Manuscript Detection in MS A: The Mystery of the Added Slip of Paper

"When all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." (Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans").

Working with manuscripts in their physical and material actuality is like a detective narrative in many ways. You have to work with the clues that are given you, follow false leads, accept negative conclusions and be as logical and systematic as you can. If all the pieces of evidence do not make sense together then you are probably wrong. Have a go yourself, working on the added slip of paper on MS A (reproduced below). You may also need to go back to MS A to look at the larger context.

The Problem:

Why is there a sewn in slip of paper on MS A? Why doesn't the poet just write the lines out?

What is the order of entry of the text onto this column of MS A around the slip?

How many different times/ returns to the page are there?

Work out possible stopping places in the copying process and decide what you think happened on this page.


Remember to look at colours of ink/ changes of pen.

What does it mean, that the space under the slip is left blank? What would it mean if it were filled?

What is the significance of the line counts, and of the corrected line count at "400"?

Work out the relations between the last line on the slip, "betrayed by tenderness", and the lines on the base text below. What does this suggest?