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new impulse to the study of his works was given by the editions of Rowe, in 1709 and 1714, and the reviving appreciation of his genius was strikingly shown by the long succession of distinguished editors that century produced :-Pope, 1725 and 1728 ; Theobald, 1733 and 1740; Hanmer, 1744; Warburton, 1747; Johnson, 1765 ; Capell, 1768; Johnson and Steevens, 1773, and 1779; Reed, 1785 ; Malone, 1790; and Rann, 1786–1794.
In addition to the early printed authorities for the formation of a text, there are two manuscript claimants, whose merits and pretensions demand some notice. The first of these, a version of the First and Second Parts of IIenry IV. which by certain omissions and modifications is compressed into a single play, formerly belonged to Sir Edward Dering, of Surrenden, Kent, and is probably the oldest manuscript copy of any play by Shakespeare known. It is annotated in the hand-writing of Sir Edward Dering, and Mr. Halliwell inclines to think it was written after 1619, when, according to the family papers, Sir Edward purchased “twenty-seven play-books for nine shillings.” This manuscript is certainly curious, and it has two or three conjectural emendations which are ingenious, but it is entitled to no consideration on the score of authority, being evidently formed upon the text of the quarto, 1613.
The other, and far more pretentious claimant to a voice in the regulation of Shakespeare's text, is the now notorious Collier folio, a copy of the 1632 edition, formerly belonging to Mr. John Payne Collier, and which was sold or presented by that gentleman to the late Duke of Devonshire. Mr. Collier's account of the way this volume came into his hands, and of the circumstances under which he first became aware of its MS. treasures, is as follows :
"In the spring of 1849 I happened to be in the shop of the late Mr. Rodd, of Great Newport Street, at the time when a package of books arrived from the country ; my impression is that it came from Bedfordshire, but I am not at all certain upon a point which I looked upon as a matter of no importance. He opened the parcel in my presence, as he had often done before in the course of my thirty or forty years' acquaintance with him, and looking at the backs and title-pages of several volumes, I saw that they were chiefly works of little interest to me. Two folios, however, attracted my attention, one of them gilt on the sides, and the other in rough calf: the first was an excellent copy of Florio's 'New World of Words,' 1611, with the name of Henry Osborn (whom I mistook at the moment for his celebrated namesake, Francis) upon the first leaf; and the other a copy of the second folio of Shakespeare's Plays, much cropped, the covers old and greasy, and, as I saw at a glance on opening them, imperfect at the beginning and end. Concluding hastily that the latter would complete another poor copy of the second folio, which I had bought of the same bookseller, and which I had had for some years in my possession, and wanting the former for my use, I bought them both,—the Florio for twelve, and the Shakespeare for thirty shillings.
“ As it turned out, I at first repented my bargain as regarded the Shakespeare, because, when I took it home, it appeared that two leaves which I wanted were unfit for my purpose, not merely by being too short, but damaged and defaced : thus disappointed,
I threw it by, and did not see it again, until I made a selection of books I would take with me on quitting London. In the mean time, finding that I could not readily remedy the deficiencies in my other copy of the folio, 1632, I had parted with it; and when I removed into the country with my family, in the spring of 1850, in order that I might not be without some copy of the second folio for the purpose of reference, I took with me that which is the foundation of the present work.
“It was while putting my books together for removal, that I first observed some marks in the margin of this folio ; but it was subsequently placed upon an upper shelf, and I did not take it down until I had occasion to consult it. It then struck me that Thomas Perkins, whose name, with the addition of his Booke,' was upon the cover, might be the old actor who had performed in Marlowe's 'Jew of Malta,' on its revival shortly before 1633. At this time I fancied that the binding was of about that date, and that the volume might have been his; but in the first place, I found that his name was Richard Perkins, and in the next, I became satisfied that the rough calf was not the original binding. Still, Thomas Perkins might have been a descendant of Richard; and this circumstance and others induced me to examine the volume more particularly. I then discovered, to my surprise, that there was hardly a page which did not present, in a handwriting of the time, some emendations in the pointing or in the text, while on most of them they were frequent, and on many numerous.” Preface to Notes and Emendations, dc.
