INTRODUCTION

1. To celebrate Elizabeth’s 1592 visit to Oxford, John Sanford, Chaplain of Magdalene College, wrote a cycle of poems having for its premise the idea that Apollo and the Muses, banished from Greece, have made their way to Oxford, described as a second Athens, where they meet and praise the Queen. NOTE 1 The comparison of Oxford or Cambridge to Athens is a pregnant one. It is not just that both were communities especially devoted to intellectuality and the arts. Like the city-state of Athens, a Renaissance English university, considerably more isolated than its modern counterpart, constituted a miniature (and surprisingly democratic) republic, a small self-enclosed society in which everybody knew everybody, and in which all its citizens could draw on a fund of shared knowledge and experience. Like Athens, therefore, the universities tended to breed a kind of specialized literature designed for internal consumption. No branch of this literature is capable of seeming more genuinely Athenian than academic comedy, which sometimes looks remarkably like the kind of comedy Aristophanes wrote for the amusement of his fellow Athenians.
2. Previous writers on Edward Forsett’s Pedantius produced at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1581, have complained that, although most university comedies of the time were based on Italian models, no source has been identified for the present one. This is true, if by a source one means a prototype for the play’s action, which is easy to disdain. E. J. F. Tucker wrote that “the plot lacks genuine action and consists basically of three consecutive sophomoric tricks played upon a rather pompous and gullible victim.” NOTE 2 A story line such as this could readily be concocted by anyone familiar with those Roman comedies — Plautus’ Mostellaria is an example — which equally consist of a string of practical jokes. But anybody who leaves the matter there would be guilty of serious point-missing. Pedantius is a comedy of character much more than of plot.
3. Writing for the immediate entertainment of the university community, with no especial thought for the world at large or for posterity, Forsett was free to satirize people, institutions, and ideas familiar to the citizens of his restricted society. Gabriel Harvey was a highly visible stuffed shirt. His mannerisms, pomposity, egotism, unconcealed ambition, and general eccentricity invited satire and recommended a comic handling not unlike that given Socrates in The Clouds. NOTE 3 Equally referential, and therefore equally Aristophanic, are Forsett’s occasional comic allusions to university and collegiate institutions and customs, and also his heavy reliance on quotations from Cicero, Vergil, and other classical authors (often comically botched or hilariously misapplied), as well as textbooks to which Cambridge students were exposed in their education, and use of academic terminology. The play also contains a number of “in jokes” that would have particular meaning for members of the academic community. Hence in terms of such essential ingredients as ad hominem satire and referentiality, Pedantius breathes the spirit of Aristophanes. NOTE 4
4. All this is not to deny that important elements of the play are taken from Roman comedy: a love interest, a plot that hinges on calculated misrepresentations and swindles, and some of the stock characters of the Roman repertoire such as the parasite and the clever but unprincipled slave. Forsett has created an interesting and remarkably successful fusion of two radically different comic approaches.
5. To be sure, what is written in the above paragraphs assumes that the play was conceived as a lampoon of the colorful and controversial Cambridge academic Gabriel Harvey. Such was the claim of Harvey’s great enemy Thomas Nashe in Have with you to Saffron-Waldon (1596) sig. M4 (III.116 Grosart):

Readers, be merry; for in me there shall want nothing I can doo to make you merry. You see I haue brought the Doctor out of request at Court and it shall cost me a fall, but I will get him howled out of the Vniversitie too, ere I giue him ouer. What will you giue mee when I bring him vpon the Stage in one of the principallest Colledges in Cambridge? Lay anie wager with me, and I will: or if you laye no wager at all, Ile fetch him aloft in Pedantius, that exquisite Comedie in Trinitie Colledge; where vnder the cheife part, from which it tooke his name, as namely the concise and firking finicaldo fine School-master, hee was full drawen & delineated from the soale of the foote to the crowne of his head. The iust manner of his phrase in his Orations and Disputations they stufft his mouth with & no Buffianisme throughout his whole bookes, but they bolstered out his part with: as those ragged remnaunts in this foure familiar Epistles twixt him and Senior Immerito, raptim scripta, Nosti manum & stylum, with innumerable other of his rabble-routs: and scoffing his Musarum Lachrymae with Flebo amorem meum, etiam Musarum lachrymis: I leaue out halfe: not the carrying vp of his gowne, his nice gate on his pantoffles, or the affected account of his speach, but they personated. And if I should reueale all, I thinke they borrowed his gowne to playe the Part in, the more to flout him.

