recedes when another condition is added, ā that the omitted
name should also be found absent from another version of
the same subject, in an independent source, to which tbe
writer of the first had no acknowledged access. But when
this distant possibility is again complicated in tbe doubled
and redoubled concurrence of two such names, two such
omissions, and two such subsequent interpolations, the final
possibility that all this could happen honestly, becomes so
remote, tbat its distance, like that of tbe fixed stars, is
Such is the presumptive evidence tbat prepares the way
for the absolute demonstration of the next chapter.
M ALONE, in his elaborate refatation of the Ireland MSS.,
entitled " An Inquiry into the authenticity of certain Miscel-
laneous Papers, &c.," refers, on page 340, to a law case
reported in " State Trials," vol. vii, p. 571 ; wherein the
question turned upon the genuineness of a certain Book and
Deeds, produced by the Lady Theodosia Ivy, in defence of
her right to lands claimed by the plaintiff. The most
important of these documents were two leases purporting
to have been made, one in November, and the other in
December, in the Second and Third of Philip and Mary,
(A.D. 1555,) who were therein styled " King and Queen of
England, Spain, France, both Sicilies, &c." But Philip and
Mary were not styled " King and Queen of Spain" until
some months after the pretended dates of these leases ; and
from that anachronism their falseness was demonstrated.
Such being an outline of the case, the following are some
of the details : and as the evidence, and several of the obser-
vations thereon, may seem to convey pointed allusions to
the book and papers produced by Mr. CoUier, it may be as
well to state that they are extracted verbatim and unaltered
from the report of the trial : ā
ā¢ ā¢ * ā¢ ā¢
Lord Ch. Jus. I assure you this book is grandly suspicious.
Mr. Att. Gen. They threaten us with forgeries and I know not
Lord Ch. Jus. If in case you come and produce a book, and you
value yourselves upon the antiquity of it as an
evidence, and in that book Noicell is written in the
same hand as the rest of the Book ; but because
you find that Nowell was not 'till three score years
after, Nowell is turned by another hand to Collet ā
it draws a great suspicion on your Book as set up
for a purpose.
Mr. Williams. It is true, My Lord, if we did that it were some-
thing ; but we find an old Book ā and we produce
it as such ā we have not altered it, therefore it
cannot be done for our purpose.
Lord Ch. Jus. Who knows who did it ! but done it is.
Sir John Trevor. My Lord, we would gladly know where they had
this lease so that it may appear whence it came ;
for we know they have an excellent art of finding
out of deeds.
Knowles. My Lord, I had it in a garret, in a kind of nook, about
six feet long and three and a half wide, in my
own house, in the garret, among other things.
Mr. Sol. Gen. Pray, my Lord, give me leave to ask him a question,
for it is plain this man is mistaken.
Lord Ch. Jus. Mistaken ! yes, I assure you, very grossly : ask him
what questions you will ; but if he should swear
as long as Sir John Falstaflfe fought, I would never
believe a word he says.
Mr. Bradbury. My Lord, we have had a violent suspicion that
these deeds were forged : but we suspect now no
longer, for we have detected it ; and we will show
as palpable, self-evident, forgery as ever was. I
dare undertake to prove them plainly forged.
Mr. Att. Gen. That is an undertaking indeed !
Mr. Bradbury. It is an undertaking indeed to detect the de-
fendant's artifice ; but I will venture upon it, and
shall demonstrate it so evidently that Mr. Attorney
himself shall be convinced they are forged.
Mr. Att. Gen. Come on, let us see this demonstration.
[Parts of the Deeds of the 13th November and 22nd December,
2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary, were then read ; as were the Titles of
Acts of Parliament which began 22nd October, and ended 9th
December, in the 2nd and 3rd of Philip and Mary. And also several
of the fines levied in the following Hilary and Easter terms ; in which
the true style of the King and Queen was found : in Trinity term the
style was altered.]
3Tr. Bradbury. I cannot see how these deeds can be truly made.
I cannot believe the miller alone, or he that drew
his leases for him, could so long before prophesy
what manner of style should be hereafter used.
