I have not yet made a complete review of the literature on the topic, but it seems likely that the Cambridge Manuscript of Sidney’s New Arcadia, Cambridge University Library MS Kk 1.5, features a previously undocumented variant in one of Sidney’s greatest and goriest descriptions of battle. Sidney’s catalogue of soldiers’ bodies mutilated in Basilius’ siege of Amphialus’ castle in book three, on f. 165r, mentions “heads dispossessed of their natural seignories… [and] bodies to see to, but that their hearts, wont to be bound all over so close, were now with deadly violence opened” (The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, ed. Victor Skretkowicz [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1987], 340-41). The Cambridge manuscript omits “bound over” and replaces it with the Arabic numerals 7, 9, 10, and 3. Below I include a transcription and a screenshot of the passage in question. I’d love to hear from anyone who has an idea about this oddity.
Som haueing lost theire commaundinge burthens rann scattered
about the fielde abashte with the madnes of mankinde. The
earthe it selfe was to be a buryall of men was nowe as it were
buryed with men so was the face thereof hidden with deade bodyes
to whom deathe had come masked in diuers manners; in one
place laye disinherited, heades dispossessed of theire naturalle
seignories in an other whole bodyes to see to; but that theire hartes
Wonte to be 7 9 10 3 So close were nowe with deadly violence
opened in others fowler deathes had ouglylye displayed theyre tray:
Restoring Sidney’s Arcadia has now completed transcribing all 210 images of the Cambridge Manuscript — the only extant manuscript of the New Arcadia. We’re now busy vetting the transcriptions and hope to make a complete semi-diplomatic transcript freely available before June 1, 2018. This will the first time a transcription of the Cambridge MS has ever been made available publicly, and, as far as I know, it’s in fact the only complete transcription of the Cambridge MS.
We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this achievement: Early Modern Manuscripts Online, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodbery Carlton Foundation, Clare Carroll and Mark Caball, Owen Williams, Heather Wolfe, Mike Poston, Paul Dingman, Charles S Ross, Jean Brink, Henry Woudhuysen, Arthur Kinney, Mary Ellen Lamb, Margaret Hannay, Aileen Liu, Beth Quitslund, Bryan Nakawaki, Lynn Walsh, Ingrid Pierce, Katie Howell, Olivia Nammack, Anika Reichwald, and Hannah Thurston.
We are proud to announce the publication of a searchable text of the complete 1593 Arcadia. You can download the file (as one big .pdf)here: The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (London: William Ponsonby, 1593). Our transcription is based on STC 22540, the Huntington Library copy of the first folio, HL 69478.
Why a searchable text now, and don’t we already have that in EEBO-TCP?
We’re fortunate to have the Early Modern Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) text, but both the images and the TCP text have significant errors and lacunae. The original images were made for University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI), a project that began in 1938 (see more on Folgerpedia’s entry). UMI missed several openings of the copy of the Arcadia they were microfilming and duplicated a few others. When the microfilm images were digitized for EEBO, the errors remained uncorrected, and they were reproduced when the TCP transcribed the text. When TCP transcribers couldn’t be sure of a letter, they transcribed it as a dot in the center of a line. Occasionally they mistook a long “s” for an “f,” too. Compositors occasionally used two “v’s” to form a “w,” and TCP transcribers faithfully reproduced the two “v’s.” Finally, TCP transcribers put some elements of the early modern page layout — page and line numbers — into the text proper, so that “25” might appear in the middle of a sentence followed by “30” near the end.
So our first order of business was to clean up the TCP transcriptions. To make things a little easier for searching, we also silently expanded text indicated by macrons, typically an m or an n squeezed out to make a line fit its space, or because the compositor was running out of the letters. We also reproduced all the page-breaks and line-breaks in the 1593 folio and, using simple .pdf editing, we reproduced the 1593 folio’s pagination and line numbering but kept the page and line numbers out of the text that machines will search. That means you can see a good representation of the 1593 folio opening-by-opening by viewing our file in the two-page mode in Adobe Acrobat or Mac’s Preview.
We especially want to thank the Woodbery Carlton Foundation and Stetson University Summer Research Grants for their invaluable financial support. Finally, thanks to Ingrid Pierce of Purdue University and Jose Bernier and Gary Sipe of Stetson University for their time, patience, and expertise.