6. Some scholars have objected that the malicious Nashe was wrong, claiming that Pedantius is essentially a stock comic pedant rather than a particularized lampoon of Harvey or anybody else. NOTE 5 But Nashe presents us with a comprehensive bill of particulars and a close reading of the play leaves small room for doubt that he was right. To be sure, Pedantius’ extreme Ciceronianism might be regarded as a generic trait of his Humanistic namesakes. But his physical appearance, dandyism, psychological identification with Cicero, overweening arrogance and ambition, desire to parlay his erudition into a place at Court, and to make a hit with the ladies there, all seem calculated to remind us of Harvey, as Smith and Boas have pointed out at abundant length. It may be the case, to be sure, that any one of these traits characterized other individual pedants, or perhaps the type in general, but taken in combination they unmistakably point to Harvey. And, as Nashe was aware, the play contains a remarkable number of quotations from and allusions to his writings and pet phrases (these are recorded in appropriate commentary notes here). If Pedantius were not meant to be Harvey, the presence of all these elements would be hard to understand. In an essay “Disciditur ut agatur: How Gabriel Harvey Read his Livy” (in Stephen A. Barney (ed.), Annotation and its Texts, Oxford 1991, 112f.) Anthony Grafton wrote:

…Gabriel Harvey (1550 - 1630), an ambitious Cambridge man from Saffron Walden, [is] still remembered for his friendship with Edmund Spenser, his ambitions for high political office, and above all the magnificent quarrel with Thomas Nashe that led to the publication of Nashe’s pamphlet Have with You to Saffron-Walton (1596). Here Harvey became the victim of one of the most dramatic muggings in literary history. Nashe produced a masterpiece of invective against the upstart he called Gurmo Hidruntum, Dagobert Copenhagen, Wrinkle de Crinkedum, and “our Talatamtana or Dr. Hum.” Harvey appears as a simpering fool who thrusts himself on pretty women and well-born men:

He is beyond all reason or God’s forbode distractedly enamoured of his own beauty, spending a whole forenoon every day in sponging and licking himself by the glass: and useth every night after supper to walk on the Market Hill to show himself, holding his gown up to his middle that the wenches may see what a fine leg and dainty foot he hath in pumps and pantofles.

Harvey’s social pretensions, foolish mannerisms, and elaborate handwriting are withered in turn by the blast of Nashe’s abuse. Harvey himself is burned on our memory as a figure as corrupt and ridiculous as the dying Falstaff, “so lean and so meagre that you would think like the Turks he observed four Lents a year.”

Nashe’s satiric invective may be admirable as a masterpiece of its kind, but let it be remembered that Forsett administered the literary mugging first, and Nashe was in essence elaborating on a comical portrait that had already been drawn.
7. Tucker objected (p. 11) that Sir John Harington, a friend of Harvey who had some harsh things to say about his opponent Nashe, wrote favorably of the play, which he described as being “full of harmeles myrth.” This is not evidence that Harington failed to perceive any parody of Harvey in Pedantius, but only that he took no umbrage at it. The key word here is harmeles. The approximation of Forsett’s Harvey-Pedantius to the stock figure of the comic pedant — Tucker cited Onophrius in Abraham Fraunce’s Victoria and Petrus in the anonymous Laelia as other examples of the type in academic comedy, although both of these plays were written after Pedantius and probably under its influence — and the narrative ploy of making this pedantic buffoon fall in love, are standard comic moves, and the audience could elect to focus its attention on this fact. It could also choose to regard passages in the play that lampoon Harvey’s personal idiosyncrasies as good-natured rather than malicious. Pedantius comes across as a more appetizing figure than his friend Dromodotus, and it is the latter who receives truly unfriendly handling. Pedantius may be the central figure in the play, but he is by no means its principal villain.
8. There seems no room for serious doubt that Pedantius was conceived as a burlesque of Harvey. But this aspect of Pedantius’ characterization has been treated at length by others; here it will be more profitable to dwell on the character of Pedantius as a literary construction. 1581 is still an early date in the development of mature Elizabethan drama. At this time English playwrights, writing in either Latin or English, had created few if any remarkable characters. Thomas Legge had recently missed a great opportunity when he had portrayed Richard III as an impressionable weakling in his 1579 trilogy Richardus Tertius. Marlowe had not begun to write, and even the remarkable Oeneus of William Gager’s Oxford tragedy Meleager was a year in the future. Thus Forsett’s experiment in ethopoiia is particularly admirable.
