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whom the indefatigable Malone has accumulated a mass of interesting particulars, Spenser writes :—
"And there, though last not least, is Action ;
The applicability of the expression "heroically sound," to the name of Shakespeare, as well as to the subject of his Muse, he having then produced upon the stage both Richard II. and Richard III., is not to be gainsaid
In what year the Globe Theatre on the Bankside was completed has not been ascertained. Malone thought it was not built long before 1596. After the opening of this house, the Lord Chamberlain's servants—the company to which Shakespeare belonged,—were in the practice of performing there in the summer, and at the Blackfriars during the winter. About the period when the former was opened, the company appear to have undertaken the task of repairing and enlarging the Blackfriars. Mr. Collier was the first to call attention to three documents professing to have connexion with this circumstance in Shakespeare's life, which, if authentic, would be important, but upon which not the slightest reliance can be placed. The first of these papers, described by Mr. Collier as in the State Paper Office, and as being "a representation from certain inhabitants of the precinct in which the playhouse was situated, not only against the completion of the work of repair and enlargement, then commenced, but against all further performances in the theatre,"55 is not only undiscoverable, but no record of its existence can be found in the Office mentioned. The second instrument,59 purporting to be an answer to the
^ In his recent "Inquiry into the Genuineness of the Manuscript Corrections in Mr. J. Payne Collier's Annotated Shakspere, folio, 1632; and of certain Shaksperian Documents likewise published by Mr. Collier," Mr. Hamilton remarks, with reference to this paper, "I endeavoured, but unsuccessfully, to see this 'petition of the inhabitants.' In reply to an official request for the production of the document, Charles Lechmere, Esq., Assistant Keeper of State Papers, writes, 'I have referred to the Calendar of 1596, but I do not find any entry of the Petition from the inhabitants of the Blackfriars.'"
5:1 Appended is a copy of this extraordinary figment, which, if only upon the credit of the place where it was deposited, has been received without hesitation by every one as a genuine document, until the recent disclosures relative to Mr. Collier's annotated folio threw suspicion upon every Shakespearian discovery of the last forty years. It was first printed by Mr. Collier, in his History of English Dram. Poet. (1831), where it is preceded by the following observations:—"Tins remarkable paper has, perhaps, never seen the light from 'the moment it was presented, until it was very recently discovered. It is seven years anterior to the date of any other authentic record, which contains the name of our great dramatist," and it may warrant various conjectures as to the rank he held in the company in 1596, as a poet and as a player. "To the right honorable the LI of her Ma"" most honorable 'pride Counsell.
"The humble petition of Thomas Pope Richard Burbadge John Homings Augustine Phillips Wily Shakespeare Will a Kempo Will 7i Slye Nicholas Tooley and others servantes to the right honorable the L. Chambcrlaine to her Ma«e—
"Sheweth most humbly, that yr petitioners are owners and players of the private house or theater in the precinct and libertie of the Blackfriors, wch hath beene for manie yeares used and occupied for the playing of tragedies commedies histories enterludes and playes. That the same, by reason of having beene soe long built hath falne into great decaye, and that besides the reparation thoreof, it has beene found necossarie to make the same
more convenient for the ontertainement of auditories comming thereto That to this end yor petitioners have all and cache of them putt down somes of money according to their shares in the saide theater, and wth they have justly and honestlie gained by the exercise of their qualities of Stage players: but that certaine persons, (some of them of honour; inhabitants of the precinct and libertie of the Blackfriors, have, as yor petitioners are enfourmed, besought yor honorable Lps not to permitt the saide private house anie longer to rcmaine open, but hereafter to bo shutt upp and closed to the manifest and groat injuries of yor petitioners, who have no other means whereby to maiuteine their wives and families but by the exercise of their qualities, as they havo heretofore done. Furthermore, that in the summer season yor petitioners are able to playe at their newe-built house on the Bankside callde the Globe, but that in the winter they are compelled to come to the Blackfriors, and if yor honorable Lps give consent unto that wch is prayde against yor petitioners, they will not only while the winter enduretn loose the meanes whereby they now support them selves and their families, but be unable to practise them selves in anie playes or enterluds when calde upon to performe for the recreation and solace of her Ma"° and her honorable Court as they have beene heretofore accustomed. The humble prayer of yor petitioners therefore is, that yor honu« Lps will graunt permission to finishe the reparations and alterations they have begunne, and as yor petitioners have hitherto beene well ordered in their behaviour, and just in their dealings, that yor honourable Lps will not I inhibit them from acting at their above named private house, in the precinct and liberties of the Blackfriers, and yor petitioners as in dutie most bounden will ever prayo for the cnoroasing honour and happiness of your honorable Lps."
