Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

liii

"SHAKESPEARE ON THE KING.

the passage in “ Hamlet,” (brought out, as we apprehend, most of the companies of players who had left London for very shortly before he came to the throne) where it is said the provinces, on account of the prevalence of the plague, of these “ abstracts and brief chronicles of the time,” that and the consequent cessation of dramatic performances

, had it is a better to have a bad epitaph, than their ill report while returned to the metropolis; and it is not at all unlikely that you live." James made himself sure of their good report; Shakespeare was one of those who had returned, having and an epigram, attributed to Shakespeare, has descended taken the opportunity of visiting his family at Stratfordto us, which doubtless was intended in some sort as a grate-upon-Avon. ful return for the royal countenance bestowed upon the

Under Elizabeth the Children of the Chapel (originally those who were connected with it. We the choir-boys of the royal establishment) had become an copy it from a coeval manuscript in our possession, which acknowledged company of players, and these, besides her seems to have belonged to a curious accumulator of mat- association of adult performers, Queen Anne took under ters of the kind, and which also contains an unknown pro- her immediate patronage, with the style of the Children of duction by Dekker, as well as various other pieces by dra- her Majesty's Revels, requiring that the pieces they promatists and poets of the time. The lines are entitled, posed to represent should first be submitted to, and have

the approval of, the celebrated poet Samuel Daniel. The

instrument of their appointment bears date 30th January, "Crowns have their compass, length of days their date, Triumphs their tomb, felicity her fate :

1603-4; and from a letter from Daniel to his patron, Sir Of nought but earth can earth make us partaker,

Thomas Egerton, preserved among his papers, we may perBut knowledge makes a king most like his Maker." haps conclude that Shakespeare, as well as Michael Dray

ton, had been candidates for the post of master of the We have seen these lines in more than one other old Queen's revels: he says in it, “I cannot but know, that I manuscript, and as they were constantly attributed to am lesse deserving than some that sued by other of the noShakespeare, and in the form in which we have given them bility unto her Majestie for this roome ; and, after introabove, are in no respect unworthy of his pen, we have little ducing the name of “ his good friend,” Drayton, he adds the doubt of their authenticity'.

following, which, we apprehend, refers with sufficient disHaving established his family in " the great house " called tinctness to Shakespeare :--" It seemeth to myne humble “New Place” in his native town in 1597, by the purchase judgement that one who is the authour of playes, now daylie of it from Hercules Underhill, Shakespeare seems to have presented on the public stages of London, and the possessor contemplated considerable additions to his property there. of no small gaines, and moreover him selfe an actor in the In May, 1602, he laid out £320 upon 107 acres of land, Kinges companie of comedians, could not with reason prewhich he bought of William and John Combe?, and attached tend to be Master of the Queene’s Majesties Revells, for as it to his dwelling. The original indenture and its counter- much as he wold sometimes be asked to approve and allow part are in existence, bearing date 1st May, 1602, but to of his own writings.” neither of them is the signature of the poet affixed; and it This objection would have applied with equal force to seems that he being absent, his brother Gilbert was his im- Drayton, had we not every reason to believe that before mediate agent in the transaction, and to Gilbert Shakespeare this date he had ceased to be a dramatic author. He had the property was delivered to the use of William Shake- been a writer for Henslowe and Alleyn's company during speare. In the autumn of the same year he became the several years, first at the Rose, and afterwards at the Forowner of a copyhold tenement (called a cotagiuin in the tune; but he seems to have relinquished that species of instrument) in Walker's Street, alias Dead Lane, Stratford, composition about a year prior to the demise of Elizabeth, surrendered to him by Walter Getley. In November of the last piece in which he was concerned, of which we have the next year he gave Hercules Underhill £60 for a mes- any intelligence, being noticed by Henslowe under date of suage, barn, granary, garden, and orchard close to or in Strat- May, 1502 : this play was called “ The Harpies," and he ford; but in the original fine, preserved in the Chapter House, was assisted in it by Dekker, Middleton, Webster, and Westminster, the precise situation is not mentioned. In Munday. 1603, therefore, Shakespeare's property, in or near Strat- It is highly probable that Shakespeare was a suitor for ford-upon-Avon, besides what he might have bought of, or this office, in contemplation of a speedy retirement as an inherited from, his father, consisted of New Place, with 107 actor. We have already spoken of the presumed excelacres of land attached to it, a tenement in Walker's Street, lence of his personations on the stage, and to the tradition and the additional messuage, which he had recently pur- that he was the original player of the part of the Ghost in chased from Underhill.

