enemies have triumphed in their imputation, that I
had first forged the Petition, and then smuggled it
into the State Paper Office !
Of the investigation instituted by the Master of
the Rolls, from which Mr.
Lemon was apparently
excluded, and in which Mr. Hamilton was cer-
tainly included (though absolutely an interested
party), all I shall say is, that there might be very
sufficient reasons for not inviting Mr. Lemon to
assist, seeing that he knew perfectly well that the
Mr. Hamilton's Inquiry. 61
document in question was in the State Paper Office
before I com7nenced my researches in that clepartmeut.
Unless I "surreptitiously introduced it" before I knew
where the State Paper Office was, even Mr. Hamilton
and the Manuscript Department of the British Mu-
seum must acquit me of any concern in the supposed
fabrication of it.
Have we not here, let me ask, another proof of
the sort of spirit by which my adversaries seem to
be influenced? Wiiile they most indelicately select
Mr. N. E. S. A. Hamilton as a coadjutor in the in-
quiry respecting this Players' Petition, they, as it
seems, carefully shut out from that inquiry the very
man who could have given them conclusive inform-
ation. That information, however, would have been
fatal to their accusation.
As to Mr. Hamilton's *Sort of challenge " to pro-
duce a remarkable document," so " minutely stated
by me " in the Athenceum^ 6th Dec, 1856, and
printed for the first time in my last edition of Shake-
speare, iii., p. 214, I merely have to remark that it
would become Mr. Hamilton, as an officer of the
Manuscript Department of the British Museum, to
be better informed about our public muniments
before he scatters imputations in his usual fashion of
inuendo. Why does he not say honestly, and at
once, that he does not believe in the existence
of any " Examination " of Augustine Phillipps, the
fellow-actor with Shakespeare?* Perhaps he may be
* Let mc take this opportunity of correcting a misprint in my
copy of that very curious document : for " Sir Charles Prycc" and
"Jostlyne Pryce" we must of course read Sir Charles Percye
and Jostlyne Percye. The body of the paper is in Chief Justice
Popham's infiimously illegible scrawl.
62 Mr. J. Payne Collier's Reply to
equally incredulous respecting the "Examination"
of Sir Gilly Meyricke, which I published in my new
Life of Sliakespeare^ 1858, p. 154. These are
documents that I found and printed ; but if we were
to stay until such interesting papers are discovered by
the Manuscript Department of the British Museum,
we might wait, I fear, as many years as we have
waited months for the recent pamphlet.*
It may even be doubted whether those officers
do not owe me some ill-will for finding them work.
Only a year or two ago I procured, for a comparative
trifle, three large cases of Bentinck manuscripts from
Germany, belonging to the period treated by Lord
Macaulay in his recent History. How far they illus-
trate our annals of that time I know not, as I never
looked at them ; but being asked by a friend in
Oldenburg whither they ought to be sent, I at once
recommended the British Museum. These manu-
scripts may, for aught I know, be yet uncatalogued ;
I presume not ; and such industrious workQien as
Mr. N. E. S. A. Hamilton may have suffered in
point of labour, from the occupation I was thus the
innocent means of procuring for them.
I humbly and earnestly hope that all but my
* It is astonishing how little the Keepers and Assistant
Keepers in our national depository appear to know of anything
that is not immediately under their own eyes. One night, at the
Society of Antiquaries, I produced copies of two letters from the
famous Richard Hakluyt ; and one of the Museum Assistant
Keepers, printing something about them afterwards, was obliged
to confess his ignorance as to where the originals were deposited.
I also stated that I knew of a copy (now before me while I am
writing) of Hakluyt's Divers Voyages touching America, 4to. 1582,
with both the majis. It did not gain credence from the Museum
authority, who spoke of the " sujjposed possessor."
Mr. Hamilton's Inquiry. 63
impenetrable enemies will be of opinion that I have
cleared myself reasonably well — I put it in no
stronger form — from all fair suspicion of guilt; and
especially from any discreditable connexion with the
emendations in the Perkins folio. The Kev. Dr.
