The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0313 Thursday, 3 May 2007
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2007 7:13 AM
Subject: A Savage Mystery
I recently purchased a book by Richard Savage, secretary and librarian of
Shakespeare's Birthplace circa 1910, that contains a mysterious
inscription that perhaps someone can help me with.
The book in question is garrulously entitled /Shakespearean Extracts from
Edward Pudsey's Booke Temp Q. Elizabeth & K. James I/, and is a
transcription, with comments, of a commonplace manuscript by Pudsey
containing quotes from several Elizajacobean plays. The quotes include
some from an /Irus/ which Savage believed to be a lost Shakespeare play,
but which I have found is Chapman's /Blind Beggar of Alexandria/.
The inscription that puzzles me is a handwritten pencil note on the inside
cover of my own copy, a copy which, I should add, has most of its pages
still bound together uncut as though it has just come from the publisher
and never been read:
"Mr W. Jaggard.
with the kind regards of
26 May 1910."
The book cost me 5, and when I got it I noticed the inscription and
thought "oh that's nice, a signed copy", but didn't think much about it.
I've just been writing up some notes on Hamlet, and I got this book out to
consult it; it can still be read with care by opening up the pages from
the bottom carefully and peering in-I certainly don't wish to destroy the
fusing. Since the front cover had fallen off (by the time it reached me),
the inside cover is now the outside cover so the inscription is prominent,
though quite faded.
Given that I was in research mode, I figured I might as well look up the
details of the inscription, and it was only then that I noticed it was
addressed to *W. Jaggard*, a rather obviously famous name with respect to
Shakespeare. I've searched for later Jaggards, but found none contemporary
with Savage, so that leads me to ponder a few possibilities:
* Savage had a friend called W. Jaggard by marvellous coincidence, and I
haven't yet been able to track down the details of the man.
* Savage was writing an odd and slightly ritualistically tinted dedication
to the publisher of so many of Shakespeare's works.
* It was some kind of other joke by Savage the meat of which is now lost.
* It's a later inscription, possibly a forgery.
The gentleman from whom I purchased the book, having found it for sale on
the internet, seemed entirely unconcerned with the nature of the book
itself and as I've already mentioned was selling it for an extremely
agreeable price. He mentioned that it was from the collection of his late
father, a collection which he was now selling off piece by piece. Since he
didn't hike the price up, I can't for one moment admit the possibility
that he forged it for monetary gain. Now that I look back at the records
of the transaction I find that he *did* actually tell me about the
dedication, but I hadn't noticed; and funnily enough, he transcribed the
faded "Mr W." as "Dr W.", with the looped entry to the "M" looking like a
lowercase "d", I suppose.
So if not a forgery by the seller, or his father, perhaps the person who
sold it to his father? But even if it is a forgery, it's a forgery that
doesn't really make all that much sense. If you're going to forge a
dedication in a work, you'd surely pick a name at random that sounds right
for the time rather than a name which is essentially a conundrum?
So those are the facts as far as I have them. Can anyone add anything in
the way of further conjecture or research that might settle the matter?
Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/
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