“ Hamlet." Another character he is said to have sustained Whether our great dramatist was in London at the period is Adam, in “ As you like it;" and his brother Gilbert, (who when the new king ascended the throne, we have no means in 1602 had received, on behalf William Shakespeare, the of knowing, but that he was so in the following autumn we 107 acres of land purchased from William and John Combe) have positive proof; for in a letter written by Mrs. Alleyn, who probably survived the Restoration, is supposed to have (the wife of Edward Alleyn, the actor) to her husband, been the author of this tradition. He had acted also in then in the country, dated 20th October, 1603, she tells him. Ben Jonson's “ Every Man in his Humour,” in 1598, after that she had seen “ Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe” in (as we believe) introducing it to the company; and he is Southwarkt. At this date, according to the same authority, supposed to have written part of, as well as known to have

1 Boswell appears to have had a manuscript copy of this epigram, waite, from being imputed to him in that volume, and by a passage but the general position in the last line was made to have a particu- in “Maroccus Extaticus," a tract printed

as early as 1595, it is very lar application by the change of “a” to the. See Shakspeare by evident that the connexion between the Devil and John a Combe, or Boswell, vol. ii. p. 481. There were other variations for the worse in John of Comber (as he is there called) was much older :-" So hee had Boswell's copy, but that which we have noticed completely altered had his rent at the daie, the devill and John of Comber should not the character of the production, and reduced it from a great general have fetcht Kate L. to Bridewell.". There is no ground for supposing truth to a mere piece of personal flattery-"But knowledge makes that Shakespeare was ever on bad terms with any of the Combes, the king most like his Maker."

and in his will he expressly left his sword to Mr. Thomas Combe. 2 Much has been said in all the Lives of our poet, from the time In a MS. of that time, now before us, we find the following given of Aubrey (who first gives the story) to our own, respecting a satirical as an epitaph upon Sir William Stone :epitaph upon a person of the name of John a Combe, supposed to

“ Heer ten in the hundred lies dead and ingraved : have been made extempore by Shakespeare: Aubrey words it thus:-

But a hundred to ten his soul is not saved."
6. Ten in the hundred the devil allows,
But Combe will have twelve, he swears and he vows.

And the couplet is printed in no very different form in “ The More

the Merrier," by H. P., 1608, as well as in Camden's “Remains." If any one ask, Who lies in this tomb?

3 A coeval copy of the court-roll is in the hands of the Shakespeare Ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John a Combe.”

Society. Malone had seen it, and put his initials upon it. No doubt Rowe changes the terms a little, but the point is the same, and in it was his intention to have used it in his unfinished Life of ShakeBrathwaite's "Remains," 1618, we have another version of the lines, speare. where they are given as having been written by that author"upon 4 See the “Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," printed for the Shakeone John Combe, of Stratford-upon-Avon, a notable usurer." We speare Society, p. 63. are by no means satisfied that they were originally penned by Brath- 5 See the Introduction to “ As you like it."

in

ances,

performed in, the same author's “Sejanus,” in 1603?. This is not hear upon the same or any other authority, but no such the last we hear of him upon the stage, but that he continued drama has come down to us. a member of the company until April 9, 1604, we have In the next year (at what particular part of it is not the evidence of a document preserved at Dulwich College, stated) Sir Leonard Haliday, then Lord Mayor of London, where the names of the King's players are enumerated in backed no doubt by his brethren of the corporation, made the following order :-Burbage, Shakespeare, Fletcher, a complaint against the same company,“ that Kempe, who Phillips, Condell

, Heminge, Armyn, Sly, Cowley, Ostler, at this date had rejoined the association) Armyn, and others, and Day. If Shakespeare had not then actually ceased to players at the Blackfriars, have again not forborne to bring perform, we need not hesitate in deciding that he quitted upon their stage one or more of the worshipful aldermen that department of the profession very shortly afterwards. of the city of London, to their great scandal and the lessen

ing of their authority;" and the interposition of the privy council to prevent the abuse was therefore solicited. What

was done in consequence, if anything were done, does not OHAPTER XVI.

appear any

extant document.

In the spring of the next year a still graver charge was Immediate consequences of Shakespeare's retirement. Of- brought against the body of actors of whom Shakespeare, fences given by the company to the court, and to private until very recently, had been one; and it originated

in no individuals.

