a Critic, a union of rare and valuable qualities is required.
To the gifts of nature must be added the results of study,
and each will be imperfect without the assistance of the
other; the result of this necessary combination will be
to enable the possessor to avoid those rocks on which so
many reputations have been shipwrecked — a temerity and
love of change on the one side, and a timid and super-
stitious adherence to error on the other.
" Eruditio quae
ut parum, aut nihil sine ingenio; sic sine eruditione, ne
perspicassimum quidem ingenium quicquam effecerit."
It may probably happen, that when (for example) the
expected edition by Mr. Dyce appears, some who have been
accustomed to the bolder proposals and frequent alterations
of the former commentators, may slightly regard the changes
made by a gentler and more careful hand, and consider
that little has been gained when so little seems to appear ;
but this apparent defect would be the certain sign of a
* Such is the dyxivoia, required by the Greek writers on the subject — "rem acu
tangere," of the Latias. " Sed hoc Jingere est, inquit 6 ^tlva ; — Immo totum hoc
critices negotium est Jingere : mode ita iiat, ut ne a verisimiUtudine aberret ;" but
when texts are corrupt, a Httlo experience will teach the critic to be content with
improvement, where complete restitution is unattainable. " Locus corruptus quem
nisi sanituti restituere, morbi tamen parte levare poterimus."
skilful and happy application of the tme principles of the
art. '' In summa artis intentione" (such is the sound and
acute observation of Pliny when speaking of Protagoras)
" minor erat fertilitas."
We may now look back with something like wonder at
the manner in which the older editors approached their
voluntary task, apparently without any preparation or re»
flection on that proper system to be pursued which could
alone be successful : — when Pope altered what he did not
approve — when Warburton called on his ready invention,
his discursive erudition, and his ingenious fancy, to supply
the place of patient investigation and inquiry — and when
Steevens forced his own unauthorized system of versifica-
tion into a theory, to be maintained at the costly sacrifice
of his author's genuine reading ; nor can any one, deeply
jealous of the integrity of Shakespeare's text, be led to
approve the strange deviations from the original which
have been made by some later editors, in opposition to the
earlier authorities, and to the just laws of sound criticism.*
From want of sufficient preparation for a task which de-
manded long previous studies, chiefly arise, I believe,
those rash and inconsiderate innovations, and this delusive
and dangerous plan of supplying the want of knowledge by
unsupported assertion and a confident boldness of conjec-
ture ; and we trust that the system (if such it can be
called) so utterly destructive of truth, and so unworthy of
all acknowledged talent and finished learning, has altogether
passed away. "We had indeed," to use another's language,
" much to learn, much to obliterate, and much to mend."
Erom any such future deviation from all that could
inspire confidence or increase sound instruction we are now,
I believe, quite safe. It is of the utmost importance that
we should, whether by separate or combined efforts, possess
as perfect an edition of our greatest Poet as by any means
or appliances we can command. It is the noblest subject
any commentator could desire ; for it will call out at once all
a scholar's learning, all a critic's acuteness, and all a poet's
* " Satius est ulcus intactum relinquere, cui mederi noii possis ; multum in his
rebus, yalet tempus."
genius. Here Philology may exhaust her stores of erudition ;
and here Philosophy may be induecd awhile to leave the
severity of the schools, to preside over the mimic repre-
sentations of Truth, and to clothe the august lessons of
Wisdom, with the brightest hues of imaginative decoration,
The names of Jonson and Pletcher, and of others scarcely
of lesser fame, are pre-eminently great — sufficient to stand
at the head of any drama of any country, and to render it
illustrious. In variety of character, in richness of inven-
tion, and wisdom of reflection, even the muse of the Athenian
stage must retire before them. Irreparable would indeed
be the loss of their writings to our hterature and language ;
but when compared to Shakespeare they shrink into a
narrower compass, and seem comparatively wanting in the
treasures of imaginative wealth (which in him seem in-
exhaustible), and weak in that inventive and creative power
by which he has formed an imperishable world of his own.^
There is that in Shakespeare's mind that thus appears to
separate itself from all others. He seems alone to have
ascended into the Idghest sphere of intellectual life ; — to
have surveyed, as from an eminence never reached before,
the entire framework of human society — the whole internal
structure of the moral universe ; to have penetrated into the
deepest recesses of the human heart, and to have commanded
the boundless prospect of the thoughts, the passions, and
the affections of mankind. There is however one view^
more of this mighty mind which, without disrespect, may
be mentioned as bringing with it an interest altogether of
a different kind :— it is when disengaging himself from the
attraction of fiction, and quitting that world of ideal beauty
in which he chiefly delighted to dwell, he addresses us in
his own person, and unfolds the secret memorials of private
life. Far above all local interests, all written records, all
* "Thinking as I do," says Mr. Dyce, "that Shakespeare is unlike the other
dramatists of Elizabeth and James's age ; that his method of conceiving and ivork-
ing out character (to say nothing of his diction) is pecuharly his own — I deny the
truth of a passage in Hazlitt's Lectures on the Dramatists of the Age of Elizabeth :
— ' He towered above his fellows, in shape and gesture proudly eminent ; but he
was one of a race of giants, the tallest, the strongest, the most graceful and beau-
tiful of them, hut it luas a common and nolle brood.' " P. 12, ed. 18i0. We hope
that this opinion, here casually given, will be more fully expanded and illustrated
in the forthcoming edition of our great Poet's works.