Wellesley knows that they were in it when I bought
the book in 1849. It is all very well for certain
people to decry them : those rival editors who do
decry them, have often been compelled, by the especial
excellence of the proposed changes, to adopt them.
To have only suggested them would have made
the fortune of any man ; and, if I were the real
author of them, what could have induced me to
foist them into an old folio and to give anybody else
the credit of them f The charge is so ridiculous
that it carries its own contradiction. Mr. Singer
inserted many with very grudging acknowledgment,
and adopted others, as if they w^ere his own im-
provements : Mr. Knight behaved in a more straight-
forward way, but availed himself of them. The Rev.
Mr. Dyce has been driven to the har^ necessity of
doing nearly the same, with this salvo, that in order
to discredit the Perkins folio he has asserted, un-
knowingly I believe, that some of the best changes
of text were contained in Mr. Singer's corrected folio,
when Mr. Singer never had a corrected folio that pre-
sented them, or anything like them. Important as
were other coincidences, it is remarkable that there
never was the smallest outcry for the production
of Mr. Singer's folio, and for the best of all reasons,
— that the production of it would have directly con-
tradicted those who disparaged the Perkins folio.*
* I do not think that Mr. Singer ever pretended that the
64 Mr. J. Payne Collier's Reply to
I know well what it must have cost the Rev.
Alexander Dyee to insert such emendations as " dis-
eases " for degrees, of " mirror'd " for jnarried, of
" hollen " for woollen^ of " bisson multitude " for
emendations in his folio 1632 had any claim to consideration on
the score of antiquity : on the contrary, I believe that some
minor points, which concurred with those in the Perkins folio,
were at one time not to be found in Mr. Singer's folio. I
however entirely acquit him of introducing them, I never saw
the work by Mr. Singer, called Shakespeare Vindicated, but I
heard that he spoke hardly of me in it, and I took no notice of
his attack : at last he seems to have been won over by his own
convictions (for late in life he admitted that he had pursued a
wrong system of commentation, if I may use the word) and by
my patience, and in 1854 he presented me with a small transla-
tion, containing this inscription : " To J. P. Collier, Esq. — with
Mr. Singer's compliments — a peace-offering" I at once accepted
the amicable gift, and wrote him a letter of thanks in the fol-
lowing terms : —
"Maidenhead, 3d March, 1854.
" My dear Sir,
" I am much obliged to you for your interesting little
volume (which reached me yesterday) but more for the inscription
it contains. I g*adly receive it in the spirit in which, I presume,
it is intended.
" I know not how far you have advanced in your new edition
of Shakespeare, but I heartily wish you success in your endeavours
to free his text from corruptions, and to render his meaning intel-
ligible. Such has been the labour of my life, and I shall rejoice
if it be the triumph of yours. Allow me to subscribe myself,
" Yours very sincerely,
"J. Payne Collier.
" S. W. Singer, Esq."
For some reason or other I never received the slightest recog-
nition of my note, unless the series of imputations cast upon me
in the course of Mr. Singer's Shakespeare, 12mo. 1856, are to be
so considered. What had occurred to counteract his repentant and
pacific disposition of the spring of 1854, I never inquired. My
earnest wish was to keep on good terms with everybody.