The attention of the Rt. Hon. the Master of the Rolls having been called to some questionable peculiarities in this petition, he directed that an official enquiry into its authenticity should be made. The gentlemen chosen for the investigation were Sir Frederic Madden, Keeper of the MSS. at the British Museum; Sir Francis Palgrave, former, would, if authentic, have been what Mr. Collier describes it, "a very valuable relic," inasmuch as it would have proved that Shakespeare, about the year 1596, was an "owner" of the Blackfriars Theatre, but on examination by several of the most skilled paleographers, it has been denounced as spurious. The third of these papers, represented to be a note from "a person of the name of Veale" to Henslowo, and found by Mr. Collier among the Alleyn collection at Dulwich, has been sought for in vain,"0 and, I fear, like nine-tenths of the so-called "New Facts" relative to the life of Shakespeare, is not entitled to the smallest credence.
Referring to some document in his possession at the time when he wrote his " Inquiry into the Authenticity of certain Papers," &c, Malone remarks, "From a paper now before me, which formerly belonged to Edward Alleyn the player, our poet appears to have lived in Southwark, near the Bear Garden, in 1596.61 The paper in question is now perhaps irrecoverable, but its loss is not momentous. If we have no authentic trace of Shakespeare's abode during his residence in London, we have the pleasant tradition, that once a year he made his native place his home.62 There his family continued to reside, and it is delightful to reflect that amidst all the triumphs and temptations of his career, he kept steadily in view the prospect of one day returning, honourably independent, to spend the remainder of his life with them and the humble friends of his youth. In the year we are dwelling on, that of 1596, there was a melancholy necessity for his visiting Stratford, the loss of his only son, Hamnet, who died in his twelfth year, and was buried August 11th, 1596.62
From his incomings as a dramatist an actor, and perhaps a proprietor in two prosperous theatres, Shakespeare must now have been in easy circumstances. One proof of this is, that early in 1597 he bought for sixty pounds (about £300 according to the present value of money), of William Underbill, the house called New Place, in Stratford; a house originally built by Sir Hugh Clopton in the reign of Henry VII.M Another proof is, that in this year John Shakespeare was enabled to tender the redemption money, .£40, to recover the estate of Ashbies, for which there can be little doubt he was indebted to his son. Additional evidence of his prosperity at
Deputy Keeper of Public Records ; T. Duffus Hardy, Esq., Assistant Keeper of Public Records; Professor Brewer, Reader at the Rolls, and Mr. Hamilton. After a minute examination of the document, these gentlemen were unanimously of the opinion recorded in the following certificate :—
"We, the undersigned, at the desire of the Master of the Rolls, have carefully examined the document hereunto annexed, purporting to be a petition to the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council, from Thomas Pope, Richard Burbadge, John Hemings, Augustine Phillips, William Shakespeare, William Kempe, William Slye, Nicholas T'X»ley, and others, in answer to a petition from the Inhabitants of the Liberty of the Blackfriars; and we are of opinion that the document in question is spurious.
30th January, 1860. Frascis Palgrave, K.H., Deputy Keeper of ELM. Public Records.
