Horace Howard Furness: Book Collector and Library Builder
YOU HAVE SEEN HIM hundreds of times--short, stocky figure, clad in black suit and white shirt, genial face framed by white hair and moustache, silver ear trumpet in hand--Furness the Shakespearean reader and editor, preserved in 1895 by portrait painter Anna Lea Merritt, and now presiding over the Shakespearean collection that bears his name. Or perhaps you have seen the portrait painted by Joseph De Camp in 1907 and now hanging in the permanent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the portrait of Furness in the red silk gown of Cambridge University, the portrait of Furness the internationally famed man of letters, Furness the recipient of honorary degrees from Harvard, Pennsylvania, Yale, Columbia, and Halle, Furness one of twenty original members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Although these portraits capture well the recognition and renown justly earned by Furness at the peak of his career, I do not wish to speak of them today on this sesquicentennial of Furness's birth, for their story has, perhaps, a too familiar ring.
Instead let us consider this afternoon three lesser known pictures of Furness. Go with me first to yet another portrait, this one hanging in the second floor hallway of the Ramsey House of the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. The subject, a handsome man in his late thirties, with a full, sensuous mouth, a slightly receding hairline, bushy sideburns, and clad in a black coat and vest and a white shirt, is the Furness of 1870, Furness the Secretary of the Shakspere Society of Philadelphia, Furness the daring Young scholar with the temerity to brave the academic establishment of the German universities and the English editors of Shakespeare with his proposed New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, Furness the young book collector and library builder.
He had just turned twenty-seven when he joined the Shakspere Society of Philadelphia in November 1860. Every other Tuesday this society of literary and convivial lawyers gathered at the law offices of A. I. Fish, Dean of the Society, to read and discuss Shakespeare aided by some six hundred Shakespearan volumes and pamphlets belonging to the Dean. "Every member," recalled Furness years later, "had a copy of the Variorum of 1821, which we fondly believed had gathered under each play all Shakespearian lore worth preserving down to that date. What had been added since that year was scattered in many different editions, and in numberless volumes dispersed over the whole domain of literature. To gather these stray items of criticism was real toil, real but necessary if we did not wish our labour over the text to be in vain" 1 --labor softened no doubt by the superabundant oysters and lobster salad, the haze of pipes and cigars in the circle of chairs drawn close around the cozy fire, and the toast from the Dean's punch bowl to "William Shakespeare, Gentleman."
"It constantly happened," Furness continues, "remember it was before the days of Booth's 'Reprint,' Staunton's 'Photolithograph,' Ashbee's Facsimiles of the Quartos, or of the Cambridge Shakespeare,--it constantly happened that we spent a whole evening over a difficult passage (and as we were all members of the Bar they were battles royal) only to find that the whole question had been discussed and settled by learned men elsewhere. Hence it dawned on us that if we were to pursue our studies with any of the ardor of original research we should exactly know all that had been said or suggested by our predecessors."2 Sometime, then, during the Shakspere Society's study of Hamlet and The Tempest in the early 1860s the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare was conceived. On October 16, 1866, the Shakspere Soceity began its study of Romeo and Juliet, and Furness began in earnest that winter to prepare his first variorum volume, relying in large part on the Society's collection of editions and criticism. He had his own copy of the Fourth Folio, he borrowed copies of the Second and Third Folios from Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest, and he used Staunton's photolithograph of the First Folio. For the five quartos of Romeo and Juliet Furness relied on Halliwell-Phillipps's facsimiles of the quartos owned by the Shakspere Society.
Three months before the first copy of Romeo and Juliet reached Furness from the press in January 1871, however, Providence intervened to insure the future of the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare and to turn a book collector's dream into leather-bound reality. On October 6, 1870, Evans Rogers died, leaving to his son-in-law a bequest of $10,000 and to his daughter, Helen Kate Furness, a trust fund valued at more than $750,000. One of seven millionaires in the city of Philadelphia in 1845, Evans Rogers at his death left an estate worth close to $1,700,000 to be divided, after special bequests had been paid, between his son Fairman Rogers and his daughter Kate Furness. Included in the bequest were the Rogers house at 222 West Washington Square, the adjacent house at the corner of 8th and Locust, and three houses on the north side of the street at 711 Locust, 719 Locust and 723 Locust, as well as properties in St. Louis and New Orleans. With income from the trust fund, Furness purchased between 1872 and 1878 the remaining five houses on the north side of Locust Street between 7th and 8th Streets to complete his ownership of the entire block. The most important investment, however, was books.
