Page:Observations on an autograph of Shakespeare, and the orthography of his name.djvu/21

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And the Orthography of his Name.

The deed was at that time in the possession of Mrs. Garrick; but in 1796, when Malone published his "Inquiry," and had become convinced of his error, and of the fault of his engraver, in substituting: 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.[1] 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 subject, 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

  1. 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.