Shakespeare for America


THE founding of libraries, not for the circulation of books among general readers, but as repositories of rare editions and other literary treasures, is a comparatively recent development in the United States. Though university and college libraries have often been enriched by special gifts or purchases of early printed books or manuscript materials, and two large collections of Americana, the John Carter Brown Library at Providence and the William L. Clements Library at Ann Arbor, have been separately housed on university campuses, the establishing of such independent institutions as the Picrpont Morgan Library in New York and the Henry E. Huntington Library at San Marino, California, is significant of a new departure in American cultural life.

Each of the two collections last named makes accessible to scholars a wealth of material ranging over the whole extent of English literature and including books of particular interest to the student of Shakespeare. In this latter respect the Huntington Library, where the famous Devonshire collection is now lodged, is especially notable for the number and rarity of the items it contains. Mr. Morgan, however, was a collector of rare books in general, while Mr. Huntington’s interests were so widely diversified as to include Americana, incunabula, and English books printed before 1640; in both instances the early editions of Shakespeare now in their libraries were acquired as part of a larger buying programme.

The gathering of books and other objects of interest with the sole aim of illustrating the life and works of Shakespeare was the consistent avocation of another American collector, Mr. Henry Clay Folger, one-time president and later chairman of the board of the Standard Oil Company of New York, whose library, suitably housed and endowed with ample funds for its maintenance and expansion, is soon to be permanently established and opened to public use in Washington. With quiet intensity and scholarly concentration, Mr. Folger made it his life work to bring together all the books and other materials that might be serviceable to a student of Shakespeare, and he succeeded even beyond his hopes in forming what is undoubtedly the largest and richest collection of its kind that the world has seen or will ever see again. When the great mass of books, manuscripts, documents, playbills, costumes, prints, paintings, musical scores, and objects of historical interest assembled by Mr. Folger are installed in the building now approaching completion across the street from the Library of Congress, the United States will have at each side of the continent a centre for advanced scholarship in English studies whose resources in certain fields will be comparable to those of the British Museum and the Bodleian libraries. The cultural consequences, though not easy to assess in advance, may be very considerable.

Meanwhile the fact that the executive head of one of the country’s leading industries should have spent nearly all his leisure time, during years when he was burdened with heavy responsibilities, in the study of Shakespeare’s text, — for Mr. Folger was both a reader and an expert bibliographer,— and in gathering books for the proper study of Shakespeare, is a circumstance not to be overlooked in making up America’s cultural account. In the social history of our times such representative avocations of leading business men deserve at least as much emphasis as the occasional titanisms more conspicuously featured by the press, caricatured in popular fiction, and accepted by uncritical foreigners as characteristically American.

Thanks largely to Mr. Folger’s single-minded and single-handed efforts, with due respect also to Mr. Huntington’s, the United States has come abreast of Great Britain in establishing important Shakespeare collections for scholarly use; this after years of lagging behind. The British Museum received by the bequest of David Garrick in 1779 the nucleus of its Shakespeare library; in the same year a second important collection formed by Edward Capell was presented to Trinity College, Cambridge; and in 1812 the Bodleian received by bequest the books of Edmund Malone, the Shakespearean editor. For more than half a century thereafter British libraries were able to acquire Shakespeareana with little competition from America. Then the collecting of rare books became a favorite pastime of American millionaires, and little by little nearly all the early editions of Shakespeare privately owned in England passed into the hands of collectors in this country.

The transfer was of no immediate benefit to Shakespeare scholars, because books in private ownership, whether in British country houses or in the libraries of American men of wealth, could not readily be consulted. Even as late as the time of Shakespeare’s tercentennial in 1916, Miss Henrietta C. Bartlett, who catalogued the exhibition arranged by the New York Public Library, was able to say: ‘ Unfortunately there are in America but three public institutions which contain original editions of Shakespeare’s works of sufficient value to form the basis for an exhibition.’ Since these words were written, however, the most important private collections of Shakespeare in the United States have become, in effect if not strictly in fact, public possessions under conditions that make them permanently available to scholars. The amassing of a nearly complete series of texts under one roof, wherever that roof is situated, is a great improvement on having them scattered in many places, and students of Shakespeare on both sides of the Atlantic may find reason for satisfaction in the bringing together of such collections by Mr. Huntington and Mr. Folger. ‘It is a very fine achievement,’ writes Dr. Alfred W. Pollard of the British Museum, ‘and one which every wise Englishman will view not merely without jealousy, but with the greatest possible pleasure that they have thought it worth accomplishing, and have accomplished it.’