Frederic Madden, K.H., Keeper of the MSS. British
J. S. Brewer, M.A., Reader at the Rolls.
* It was first published by Mr. Collier, in his Life of iikahetpeare, where it reads thus:—
"Mr. Hinslowe. This is to enfourme you that my Mr., the Maisterof the revelles, hath rec.from the LI.of thecounsoil order that the L. Chamberlen's servauntes shall not be disturbed at the Blackefryars, according with their petition in that behalfe, but leave shall be given unto theym to
make good the decaye of the said House, butt not to make the same larger then in former tynie hath bene. From thoffioe of the Revelles, this 3 of maio, 10'JG.
61 This paper Mr. Collier presumes to have been a small slip which he discovered in Dulwich College, containing the following memorandum :—
"Inhabituntes of Sowtherkas havecomplained, this — of Jully, lsyo.
Mother Golden, the baudo
Fillpott and no more,and see well ended." But I have the authority of two most eminent paleographers, who have recently examined some of the manuscripts in the Alleyn collection, for saying that this fragment, so far from being the veritable document alluded to by Malone, is " an evident modern forgery."
62 "He was wont to goto his native country once a year." Aubrey's Mss. Mm. Athmol. Own.'.
63 The record of the burial in the register of Stratford Church is as follows:—
"1596, August 11, Haninet jilius Willi an 8/iahpcre." u The note of the fine levied will be found iu the A ppendix.
this period is afforded too by a letter dated January 24th, 1597-8, from Abraham Sturley, at Stratford, to, it is supposed, Richard Quiney, in the course of which the former writes:—
"It senieth bi him that our countryman, Mr. Shakspere, is willinge to disburse some monei upon some od yarde land or other att Shottri or neare about us; he thinketh it a veri fitt patterne to move him to deale in the matter of our tithes."
The year 1598, it is believed, witnessed the first acquaintance between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, an acquaintance honourable to both, and which there can be no doubt speedily ripened into hearty friendship. According to Rowe, Shakespeare's "acquaintance with Ben Johnson began with a remarkable piece of humanity and good nature: Mr. Johnson, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world, had offend one of his plays to the players, in order to have it acted, and the persons into whose hands it was put, after having turn'd it carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning it to him with an ill-natur'd answer, that it would be of no service to their company, when Shakespear luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it as to engage him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend Mr. Johnson and his writings to the public." We have only Rowe's authority for this anecdote, but there seems no reason for doubting that some such passage did occur.65 There is another agreeable tradition respecting the acquaintance of these famous "Worthies" preserved by Fuller, who, speaking of Shakespeare, says, "Many were the wit^combates betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great gallion and an English man-of-war;—Master Jonson (like the former) was built far higher in learning, solid but slow in his performances; Shake-speare with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."66
We now come to perhaps the most remarkable literary notice of Shakespeare by a contemporary extant. In 1598, Francis Meres published a work entitled Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, being the Second Part of Wits Commonwealth, in which occurs the following passage respecting our poet and his compositions :—
"As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweete-wittie soule of Ovid lives in mellifluous and hony-tongued Shakespeare; witnes his Venus and Adonis, his 'Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets among his private friends, &c.
"As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy among the Latines, so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage; for comedy, witnes his Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love Labors Lost, his Love Labours Wonne, his Midsummers Night's Dreame, and his Merchant of Venice; for tragedy, his Richard the 2., Richard the 3., Henry the 4., King John, Titus Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet.