[Verdict was given for Plaintiff; and motion was made by his
Counsel that several deeds produced by the defendant, and detected of
forgery, might be left in Court, in order to have them pursued and
convicted of the forgery. And in Trinity term, 1684, there was an
information accordingly against Lady Ivy for forging and publishing
The Attorney General laboured hard to ward off the
effect of Mr. Bradbury's " demonstration," by arguing that
Philip and IMary might really have been designated King
and Queen of Spain at any time subsequent to the 25th of
October, 1555, when the abdication of Philip's father was
first publicly proclaimed. But he was answered that that
first abdication did not extend to Spain. And although
there is scarcely any historical occurrence of like magnitude,
respecting the date of which there is so much uncertainty as
the abdication of the throne of Spain by Charles the Fifth,
yet because the Attorney General was unable to support his
hypothetical defence by the production of any authentic
document, bearing the suggested designation, prior to April,
1556, his ingenious defence was overthrown, rather by nega-
tive inference than positive proof.
]S"ow in these ''Seven Lectures" an exactly similar
anachronism is represented as having been uttered by
Coleridge, of which the proof is positive and complete ;
since there can be no uncertainty whatever as respects the
dates either of the alleged anticipation or of its subsequent
In the sixth lectui'e, which, as may be ascertained from
the newspapers of the day, was delivered by Coleridge
on the 5th of December, 1811, he is made to speak of
" Sir Humphry Davy ;" a designation which, although
afterwards so familiar, was not then in existence. So that
precisely as there was no such style as King and Queen
of Spain in December, 1555, so was there no such title as
Sir Humphry Davy in December, 1811.
Hence there needs no apology for re-introducing the
report of Lady Ivy's case in illustration of this inquiry,
with which it has, in fact, a much closer analogy than with
that for which it was cited by Malone. His business with it
was merely collateral ; being for the purpose of exposing the
process by which old documents may be fabricated, as
described in the evidence of one of the witnesses : but here
there is not only an anachronism precisely similar in
character to that upon which the trial turned, but the details
in both cases present some extraordinary features in common.
The witness Knowles' minute account of the "cofier"
in his garret, and of his marvellous discovery of the old
papers therein, bears a very interesting resemblance to
Mr. Collier's description of his own discovery. The time
of year, too, to which the anachronisms are respectively
attributed, November and December, and the anticipation
of the real fact by exactly the same interval '' till the April
following." And then the collateral suspicion as to the
honesty of a Book, and the value set upon "the antiquity
of it," which to the out-spoken Lord Chief Justice of that
day appeared so " grandly suspicious." Nay even the
very words of Mr. Bradbury may, mutato nomine, exactly
^Pply ā I cannot see how these [lectures] can be truly
made. I cannot believe that the [lecturer] or he who made
his [lectures] for him could so long before prophesy what
manner of style should be hereafter created !
It must, however, be premised, before proceeding farther,
that we are bound by the affidavit of Mr. CoUier to receive
his report of these lectures as the ipsissima verba " taken
down from the Hps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in the year
1811, as aforesaid." And the fidelity with which they have
been reported and transcribed is further certified by an
elaborate semblance of exactitude which is produced here
and there by foot notes ā where the reporter's ear is said
to have betrayed his hand into slight verbal mistakes ; and
these mistakes, even of the most simple and obvious kind,
such as beast for least, scheme for theme, are not set right
without an unusual display of conscientious and punctilious
notification, (see pp. 14, 33, 95, 103, &c.)
One of these foot notes is especially remarkable for an air
of such needless self-distrust in the reporter, that it requires
a large amount of charity to believe it genuine, and not, as
Lord Jeifries would say, " set up for a purpose."