It was characteristic of Mr. Folger, indeed a part of his business training, never to announce his plans until he was ready to carry them into effect. He always conducted his buying of Shakespearean rarities alone, except for the devoted and competent assistance of Mrs. Folger, who helped him to keep a manuscript record of his purchases. His books were stored in bank vaults and storage rooms, never assembled in one place, and rarely shown. Consequently few persons in this country, even among bookmen, realized the magnitude of his achievement. In England, where the importance of his work was better appreciated, he was repeatedly urged to leave his collection as a Shakespeare memorial at Stratfordon-Avon. This he declined to do. His final intention, as expressed in a letter of January 19, 1928, was ‘to help make the United States a centre for literary study and progress.’

In an even more practical way his design to promote the study of Shakespeare in the United States appears in another provision for the ultimate disposal of his collection. By the terms of his will the administration of the Folger Shakespeare Library and of the fund for its support is entrusted to the trustees of Amherst College, who in compensation for their services are instructed to apply to the purposes of the college approximately one quarter of the annual income from the Shakespeare fund. The material benefit to the college of this generous arrangement does not need to be emphasized, though at first glance it may seem incongruous to place a library in Washington under the control of the trustees of a small undergraduate college in New England. But in making this disposition of his property Mr. Folger was presumably not actuated merely by affectionate loyalty to the college where he received his education. It would have been a simple matter for him to have benefited the college and founded the library by separate bequests, if he had wished to do so. His intention rather was to place the continuation of the most cherished personal interest of his life in the hands of men aware of educational values and in immediate contact with a scholarly enterprise. Under such direction the Folger Shakespeare Library might be expected to develop into something more than a mausoleum for rare books or a shrine to a venerated name; it might be made to exercise a living influence throughout the United States as a centre of literature and learning dedicated to the spirit of a master poet.


A Shakespeare library conceived as a national institution is of particular significance to scholars, teachers of literature, and writers. Let us first consider the opportunities for scholarship that the opening of the Folger Library will make available.

Through the courtesy of Mr. William Adams Slade, the director for the time being on appointment by Mrs. Folger, I have before me a condensed survey of the main features of the Folger collection. It extends to some fifteen typewritten pages, single-spaced. Very little of the information so generously supplied can be given within the limits of this paper, but by a selection of statistics and specific details I may be able to suggest the extent and richness of the library’s resources. It should be said, however, that Mr. Slade has as yet had no opportunity to examine the books and that the information here given is compiled from Mr. Folger’s manuscript catalogue.

Though Shakespeare’s writings are the nucleus around which the entire library has been built, not all the seventy thousand books in the collection arc by or about Shakespeare. Early editions of other Elizabethan and Jacobean authors are liberally represented, particularly those from which the dramatist drew plots or quotations, or which he is supposed to have read, or which contain allusions to his works. But we may well begin with editions of Shakespeare.

On this subject Mr. Slade writes: ‘The Folger Shakespeare Library contains upward of 1400 different copies of the collected works (different editions and duplicate copies both included) in a total of about 9700 volumes. In addition, besides numerous copies of the sonnets and poems, it has, as one would expect, a very great number of the separate editions of the plays, Hamlet leading, with over 800 copies; Macbeth next, with over 500; Romeo and Juliet and the Merchant of Venice next, each with over 400; and the others following. For historical, literary, or critical study it will obviously be of great service to have at hand such a collection of different editions, so largely supplied as they are with introductions, notes, essays, and critical apparatus. Moreover, a large number of the copies contain MS. notes by editors, men of letters, and others, giving the volumes added value and interest.’

Practising a resolute synecdoche, I cull from the list that illustrates this last statement only these items: Rowe’s First Edition, 1709, John Dennis’s own copy, with full notes in his handwriting, regarded as the earliest annotated copy known; Theobald’s Second Edition, 1750, MS. notes by the poet Gray; Hanmer’s Second Edition, 1770-1771, Sarah Siddons’s copy, with her notes for Shakespeare readings; Charles Lamb’s copy; S. T. Coleridge’s copy, with his MS. notes; First American Edition, eight volumes, 1795, President John Adams’s copy; Bell Edition, 1774, Volume I only, George Washington’s copy; Abraham Lincoln’s copy, edition of 1835, autograph and MS. notes.