After due announcement of the extraordinary discovery, with samples of the emendations, in the chief literary newspapers, Mr. Collier, in 1852, published his volume entitled Notes and Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare's Plays, from early llanuscript Corrections in a copy of the Folio, 1632, &c. &c. The annotations excited great interest, and, among those not conversant with the language of our early literature and the labours of the poet's commentators, unbounded admiration. Shakespearian scholars, however, were by no means satisfied with the history of the "corrections,” or disposed to concede the authority assumed for them. The late Mr. Singer, in particular, distinguished himself by a vigorous opposition to Notes and Emendations, and in an able though somewhat too trenchant work, The Text of Shakespeare Vindicated from the Interpolations and Corruptions advocated by John Payne Collier, Esq. &c. &c. very clearly proved that many of the best of the emendations were not new, and that most of the new were uncalled for or absurd. In this estimate of the readings he was followed and supported by Mr. Knight, Mr. Halliwell, and Mr. Dyce.
In spite of this antagonism, a second edition of Notes and Emendations was soon published. Nearly at the same time, too, Mr. Collier brought out a Monovolume of Shakespeare's Plays, in which all the “emendations,” good, bad, and indifferent, were adopted without note or comment to distinguish them from the customary text. This was followed by a volume entitled by Mr. Collier, Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, by the late S. T. Coleridge ; containing what professed to be a list of every manuscript note and emendation in Mr. Collier's folio. And finally appeared an edition of Shakespeare's Works edited by that gentleman, in which he adopted the greater part
of the anonymous substitutions, and strenuously advocated the remainder. In the meantime, however, such sweeping changes in the text, and upon authority so questionable, became the subject of discussion and energetic protest in various quarters. Having myself, I may be permitted to say, from the first publication of Notes and Emendations, felt assured, by the internal evidence, that they were for the most part plagiarized from the chief Shakesperian editors and critics, and the rest of quite modern fabrication—I earnestly longed to have the writing tested. That which was a desire before, when the present book was undertaken became a necessity, and during the year 1858 I more than once communicated to Sir Frederic Madden, as the most eminent paleographer of the age, my motives for wishing that the volume should undergo inspection by persons skilled in ancient writing. Sir Frederic's official engagements at that time prevented his giving the subject the attention it perhaps merited. With the courtesy and consideration which have marked his conduct throughout this painful business, he did, however, I subsequently found, in consequence of my solicitations, apply to Mr. Collier to obtain him access to the volume. IIis letter, it appears, was not answered. In the spring of last year I again called upon him, and reiterated my reasons for desiring the volume should be examined, and if possible by him. This time I was more successful. Sir Frederic immediately wrote to the Duke of Devonshire, requesting permission to see the much talked of folio, and it was liberally forwarded to the British Museum for inspection by himself and friends." While there, the writing was carefully examined by Sir Frederic Vadden, Mr. Panizzi, Mr. Bond, Mr. T. Duffus Hardy, Professor Brewer, the Rev. Joseph Hunter, Vr. Hamilton, and other paleographers, and these gentlemen were unanimously of opinion that the VIS. annotations on the margins and in the body of the book, though in an apparently antique character, were really of quite modern origin. The technical evidences upon
5 In reply to the discreditable insinuations Mr. Col. lier and his partisans, that Sir Frederic Mailden was influenced by personal animosity to Mr. Collier, in the measures he has taken, and the opinion he has expressed respecting the disputed folio—Sir Fredleric has publisheil the following narrative of the circumstances which led to the book being placed in his hands :
“During the summer and autumn of 1858 Dr. Mansfield Ingleby and Mr. Staunton had called more than once on me, to ask my opinion of the genuineness of the notes of the "Old Corrector, as printed by Mr. Collier, and also at the same time to express their opinion, from internal evidence, that the notes were of recent origin. So far from my having at that time 'aided the case' against Mr. Collier, as falsely asserted by him (p. 70 of his Reply), I call upon the two gentlemen above named to bear witness whether I did not express my great surprise at their statement, and manifest the utmost unwillingness to believe that so large a body of notes could have been fabricated, or, if fabricated, could escape detection. These interviews, however, led me to address a request to Mr. Collier, on Sept. 6, 1858, that he would procure me a sight of the Folio, which of itself ought to prove that I could at that time have entertained no doubt of his integrity in the matter. To this request I never received any answer, nor indeed, to the best of my belief, did Mr. Collier write to me at all subsequently; and, although I thought it strange, yet I certainly never took offence at it. I resolved, however, in my own mind, to prefer my request to the