9. In limning his main character, Forsett does not reveal all his features at once. By a sort of fan dance, we are first shown the surface Pedantius. Only towards the end of the play are we given deeper insight into his character, as it is revealed that he is in fact a fraud. After he has dispatched Bledus with the money to purchase Lydia, as he thinks, he observes that it is time to resume his usual pedant’s mask (1739f., ad praelegendi me munus personamque revocabo, a line that is toned down in the manuscript redaction of the play). When the baffled haberdasher Gilbert expostulates that words do not feed a family, this mask momentarily slips and he retorts that words indeed do feed families, if they happen to be Ciceronian ones (1942). In the same cynical spirit, he concludes a speech with a significant quotation from Cicero (1700f.), nihil tam incredible, quin dicendo fiat probabile (“nothing is so incredible that saying does not make it believable”). Here is a man who understands all too well the power of the spoken word. Towards the end of the play he is revealed as a bogus pedant in another way. NOTE 6 It is only in the lesson he gives to Parillus at V.ii that the appalling depths of his incompetence are plumbed. All of this prepares us for Crobolus’ final verdict (2123) that he is a verbivendulus, a mere word-monger. The portrait is further complicated. Mixed in with his bathetic bombast when he learns of Lydia’s supposed death is a note of real pathos. To some extent, anyway, he really is a broken man. There may be something terribly misguided about the nature of his love for Lydia, shown especially in the six reasons for loving he enumerates at 639ff., but who is to say he does not love her at all? Pedantius’ climactic downfall is not quite a stock comic situation of a gullible man being subjected to a practical joke. Forsett has given us something considerably richer and more complex than such a stereotyped dénouement or a simple lampoon of Harvey.
10. In a play about Pedantius a surprising amount of attention is paid to Dromodotus. Exploring the contrast between these two academicians was one of Forsett’s main interests. Pedantius may be a very imperfect lover indeed, but he is nevertheless a lover; in the same way, he may be a very imperfect representative of the New Learning, but the New Learning is what he represents. Dromodotus, by way of contrast, is an unreconstructed citizen of the Middle Ages. He is never happier than when quoting his beloved Aristotle or nattering on in the jargon of the medieval Schoolmen, and he seems quite unaware of modern intellectual developments: at 1047, for example, comic capital is made of his blissful ignorance of the Copernican model of the universe. It is not difficult to discern where Forsett’s sympathies lay. Pedantius is a figure of immense fun, but there is nothing repulsive or hateful about him. The same cannot be said about Dromodotus.
11. Only at the end of the play do we learn that Pedantius has been thrown out of his university, and we are not told why. It is nonetheless possible to discern a certain symbolic value in this fact. Pedantius is a kind of maverick scholar, operating a one-man school and teaching his idiosyncratic lore, a misch-mosch blend of grammar, etymology, and rhetoric, none of which is a bad thing in itself. NOTE 7 Dromodotus, however, remains associated with the official world of his university, and this is precisely what is wrong with him. He is a walking embodiment of all that was antiquated, unpleasant, and inhumane about the university system that, one is tempted to guess, chafed uncomfortably on many of those in Forsett’s audience.
12. At this point, it is not irrelevant to ask a question: where precisely is nameless university town where the play set? Surely it is in England (see the mention of London at 1877). Forsett never tells us that the university town in question is Cambridge, but he does nothing to discourage the idea. The clearest indication is found at 190, where the distance of three miles is mentioned. For a Cambridge audience, this detail would have a special significance: at the University of Cambridge, being in residence has traditionally been defined as living within a three mile radius of Great St. Mary’s church (I am informed that, because of automobiles and the exigencies of the real estate market, the radius has recently been raised to ten miles). Pedantius has set up shop in some nearby country hamlet within three miles, and this appears calculated to remind us of Gabriel Harvey’s Saffron Walden (indeed, Pedantius calls his estate by the same name as did Harvey — see the Commentary note on 2093). This impression is of course reinforced by repeated references to Cambridge institutions and specialized university lingo. The Cambridge of Pedantius, to be sure, is a rather peculiar place. Market Square teems with criminal activity (III.ii), and the same institution of slavery one encounters in the comedies of Plautus and Terence is quite anachronistically imported into this scene. Nevertheless, the play contains many features which a member of the university would find strikingly familiar.