Mr. Hamilton's Inquiry. 65
bosom multiplied^ and many others ;* but lie did
insert them after he became an editor of Shake-
speare ; having before that, while he was yet friendly
with me, written under his own hand that not a
few of the emendations in the Perkins folio were
" so admirable that they can hardly he conjectural.''^
This, too, when my volume of Notes and Emenda-
tions had been some weeks in his hands, so that he
cannot say that he gave a hasty and unconsidered
opinion. He must pardon me for once more re-
minding him of his very words, for they so forcibly
* The two first of these changes of text the Rev. A. Dyce
vindicates on the ground that they are supported by corrections
in Mr. Singer's folio, as well as in the Perkins folio, when the
fact is that Mr. Singer's folio has neither of them : indeed, as to
the first, Mr. Singer in his Shakespeare, v. 179, justifies degrees
instead of "diseases," and blames those who, with the Perkins folio,
have substituted " diseases," not pretending that he has any cor-
rected folio that reads "diseases." As to the second, "mirror'd"
for married (Singer's Shakesp. vii. 242), precisely the same remark
will apply, excepting that Mr. Singer had the boldness to print
" mirror'd," as if it were his own unprompted emendation, omitting
to mention the Perkins folio, and not for an instant ui'ging thai
he had any authority but his own conjecture for the alteration.
Yet both these important changes the Rev. Mr. Dyce assigns to
Mr. Singer's corrected folio, as if he wished to deprive the
Perkins folio of the sole merit of such great improvements of the
text. This, to say the least of it, is very unfair, and I willingly
believe that Mr. Dyce unconsciously fell into an error in both
cases. As to verbal objections to the Perkins folio, on the ground
that modern words are found in its MS. notes, all that it is neces-
sary to say is, that toheedling, though used by Butler just after
the Restoration, was pointed out by myself; and that cheer was
in use as a word of encouragement and approbation early in the
reign of Elizabeth, and that the expression three cheers is found
in Teonge's Diary, from 1675 to 1679. Yet we are told by the
enemies of the Perkins folio that the earliest use of three cheers
was about 1806! Those who make such unfounded objections
come very ill provided to maintain them.
6;€ Mr. J. Fmjne Collier's Reply to
express my own convictions, and indeed almost go
beyond them, that I cannot refuse myself the satis-
faction of quoting them, whenever an occasion fairly
As I stated in the Preface to my Shakespeare^
6 vols. 8vo. 1858, 1 am unable to guess what had ope-
rated so hostilely on the mind of the Rev. A. Dyce,
beyond the fact, that in 1843 I had anticipated
him in his project of publishing an edition of the
poet's works. I have never seen even a quotation
from his recent attack on my latest labours ; but I
hear that his anger scarcely knows bounds. I had
occasion, in my Preface, to animadvert upon his
animosity to me, and upon the mode in which he
had treated my labours in 1844, when his adverse
Remarks almost instantly followed the appearance
of my first impression ; and in his Few Notes^ which,
in 1853, were specially directed against my volume
of Notes and Emendations. I heard, incidentally
and accidentally, that he was offended at what I
had written ; and I immediately addressed a mutual
friend, stating that my least object was to do in-
justice to a gentleman and a scholar whom I had
known intimately for thirty years : I therefore offered
to retract every syllable that was injurious, if it
could be shown to he unjust, and to make my re-
tractation public in every possible way. Subse-
quently I found that the Rev. Mr. Dyce was serious
in his intention to publish an answer to my Preface ;
and thinking that a knowledge of my offer to our
mutual ftiend might not have reached him, I wrote
to him precisely to the same effect. This note he
passed by with entire silence ; but I never since have
uttered, or written one word in the disparagement
Mr. Hamilton's Inquiry. 67
of my sometime friend, that was not absolutely re-
quired for my own justification.* I still say of
him, as the great Saint said of the greater Sectary,
" I loved thee once ; I almost love thee still."
I have thus been, most unintentionally, involved
in the quarrels of authors ; and strange it must seem,
that ever since the art of criticism was applied to
the works of " the gentle Shakespeare," the most
amiable of human beings, those works have been the
cause and source of relentless animosities among
his commentators. How grandly does the benevo-
lence and generosity of the great poet rise above the
petty bickerings of us would-be illustrators of his
* As my note was very short, perhaps I may be allowed to
subjoin a copy of it: it establishes how seriously anxious I was
to make amends, if I had done any wrong.
"Maidenhead, 5th Feb. 1859.