historic documents (though these are not to be willingly-
disbelieved or disregarded), is that wonderful disclosure of
himself made, as it were, confidentially to us in a separate
portion of his poetry, which I never can read without feel-
ings of deep and painful emotion, for it is the picture of
one by his own hand self-accused, confessing that he has
been unfaithful to himself and to the guardianship of that
matchless treasure entrusted to his care. It is the lan-
guage of him (if I rightly interpret it) who has awakened
but too late to the conviction, that much of the noble gifts
bestowed on him by Nature he has permitted to be pro-
faned by worldly and worthless hands, and that he has endan-
gered at once the purity and independence of the noblest
of created minds. Well indeed might a writer who has
done justice to Shakespeare's genius, and never mentioned
his name without feelings of deep respect, while tracing his
narrative through this portion of the poet's history, which
contains a voice from the profound depths of the afflicted
spirit, exclaim, "There was a time in Shakespeare's life when
that mighty heart was ill at ease."* This combination of
anxious thought, mental suffering, and intellectual power,
has always been to me a portion of our poet's history more
deeply attractive and affecting than any ideal representa-
tions could be ; and therefore what are called his Sonnets,
in my estimation, are wanting neither in poetical beauty
nor depth of feeling, nor moral grandeur and dignity. f
And now, lest I should be wanting in due respect to my
readers, in leaving them with only this very imperfect
testimony of my own opinion, on a subject worthy of the
greatest minds, I will lay before them a few other records
of those who, having themselves received the full meed of
* Of B. Jouson I have only room now to say, that had he not bequeathed to us that
memorable page in which he has delighted to express his admiration of one who,
he beheved, had uo superior, and scarcely knowing who could claim a second place
beside him — on whom he had gazed with admu-ation in his meridian splendour, and
followed with eyes of love and veneration in the darkness of his late decline — we
should have wanted a most impressive and affecting pictm-e of the grateful attach-
ment of one great mind to another still greater than itself, expressed in that pui'e
and native eloquence, that as it comes from, so it goes directly to, the heart. Our
historic gallery possesses nothing superior to the passage in which Jonson speaks
of the illustrious Bacon in his closing days of adversity. The lines are few, but it
is a noble subject treated by a masterly liand.
t See on this subject Mr. Wordsworth's Supplement to the Preface to his Poems,
vol. i, p. 321.
praise — some in life and some in death — are worthy of all
attention and belief, when they bestowed it on others.
" Laudari a laudato viro," is the highest reward that man
can receive; for it enables him with justice to praise
Dryden says : " He was the man of all modern and
perhaps ancient poets, who had the largest and most com-
Coleridge has applied to him the epithet of fivpwvovg, or
thousand-souled, and speaks of his oceanic mind. — Tal/le
Talh, vol. ii, p. 361.
Goethe says : "I regard Shakespeare as a being of a
Dr. Chalmers : "I look on Shakespeare as an intellectual
miracle. I dare say Shakespeare was the greatest man
that ever lived."
Mr. Hallam declares : " The name of Shakespeare is the
greatest in literature — it is the greatest in all literature.