« Gowry's Conspiracy :” “Biron's Conspi- less a person than the French ambassador. George Chapracy” and “Tragedy. Suspension of theatrical perform- man” had written two plays upon the history and execution

Purchase of a lease of the titles of Stratford, &c., of the Duke of Biron, containing, in the shape in which they by Shakespeare. " Henry VIII.” “ Macbeth.” Supposed autograph letter were originally produced on the stage, such matter that M. of King James to Shakespeare. Susanna Shakespeare and Beaumont, the representative of the King of France in John Ilall married in 1607. Death of Edmund Shake- London, thought it necessary to remonstrate against the respeare in the same year. Death of Mary Shakespeare in petition, and the performance of it was prohibited : as soon, 1608. Shakespeare's great popularity: rated to the poor however, as the court had quitted London, the King's playof Southwark.

ers persisted in acting it; in consequence of which three

of the players were arrested, (their names are not given) No sooner had our great dramatist ceased to take part in but the author made bis escape. These two dramas weré the public performances of the King's players, than the printed in 1608, and again in 1625; and looking through company appears to have thrown off the restraint by which them, we are at a loss to discover anything, beyond the hisit had been usually controlled ever since its formation, and torical incidents, which could have given offence; but the to have produced plays which were objectionable to the truth certainly is, that all the objectionable portions were court, as well as offensive to private persons. Shakespeare, omitted in the press : there can be no doubt, on the authorfrom his abilities, station, and experience, must have pos- ity of the despatch from the French ambassador to his sessed great influence with the body at large, and due de court, that one of the dramas originally contained a scene ference, we may readily believe, was shown to his know- in which the Queen of France and Mademoiselle Verneuil ledge and judgment in the selection and acceptance of were introduced, the former, after having abused her, giving plays sent in for approbation by authors of the time. The the latter a box on the ear. contrast between the conduct of the association immediately This information was conveyed to Paris under the date before, and immediately after his retirement, would lead us of the 5th April, 1606; and the French ambassador, appato conclude, not only that he was a man of prudence and rently in order to make his court acquainted with the lawdiscretion, but that the exercise of these qualities had in less character of dramatic performances at that date in many instances kept his fellows from incurring the displea- England, adds a very singular paragraph, proving that the

and from exciting the animosity King's players, only a few days before they had brought the of particular individuals. We suppose Shakespeare to have Queen of France upon the stage, had not hesitated to introceased to act in the summer of 1604, and in the winter of duce upon the same boards their own reigning sovereign in that very year we find the King's players giving offence to a most unseemly manner, making him swear violently, and

some great counsellors” by performing a play upon the beat a gentleman for interfering with his known propensity subject of Gowry’s conspiracy. This fact we have upon for the chase. This course indicates a most extraordinary the evidence of one of Sir R. Winwood's correspondents, degree of boldness on the part of the players; but, neverJohn Chamberlaine, who, in a letter dated 18th December, theless, they were not prohibited from acting, until M. 1604, uses these expressions :—“The tragedy of Gowry, Beaumont had directed the attention of the public authoriwith all action and actors, hath been twice represented by ties to the insult offered to the Queen of France: then, an the King's players, with exceeding concourse of all sorts of order was issued putting a stop to the acting of all plays people; but whether the matter or manner be not well in London; but, according to the same authority, the comhandled, or that it be thought unfit that princes should be panies had clubbed their money, and, attacking James I. on played on the stage in their lifetime, I hear that some great his weak side, had offered a large sum to be allowed to counsellors are much displeased with it, and so, it is thought, continue their performances. The French ambassador himit shall be forbidden.” Whether it was so forbidden we do self apprehended that the appeal to the King's pecuniary

1 From lines preceding it in the 4to, 1605, we know that it was

“Ho, you! Theodines ! you must not dreame brought out at the Globe, and Ben Jonson admits that it was ill re

Y'are thus dismist in peace : seas too extreame ceived by the audience.

Your song hath stir'd up to be calm'd so soone : 2 We may here notice two productions by this great and various

Nay, in your haven you shipwracke : y'are undone. author, one of which is mentioned by Ant. Wood (Ath. Oxon. edit.

Your Perseus is displeas'd, and sleighteth now Bliss. vol. ii. p. 575), and the other by Warton (Hist. Engl. Poetr.

Your work as idle, and as servile yow. vol. iv. p. 276, edit. 8vo), on the authority merely of the stationers

The peoples god-voice hath exclaim'd away registers; but none of our literary antiquaries seem to have been able

Your mistie clouds; and he sees, cleare as day, to meet with them. They are both in existence. The first is a de

Y'ave made him scandal'd for anothers wrong, fence of his “Andromeda Liberata," 1614, which he wrote in cele

Wishing unpublisht your unpopular song." bration of the marriage of the Earl of Somerset and the Countess of The other production, of which our knowledge has also hitherto Essex, which Chapman tells us had been “most maliciously misin- been derived from the stationers' registers, is called “Petrarch's terpreted : it is called “ A free and offenceless Justification of his Seven Penitentiall Psalms, paraphrastically translated," with other poem, and it was printed in 1614.

