Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/356

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Collier
Collier
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duke generously continued. The unaffected kindness of his patron is the subject of continual entries in 'An Old Man's Diary,' which ostensibly covers the two years 1832-3. The duke stood sponsor for Collier at the Garrick Club and introduced him at Holland House ; he would have made him also licenser of plays, but George Colman, even though guaranteed the income for life, obstinately refused to resign the office to a whig nominee, and the project fell through. Lord Francis Gower, afterwards Egerton (1833) and Earl of Ellesmere (1846), liberally allowed Collier free access to the rich collection of books and papers at Bridgewater House. It was from this source that he professedly derived the most interesting of the materials for his 'New Facts,' 1835 ; 'New Particulars,' 1836 ; and 'Further Particulars,' 1839, relating to Shakespeare and his works. As the documents on which they were founded are mainly spurious, these pamphlets have long ceased to be of value. A less exceptionable result of his labours in the Bridgewater Library was a descriptive catalogue of some of the earliest and most curious books, which was privately printed for Lord F. Egerton in 1837. Many years after it was incorporated into the author's still more valuable 'Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books in the English Language,' 1865. It was followed in 1840 by a selection from the manuscripts, under the title of 'The Egerton Papers.' This was edited by Collier for the Camden Society, of which, since its foundation in 1838, he was a leading supporter. He had already edited for it Bale's play of 'Kynge Johan,' 1838, and his later contributions included two volumes of 'Trevelyan Papers,' 1857, 1863. He acted also as treasurer to the society from 1845 to 1861. His services to the Percy Society and to the Shakespeare Society (of which he was the director) were still more conspicuous. Both were formed in 1840, and he contributed ten publications to the former (1840-4) and twenty-one to the latter (1841-1851). He was a frequent contributor also to the ' Transactions ' of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he became a fellow in 1830, treasurer in 1847, and vice-president in 1849. The earliest of his Shakespeare Society volumes was the 'Memoirs of E. Alleyn,' 1841. To this he added the ' Alleyn Papers,' 1843, and the 'Diary of P. Henslowe,' 1845, the three volumes together giving the result of his researches among the manuscripts at Dulwich College [see Alleyst, Edward]. Valuable as they otherwise are, they were eventually found to have added largely to the evidence of imposture accumulating against him.

Meanwhile Collier completed an annotated edition of Shakespeare, 8 vols., published in 1842-4. It was preceded by a pamphlet dwelling upon ' the lately acquired means of illustrating the plays, poems, and biography of the poet.' Besides the materials already noticed, they included certain manuscript corrections, 'probably as old as the reign of Charles I,' in a copy of the first folio of 1623 at Bridgewater House. In the text of his edition Collier was essentially conservative. The introductory matter was full and valuable, and the edition was appropriately supplemented by 'Shakespeare's Library,' 2 vols. 1844, in which he reprinted the novels, histories, &c., upon which the plays were founded.

In June 1847 a royal commission was appointed on the British Museum. Its chairman was the Earl of Ellesmere, and by his influence Collier was made secretary. He thereupon gave up his employment on the 'Morning Chronicle.' Besides acting as secretary until the commission made its report in 1850, he was also examined as a witness (February 1849) ; and, both orally and in two privately printed letters to Lord Ellesmere, he strongly advocated a printed as against a manuscript catalogue of the library. On this and other vexed questions he joined issue with Panizzi, then keeper of printed books, in whom he found more than his match, although he lived long enough to see (1881) the beginning of the catalogue actually in type. In the spring of 1850 he removed from London to Maidenhead, where he resided for the rest of his life ; and on 30 Oct. he was granted, ' in consideration of his literary merits,' a civil list pension of 100l. During his official employment, besides smaller tracts, he found time to edit 'A Booke of Roxburghe Ballads,' 1847, and 'Extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company,' 2 vols., 1848-9; and these were succeeded by 'The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood,' 1850-1, and 'Five Old Plays' (Roxburghe Club), 1851.

A letter from Collier in the 'Athenæum,' 31 Jan. 1852, announced his possession of a copy of the second folio Shakespeare, 1632, annotated throughout in a hand of about the middle of the seventeenth century. This was the volume since known as the Perkins Folio, 'Tho. Perkins his Booke' being inscribed on the outer cover. Collier stated that he bought it for 30s. from Rodd, the bookseller, shortly before the latter's death in 1849, in order to supply from it some leaves missing in another copy. Finding it too imperfect, he laid it aside ; about a year later he 'first observed some marks in the margin,' and later still, and not till then, he found in manuscript on nearly every page changes in