Early American Editions
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Scarcity of resource materials for conducting research affected the progress of American editions. Consequently the early editions did little more than copy an already published English or Irish text, and add commentary or notes mixed from other editions. These early editors like Hopkinson and Munroe could be regarded more properly as arrangers rather than editors.
The first edition of the complete works published in America, or anywhere outside of Britain and Ireland, was published in Philadelphia in 1795-96 by Bioren and Madan:
The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare. Corrected from the latest and best London editions, with notes, by Samuel Johnson, LL. D., to which are added, a Glossary and the Life of the author. Embellished with a striking likeness from the collection of His Grace the Duke of Chandos. First American Edition. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Bioren & Madan. 1795. (Murphy §382).
The picture of the 8 volumes of the set above is taken from Quarter of a Millennium: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1731-1981, by Edwin Wolf et. al. (p.302). The description states in part:
"A prospectus was issued and subscription lists were circulated. The set, Bioren stated, would be 'printed on fine American paper in a style of Typographical Elegance that shall reflect the highest credit on the American press.' It did."
Clearly, its American provenance was the selling point, as it aspired to be a worthy representative of its newly founded country.
Of the said "striking likeness" mentioned on the title page, Shakespeariana from 1885 reports, under the title "The First American Portrait of Shakespeare":
"Ninety years ago an
edition of Shakespeare in eight volumes, 12 mo., with a
portrait of the poet, was published by Bioren and Madan,
in Philadelphia. The portrait was engraved from the
Chandos head, and was in an oval, taking up a little
more than half the sheet. The oval rests on a level,
which stands on a square base, with a tablet, on which
is engraved "William Shakespeare" in capital letters.
Running along the ledge of this base, are engraved the
words in Roman letters, "Born April 23, 1564. Died April
23, 1616." On either side of the level, and leaning on
it, stands a naked boy, one with a dagger, and one
holding a mask, representative of Melpomene and Thalia.
Running around the upper half of the oval is a wreath of
leaves, fitted with a. ribbon, and at the top of the
wreath is a mask, dagger and goblet. The whole is
enclosed in a stippled frame with bars and ornamental
top, and underneath the bottom are the lines, " Engraved
by R. Field from the Original picture in the Collection
of the Duke of Chandos,'''
"W. S. Baker, author of
the Engraved Portraits of Washington, says "that the
Washington done by Field was an excellent work, is a
rare print, and was published in 1795," the year of
publication of the Shakespeare. He further says that
"Field went to Canada, studied theology, was ordained a
priest, and finally became a Bishop.''
The Bioren and Madan edition is rare indeed. A copy cannot be located at either Google Book Search or the Internet Archive.
Murphy says the base text was the "William Jones Dublin reprint of Samuel Ayscough's second edition" (Murphy, Shakespeare in Print, p.146) Jane Sherzer ("American Editions of Shakespeare: 1753-1866," PMLA, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1907), pp. 633-696. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/456868), not cutting it so fine, says the text used was the Johnson-Steevens-Reed text of 1785:
"Many changes in punctuation were found, a dozen or more changes of words, besides not a few misprints. There are also numerous changes in orthography...The American editor, on the contrary, often prefers the quarto readings. His emendations, on the whole, seem to be due to an effort to modernize the text. Who the American editor was is not known..." (p. 640).
Henry N. Paul, however, while not exactly identifying him as editor, says that the volume "was published in Philadelphia under the care of Joseph Hopkinson" ("Shakespeare in Philadelphia," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 76, No. 6 (1936), pp. 719-729. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/984561).
"Joseph Hopkinson [1770 -
1842] was then a young lawyer in Philadelphia. He was
a member of the American Philosophical Society, and
later its Vice President. His father had signed the
Declaration of Independence. He himself was soon to
attain celebrity as the author of Hail Columbia, and
still later to find eminence in Congress and as a
Federal Judge. With a coterie of his literary friends
who were conscious of the oncoming growth of the
American people he wished to see our new nation
cultivate science and letters as well as politics and
theology. He foresaw, so he said, America as 'the nurse
and patron of the arts.'
