[ p.ii ]
[Note in handwriting, by J.O.H. at Hollingbury Copse, Brighton, dated May, 1883, states that 50 copies were printed.]
[ p.iii ]
THE PRESENT STATE
THE BIRTH-PLACE TRUST,
THE NECESSITY OF PROVIDING A CALENDAR|
OF THE VOLUMINOUS CONTENTS OF THE
SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, RESPECT-
FULLY SUBMITTED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF
FOR STRICTLY PRIVATE CIRCULATION.
[ p.v ]
[ p.7 ]
To hold the same and every part thereof, with their respective appurtenances, unto the said mayor, aldermen, and burgesses, and their successors, upon the trusts and subject to the conditions hereinafter mentioned, that is to say, upon trust, to permit the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Warwick for the time being, the High Steward of the Borough of Stratford-upon-Avon for the time being, the mayor of the said borough for the time being, the aldermen of the said borough fo the time being, the justices of the peace for the said borough for the time being, the town clerk of the said borough for the time being, the vicar of the parish of Stratford-upon-Avon for the time being, the head master of the Free Grammar School at Stratford-upon-Avon for the time being, and the said Thomas Thomson, J. Payne Collier, C. Holte Bracebridge, of Atherstone Hall, in the County of Warwick, Esquire, J. O. Halliwell, of No. 6, St. Mary's Place, West Brompton, in the County of Middlesex, Esquire, the said W. O. Hunt, E. F. Flower, and R. H. Hobbes, John Atkinson, second master of the said grammar school, and every other person who shall hereafter become a donor to the said house, library, and museum, to the value of £100 and upwards, or who shall hereafter be elected a member as herein-after mentioned during their respective lives, to have the controul and management of the said properties, and particularly for this purpose, to have power from time to time to make such rules and regulations for the government, protection, and preservation of the said house, library, and museum, and the grounds and appurtenances thereto, and the protection and preservation of the books and articles therein, as they, the said trustees, or a / p.8 / majority of them assembled at any meeting duly convened, consisting of not less than five members, shall from time to time think proper, and from time to time in like manner to alter or annul any such rules as they may think proper, and also at any such meeting to appoint or remove a custodian, but so that in the controul and management of the said properties, and in framing such rules and regulations, the said trustees shall always have regard to the object for which the said properties were purchased, and shall not allow the same or any part thereof to be used for any purpose inconsistent with such object. Provided always that on the death or retirement of any trustee not being a trustee by virtue of his office, it shall be incumbent on the said trustees, or a majority of them assembled at any meeting duly convened, at which five members at least shall be present, to appoint by minute in writing, to be entered on the minutes of such meeting, any fit person to supply the place of any such trustee so dying or retiring.
The above, as will be observed, refers exclusively to the Shakespearean properties in Henley Street; but, a few years ago, the estate of New Place, the one that had belonged to the Poet in his later days, was added to the Trust by an unanimous vote of the Board.
At the annual meeting of the Trustees held in May, 1881, it was proposed "that a grant be made in aid of a fund to endow a Shakespearean Scholarship in connection with the Stratford-on-Avon Grammar School." The consideration of this resolution was postponed until the next year, and, in the mean time, the following Opinion of Counsel on the subject was obtained,—
I have read the accompanying printed copy of deed of 4 July, 1866, by which I shall assume the trust on which the / p.9 / question arises to have been well created, and the accompanying letter from Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps.
The purposes of the trust I understand to be limited to the control and management of the properties mentioned in the deed, with the object of protecting and preserving for ever, as a national memorial, the Birth-Place of William Shakespeare. The application of surplus income to the Grammar-School in which Shakespeare was educated appears to me not to fall within these purposes. I am, therefore, of an opinion that such an application of surplus income is unauthorised.
With reference to the allusion at the end of the Instructions to an authorised scheme, I amy remark, without expressing any opinion, that, as at present advised, I am not aware in what way any scheme to effect the object proposed can be authorised without an Act of Parliament.
A. J. WOOD,
Hare Court, Temple, 21 April, 1882
It is clear from this Opinion that no diversion of the trust funds from the Henley Street objects could be legalised without an Act of Parliament. This decision applies of course equally to the amalgamation of the New Place estate into the Trust, and it may be worth consideration if the security afforded by a Private Act in its confirmation would not be desirable. In this case, there has been the unanimous vote of the Trustees in favour, and an unopposed application for an Act might not be attended with a ruinous expence. What an opposed application in other directions might cost no one can possibly say, but it may be reasonably suspected that, were such a course ventured upon, the Trustees would have very little trouble with Consols or other investments / p.10 / for a considerable time after the attempt, even if they were fortunate enough to lose only their capital, and be spared the necessity of providing for a deficiency out of their own pockets.
