Frederic Madden.

Observations on an autograph of Shakespeare, and the orthography of his name online

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JOHN GAGE, Esq., F.R.S. Director.



Price One Shilling.





of SHAKESPEARE. By J. P. COLLIER, Esq. crown 8vo. 3*. 6rf.

ON THE SONNETS of SHAKESPEARE; identifying the

Person to whom they are addressed, and elucidating several points in the
Poet's History. By J. Boaden, Esq. 8vo. 2s. Gd.

lected in the year 1693, now first published. 8vo. One shilling.

SHAKSPERE'S WILL, now first published according to the
original in the Prerogative Court. 8vo. One shilling.


GEDIES, second impression, 1632, russia, good copy, SI. 8s.

GEDIES, third impression, 1664, russia, very fine copy, 241.

Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Fourth
edition, 1685, good copy, 31. 10*.

Shakespeare's Works, by Rowe, plates, the Jirst edition with
illustrations, 7 vols. 8vo. 1709, 18*.

Shakespeare's Works, by Rowe, largepapcr, 7 vols. 21. 12s. (></.

Shakespeare's Twenty Plays, printed from the original edition,
in 4to. 4 vols. 8vo. 1/.

Shakespeare, QEuvres complettes, par Letourneur, revue et cor-
rigee par Guizot, 13 torn, large paper, Paris, 1821, 41.

Shakespeare's Schauspiele, von Eschenburg, 12 vols. 6vo,
Zurich, 1775, 16*.




&c &c,











JOHN GAGE, Esq. F.R.S. Director.

ffirf ^



Reprinted from the Archeeologia, vol.xxvii. pp. 113 — 123, with some




&c. &c.

British Museum, Jan. 11, 1837.

My dear Sir,
I trust it will not be deemed foreign to the pur-
suits of the Society of Antiquaries, to receive some
particulars respecting the autograph of an indivi-
dual, the magic of whose name must best plead
as my apology for abstracting them from their
graver subjects of inquiry. The individual I allude
to is no less a personage than our immortal dramatic
poet, William Shakspere, to mention whom,
and to excite curiosity and interest, I may, I believe,
in any society of educated persons, assume to be
inseparable. By the assistance of my friend, Charles
Frederick Barnwell, Esq., of the British Museum,
I am enabled to lay before the Society an accurate
fac-simile of the signature of this great man, written
on the fly-leaf of a volume which, there is every
reason to believe, once formed a part of his library,
and which has hitherto, strange to say, been hidden
from the knowledge and indefatigable researches of
the whole host of Shaksperian commentators, col-
lectors, and illustrators. Already, on the mere
announcement of the fact, one might fancy, with no


4 Observations mi mi Autograph of Shakspere,

great effort of imagination, the shades of Warburton
and Johnson, Tyrwhitt and Stcevens, llitson and
Chalmers, Warton and Parr, again crowding round
the volume, to view the characters traced by the
Bard of Avon; again might we view the adoration
of Bos well's bended knees ; and, on this occasion, no
sceptic sneer would distort the lip or depress the
brow of the critical Malone. — But to the point :

The precious volume which I have thus introduced
to your notice is a copy of the first edition of the
English translation of Montaigne's " Essays," by John
Florio, printed in folio, 1603,* and its fortunate owner
is the Reverend Edward Patteson, of East Sheen,
in Surrey, to whom the Society will be indebted, in
common with myself, for any gratification they may
receive from the present communication. Of its
history nothing more can be stated than this, that
it belonged previously to Mr. Pattesons father,
the Reverend Edward Patteson, minister of Smeth-

* " The Essayes, or Morall, Politikc, and Millitarie Discourses
of I.o. Michaell tie Montaigne, Knight. First written by him in
French, and now done into English by him that hath inuiolably
vowed his labors to the /Kternitie of their Honors, whose names
he hath scuerally inscribed on these his consecrated A 1 tares. The
first booke to the Right Honorable Lucie Co. of Bedford, and
Ladie Anne Harrington, her Ho. Mother. The second booke
to the Right Honorable Elizabeth Co. of Rutland, and Ladye
Penelope Riche. The third booke to the right Honorable Ladie
Elizabeth Grey and Ladie Maria Nevile. John Florio."

