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who should be directed to provide venient'places within the wastes and For them as in cafes of other remo- lanes, which in the course of twenty Vals. Bat in cafe of an appeal to years generally become the property the sessions, by the paristi to which of lords of the respective manors j they were removed by agreement and the poor, as before stated, would aforesaid, the removal to be postpon- have comfortable habitations, in proed until a decision be made. per situations convenient to their resThis alteration, I am fully per- pective labour, and not incommodifuaded, would occasion persons in ous to the country gentlemen or freegeneral to build houses for labourers holders who are their employers, and and artificers, whenever they are that subordination of the lower ranks wanted, and would be the means of of society, which in the present times preventing poor persons from male- is much wanted, would be hereby ing miserable erections, upon incon- considerably secured.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE LITERARY CONTROVERSY CONCERNING THE AUTHENTICITY OF CERTAIN MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS, &c.
PUBLISHED 24 DECEMBER. I795, AND ATTRIBUTED TO SHAKSPEARE, QUEEff
MR IRELAND, of NorfolkStreet, Strand, London, has, for some time past, announced the discovery of Vortigern and Rowena, a tragedy, which he asserts to have been written by Shaklpeare *. He has likewise publilhed a Collection of certain Papers, legal Instruments, &c. as unquestionably the production of the parties to whom they are respectively ascribed. The authenticity of these papers, however (and, consequently, of the tragedy abovementioned) has been strongly contested by that able critic Mr Malone, in an octavo volume, entitled, "An Inquiry into the Authenticity of certain Miscellaneous Papers, &c. in a Letter addressed to the Earl of Charlemont."—But before we take notice of the Objections of Mr Malone to the authenticity of
the papers in Question, it will be proper to give a list of them in the order in which they are publistied by Mr Ireland. I. Queen Elisabeth's Letter to Shakspeare. 2. Extracts from Miscellaneous Papers. 3. A Note of Hand and a Receipt. 4. A Letter from Shakspeare to Anna Hatherrewaye. 5. Verses by Shakspeare, addressed to the same Lady. 6. A Letter from Shakspeare to the Earl of Southampton. 7. The Earl of Southampton's Answer. 8. Shakspeare's Profession of Faith. 9. A Letter from Shakspeare to Richard Cowley, the Player. 10. A Portrait, inclosed in the same. 11. Reverse of ditto. 12. A Deed of Gist from Shakspeare to William Henry Ireland. 13. Tributary lines to the fame. 14. View of William Henry Ireland's House and Coat of Arms. L 2 15. En
* This play had been, for some time, in preparation at Drury Lane Theatre, where it was brought forward on Saturday, April ^, before one of the most crowded audiences ever known. It was heard throughout, but almost unanimously condemned as utterly unworthy of the pen of Shakspeare, and a manifest imposition on the public. It was attempted, in vain, to bt given out tor a second representation. The decision of the audience was sisal*
15. Engraved Portraits of Bassario and Shylock. 16. An agreement between Shakspeare and John Lowin, the Player. 17. An agreement between Shakspeare and Henry Condell, the Player. 18. A Letter from Shakspeare and John Heminge to Michael Fraser and his Wife. 19. Deed of Trust to John Heminge. Subjoined to the Miscellaneous Papers, &c. are the tragedy of King Lear, and a fragment of Hamlet, both Blleged to be in the hand-writing of Shakspeare.
To invalidate the authenticity of these manuscripts, Mr Malone sets out with observing, that "the fabrication of these manuscripts, by whomsoever made, has betrayed itself in almost every line, so as to Ihew, beyond a possibility of a doubt, that not a single piece in the whole collection was the production,of Shakspeare, or of the other persons to whom they are ascribed."
He then quotes Mr Ireland's own words, from that part of bis publication in which he endeavours to account for the discovery of the papers in question; on which he remarks, that there is no mention made of the louse in which they were found, except in general terms, of what led to their discovery, or who the gentleman is in whose possession they were. From these circumstances he infers, that the editor is incapable of establishing the fact os their authenticity; " for (as Sir William Blackilone fays) if there is better evidence exiting than is produced, the ver y not producing it is a presumption tha' it would have detected some falsehood that at present is concealed."
He next proceeds to prove from the orthography, the phraseology, the date, and the total dissimilitude of the hand-writing of Queen Elisabeth, &c. that the whole is a forgery. The first topic that he considers is the orthography, on which he asserts that the spelling in the Queen's letter, as
well as in all other papers, is not only not the orthography of Elizabeth, or of her time, but, for the moll part, the orthography of no age whatever. "From the time of Henry IV. (fays he,) I have perused several thousand deeds and other manuscripts, and I never once found the copulative and spelt as it is here with the final e.— The fame observations may be made on the word for, almost universally exhibited forrt, a mode of othography, I believe unprecedented. The clumsy fabricator, had seen far written in old books farre, and took it for granted that a word so nearly similar as for had anciently the fame terminating letters; besides, the absurd manner in which almost every word is over-laden with both consonants and vowels will at once strike every reader who has any knowledge of the state of our language at the period referred to." Here Mr Malonne quotes passages from a great number of ancient authors, and from letters of Queen Elizabeth and Shakspeare, to prove the truth of all those assertions, to which he adds several sac similei of the real hand-writing of Queen Elizabeth, Shakspeare, Lord Southampton, &c. and compares them with those published by Mr Ireland, for the purpose of proving that there is no similarity whatever between them.