13. One aspect of academic life, enthusiastically endorsed by Dromodotus, must have troubled many of them especially. This had to do with sex. Until their admission of women in the last century, which gradually changed things, the two universities provided a haven for freemartins, misogynists, men afraid of women, and homosexuals, but it would be wrong merely to consider Dromodotus, with his extreme aversion to both love and sex (revealed most bluntly at 382ff.), misogyny (642ff.), and tendency towards pederasty (1406ff.), as a parody of this once-familiar type of university man. He also personifies the institutionalized sexual repressiveness of academic regimentation. In the following year William Gager of Oxford devoted most of the first act of his Meleager to a lengthy debate about the comparative merits of celibacy and marriage. I suspect that Gager had read and learned from the similar debates between Pedantius and Dromodotus in the present play. NOTE 8 But, judging by the frequency with which Gager raises this same subject in his subsequent plays, and also in some of his non-dramatic poetry, it would seem that he used his literary activities as an outlet for his frustrations on the subject. One supposes that these feelings were shared by many university men not so well equipped to articulate them, who were obliged to live in an atmosphere of institutionally enforced celibacy. Pedantius may be a far from ideal lover, but surely loving imperfectly, even ridiculously, is vastly better, and vastly more healthy, than not loving at all. Comedy, after all, perennially looks favorably on love and lovers. Hence, to the extent that Dromodotus is the personification of all that was bad about the university system, his total incomprehension and intolerance of his friend’s feelings acquire an extra measure of significance. If these considerations are not enough to convince the reader that Dromodotus is a monster of unfeeling, one should consider his reaction to the news of Lydia’s supposed death (2012f.), Si mortua est, est mortua. Mater mea etiam mortua est: quid tum postea? (“If she’s dead, she’s dead. My mother’s dead. What about it?”)
14. The contrast between Pedantius and Dromodotus is reflected in one realm freighted with great thematic significance. To a large extent the play has to do with the misuse of language, a sin of which both academics are grossly guilty. But they abuse words in characteristically different ways. Pedantius is almost always talking for some purpose. His displays of learning and verbal gymnastics are meant to enhance his prestige, impress his hearers, and allow him to get what he wants. It is bad enough that he, in his Harvey-like way, sees rhetoric primarily as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement. Far worse, Dromodotus employs dryasdust scholastic formulae to wall himself off from the fundamental realities of human existence. His speeches sometimes resemble the jabber of a madman. In the printed text the heavy use of italics to indicate such things as quotations, adages, etymologies, and technical terms in the speeches of the two academics is introduced for a purpose. The two academics talk like books, their discourses come complete with marginal glosses and footnotes. So why shouldn’t their speeches look bookish? The original typography — which I have moderated here to avoid irritating the reader — emphasizes the difference between the use of language by academics and by the normal run of humanity.
15. This brings us to a second programmatic contrast. Not infrequently the academics are played off against the oppidani (a word I have translated as “townsmen”). The two academic repeatedly speak of the oppidani with extreme contempt, dismissing them as brute beasts (295, 1655, 1959). NOTE 9 This contrast works on two levels. First, academic drama and other literature is often studded with evidence for elitism, with references to the leve vulgus and so forth. While Cambridge had its share of town-gown tension, it is in the nature of comedy to be subversive and stand accepted values on their heads. Therefore academicians’ disdain of and condescension towards townsmen becomes a subject for humor at a number of points in the play (such as in the exchange between Pedantus, Dromodotus, and Pogglostus at 428ff.). More important, the world of the townsmen is played off against that of the academics. The denizens of the former world are presented as normal and wholesome; even the worst of them, Pogglostus the cutpurse, seems a viable human being. Dromodotus, by contrast, is grotesque, repelling, and pathological.
16. This contrast, incidentally, may have been pointed up visually as well as verbally. We are told that least two of the townsmen characters, Crobolus and Tyrophagus, are fat men, whereas Pedantius and Dromodotus are cadaverous (for Pedantius see the Commentary note on 1196 and for both of them the good woodcut portraits, done in the manner of Thomas Cecil or William Marshall, at the front of the 1631 book). Maybe part of the reason was that Harvey was tall and gaunt, and that Forsett was writing the parts of Crobolus and Tyrophagus for two plump actors (or actors made to look plump in imitation of ancient comedy). But something else seems to be at stake: academics were supposed to be melancholics — see the Commentary note on 396and gauntness and pallor were reckoned symptoms of that malady. Maybe Forsett wanted the outward appearances of his morbid and his healthy characters to match their inward conditions.