No man comes near to him in the creative power of his
mind. Compare him with Homer — the tragedians of Greece,
the poets of Italy ; Plautus, Cervantes, Moliere ; Addison,
Le Sage, Fielding, Richardson, and Scott — the romances
of the later or older schools — One man has far more than
surpassed them all.""''''
Lastly, Mr. W. S. Landor (who is to be placed among
the foremost writers of the present day, in genius as in
learning) says well: — "A great poet represents a great
portion of the human race. Nature delegated to Shake-
speare the interests and direction of the whole.
* Mr. Wordsworth has made this observation, that Lord Bacon, in his
multifarious writings, nowhere quotes or alludes to Shakespeare ; and that the
learned Hakcwill (a third edition of whose book bears the date of 1636), writing to
refute the error "touching Nature's perpetual decay," cites triumphantly the
names of Ariosto, Tasso, Bartas, and Spenser, as instances that poetic genius had
not degenerated, hut he makes no mention of Shakespeare ; on which I have to
observe, that I do not believe that the public theatres on the Bankside were much
resorted to by the statesmen and senators of that age ; that only some of his plays
were printed, and these very imperfectly, and in a manner very diiFerent fi-om
the beautiful editions of Spenser ; and that in his lifetime there was no collection
of his works. No doubt the lives of many of the early dramatists (such as those
of Peele, Green, Nash, Middleton, &c.) served to keep them in great poverty and
obscurity, and did much injury to their reputation, so as to lower the character
of the whole dramatic fraternity.
"H yap Twp Xoyiijv KpiaiQ, ttoWyiq iarl ireipag TtXtvToiov iiriytpvt]fia, — LONGINUS,
P, 18. " Cedar."] In Meff?/, xiv, p. 136, Marlowe places the cedav
of Lebanon on Mount Ida — the Mountain of Fines — without arguing as
to the propriety of the location : —
" Such as in hilly Ida's watery plains,
The cedar taU, spoil'd of his bark, retains."*
P. 26. "So continued."] In perusing Marlowe's plays, it may be seen
that several lines would be rendered more euphonious by a slight trans-
position of the words, without any other alteration; but such must be
cautiously made, and no general rule seems established, nor has received
Mr. Dyce's authority, while the habitual carelessness of the early printers
might seem to permit its application, ex. gr. in Tamiurlaine, vol, i,
"Eaise mounts, batter, intrench, and undermine,"
might be read —
"Batter, intrench, raise mounts, and undermine.^'
in Bido, Queen of Carthage, p. 277 : —
Wlien suddenly gloomy Orion rose.
When suddenly Orion gloomy rose.
In Edward the Second, vol. ii, p. 252 : —
" Come Spenser, come Baldock, come sit down by ine, '
dele the second "come."
"Come Spensei', Baldock, come sit down by me.''
I am, however, aware that the authors were often careless in these
matters as well as the printers.
In the same page, it would not only improve the metre, but the force of
expression, to make a slight alteration.
* Of late yeai's another variety of cedar has been discovered on the Himalaya
Mountains of India, and a third in Nortliern Al'rica, on the lliUs of Tauuus.
Bald. — to pine in fear
Of Mortimer and his confederates.
Ed%v, " Mortimer ! who talks of Mortimer ? ''
" Of Mortimer ! who talks of Mortimer ?"
Ho ! young man ! saw you as you came ?
"Ho! young man ! saw you as you liiilier came?"
" Oh ! level all your looks upon these daring men."
<]ele " oh " aud " all."
" Level yoiu" looks upon these daring men.''
Vol. i, p, 115.
Then, after all these solemn exequies,
We will our celebrated rites of marriage solemnize.
There are several marks of corrupt reading here — 1, " celebrated rites ;"
3, " solemn" and " solemnize ;" 3, the redundant metre of the second
line. Bead —
" We will our rites of marriage celebrate."
In vol. ii, p. 806, BkJo, Queen of Carthage, I should prefer,
"And headless carcases pil'd up in heaps,"
" Headless carcases piled up in heaps."
P. 23. " Parenthesis.] This is an assumed name of Justiniano, in
Webster's Westicard Ho.
P. 29. " C^«apparent, e'wapparent."] The syllables mi, and in are often
interchanged. So ^wfortunate and zwfortunate in Marlowe's Edward the
Second, vol. ii, p. 248 ; inio and vnio, p. 416.
P. 80. So straight a cedar.] See Marlowe's Hero and Leander, vol. iii,
" Her body was as straight as Circe's wand."
