Version classiqueVersion mobile

The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts

 | 
David Atkinson

8. Afterword: ‘All her friends cried out for shame’

Texte intégral

  • 1 Albert B. Friedman, The Ballad Revival: Studies in the Influence of Popular on Sophisticated Poetry(...)
  • 2 See, for example, Steve Gardham, ‘“The Brown Girl” (Child 295B): A Baring-Gould Concoction?’, in Fo (...)
  • 3 Roy Palmer, ed., Bushes and Briars: Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 2nd edn ([Burnh (...)
  • 4 See, for example, Graham Seal, ‘A. L. Lloyd in Australia: Some Conclusions’, Folk Music Journal, 9. (...)

1Editing is all about making choices. Thomas Percy, as we have seen, was judged by later generations to have made the wrong choices and condemned in consequence to Albert Friedman’s ‘special hell reserved for bad editors’.1 Others, too – Sabine Baring-Gould, for example – have come in for the same sort of criticism.2 Ralph Vaughan Williams, who often neglected to write down more than just a few of the words of the songs he collected, seems to have attracted rather less opprobrium.3 Perhaps sins of commission are held in greater disdain than sins of omission. The issue remains alive and well with the controversies surrounding A. L. Lloyd’s way with folk songs.4 The scarcely veiled implication behind the almost ritual condemnation of ‘bad editors’ is that there is an alternative, ‘scientific’, practice capable of delivering an ‘authentic’ text – which they deliberately eschewed but that today’s more enlightened scholars would unhesitatingly, indeed instinctively, adopt.

2But a Manichaean view of ballad editing is insidious because it encourages complacency – not only towards the pioneers of the field but towards the ballad itself. As we have seen, the ballad text – words and music alike – is transmitted and preserved only by means of sets of instructions for its repetition, and it is in the nature of sets of instructions that they can be imprecise, incomplete, or incorrect as representations of the sequential patterns that constitute the work that lies behind them. Thomas Tanselle has written:

  • 5 G. Thomas Tanselle, ‘The Varieties of Scholarly Editing’, in Scholarly Editing: A Guide to Research(...)

Although the traditional term for the evaluation of the makeup of texts, ‘textual criticism’, suggests the fundamental role of judgment, readers and critics in modern times have predominantly regarded textual criticism (and the editing that emerges from it) as a relatively objective and mechanical activity anticipatory to literary criticism. The inseparability of editing and literary criticism has been more evident in recent debates, but there is not as yet any widespread recognition of textual criticism as a part of the process of reading [...] Yet the necessity of questioning the constitution of the texts of documents is sensed, at some level, by all thoughtful people. The antiquity of textual criticism and the prominent position it once held in humanistic scholarship are testimony to the elemental fascination exerted by the mystery of how verbal messages are passed across time.5

  • 6 This could certainly be claimed in relation to the Shakespeare canon, for example. See John Jowett,(...)

3Arguably, the recognition he is asking for has begun to emerge in some branches at least of the study of canonical literature and music (to his ‘process of reading’, add ‘and listening’).6 The present volume has been an attempt to move ballad scholarship in the same direction – beyond the notion of an authentic text and a good editor/bad editor dichotomy. Like any other literary or musical work, the ballad is unstable and the artefact the listener/reader might think of as the ballad is of necessity a convenient construct. Nevertheless, it is still true that on the whole editors do not like making decisions – they can be held to account and might be judged to have been wrong. Yet in the end something has to go into print, or into an electronic edition, and it would be an abrogation of responsibility not to do one’s best (if only for the benefit of readers and listeners whose interests are not primarily textual – historians, performers, critics of poetry and music).

  • 7 Washington, DC, Library of Congress, American Folklife Center, Archive of Folk Culture, AFC1972/001 (...)

4This can be neatly illustrated from three copies of ‘Barbara Allen’ (Child 84) that Carpenter collected in the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire area probably in the early 1930s. The first ballad is from Charles Terry, Long Compton, Warwickshire.7 Here, stanza 7 of the fair copy typescript reads as follows:

The more she looked, the more she laughed,
The farther she drew from him;
Till all her friends cried out, “For shame!
Hardhearted Barbara Ellen!”

5Close inspection of the rough copy typescript (Fig. 8.1), however, reveals that what was first typed was as follows:

The more she looked, the more she laughed,
The farther she drew from him;
Till all her friends cried out for shame,
Hard hearted Barbara Ellen!