Murphy says the editor of this volume, presumably Hopkinson, "is particularly keen to distinguish Shakespeare's work from that of the Restoration dramatists who succeeded him..." (146).
Sherzer quotes the preface to this edition:
"[Shakespeare] on this head has nothing to fear" (p. v); "as a moral writer he was infinitely superior to any one of them [his contemporaries], and .... the reproaches which have been thundered from the pulpit against the stage, cannot reasonably be applied to the stage of Shakspeare" (p. vii). (p. 640).
This thundering from the pulpit would have been very American, and the defense was, doubtless, necessary.
Sherzer's conclusion about the 1795-6 Philadelphia edition: "... contrary to the opinion hitherto held, the first American edition of Shakespeare 1795-96, gives evidence of some slight textual, philosophical, and judicial criticism" (p. 642). Hopkinson, then, becomes our first American editor, however peripheral his duties, of the complete works.
Just as the 1795 Hopkinson edition was a simple re-purposing of already existing editions, so was the next American collected edition, the 1802-04 Boston edition:
The text of this edition was the text of the 1792 Gordon edition (Murphy §365) with notes added from the 1773 Johnson-Steevens edition (Murphy §332) and text of the poems from Bell's 1774 edition ( See Murphy, Shakespeare in Print, p.147). It was issued first to subscribers, mostly from Boston, in sixteen parts, and then collected into nine volumes. Each of the original sixteen parts sold for thirty-eight cents to subscribers, fifty cents to non-subscribers.
Jane Sherzer, in her landmark "American Editions of Shakespeare: 1753-1866" published in PMLA, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1907), pp. 633-696, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/456868, reports this to be an 8 volume work (but see Murphy's note indicating a possible ninth volume at Murphy, p. 340). I quote at length from Sherzer's fascinating article on the physical details of the volumes and probably editorship:
"The Barton Catalog, No. 40, says it is 'The first edition published in Boston. It passed through three editions. In a copy of the third edition, formerly belonging to his son, C. S. Francis, and now in the Lenox library, is the following memorandum of D. Francis, the publisher: 'In 1802 Munroe and Francis issued proposals for publishing an edition of Shakspeare in serial numbers, two to a vol. at 50 cts. per no.-16 numbers [about 3000 copies]. Two editions were printed of the above. A third edition was demanded, and we added the Poems, making 18 nos. These editions were all printed from types; of course reset every edition, as stereotype was not then known. The presswork was mostly done by Munroe and Francis personally, on a hand press with inking balls of sheep skin, the ink distributed by the hand.... Paper demy-size (19 x 20) costing 5 dolls. a ream; made by hand. Ink and type imported, none worth using being made here. ' The title-pages of this edition, which is evidently a copy of the Edinburgh edition, published in 1792, have vignette portraits and each play is separately paged.'"
"The same Catalog adds: ' The editing was probably done by one of the printers, David Francis, "all his life a lover and careful reader of Shakespeare."' But William Warland Clapp, Jr., in his Record of the Boston Stage, 1853, p. 78, asserts: 'The notes were rewritten and condensed by Mr. Munroe from an English edition, and subsequently adopted by several publishers.' And, he continues, ' The publishers, we are happy to say, were repaid for their arduous labors, and the firm was only dissolved in 1853, by the death of David Francis, which occurred on the 20th of March. He died respected by the residents of a city whose early literature he was instrumental in forming.' This contemporary testimony from a resident of Boston, himself an editor, and one who doubtless was personally acquainted with both Munroe and Francis, has far more weight than the guess, in 1880, of even so reliable a man as James Mascarene Hubbard. Hence it is safe to assume that Mr. Munroe is the American editor of the first Boston edition." (Sherzer pp. 642-643).