Duke of Devonshire himself; but official and other business constantly interfered to prevent my carrying out my intention until May 1859, when Professor Borienstedt was introduced to me by Mr. Watts of the Museum, and having expressed his great desire to see the Collier Folio, I promised them to gratify, if possible, their and my own wishes on the subject, as well as to give several of my Shakesperian friends an opportunity of examining the volume. Accordingly, on the 13th of May, I wrote to the Duke, requesting the loan of the volume for a short time, and by his grace's liberality it was sent to me on the 26th of the same month, late in the day. In the evening of the same day I wrote letters to Professor Bodenstedt, the Rer. A. Dyce. Mr. W. J. Thoms (a friend of Mr. Collier), and I believe Mr. Staunton, inviting them to see the volume.
Having thus succeeded in obtaining the volume, my next step was to examine it critically on palæographic grounds, and this I did on the following morning very carefully, together with Mr. Bond, the Assistant Keeper of my Department, and we were both struck with the very suspicious character of the writing--certainly the work of one hand, but presenting varieties of forms assignable to clifferent periods--the evident painting over of many of the letters, and the artificial look of the ink. The day had not passed before I had quite marle up my mind that the Old Corrector' never lived in the seventeenth century, but that the notes were fabricated at a recent period."
which this decision was founded were immediately made public in a letter from Mr. Hamilton to the Times newspaper. The most striking of these were "an infinite number of faint pencil-marks and corrections on the margins, in obedience to which the supposed old corrector had made his emendations,” which pencil-marks, without even a pretence to antiquity in character or spelling, but written in a bold hand of the present century, can sometimes be distinctly seen underneath the quasi-antique notes themselves. To the very grave and inevitable inferences supplied by this remarkable discovery, Mr. Collier replied in a letter to the same Journal, that he “never made a single pencil-mark on the pages of the book, excepting crosses, ticks, or lines, to direct [his) attention to particular emendations.” That he had shown and sworn that the volume in its present annotated state, was formerly in the possession of a gentleman named Parry. That soon after the discovery of the folio, he had produced it before the Council of the Shakespeare Society, and at two or three assemblies of the Society of Antiquaries. That he had given, not sold the volume, as had been stated in some newspapers, to the late Duke of Devonshire, and unless before a proper legal tribunal he would not submit to say another word in print upon the subject.
A letter followed in the Times from Mr. Maskelyne, Keeper of the Mineral Department, in the British Museum, which stated that on examination of the writing by means of a microscope, the existence of the pencil-marks mentioned by Mr. Hamilton is indisputable; that in some cases these pencillings underlie the ink, and that the ink, though apparently at times it has become mixed with ordinary ink, in its prevailing character is nothing more than a paint formed perhaps of sepia, or of sepia mixed with a little Indian ink. The publicity given to the investigation induced Mr. Parry, the gentleman cited by . Mr. Collier as the former owner of the folio, to call at the British Museum to recognise his old possession. On seeing the volume, he at once denied not only that it was the book formerly his, but that it had ever been shown to him by Mr. Collier. Some further controversy ensued which need not be detailed, and the question of the genuineness of the writing was warmly discussed both in the leading English and American papers. Shortly after the appearance of Mr. Hamilton's letter to the Times, a clever little work upon the subject by Dr. Ingleby, called The Shakespeare Fabrications, or the Manuscript Notes of the Perkins Folio shown to be of recent Origin, &c. was published. In this opusculum Mr. Collier’s conduct in relation to the discovered volume was so severely handled, and the charge of complicity in the fabrications so plainly brought home to him, that his friends deemed it proper to announce that the volume was undergoing a careful examination by “four eminent antiquaries.” As the result of this perquisition has not been made known, we may infer that these four gentlemen found nothing to invalidate the verdict passed upon the writing by the authorities who had preceded them in the task. A few months later Mr. Hamilton published his long promised
6 Curiously enough, Mr. Parry, in searching through his library subsequently, has discovered a fly-leaf belonging to his lost folio, and on comparing it with the Collier volume, it is found to be a quarter of an inch too short, and a quarter of an inch too broadd to match the latter.