6But, apparently while the sheet of paper was still in his portable typewriter (that the above was indeed the initial reading is indicated by the spacing of the typed characters, and their alignment suggests the paper was not removed from the machine in the interim), Carpenter went back over line 3, changing it to read: ‘Till all her friends cried out, For shame’. Subsequently, he added handwritten quotation marks and inserted a hyphen into ‘Hard hearted’ to give a stanza that corresponds, more or less, with the fair copy:

The more she looked, the more she laughed,
The farther she drew from him;
Till all her friends cried out, “For shame,
Hard-hearted Barbara Ellen!”

7Now, in line with the discussion in the previous chapter, the alteration of line 3 might be attributable to contributor, or collector, or both – but clearly it signifies a change of meaning. In the line as initially typed, ‘for shame’ is an adverbial phrase and it is Barbara Ellen’s friends (probably in the sense of kin, relatives, family connections, as well as close acquaintances) who experience shame, sharing in a sense of what they consider she should also feel. In the fair copy, however, ‘For shame’ has become an exclamation (= ‘For shame’s sake’) directed entirely at Barbara Ellen, urging her to a sense of her own reprehensible conduct.

Fig. 8.1 Carpenter Collection, MS pp. 04403 – 04404. Courtesy of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA.

  • 8 Carpenter Collection, MS pp. 04400–04401, 06553, 07936 (although there is a music transcription, no (...)

8The second ballad is from Thomas Bunting, Sherborne, Gloucestershire.8 Here, stanza 8 of the fair copy reads:

The more she gazed, the more she laughed,
Till she came nearer to him;
Till all her friends cried out, “For shame!
Hardhearted Barbara Allan!”

9The rough copy, however, reads as follows (the quotation marks and the upgrading of the final point to an exclamation mark are handwritten):

The more she gazed, the more she laughed,
Till she came nearer to him;
Till all her friends cried out for shame,
“Hard-hearted Barbara Allen!”

10This time, the crux has been resolved in the move from rough copy to fair copy (at which time also ‘Allen’ became ‘Allan’).

  • 9 Carpenter Collection, MS p. 06549.

11The third ballad is from Mrs Cobb, Sapperton, Gloucestershire, and apparently exists only as a rough copy typescript.9 Here, the equivalent stanza reads:

The more she looked, the more she laughed,
The nearer she got to him,
Until her parents cried out for shame,
Hard hearted Barbara Allan.

  • 10 For example, Barbara Allen ([London]: J. Catnach, [1813–38]) [London, British Library, L. R. 271. a (...)
  • 11 For example, Barbara Allen’s Cruelty; or, The Young-Man’s Tragedy ([London]: P. Brooksby, J. Deacon (...)
  • 12 For example, Chippenham, Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, 2598/36, Alfred Williams Folk Song Collect (...)

12There is no way of knowing which of these is the ‘correct’ reading. Nineteenth-century broadsides (of which there are a great number) tend to print ‘cried out for shame’,10 while earlier printed copies have the unambiguously adverbial ‘cried out amain’.11 The typesetter might simply have taken the path of least resistance. ‘Barbara Allen’ has been very widely collected and both interpretations can be found among collectors’ manuscripts (in some instances there are niceties of wording or syntax that favour one reading over the other).12 It might, of course, be argued that the semantic difference is really quite slight, especially in the context of one of the less intellectually challenging of the Child ballads. But in a sense that is just the point – whether or not it is held to ‘matter’, the ambiguity means that the precise constitution of what we identify as Charles Terry’s, or Thomas Bunting’s, or Mrs Cobb’s ‘Barbara Allen’ remains forever conjectural.

  • 13 M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West (Aldersho (...)

13The point is particularly well illustrated by ballads, since melody tends to mask punctuation. It is very difficult to sing, with any consistency, the appropriate pauses marked by a comma or a semi-colon, and, unless deliberately adopting different voices, probably impossible to sing a quotation mark. Even so, punctuation in English is not an altogether scientific or mechanical exercise.13 Conventions and habits vary substantially with time and geography, and with purpose and personal preference, and especially over the use of marks such as the comma and semi-colon. Broadly speaking, a general trend over time can be discerned away from a rhetorical system, which indicates varying lengths of pauses to facilitate vocal delivery, towards a syntactic system, which employs punctuation to give visual guidance to the syntactic relations of the sentence in order to facilitate reading. But elements of both systems coexisted for a very long time – and still do.