Munroe, therefore, we shall accept as the editor of this volume. Each play contains introductory observations and notes culled from the great English editors as found in the text of Johnson-Steevens.
I have been able to locate most of the first Boston edition in full view versions at Google Book Search, and provide the links here:
Though publishers could not sell their works widely because there were no well established means of distribution in the young America, there was still enough demand for the Boston edition that a second edition was printed in 1807 (Murphy §421) , subscribed mainly by academic.
The Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare : Some account of the life and writings of William Shakespeare Printed Complete With Dr. Johnson's Preface and Notes to which is prefixed the Life of the Author. Edition: 2 Published by Printed by Munroe & Francis, 1807.
I have been able to locate a complete second edition at GBS in full view, except for Vol. II:
A third Boston edition was printed in 1810-12 (Murphy §435). Of the third edtion Sherzer says:
"According to Barton, Cat. 49, 'Each play is illustrated by a wood-cut engraved by Alexander Anderson, the first person in America who followed wood-engraving as a profession.' This is the first illustrated edition of Shakespeare in America" (p. 644).
I believe she means the first complete illustrated editions, since wood cut illustrations appear in vol. VII of the first Boston edition, but not the other volumes, at least so far as I have been able to examine them via GBS.
The Works of William Shakespeare: In Nine Volumes. With the corrections and illustrations of Dr. Johnson, G. Steevens, and others, revised by Isaac Reed. Third Boston from the Fifth London Edition. Published by Printed by Munroe, Francis & Parker for themselves; Ezra Sargeant, New York; and Hopkins & Earle, Philadelphia., 1810.
I have been able to locate a complete (yes, all nine volumes) third edition in full view at GBS, links to which I supply here:
The additional volume IX contains Pericles and the poetry, as noted in Francis' note quoted above from Sherzer. This quite illuminating passage from Vol. IX, p. 74 of the Addenda speaks volumes:
"These circumstances might be exemplified; but the subject is scarcely of consequence enough to be more than generally stated to the reader, whose indulgence is again solicited on account of blemishes which in the course of an undertaking like this are unavoidable, and could not, at its conclusion, have been remedied but by the hazard of more extensive mischief;—an indulgence, indeed, that will more readily be granted, and especially for the sake of the compositors, when it is understood, that, on an average, every page of the present work, including spaces, quadrats, points, and letters, is (to speak technically) composed of 2680 distinct pieces of metal, the misplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a blunder."
"The above is extracted from the Advertisement prefixed to the London edition of 1793, the first by Dr. Reed. While it shows that errors will escape in a work reputed the most correct, and which had careful compositors, proof-readers, and editors, with revision upon revision, it may be some apology for the printers of the present edition, if theirs is not altogether perfect. Though many errors doubtless have passed, we believe they are confined to literals, and venture to say that few, if any, whole words vary from the text we followed, which is Dr. Heed's third and last edition, in 21 vols. 8vo."
"We cannot refrain acknowledging the obligation we are under to William S. Shaw, esq. of this town, who loaned us the copy, when none was to be purchased, and whose zeal in forwarding all literary pursuits is equalled by few in this country. Boston Publishers." [Emphasis added].
That faintly anguished "when none was to be purchased" reminds us of the still provincial status of Boston, New York and Philadelphia with respect to Great Britain in matters of literature and scholarship at the time of the third Boston edition.
The third collected edition of Shakespeare to appear in America, after the 1795 "Hopkinson" Philadelphia edition and the 1802 Munroe and Francis "Boston" edition, was the 1805-1809 "Dennie" edition.
As can be seen from the publishing subscription to these various volumes, its production seems to have been something of a various affair. According to Milton Ellis in Joseph Dennie and His Circle: A Study in American Literature from 1792-1812 (1915):
A month later, in the same journal, in a column titled "To Readers and Correspondents" the following notice appeared:
While the first issue of this collected Shakespeare had been announced for April, in the 1 September issue of Port Folio the following appeared:
An inauspicious beginning, to be sure, but worse was to come.