17. As is symbolized by his isolated position in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Pedantius hovers somewhere in the middle ground between the two extremes. For all that is wrong with him — which is plenty — his final refusal to rejoin the university, like his capacity to love, is a hopeful sign for his character and keeps him from being a full citizen of Dromodotus’ world. When viewed through the lens of comedy, which often tolerates or even admires rascality, even his essential fraudulence is not such a bad thing. Far better to be a con-man, running a different game than Pogglostus and Tyrophagus but sharing an essential kinship with them, than to be a Dromodotus. Probably the point in the play where the reader will like Pedantius the most is when he is at is most roguish, trying to fend off Gilbert the draper (V.iii).
18. Put the matter differently. In the language of comic criticism, Pedantius is an alazon, a man who pretends to be something he is not. NOTE 10 He strikes us as funny because he is pompous, hypocritical and, for all his intellectual pretensions, fundamentally stupid. Comedy does not like stuffed shirts or hypocrites, and so, when he gets his comeuppance at the hands of Crobolus and his friends, the spectator perceives a comic equivalent of poetic justice being done. But the alazon is not the worst kind of character-type: many sympathetic comic characters share some qualities with them, such as misrepresentation and self-interest. Comedy’s real scorn is reserved for a kind of character christened the agelast by George Meredith (after Rabelais). This is the man who is pathologically unable to laugh or to enjoy life and fun, and — even worse — the toffee-nosed Puritan who seeks to keep those around him from doing the same. Many a comedy deals with some form of contest or struggle between sympathetic and fun-loving characters against their agelastic opponents. Forsett complicates the situation: Crobolus must overcome Pedantius to gain Lydia and enjoy the fun of her, but Dromodotus in turn stands in the way of Pedantius’ similar enterprise. Is not university-Dromodotus a perfect specimen of an agelast?
spacer19. But the most interesting character in the play is arguably Lydia. If the eternal rule of comedy is that endings must be happy, Renaissance comedy adds the special codicil that comedy ought to end with a Christian marriage (or, sometimes, an estranged marriage reconciled). Since a Christian marriage is a union of equal souls, this has important dramatic implications. The typical situation in a Roman comedy is that a young man falls in love — with or without quotation marks around this word — and, in order to gain her, has to enter into some kind of duel of wits with his father. Usually the young man is so obviously unequal to the task that he requires the assistance of a dynamic slave who engineers a series of practical jokes and deceptions designed to undermine the father’s authority within his household so that the son may have his way, not without disruption of the normal social order. The gist of the play is the father-son struggle, and, considered in her own right, the girl herself is a minor character. Sometimes she does not appear onstage as a speaking character. But in Renaissance comedy the idea of Christian marriage requires that the lead female role must be an important part. In some way, it is necessary that she be the lead male role’s equal. Therefore these female roles are bright, energetic, and articulate young women with forceful personalities and minds of their own. This is of course true regarding the portrait gallery of such young women in Shakespeare’s comedies, and is equally true of such later women in academic comedy as the title character in the 1595 comedy Laelia, Lavinia in the 1605/6 Zelotypus, and Rosabella in George Ruggle’s 1615 Ignoramus. Lydia would appear to have been one of the first such women on the English comic stage, academic or vernacular.
20. If we may turn to the play itself, although the problem is somewhat mitigated for the reader by the initial Argument, one would expect a spectator in the theater would find Pedantius perplexing. The characters are never properly introduced, and what information we are given about them is rather casually supplied in the course of the action. Take, for example, Crobolus. Although he is the first person we meet, we are not told that he is a freedman, the former slave of a certain Chremylus, until line 1300. We must wait until 1322 to discover that the object of his affection, Lydia, is a slave owned by an old man, subsequently named as Charondas (1574f.), from whom she must be purchased for the not inconsiderable sum of £30. Had this information been provided earlier, Crobolus’ instruction to his landlady Tuscidilla to sneak Lydia into her house would have been a good deal more comprehensible (131ff.). Most remarkably of all, it is not until the last scene that we learn that Pedantius has been cashiered by his university (2096f. — the details of this transaction are not supplied). One wonders why no comic capital has been made of this fact At other times, casual allusions are made to things that remain wholly unexplained. Why, for example, is Pogglostus lame in one leg (421)?