Of all the collected editions the most interesting to both laymen and special students is, of course, the First Folio of 1623, containing the earliest printed versions of twenty of the thirty-seven plays included in the Shakespeare canon. Only a few more than two hundred copies of this book have been preserved, and of these seventy-nine, including six fragments, are in the Folger collection. Among them are: the Daniel Folio, once owned by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, and listed by Sir Sidney Lee as one of fourteen copies in a perfect state of preservation; three others also regarded as perfect, though apparently not so listed by Lee; six of twenty-seven copies placed by Lee in the second division of the first class because of minute defects; and perhaps most interesting of all, though not perfect, the Vincent Folio, the tallest known copy and one of the first to come from the press, bearing on its title-page an inscription recording its presentation by William Jaggard, the printer of the volume, to Augustine Vincent, the herald who had been instrumental in securing the grant of Shakespeare’s arms. This last First Folio was the first copy that Mr. Folger acquired, and, though it was not the most expensive book in his library, he was accustomed to refer to it as The most precious book in the world.’ Among the less distinguished copies in a company where all are of high distinction is one that Mr. Folger must have regarded with special affection, the Roberts Folio, used by Chatto and Windus in the production of the reduced facsimile edited by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps in 1876. It was with the purchase of this facsimile for one dollar and twenty-five cents that Mr. Folger commenced his career as a student of Shakespeare’s text and a collector of Shakespearean books.

The folios succeeding the first are also generously represented, the Second Folio by at least fifty copies, the Third Folio by at least twenty-four (including both issues), and the Fourth Folio by at least thirty. (Only approximate figures can be given.)

Next to the folios, which stand foremost among the glories of the Folger Library, come the plays in quarto, of which the earliest printed are among the rarest of rare books. Not infrequently an edition is known by only three to six surviving copies, and in some instances a single copy is all that remains. Seventeen plays were printed in quarto form before the issue of the First Folio, fourteen of them, as is now maintained, from fairly reliable manuscripts, and five (counting Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet once in each group) from ‘stolne and surreptitious copies’ irregularly secured by catchpenny publishers. Of the five ‘bad’ quartos Mr. Folger was able to obtain all but the 1603 Hamlet, and of the fourteen ‘ good ’ first quartos twelve, the missing items being Richard II (1597) and the First Part of Henry IV (1598). To compensate for these gaps his library includes a unique fragment (four leaves) regarded by Halliwell-Phillipps as a ‘portion of the first and hitherto unknown edition of the First Part of Henry IV, published by Wise early in the year 1598,’ and a unique third edition of Richard II (1598) which has been the object of much bibliographical attention. Mr. Folger also possessed the only known copy of Titus Andrdnicus (1594), the earliest printed of all Shakespeare’s plays; one of the three known copies of Hamlet (1604), the first issue of the revised play; and the rare second edition of Pericles (1611), besides both states of the first edition. Out of a large and representative collection of later quartos, from which only three of those issued prior to 1623 appear to be missing, the item that most insistently demands recognition is the bound set of the Jaggard-Pavier quartos of 1619, the only complete set known to have survived in seventeenth-century binding. A second but incomplete copy of the same curious book is noted in Mr. Folger’s record of his purchases and will be eagerly examined when his library is catalogued.

Plays that Shakespeare revised and plays wrongfully attributed to him by enterprising publishers are well represented, nearly always in the form of first quartos, but there is no room to list them here. We must pass on to the poems. Of the very scarce early issues of Venus and Adonis the Folger Library holds a unique fragment of the third edition, one of two known copies of the sixth edition, and one of two known copies of the thirteenth. There are two of the ten recorded copies of the Rape of Lucrece, first edition, and single examples of the third, sixth, seventh, and eighth editions. The Sonnets are represented by two copies of the first printing (1609). Finally, there are ten copies of the first collected edition of the Poems (1640), at least one of which has the rare portrait by William Marshall, the second likeness of Shakespeare to be engraved.

Rare original issues of works by other Elizabethan authors abound, but I must pass them over except to remark that the library is especially rich in materials, both manuscripts and printed, relating to Ben Jonson and Francis Bacon. So also I must dismiss cursorily the works of adapters, imitators, and ‘improvers’ of Shakespeare; the writings of editors, critics, and commentators, much of them in the form of marginal notes; and the great mass of manuscript materials, beginning with the original diary of the Reverend John Ward, vicar of Stratford-on-Avon from 1662 to 1681, and including hundreds of autograph letters from famous authors — Voltaire, Goethe, the Brownings, Tennyson, and Swinburne among others. A final word must be said of the materials illustrating stage history, and here again I quote Mr. Slade: —

