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name which has the least support of any of the varia not upon the mode in which it was printed during the tions.
Poet's life, and in the genuine editions of his own works, The result of the whole evidence on this point, which which was Shakespeare, but upon this signature to the in regard to any other English author would hardly be last sheet of his will, which they fancied contained an a worth examining, but which has its interest to thou in the last syllable. When William Henry Ireland, in sands of Shakespeare's readers on both sides of the 1795, produced his · Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Atlantic, is simply this: The Poet, for some reason, Instruments,' it was necessary that he should fabricate thought fit to adapt the spelling of his name to the Shakespeare's name, and the engraving published by popular mode of pronouncing it, according to the pro Stevens enabled him to do so. He varied the spelling, nunciation of London, and his more cultivated readers ; as he found it said to be varied in the signatures to the bat this was done in his public, literary, and dramatic will; but he more commonly spelled the name with character only,-while as a Warwickshire gentleman, the a in the final syllable. His confidence in the and a bargher of Stratford-upon-Avon, he used his old Shakespeare editors supplied one of the means for his family orthography, in the form he thought most detection. Malone, in his • Inquiry,' (1796,) has a conanthentic.
fession upon this subject, which is almost as curious as Such variations in the spelling of surnames were not any one of Ireland's own:- In the year 1776, Mr. at all unusual in the Poet's age, and before, and half a Stevens, in my presence, traced with the utmost accucentury after, of which many instances have fallen under racy the three signatures affixed by the Poet to his will. my own casual observation. The reason of a fact which | While two of these manifestly appeared to us Shak spere, we should now think strange, I suppose may be found we conceived that in the third there was a variation : in the changes of the habits and of the law of ordinary and that in the second syllable an a was found. Accordbusiness. When half the business of life is transacted, || ingly we have constantly so exhibited the Poet's name as now, by checks, notes, bills, receipts, and all those ever since that time. It ought certainly to have struck informal evidences of contract that the old law con us as a very extraordinary circumstance, that a man temptuously designated as mere “parole contracts," || should write his name twice one way, and once another, although written, the identity of spelling, like a certain on the same paper: however, it did not; and I had no similarity of hand-writing, becomes of absolute neces suspicion of our mistake till, about three years ago, I sity for all persons who have any business of any kind. received a very sensible letter from an anonymous corIn the older modes of life, where few transactions were respondent, who showed me very clearly that, though valid without the attestation of a seal and witnesses, there was a superfluous stroke when the Poet came to both law and usago were satisfied with the similarity write the letter r in his last signature, probably from of sounds, (the idem sonans of the courts ;) and a man the tremor of his hand, there was no a discoverable in night vary his signature as he pleased. Thus the Poet that syllable; and that this name, like both the others, could see no objection to having, like his own Falstaff, was written Shakspere. Revolving this matter in my one name for his family and townsfolk, and another for mind, it occurred to me, that in the new fac-simile of his the public-Shak spere for his domestic use and his name which I gave in 1790, my engraver had made a concerns at Stratford-upon-Avon, and Shakespeare for mistake in placing an A over the name which was there the rest of England ;-we may add, though he did not, exhibited, and that what was supposed to be that letter for posterity, and the whole world.
was only a mark of abbreviation, with a turn or curl at We subjoin the substance of Mr. Knight's remarks the first part of it, which gave it the appearance of a on the Poet's several autographs, with his fac-similes of letter.
If Mr. Stevens them. These are conclusive as to the modern error of and I had maliciously intended to lay a trap for this spelling the name with Malone, Shakspeare, as well as fabricator to fall into, we could not have done the busi. to the fact of the Poet's own private signature; but, ness more adroitly.' fully agreeing with them on both points, we still see no “ The new fac-simile to which Malone alludes conreason for the adoption of the name as he wrote it for tinued to be given with the a over the name, in subsehis private use, in place of that variation which he quent editions; and we have now no alternative but to appears to have deliberately chosen for his poetic and copy it from the engraving. It was taken from the dramatic surname, and by which he was known and mortgage deed executed by Shakespeare, on the 11th mentioned by all his literary contemporaries.
of March, 1613. When Malone's engraver turned the
re of that signatnre into an a, the deed was in the pos* The will of Shakespeare, preserved in Doctors' | session of Mr. Wallis, a solicitor. It was subsequently Commons, is written upon three sheets of paper. The presented to Garrick; but after his death was no where name is subscribed at the right-hand corner of the first to be found. Malone, however, traced that the coun.. sheet; at the left-hand corner of the second sheet; and terpart of the deed of bargain and sale, dated the 1011 immediately before the names of the witnesses upon of March, 1613, was also in the possession of Mr. Wallis ; the third sheet. These signatures, engraved from a and he corrected his former error by engraving the sig. tracing by Stevens, were first published in 1778. The nature to that deed in bis • Inquiry.' He says, “Noifirst signature has been much damaged since it was withstanding this authority, I shall still continue to write traced by Stevens. It was long thought that, in the our Poet's name Shak speare, for reasons which I have first and second of these signatures, the Poet had writ- || assigned in nis Life. But whether in doing so I am ten his name Shakspere, but in the third Shakspeare; right or wrong, it is manifest that he wrote it himself and Stevens and Malone beld, therefore, that they had Shaksperc; and therefore if any original letter or other authority in the hand-writing of the Poet for spelling his | manuscript of his shall ever be discovered, his name name Shakspeare They rested this mode of spelling I will appear in that form.' This prophecy has been
partly realized. The autograph of Shakespeare, corresponding in its anthority with the other documents, was found in a small folio volume, the first edition of Florio's translation of Montaigne, having been sixty years in the possession of the Rev. Edward Patteson, minister of Smethwick, uear Birmingham. In 1838 the volume was sold by auction, and purchased by the British Museum, for one hundred pounds. The deed of bargain and sale, the signature of which was copied by Malone in 1796, was sold by auction in 1841, and
was purchased by the Corporation of London, for one hundred and forty-five pounds
• We subjoin fac-similes of the six authentic antographs of Shakespeare. That at the head of the page is from the · Montaigne' of Florio ; the left, with the seal, is from the counterpart of the Conveyance in the possession of the Corporation of London; the right, with the seal, is from Malone's fac-simile of the Mort. gage deed which has been lost; the three others are from the three sheets of the Will."