  • 14 Ted-Larry Pebworth, ‘Manuscript Transmission and the Selection of Copy-Text in Renaissance Coterie (...)
  • 15 Peter L. Shillingsburg, Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice, 3rd edn (Ann Ar (...)

14A couple of historical examples will be useful further to illustrate the fluidity of punctuation practice. Manuscripts of John Donne’s poems that circulated for recitation among a contemporary literary coterie display a more rhetorical system of pointing, providing instructions for speaking the verse out loud, than early printed editions, designed for more personal reading, which are punctuated to provide more guidance to the syntactical relations of the poetry.14 In the nineteenth century, W. M. Thackeray wrote using primarily a rhetorical system of punctuation, at a time when his early nineteenth-century printers had largely switched to a syntactic system, creating substantial difficulties for his modern editors.15 The editor of Vanity Fair (Peter Shillingsburg) was faced with an especially unenviable decision, for while it is possible to argue persuasively in favour of reproducing either the author’s punctuation or that imposed by the publisher, Thackeray’s manuscript survives for only about one sixth of the novel. In the end, he chose to retain as much of Thackeray’s writing style as possible, warning readers that the compositorial style of pointing prevailed throughout the remaining bulk of the book. The decision may have been controversial, but it certainly foregrounds the inherently conjectural and contested nature of the text – not only of that particular work, but of all works.

  • 16 D. C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship: An Introduction (New York: Garland, 1994), pp. 223–24.
  • 17 Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse (Cambridge: Ca (...)

15Scholars have struggled to make some sense of the mostly very light (even to the point of absence), often erratic, and essentially rhetorical pointing of medieval manuscripts. Although there is some evidence of systematic punctuation emerging among certain scribes or scriptoria prior to the invention of printing, it is often assumed that it was largely left to the printers to mandate coherent systems of spelling and punctuation.16 Many subsequent editors have simply imposed modern conventions of punctuation, capitalization, word division, and the like, with the needs of the modern reader in mind. Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, however, argues strenuously that the punctuation of manuscript texts of Old English verse does make sense.17 Pointing, she maintains, and other visual characteristics of the written text such as capitalization, spacing, lineation, paragraphing, and page layout, are visual cues for decoding and are therefore less important when a text is conceived primarily as something to be read aloud. In such texts, the little pointing that is present serves more of an expressive than an analytical or syntactic function. Accordingly, the extant pointing of much Old English manuscript verse, along with other visual markers and the occurrence of variant readings, can be taken as evidence of what can be described as an oral (though one might prefer ‘rhetorical’) mode of reception on the part of the scribes. The contrast is with the manuscript writing of Latin verse, which was certainly intended to be read visually, and where scribes were employing a much more systematic method of pointing and layout from a much earlier date. After, perhaps, the late tenth century, there is a greater appearance of conventional visual graphic cues and evidence of more coherent pointing practices, indicative of a shift towards the reading rather than the speaking of verse.

  • 18 H. J. Chaytor, From Script to Print: An Introduction to Medieval Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge U (...)
  • 19 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 66–67, 75, 192.
  • 20 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 193–94.
  • 21 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 115–16, 193.

16Scribes are envisaged as committing blocks of texts to short-term memory, and drawing on their knowledge of the conventions of the verse they were copying, while writing it down; they are also believed to have worked by reading aloud, or sub-vocalizing, and therefore ‘hearing’ at least a part of their texts.18 (It is intriguing to speculate whether the compositors of broadside and chapbook ballads ever also worked in this way.) This mode of reception was operative quite regardless of the possible oral or written origins of the works in question. For example, in the verse dialogue Solomon and Saturn I, which is almost certainly a product of writing, O’Keeffe characterizes the manuscript pointing as a visual analogue of the speaker’s drop in voice. Thus the scribe – a necessarily literate reader of the copy-text – was also an active participant in the reception and transmission of the verse. Embodying the roles of active reader and passive copyist, ‘language-producer and visual-reproducer’, as receiver of the text the scribe can be considered as a special kind of audience, and as reproducer of the text as a special kind of performer.19 All of this then has implications for the modern editor’s role. Evidence of scribal participation in the making of texts on the one hand provides historical and social context for their reception and (re)production, while on the other hand it distances texts from any notion of authorial intention.20 Idealist editing, for example, which delivers a remade text, largely purged of scribal intervention, clarified and rendered accessible to the modern reader – a text that never actually existed but that encapsulates an editor’s conception of the author’s work – may, ironically, be less historically accurate and useful than the reproduction of a text that shows traces of the scribe’s own activity.21 On the other hand, the impenetrability for the modern reader of Old English pointing can in practice be held to reduce the usefulness of such texts in the grand sweep of history.