Hoping to purchase a complete Shakespeare library in one stroke, Furness offered $15,000 for the Shakespearan portion of the library of Thomas Pennant Barton who had died in 1869. This Shakespeare collection, with its 1,442 critical works and 959 editions including twenty-two Shakespearean quartos, all four folios, and such scarce copies as the first American edition published in Philadelphia and the first Boston edition, comprised the finest Shakespeare library outside of the Shakespeare departments of the British Museum, the Bodleian, or Trinity College, Cambridge. Unfortunately, Barton's widow would not separate the Shakespeare books from the larger collection and attached conditions that precluded a private buyer. Although Furness intimated that he would go much higher in his bid, the widow would not budge. The Barton Collection went to the Boston Public Library, and Furness went to his booksellers to begin collecting his own working library.
Furness then turned for help to Halliwell-Phillipps, that indefatigable Victorian editor, biographer, and collector of Shakespeare, from whom he purchased a rare complete set of Ashbee's facsimiles of the quartos (of the fifty copies printed only thirty-one had been preserved, and only twenty complete sets were then still in existence). From Halliwell-Phillipps's generosity also came Furness's first two Shakespearean quartos: an imperfect copy of the 1608 Henry V inscribed "with the kind regards of J. O. Halliwell, 2 January 1871" and that March the 1630 Pericles, a fine copy that prompted Furness to reply, "Do you live in Shakespearean Quartos knee-deep, that you can be so lavish of them? Or, which I strongly suspect to be the case, is it solely your own generous heartsome nature which prompts you to impoverish your own shelves in order to enrich others & make them overjoyed?" 3 From Halliwell-Phillipps too came the advice to commission Alfred Russell Smith, the London bookseller, to purchase the necessary rare books at English auctions. During 1870 Furness had already purchased from A. R. Smith the Second Folio (1632) for £37, Rowe's first edition (1709) for £1.12s, and Johnson's first edition (1765) for £2.2s. Now Furness instructed A. R. Smith to secure everything as it became available, and on February 13, 1871, at the dispersal of the Corser Library, Smith bought the First, Third, and Fourth Folios. "The first Folio (1623)" according to the Book Buyers News, "was a very fair copy, almost entirely perfect, with its defects supplied by facsimiles, and possessing, what is one of the greatest rarities of a perfect copy, the Original Verses opposite the title. It was cheaply sold for £160.... [Imagine the return today on that investment!] The third Folio (1664) a fine copy, in old morocco, was proportionately the dearest of the set, bringing £77. The fourth, of common occurrence, brought £12.'" 4 In rapid succession during 1871 came Pope's nine-volume Shakespeare (1728) for £1.7s, Hanmer's six volumes (1744) for £2.2s, Rowe's nine volumes (1714) for 18s, Theobald's seven volumes (1733) for £l.1s, Malone's ten volumes (1790) for £1.15s, and, from Bernard Quaritch, Johnson and Steevens's ten-volume edition (1773) for £3.10s. Other notable purchases included the 1542 Chaucer Folio for £8.10s, the undated Hamlet with Shakespeare's signature forged by William Henry Ireland on the title page for £28, the 1611 Hamlet for £33, and three Pavier Quartos (printed with false imprints in 1619 by William Jaggard) which had belonged to the Shakespearean editor Edward Capell--the 1600 Merchant of Venice for £100, the 1608 King Lear for £20, and the 1608 Henry V for £25.