21. The likely explanation of the play’s seemingly baffling qualities was supplied by Smith, in a passage worth quoting in full (xxvif.):

…I think the play itself contains evidence that it is in the nature of a sequel to a play…which had been previously seen by the same audience. In the first scene Crobolus (described in the argument as olim servus Chremuli) is giving a lesson to his servant Pogglostus how to treat him in his new role of a master. Chremylus, at the time the play opens, is dead. There would appear to be no reason for mentioning him unless he is a character already known. And how much more point the first scene gains, if we suppose that in it Crobolus is no new character, but one known to the audience previously as a slave! But there is more than this. Pedantius tells how in the past he had warned his pupil Leonidas against love. Leonidas plays no part in the play: but he is represented as being now in an influential position at Court. Yet he is spoken of as though the audience knew already much about him. I am persuaded then that Pedantius had been preceded by a comedy much nearer to the Plautine and earlier Italian type, in which the chief role was played by a young man Leonidas, the son of Chremylus, who assisted by his slave Crobolus — in defiance of the counsels of his schoolmaster Pedantius — carried through some love-intrigue with success, a comedy which ended with the death of Chremylus and the manumission of Crobolus.

22. It is tempting to refer Pedantius’ other obscurities to this hypothetical earlier play. Perhaps, for example, Crobolus also received his cloak (92ff.) as a further reward for his assistance (athough see the note ad loc.); maybe the rapscallion Pogglostus hurt his leg in some misadventure; Pedantius’ expulsion from his university, if not an actual plot development, could have been explained in it; and perhaps even Lydia, her master Charondas, and Tuscidilla had roles to play. Beginning in the 1560’s five plays were performed at Trinity College each year, so there would have been plenty of opportunity for such a comedy to have been performed before Pedantius, so that Forsett could assume the spectator’s familiarity with his characters and their past histories.
23. Pedantius was printed anonymously. For some reason, Nashe attributed the play to “M. Winkfield,” i. e. Anthony Wingfield, a fellow of Trinity College who defeated Harvey in the 1580 election for Public Orator of the University in an acrimonious contest. NOTE 11 But the Caius College manuscript that preserves the play attributes it to “Mr. Forcet,” and in the preface to his Concio ad concionatores de coniungenda vitae sanctitate cum veri scientia (St. John’s College, Cambridge, ms. K 16) Edward Forsett claimed authorship of the work. More recently, Alan J. Nelson discovered a collegiate chit to cover the borrowing of some costumes signed by Forsett. NOTE 12 This and an entry in the Trinity Bursar’s accounts also tend to establish that the Pedantius was produced on February 6, 1581 in connection with the Candlemas festivities.
24. Edward Forsett, third son of Richard Forsett of Gray’s Inn, matriculated from Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1563, at ten years of age. NOTE 13 In 1577 he migrated to Trinity, where he occupied rooms adjacent to those of Essex and his tutors. In the next year he contributed a lengthy commendatory letter to accompany William Whitaker’s translation of a work by Bishop John Jewel, published under the title Ioannis IuelliAdversus Thomam Hardingum volumen alterum. This as well as Pedantius must have done much to establish this young man’s scholarly reputation. He left Cambridge a few months after the production of Pedantius in 1581 and, perhaps on the strength of his association with Essex, entered the Queen’s service in the Office of Works at the Tower of London, and was returned as the M. P. for Wells in the first Parliament under James (1603 - 11). Subsequently he acquired a grant of the manor of Tyburn in Marylebon and lived there in retirement until his death in 1630, serving as Justice of the Peace and styling himself Esquire. In his mature years he published two works of a political nature, A Comparative Discourse of the Bodies Natural and Politique (1606) and A Defense of the Right of Kings (ca. 1608, published 1624).