Jane Sherzer ("American Editions of Shakespeare: 1753-1866" published in PMLA, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1907), pp. 633-696, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/456868) cites Verplanck in saying that "...the American editor was Mr.Joseph Dennie (1768-1812), one of the leading scholars of his day..." The text is that of the 1803 Isaac Reed edition, with changes. Dennie, called "the American Addison," made some minor emendations and added a few notes signed "Am. Ed.," but seems to have done not much else. The text carries the full weight of the annotations from the Reed 1803 edition (commonly called "the first variorum edition"), with Dennie's slight additions. This was new for an American edition. The 1795 Hopkinson edition stated, "the American public cares nothing for annotation" yet the text of the Dennie edition "is almost lost under the mass of comment" (Sherzer, p. 648). Sherzer ventures on:
Milton Ellis, however, disputes this judgement: "...Dennie's connection with this edition was very much slighter than even Miss Sherzer has believed" (187). He notes that Dennie's involvement terminated abruptly and early:
Ah, humanity. At least Dennie is pleased the edition sells, in spite of his solicitations for the immortal author, un-frank and illiberal treatment notwithstanding. As can be seen from this testimony, Dennie's involvement in the project ceased after involvement with a single volume, volume II, according to Ellis, "the only one Dennie supervised" (p. 189). The editor of the remaining 16 volumes is unknown.
According to Murphy, "The edition was priced at $1.50 per volume to subscribers (in boards) or $1.75 to non-subscribers and the advertisement noted that this price compared favourably with currently available imports..." (Murphy, Shakespeare in Print, p.148). With regard to Dennie's advertisement for a copy of the First Folio noted above, Murphy says, "it is difficult to know whether there would have been a copy of the First Folio available anywhere in the US at the time when he was working on his edition."
Remarkably, considering its publication vagaries, I have been able to find copies of the entire 17 volume edition at Google Book Search, and provide links to them here.
The illustration of Dennie above is taken from Joseph Dennie: editor of "The Port folio" and author of "The lay preacher". By William Warland Clapp, Published by J. Wilson and son, 1880.
The first single-volume Shakespeare, sometimes called "the Buckingham Shakespeare," after its printer, appeared in Boston in 1813.
I have been able to locate a copy of this volume at Google Book Search. Click here to access it.
According to Sherzer ("American Editions of Shakespeare: 1753-1866," PMLA, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1907)):
"Both editions are entirely without introductions or annotation of any kind. They claim to be accurately printed from Reed's text, but a collation of Richard III, alone, brings to light over one hundred and seventy-five deviations in punctuation, orthography, contractions, etc., not counting repetitions of any one change. Only one variation in words has been observed: Williams' ed., Act IV, Sc. 1, p. 548, 'on my peril;'-Reed's 1803, vol. xiv, p. 427, 'on thy peril.' If this be accurate printing, one might well ask what would the contrary be!"
I have not thought it worthwhile to create links to each play within the volume, since it is the standard Reed text of 1803. The text is laid out in two-column format, and is particularly difficult to read. The following rather plaintive note is appended to the work by its printer, Buckingham (and presciently so, in view of Sherzer's later comments):
Buckingham didn't count on the academic severity that was to posthumously condemn him within the century.
A more interesting point is the mention of a six-volume miniature edition of the same text, produced from the same type: "...an early instance of the nineteenth-century vogue for diminutive editions which would flourish on both sides of the Atlantic" (Murphy , p. 149).
This must also be the first complete miniature edition produced in America:
The superscription to the volume, under the sleeping figure of the poet represented on the title page illustration above (too small to read in the illustration) is from "Ode on the Poetical Character" by William Collins, and reads:
The printing press changed very little from the time of Gutenberg and Caxton until the middle of the 18th century. Presses were fully manual, massive wooden structures. They operated by pressing a heavy platen, forced down by a hand operated screw drive, onto the inked block or type.