Mr Malonne, in the fame manner, proceeds with the rest-of the papers, in the order as stated above, and places them in every possible light, in order to demonstrate, that, so far from possessing a single trait of authenticity, they must be considered, by every unprejudiced reader, as bearing the manifest marks of forgery.
With respect to the sar-fa?nci Tragedy of' Kynge Vortygern (the play acted, as observed above, on Saturday the 2d April) and all the Kkyngct and all the Qjjueener, which hare been announced from the same quarter, Mr Malonne conceives any disquisition quilition wholly unnecessary. "The outworks being all demolished, the fort must surrender of course." If the tragedy of Kynge Lear, and all the other manuscripts which have been produced, in some of which this matchless play is mentioned, have been proved not to be genuine, Vortygern, which affects, like all the rest, to be of and in the hand of Shakspeare, and is issued from the fame repository, cannot but be a forgery also. Is\ it had exhibited any other band-writing but the pretenJid handwriting of Shakspeare, it might have Taeen supposed a genuine old play, though it could not boast of so high a parentage as his dramas; but the writer of it having " assumed the .person of the noble father" of the stage, it can be no other than a modern fiction; and 'whether it is a good or a badficlion, I shall leave to others to determine."
Impostures of this kind, (Mr Malonne fays,) are no novelties in the history of letters, to elucidate which he quotes various instances of literary forgeries, which have been successfully practised; and, after dwelling with such ability on the numerous topics relating to the papers in question, he gives the following brief analysis:
"In the course of this inquiry, it lias been shewn that the artifice or artificers of this clumsy and daring fraud, whatever other qualifications they may possess, know nothing of the history of Shakspeare, nothing of the history of the stage, or the history of the English language. It has been proved, that there is no external evidence whatsoever that can give any credebility to the manuscripts ■which have been now examined, or even entitle them to a serious consideration. That the manner in which they have been produced, near two centuries after the death of their pretended author, is fraught with the strongest circumstances of suspi
cion. That the orthography of all the papers and deeds is not only not the orthography of that time, but the orthography of no period what* soever. That the language is not the language of that age, but is in various instances the language of a century afterward. That the dates, where there are dates either expressed or implied, and almost all the facts mentioned, are repugnant to truth, and are refuted by indisputable documents. That the theatrical contracts are wholly inconsistent with the usages of the theatres in the age of Shakspeare; and that the law of the legal instruments is as false as the spelling and phraseology are absurd and senseless. And, lastly, that the hand-writing of all the miscellaneous papers, and the signatures of all the deeds, wherever genuine autographs have been obtained, are wholly dissimilar to the hand-writing of the persons by whom they are said to have been written and executed; and where autographs have not been found, to the general mode of writing in that age. If any additional proof of forgery is wanting, I confess I am at a loss to conceive of what nature it should be.
■• I have now done; and I trust I have vindicated Shakspeare from all this " imputed trash," and rescued him from the hands of a bungling impostor, by proving all these rca. nuscripts to be the offspring of consummate ignorance and unparalleled audacity"
Mr Malonne concludes the subject of bis inquiry with the following fanciful effusion:
While I was employed in this investigation, I sometimes fancied that I was pleading the cause of cur great dramatic poet before the ever-blooming god of melody and song. Possessed with this idea, and having after a very restless night closed roy eyes at an early hour of the morning, I imagined my self transported to Par
paffus, y naflus, where Apollo and his nine female assessors were trying this question, and were pleased to call on me to deliver my sentiments, as counsel for Shakspeare, before they should proceed further in the cause. The various poets of all times and countries were amusing themselves with their lyres on tf is celebrated hill, which was richly stored with a profusion of bay trees and ivy, interspersed with a great variety of aromatic stirubs, which perfumed the air with the most delightful fragrance. I immediately knew our author by his strong resemblance to the only authentic portrait of him, ■which belonged to the late Duke of Chandos,' and of which I have three copies by eminent masters. He appeared to be a very handsome man, above the middle size, and extremeJy well made. The upper part of his head was almost entirely denuded of hair; his eyes were uncommonly vivid, and his countenance was Jtrongly marked by that frankness of air, and gentle benignity, which all his contemporaries have attributed to him. At the top of the hill be had found out a preasant even lawn,where he was playing at bowls with Spencer, Sir John Suckling, little John Hales, and two other friends ; wholly inattentive to what was going forward in the court, though Apollo was seated but a few paces from him. —He had been hunting at an early hour of the morning (as I learned from his conversation) in the adjoining plains of Phocis, with Diana, (who was then on a visit to her brother) and a bevy of her nymphs, who ■were now spectators of the game in which he was engaged. Recollecting the numerous proofs which his writings (corroborated by the testimony of his contemporaries) exhibit pf the tenderness of his heart and his passionate admiration of the fairer part of the creation, whose innumerable graces add a zest to all the
pleasures, and sooth and alleviate all the cares of life, I was not surprised to hear him tell one of his female associates in the chafe, that his sport that day had far exceeded any amusement of the same kind he had ever partaken of in his sublunary state.— His old and surly antagonist, Ben Johnson, was seated on an empty cask, looking on the game, in which, from the great curpulency and unwieldiness of his frame, he was unable to join. Being now unfurnished wjth his beloved sack, he was obliged to betake himself to the pure stream of the Castalian spring, of which an immense siaggon stood near him; and he appeared to have taken such large potations of it, that he was become perfectly bloated and dropsical.