It is chiefly in prose, but at poems of a miscellaneous kind at the end, it was printed in small the end is a dialogue in rhyme, between Pheme and Theodines, the Gvo, in 1612, dedicated to Sir Edward Phillips, Master of the Rolls, last being meant for Chapman: Wood only supposes that Chapman whére Chapman speaks of his yet unfinished translation of Homer, wrote it, but if he could have read it he would have entertained no which, he adds, the Prince of Wales had commanded him to comdoubt. It appears that Somerset himself had conceived that “ An- plete.' The editor of the present work has a copy of Chapman's dromeda Liberata"

was a covert attack upon him, and from this no- * Memorable Masque” on the marriage of the Palsgrave and Princess tion Chapman was anxious to relieve himself. The poetical dialogue Elizabeth, corrected by Chapman in his owh hand; but the errors is thus opened by Pheme, and sufficiently explains the object of the are few, and not very important. It shows the patient accuracy of writer,

the accomplished writer.

)

wants would be effectual, and that permission, under certain | appearance of plays in print, lest to a certain extent the restrictions, would not long be withheld'.

public curiosity should thereby be satisfied. Whatever emoluments Shakespeare had derived from the The point is, of course, liable to dispute, but we have Blackfriars or the Globe theatres, as an actor merely, we little doubt that" Henry VIII.” was represented very soon may be tolerably certain he relinquished when he ceased after the accession of James I.

, to whom and to whose family to perform. He would thus be able to devote more of his it contains a highly complimentary allusion; and “Mactime to dramatic composition, and, as he continued a sharer beth,” having been written in 1605, we suppose to have in the two undertakings, perhaps his income on the whole been produced at the Globe in the spring of 1606. Alwas not much lessened. Certain it is, that in 1605 he was though it related to Scottish annals, it was not like the in possession of a considerable sum, which he was anxious play of Gowry's Conspiracy” (mentioned by Chamberlaine to invest advantageously in property in or near the place at the close of 1603), founded, to use Von Raumer's words, of his birth. Whatever may have been the circumstances upon“ recent history; and instead of running the slightest under which he quitted Stratford, he always seems to have risk of giving offence, many of the sentiments and allusions contemplated a permanent return thither, and kept his eyes it contained, especially thať to the “ two-fold balls and treble constantly turned in the direction of his birth-place. As sceptres," in Act iv. scene 1, must have been highly acceptlong before as January, 1598, he had been advised “ to deal able to the King: It has been supposed, upon the authority in the matter of tithes” of Stratford? ; but perhaps at that of Sheffield Duke of Buckingham, that King James with date, having recently purchased New Place, he was not in his own hand wrote a letter to Shakespeare in return for sufficient funds for the purpose, or possibly the party in the compliment paid to him in “ Macbeth :" the Duke of possession of the lease of the tithes, though not unwilling Buckingham is said to have had Davenant's evidence for to dispose of it, required more than it was deemed worth. this anecdote, which was first told in print in the advertiseAt all events, nothing was done on the subject for more than ment to Lintots edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 17105. six years; but on the 24th July, 1605, we find William Rowe says nothing of it in his “Life," either in 1709 or 1714, Shakespeare, who is described as “ of Stratford-upon-Avon, so that, at all events, he did not adopt it; and it seems very gentleman," executing an indenture for the purchase of the improbable that James I. should have so far condescended, unexpired term of a long lease of the great tithes of “corn, and very probable that the writer of Lintot's advertisement grain, blade, and hay,” and of the small tithes of “wool, should not have been very scrupulous. We may conjeclamb, and other small and privy tithes, herbage, oblations," ture, that a privy seal under the sign manual, (then the usual &c., in Stratford, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, form of proceeding) granting to the King's players some in the county of Warwick. The vendor was Raphe Hu- extraordinary reward on the occasion, has been misrepre. band, of Ippesley, Esquire ; and from the draft of the deed, sented as a private letter from the King to the dramatist. now before us, we learn that the original lease, dated as far Malone speculated that “ Macbeth” had been played beback as 1539, was “ for four score and twelve years;" so fore King James and the King of Denmark, (who arrived that in 1605 it had still twenty-six years to run, and for in England on 6th July, 1606) but we have not a particle this our great dramatist agreed to pay 4401: by the receipt, of testimony to establish that a tragedy relating to the ascontained in the same deed, it appears that he paid the sassination of a monarch by an ambitious vassal was ever whole of the money before it was executed by the parties. represented at court: we should be surprised to discover He might very fitly be described as of Stratford-upon- any proof of the kind, because such incidents seem usuall Avon, because he had there not only a substantial, settled to have been carefully avoided. residence for his family, but he was the owner of consider- The eldest daughter of William and Anne Shakespeare, able property, both in land and houses, in the town and Susanna, having been born in May, 1583, was rather more neighbourhood; and he had been before so described in than twenty-four years old when she was married, on 5th 1602, when he bought the 107 acres of William and John June, 1607, to Mr. John Hall

