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In 1775 certain papers and legal instruments were published, attributed to Shakspere, Queen Elizabeth, and Southampton. In 1796 Edmund Malone proved them to be forgeries. Here is one of the forged autographs of Shakspere:

This is superior to any of the genuine ones, which in some degree it resembles. The letter a is pretty clearly written in the last syllable, as if the forger meant to establish the proper spelling of that part of the name. Malone, who at first pronounced the genuine orthography to be Shakspeare, subsequently declared Shakspere to be the poet's own mode of spelling his name beyond all doubt. But others do not accede to this decision, because they think there is an a in the last of the five genuine signatures.

The solution of the whole mystery is in the fact that Shakspere was unable to write or even to spell his own name.

In 1598 Richard Quiney addressed a letter to him asking for a loan of £30, and the name was written Shackesper:

In the same year among thirteen names of holders of

The form of the letter a in both these fac-similes was peculiar to that time. It occurs in Shakspere's


second autograph. Why did he thus vary the form f

Probably because he followed the copy set for him.
Note now the various spellings of his name:

In 1582, as a bridegroom, Shagsper.

In 1593 and 1594, as a poet, Shakespeare; and the same uniformly as a playwright from 1598 to 1623,. but sometimes with a hyphen—Shake-speare.

In 1596, as an inhabitant of Southwark, Shaksper.

In 1598, as addressed by letter, Shackesper.

In 1598, as owner of corn, Shakesper.

In 1604, as plaintiff in a suit, Shexpere.

In 1604 and 1605, as author of plays performed atWhitehall before King James, Shaxberd.

In 1609, as plaintiff in a suit, Shackspeare.

In 1612, as plaintiff in a suit, Schackspeare.

In 1614, as written by his cousin, Shakspear.

In 1616, as twice written in his will, Shackspeare; but in signing the same three times he omits the c in the first syllable, and it is impossible to tell what the last three or four letters are. And although in the two Deeds of 1613 the name is written repeatedly Shakespeare, in signing them he omits the e in the first syllable both times, and varies the termination of the name, just as an illiterate person would be likely to do. But there are more of these various spellings. All

the records of Shakspere's lifetime have been hunted

up and printed. From these documents, consisting of

deeds, bills of complaint, letters, poems, plays, etc.,—

most of which especially concerned either the father or

son or both—we extract the following spellings, giving.

the dates:

Shakspere 1558, '62, '63, '64, '66, '69, '71, '79, 80, '83, '85, '90, '96, 1616, '17. (John Sbakspere rrd all his offspring so registered, except Richard Shakspeer, baptized 1574.)

Shaxpere 1558, '79, 1607, '08.

Shakspeyr 1567, (" Mr.," meaning John.)

Shakysper 1568, (" Mr. John.")

Shackespere 1573, '89, 1602.

Shakespere 1575, '79, '96, '97, '98, '99,1602, '04, '06, '08,

'09, '10, '11, '13. Shackspere 1579, (Deed. "Joannis Shaxpere +.") 1608. Shagsper 1582, (Marriage bond—twice so written.) Shake-scene 1592, (Greene, the playwright, in derision.) Shakespeare 1593-1594, (Poems,) 1596, '98, 1603, '05,

'13, (and all Plays from 1598 to 1623.)
Shaksper 1596, '98, 1613, (Signature,) 1616.
Shakesper 1598, (Owner of corn.)
Shackesper 1598, (Letter from Quinev to Shakspere.)
Shakspeare 1601, '03, '07, '12, '13. '14, 1623.
Shackespeare 1603, '14, (Agreement.)
Shexpere 1604, (Suit for malt sold.)
Shaxberd 1604, '05, (Dramatist, Whitehall.)
Shakespear 1605, (Conveyance.)
Shakesphear 1605, (Same conveyance.)
Shackspeare 1608, '12, '14, '16.

Schackspeare 1612, '14, (Complaint and agreement.)
Shaksp* 1613, (Signature.)
Shakspear 1614, (Cousin's letter.)
.Shaksp * * * 1616, (Signatures to Will.)
Shaxper 1616, ("Bell and pall for Mr. Shaxpers
dawghter, viij. d")

If we divide the name between the s and p we have "the following variations of each part:

Shaks, Shakes, Shakys, Shacks, Shackes, Schacks, Shags, Shax, Shex; per, pere, peer, pear, peare, peyr, phear, berd, pj, p * * * .

Shakspere's daughter Judith in 1611 witnessed two instruments by making her mark. And his other daughter Susanna in 1642 disputed the unmistakable handwriting of her deceased husband in such a manner as to betray her illiteracy.

Mr. C. F. Gunther, of Chicago, claims to have obtained a copy of the Shakspere Folio of 1632, {i.e., the second Folio,) containing the author's autograph pasted on a fly-leaf, underneath which is written:

"The works of William Shakespeare. Born in April, i564, and died in April, 161(i. John Ward."

And on the same fly-leaf is pasted a letter from Charles Godwin, of Bath, dated February 16, 1839, to Dr. Charles Severn, of London, who was then editing "The Diary of the Rev. John Ward, A. M.," Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon from 1618 to 1679.

The book is said to have been owned by a Mormon, and is supposed to have been brought from England by an emigrant to Utah. Aside from the impossibility of such an autograph escaping from England to the wilds of America and remaining undiscovered so many years, the fac-simile in the Chicago Current of May 23, 1885, betrays most certain evidence of fraud. Compare it with the five genuine scrawls of Shakspere. It is so exact a copy of the last signature to the will as to indicate that it was traced therefrom.

Shakspere's last signature:

Pretended autograph in Chicago:

This close resemblance in, so clumsy an autograph 'would be extraordinary, if not impossible; but how easy to forge it by first tracing it lightly with a pencil and then completing it with a pen. Here is a hair-line tracing of the spurious over the genuine autograph:


Even the most illiterate man who is obliged often to sign his name, will do it uniformly, so that when you have seen his signature once you will know it again. For example, take the following autographs:


Washington, D. C, May 31, 1885. The undersigned, aged 78 years, wrote the above autographs In presence of the two subscribing witnesses. And he never wrote and cannot write anything but his name, though he can read print with ease. And he further says that he learned to write his name in the course of one month in the administration of President Polk (1845-':!,) while serving as a Capitol policeman; otherwise he would have been obliged to sign the pay-roll with his cross.

"Witness: A. Watson, - JOHN W. SMITH.

Wm. Henry Buer.

* Bacon required a mask, and he found it in the illiterate play-actor Shakspere.

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