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"The Passionate Pilgrim"
by [?]

January 5, 1805. “The Passionate Pilgrim.”

The Passionate Pilgrim (1599). Reprinted with a Note about the Book, by Arthur L. Humphreys. London: Privately Printed by Arthur L. Humphreys, of 187, Piccadilly. MDCCCXCIV.

I was about to congratulate Mr. Humphreys on his printing when, upon turning to the end of this dainty little volume, I discovered the well-known colophon of the Chiswick Press–“Charles Whittingham & Co., Took’s Court, Chancery Lane, London.” So I congratulate Messrs. Charles Whittingham & Co. instead, and suggest that the imprint should have run “Privately Printed for Arthur L. Humphreys.”

This famous (or, if you like it, infamous) little anthology of thirty leaves has been singularly unfortunate in its title-pages. It was first published in 1599 as The Passionate Pilgrims. By W. Shakespeare. At London. Printed for W. Jaggard, and are to be sold by W. Leake, at the Greyhound in Paules Churchyard. This, of course, was disingenuous. Some of the numbers were by Shakespeare: but the authorship of some remains doubtful to this day, and others the enterprising Jaggard had boldly conveyed from Marlowe, Richard Barnefield, and Bartholomew Griffin. In short, to adapt a famous line upon a famous lexicon, “the best part was Shakespeare, the rest was not.” For this, Jaggard has been execrated from time to time with sufficient heartiness. Mr. Swinburne, in his latest volume of Essays, calls him an “infamous pirate, liar, and thief.” Mr. Humphreys remarks, less vivaciously, that “He was not careful and prudent, or he would not have attached the name of Shakespeare to a volume which was only partly by the bard–that was his crime. Had Jaggard foreseen the tantrums and contradictions he caused some commentators–Mr. Payne Collier, for instance–he would doubtless have substituted ‘By William Shakespeare and others‘ for ‘By William Shakespeare.’ Thus he might have saved his reputation, and this hornets’ nest which now and then rouses itself afresh around his aged ghost of three centuries ago.”

That a ghost can suffer no inconvenience from hornets I take to be indisputable: but as a defence of Jaggard the above hardly seems convincing. One might as plausibly justify a forger on the ground that, had he foreseen the indignation of the prosecuting counsel, he would doubtless have saved his reputation by forbearing to forge. But before constructing a better defence, let us hear the whole tale of the alleged misdeeds. Of the second edition of The Passionate Pilgrim no copy exists. Nothing whatever is known of it, and the whole edition may have been but an ideal construction of Jaggard’s sportive fancy. But in 1612 appeared The Passionate Pilgrime, or certaine amorous Sonnets between Venus and Adonis, newly corrected and augmented. By W. Shakespeare. The third edition. Whereunto is newly added two Love Epistles, the first from Paris to Hellen, and Hellen’s answere back again to Paris. Printed by W. Jaggard. (These “two Love Epistles” were really by Thomas Heywood.) This title-page was very quickly cancelled, and Shakespeare’s name omitted.

Mr. Humphrey’s Hypothesis.

These are the bare facts. Now observe how they appear when set forth by Mr. Humphreys:–

“Shakespeare, who, when the first edition was issued, was aged thirty-five, acted his part as a great man very well, for he with dignity took no notice of the error on the title-page of the first edition, attributing to him poems which he had never written. But when Jaggard went on sinning, and the third edition appeared under Shakespeare’s name solely, though it had poems by Thomas Heywood, and others as well, Jaggard was promptly pulled up by both Shakespeare and Heywood. Upon this the publisher appears very properly to have printed a new title-page, omitting the name of Shakespeare.”

Upon this I beg leave to observe–(1) That although it may very likely have been at Shakespeare’s own request that his name was removed from the title-page of the third edition, Mr. Humphreys has no right to state this as an ascertained fact. (2) That I fail to understand, if Shakespeare acted properly in case of the third edition, why we should talk nonsense about his “acting the part of a great man very well” and “with dignity taking no notice of the error” in the first edition. In the first edition he was wrongly credited with pieces that belonged to Marlowe, Barnefield, Griffin, and some authors unknown. In the third he was credited with these and some pieces by Heywood as well. In the name of common logic I ask why, if it were “dignified” to say nothing in the case of Marlowe and Barnefield, it suddenly became right and proper to protest in the case of Heywood? But (3) what right have we to assume that Shakespeare “took no notice of the error on the title-page of the first edition”? We know this only–that if he protested, he did not prevail as far as the first edition was concerned. That edition may have been already exhausted. It is even possible that he did prevail in the matter of the second edition, and that Jaggard reverted to his old courses in the third. I don’t for a moment suppose this was the case. I merely suggest that where so many hypotheses will fit the scanty data known, it is best to lay down no particular hypothesis as fact.