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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 autograph. 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 impostor 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 “ Miscellaneous Papers.” For myself, I may be permitted to remark, that the forgeries of Chatterton* and Ireland have always appeared to me thoroughly contemptible, and utterly unworthy of the controversy they occasioned ; indeed, they can only be justly characterised in the words of Malone, as “ the genuine offspring of consummate ignorance and unparalleled audacity.”* At the present day the study and 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 miserable imitations of Master William Henry 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 † of other genuine signatures of the poet, and his own avowal of his fabrications. The present autograph challenges and defies suspicion, and has already passed the ordeal of numerous competent examiners, all of whom have, without a single doubt, expressed their conviction of its genuineness. 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 conclusion that they are by the same hand, although enough 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.
* 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 ignorance 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, 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 cause of Rowley, I recommend the task of deciphering eighteen lines in the Purple Roll, which for some reason or other have never yet been printed. It is worthy of remark, that one of these contemptible fragments is actually fastened to a portion of a genuine deed of the date of 10 Hen. 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 be, a quitclaim from one citizen of Bristol to another, of his right in four shops in the suburbs! See MSS. Add. 5766, a. fol. 28.
* Inquiry, p. 354.
+ Fac similes of these having already appeared in bis “ Confessions,” it was thought unnecessary to repeat them here.
In the second act, sc. 2, p. 64, tom. 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 :-
Gon. I'the commonwealth I would by contraries
· Seb. And yet he would be king on't ! Ant. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the be
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 Antartick France, and thus proceeds :
“ It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind of traffike, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politike superioritie ; 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 apparell but naturall; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corne, or mettle. The very words that impart lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, envie, 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 translation, with just sufficient alteration to cause the sentences 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 1555.7 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 singular that Malone, in quoting this passage in his 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 quotes the French text, which he very absurdly supposes was made use of by Shakspere.
+ See “Histoire des Choses Memorables advenues en la terre du Bresil, partre de l'Amerique Australe, sous le gouvernement de N. de Villeg. depuis l'an 1555, jusques à l'an 1558.” 8vo. 1561.
led to make an uninhabited island the scene of his Tempest; and from the title “ Of the Canniballes," as it stands in Florio, he has evidently, by transposition, 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 the Thyestes of Seneca, Act. v. cecidit incassum dolor, and vota non faciam 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 sua quisque fortuna.-Festinatio tarda est.—Calamitosus est animus futuri anxius, &c. Could we believe these to have proceeded from Shakspere's hand, they would acquire a high degree of interest ; but after an attentive 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