2. Malone, in a subsequent part of his prolegomena to both of those editions (Lond. v. i. part II. 162., and Dublin, v. ii. p. 139.), printed a pretended will or confession of the faith of John Shakspeare, found in a strange, incredible way, and evidently a forgery. This consisted of fourteen articles, of which the first three were missing. Now the three paragraphs foisted into William’s will would be the kind of paragraphs that would complete John’s confession; but they are not in confession. Who, then, forged them? and foisted them—which Malone had never seen—into so prominent a place in the Dublin reprint of Malone’s work?
3. Malone, in his inquiry into the Ireland forgeries, alludes to this confession of faith, admits that he was mistaken about it, and intimates that he had been imposed on, which he evidently was; but he does not seem to know any thing of the second forgery of the three introductory paragraphs, or of their bold introduction into William Shakspeare’s will in the Dublin edition of his own work.
It is therefore clear that Mr. Jebb is mistaken in thinking that it was “a blunder of Malone’s.” It seems, as far as we can see, to have been, not a blunder, but an audacious fabrication; and how it came into the Irish edition, seems to me incomprehensible. The printer of the Dublin edition, Exshaw, was a respectable man, an alderman and a Protestant, and he could have no design to make William Shakspeare pass for a papist; nor indeed does the author of the fraud, whoever he was, attempt that; for the three paragraphs profess to be the confession of John. So that, on the whole, the matter is to me quite inexplicable; it is certain that it must have been a premeditated forgery and fraud, but by whom or for what possible purpose, I cannot conceive.
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HINTS TO INTENDING EDITORS.
Beaumont and Fletcher; Gray; Seward; Milton.—By way of carrying out the suggestion which you thought fit to print at page 316, as to the advantages likely to arise from intimations in your pages of the existence of the MS. annotations, and other materials suitable to the purposes of intending editors of standard works, I beg to mention the following books in my possession, which are much at the service of any editor who may apply to you for my address, viz.:—
1. A copy of Tonson’s 10 vol. edit. of Beaumont and Fletcher (8vo. 1750), interleaved and copiously annotated, to the extent of about half the plays, by Dr. Hoadly.
2. Mr. Haslewood’s collection of materials for an edit. of Gray, consisting of several works and parts of works, MS. notes, newspaper cuttings, &c., bound in 6 vols.
3. A collection of works of Miss Anne Seward, Mr. Park’s copy, with his MS. notes, newspaper cuttings, &c.