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AUTOGRAPH OF SHAKSPERE,
ORTHOGRAPHY OF HIS NAME.
TO THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES
SIR FREDERIC MADDEN, K.H., F.R.S. AND S.A.
IN A LETTER TO
JOHN GAGE, Esq. F.R.S. DIRECTOR.
Reprinted from the Archeologia, vol. xxvij. pp. 113–123, with some
STEVENS AND PARDON, PRINTERS, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR.
British Museum, Jan. 11, 1837. MY DEAR SIR, I trust it will not be deemed foreign to the pursuits of the Society of Antiquaries, to receive some particulars respecting the autograph of an individual, 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, collectors, and illustrators. Already, on the mere announcement of the fact, one might fancy, with no
great effort of imagination, the shades of Warburton and Johnson, Tyrwhitt and Steevens, Ritson 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 Boswell'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. Patteson's father, the Reverend Edward Patteson, minister of Smeth
* “ The Essayes, or Morall, Politike, and Millitarie Discourses of Lo. Michaell de Montaigne, Knight. First written by him in French, and now done into English by him that hath inuiolably vowed his labors to the Æternitie of their Honors, whose names he hath seuerally inscribed on these his consecrated Altares. 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, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, 1603.” From his address “ to the courteous readers,” we learn that this translation was undertaken at the suggestion of Sir Edward Wotton. It was reprinted in 1613, (Lowndes,) and a third time in 1632. These later editions are dedicated to Queen Anna of Denmark, and prefixed are some commendatory verses by Sam. Daniel, to his “ deare brother and friend, Mr. John Florio, one of the gentlemen of her Majestie's most royal Privie Chamber.” The original work was first published in 1588.