25. The publication of Pedantius, printed for Robert Mylbourn by W. S. ad Insigne Canis Leporarii at London in 1631, was therefore posthumous (which presumably explains its large number of typographical errors). To judge by the lines of verse that precede the play, Forsett was provoked into printing Pedantius by the publication of George Ruggle’s Cambridge comedy Ignoramus in 1630: this prompted the thought that his old comedy was just as a good, and in its day had been no less successful than that of Ruggle. So why not allow it to see the light of day? (The existence of this witty introduction, by the way, excludes the possibility that the idea for printing the play only occurred to some friend, or to Forsett’s only son Robert, after his death.) On the other hand, it might be slightly unseemly for an elderly and no doubt dignified Esquire and J. P. to stand forth as the author of what some might regard as a youthful indiscretion. Better, therefore, to leave his name off the title page. Forsett only maintained his anonymity at the expense of leaving unchallenged Nashe’s misattribution of the play, if he was aware of it.
26. Pedantius is also preserved in three manuscripts, Gonville and Caius College (Cambridge) ms. 125/62 (identified as C here), pp. 141ff., British Library ms. Huntington-Ellesmere 34.b.13, and Trinity College (Cambridge) ms. R.17.9. The latter two of these can be dismissed from further consideration, as they have been shown to be apographs of the first one. According to Tucker, p. 9, the Huntington ms. is copied from C and the Trinity ms. is in turn a copy of it. C is an collection of Cambridge dramatic work: Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius, produced at St. John’s College in 1579, the comedy Hymenaeus produced at John’s in 1578, and Pedantius. Nothing about the manuscript permits an exact estimate of its date. As can be seen from a glance at the apparatus criticus at any point, C’s striking feature is the large number of places where it deviates from the printed text. These discrepancies are so great that we are confronted with two substantially different redactions of the play.
27. It is likely that the printer was supplied with the author’s holograph But C could well be based on an actor’s copy. The text of a play often undergoes significant changes when it is brought to the stage. Most of the differences between C and the printed text involve simplification and shortening, and the most economical way to explain them is to imagine that they were introduced by the 1581 actors to make the play shorter and more readily comprehensible. Alternatively, changes could have been made in connection with a revival performance in the early 1590’s, a possibility discussed below. Tucker (p. 4) reckoned that the cumulative result of the shortened and eliminated speeches in C is the loss of 540 lines (although this required the addition of 80 lines of new material to patch over some cuts in the interest of coherence). The net effect is to shorten the play by about a fifth. In C there is also a pervasive tendency to substitute commoner diction and easier grammatical constructions (for rare exceptions see the Commentary notes on 315 and on 724). According the normal editorial rule lectio difficilior potior, the more difficult readings of the printed text are likelier to be what Forsett wrote. It is perhaps surprising that a redaction made in the interest of shortening the play did not eliminate two scenes that do nothing to advance the plot, IV.ii and V.ii. According to the theory that C represents a shortened and simplified text, one can only suppose that they were retained because they were deemed too funny to lose, and because they do so much to expose the fraudulence of Dromodotus’ Aristotelianism and Pedantius’ claims to be a Latinist, respectively.
28. We must either think that the printed text represents the 1581 version, subsequently cut down, or that C reflects what Forsett originally wrote, and the printed version was expanded. Although argued by Smith (pp. iii - viii), the second alternative is unattractive. He contended that the printed text “contains many passages, especially passages of pedantry, which appear to be afterthoughts intended to introduce fresh humor. By comparison with the [manuscript] text, several of such passages are… intrusive and…interrupt the connexion of ideas.” But the passages Smith cites in support of these generalizations look like places where the two academicians’ lengthy rodomontade has been pruned, and where some of their more learned allusions have been eliminated. This, to be sure, has the effect of making some of their speeches more incisive and coherent, but Smith failed to appreciate that for comedic reasons they are supposed to interject parenthetic remarks and to ramble. In the theater, coherence and concision are not necessarily virtues. See further the Commentary note on 241, where it is pointed out that a particularly inept cut in the text scarcely looks as if it could have been the author’s own work.
29. One argument might be alleged in support of Smith’s view: line 12 of the prefatory Pedantius de se written for the published text is maior inest nostrae verborum copia linguae, which might be interpreted to mean Forsett has expanded the play for the printed version. But I would contend that the word maior does not imply a comparison with the original acted version of Pedantius, but rather with the play that the speaker feigns to be Pedantius’ rival, Ruggle’s Ignoramus (and feign he probably does — Pedantius with its bogus scholar and Ignoramus with its similar lawyer make a perfectly matched pair of plays, as I suspect Ruggle was well aware).
