not unnatural, but one or two considerations seem to 
make against it. One is the loss of Sonnets 18 and 19, which ought 
to have come into the opening section, close to their original context. 
Another is the fact that the appearance, near the end of Benson's 
text, of Sonnets 78 and 79, 73, 77, and 107 and 108 suggests that the 
printer did go back at that point, and pick up whatever had been 

The precise character, then, of the methods followed in the mak- 
ing of the Benson text from that of 1609 remains undisclosed. I 
am not without hope that some reader of this paper may be more 
fortunate than I in explaining just what happened to cause the loss 
of the sonnets which did not reappear in 1640. But this is a ques- 
tion which we have seen to be one of curiosity rather than of serious 
import, at least so far as the matter of the text is concerned. It 
has proved possible to determine that the text of 1640 has no inde- 
pendent value, and to see somewhat more than has hitherto been 
observed of the process by which it was made. 

Raymond Macdonald Alden 
Leland Stanford Junior University