By 1800 the Stanhope press, made entirely of iron, and much more efficient than the older wooden presses, had been invented, and was in use by John Bulmer at the Shakespeare press, but it was still a manual process. In the early nineteenth century, however, three industrial developments converged to revolutionized printing. The first was the power press. Friedrich Konig was the first to invent a non-manual press. His first attempts were failures because he attempted to duplicate the platen process, powering it by steam. He achieved success with the stop-cylinder press. It worked by placing the paper on a rotating cylinder, which pressed the paper against a flat bed moving back and forth beneath it. Where Stanhope's iron press increased printing efficiency by reducing the force required to press the platen to the type, and increasing the size sheet that could be printed, it was only capable of printing 250 sheets per hour. Konig's first stop-cylinder press was capable of printing 800 sheets per hour, and he soon developed a double cylinder model which raised output to 1,100 sheets per hour. "This press was used to print the Times of London on 29 November 1814. Beginning on that date, reading matter meant for human beings has routinely been produced at greater-than-human speed. By 1868, the Times was printing 20,000 sheets per hour" (See the wonderful A Short History of the Printed Word, by Warren Chappell and Robert Bringhurst, pp. 193-195).
The second important development that transformed the early nineteenth century was the invention by Nicolas Louis Robert of a machine that could produce a continuous roll of paper. The machine migrated to England via John Gamble, and its further development was funded by Henry and Sealy Foudrinier, for whom the machine was later named. The parts of the machine automate each of the processes of paper making. It made large rolls of paper with a fine, hot-pressed finish, that could be slit into desired widths and then cut into sheets (see Chappell and Bringhurst, p. 196).
The third development, and the one most germane to our topic, was the wide scale adoption of stereotype. Stereotype was known from as early as the sixteenth century (Murphy, Shakespeare in Print, p. 149), but it was generally developed during the eighteenth century and applied to mass printing in the early nineteenth century. To stereotype is to make a cast or mold of an entire page of type from handset type and wood blocks, if any, of a soft surface which takes the image of the entire form and from that image an full page of type could be cast using conventional type metal alloy. Entire pages of text could thereby be easily duplicated, preserved and distributed, requiring no further type setting. Fermin Didot, of the famous eighteenth century French printing family, gave the process its name, from the Greek "stereos" meaning durable or tough.
When the process was first being developed, "flong"--layered blotting paper and tissue--was used to create the impressed matrix. Later, plaster was used, and finally a papier mache method was developed which persists to today. In 1816 William Nicholson developed curved stereotypes designed to be fit on cylinders, which is the process which eventually dominated the printing industry.
These three developments, the power press, the paper making machine, and stereotype, made the easy duplication and republication of works possible. Printing, therefore, exploded in speed and volume. The first complete Shakespeare printed with stereotyp was the 1809 Plays of William Shakespeare, from the Reed text, published by Vernor, Hood, Sharpe, Poultry, Taylor and Hessey of Fleet Street. I have been able to locate only Vol. V, Vol. VI, and Vol. XII of this 12-volume edition, and that at the Internet Archive, not Google Book Search, but the text is the standard Reed text and bears examination only with respect to the quality of printing. The volumes, interestingly enough, are labeled "STEREOTYPE EDITION."
The first American edition that used stereotype was published initially in New York by Henry Durell, 1817-1818. I have been able to locate links to each of the 10 volumes in this set at Google Book Search, but unfortunately with no view available for volumes I, VI and IX. I have been able to find the volume I at Internet Archive, however, and I include a link to it here in square brackets, below. Again, it is the standard Reed text, so there was not a question of original editing. What is remarkable about the Durell plates is the number of times they changed hands and were used to create new editions. I quote Murphy at length:
"...[Durell] issued a second edition in 1818. In 1821, the same plates were used to produce a further edition, but this time with the imprint 'Collins and Hannay'. This firm reissued the text several times, running off editions from the plates in 1823, 1824, 1825 and 1826. Some time after this the plates changed hands again and, in 1835, Dearborn of New Yoerk issued the text...The plates would then appear to have passed into the hands of Harper's, who ran off an edition from them in 1839 and then subsequently used them as the basis for further editions produced in 1843, 1850, 1854, 1859, 1860, 1867 and 1868" (Murphy, pp. 149-150).