The leading exponents of Shakespeare on the stage, especially from the age of Cibber, are the subject of a scries of special groups containing printed books, prompt books, autograph letters, original manuscripts, portraits, playbills, programmes, clippings, scrapbooks, costumes, stage properties, association objects, etc., etc. The Garrick material would give distinction to any library. The Cibbers, Maeklin, Mrs. Clive, Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Jordan, the Kembles, Macready, the Keans, Phelps, Forrest, Helen Faucit (afterwards Lady Martin), Charlotte Cushman, the Booths, the Barretts, Helena Modjeska, Mary Anderson, Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Ada Rehan, John Drew, Forbes-Robertson, E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, Beerbohm Tree, these and others all figure. The entries under William Winter’s name, representing not only Winter’s writings but also the items collected by him, fill nearly six pages of the catalogue. The playbills are so many that they may actually number anywhere from fifty thousand to half a million. The Augustin Daly material includes about 6000 letters covering the period from 1860 to 1900.

Portraits, statues, prints, drawings, water colors, oil paintings, medals — it is useless to try to particularize further. Even Walt Whitman’s appetite for ‘auctioneer’s catalogues’ of. details would be glutted. Sufficient to say that there will be a museum in connection with the Folger Library with thousands of objects to fill it.

Even an abbreviated and inadequate survey of the contents of the Folger Library may suggest how much it holds for the study and delight of investigators in many fields of English literature. Though its chief distinction rests upon its Elizabethan and seventeenth-century books, yet there is abundant material also to interest the student of eighteenth and nineteenth-century letters. Countless special studies might be based on its rare volumes and manuscripts, or on particular collections illustrating some minor point in regard to Shakespeare, but worthy of attention on their own account. The nature of the library as a whole, however, makes it preëminently the place where certain kinds of investigation may be most conveniently carried on and where indeed some organized effort might profitably be made to utilize the extraordinary resources of the collection.

Mr. Folger’s main interest in Shakespeare lay in textual and bibliographical problems, and accordingly the ‘fine kit of tools for the proper study of Shakespeare’ (as he called his library) was assembled with an eye to this type of investigation. This intention explains what might otherwise seem its unnecessary richness in First Folios. Between the various copies of this book there are minute but possibly significant differences. Had Mr. Folger lived to make use of his library, it was his design to supervise such a collation of First Folios as has never before been possible. This remains for others to perform. It is but one step, however, in the bibliographical study of Shakespeare for which his collection provides the means. To Shakespeare’s earliest editors an error in the printing of quartos and folios was merely a blemish to be removed by the readiest means at hand. To a modern editor, on the contrary, an error may be a significant indication of some stage in the process that Shakespeare’s plays went through between the time when they left his hand and the time when the better-authorized but not entirely accurate versions appeared in the First Folio. The problem is not in the first instance to eliminate mistakes, but to interpret them in order that corrections of the text may be intelligently made. Presumably no absolute certainty will ever be reached concerning every word that Shakespeare wrote, but that is no reason why all the available information should not be collected and used for what it may be worth in the formation of as sound a text as can be made.

An association of Shakespeare scholars brought together for a limited object could do much to utilize the remarkable resources of the Folger collection, but it might be possible to organize under the direction of the library a scholarly enterprise of a more permanent and systematic kind. In the American Academies at Rome and Athens we have a type of institution founded for the study of a subject at points where the richness of the material justifies the continued maintenance of a body of experts. The Folger Library will create in Washington a centre for the study of the literature of Elizabethan England comparable to the best that can be found in Great Britain. It would be easy to conceive there an American Academy for English Studies that might, like its prototypes abroad, bring into profitable coöperation a permanent staff of experts attached to the library, visiting scholars of distinction, and younger men appointed to fellowships. From such a centre of scholarship might be issued a series of publications that would quicken the advance of knowledge in the most important field of literary investigation, while young men trained there and occasionally returning for periods of research might exercise a salutary influence on the teaching of English in American colleges.


So far we have considered the Folger Library simply as a collection of books, a tool whereby scholars may increase the general store of learning. The rare volumes assembled by Mr. Folger, however, will occupy only a part of the building designed to hold them. The beautiful structure conceived by the architect, Mr. Paul P. Cret, in consultation with Mr. Alexander B. Trowbridge, is planned both without and within to express a larger purpose than that of being only a kind of sanctuary for Shakespeare students.