, of Stratford, who is styled Combe, which he annexed to his dwelling of New Place. “gentleman ” in the registero, but he was a professor of

A spurious edition of “Hamlet” having been published medicine, and subsequently practised as a physician. There in 16034, a more authentic copy came out in the next year, appears to have been no reason on any side for opposing containing much that had been omitted, and more that had the match, and we may conjecture that the ceremony was been grossly disfigured and misrepresented. We do not performed in the presence of our great dramatist, during believe that Shakespeare, individually, had anything to do one of his summer excursions to his native town. About six with this second and more correct impression, and we doubt months afterwards he lost his brother Edmund', and his much whether it was authorized by the company, which mother in the autumn of the succeeding year. seems at all times to have done its utmost to prevent the There is no doubt that Edmund Shakespeare, who was

1 We derive these very curious and novel particulars from M. Von deale in the matter of our tithes. By the instructions you can give Raumer's " History of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," him theareof, and by the frendes he can make therefore, we thinke it translated by Lord Francis Egerton, vol. ii. p. 219. The terms are a faire marke for him to shoote at, and not unpossible to hitt. It obworth quoting.

tained would advance hirn in deede, and would do us much good." the History of the Duke of Biron : when, however, they saw that opinion that he was desirous of advancing himself among the in

April 5, 1606. I caused certain players to be forbid from acting & the whole court had left town, they persisted in acting it; nay, they habitants of Stratford. brought upon the stage the Queen of France and Mademoiselle Ver- 3 It is about to be printed entire by the Shakespeare Society, to the neuil. The former, having first accosted the latter with very hard council of which it has been handed over by the owner for the words, gave her a box on the ear. At my suit three of them were purpose. arrested; but the principal person, the author, escaped.

4 The only copy of this impression is in the library of his Grace “One or two days before, they had brought forward their own the Duke of Devonshire, and we have employed it to a certain extent King and all his favorites in a very strange fashion : they made him in settling and explaining the text of the tragedy. See the Introcurse and swear because he had been robbed of a bird, and beat a

duction to “Flamlet." gentleman because he had called off the hounds from the scent. 5 That the story came through the Duke of Buckingham, from DaThey represent him as drunk at least once a-day, &c.

venant, seems to have been a conjectural addition by Oldys: the 5 He has upon this made order, that no play shall be henceforth words in Lintot's advertisement are these :--- That most learned acted in London ; for the repeal 'of which order they have already Prince, and great patron of learning, King James the. First, was offered 100,000 livres. Perhaps the permission will be again granted, pleased with his own hand to write an amicable letter to Mr. Shakebut upon condition that they represent no recent history, nor speak speare ; which letter, though now lost, remained long in the hands of the present time.'

of Sir William Davenant, as a credible person now living can tes2 In a letter from a resident in Stratford of the name of Abraham tify.” Dr. Farmer was the first to give curreacy to the noticn, that Sturley. It was originally published by Boswell (vol. ii. p. 566) at of the letter.

the compliment to the Stuart family in " Macbeth " was the occasion length, but the only part which relates to Shakespeare runs thus : 6 'The terms are these : We have not thought it necessary to preserve the uncouth abbreviations of the original.

"1607. Junii 5. John Hall gentlema & Susanna Shaxspere." “This is one special remembrance of your father's motion. It

7 He was buried at St. Saviour's, South wark, in the immediate seemeth by him that our countriman, Mr. Shakespeare, is willing to vicinity of the Globe theatre; the registration being in the following disburse some money upon some od yardeland or other at Shottery, form, specifying, rather unusually, the occupation of the deceased. or near about us: he thinketh it a very fitt patterne to move him to

“1607, Dec. 31. Edmund Shakespeare, a player."

[ocr errors]

not twenty-eight at the time of his death, had embraced the dwelling-house occupied by himself

. This is very possibly profession of a player, having perhaps followed the fortunes the fact; but, on the other hand, the truth may be, that he of his brother William, and attached himself to the same paid the rate not for any habitation, good or bad, large or company. We, however, never meet with his name in any small, but in respect of his theatrical property in the Globe, list of the associations of the time, nor is he mentioned as an which was situated in the same district". The parish reg

. actor among the characters of any old play with which we ister of St. Saviour's establishes, that in 1601 the churchare acquainted. We may presume, therefore, that he attain- wardens had been instructed by the vestry “ to talk with ed no eminence; perhaps his principal employment might the players ” respecting the payment of tithes and contribube under his brother in the management of his theatrical tions to the maintenance of the poor; and it is not very unconcerns, while he only took inferior parts when the assistance likely that some arrangement was made under which the of a larger number of performers than usual was necessary. sharers in the Globe, and Shakespeare as one of them, would