" Printed at London by Val. Sims, for Edward Blount, dwel-
ling in Panics Churchyard, 1003." From hisaddress " to the
courteous readers," we learn that this translation was under-
taken at the suggestion of Sir Edward Wotton. It was reprinted
in 1613, (Lowndes,) and a third time in 1(332. These later
editions are dedicated to Queen Anna of Denmark, and pre-
fixed are some commendatory verses by Sam. Daniel, to his
" dearc brother and friend, Mr. John Florio, one of the gentle-
men of her Majestie'a most royal Privie Chamber." The ori-
ginal work was first published in 1588.

And the Orthography of his Name. 5

wick, in Staffordshire, about three miles from
Birmingham, and thus contiguous to the county
which gave Shakspere birth. How or when
this gentleman first became possessed of it, is not
known ; but it is very certain that, previous to the
year 1780, Mr. Patteson used to exhibit the volume
to his friends as a curiosity, on account of the auto-
graph. No public notice of it, however, was at any
time made ; and, contented with this faint notoriety,
the autograph of Shakspere continued to slumber
in the hands of this gentleman and his son, until by
the friendly representations of Mr. Barnwell, the
present owner was induced to bring it to the British
Museum for inspection. Now, imperfect as this
information is, yet it is ample of itself to set at rest
all doubts that might at first naturally arise in the
minds of those who are acquainted with the forgeries
of Ireland, since, at the period when this volume was
assuredly in the library at Smethwick, and known
to contain Shakspere's autograph, this literary im-
postor was scarcely born. This fact must at once
obviate any scruples in regard to the autograph
now brought forward, having emanated from the
same manufactory which produced the " Miscella-
neous Papers." For myself, I may be permitted to
remark, that the forgeries of Chatterton* and Ireland
have always appeared to me thoroughly contempt-

* The Chatterton forgeries are now preserved in the British
Museum, MSS. Add. 5766, a. b.c. and exhibit the most decisive
proofs of the impudence of the imposture, and the obstinate igno-
rance of those who were to the last its champions. These defenders
of Rowley argue that Chatterton was incapable of reading any
work of research ; but if so, how is it we find among his fictions
the list of romances printed in Madox's Formulare Anglicanum,
and a copy of the kneeling figure of one of the Howard family,

6 Observations on an Autograph of Shaken re.

ible, and utterly unworthy of the controversy they
occasioned ; indeed, they can only be justly cha-
racterised in the words of Malone, as " the genuine
offspring of consummate ignorance and unparalleled
audacity." * At the present day the study ami
knowledge of ancient manuscripts, the progress of
our language, and the rules of exact criticism in
matters of this kind have become too extensively
spread to allow us to suppose any similar attempt
will ever disgrace our literature; but for the sake;
of gratifying curiosity, and of a comparison between
the genuine autograph of Shakspere, and the mise-
rable imitations of Master William Henri/ Ireland,
I am enabled, by the kindness of Sir Henry Ellis,
to exhibit to the Society a paper in the hand- writing
of the forger, in which may be seen at one view his
copies I of other genuine signatures of the poet,
and his own avowal of his fabrications. The pic-
sent autograph ehallenges and defies suspicion, and
has already passed the ordeal of numerous compe-
tent examiners, all of whom have, without a single
doubt, expressed their conviction of its genuineness.

in Weever's funeral monuments, p. 847, which the impostor has
partly altered, and then had the assurance to write around an
inscription to the memory of Sir Gauleroyn de Chatterton ?
To those who may have the least lingering wish to advocate the
canst' of Row ley. I recommend the task of deciphering eighteen
lini s in the Purple Roll, which for some reason or other have
i, vex Mt been printed. It is worthy of remark, that one of
these contemptible Fragments is actually fastened to a portion of a

niiine deed of the date ol la I leu. IV., which in all probability
is one of the very parchments that did come out of the celebrated
chest, and which is just what we might expect it to he, a quit-
claim from one citizen of Bristol to another, of his right in four
shops in the suburbs ! Sec .MSS. Add. 5706, a. fol. 28.

* Inquiry, p. .554.

t Fac similes of these having already appeared in his " Con-
fessions," it was thought unnecessary to repeat them here.