The Henley Street and New Place estates are so exactly analogous in their relation to the biography of Shakespeare, it is not likely that the amalgamation will ever be seriously opposed. Above all, they both include existing remains that are absolutely connected with his life-career. If we once diverge out of these limits to the consideration of objects that have merely their predecessors or correlatives in the days of Elizabeth or James, there scarcely are bounds to the number of designs that might be entertained. The fabric of the Grammar-School has a distinct connexion with the poet's early history, and the preservation of that fabric would be consistent with the spirit of the Birth-Place deed; but it is difficult to understand in what respect the advancement of a boy educated there in the nineteenth centuy, on a system essentially different from that followed in the poet's own time, can be thought to be within the legitimate scope of a Shakespeare-biographical trust. It will, moreover, perhaps, be apparent, from what is elsewhere stated, that the amount of the funds at the disposal of the Trustees is barely sufficient to meet the contingencies arising out of the duties of the present objects of their care.
[ p.11 ]
That the Birthplace Trust being essentially of a biographical nature, and there being only barely sufficient room in the available portion of the Henley Street buildings for the preservation of books of a personal literary and artistic character, really illustrative of the life of the poet, and there being at hand in the town large rooms at the Memorial Theatre suitable in every way for the reception of those which refer to the critical or theatrical study of his works, — Resolved, that, in future, presents not illustrative of Shakespearian biography be respectfully declined, and that, so far as is possible, having regard to the wishes of previous donors, every article now in the Museum which is of a later date than the seventeenth century, and is not connected with that biography, may, in the discretion of the Executive Committee, be offered to the Governors of the Memorial Theatre for the use of the public under such conditions as they may direct.
In obedience to this resolution about six hundred and fifty volumes have been removed to the Memorial Library, the result being that / p.12 / there is now just about the vacant space likely to be required in the future for special additions.
The compilation of a list of the printed books was of course an easy matter to almost any one, but it was apparent that there would be considerable difficulty in making a satisfactory catalogue of many of the old deeds and papers. I was, however, in hopes that, at occasional visits to Stratford-on-Avon, I might be able to accomplish the latter task by degrees, but, on a more careful review of the subject in May last, I found that the business was a far more onerous one than I had fancied. There are some thousands of separate deeds, old papers, drawings and engravings, &c., a large number of which not only require time and care in their examination, but the skill of an experienced palaeographer, a knowledge of medieval Latin, and the reading of one well versed in the local topography and history. Old documents, it must be recollected, cannot, as a rule, be satisfactorily catalogued until every word in them has been carefully read. This was the process adopted when the Calendar of the Municipal Records of the town was compiled.
It will, I presume, be admitted that it would be desirable for the contents of the library to be so indexed that any particular article could be discovered by a librarian whose acquirements / p.13 / did not extend to palaeography, and who might not, indeed, be able to read a line of the manuscripts that he produced. The Executive Committee hold, I believe, to the opinion, one in which those who study the balance-sheet will most likely fully concur, that a salary of £100 a year is as much as can be prudently offered at present to a librarian. It would, of course, be impossible to obtain the services of an experienced calendarist for anything like so small a remuneration, and there seems to be only one method of overcoming the difficulty, viz., by the independent formation of a calendar which shall be so minute and so clearly arranged, that any one could readily find a desired article. A long experience in such matters enables me to express a conviction that the services of a person really competent for the task could not be procured under the payment of two guineas a day exclusive of personal expenses.*
* To guard against any possible misapprehension, it may perhaps be as well to say that, no matter how high were the remuneration offered, it would not be in my own power to undertake the work; but I should be happy to supply any information that the long course of my reading on Shakespearean biography and the local topography may enable me to offer.
Reckoning three hundred days as the fewest required for an efficient result, the expenditure required for this purpose — Sundays being included in personal / p.14 / expenditure although not in work — would not be much less than a thousand pounds. Then it would be a work that, like the calendar of the Town Records, should be printed, and here would be an additional expense.
This estimate would probably be exceeded were the work executed in a really proper manner. There are numbers of brief papers in the library, some of great importance, each one of which would be happily calendared if a whole day were allotted to it. Every now and then the calendarist will, for instance, come upon a leaf or two in the handwriting of Thomas Greene, the poet's