Outwardly the building is classic in spirit, though not an archæological imitation of any particular period of classic architecture, and in certain details is suggestive of a restrained modernism. The simplicity of the marble façade is emphasized by the introduction of sculptured panels, one at the foot of each of the nine bays, representing scenes from the best-known Shakespearean plays; these will stand at a point where they may easily be studied by visitors. Within this classic shell the architect has very boldly conceived the idea of producing a Tudor interior. The transition is made gradually, since the long exhibition gallery which runs parallel to the main façade is designed in the spirit of English work of the early Renaissance. The large reading room or library proper, which lies behind the gallery, will be carried out in the architectural manner of Shakespeare’s time, though with some mixture, because at one end of the room there will stand a window with Gothic tracery which in its stonework is a copy of the principal window in the church at Stratford where Shakespeare lies buried. The left wing of the building will contain a small auditorium modeled on the pattern of an Elizabethan theatre, about which a whole story might be written. The many elements of form combined in the design of the library building appropriately suggest the richness and variety of the tradition gathered up in Shakespeare’s works and through them handed down to our own day. So, too, by means of architectural masses and sculptured figures speaking to the passer-by, and more directly by means of its museum and stage, the Folger Shakespeare Library will be enabled to impress the public mind, enlighten the uninformed, and help those already interested to fuller knowledge.

Of the stage included in the Folger Library a word more should be said. It will be one of the few places in the world where Shakespeare’s plays may be acted under conditions like those for which they were originally written. One may confidently suppose that it will be used not only for lectures and readings, but for occasional performances by our greatest actors in the Shakespearean tradition and for the instruction of school and college groups in methods of staging and acting Elizabethan dramas. Though the auditorium will seat less than three hundred people, its productions may reach a wider audience through talking pictures and radio. By this means the stage of the Folger Library may be made a centre for the cultivation of the spoken language as a thing of beauty and may contribute in no small degree to revive a sense of dramatic verse as a noble equivalent to operatic music. Anyone who has heard a performance of French classical drama in France will understand how much English-speaking audiences have yet to learn in this respect.

The reading room of the Folger Library will, of course, not be open to the public at large. A place where rare volumes are treasured and where literary research is to be carried on cannot be used directly as an instrument for general education. But, in addition to the educational work forwarded by its museum and theatre, the Folger Library may as a research institution exercise an indirect but notable influence upon formal education in schools and colleges. It is not too optimistic to suppose that the creation of a permanent centre for Shakespeare study will tend to accentuate the teaching of Shakespeare and gradually help to bring about a new emphasis in the study of literature. In considering the possible effects of such a library on the great academic industry that the teaching of English has become, however, we are entering a field of speculation where consummations devoutly to be wished will not necessarily come to pass unless belief in them and desire for them bring them into being.

English literature as a part of formal education is still comparatively new and its character is far from settled. Courses in English literature may be studies in æsthetic appreciation, in social history, in illustrations of a favorite ‘philosophy of life,’ in textual or linguistic problems, or in the biography of authors. Nearly all these types of courses are given at any point in the educational programme where it happens to be convenient or locally traditional to place them. There is no controlling conviction as to what aspects of the subject should come first or what aspects are central. College announcements are stuffed with far too many courses in English, a large number of them dealing with side issues and fringes of the subject. In one large university recently thirteen courses were simultaneously being given in the short story alone. It is time that English departments were de-upholstered. So far as the Folger Library may serve to focus attention on the central figure in English literature, its influence will be entirely wholesome.

Opportunities to engage in research at the Folger Library and reports of the work being carried on there may also help to spread among the smaller colleges an idea of English as a subject of advanced study, and so bring them some of the advantages that a college at a university derives from its association with the graduate schools. These advantages do not consist in the introduction into the college of courses of graduate-school type, but in the permeation through the college community of a mature attitude toward learning. The most obvious defects of the detached college are its absorption in its own affairs, its tendency to conceive of classroom teaching as the whole duty of its faculty, and its readiness to define learning as something to be given students to ‘prepare them for life.’ Even a distant or occasional contact with a different type of institution, where learning is cultivated, not for the sake of adolescent learners, but for the sake of a subject to be pursued, can hardly fail to have a tonic effect on the college. It may assist in establishing there a conception of learning as a way of life that some men instinctively prefer to all other careers, and thereby enable the college to give its students the greatest of all educational experiences, that of association with older minds moving steadily in their own orbits.