Over the next decade Furness spent some £1,600 (over $8,500 at 27-c- to the shilling) with Alfred Russell Smith alone, to mention nothing of his regular purchases from Albert Cohn, bookseller and bibliographer for the Shakespeare Jahrbuch, in Berlin and from his French bookseller in Paris. By 1873 Furness estimated that he had over two thousand Shakespeare books; and by the time that J. Parker Norris described Furness's library in his "Shakespearian Gossip" column of The American Bibliopolist in 1875, Furness had added the good 1608 quarto of King Lear with manuscript notes by Capell, the 1612 Richard III, the 1619 Pericles, the 1631 Taming of the Shrew, the 1635 Pericles, with manuscript notes by Theobald, and the 1639 1 Henry IV. His collection of German and French editions of Shakespeare Norris judged to be the most complete in the United States. Virtually every source of Shakespeare, edition of Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists, and every modern critical work Furness purchased for his editing of the Variorum.
Furness housed his books on the second floor of 222 West Washington Square. One room held the general dramatic works including study books and annotated acting copies of the great Shakespearean actors, such as John Kemble's stage copy of Taming of the Shrew and Edwin Booth's copy of The Merchant of Venice. In the hallway stood bookcases containing the editions of the Elizabethan dramatists. The rare books and relics Furness kept in the front room of the second floor, a room not merely a library but, as George Dawson, member of the Birmingham Shakespeare Society described it to Samuel Timmins, "an English news room & a Shakespearean shrine." 5 Massive black walnut bookcases, appropriately carved, covered one side and on e end of the room. Overlooking Washington Square, three spacious windows draped with dark red material admitted a soft light; and the remaining end was filled with a large fireplace, above which hung a full length portrait of Kate Furness painted by Anna Lea Merritt. The ceiling was decorated with a fresco of Shakespeare's coat of arms. Near the ceiling in the center of the Locust Street side hung a framed rubbing of the famed curse on Shakespeare's grave. Below the rubbing and between two of the large bookcases stood a plaster copy of the Stratford Bust, framed in a deep circular panel of black walnut, a gift from J. Parker Norris. In front of the bust stood a small case holding the Shakespeare relics: an iron gauntlet taken from the grave of Edward Heldon, supposed pallbearer of Shakespeare now lying buried in Frederick, Virginia; the piece of Shakespeare's mulberry tree and the sliver of oak cut from a beam in Shakespeare's Birthplace, both given to Furness by Ingleby; and the skull that was used for many years at the Walnut Street Theatre in Hamlet. Given to Furness by S. Weir Mitchell, the skull bore the names of Kean, Macready, Kemble, Booth, Forrest, Cushman, Davenport, Murdock, and Brooks, all of whom had addressed it as poor Yorick's last remains.
The most precious relic lay in a glass case of its own--the Shakespeare gloves given to Furness on January 17, 1874, by Fanny Kemble to show her appreciation for the Variorum Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. These gray buckskin gauntlets with gold thread embroidery and a gold fringe sewn onto an edging of pale pink silk had surfaced at Stratford in 1769 at the time of Garrick's Shakespeare jubilee. Given to Garrick by the actor John Ward, the gloves had originally belonged to one William Shakespeare Hart, a glazier by trade, who lived in Bridge Street in Stratford-upon-Avon. According to Hart, who gave the gloves to Ward in 1746, family tradition regarded them as heirlooms, "the only property that remains to our famous relation." 6 At Garrick's death the gloves passed to his widow who bequeathed them in 1822 back to Ward's granddaughter, the actress Mrs. Sarah Siddons, sister of the two Kemble brothers John Philip and Charles. Mrs. Siddons bequeathed them to her daughter, Mrs. George Combe, by whom they were given to her cousin Fanny Kemble and then to Furness. That Shakespeare ever touched these buckskin gauntlets remains uncertain, given the sudden bloom in the relic trade during the Stratford jubilee, but their certain association with Garrick, Siddons, and Kemble makes them more interesting than most alleged relics. Wrote Furness, "That they are veritably Shakespeare's Gloves, I hope; that they belonged to Garrick, Mrs. Siddons & Mrs. Kemble I know, and with that I am satisfied." 7 Quipped Furness's father, while showing visitors around the library, "Without the shadow of a doubt those were the very gloves which Shakespeare did not wear when he handled human nature." 8
Everywhere around the room hung framed photographs of Furness's Shakespearean friends: the English editors Clark, Wright, Halliwell-Phillipps, Ingleby, Timmins, and Collier; the Germans Cohn, Ulrici, and Elze; and his fellow American editors Henry Hudson, Grant White, and William James Rolfe. An irrepressible collector of photographs, Furness confessed to Ingleby, "I have a foolish weakness of seeing the faces of those with whom I am brought into daily contact in my studies." 9 In the middle of the room stood a large desk of black walnut, carved to match the bookcases. Here day after day and night after night, surrounded by the faces of his Shakespearean friends, his Shakespearean treasures, and his Shakespearean books, Furness worked through the decade of the 1870s on Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear.