And, now that I am come to the conclusion of my slender labours,
I may say these few words in explanation, or perhaps apology, for having
undertaken them : that, having been in certain instances consulted by the
editor on some passages in which the reading was doubtful, I was inclined,
partly from a natural curiosity, as the lover of nature is loath to leave the
*^ • 56
scenes of beauty he has admired, and partly out of my great respect for
him, to continue my perusal of the work on which he was employed,
keeping the same object in view. My services indeed have been but
slio-ht, but every man must act according to the measure of his own strength ;
and no doubt but there are many who, like myself, would feel it to be a
sufficient reward of their industry to be permitted to remove a few of
those injuries and imperfections which by time and neglect may have
gathered round some of the finest productions of genius. Yet when
I reflected how little I could contribute, in comparison with what others
who preceded me had effected, I was not seldom reminded of an
apologue that proceeded from the fancy of some ancient fabulist, and
applied it to my own case. In an assembly of the birds, it was proposed
to offer a prize to whichsoever of them was able to soar to the loftiest
elevation. The eagle's bold and powerful pinions speedily bore him far
above all his competitors, and as he arrived at the summit of his flight,
the palm of victory seemed already in his possession ; when suddenly
a icren, who had nestled in concealment beneath his wing, darted out,
flew a few yards higher, and from weak and unjust judges carried off the
prize. And now, if there remains any other point that may be thought
to require explanation, let that be given in the words of a writer who at
once expresses my feelings and his own : —
" Nil minus egit Wyttenbachius, quam ut supra amicum snum sapere
velle videretur. Qui hoc suspicantur, aut ignorantia labuntur aut
malevolentia ducuntur. . . Ignorant utriusque viri mores, veritatis
studium, mutuam consuetudinem ; ignorant Socraticam rationem, Atti-
camque venustatem, huic Scrip tionis generi debitam. Malevolentise
autem summse est conari amicos ab amicis abalienare ; si quidem
verissime dicitur, maximas esse divitias, bonos amicos habere. Censori
quidem non major cum animi benevolentia, quam cum ingenii elegantia
G. L. Mahne.
Gymnasii Amisfwtani Rector.
TtJCKEB AND CO., PBINTEBS, PEBRT'S PLACE, OXFOED STBEET.
MR. COLLIER'S REPLY
MR. HAMILTON'S "INQUIRY."
Printed by G. Barclay, Castle St. Leicester Sq.
MR. J. PAYNE COLLIER'S REPLY
To MR. N. E. S. A. HAMILTON'S
"INQUIRY" INTO THE
IMPUTED SHAKESPEARE FORGERIES.
BELL AND DALDY, 186 FLEET STREET.
My Letter in the Athenceum of the 18th Feb. last
was necessarily written on the spur of the moment,
and it will not surprise the reader that it should
have stood in some need of correction : the correc-
tions, with additional matter, chiefly in the shape
of documents, are supplied in the following pages.
Here and there a few new circumstances have since
occurred to my memory ; and these I have also
inserted, as well as enlarged others. It ought to
be borne in mind that the most recent transaction
referred to is now more than ten years old, and that
others go back to the distance of twenty, thirty, and
thirty-five years : it will not be surprising, there-
fore, if I have accidentally omitted even particulars
which might be important.
The substance of what here appears in more detail
was published in the Athenmum of the 18th ult. jiA^/ '
but the charges against me have been got up with
such elaborate pomp and circumstance by the Manu-
script Department of the British Museum, of which
Mr. N. E. S. A. Hamilton is the mouthpiece, and
have been printed in so imposing a shape, that I have
thought it necessary to give my " Reply" in something
like a corresponding form of permanence and pro-
minence, in order, as the question must unavoidably
survive the mere interest of the day, that one publi-
cation may accompany the other, and that the bane
and the antidote may be taken together.