Mary Shakespeare survived her son Edmund about eight be assessed. As a confirmatory circumstance we may add, months, and was buried at Stratford on the 9th Sept. 1608'. that when Henslove and Alleyn were about to build the There are few points of his life which can be stated with Fortune play-bouse, in 1599–1600, the inhabitants of the more confidence than that our great dramatist attended the Lordship of Finsbury, in the parish of Cripplegate, petifuneral of his mother: filial piety and duty would of course tioned the privy council in favour of the ufdertaking, one impel him to visit Stratford on the occasion, and in proof of their reasons being, that “the erectors were contented to that he did so, we may mention that on the 16th of the give a very liberal portion of money weekly towards the next month he stood godfather there to a boy of the name relief of tħe poor.” Perhaps the parties interested in the of William Wallier. Shakespeare's mother had probably Globe were contented to come to similar terms, and the resided at New Place, the house of her son; from whence, parish to accept the money weekly from the various indiwe may presume also, the body of her husband had been viduals. Henslowe, Alleyn, Lovin, Town, Juby, &c., who carried to the grave seven years before. If she were of were either sharers, or actors and sharers, in that or other full age when she was married to John Shakespeare in theatres in the same neighbourhood, contributed in different 1557, she was about 72 years old at the time of her decease. proportions for the same purpose, the largest amount being

The reputation of our poet as a dramatist seems at this six-pence per week, which was paid by Shakespeare, Hensperiod to have been at its height. His “King Lear” was lowe, and Alleyn”. printed three times for the same bookseller in 1608; and in The ordinary inhabitants included in the same list, doubtorder perhaps to increase its sale, (as well as to secure the less, paid for their dwellings, according to their several purchaser against the old “ King Leir,” a play upon the rents, and such may have been the case with Shakespeare: same story, being given to him instead) the name of “M. all we contend for is, that we ought not to conclude at once, William Shake-speare” was placed very conspicuously, and that Shakespeare was the tenant of a house in the Liberty most unusually, at the top of the title-page. The same ob- of the Clink, merely from the circumstance that he was servation will in part apply to “Pericles," which came out rated to the poor. It is not unlikely that he was the in 1609, with the name of the author rendered particularly pier of a substantial dwelling-house in the immediate neighobvious, although in the ordinary place. " Troilus and bourhood of the Globe, where his presence and assistance Cressida," which was published in the same year, also has would often be required; and the amount of his income at the name of the author very distinctly legible, but in a some- this period would warrant such an expenditure, although we what smaller type. In both the latter cases, it would like have no reason for thinking that such a house would be wise seem, that there were plays by older or rival drama- needed for his wife and family, because the existing evitists upon the same incidents. The most noticeable proof dence is opposed to the notion that they ever resided with of the advantage which a bookseller conceived he should him in London: derive from the announcement that the work he published was by our poet, is afforded by the title-page of the collection of his dispersed sonnets, which was ushered into the

CHAPTER XVII. world as “Shakespeare's Sonnets,” in very large capitals, as Attempt of the Lord Mayor and aldermen in 1608 to expel the if that mere fact would be held a sufficient recommendation,

King's players from the Blackfriars, and its failure. NegoIn a former part of our memoir (p. xxv.) we have alluded tiation by the corporation to purchase the theatre and its to the circumstance, that in 1609 Shakespeare was rated to appurtenances : interest and property of Shakespeare and the

other sharers. The income of Richard Burbage at his of the Liberty of the Clink in a sum which might poor

cleath. Diary of the Rev. J. Ward, Vicar of Stratford, and possibly indicate that he was the occupant of a commodious

his statement regarding Shakespeare's expenditure. Copy dwelling-house in Southwark. The fact that our great

of a letter froin Lord Southampton on behalf of Shakespeare dramatist paid six-pence a week to the poor there, (as high and Burbage. Probable decision of Lord Chancellor Ellesa sum as anybody in that immediate vicinity was assessed mere in favour of the company at the Blackfriars theatre. at) is stated in the account of the Life of Edward Alleyn, printed by the Shakespeare Society, (p. 90) and there it is We have referred to the probable amount of the income of too hastily inferred that he was rated at this sum upon a our great dramatist in 1609, and within the last ten years a 1 The following is a copy of the register.

Francis Carter

ijd "1608, Septemb. 9, Mayry Shaxspere, Wydowe."