And the Orthography of his Name. 7

The only possible objection which might arise in
the mind of a sceptic is this, whether there might
not have been living at the same time other persons
of the name of William Shakspere, to one of whom
the volume might have belonged ? In reply to this
it must be remarked, first, that on comparing the
autograph before us with the genuine signatures of
the poet, on his will, and on two legal instruments,
there is a sufficient resemblance to warrant the con-
clusion that they are by the same hand, although
enouo-h variation to preclude the idea of imitation ;
and, secondly, that the contents of the volume itself
come in aid, and afford additional evidence of the
genuineness, as well as add to the interest of the
autograph ; for it is well known that this book was
consulted by Shakspere in the composition of his
plays. The Tempest presents us with a proof so
undeniable of this fact, that I cannot refuse myself
the satisfaction of quoting it here.

In the second act, sc. 2, p. 64, torn. iv. ed. 8vo.
1813, occurs the following dialogue, after the escape
of the king's party from the vessel, on the deserted

island : —

Gonzalo. Had I plantation of this isle, my lord : —

Antonio. He'd sow it with nettle-seed.

Sebastian. Or docks, or mallows.

Gon. — and were the king of it, what would I do ?

Seb. 'Scape being drunk for want of wine.

Gon. I' the commonwealth I would by contraries
Execute all things ; for no kind of traffic
Would I admit ; no name of magistrate ;
Letters should not be known ; no use of service,
Of riches, or of poverty ; no contracts ;
Successions ; bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none ;
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil ;
No occupation ; all men idle, all,
And woman too, but innocent and pure ;
No sovereignty. —

8 Observations on an Autograph of S/iatispere,

Seb. And yet lie would be king on't !

Ant. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the be-
ginning !"

The corresponding passage of Montaigne occurs
in Book i. chap. 30, p. 102, where he is speaking of
a newly discovered country, which he calls A n tar-
tick France, and thus proceeds : —

" It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind
of trajfike, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers,
no name of magistrate, nor of politike Buperioritie ; no use of
service, of riches, or of poverty ; no contracts, no successions, no
dividences ;* no occupation, but idle; no respect of kindred,
but common ; no apparel! but naturall ; no manuring- of lands ;
no use of wine, come, or mettle. The very words that impart
lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, euvie,
detraction, and pardon, were never heard of amongst them."

The words marked in italics will sufficiently point
out the close imitation ; for, in truth, Shakspere
has scarcely done more than copy Florio's transla-
tion, with just sufficient alteration to cause the sen-
tences to fall into rhythm. Warburton has noted,
that throughout the dialogue Shakspere's aim is to
convey a satire on the various Utopian treatises of
government ; but in the original, Montaigne is
speaking seriously of the newly discovered country
of Brasil, where Villegaignon first landed in 1555. f
Malone infers, with great probability, that it was
from the perusal of this chapter that Shakspere was

The edition of 1632 reads partitions, and it is rather singu-
lar that Malone, in quoting this passage in liis notes, should have
referred to that, and not to the first edition. The coincidence of
the passage had been previously pointed out by Capell ; but he
qudtes the French text, which he very absurdly supposes was
made use of by Shakspere.

t See " Histoire des Glioses Memorables advenues en la
terre du Bresil, partre del'Amerique Australe, sous le gouverne-
ment de N. de Villeg. depuifl Tan 1555, jusques a l'an 1558."
Hvo. 1561.

And the Orthography of his Name. 9

led to make an uninhabited island the scene of his
Tempest; and from the title " Of the CcmnibaUes"
as it stands in Florio, he has evidently, by transpo-
sition, (as remarked by Dr. Farmer,) formed the
name of his man-monster, Caliban.

The copy of Montaigne's work in Mr. Patteson's
hands has suffered in some degree from damp, so
that the fly-leaves at the beginning and end have
become loose, and the edges somewhat worn. On
the top of the same page which contains Shakspere's
autograph, are written in a smaller, and in my
opinion, a more recent hand, two short sentences
from theThyestes of Seneca, Act. v. cecidit incassum
dolor, and vota nonfaciam improba. The same hand,
apparently, has written on the fly-leaf at the end of the
volume many similar Latin sentences, with reference
to the pages of Montaigne's work, from which they
are all borrowed ; such as Faber est suce quisque for-
tunes. — Festinatio tarda est. — Calamitosus est animus
f atari an.vius, tyc. Could we believe these to have
proceeded from Shakspere's hand, they would ac-
quire a high degree of interest ; but after an atten-
tive examination of them, I am persuaded they were
added by a later pen, and in this opinion I have
been confirmed by the judgment of other persons
versed in the writings of that period. A very few
marginal notes occur in the volume, at pp. 134, 254,
513, which are by the same hand, to which also in all
probability we must assign the word '-' Thessayes,"
written in ink on the back of the volume. The
binding is in its original state, and no doubt the
same as when the book was read by Shakspere.