17Like the scribe of Old English poetry, the folk song collector/editor can be envisaged as both a special kind of audience and a special kind of performer. The collector/editor’s documentary text, which represents the moment of reception of the contributor’s song, may well be the most historically precise artefact that will ever be available. This is an argument for the digital archive approach. Equally, though, there is an argument for publishing some kind of edited text which might be of greater use to the modern user – resolving, or at least addressing, matters such as the crux in ‘Barbara Allen’. The analogy with the Anglo-Saxon scribe, however, is not quite an exact one. Unlike the scribe, the nineteenth-/twentieth-century folk song collector/editor will have approached the task with a received set of conventions governing such matters as spelling and punctuation, and the rules of music notation. Carpenter’s punctuation is unremarkable for an early twentieth-century American; his slips tend to be self-evident, and where verbal ambiguities remain there is no real evidence that he was using punctuation in an attempt to resolve them. The challenge for the editor is to make some sense of his various additions and alterations, to determine whether they do really provide evidence for the reception of the ballads in a manner analogous to the Old English scribe, and to alight on a consistent manner of dealing with them. There would be nothing inherently unreasonable in reproducing Carpenter’s own punctuation; the visible signs of the editing hand would certainly be his rather than those of a modern editor. But it is not clear that the resultant texts would not be more of a witness to convention and precedent than to a historically situated act of reception reflecting the speaker’s own pauses and inflections – and the crux in ‘Barbara Allen’ would remain.

18So there is an argument for stripping out the 1930s American-English punctuation as far as possible. The stanza from ‘Barbara Allen’ would then read:

The more she looked, the more she laughed
The farther she drew from him
Till all her friends cried out for shame
Hard-hearted Barbara Ellen.

19Ostensibly the editor will have chosen the reading that imposes the least in the way of interpretation by means of punctuation – trusting the reader to sense the inherent instability, not to say ambiguity, of the text, which then goes at least some way towards representing the stream of evanescent language that lies behind the material ballad, and foregrounding the necessity for conjecture in reconstituting it. Applied to ballads and folk songs at large, such an approach has the advantage that it admits the influence upon phrasing of melody and/or verse rhythm.

20Pragmatically, one would probably not wish to present the ballad as a conglomerate of discrete lines of verse with little sense of syntactic continuity and a reduced sense of story-telling. Accordingly, a system of minimal punctuation can be conveniently combined with conventional verse lineation and division into stanzas, which themselves serve as a form of visual punctuation directing the way the words are read, spoken, or sung. Ballad lineation and stanza division are usually syntactic as well as rhetorical. Line endings, for example, signal a pause, most frequently equivalent to a comma – which, accordingly, is not required in addition. However, the ends of sentences still require to be marked with full stops. Commas are required in a few other instances: to break up verbal repetitions and listed items, to switch from indirect to direct speech and vice versa, to precede or follow direct forms of address. But with a comma and an initial capital letter, quotation marks are not needed in addition around direct speech. The effect is to suppress, though not to eliminate, the visual rhetoric of punctuation and to shift the burden of interpretive reception and conjecture on to the modern reader.

21The visual intrusiveness of the editing hand is reduced, even while the resultant text is still a construct. The editorial procedure can be thought of as akin to the choice of a prescriptive over a descriptive level of music transcription (see chapter five). It is perhaps the best the editor can do, but in the end the editor – and the reader and the listener – does have to make a choice. The ballad text, in words and music, is inherently unstable, and there is at least a logic to an approach to its representation that seeks to maintain and even to emphasize that instability.

Notes

1 Albert B. Friedman, The Ballad Revival: Studies in the Influence of Popular on Sophisticated Poetry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), p. 205.

