Page:Observations on an autograph of Shakespeare, and the orthography of his name.djvu/14

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Observations on an Autograph of Shakspere,

ible, 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."[1] 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[2] 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.


  1. 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 genuinine 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 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.

  2. Inquiry, p. 354.
  3. Fac similes of these having already appeared in his "Confessions," it was thought unnecessary to repeat them here.