Having thus stated all I can collect relative to the

10 Observations on an Autograph of Shakspere,

history of this treasure, I must beg leave, before I
conclude, to make a tew remarks on the orthography
of Shakspere 's name, as written by himself.

There are five acknowledged genuine signatures
of Shakspere in existence, exclusive of the one
which forms the subject of this communication. Of
these, three are attached to his will in the Preroga-
tive Court, executed 25th March, 1615-16; the
fourth is written on a mortgage deed, dated 11th
March, 1G 12-13, of a small estate purchased by
Shakspere of Henry Walker, in Blackfriars; and
the fifth on the counterpart of the deed of bar-
gain and sale of the same property, dated 10th
March, 1612-13.

From a comparison of these with each other, and
with the autograph now first brought forward, it is
most certain, in my opinion, that the poet always
wrote his name Shakspere, and consequently,
that those who have inserted an e after the k, or
an a in the second syllable, do not write the
same (as far as we are able to judge) in the same
manner as the poet himself uniformly would autho-
rise us to do. This I state in opposition to Chal-
mers and Drake, who assert that " all the genuine
signatures of Shakspe^/re are dissimilar."* Let us
consider them separately, not according to the pri-
ority of dates, but in the order they were introduced
to the notice of the public.

In the year 1776, George Steevens traced from
the will of Shakspere the three signatures attached

* " Apology," p. 42fi. Drake's " Shakspeare and liis 'rimes,"
vol. 1, p. 17, ltd., 1817, who servilely copies Chalmers, and
., i t • ;< . k tic trouble to see tlic original.

And the Orthography of his Name. 11

to it (one to each sheet), and they were engraved for
the first time in the second edition of Shakspere, by
Johnson and Steevens, in 1788.* They have since
been engraved in nearly all the subsequent editions;
in Malone's " Inquiry," 1796 ; in Chalmers's "Apo-
logy," 1797 ; in Harding's "Essence of Malone,"
1801 ; in Ireland's "Confessions," 1805; in Drake's
"Shakspe«re and his Times," 1817; and lastly,
in J. G. Nichols's "Autographs," 1829 ; in which
work they are, for the second time, traced from the
original document. The first of these signatures,
subscribed on the first sheet, at the rio-ht hand corner
of the paper, is decidedly William Shakspere, and
no one has ventured to raise a doubt respecting the
six last letters. t The second signature is at the
left hand corner of the second sheet, and is also
clearly WilVm Shakspere, although from the tail of
the letter h of the line above intervening between
the e and r, Chalmers would fain raise an idle
quibble as to the omission of a letter. The third
signature has been the subject of greater controversy,
and has usually been read, By me, William Shak-
spe&re. Malone, however, was the first publicly to
abjure this reading, and in his " Inquiry," p. 117,
owns the error to have been pointed out to him by

* Mr. J. G. Nichols is therefore in error, when he supposes
these signatures were first traced from the will for Malone's
" Inquiry," published in 1796. See his " Autographs of Re-
markable Personages," fol. Lond. 1829. No. 11, B.

f From a close examination of the original, it appears that
this first signature has been considerably damaged since Stee vens's
time, and two of the letters are no longer legible, as may also
be found in Nichols. It may be remarked, in addition, that
Steevens has evidently confounded this signature with the name
of Shackspeare written at the top of the same margin by the
scrivener, and by doing so, has misled Dr. Drake, although he