"As Epius Stolo said that the Muses would speak with Plautus tongue, if they would speak Latin, so I say that the Muses would speak with Shakespeares fine filed phrase, if they would speake English."67
68 Gifford rejects it disdainfully, in the belief that Jonson's Kceru Man in His Humour is the piece recorded in Henslowe's Diary, the comedies of Umert as acted by the Lord Admiral's men in May, 1597, but Jonson distinctly states, in the edition of his works, 1616, that Every Man in his Humour was first acted by the Lord Chamberlain's servants in 1598. It is noticeable that in a list of the "principal comedians" subjoined to this piece, Shakespeare's name stands first; unfortunately this list does not specify the character played by each actor, but our poet is supposed to have acted Old Knowell.
o« Worthies, p. 126, A. R a. ed. fol. Some of these " witcombats" have been handed down to us, but they are not of a quality to verify their alleged parentage. For example:—
"Shakespeare was godfather to one of Ben Johnsons
children, and after the christening, being in a deep study, Johnson came to cheere him up, and askt him why he was so melancholy. No, faith, Ben, sayesho, not I; but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my god-child, and I have resolved at last. I prythe what? says he. Ifaith, Ben, He e'en give him a dowzen good Lattin spoones, and thou shalt translate them." From Merry Passages and Jeasts, Ms. Hart. 6395.
67 Of the poems and plays enumerated by Mores, a small portion only, it is supposed, were in print when he wrote in 1598. Those known to have been published at that date
are, the Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, Richard m and Richard Ill., Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and the First Part of Henry IV.
This extract is of striking importance in determining the chronology of Shakespeare's dramas, and it is of equal interest in a biographical sense. It shows to what a height of reputation he hid risen at the early age of thirty-four, an age when many writers have hardly begun to put forth their full powers.
The next literary allusion to our author is poetic, and occurs in a collection of Epigram*, published by Weever in 1599 :—
"Ad Gulidmum Shakespeare.
I sware Apollo got them, and none other;
Borne heaven-bom goddess said to be their mother.
Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her;
Proud lust-stung Tarquine seeking still to prove her;
Their sugred tongues and power-attractive beauty
For thousand vowes to them subjective dutie.
Another memorial of this period, a letter addressed by Richard Quiney M to the poet himself, r, considered of inestimable value, as being the only one now known to exist of all the communications he must have received :—
"Loveinge Contreynian, I am bolde of yow, as of a ffrende, craveinge yowr helpe with xxxli mm W. Buahells and my securytee, or Mr. Myttons with me. Mr. Rosswell is nott come to London as yeate, and I have especiall cawse. Yow shall ffrende me much in helpeinge me out of all the debettes I owe in London, I thank God, and muche quiete my mynde, which wolde nott be indebeted. I am nowe towardes the Cowrte, in hope of answer for the dispatche of my Wsenes. Yow shall nether loose creddytt nor monney by me, the Lorde wyllinge; and nowe bntt perswade yowrselfe soe, as I hope, and yow shall nott need to feare butt with all heartie thanckefullnes I wyll holde my tyme, and content yowr ffreende, and yf we bargaine farther, vow shalbe the paie-master yowrselfe. My tyme biddes me hasten to an ende, ande see I committ thys [to] yowr care and hope of yowr helpe. I feare I shall nott be backe thys night from the Cowrte. Haste. The Lorde be with yow and with us all, Amen! ffrom the Bell in Carter Lane, the 25 October, 1598.
Yowrs in all kyndenes,
To my loveinge good ffrende and contreyman M*. Win. Shackespere deliver thees."
From a subsidy roll dated Oct. 1st, 1598, discovered in the Carlton Ride Record Office by the Rev. J. Hunter, Shakespeare, it appears, was then assessed at five pounds, and subjected to a rate of thirteen shillings and fourpence, in the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate: "Affid. William Shakespeare, vli.—xiij*. iiijd"69
• Biohard Quiney was the father of the Thomas Quiney *tw subsequently married Shakespeare's youngest daughter. He was at London when the above letter was written, <a b-mness connected with the Stratford corporation, that wrousrh having solicited Lord Treasurer Burghley for sumption from the subsidies imposed by the last Parlia
ment, on account of the distress and poverty occasioned in the town by two recent fires.