2 See, for example, Steve Gardham, ‘“The Brown Girl” (Child 295B): A Baring-Gould Concoction?’, in Folk Song: Tradition, Revival, and Re-Creation, ed. Ian Russell and David Atkinson (Aberdeen: Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, 2004), pp. 363–76. For a more sympathetic treatment, see Christopher James Bearman, ‘The English Folk Music Movement, 1898–1914’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Hull, 2001), pp. 169–71.

3 Roy Palmer, ed., Bushes and Briars: Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 2nd edn ([Burnham-on-Sea]: Llanerch, 1999), pp. xi–xii.

4 See, for example, Graham Seal, ‘A. L. Lloyd in Australia: Some Conclusions’, Folk Music Journal, 9.1 (2006), 56–71; Stephen D. Winick, ‘A. L. Lloyd and Reynardine: Authenticity and Authorship in the Afterlife of a British Broadside Ballad’, Folklore, 115 (2004), 286–308.

5 G. Thomas Tanselle, ‘The Varieties of Scholarly Editing’, in Scholarly Editing: A Guide to Research, ed. D. C. Greetham (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1995), pp. 9–32 (p. 28).

6 This could certainly be claimed in relation to the Shakespeare canon, for example. See John Jowett, Shakespeare and Text (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Another instance might be found in the early music/historically informed performance movement.

7 Washington, DC, Library of Congress, American Folklife Center, Archive of Folk Culture, AFC1972/001, James Madison Carpenter Collection, MS pp. 04403–04404, 06555–06556 (there is no identified sound recording). (Double quotation marks in the quotations that follow are Carpenter’s.)

8 Carpenter Collection, MS pp. 04400–04401, 06553, 07936 (although there is a music transcription, no sound recording has been identified).

9 Carpenter Collection, MS p. 06549.

10 For example, Barbara Allen ([London]: J. Catnach, [1813–38]) [London, British Library, L. R. 271. a. 2., vol. 4, no. 248]; Barbara Allen ([London]: Pitts, [1819–44]) [Oxford, Bodleian Library, Harding B 25 (115)]; Barbara Allen (London: H. Such, [1849–62]) [Oxford, Bodleian Library, Firth c. 17 (71), Harding B 11 (729), Harding B 11 (730)]; Barbara Allen ([Manchester]: Swindells, [1796–1853]) [Oxford, Bodleian Library, 2806 c. 17 (19), Harding B 16 (14a)].

11 For example, Barbara Allen’s Cruelty; or, The Young-Man’s Tragedy ([London]: P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, [1688–92]) [ESTC R226987]; Barbara Allen’s Cruelty; or, The Young Man’s Tragedy ([London?, 1750?]) [ESTC T21370]; Barbara Allen’s Cruelty; or, The Young Man’s Tragedy ([Edinburgh?, 1775]) [ESTC T21372]; The Old Ballad of Cruel Barbara Allen (Salisbury: Fowler, [1785?]) [ESTC T223848]; Barbara Allen’s Cruelty; or, The Young Man’s Tragedy (London: J. Davenport, [1800?]) [ESTC T188670].

12 For example, Chippenham, Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, 2598/36, Alfred Williams Folk Song Collection, Wt. 388; London, EFDSS Archives, Anne Gilchrist Collection, AGG/8/4; Hammond Collection, HAM/3/18/28; Ralph Vaughan Williams Collection, RVW1/1/90 [all accessible via the Full English Digital Archive at http://www.vwml.org.uk].

13 M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1992). For a useful summary, see E. A. Levenston, The Stuff of Literature: Physical Aspects of Texts and their Relation to Literary Meaning (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), esp. pp. 65–72.

14 Ted-Larry Pebworth, ‘Manuscript Transmission and the Selection of Copy-Text in Renaissance Coterie Poetry’, Text: Transactions of the Society for Textual Scholarship, 7 (1994), 243–61.

15 Peter L. Shillingsburg, Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice, 3rd edn (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), pp. 56–70 (see also pp. xi–xiii).

16 D. C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship: An Introduction (New York: Garland, 1994), pp. 223–24.

17 Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), esp. pp. 138–54.

18 H. J. Chaytor, From Script to Print: An Introduction to Medieval Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), pp. 13–21; O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 40–41.

19 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 66–67, 75, 192.

20 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 193–94.

21 O’Keeffe, Visible Song, pp. 115–16, 193.

Table des illustrations

URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1954/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 16k
Légende Fig. 8.1 Carpenter Collection, MS pp. 04403 – 04404. Courtesy of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1954/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 14k

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search