I can have no right to complain that, if there be
fair and reasonable ground for believing that a fraud
and imposture has been attempted or committed, one
department, or even all the departments, of our great
national institution should step forward to guard the
public against the delusion. I look upon it, in fact,
as part of their duty; but they are bound to dis-
4 Mr. J. Payne Collier's Reply to
charge that duty with as much expedition as is com-
patible with a proper sifting of the case ; and they
are bound, moreover, not only to limit themselves,
in the execution of their task, to what necessity may
require, but to proceed with due regard to the char-
acter and dignity of their own position. A dispas-
sionate sobriety ought to be observed, if merely for
the sake of the effect to be produced ; and the whole
inquiry ought to be conducted with the utmost tem-
j)er and moderation. Above all, no personal ani-
mosity or individual antipathy ought to be indulged,
much less to be apparent. A spirit of judicial im-
partiality ought to pervade the proceedings of those
who take upon themselves at once to accuse, to in-
vestigate, to give evidence, and to decide.
This is a truism so obvious that I shall not en-
deavour so much to enforce it, as to contrast it with
the course the Manuscript Department of the British
Museum have adopted in reference to the charges
they have brought against me.
In the very beginning of July last, they opened
their attacks by the boldest accusations of forgery,
confessedly long before they were in possession of evi-
dence to support them : all was then mere assertion ;
but they promised, without more delay than could not
be avoided, to produce their authorities : they should,
they said, " shortly lay before the public " all the
particulars they could collect. What was the result?
They have occupied nearly eight months in their
inquiries : in the meantime, if they were believed, I
have had to sustain all the odium produced by their
preliminary denunciation ; and yet, when their ma-
tured imputations are brought forward in the shape of
an ambitious pamphlet of 155 quarto pages, they are
Mr. Hamilton s Inquiry. 5
not found to contain even as much as their original
In the interval, however, they have been far from
idle in other ways; they have carried back their
researches not merely to the year 1849, when I
bought the corrected folio, 1632, of Shakespeare's
Works (which, for brevity's sake, I shall call the
Perkins folio) of Rodd the bookseller, but even to
the year 1823, when, in foct, my avowed career of
authorship was only in its commencement. , They
liave hunted in every dirty hole and obscure corner
for information; and if they happened to light upon
anything that, in their opinion, at all contributed to
the end of blackening my character, individual and
literary, they have not failed, during the whole of the
last seven or eight months, to make it public, not only
by paragraphs and articles in newspapers,! but by
* Independently of documents and other reprinted matter,
there are not 50 pages of the 155 that are new. The composition
of these 50 pages occupied more than 220 days, or at the rate of
considerably less than a quarter of a page per day — this, too,
supposing only one hand to have been employed upon the work ;
whereas it is notorious that the Manuscript Department not only
brought all their resources to bear on the subject, but called in the
aid of the Mineral Department also. We do not here take into
account the separate labours of the lithographer. Is this, I may
ask, to be taken as a test of the rate at which business is con-
ducted in the Department ? I always thought, and had some
reason to think, that it was one of the most industx-ious and well-
conducted departments in the British Museum.
f I wish to avoid giving personal offence, and therefore
mention no names ; but it is generally stated that the Manuscript
Authorities of the British Museum specially invited gentlemen
to see the book, and to listen to their criticisms upon it, who
were engaged in various departments of the public press. The
name of one gentleman in particular, for whom otherwise I enter-
6 Mr. J. Payne Collier^s Reply to
laboured attacks upon me in magazines and reviews
carefully forwarded to me anonymously. No chance
was neglected of discovering something to confirm
the impression which the Manuscript Department
hoj^ed they had produced by their earliest onslaught
in The Times of the 2nd of July last.*
Surely it will not be said that such a course is
creditable to the Manuscript Department of the
British Museum, which ought only to be interested
in the iliscovery of truth, for the sake of truth itself,
and not for the purpose of injuring private reputa-
tion; yet its junior officers, it is said, have from
time to time employed themselves in stimulating
the public appetite, and in whetting the edge of
public curiosity, for the sake, not only of directing
tain a high respect in his own branch of knowledge, has almost
invariably been coupled in paragraphs directed against me and
my literary labours. While I had any influences of the same
kind, as all my friends and relations knew, I studiously kept my
own name from thus attracting public attention.
* It is to be observed that at that date they had had the
Perkins folio, by consent of his Grace the Duke of Devonshii'e,
for nearly two months in their hands. I have always striven to
make myself as unobjectionable as I could, but even my small
reputation in an inferior department of letters seems to have
excited envy ; and I foresaw that, when Lord Campbell, as a
kind compliment to that reputation rather than to ray merits,
addressed to me his letter On the Legal Acquirements of Shake-
speare, it would materially tend to exasperate my enemies. It