In the text there is the word contimiify, to which the
following foot note is appended by Mr. CoUier : ā
" I give this passage exactly as I find it in my notes ; but it strikes
me that something explanatory must have been omitted, and, perhaps,
the word I have written ' continuity' ought to be contiguity"
Now, in the first place, since these two words, continuity and
contiguity, are synonjonous in the sense required, nothing
coidd be gained by substituting one for the other : and, in
the second place, the most cursory reader of Coleridge must
be aware that continmti/ was a favourite word of his :
examples of it may be observed in the " Literary Eemains,"
vol. 2, p. 97, where it appears in the form of the verb
to continuate; and in the "Biographia Literaria," vol. 1,
p. 124, where continuity occurs twice in one page to illustrate
two different subjects. When, moreover, it is considered
that this word is not a whit more obscure than its proposed
substitute, and that it has a place in every English
Dictionary, the innocence of the foot note does seem a little
But what, now, is the inevitable deduction from all this
affectation of strict fidelity ? Why, that it must necessarily
preclude any recurrence, in the present case, to that sort of
hypothetical defence ā so successful with respect to the im-
possible dates exposed in " Literary Cookery," ā that the
blunder may be attributable to mistaken suggestion on the
part of the transcriber. Such an explanation might serve
for once, but it will hardly do a second time in the face of
such impressive evidences of critical exactness.
The first existence of the title " Sir Humphry Davy,"
is thus recorded in the " London Gazette :" ā
" Carlton House, April 9th, 1812. His Royal Highness the Prince
Regent was this day pleased, in the name and on behalf of His
Majesty, to confer the honoiu" of Knighthood on Humphry Davy,
Before this, the style would be "Mr. Davy," or " Professor
Davy," which last is assuredly the title Coleridge woidd use
when referring to Davy in his official connexion with the
But what will be thought of this alleged prophetic men-
tion of Sir Humphry Davy by Coleridge in 1811, when it
is found that a very similar allusion, in almost the same
terms, but very different in time, was really made by
Coleridge, and that it is recorded in his published works,
and signed, dated, and attested by himself (vide " Literary
Remains," vol. 2, page 203 : one of those volumes, it will
be recollected, of which Mr. Collier says, ā " Although I
have them by me I have purposely not consulted them with
reference to my present transcript.")
But to give this remarkable coincidence full effect, the
two allusions must be placed in parallel contrast, in which
shape they would more properly have belonged to the
preceding chapter, had they not been specially reserved for
5th December, 1811. 7th Januanj, 1819.
" Not long since, when I lee- " I gave these lectures
tured at the Royal Institution, at the Royal Institution, before
I had the honour of sitting at six or seven hundred auditors ā
the desk so ably occupied by in the spring of the same year
Sir Humphry Davy, who may in which Sir Humphry Davy
be said to have elevated the art made his great revolutionary
of chemistry to the dignity of discovery in chemistry."
a science." ā " Seven Lectures," " Recorded by me S. T.
p. 31. Coleridge." (Date as above.)
The only material difference between these two extracts
is, first, in the dates, of which one is possible the other
impossible : and, next, in the manner in which the references
to chemistry are treated, presenting almost as great a con-
trast as the dates, ā in the justness and appropriateness
of one and the absurd inapplicability of the other. Who,
that knows anything of the history of chemistry, could
believe that Coleridge ever said anything so silly -as that
the art of chemistry might be said to have been elevated
in the nineteenth century to the dignity of a science ?
There are two other circumstances, with reference to this
anachronism, which force themselves on the attention.
First, the date originally ascribed by Mr. Collier to this
lecture, namely, 1812, would have escaped the anachronism !
Secondly, the whole passage involving the anachronism, as
copied above from " Seven Lectures," was printed by antici-
pation in 1854 ; so that it was inextricably before the
public, and consequently irrevocable in 1855, when the
falseness of the date 1812 was exposed by the publication
of " Literary Cookery."
And is Mr. Collier now, because his private character
is irreproachable, to be held exempt, in his literary capacity,
from the natural effect of evidence like this ? Are persons
to be charged with personal malice, envy, and all iinworthi-
ness, because, ā in a case of suspected literary fraud, to
which no graver penalty attaches than the loss of literary
character, ā ^they cannot shut their eyes to the many suspi-
cious evidences that crowd these lectures ; nor refuse credit
to a yet stronger and more direct demonstration of subse-
quent fabrication than was held sufficient in a Court of Law
to convict a titled lady of real forgery, where large estates
were the forfeit, and a criminal arraignment the penalty ?
THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS.
