c) University of Virginia, Charlottesville

"Has a very large collection of early editions of Poe's works." The following first editions are mentioned: Bryant, William Cullen, The Fountain and Other Poems (N. Y.) 1842; Burk, John, Bunker Hill, or the Death of General Warren. An Historie tragedy, in five acts (N. Y.) July, 1817; Cable, George W., Strange True Stories of Louisiana (N. Y.) 1889; Clemens, Samuel, Old times on the Mississippi (Toronto) 1876; Roughing It (Hartford) 1872; A Tramp Abroad (Hartford) 1880; Cooper, J. Fenimore, Home as Found (Phila.) 1838, 2v.; The Monikins, 2v.; The Pathfinder (Phila.) 1840, 2v.; Dunlap, William, A History of the American Theatre (N. Y.) 1832; Johnston, Richard M., Mr. Absalom Billingslea and other Georgia Folk (N. Y.) 1888; Murfree, Mary N., The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains (Boston) 1885. Also the following rare Americana: Hayne, Paul H., Sonnets and Other Poems (Charleston) 1857; Henry, Patrick, autograph deed written by Patrick Henry; Jefferson, Thomas, Early History of the University of Virginia contained in the letters of Thomas Jefferson and Joseph C. Cabell (Richmond), 1856; Lanier, Sydney, Poems (Phila.) 1877; and first editions of fifteen of Bret Harte's works.

d) College of William and Mary, Williamsburg

"We possess a very valuable collection of manuscripts and pamphlets relating to the College of William and Mary which, of course, means the history of early education in Virginia and the United States."

e) Randolph-Macon Womans College, Lynchburg

Has 9 volumes Peter Force archives (Washington) 1837-53.

f) Private collection of papers of Judge St. George Tucker owned by Mr. George P. Coleman, Williamsburg. Cannot be consulted.


a) University of Washington, Seattle

"We have no special collections of Americana and no private collections are available. I am slowly gathering such Americana as I can find."


a) University of Wisconsin, Madison

Faxon collection of American annuals. Very good collection of American periodicals, perhaps best in West. Library of State Historical Society housed with University Library especially rich in early Americana, both originals and limited reprints. University Library has bought to fill gaps caused by unsystematic collecting in Historical Library.

Illinois Wesleyan University.

[blocks in formation]

Fate had decreed that William Shakspere, gentleman, should be of such an eminently practical temperament, so sane and sober in worldly affairs, so fortunate in his stars, and, withal, so unpoetical, as to prosper sufficiently to accumulate a few hundred pounds and to purchase lands in London, lands and tithes in his native town and its environs, thus "re-establishing the fallen fortunes of his family" (as some biographers like to put it) and assuring himself" dignity and reputation." Strangely enough, almost three months, to the day, before he died, this practical and sane mansome doubt is permissible about the "sober" part (for it has been alleged that he favored "the thirst complaint ")-sent for or called on Francis Collins, a popular attorney residing in Warwick, and had his will drawn. The document, as it seems, was prepared on January 25th, 1615[-16], but its subscription was for some reason postponed. On the 25th day of March, just two months later, Shakspere's last will and testament-with numerous alterations, erasures, corrections and interlineations-was subscribed by the testator, in all probability at his residence, in the "great house" known as New Place, in the presence of his attorney and four friends and neighbors acting as subscribing witnesses.

In this document, each page of it bearing the poet's signature, the testator left (gave, willed, bequeathed and devised, the solicitor says), in the customary legal phraseology, such unconsidered trifles as lands, houses, and moneys to various devisees and legatees, his "wearing Apparell" to his sister "Jone," his "Plate" to his "Neece Elizabeth Hall," "tenn poundes vnto the Poore of Strat

ford" (an item the "Baconians" usually forget to mention), his "Sword" to "mr Thomas Combe," various sums to various men in and about Stratford, his "broad silver gilt bole" to his daughter Judith, to his "ffellowes John Hemynge Richard Burbage & Henry Cundell xxvjs viijd A peece to buy them Rings," and-in a much discussed interlineation-his "second best bed" (with its furnishings) unto his sixty-one or sixty-two year old "wief." 1