" I heard some time ago, and I have just seen it in
print, that you are preparing an answer to the Preface to my
Shakespeare, 6 vols. 8vo. 1858.
" If this report be true, it may be right that you should be
informed, that some months since, in consequence of what Mr.
said, I wrote to him, stating that if in that Preface you could
show that I had done you any injustice, however slight, I would
eagerly seize the occasion of acknowledging it, and would make
the acknowledgment public in the most effectual manner.
" With the most vivid and painful recollection of our former
and long-enduring friendship,
" I am, yours,
" J. Payne Collier."
I cannot blame the Rev. Mr. Dyce for not accepting my offer :
he might have good reasons for wishing to pursue his own course;
but surely no sufficient reason for not taking any notice of what I
wrote. He might fancy that it arose, to use Tom Nash's words,
with which the Rev. Mr. Dyce must be familiar, " out of a base-
hearted fear" of another Harvey. Not so, I can assure him.
68 Mr. J. Payne Collier^s Reply to
text! For myself, I never knew that I had an
enemy until I undertook to edit Shakespeare.
Of the gentleman who seems, in a manner, to
have been put forward by the British Museum, to
represent them in this encounter, I knew nothing
until I saw his accusatory letter in The Times of
the 2nd of July last : he, I suppose, is the literary
detective of the national establishment ; but I doubt
how far the whole body rely upon his skill and in-
telligence. Perhaps, from living so entirely in the
country, I never heard of him ; but he has been
allowed to stir up a little the stagnation of a depart-
ment, where the younger men seem eager " to seize
opportunities" of gaining notoriety, while the older
officers have necessarily been content with the fame
acquired by publication of an old chronicle, or of
a venerable household -book. When first I heard
that I was attacked by Mr. N. E. S. A. Hamilton,
I expressed my surprise that the enterprise was
entrusted to such obscure hands; and I, not very
courteously perhaps, added a couplet from a satirist,
which I will not repeat here, because I am anxious
to avoid anything like mere personality.
From Sir Frederick Madden I was unreasonable
enough to expect rather diiferent treatment, than
from a subordinate to whom I was unknown. I
have been acquainted with Sir Frederick nearly
ever since he was introduced into the British Mu-
seum : we have not imfrequently corresponded, we
have exchanged books, and have always observed
at least the ordinary civilities of life. Mr. Ha-
milton, somewhere in his Inquiry, strangely, yet
strongly, reproaches me with not having lent my
assistance in the investigations respecting the au-
Mr. Hamilton's Inquiry, 69
thenticity of the Perkins folio. I saw from the
newspapers that it had reached the Manuscript De-
partment, and I saw that consultations were held
over it, not only by various officers of the esta-
blishment, but by many literary gentlemen, and
especially by editors of Shakespeare, some of whose
labours on the poet's works I had only heard of. I
thought, not unnaturally, that if any information
from me were wished, I should also have been
invited to the meeting ; but not having been so in-
vited, I apprehended that it would be the height of
indelicacy, if not of presumption, in me to proffer my
services, or to thrust myself into a company where
my presence was not desired.
It seemed the more likely that I should have
been asked to attend, because Sir F. Madden, in the
preceding month of September, had written me a
note, in which he expressed a wish, propriis oculis,
to inspect the Perkins folio. The chief business of
his note, I remember, was to thank me for fac-similes
of the Hamlets of 1G03 and 1604, with the distribution
of which the late and the present Duke of Devon-
shire had entrusted me ; and to inquire whether I
had seen a signature of Shakespeare on a map of some
county of England, and whether I looked upon it as
genuine. I answered the two last parts of Sir F.
