Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shakespeare, William
SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM (1564–1616), dramatist and poet, came of a family whose surname was borne through the middle ages by residents in very many parts of England—at Penrith in Cumberland, at Kirkland and Doncaster in Yorkshire, as well as in nearly all the midland counties. Distribution
of the name. The surname had originally a martial significance, implying capacity in the wielding of the spear (Camden, Remains, ed. 1605, p. 111; Verstegan, Restitution, 1605). Its first recorded holder is John Shakespeare, who in 1279 was living at ‘Freyndon,’ perhaps Frittenden, Kent (Plac. Cor. 7 Edw. I, Kanc.; cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 122). The great mediæval guild of St. Anne at Knowle, whose members included the leading inhabitants of Warwickshire, was joined by many Shakespeares in the fifteenth century (cf. Reg. ed. Bickley, 1894). In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the surname is found far more frequently in Warwickshire than elsewhere. The archives of no less than twenty-four towns and villages there contain notices of Shakespeare families in the sixteenth century, and as many as thirty-four Warwickshire towns or villages were inhabited by Shakespeare families in the seventeenth century. Among them all William was a common christian name. At Rowington, twelve miles to the north of Stratford, and in the same hundred of Barlichway, one of the most prolific Shakespeare families of Warwickshire resided in the sixteenth century, and no less than three Richard Shakespeares of Rowington, whose extant wills were proved respectively in 1560, 1591, and 1614, were fathers of sons called William. At least one other William Shakespeare was during the period a resident in Rowington. As a consequence, the poet has been more than once credited with achievements which rightly belong to one or other of his numerous contemporaries who were identically named.
The poet's ancestry cannot be traced with certainty beyond his grandfather. The poet's father, The poet's
ancestry. when applying for a grant of arms in 1596, claimed that his grandfather and the poet's great-grandfather received for services rendered in war a grant of land in Warwickshire from Henry VII. No precise confirmation of this pretension has been discovered, and it may be, after the manner of heraldic genealogy, fictitious. But the poet undoubtedly came of good yeoman stock, and there is every probability that his ancestors to the fourth or fifth generation were fairly substantial landowners (cf. Times, 14 Oct. 1895; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 501; Genealog. Mag. May 1897). Adam Shakespeare, a tenant by military service of land at Baddesley Clinton in 1389, was great-grandfather of one Richard Shakespeare, who held land at Wroxhall in Warwickshire in 1525. The latter is hesitatingly conjectured to have migrated soon after that date to Snitterfield, a village four miles to the north of Stratford-on-Avon. At Snitterfield a yeoman of the name was settled in 1535 (cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 207), and there is no doubt that he was the poet's grandfather. In 1550 he was renting a messuage and land at Snitterfield of Robert Arden; he was alive in 1560, and may be assumed to have died before the opening of the next year, when the Snitterfield parish registers, in which no mention is made of him, came into being. Richard of Snitterfield had at least two sons, Henry and John; the parentage of a Thomas Shakespeare, a considerable landholder at Snitterfield between 1563 and 1583, is undetermined, but he may have been a third son. The son Henry remained at field all his life, and died a prosperous farmer in December 1596. John, the younger son of Richard, was the poet's father.
About 1551 John Shakespeare left Snitterfield, which was probably his birthplace,The poet's
father. for the neighbouring borough of Stratford-on-Avon. There he set up as a trader in all manner of agricultural produce. Corn, wool, malt, meat, skins, and leather were soon among the commodities in which he dealt. Contemporary documents often describe him as a glover. Aubrey, Shakespeare's first biographer, reported the tradition that he was a butcher. But though both designations doubtless indicated important branches of his business, neither can be regarded as disclosing its full extent. In April 1552 he was living in Henley Street, a thoroughfare leading to the market town of Henley-in-Arden, and he is first mentioned in the borough records as paying in that month a fine of twelvepence for having a dirt-heap in front of his house. His frequent appearances in the years that follow as either plaintiff or defendant in suits heard in the local court of record for the recovery of small debts suggest that he was a keen man of business. In early life he prospered in trade, and in October 1556 purchased two freehold tenements at Stratford—one in Henley Street with a garden (it adjoins that now known as the poet's birthplace), and the other in Greenhill Street with a garden and croft. Thenceforth he played a prominent part in municipal affairs. In 1557 he was elected an ale-taster, whose duty it was to test the quality of malt liquors and bread. About the same time he was elected a burgess or town councillor, and in September 1558, and again on 6 Oct. 1559, he was appointed one of the four petty constables by a vote of the jury of the court-leet. Twice—in 1559 and 1561—he was chosen one of the affeerors—officers appointed to determine the fines for those offences which were punishable arbitrarily, and for which no express penalties were prescribed by statute. In 1561 he was elected one of the two chamberlains of the borough, an office of responsibility which he held for two years. He delivered his second statement of account to the corporation in January 1564. When attesting documents he made his mark, and there is no evidence that he could write; but he was credited with financial aptitude. The municipal accounts, which were checked by tallies and counters, were audited by him after he ceased to be chamberlain, and he more than once advanced small sums of money to the corporation.