While Furness held center stage with the Variorum Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, Mrs. Furness had been quietly perfecting her own Shakespearean part. In 1870 she had begun work on A Concordance to Shakespeare's Poems: an Index to Every Word Therein Contained (1874), designed to supply the omission of the poems in Mary Cowden-Clarke's The Complete Concordance to Shakspere: Being a Verbal Index to All the Passages in the Dramatic Works of the Poet (1845). Slow going at best in the days before computer compilation, the concordance crept with petty pace towards completion until the first copy came off the press on May 5, 1874. The poems contain, after all, over six thousand lines and nearly fifty thousand words, and the concordance--ranging from one use of "witty" to 363 of "love" to 1413 of "and" and 1456 of "the"--duly recorded each word, each instance of its use, and the line in which it appeared.
Response, both public and private, was enthusiastic. The North American and United States Gazette called the concordance a "fine evidence of womanly culture and scholarship in this country" and boasted that "with this and the Variorum it is difficult to see how Shakspearian scholars can hereafter do more than ruminate what has been completed in every phase and stage." 10 In The Penn Monthly Fish called it "the foundation for a convenient critical and linguistic study of the Poems, which has been denied to all preceding scholars"; 11 and in a letter to Furness, editor of the Globe Edition of Shakespeare, Aldis Wright, wrote from Cambridge, "It marks a new era in Shakespeare Literature. Before, there was always a degree of uncertainty as to whether a word or phrase or a construction was or was not Shakespearian: now all such doubts are laid to rest forever." 12 The North American Review urged her to begin a variorum edition of Shakespeare's Poems, and Halliwell-Phillipps urged her to undertake a concordance to the entire works of Shakespeare. In the end Kate settled for an index to some of the more important notes in the first volume of the Variorum Hamlet. At her own desk not far from his in the Shakespearean library, going through commentaries and noting references, Kate kept pace with her husband as he charted the wilderness of Hamlet criticism. When no visitors or social engagements interfered, the two spent their evenings over Shakespeare, working together until about eleven when she retired to bed, leaving him alone with his books and his pipe until two o'clock in the morning. "It is a delightful thing," wrote Norris in his "Shakespearian Gossip" column, "to see husband and wife so thoroughly in unity as Mr. and Mrs. Furness. They are to the United States what Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cowden Clarke are to England; though Mr. Furness is far ahead of Mr. Clarke as a Shakespearian." 13
In the early 1880s this happy picture blurs and fades into black shadows as Kate's chronic illness, diagnosed as acute neuralgia, increasingly confined her to bed and then snuffed short her literary career and her life on October 30, 1883. The Variorum Othello, begun in 1879, lay untouched and unfinished in the library of 222 West Washington Square. During the last four years of her life, Furness had worked only sporadically at Othello; and after her death, the months of profound grief stretched into a year and more devoid of literary work. "My life is done," he wrote to Hiram Corson in February 1885. "I cannot get up any interest in anything beneath the sun. I strive and struggle the very hardest and work myself into a momentary excitement but the flush dies away, and everything is 'Dust and ashes. Dead and done for.'", 14 And to college classmate John Chandler Bancroft, he wrote that March, "Thanks for your words of sympathy--but my life, and my work, is over. 'The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees is left this vault to brag of'" 15 The thought of Othello only intensified the agony. "'Othello' is pure, unalleviated, black tragedy, too bitter bad to be read twice--for all that it will be the next I edit if I ever touch work (or play) again." 16 See, then, the picture of Furness during the 1880s, Furness the University Trustee searching for solace from his sorrow in busy committee work, the genial public exterior masking the private anguish underneath, Furness the library builder of the University of Pennsylvania.
