Census of the Petrarch Manuscripts in the United States
WASHINGTON, D.C. FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY
V. a. 339Paper (watermark hidden in the binding), ff. I-IV (modern paper) + I (contemporary paper) + 291 + I-IX (mod. paper), two pencil foliations, the older (perhaps by J. P. Collier) incorrect, the most recent by G. E. Dawson, 135 × 92 mm. (written space varies), a varying number of long lines, 16 2-118 128 (-6th) 13-238 248 (-8th) 258 (-1st) 26-288 296 (-6th) 30-378 384 (-4th), according to Dawson, the manuscript originally consisted of 300 folios of which nine have been removed, no catchwords, no signatures or ruling, written by many persons in quite small and cramped cursive scripts, the original writer copied about fifty percent of the texts in ca. 1630-1640, a second person added material around 1648, and Collier copied his ballads in the mid-19th century. No decoration. Binding, originally bound in 17thߚcent. reddish brown calf, rebound in 1960 by R. Lunow in the Folger Library, brown calf over paper boards with gold letters on the spine "Commonplace Book. ca. 1600. Collier’s forged Ballads. ca. 1840. V.a. 339", marbled endpapers and pastedowns. f. 253 (f. 246 in an earlier foliation), Proverbs attributed to Petrarch, inc. "Nec noscere exemplum est quantus in adversis brevitas ..." (including Walther, Proverbia, no. 34223d and 14636), expl. "... mendaciem oportet memorem esse. Petrarch". Ms. also contains: The ms. was originally divided into six sections of prose extracts and poetry arranged according to topics including theology and religion, medicine, remedies, etc.; blocks of folios were allotted to each section with a number of folios left blank; material was added in ca. 1648, and J. P. Collier, in a simulated hand of the 18th cent. (according to G. E. Dawson; see his article below), added the ballads in s. XIX on ff. 39-41, 107v-179, 181v, 228v, 242-245, 276v-277. (see Dawson’s article for a full description of the ballads).1 ORIGIN
Written in England , s. XVIImed. with later additions of s. XIX, perhaps owned by Joseph Hall whose signature appears on the front flyleaf. PROVENANCE
Thomas Thorpe sold the ms. to J. P. Collier (died 1883) who owned it in 1843; no. 16 in the sale of Collier’s library, Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, 7-9 Aug. 1884, sold to Quaritch; no. 1002 in Sotheby sale, "Other Properties", 20-22 April 1899; no. 386 in J. Pearson’s Cat. of Shakespeareana, 1899, and sold to Marsden J. Parry of Providence, Rhode Island; upon the death of Parry, A. S. W. Rosenbach sold the ms. to H. C. Folger. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Giles E. Dawson, "John Payne Collier’s Great Forgery", Studies in Bibliography, 24 (1971), 1-26; a number of the ballads were published by Collier in his edition of Extracts from Registers of the Stationer’s Company (London, 1848-49), see I, pp. VII-VIII and II, VII-X.
1. Doubt about the ballads as Collier forgeries is not diminished by Collier’s mention of the ms. in a letter to Ebsworth on 15 Feb. 1879, which I quote in part: "I bought the Ms containing many or most the ballads about which you enquire more than fifty years ago, and I have shewn it to all friends who had a wish or right to see it. It originally belonged to some old scribbler, who copied it as a common-place book, after which it seems to have fallen into other hands, and it contains much verse and prose. What made you think, or fancy that I should ‘object’ to tell? I have told every body who had a right to enquire. I tell you because you are my friend, not an enemy. This I say in confidence ... This note you will consider as quite private. Yours most sincerely. J. Payne Collier"; the letter is now in the Folger Library, Y. c. 1055 (68b) .
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