To our great regret this famous and in many respects disappointing and pathetic document-one scholarly, dispassionate and virtuously indignant "Baconian" calls it an "infamous document" says not a word about books and manuscripts. Of course, these might have been included amongst the "goodes Chatteles... & household stuffe " bequeathed to his "Sonne in Lawe John Hall gent." But the fact is that they were not mentioned. Other literary men (Richard Barnefield, John Marston, Samuel Daniel, Reginald Scot) have been known not to mention their books and manuscripts, possibly because they had disposed of their books and even manuscripts by word of mouth, or because they did not consider their books and manuscripts as valuable property. Shakspere was not a wealthy man and probably never owned many books. His manuscripts, if he had any, he probably did not regard in the light of property, and such books as he owned had then no great money value. That there are very good reasons for thinking that at least one of Shakspere's books, a copy of the first edition of the English translation of Montaigne's Essays, has come down to us I have shown in an essay entitled "Reclaiming One of Shakspere's Signatures" (Studies in Philology, July, 1925). Most of the books he read were the current publications of his day and could be purchased at a few pence or, at most, at a few shillings a piece;

1 How little qualified some of the eighteenth-century Shaksperians were in the realm of paleography is strikingly demonstrated by their misreadings of Shakspere's will. Theobald and the other editors after him read this famous bequest as "my brown best bed"; instead of "Bushopton" they read "Bushaxton"; instead of "perceived," 66 reserved' or preserved"; instead of "gilt bole," "gilt boxes," and even Malone (who corrected these errors) read the original date of the will as "February" (and was followed in this by Dr. Drake in 1817) !

[ocr errors]

2 Unfortunately the inventory of the poet's goods "exhibited" when the will was probated has never been found.

and they were not the kind of books Puritan Doctor and Mistress Hall were likely to value.

The will, now carefully safeguarded at Somerset House, London,3 is written in good old English script on one side of each of three unnumbered (!) folio sheets of paper, each sheet measuring approximately 122 x 151⁄2 inches and having a blank margin about two inches wide on the left side and at the top. The first two pages have a blank margin about half an inch wide at the bottom. Shakspere's most important signature, preceded by the words "By me" in his own handwriting, occurs about nine and a quarter inches from the top of the third page. The names of the four witnesses (Julyus Shawe, John Robinson, Hamnet Sadler, Robert Whattcott) and of the solicitor are written on the third page in a vertical column to the left of the testator's signature, in exact accordance with modern practice, and encroaching slightly on the left margin. The upper corners of the document are gone, and the edges are rather badly worn and frayed; here and there cracks and tears give evidence of careless handling and of age and wear.

When in 1747 the Rev. Joseph Green of Stratford-on-Avon discovered the will in the Court of Probate, Doctors' Commons, London, where it had lain since June 22, 1616, the three sheets of which it is composed were "joined together in the middle of the top margins which [were] covered with a narrow strip of parchment.” In an interesting but neglected study of the will published in 1864, Mr. Howard Staunton informs us that the will "occupies three sheets of what is technically called 'pot,' a paper so named

[ocr errors]

* From Sir Sidney Lee (A Life of William Shakespeare, p. 518) we learn that Shakspere's will is kept in a locked oaken box in the "strong room of the Principal Probate Registry. "Each of the three sheets . . . has been placed in a separate locked oaken frame between two sheets of glass. The paper, which had suffered from handling, has been mended with pelure d'oignon, or some such transparent material, and fixed to the glass. . . . Every care is now taken of the will. Visitors are only allowed to inspect it in the strong room. . . . The frames are never unlocked. Permission is given to photograph the will under special precautions [and on the payment of a fee of one pound]." When the will is not exhibited, it is locked away in a case made for the purpose.

• Memorials of Shakespeare. Comprising the poet's will . . . letterpress copy of same and record of the will in the register book. London, n. d.; folio, pp. 19.

« VorigeDoorgaan »