The age of mass production printing had met Shakespeare. Perhaps the larger point to be made is that there was an expanding audience for these duplicate editions in America.
Here are the links for the first edition of Durell:
The dramatic works of William Shakespeare: with the corrections and illustrations of Dr. Johnson, G. Steevens, and others. Revised by Isaac Reed, Esq. Published by Henry Durell, 1817.
The Durell first edition contains several illustrations copied (ultimately) from the Boydell Shakespeare, like the Death of the Princes in the Tower, shown above.
The standard editions published across America from 1795 on had been based on the Johnson-Steevens-Reed text. This tradition was broken in The Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare published by Hilliard, Gray and Co. in Boston in 1836, and edited anonymously by Oliver William Bourn Peabody (1799-1848). A memoir of his life, which does not mention his Shakespearean edition, can be found authored by his brother in a select edition of his sermons, published in the year after his death. (By the way, his brother gives his name as William Bourn Oliver Peabody, rather than the version reported by most authorities). Peabody based his edition on the Samuel Weller Singer edition of 1826, notable for its lack of annotations in contrast to Reed's heavily annotated variorum editions. The stereotype plates from this edition were "used to issue reprints for several decades" (Murphy, Shakespeare in Print, p. 151).
Peabody graduated from Harvard College, and thereafter failed as a lawyer, tried journalism, became a professor, and eventually found his calling as a Unitarian minister. In the advertisement to this edition, given below, Peabody claims to have contributed numerous original notes—a claim disputed by Westfall (American Shakespearean Criticism 1607-1865 p. 127)—and also claims to have "...preferred, in general, to follow the readings of the folio edition of 1623, with which the text of this edition has been carefully compared." Murphy questions where Peabody might have found a First Folio in America at this date, but suggesting that it were possible that he consulted an early nineteenth century facsimile. In any event, the Singer text seems to remain largely intact in the Peabody edition. Westfall, quoted in Murphy, says "...he did little more than reprint Singer's text." Jane Sherzer ("American Editions of Shakespeare: 1753-1866," PMLA, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1907), pp. 633-696. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/456868) allows Peabody more credit:
Sherzer, however, admits she did not collate Peabody's text with Singer's, and further admits that after examining the prefaces to the plays and the notes:
With these considerations in mind, it is difficult to see why Sherzer reports so highly of Peabody. Perhaps it is his "upward tendency to a higher plane." For what it is worth, her verdict is:
If we were all judged on what we aimed at rather than what we achieved, we would all enjoy similarly high esteem.
I give below links to the Peabody edition from Google Book Search. Unfortunately volumes I and VI are from the 1839 edition, rather than the 1836 first edition, as are the others. In view of Murphy's remark, however, that the stereotype plates from the first edition were used to print copies for decades, the 39 edition is in all likelihood identical to the 36 volumes, but I have not been able to find any to examine.