69 The memorandum affid. attached to the name is supposed to signify that he had made an affidavit of nonresidence, or some ground of exemption.
On the 8th of September, 1G01, is recorded the burial of the poet's father.70 He was born, according to Malone, in or before the year 1530, and had consequently outlived the allotted threescore and ten years.71
In May of the succeeding year, the poet increased bis property by the purchase of a hundred and seven acres of arable land, for three hundred and twenty pounds ;72 in September of the same year, he purchased a house or cottage in Dead Lane, opposite New Place, and also a messuage with barns, gardens, and orchards, of Hercules Underbill, for sixty pounds.
On the 29th of March, 1602-3, died Queen Elizabeth;73 and Chettlo in his Englandes Mourning Garment, complains, that Shakespeare, whom she had "graced," had not bewailed her loss in elegiac strains :—
"Nor doth the silver-tonged Melicert
King James's partiality for the drama was manifested long before he ascended the English throne. In 1589, there is said to have been an English company, called "Her Majesties Players," at the Scottish Court. Ten years later, he licensed a company of English comedians to act at Edinburgh; and on the 9th of October, 1601, we find, from the registers of the town council of Aberdeen, that the English players received thirty-two marks as a gratuity; and on the 22d of the same month, that the freedom of the city was conferred upon "Laurence Fletcher Comedian to his Majestie."
On the 17th of May, 1603, a few days only after he reached London, the following warrant74 under the Privy Seal was issued :—
"by The Kino.
"Right trusty and welbelovcd Counsellor, we greete you well, and will and command you, that under our privie seale in your custody for the time being, you cause our letters to be directed to the keeper of our greate seale of England, commaunding him under our said greate scale, he cause our letters to be made patent in forme following. James, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, Fraunee, and Irland, defender of the faith, &c. To all justices, maiors, sheriffs, constables, headboroughes, and other, our officers and loving subjects greeting. Know ye, that wo of our speciall grace, certaine knowledge and meere motion, have licenced and authorized, and by these presentes doe licence and authorize, these our servants, Laurence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillippes, John Hemmings, Henrio Condell, William Sly, Robert Arniyn, Richard Cowlye, and the rest of their associats, freely
70 The entry in tho Stratford register is as follows:—
"1601, Septemb. 8, Mr. Joltanes Shakspeare."
71 "The latest notice of John Shakespeare hitherto met with occurs in a paper in the Council Chamber at Stratford, containing notes respecting an action of trespass brought by Edward Grevil against several burgesses of Stratford, in 1801. His name is in a list that appears amongst memoranda of the defendant's case, perhaps of the witnesses intended to be called,—' Mr. Ihon Sackesper.' "—Halliwell's Life of Shakespeare, p. 73, fol.
71 The indenture is "Between William Combe, of Warrwicko, in the counties of Warwick, esquier, and John Combe, of Olde Stretford, in the counties aforesaid, gentleman, on the one partie, and William Shakespeare, of Stretford-uppon-Avon, in the countie aforesaide, gentleman, on thother partye," and is dated 1st of May. The dramatist being at this time absent from Stratford, the conveyance was executed by his brother Gilbert. In the fine levied
on this property in 1611, "twenty acres of pasture land p are mentioned, in addition to the hundred and seven acres of arable land. See Appenttix.
73 One of the latest visits she paid to any of her nobility, we are told, was to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, at Harefield, at the beginning of August, 1602, and on that occasion, according to an interlined memorandum first printed by Mr. Collier from tho Egerton papers, Othello was acted for her entertainment:
"6 August, 1602. Rewardes to the vaulters, players, and dauncers, (of this xli. to Burbidges players for Othello), lxiiij/f. xviijj. xd."
It is proper to state, however, that there is ground for believing this interlineation to be a modern fabrication. See the Introduction to Othello, p. 645, Vol. III.
74 In the Chapter House.—The patent under the Great Seal is dated May 10th.