When I had urged the principal topics which have been enlarged upon in the present inquiry, and the counsel of the other side had done pleading, Apollo proceeded to pronounce sentence. He began with observing, that this was one of the most important causes that had ever been argued in that court j not only as it concerned the history and reputation of the greatest poet that the world had seen since the days of Homer, but also involved in it the history of language, and of that species of poetical composition over which two of his assessors on the bench particularly presided. That the rights of authors were as sacred as any other, and that the statute in this cafe made and provided had very wisely guarded their literary property from every kind of invasion, by securing to them for a certain period an exclusive privilege of printing and publishing their works, for their own benefit. That the present, however, was entirely a new cafe, no mention being made in the act of the injury which might be done to the reputation of poets, long after their death, by attributing to them' miserable trash printed from pretended ancient manusc ipts, r.ufcriptSjmade in some obscure corner for the nonce, and thus debasing and adulterating their genuine performances, which had been admired for ages, by the most impure and base alloy: that this offence though not within the letter, was clearly within the spirit and equity of the statute, and was a still greater injury than that expressly provided against, inasmuch as that only affected the property of an author, whereas this robbed him of that good name and reputation ■which to all men of sensibility is dearer than life itself. He added, that to remove all doubts in future, he thought it highly necessary that the act on this subject should be explained and amended, and he hoped a select committee of poets would draw up a bill for that purpose. Without however waiting for such an explanatory act, he thought himself fully justified on the ground before stated, in pronouncing the sentence of the law in the present case, in which the whole court were unanimous. He therefore ordered, in the first place, that a continual hue and cry should be made for one year after the original contriver and fabricator of those Miscellaneous Papers which had been recently published in a folio volume, and attributed to the illustrious Shakspeare and others; that a perpetual injunction, should issue to prevent the further sale of them, and that the whole impression now remaining in the hands of the editor should immediately be delivered up to the usher of the court; and when a proper fire had been made of the most baleful and noxious weeds, that all the copies should be burned by Dr Farmer, Mr Steevens, and myself, assisted by Mr Tyrwhitt, who I perceived was
honoured with a seat on the bench, and whose polite demeanour and thoughtful aspect displayed all that urbanity and intelligence for which he was distinguished in life: (for in tliis calenture of the brain, your Lordship cannot but have observed that the imagination often unites the most discordant circumstances, and without any difficulty brings together the future and the past, the living and the dead.) He should not, however, (the God of Verse added,) content himself with vindicating the reputation of this his favourite son; but, as his court involved a criminal as well as a civil jurisdiction, should proceed to give sentence on those persons who had been arraigned at the bar, for giving a certain degree of countenance and support to this audacious fiction. As their offence was not os' a very heinous kind, he should treat them with lenity; and the punishment, being wholly discretionary in the court, should be proportioned to the various degrees of guilt in the offenders. With respect to the multitude of persons of each sex and of all ages and denominations, who had flocked during the preceding year to fee these spurious papers, and expressed the highest admiration of them, (they were so' brown and so yellow, so vastly old and so vastly curious !) the ring-leaders, who were then in custody, should be dismissed with only a gentle reproof, and an admonition never again to pronounce judgment on matters with which they were not conversant, without taking the advice of counsel learned in the laws
of Parnassus:— but ona small
group of hardened offenders*, who were placed at the bar by themselves, and did not appear to me to be more
* In this group I did not fee my friend, the learned and ingenious author of the "Essay on the writings and genhi» of Pcpe," who, tltough he has pissed his seventieth year, retains all the ardour and vivacity of youth J nor a very rtsp.-ctable clergyman well known to the learned world, and eminently distinguished for liia love and knowltdgt of the fine trt»j hit literature, and suavity of manners; nor another