He had been elected a trustee of the University in January 1880, and even during the early years of Kate's illness, he had faithfully attended meetings, having been elected both to the Committee on the Department of Arts--a position he later used to found the University's English Department--and to the Committee on the Library. On February 1, 1881, Furness had been appointed to the Committee on the Library, and during the following January he became its chairman. As he emerged from his grief, the committee served to fill the empty hours and to keep the memories at bay. The first order of business was the appointment of a permanent librarian, and the second was the cataloguing of books. Robert Ellis Thompson, then John Welsh Centennial Professor of History and English Literature, had been serving as a part-time librarian. No books had been catalogued since the publication of the Catalogue of the University Library in 1829; no record of withdrawals had been kept, and no inventory had been taken. Reported Furness to the Trustees in December 1883, "In its present state the Library cannot be said to fill its proper position as an indispensable adjunct to the University, as an aid to Education. In this regard we are far behind other Universities of equal rank, and each year we are drifting farther to the rear. We have no complete Catalogue and can have none until we have a Librarian to make one. Our resources in books are unknown, and, therefore, except in especial branches the Library can hold out no allurement to students to avail themselves of its benefits." 17 The Trustees authorized Furness to find a librarian, and in January 1884 he began interviewing candidates. Having unsuccessfully tempted first the librarian of the College of Physicians and then his friend J. Foster Kirk, editor of Lippincott's Magazine, Furness settled on James Barnwell, who was elected by the Trustees in February 1884 and served until 1887, when he became librarian at the Library Company and was replaced by Gregory Keen. Each month Furness reported to the Trustees the number of books received and catalogued, and by January 1888 Barnwell and Keen had catalogued some 20,000 books, represented by over 71,000 handwritten cards housed in cabinets donated by Furness.
The college library then occupied two rooms in College Hall plus ten additional storage rooms scattered around the building to house its 40,000 volumes. Circulars, written and paid for by Furness and sent to friends of the university in June 1885 and again in June 1886, had attracted gifts of some 58,000 pamphlets, magazines, catalogues, and reports. As the library expanded, the available storage space shrank, and in his annual report, dated October 1885, Provost William Pepper finally called for a new fireproof library. "Our restricted and inconvenient accommodations are a source of continual anxiety," reported Furness to the Trustees in November 1886. "All our shelves are crowded, on some of them we have to put double rows, one behind the other, a heart-breaking necessity to every genuine librarian; the wall space is covered with shelves to the ceiling, books are piled up on the tops of alcoves, every corner is occupied, the window sills are utilised to the last inch, and even the floor is used for the storage of our books--a state of affairs which impedes all library work, and so far thwarts the library's use, in that valuable time is lost in searching and shifting." 18 In December, when the library was designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a depository for all the publications of the United States government and eleven sacks of public documents arrived, Furness reported, "The floor is the only place where the volumes can be put, and even there they would have to be stacked."'9
In February 1887 the Trustees authorized plans for a new library, and in March a joint Committee on Library and on Building, Estates, and Property requested Furness to gather plans and information from other university libraries and elected his brother, Frank Furness (later appointed one of nine architects in the University's School of Architecture) as the architect for the new building. Furness consulted with Justin Winsor, librarian at Harvard, and with Melvil Dewey (of Dewey decimal fame) then at Columbia. By June 1888 the plans had been approved, the site selected, and over $130,000 raised toward the goal of $150,000. At their July meeting the Trustees directed Furness to prepare proper ceremonies for laying the cornerstone.