Gilbert Catherens 2 The account (preserved at Dulwich College) does not state that and twenty-one others. The next division includes a list of nineteen the parties enumerated (consisting of 57 persons) were rated to the names, and at the head of it we find, poor for dwelling-houses, but merely that they were rated and as- Mr. Shakespeare

vjd sessed to a weekly payment towards the relief of the poor, some for Mr. Edw. Collins

vja dwelling-houses, and others perhaps in respect to different kinds of John Burret

vjd property : it is thus entitled :

and all the rest pay a rate of either 2 d or 114, including the following A breif noat taken out of the poores booke, contayning the names actors : of all thenhabitantes of this Liberty, which are rated and assessed to Mr. Toune

ijd ob. a weekely paiment towardes the relief of the poore. As it standes Mr. Jubye

jd ob. now encreased, this 6th day of Aprill, 1609. Delivered up to Phillip Richard Hunt

jd ob. Henslowe, Esquior, church warden, by Francis Carter, one of the Simon Bird ovreseers of the same Liberty.” It commences with these names:- The third division consists of seven persons who only paid one penny Phillip Henslowe, esquior, assessed at weekely

vja per week, and among them we perceive the name of no individual Ed. Alleyn, assessed at weekely

vjd who, according to other evidence, appears to have been in any way The account is in three divisions; and in the first, besides the above, seen this document, but he mis-states that it belongs to the year 1603, we find the names of

and not 1609. Mr. Langworthe

iijd 3 John Northbrooke, in his Treatise against Plays, Players, &c., Mr. Benfield

iija

(Shakespeare Society's reprint, p. 126,) informs us that in 1577 people Mr. Griffin

ija

contributed weekly to the support of the poor "according to their Mr. Toppin

ijd

ability, some a penny, some-two-pence, another four-pence, and the Mr. Louens [i. e. Lowin] .

best commonly giveth but six-pence."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

jd ob.

iiija

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ijd

document has been discovered, which enables us to form | well as to the widows and orphans of deceased actors: the some judgment, though not perhaps an accurate estimate, purchase money of the whole property was thus raised to of the sum he annually derived from the private theatre in at least 70001. the Blackfriars.

Each share, out of the twenty into which the receipts of From the outset of the undertaking, the Lord Mayor and the theatre were divided, yielded, as was alleged, an annual aldermen of London had been hostile to the establishment profit of 33l. 6s. 8d.; and Shakespeare, owning four of these of players within this precinct, so near to the boundaries, shares, his annual income, from them only, was 1331. 6s. 8d. : but beyond the jurisdiction of the corporation ; and, as we he was besides proprietor of the wardrobe and properties, have already shown, they had made several fruitless efforts stated to be worth 5001.: these, we may conclude, he lent to dislodge them. The attempt was renewed in 1608, when to the company for a certain consideration, and, reckoning Sir Henry Montagu, the Attorney General of the day, gave wear and tear, ten per cent seems a very low rate of payan opinion in favour of the claim of the citizens to exercise ment; we will take it, however, at that sum, which would their municipal powers within the precinct of the late dis- add 501. a year to the 1331. 6s. 8d. already mentioned, making solved monastery of the Blackfriars. The question seems together 1837.6s. 8d., besides what our great dramatist must in some shape to have been brought before Baron Elles- have gained by the profits of his pen, upon which we have mere, then Lord Chancellor of England, who required from no data for forming any thing like an accurate estimate. the Lord Mayor and his brethren proofs that they had ex- Without including any thing on this account, and supposing ercised any authority in the disputed liberty. The distin- only that the Globe was as profitable for a summer theatre guished lawyers of the day retained by the city were imme- as the Blackfriars was for a winter theatre, it is evident diately employed in searching for records applicable to the that Shakespeare's income could hardly have been less than point at issue; but as far as we can judge, no such proofs, 3661. 13s. 4ů. Taking every known source of emolument as were thought necessary by the highest legal authority into view, we consider 4001. a year the very lowest amount of the time, and applicable to any recent period, were forth- at which his income can be reckoned in 1608. coming. Lord Ellesmere, therefore, we may conclude, was The document upon which this calculation is founded is opposed to the claim of the city.

preserved among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, but a reFailing in this endeavour to expel the King's players from inarkable incidental confirmation of it has still more recently their hold by force of law, the corporation appears to have been brought to light in the State-paper office. Sir Dudley taken a milder course, and negotiated with the players for Carlton was ambassador at the Hague in 1619, and Johu the purchase of the Blackfriars theatre, with all its proper-Chamberlaine, writing to him on 19th of March in that ties and appurtenances. To this negotiation we are proba- year, and mentioning the death of Queen Anne, states that bly indebted for a paper, which shows with great exactness - the funeral is put off to the 29th of the next month, to the and particularity the amount of interest then claimed by great hinderance of our players, which are forbidden to play each sharer, those sharers being Richard Burbage, Laurence so long as her body is above ground: one speciall man Fletcher, William Shakespeare, John Heminge, Henry among them, Burbage, is lately dead, and hath left, they Condell, Joseph Taylor, and John Lowin, with four other say, better than 3001. lands. persons not named, each the owner of half a share.