] :! O/isi /rations on an Autograph of Shakspere,

an anonymous correspondent, who "shewed most
clearly , that the superfluous stroke in the letter r was

only the tremor of his (Shakspere 's) hand, and no d."
In this opinion, after the most scrupulous examina-
tion, 1 entirely concur, and can repeal with confidence
the words of Mr. Boaden, that "if there be truth in
sight, the poet himself inserted no a in the second
syllable of his name."* The only remaining remark
I have to make respecting- the will (which it is to be
regretted, has never yet been printed as it ought to
be, with the original orthography and interlinea-
tions) is, that the date of execution was written at
first Jaimarii (not Februarii, as Malone states),
over which Martii has been written ; and that
throughout the body of the document the scrivener
has written the testator's name Sluickspcare, whereas
on the outside it is docketed twice by the Clerk of
the Prerogative Court, as the will of Mr. Shackspere.
The next document is the mortgage deed, which
was discovered in 17G8 by Mr. Albany Wallis, a
solicitor, among the title deeds of the Rev. Mr.
Featheistonehaugh, of Oxted, in Surrey, and 'was
presented to Garrick. From the label of this, the
lac simile in Malone's edition of Shakspere, 1790,
was executed, bearing this appearance, Wm.Shak-
spe ; and on this, in conjunction with the third signa-
ture of the will, was founded Malone's mistake in
printing the name with an a in the second syllable.

might have been taught better by Chalmer's " Apology," p. 426,
note. As to Chalmers's notion (copied of course by Drake)
that there is a c inserted before the k, it is not correct, and lie
has been misled by a straggling open u.

' •• \u lurpiiry into the authenticity of the various portraits
of Shakspeare," 4to. Loncl. 1824, p. 62.

And the Orthography of his Name. 13

The deed was at that time in the possession of
Mrs. Garrick; but in 1796, when Malone pub-
lished his " Inquiry," and had become convinced of
his error, and of the fault of his engraver, in sub-
stituting: what looks like the letter a instead of re
(which it ought to be), the original document was
missing, and could not be consulted for the purpose
of rectifying the mistake. * Malone has been very
severely handled by Chalmers and the facetious
George Hardinge, for this apparent inconsistency ;
but a few words may plead Malone's excuse.
Steevens and himself, in 1778, resolved to exclude
the e after the k in the poet's name, and accordingly
the second edition of that year appeared with the
title-pages so corrected, and the third edition of
1784 so corrected throughout. It was therefore
only in reference to this e that Malone laid down
the rule for its exclusion, in his edition of 1790,
vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 192; for as to the a, its insertion
at that time had not been questioned. In 1796,
therefore, when Malone again touched on the sub-
ject, and declared against the a in the second
syllable also, he by no means contradicts himself,
but writes from the fuller evidence he had obtained
on the subject.

This evidence forms the third document bearing
Shakspere's signature, viz. the counterpart of the
deed of bargain and sale, dated the day before the

* Ireland states, " Confessions," p. 88, that this document
was bequeathed by Garrick to the British Museum, which is not
true. How it was lost remains, I believe, a mystery; but its
production, I am firmly convinced, would corroborate the
reading of Shakspere.

14 Observations on an Autograph of Shakspere,

mortgage d<<<l. This, also was found among Mr.
Featherstonehaugh's evidences, and in I7!)(i was in
the hands of Mr. Wallis, who lent it to Malone to

print in liis often-quoted " Inquiry." Here the
signature is, beyond all cavil or suspicion, William
Shakspef, where the mark above is the usual abbre-
viation of the period for the final e*

To these we have now to add the autograph
before us, in Florio's volume, which so unquestion-
ably decides in favour of Shakspere, that in this
manner 1 shall beg leave in future to write it;
since I know no reason why we should not sooner
take the poet's own authority in this point, than
that of his friends or printers.)"

At the same time it must be admitted, that if we
disregard the form traced by the poet's own hand,
the whole weight of printed evidence of his time
(with few exceptions), is in favour of Shakespeare,]:
'as still adhered to by Mr. Collier ; whose recent
discoveries and publications on the subject of
Shakspere and his writings,^ entitle him to the
hearty thanks of every admirer of our great dra-
matic writer, both in England and abroad.

* See Malone, PI. ii. No. x. Query, what has become of
this document?

f To those deeply interested in the subject, it may be as well
to add, thai the Dame of our poet, both at his baptism and
burial, in the Stratford Register, is spelt Shakspere, and so arc
the names of other members of liis family, between the years
1558 to L593; and in the marriage licence, recently discovered
in the Consistorial Court <>l Worcester, it is spelt Shagspere,
which, in effect, is the same thing.

| See the evidence summed up, but ool without many inac-
curacies, in '• Another Essence of Malone," Nvo. 1801, pp. 73,


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