On a chilly, gray Monday afternoon, October 15, 1888, some three hundred invited quests joined the Provost, Trustees, and officers of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania on a platform surrounding the cornerstone for the appropriate ceremonies. Students and spectators lined the unfinished walls of the building, sat on the scaffolding, and watched from windows of nearby buildings. The Pennsylvanian gives the following account of the proceedings:
The ceremony then concluded with an address by Furness, remarks by the Provost, and a hymn by the university chapel choir. After paying tribute to the educational interests of the ancient Brotherhood, Furness continued,
The address, one of the earliest public speeches of Furness, already showed the rhetorical polish that would make him a speaker in demand at every formal occasion in Philadelphia by the turn of the century.
September 1890 saw Furness, back from flights of rhetoric, supervising the moving of books to the new library, discussing with Pepper the installment of gas fixtures, authorizing the payment of bills for current expenses of the library, naming the alcoves after donors of books, and choosing quotations for the library windows. During the autumn semester the library was opened to students, and five months later, on February 7, 1891, the formal opening ceremonies took place in the spacious, lofty reading room. Before the scholars, patrons of the university, and invited guests gathered under the Romanesque arches and barrel-vaulted ceiling, Furness, as Chairman of the Building Committee, presented the library to Provost Pepper, who received it on behalf of the Trustees. After describing the fireproof book stacks, the card catalogue (arranged according to the new Dewey system), and the museums on the second and third floors for the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and American collections, Furness went on to list the major collections in the library: the original volumes presented to the university in 1784 by Louis XVI, the Henry C. Carey Library of Political Economy, the Allen Library of classical literature containing over 30,000 volumes, the Pott Library of philology, the Stillé Medical Library, the Thomas Cochran Library containing all publications of the United States Government, the McCartee Library of Chinese and Japanese literature--and the list went on.
When the cornerstone was laid, the Building Committee had promised that the "best appointed library building in this Western World" would rise above it. Due in part to Furness's energetic chairmanship of the Committee on the Library, the Library of the University of Pennsylvania was securely established as a major research library. Furness headed the Committee on the Library until January 1896, when he relinquished the gavel to W. W. Frazier, but continued to serve on the committee until his resignation from the board in 1904. While the records show his continued active interest in the library--discussions of book purchases, establishment of departmental libraries, and personal gifts of books and donations to current library expenses--the presentation of the University Library remains the high mark of his career on that committee.
A final picture of Furness, this one a photograph, shows the familiar short, stocky figure, dressed in black suit, black vest, and. white shirt, sitting alone at his library desk, this time in Lindenshade, his country estate at Wallingford. After Kate 's death in 1883, the family home at 222 West Washington Square no longer belonged to him. According to the will of Evans Rogers the house had passed to Kate as long as she lived and then to their oldest son, Walter. For several years Furness remained in town during the winter social season, joining Walter and his wife Helen at Wallingford in the summers. After spending the winter of 1894 at Lindenshade, however, Furness decided to remain there the year around and began during the next summer the construction of a fireproof addition to the house for his library, then numbering between seven and eight thousand books. Constructed of brick and iron, with a cement floor and an asbestos ceiling two feet thick, the new rectangular wing stood along the north side or rear of the house. Access from the house to the library came through a wide, rectangular opening guarded by an iron sliding door that closed automatically in case of fire. Even the heat from a single burning match would have melted the wire restraining the heavy door. An iron gallery extended around three sides of the room with wrought iron staircases descending on either side. On the fourth side stood a huge fireplace guarded by a brick hood. Persian rugs covered the cement floor. Along the walls, except where six large windows poured their light on the desk in the center of the room, the black walnut cases of books rose from floor to gallery and gallery to ceiling. After fifteen years amid the treasures of this Shakespearean shrine, at t he further urging of his insurance agents, Furness constructed in 1910 an additional fireproof room adjoining the library. About fifteen feet square, without windows, and constructed entirely of brick and reinforced cement, save for an iron door, the chamber housed about two thousand irreplaceable books.