The Folger Shakespeare Library is already a property of no inconsiderable value. Its building will soon be one of the sights of the national capital; its book collection is obviously destined to become a Mecca for scholars, and its museum and theatre instruments of public instruction. But there is one more question to be asked. Can an institution so dedicated, and supported by the most munificent bequest ever made for the purpose of literary study and progress, be directed to the encouragement of contemporary letters as well as to the stimulation of research and criticism? Can it serve to make evident that the spirit of Shakespeare is continued down to our own day by the work of original writers no less than by the activities of actors, editors, and commentators?

We are dealing now with a conception for which there is no precedent, with an ideal that may be realized more through subtleties of emphasis and the spirit in which things are done than through any specific acts. It would be easy to cut off a Shakespeare memorial from the living current of literature, to close the circuit and consider it a monument to what has been rather than to what may be again. When books become precious possessions, it is possible for the curators to forget that the values they are guarding are not implicit in the volumes as physical objects, that to preserve paper and bindings is not all that is required in treasuring up the lifeblood of a master spirit.

If it is hard to go beyond the idea of a Shakespeare library as a repository of priceless possessions, it is even more difficult to avoid making it the preserve of an unmellowed, fiercely specialized scholarship which views literature merely as an excuse for historical fact finding, textual emendation, and critical footnotes. All these things should, of course, be done, but with a sense that they are no more than preliminaries and appendages to literary study, that the task of scientific investigation is always secondary to the work of original creation. An institution founded for the promotion and diffusion of knowledge in regard to Shakespeare, and with the line ‘For wisedomes sake, a word that all men love’ written upon its frieze, should not be unmindful of the noble aims of scholarship as defined for the Elizabethan age by Sidney: ‘This purifying of wit, this enriching of memory, enabling of judgment, and enlarging of conceit, which commonly we call learning, under what name soever it come forth, or to what end soever it be directed, the final end is to lead and draw us to as high a perfection as our degenerate souls, made worse by their clayey lodging, can be capable of.’ The clarification of judgment and direction of sympathies which supreme poetry effects should not be lost sight of in a concern for remedying the defects of Elizabethan printing. It was through Emerson that Mr. Folger learned to honor Shakespeare above all other writers, and no words of Emerson’s could more suitably be inscribed in the paradise of ‘the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees’ than his saying, ‘Shakespeare was not made by the study of Shakespeare.’

One who loves books according to the letter may readily retort: ‘True, but since by no conceivable alchemy can I be made like Shakespeare, I take it that the work I am fitted to do is other than his. My purpose is to discover what the poet actually wrote and what his words mean. I command the texts and firmly believe that I can tell what lines he set down, and how they were probably punctuated, better than he could do himself if he were here to-day and had to trust his memory. This library provides me with the tools appropriate to my trade; just as the scientist belongs in the laboratory, so I belong here.’

The research scholar has his rights, even when he puts them low, and there is no danger that the importance of his work will not be appreciated at the Folger Library. The danger is rather that the business of technical scholarship will be overdone and the claims of contemporary letters ignored. But in a large sense the writer of imaginative literature is the true inheritor of the Shakespearean tradition, while the textual and critical student is perpetuating the tradition of Scaliger. It would not be inappropriate if recent poetry, discriminatingly chosen, were sometimes read in the Folger Theatre and thus given the prestige of association with Shakespeare’s memory.

We are inheritors both of what Shakespeare accomplished and of what he left undone. In the long gallery of his characters, beside those whose names and natures are as familiar to us as our closest friends’, are figures that he merely touched upon in passing, whose names are mentioned but who never appear bodily upon his scene: that fellow of infinite jest and merriment whose bones lie in the graveyard at Elsinore; the Lady Rosaline who so keenly discerned the shallowness of Romeo’s infatuation for her; Kate, the tough girl of the rollicking catch, who would n’t love a sailor; old Double, who drew a good bow, as Justice Shallow tells us, until time drew a better against him; Mariana’s brother Frederick, the great soldier who miscarried at sea; the maid called Barbara from whom Desdemona learned her ‘willow’ song; and

Stephen Sly, and old John Naps of Greece,
And Peter Turph, and Henry Pimpernell.

We know what insights into the paradox of life the poet revealed through his Hamlet, Lear, Falstaff, Brutus, Prospero; but what he might have added through these whose faces flicker for but a moment in the lucid mirror of his mind, whose stories are hinted but untold, is forever lost to us save as poetry recovers it. To forward the work of imagination in interpreting human nature from age to age would be the worthiest function of a Shakespeare memorial. If that can be done, the Folger Library may come to be a kind of embassy to the people of the United States from the ‘realms of gold’ where others besides Shakespeare have traveled.