Madden's note, but I postponed that incidental por-
tion which related to the Perkins Shakespeare, be-
cause the present Duke of Devonshire was then in
Lancashire, and because I hoped that when his Grace
returned to London, he would, as his noble prede-
cessor had done, entrust me with the book, in order
that I might carry it to Sir Frederick Madden at the
70 Mr. J. Payne Collier's Reply to
In the meantime, his Grace had confided to my
care the very responsible task of preparing a fac-
simile of the Hamlet of 1604; and the wish, only ex-
pressed obiter by the head of the Manuscript Depart-
ment, I am sorry to say, escaped my memory. Sir
F. Madden might surely without derogation have
reminded me of his former request regarding the
Perkins folio ; and I never dreamed that he would
take, nor do I believe now that he has taken, offence
at so trifling a piece of neglect on my part, counter-
balanced as it is by the fact, that of the forty copies
of the fac-similes of 1603 and 1604 (for no more
were struck off for each distribution) I sent two, in
the Duke of Devonshire's name, to Sir F. Madden
himself, and two others to the Department of Printed
Books in the British Museum. His Grace had given
me only general instructions upon the subject, and
it was of my own free will that I addressed these
rare books to Sir F. Madden, whom I had known
for so many years ; and who, it should seem, at that
date was aiding the case against me founded upon
the Perkins folio.
If, therefore, as an act of courtesy, I was not to
be asked to be present, it would appear only an act of
justice that I should have been required, in the very
first instance, almost before the Perkins folio had been
opened in the Manuscript Department, to inspect it,
in order that I might be sure that it was precisely in
the same condition as when I had presented it to the
late Duke of Devonshire. Instead of that, it seems
as if it had been at once handed over to the tender
mercies of Mr. Hamilton, as a literary detective ; and
he certainly claims to have been the person who first
made the discovery of the pencil-marks. He tells us
Mr. Hamilton s Inquiry. 71
that " the correspondence between certain pencil-
marks in the margins, with corrections in ink [was]
Jirst noticed by myself.'" He does not add when he
"first noticed" them, whether anybody else was by
at the time, nor how long the book had been in his
possession before he communicated his discovery
of the pencil-marks. All may have been meant to
be conducted with perfect fairness : I will presume
so ; but would it not have occurred to any impartial
person, on the discovery of the mysterious pencil-
marks, to have requested me at once to look at them,
and to say whether I had ever observed them while
the volume was mine, or while the book had been in
the library of the late Duke of Devonshire? Such
a course would certainly have saved an infinite deal
However, I will not fritter away the substantial
features of the case by these comparatively in-
significant topics : those substantial features beyond
all cavil or dispute, are, 1. That the manuscript
notes were in the Perkins folio when I bought it in
1841), if not fifty years before that date; — 2. That
I discovered the Bridgewater House manuscripts
precisely under the circumstances stated, and that
the authenticity of some of them was maintained
by the best judges of our day, both literary and
artistic ; — 3. That the Dulwich manuscripts were in
the condition I have described them at least as far
back as the year 1796, as is evidenced, among other
proofs, by Malone's Inquiry of that date; — and 4.
That with regard to the Players' Petition of 1596, if
it be a forgery at all, it was a forgery before I
set foot inside the State Paper Office, before I com-
72 Mr. J, Payne Collier's Reply.
menced my researches there, and before I even knew
where the Office was situated.
I ought to apologise to the reader for occupying
so much of his time, but I was anxious, once for all,
to go into the case as fully as my materials, after
the lapse of so many years, would enable me. Hie
J. PAYNE COLLIER.
Maidenhead, 12 March, 1860.
Page 1. I did not see Mr. Hamilton's Letter of the 7th iust.
in the Athenceum until some days after my earlier sheets were at
press, or I would have made some alterations in them. I am glad
to observe that he now denies the participation of his colleagues
in office. I only used the word " mouthpiece " as it is defined by
Johnson, — "one who delivers the sentiments of others associated
in the same design."
Page 50. Having written to the Rev. J. Lindsay on the
subject of Mrs. Alleyn's Letter, he has promptly replied that he
does not remember the circumstance. He, like me, regrets the
death of John Allen, Esq., then Master of Dulwich College, who
may have been the person to whom I mentioned the decayed state
of the document.
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