Everywhere along the stairway and gallery railings hung photographs of his Shakespearean friends and portraits of his family, and scattered throughout the room in glass cases and atop bookcases and tables lay his Shakespearean relics, now including a cane used by David Garrick, the red baize-covered table used by Fanny Kemble in her Shakespearean readings, and a section of Herne's oak in the royal forest of Windsor where Falstaff kept his tryst in The Merry Wives of Windsor. The skull use d in performances of Hamlet at the Walnut Street Theatre had collected the additional autographs of Edwin Booth, Irving, and Beerbohm Tree. Although Furness disclaimed collecting such relics, he did confess to Charles Eliot Norton having offered in 1905 a thousand pounds for the Great Bed of Ware only to be prevented by legal complications. That famous bed, over ten feet wide, located at Rye House in Ware, Hertfordshire, is mentioned by Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night when he advises Andrew Aguecheek on writing his challenge to Cesario: "If thou thou'st him some thrice, it shall not be amiss; and as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper, although the sheet were big enough for the bed of Ware in England, set 'em down" (III .ii.39-42). Archbishop Ryan, a frequent houseguest, once commented to Furness, "I don't see what objection you could have to relics, for your house is full of them." 22
Here surrounded by his Shakespearean treasures in the fireproof protection of his new library at Wallingford, Furness began a second collection of books by and about the Latin poet Horace. He had read Horace with his daughter Caroline and had once set her the task of translating his favorite ode "To Sestius," a translation subsequently published in Lippincott's Magazine for June 1891 and so admired by Thomas Chase, President of Haverford College, that he dedicated to Furness his school edition of Selections from Horace (1892). While teaching Latin to Caroline, he had begun to collect the poetry of his namesake, and after her early death in 1909, he established the collection as a memorial to his daughter. The bookplate, a reproduction of the memorial window in the Unitarian Church designed by the English artist Holiday, read "Bibliotheca Horatiana institute in memoriam Caroline Furness Jayne," and above her portrait carried the legend "Neither present time nor years unborn / Can to my sight that heavenly face restore." Henry and Emily Folger contributed several volumes, including two sixteenth-century Venetian editions; and Sir Theodore Martin, John Sargent, and John Carew Rolfe sent copies of their own editions and translations. By 1912, the memorial collection numbered close to 300 texts, translations, selections, and commentaries, beginning with three incunabula: Mesconius's Florentine edition in 1482 and two Venetian editions of 1486 and 1492. Unfortunately, the Furness collection of Horace never came to Pennsylvania and, bought from Sessler's by an anonymous donor, now resides in the Wahlert Memorial Library at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
But Shakespeare remained his first and only real love. As he emerged from the existential crucible of Othello, Furness turned from tragedy to comedy, and in the peace of his library at Lindenshade spent the remaining years of his life editing The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter's Tale, Twelfth Night, Love's Labor's Lost, and Cymbeline. "You see I cling to the Comedies," he wrote in November 1899 after finishing Much Ado About Nothing. "When I finished 'Othello' I almost swore I'd never again edit a tragedy. To live for a year or two, day and night, in a tragic atmosphere, is almost too much for my weak nature. I think I said somewhere in my notes on that play, that Shakespeare should never have written it. I think so still. It horrifies me to open its pages." 23 Othello and its painful associations never ceased to haunt Furness. "Its gloom is unrelieved from beginning to end," he wrote one year before his death. "Were I ever again obliged to read 'Othello,' I would immediately, at the conclusion, read 'As You Like It' five times consecutively." 24 The only exception to his avoidance of tragedy--Antony and Cleopatra--which he edited in 1907, Furness viewed as a tragedy of true love, defending to the end of the play Cleopatra's fidelity and devotion to Antony.