The appearance of the egregious forger J. P. Collier's New Facts regarding the life of Shakespeare appeared, as noted above, for the first time in America in the Peabody Shakespeare (1836). Collier did little to corrupt the actual text of Shakespeare through his forgeries until he invented the "Old Corrector" much later (see my Collier page for details), but New Facts are his substantial contribution to falsifying Shakespeare biography. He had introduced a false "fact" about Shakespeare earlier in his History of English dramatic poetry to the time of Shakespeare (1831) by associating him with plays presented by the Lord Chamberlain's men at the Blackfriar's theatre as early as 1596. In fact, Shakespeare's company, by then the King's Men, did not play at Blackfirar's until 1609, but Collier had forged proof otherwise. He exceeded this relatively modest effort, however, in New Facts. It was first published in 1835, in the form of a letter (some 55 pages!) to his friend Thomas Amyot, a fellow founding member of the first British Shakespeare Society. The book was published by another Collier friend, Thomas Rudd. Here is Collier's explanation as to how he came upon the "new facts" about Shakespeare:
How modestly Collier begs us pardon his zeal! The living Lord Francis Egerton, the then current Earl of Ellesmere, made Collier his librarian rewarding him a pension of £100 per annum. As stated, Egerton gave Collier "unrestrained" access to his historical papers. Collier did not waste the opportunity.
He begins by expanding on his earlier Blackfriar's forgery, constructing a history of Shakespeare among the players:
Of course, Collier had invented the documents, discovered when his Lordship was out of the room, that demonstrates Shakespeare's position in 1589. He had previously published a fraudulent document in his History regarding the 1589 date. The 1603 date is legitimate in the royal patent granted the King's Men, where Shakespeare is in fact listed second. The whole smoothly demonstrates Shakespeare's gradual rise to prominence among his fellows. Throughout the book Collier so skillfully weaves his fabrications within the fabric of a mundane recounting of known facts that they gain credence simply though their unspectacular membership. In the words of the late, great Dr. Samuel Schoenbaum, "Prospective forgers will look in vain for a more exemplary model than the New Facts" (Shakespeare's Lives, p. 249).
Collier also claims to have discovered a letter from H. S. (Henry Southampton, he surmises) to the historical Lord Ellesmere on behalf of the players. In fact, Collier exercises his dramatic skills epistolarily, by placing the players to wait upon Ellesmere while he reads: "...there can be little doubt that the original was placed in the hands of Lord Ellesmere by Burbage or by Shakespeare, when they waited upon the Lord Chancellor in company" (p. 32). The letter says, in part, in period spelling:
Collier earlier says the letter dates from 1608, when the players were under threat to be deprived by the corporation of playing at the Blackfriars (!) and the letter's author (!) has so fallen under the spell of Hamlet that he unconsciously (!) uses on of his phrases to describe the very man who played Hamlet!
We know from this that in fact, Southampton was Shakespeare's patron, and remained so long after any previous documentary evidence had shown and that Shakespeare and Burbage were near neighbors to boot. A truly astounding discovery.
Collier's third great discovery revealed in New Facts is that:
Ah, Black fryers again. Not only did Will write the great drama of the age, he succored its next generation of actors in the service of his Queen.
In the end it was all just too over the top. Collier could succeed with his forgeries because he was, in fact, an eminent authority responsible for genuine discoveries and solid, serious scholarship. Something in the man could not let it rest at that, though. He had to go beyond the factual to place himself squarely as something beyond scholar: a discoverer. In time, especially after his forgeries began to corrupt the actual text of the plays, his colleagues one by one grew suspicious and in the end began to examine his claims more closely.
Peabody is not to be blamed for including New Facts in his volume. He undoubtedly regarded it as a scholarly service to his country, if not an outright literary coup. At this time (1836) England as well as America was taken in by Collier. It would not be until the 1850s, when Collier's forgeries became overwhelmingly clear for what they were, that his exposure was finalized by the implacable C. M. Ingleby.
And what of Collier? Publicly he brazened it out to the end, insisting he was right and honest. And the end was a long way off. He outlived his accusers and only died at the age of 94. The bravado he showed in defiance of his accusers bespeaks the hubris that compelled him to commit the crimes in the first place. Privately, as we now know from his personal unpublished diary, he showed late--very late--remorse. In the year before his death he wrote in his diary "...I am such a despicable offender. I am ashamed of almost every act of my life...My repentance is bitter and sincere." (Quoted in Schoenbaum, p. 266).