Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 47, September, 1861

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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 47, September, 1861

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, No. 47,
September, 1861, by Various
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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, No. 47, September, 1861
Author: Various
Release Date: February 26, 2004 [eBook #11316]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Joshua Hutchinson, Tonya Allen, and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders


In 1853 there went up a jubilant cry from many voices upon the publication of Mr. Collier's "Notes and Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare's Plays from Early Manuscript Corrections," etc. "Now," it was said, "doubt and controversy are at an end. The text is settled by the weight of authority, and in accordance with common sense. We shall enjoy our Shakespeare in peace and quiet." Hopeless ignorance of Shakespeare-loving nature! The shout of rejoicing had hardly been uttered before there arose a counter cry of warning and defiance from a few resolute lips, which, swelling, mouth by mouth, as attention was aroused and conviction strengthened, has overwhelmed the other, now sunk into a feeble apologetic plea. The dispute upon the marginal readings in this notorious volume, as to their intrinsic value and their pretence to authority upon internal evidence, has ended in the rejection of nearly all of the few which are known to be peculiar to it, and the conclusion against any semblance of such authority. The investigation of the external evidence of their genuineness, though it has not been quite so satisfactory upon all points, has brought to light so many suspicious circumstances connected with Mr. Collier's production of them before the public, that they must be regarded as unsupported by the moral weight of good faith in the only person who is responsible for them.
Since our previous article upon this subject,[A] nothing has appeared upon it in this country; but several important publications have been made in London concerning it; and, in fact, this department of Shakespearian literature threatens to usurp a special shelf in the dramatic library. The British Museum has fairly entered the field, not only in the persons of Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Maskelyne, but in that of Sir Frederic Madden himself, the head of its Manuscript Department, and one of the very first paleographers of the age; Mr. Collier has made a formal reply; the Department of Public Records has spoken through Mr. Duffus Hardy; the "Edinburgh Review" has taken up the controversy on one side and "Fraser's Magazine" on the other; the London "Critic" has kept up a galling fire on Mr. Collier, his folio, and his friends, to which the "Athenaeum" has replied by an occasional shot, red-hot; the author of "Literary Cookery," (said to be Mr. Arthur Edmund Brae,) a well-read, ingenious, caustic, and remorseless writer, whose first book was suppressed as libellous, has returned to the charge, and not less effectively because more temperately; and finally an LL.D., Mansfield Ingleby, of Trinity College, Cambridge, comes forward with a "Complete View of the Controversy," which is manifestly meant for a complete extinction of Mr. Collier. Dr. Ingleby's book is quite a good one of its kind, and those who seek to know the history and see the grounds of this famous and bitter controversy will find it very serviceable. It gives, what it professes to give, a complete view of the whole subject from the beginning, and treats most of the prominent points of it with care, and generally with candor. Its view, however, is from the stand-point of uncompromising hostility to Mr. Collier, and its spirit not unlike that with which a man might set out to exterminate vermin.[B]
[Footnote A: October, 1859. No. XXIV.]
[Footnote B: We do not attribute the spirit of Dr. Ingleby's book to any inherent malignity or deliberately malicious purpose of its author, but rather to that relentless partisanship which this folio seems to have excited among the British critics. So we regard his reference to "almighty smash" and "catawampously chawed up" as specimens of the language used in America, and his disparagement of the English in vogue here, less as a manifestation of a desire to misrepresent, or even a willingness to sneer, than as an amusing exhibition of utter ignorance. In what part of America and from what lips did Dr. Ingleby ever hear these phrases? We have never heard them; and in a somewhat varied experience of American life have never been in any society, however humble, in which they would not excite laughter,
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