Given his singleminded devotion to Shakespeare and his heroic effort to stave off bitterness and sorrow with the reaffirming faith of Shakespearean comedy, it is fitting that death came quickly and peacefully to Furness on August 13, 1912, as he worked , in the library that he had collected, on Cymbeline, his current favorite play, and Imogen, his favorite character. "You ask me to name my favourite character in Shakespeare," he had written several years earlier when beginning to edit Cymbeline. "My chronic answer to similar requests is--the character I have studied last. I think, however, that there is no one character which throughout ranks above all others. Possibly, if I were restricted to the study of one sole male character for the rest of my days I should choose Brutus. If female, it should be Imogen, with an imploring prayer to be allowed, now and then, a glimpse of Cleopatra (not that I so ardently admire the latter, but in the portrayal of no female character do I bow down so low before Shakespeare's infinite genius as in this 'serpent of old Nile.') After having thus committed myself, in black and white, I must shut my eyes tight against Hermione and Portia and Rosalind, and Henry the Fifth, and Falstaff, and Lear's Fool and a dozen others. And I can't do it. 'Tis impossible. As each one creeps into the study of my imagination in all its charm and fascination I am ready to swear, by all the pretty oaths that are not dangerous, that it alone has my undivided heart. I take back, therefore, all that I have written and recur to my sole true answer that my favourite is the one that I have read the last." 25
1. "How did you become a Shakespeare Student?" Shakespeariana, 5 (October 1888), 439-440.
2. Ibid., 440.
3. Edinburgh University Library, ALS, H. H. Furness, 10 March 1871, Philadelphia, to J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps.
4. "Foreign Literary Intelligence," The Book Buyer, 15 March 1871, 3.
5. Birmingham Memorial Shakespeare Library, ALS, George Dawson, 20 November 1874, Philadelphia, to Samuel Timmins.
6. ALS, John Ward, 31 May 1769, Leominster, to David Garrick, as quoted by W. B. Redfern in Royal and Historic Gloves and Shoes Illustrated and Described (London: Methuen & Co., 1904), p. 29; see also "Shakespeare's Gloves," The Century, 80 (August 1910), 507.
7. Massachusetts Historical Society, ALS, H. H. Furness, 7 October 1874, to C. G. Dall.
8. "Shakespeare," The Salem Gazette, 21 January 1879.
9. The Folger Shakespeare Library, ALS, H. H. Furness, 5 October 1872, Lindenshade, to C. M. Ingleby.
10. "Literary Notices," North American and United States Gazette, 30 May 1874.
11. A. I. Fish, "Some Recent Helps in the Study of Shakespeare," The Penn Monthly, 5 (December 1874), 882.
12. The Furness Library, ALS, W. A. Wright, 28 July 1874, Trinity College, Cambridge, to H. H. Furness.
13. J. Parker Norris, "Shakespearian Gossip," The American Bibliopolist, February 1875, p. 33.
14. Cornell University Library, ALS, H. H. Furness, 4 February 1885, Philadelphia, to H. Corson.
15. Massachusetts Historical Society, ALS, H. H. Furness, 5 March 1885, Philadelphia, to J. C. Bancroft.
16. Cornell University Library, ALS, H. H. Furness, 1 October 1884, Wallingford, to H. Corson.
17. University of Pennsylvania Archives, Library Committee Report, H. H. Furness, [December 1883], to University of Pennsylvania Trustees.
18. University of Pennsylvania Archives, Library Committee Report, H. H. Furness, 2 November 1886, to University of Pennsylvania Trustees.
19. University of Pennsylvania Archives, Library Committee Report, H. H. Furness, 6 December 1886, to University of Pennsylvania Trustees.
20. "The Laying of the Corner-Stone of the Library Building," The Pennsylvanian, 17 October 1888, 105.
21. "University of Pennsylvania," The Keystone, 3 November 1888.
22. Graham Price, "An Hour at Lindenshade with Dr. Horace Howard Furness," Sine Nomine, 15 June 1912, 13.
23. Horace Howard Furness Jayne, ed., The Letters of Horace Howard Furness, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1922), 11, 49.
24. Ibid., 11, 242-243.
25. Notre Dame University Library, ALS, H. H. Furness, 5 April, Wallingford, to Mrs. Immen.
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