This substantiates the declaration of Mr. Parry when he first saw the Collier folio at the British Museum, that his book was wider than the one stated to have been his, and proves beyond future cavil that the Collier and the Parry folio were not the same.
pamphlet, An Inquiry into the Genuineness of the Manuscript Corrections in Mr. J. Payne Collier's Annotated Shakespeare, folio, 1632, &c. In this work he not only recapitulates all the former evidence against the Collier folio annotations, but publishes the result of an examination of certain other documents connected with Shakespeare, which Mr. Collier professed to have discovered in Devonshire House; among the archives of Lord Ellesmere, at Bridgewater House; in Dulwich College; and in the State Paper Office, proving, what had long been suspected, that a systematic series of Shakespearian forgeries has been perpetrated of late years, and apparently by one hand.
To the additional charges of uninquisitive credulity, not to say positive imposition, suggested in this “Inquiry,” Mr. Collier has published a formal “Reply.” In this reply he fails entirely to grapple with the main question at issue; he brings no evidence to rebut the technical and professional testimony against the impeached documents. He does not even propose the obvious course to any one circumstanced as he is, who believed the papers genuine—that of submitting them to the scrutiny of an authoritative tribunal of literary men and paleographers. Beyond the indulgence of much ill-judged personality against those gentlemen, who from a sense of duty have brought the subject before the public, he contents himself with a simple denial of culpability, an ignoring of the most palpable facts, and an appeal ad misericordiam.
But enough of this disreputable topic. Without taking into account these “ New Particulars,” the value of which will be more fittingly considered in the Memoir that follows, we may rest satisfied that the authority of the Collier folio is at an end. Such of its readings as are of value will be restored to their rightful owners, for the paternity of nearly all such is known; and the rest will speedily find the oblivion they so well deserve.
A few words may be desirable to explain the principle which has been followed in the present attempt to supply the best text of Shakespeare which the means at command allow. It has before been stated that we possess no play or poem, or even fragment of one, in the poet's writing. The early printed copies of his works are therefore the sole authority for what he wrote, and an accurate collation of them becomes the first and indispensable business of a modern editor. This portion of my duty has been performed at least with care, I hope with fidelity. Not only have I collated the quarto editions with the folio; but the former, where more than one of the same play existed, with themselves; and then, both quarto and folio with the best editions of modern times.'
IIaving mastered and noted the variæ lectiones in the old copies, the task of selection in a play found only in the folios was not difficult, the first copy, 1623, being in almost all cases preferable to the subsequent impressions. Where, however, a play exists both in quarto and folio form, and there are more than one edition of it in quarto, and, as is always the case, each copy abounds in corruptions, the choice is embarrassing. In these instances, taking the first folio as the basis of the text throughout, and when substituting a letter,
7 'The modern editions consulted are Rowe's, Pope's, Theobalil's, Hanmer's, Warburton's, Johnsou's and Steevons's. Thoso collated, Capell's, Malone's, Knight's, Col.
lier's, and Dyce's; the two last-named, however, having appeared after great part of the present work was published, were available only for a portion of the plays.