Burbage was interred at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on We have inserted the document entire in a note, and 16th March, 1619, three days anterior to the date of Chamhence we find that Richard Burbage was the owner of the berlaine's letter4, having made his nuncupative will four freehold or fee, (which he no doubt inherited from his days before his burial: in it he said nothing about the father) as well as the owner of four shares, the value of all amount of his property, but merely left his wife Winifred which, taken together, he rated at 19331. 6s. 8d. Laurence his sole executrix.* There can be no doubt, however, that Fletcher (if it be he, for the Christian name is written the correspondent of Sir Dudley Carlton was correct in his

Laz;") was proprietor of three shares, for which he claimed information, and that Burbage died worth “ better than” 7001. Shakespeare was proprietor of the wardrobe and 3001. a year in land, besides his “goods and chattels :" 3001. properties of the theatre, estimated at 5001., as well as of a year at that date was about 1500l. of our present money, four shares, valued, like those of Burbage and Fletcher, at and we hàve every reason to suppose that Shakespeare was 331. 6s. 8d. each, or 933l. 6s. 8d., at seven years' purchase : quite in as good, if not in better circumstances. Until the his whole demand was 14331. 6$. 8d., or 5067. less than that letter of Chamberlaine was found, we had not the slightest of Burbage, in as much as the fee was considered worth knowledge of the amount of property Burbage had accu10001., while Shakespeare's wardrobe and properties were mulated, he having been during his whole life merely an valued at 5001. According to the same calculation, Hem- actor, and not combining in his own person the profits of a inge and Condell each required 4661. 13s. 4d. for their two most successful dramatic author with those of a performer. shares, and Taylor 3501. for his share and a half

, while the Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten, that although Shakefour unnamed half-sharers put in their claim to be compen- speare continued a large sharer with the leading members sated at the same rate, 4661. 13s. 4d. This mode of esti- of the company in 1608, he had retired from the stage about mating the Blackfriars theatre made the value of it 61661. four years before; and having ceased to act, but still re13s. 4d., and to this sum was to be added remuneration to taining his shares in the profits of the theatres with which the hired men of the company, who were not sharers, as he was connected, it is impossible to say arrangement

2

what

i These transactions most probably occurred before September, Item. Lowing also one share and an halfe

35000 1603, because Laurence Fletcher died in that month. However, it is Item. Foure more playeres with one halfe share to eche not quite certain that the “ Laz. Fletcher," mentioned in the docu

of them

466 13 4 ment, was Laurence Fletcher: we know of no person named Lazarus Fletcher, though he may have been the personal representative of

Summa totalis

6166 13 4 Laurence Fletcher.

Moreover, the hired men of the Companie demaund some recompence 2 It is thus headed

for their great losse, and the Widowes and Orphanes of Players, who “For avoiding of the Playhouse in the Precinct of the Blacke Friers.

are paide by the Sharers at divers rates and proportions, so as in the

whole it will cost the Lo. Mayor and the Citizens at least 70002." £. s, d.

3 This new and valuable piece of information was pointed out to Imp. Richard Burbidge oweth the Fee, and is alsoe a sharer therein. His interest he rateth at the grosse

us by Mr. Lemon, who has been as indefatigable in his researches as

liberal in the communication of the results of them. summe of 10001. for the Fee, and for his foure shares

4 The passage above quoted renders Middleton's epigram on the in the summe of 9331. 6s. 8d.

1933 6 8

death of Burbage (Works by Dyce, vol. v. p. 503) quite clear :liem. Laz. Fletcher oweth three shares, which he rateth at 7001., that is, at seven yeares purchase for each

" Astronomers and star-gazers this year share, or 331. 6s. 8d., one yeare with another

Write but of four eclipses ; five appear.

700 0 0 Item. W. Shakespeare asketh for the wardrobe and

Death interposing Burbage, and their staying, properties of the same playhouse 5001., and for his

Hath made a visible eclipse of playing." 4 shares, the same as his fellowes, Burbidge and

It has been conjectured that their staying” referred to a temporary Fletcher; viz. 9331. 6s. 8d.

1433 6 8 suspension of plays in consequence of the death of Burbage ; but the stem. Heminge and Condell eche 2 shares

933 68 stay was the prohibition of acting until after the funeral of Queen Item. Joseph Taylor 1 share and an halfe

350 00 Anne.

D

« ÖncekiDevam »