30. Besides the general consideration that shortening and simplification are more typically the fate of a play when brought to the stage than are their opposites, if we were to agree with Smith we would also have to wonder who took on himself the responsibility of padding the revival script. In all probability this would not have been Forsett himself, who left Cambridge soon after the original performance. But if Pedantius had been enlarged by somebody else, why would Forsett have authorized the printing of this revision rather than of what he himself had written? Tucker more sensibly reversed Smith’s suggestion (p. 8): “It is difficult to believe that another author could have added the lines found in P alone. The evidence indicates that the source play was much longer and that the revisions were effected in an effort to streamline its production, possibly for a later production during the 1590 - 1605 period.” But the textual version preserved by C was demonstrably extant by 1596. In the passage from Have with you to Saffron Waldon reproduced earlier in this Introduction, Nashe quoted raptim scripta, Nosti manum et stylum, but the word raptim only occurs in the C text (in Gilbert’s revised speech at 1850f.) Likewise in his Metamorphoses of Ajax printed the same year (pp. 178f. Donno) Sir John Harington wrote, “For I tell you, thought I will not take it upon me, that I am in dialectorum dumetis doctis, or in rhetorum pompa potens, or coeteris scientiis saginatus, as doth our Pedantius of Cambridge.” Dialectorum dumetis doctis and omnibus scientiis saginatus are phrases that occur towards the end of the rewritten speech given Pedantius by C at 1226ff. Furthermore, the only evidence for a revival performance is that in Athenae Cantabrigienses the local antiquarians Charles H. and Thomas Cooper wrote of such a performance during the Bachelor’s Commencement of 1602. NOTE 14 To be sure, Tucker (p. 10) cited Henry Peacham’s reminiscence (Complete Gentleman p. 37) that “[the Pedant] made us good sport in that excellent comedy of Pedantius, acted in our Trinity College in Cambridge.” Peacham was at Cambridge from 1593 to 1598, and if his statement necessarily indicates that he had seen the play, then this would be proof of a revival during that period, as argued by Tucker. But words may be liable to another possible interpretation, that by “us” he meant the academic community in general rather than an audience of which he himself had been a member. We are therefore left with two choices between which we cannot select (although considerations of economy clearly favor the former): that the C text represents a redaction created for the original 1581 performers, or that the revision occurred in connection with some unattested revival performance given prior to 1596.
31. Pedantius received its first modern printing in Smith’s 1905 edition, but it lacks an English translation and the Latin text he printed is unacceptable. When multiple redactions are at stake, good scholarly policy is to found an edition on one of them, based on strong convictions about the history of the text, rather than produce some sort of hybrid that in all probability never previously existed on this earth, in the manner of those editions of Lear which simply combine the material in the quarto and folio texts. While in general Smith followed the printed version, he often unaccountably imported readings from C when those of the printed text are perfectly acceptable. In this respect the present edition is considerably more rigorous. Operating under the understanding that the book text represents what Forsett actually wrote, even though harboring the suspicion that this may not be precisely what was acted at Trinity in 1581, and secure in the knowledge that it was certainly what its author wished to have printed, I have followed this version wherever possible. This does not mean that C has no role to play, since at many points P is manifestly wrong where C preserves valid readings: the printer did no very creditable job of setting the Latin text, and Forsett’s death precluded his proofreading the result.
32. Since Smith has already printed a full collation of the two texts, only the more significant differences need be reported here, especially those which allow the interested reader to track the differences between the two recensions. Variations involving word transpositions, orthography, punctuation, and the spelling of the names of characters in the play are not recorded. Also, C always has Paedantius and Crobulus (P usually but not always has Crobolus), Dromidotus (another name that P frequently botches), and Fuscidilla, and does not name the aggrieved haberdasher as Gilbert save in the body of the text. The preferred forms are at all times used in this edition.
33. I am indebted to my predecessor in another way. The play is larded with a huge number of quotes and near-quotes of classical, medieval, and contemporary authors. By what must have been a huge investment of effort he managed to track down most of these (his appended commentary notes are almost exclusively devoted to such identifications, which are duly acknowledged here). I have identified some more classical quotations, but, being quite inexpert about Scholastic literature, I can only report Smith’s findings, and I gratefully acknoledge that most of the material in the Commentary notes is his responsibility. Indeed, in this department his annotations are so copious that I have only skimmed the cream, for the benefit of the reader primarily concerned about understanding the play; those whose interest is more than casual are referred to the original work. Commentary notes on other subjects are of course my own.