A CHAPTER under this title may seem out of place in a
discussion upon Lectures by Coleridge ; but when it is known
tbat fully one-tbird of tbe book under consideration, entitled
*' Seven Lectures on Sbakespeare and MUton, by tbe late
S. T. Coleridge," consists of "A list of every manuscript
Emendation in Mr. Collier's copy of Sbakespeare's "Works,
Folio, 1632," it will be seen tbat an examination of tbat
book would be incomplete witbout some notice of tbe list
of emendations wbicb tbus forms so large a portion of it.
One bundred and twenty pages of small print are devoted
to a dry catalogue of tbese so- called emendations ; and
as no one of tbem occupies more tban a line or two, to tbe
number of about twenty-tbree to a page, tbe total number of
altered words must be sometbing like two tbousand seven
Strange to say, an argiiment of excellence bas been
attempted to be based upon tbis circumstance of number ;
by tbe same process of reasoning, perbaps, tbat great
pecuniary delinquents are treated witb a sort of respect
proportioned to tbe magnitude of tbeir transactions. But
can tbese admirers of tbe Old Corrector, wbo would exact
for bis productions a claim to tbe marvellous upon tbe score
of mere quantity, be really serious ? Can tbey possibly
imagine tbat anj- person of ordinary cleverness (and extraor-
dinar}' folly) would bave tbe least difficult}- in taking up an
THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS. 45
edition of Shakespeare and making such alterations as the
Old Corrector's almost as fast as he could write them
Oh, but the Old Corrector's emendations are tenfold more
numerous than those of all the commentators put together !
Why ? Because the commentators, even the most reckless
of them, were restrained by some respect for the original, by
some consciousness of individual responsibility ; first, as to
the necessity, and next as to the fitness of their suggestions.
Not so the irresponsible " Corrector : " his sole object would
appear to have been the attainment of that very element of
quantity, as though he had foreseen the use that might
afterwards be made of it ; his aim was not so much emenda-
tion as alteration ; wanton, causeless alteration, ā of letters,
of terminations, of words into equivalent words, or still
worse, into hap-hazard substitutes, which, if coming from a
less mysterious source, would not have been listened to for
The argument of quantity is amusingly carried to the
absurd, by the discovery in the British Museum, that Mr.
Collier's " Complete List" does not, Mr. Hamilton declares,
" contain one-half of the corrections, many of the most
significant being among those omitted." It follows, if
quantity is an element of excellence, that the corrections,
since the discovery of this additional access of rubbish, must
be considered as enormously increased in value.
But, after all, it is scarcely to be wondered at that this
circumstance of quantity should be made much of, since it is
almost the only fact connected with the folio that now
remains unshaken. All the other strongholds are becoming
untenable. The authority of antiquity, the most notable
and important of all, was unconditionally surrendered by
the " Athengcum" during the short panic consequent upon
the exposure in the British Museum, (July, 18o9), of the
46 THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS.
false character of the writing. That was a memorable
disclaimer, and it cannot be too often repeated ! It appeared
in the "Athenaeimi" of the 9th July, 1859, a few days
after the publication in the "Times" of Mr. Hamilton's
letter : ā
" The folio derived no part of its authority from the supposition that
it traced back to the seventeenth century, nor would it lose any part
of its authority were it proved to have originated in the nineteenth
This, if it proves nothing else, proves at least that there
is no sort of break-down in the character of the foHo, no
disproof of its pretensions, that the "Athenaeum" would
balk at in its pre-determined and unflinching support.
Whether unwittingly premature or not, that disclaimer,
in its surrender of the antiquity, was as complete as the
greatest enemy of the margins could desire ; for it is idle
to say that if the antiquity were real it would not confer
great and important authority upon the folio. If the pres-
tige of the ancient looking writing, and its presumed
precedence in their own suggestions to men who laboured
at the text a century before the folio was heard of, had not
been of vital importance to the estimation the corrections
are held in, what has all the disputing been about for the
last seven years ? ā What, even now, is the meaning of the
struggles of the " Athenaeum," to stifle the neological test
and to discredit the result of the palaeographical scrutiny ?
Even in a moral point of view, by what stretch of ingenuity
can it be said that a production, in the simulated disguise
of the seventeenth century, ivould not lose any part of its
authority if proved to have originated in the nineteenth century ?
The question admits of no such compromise ; either these
corrections are entitled to all the respect due to the antiquity
they pretend to, or they are deliberate and elaborate for-
geries, and, as such, entitled to no respect at all.
THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS. 47
But the disclaimer continues : ā
" It was and is a book brimming with the most remarkable sugges-
tions and criticisms made by an unknown hand ; and having no tittle
of authority as a Shakspearean gloss beyond that derived from the
felicity of its hints and emendations."
Was there ever a more unblushing denial than this, when
it is notorious that the pretended antiquity of these correc-
tions had alone obtained a hearing for them ?
Was there ever a more preposterous substitution of
assertion for reality, than to speak of their ''felicity" as an
accredited fact, when it is well known that a large
preponderance of opinion condemns them as altogether
worthless and contemptible ?
But the "Athenaeum" is not the only certifier to the
felicity of the margins. That happy word has been still
more recently expanded into " exquisitely felicitous," by a
writer in the last number of the "Edinburgh Review,"
(April, 1860, page 466.)
Less cautious than the "Athenasum," which evidently
considers general assertion the safest, the Edinburgh
Reviewer goes the length of selecting one correction,
which he calls "a striking example," and introduces as
follows : ā
" Now nothing is more striking in the work of our Corrector than
the number of passages of this description, with which he boldly deals,
and with which no one had dealt before. It does not signify for our
present purpose whether his manner of dealing with them suit our
taste or not ; it is the fact itself which is so remarkable. To take a
single instance. Timon bids the Athenian
' Tahe his haste,
Come hither, ere my tree hath felt the axe,
And hang himself.'
Take his haste is sheer nonsense ; it is all but certain Shakespeare did
not write it ; yet it is so near sense that every editor has passed it by
as not worth touching. The Corrector reads ' take his halter.' We are
48 THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS.
not here concerned with the aptness of the change : we are only
considering its boldness : why should a mere forger have gone out
of his way to meddle with a text which no man had disturbed
" This very striking example might be multiplied, had we only room
for this course of proof by hundreds." ā "Edinburgh Review," April,
1860, page 459.
The most notable thing in this criticism is the nervous
anxiety of the reviewer to avoid committing himself to a
direct opinion as to the " aptness of the change." Twice he
alludes to that most essential point, but only to declare " it
does not signify" and "we are not here concerned" with
it. He might well have some vague misgiving about it, for
no alteration could be in worse taste, or, fortunately for the
text, more easy of refutation. Even the limited approval of
it, implied in its selection as a favourable example, ought to
deprive the writer of the review of all pretension to pass
judgment upon any subject connected with the text of
Shakespeare, by convicting him of incapacity to enter into
and appreciate its true spirit.
First, the reviewer says ā " Take his haste is sheer
nonsense;" but in the next breath he adds ā "yet it is so
near sense that every editor has passed it by without
remark ! " After this rather paradoxical description he
lauds the boldness of the Corrector for rushing in where all
else had feared to tread. " Why should a mere forger,"
he asks, " have gone out of his way to meddle with a text
which no man had touched before ?" The answer is obvious,
ā for the sake of meddling ! It was not out of his way, it
was exactly in his way, to run down each column of the text
and make a point at every phrase or letter he thought might
serve his purpose of alteration. And, supposing the " mere
forger" is as modern as he is suspected to be, what so
likely to attract his notice as this phrase " take his haste,"
which would grate against his common-place experience,
THE FELICITY OF THE MARGINS. 49
and, to short-sighted perception like his, wovdd doubtless
appear " sheer nonsense ! "
But is "let him take his haste (and) come hither" such
absolute nonsense as the reviewer pronounces it to be ?
Take it to the nearest Ragged School, give it to the children
as a question, and require the meaning ; give them another
phrase hora Anthony and Cleopatra, "Put it to the haste"
ā Avith which the Old Corrector has not meddled ā require
the meaning of that also, and it wiU be seen with which of
these phrases the children will have the greater difficulty.
In what consists the nonsense of " take his haste" ? Is it in
the use of take for the more famihar make ? WiU any one
pretend to say that the choice between these two verbs is
any thing but a mere caprice of idiom ? The distinction
between them is entirely arbitrary and conventional. A
person takes his walk, but he snakes his journey ; he takes