With characteristic shrewdness he chose a wife of assured fortune—Mary, youngest daughterThe poet's mother. of Robert Arden, a wealthy farmer of Wilmcote in the parish of Aston Cantlowe, near Stratford. The Arden family in its eldest branch ranked among the most influential of the county. Robert's great-grandfather has been identified with Robert Arden (d. 1452), who was sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1438 (16 Hen. VI), and the latter's descendant, Edward Arden [q. v.], who was high sheriff of Warwickshire in 1575, was executed in 1583 for alleged complicity in a Roman catholic plot against the life of Queen Elizabeth (French, Genealogica Shakespeareana, pp. 458 seq.) John Shakespeare's wife belonged to a younger branch of the family (ib. pp. 465 seq.) Her grandfather, Thomas Arden, purchased in 1501 an estate at Snitterfield, which passed, with other property, to her father Robert, and John Shakespeare's father, Richard, was one of Robert Arden's Snitterfield tenants. By his first wife, whose name is not known, Robert Arden had seven daughters, of whom all but two married; John Shakespeare's wife seems to have been the youngest. Robert Arden's second wife, Agnes or Anne, widow of John Hill (d. 1545), a substantial farmer of Bearley, survived him; but by her he had no issue. When he died at the end of 1556 he owned a farmhouse at Wilmcote and many acres of land, besides some hundred acres of land at Snitterfield, with two farmhouses which he let out to tenants. The post-mortem inventory of his goods, which was made on 9 Dec. 1556, shows that he had lived in comfort; his house was adorned by as many as eleven ‘painted cloths,’ which then did duty for tapestries among the middle classes. The exordium of his will, which was drawn up on 24 Nov. 1556, and proved on 16 Dec. following, indicates that he was an observant catholic. For his two youngest daughters, Alice and Mary, he showed especial affection by nominating them his executors. Mary received not only 6l. 13s. 4d. in money, but the fee-simple of Asbies, his chief property at Wilmcote, which consisted of a house with some fifty acres of land. She also acquired, under an earlier settlement, an interest in two messuages at Snitterfield (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 179). But however well she was provided for, she was only able, like her husband, to make her mark in lieu of signing her name.
John Shakespeare's marriage with Mary Arden doubtless took place at Aston Cantlowe, the parish church of Wilmcote, in the autumn of 1557 (the church registers begin at a later date). On 15 Sept. 1558 his first child, a daughter, Joan, was baptised in the church of Stratford. A second child, another daughter, Margaret, was baptised on 2 Dec. 1562; but both these children died in infancy. The poet The poet's
baptism.William, the first son and third child, was born on 22 or 23 April 1564. The latter date is generally accepted as his birthday, mainly (it would appear) on the ground that it was the day of his death. There is no positive evidence on the subject, but the Stratford parish registers attest that he was baptised on 26 April.
Some doubt is justifiable as to the ordinarily accepted scene of his birth. Of two adjoining houses forming a detached building on the north side of Alleged
birthplace.Henley Street, that to the east was purchased by John Shakespeare in 1556, but there is no evidence that he owned or occupied the house to the west before 1575. Yet this western house has been known since 1759 as the poet's birthplace, and a room on the first floor is claimed as that in which he was born (cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, Letter to Elze, 1888). The two houses subsequently came by bequest of the poet's granddaughter to the family of the poet's sister, Joan Hart, and while the eastern tenement was let out to strangers for more than two centuries, and by them converted into an inn, the so-called birthplace was until 1806 occupied by the Harts, who latterly carried on there the trade of butcher. The fact of its long occupancy by the poet's collateral descendants accounts for the identification of the western rather than the eastern tenement with his birthplace. Both houses were purchased in behalf of subscribers to a public fund in 1846, and, after extensive restoration, were converted into a single domicile for the purposes of a public museum. They were presented under a deed of trust to the corporation of Stratford in 1866. Much of the Elizabethan timber and stone work survives, but a cellar under the so-called birthplace is the only portion which remains as it was at the date of the poet's birth (cf. documents and sketches in Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 377–94).
In July 1564, when William was three months old, the plague raged with unwonted vehemence at Stratford, and his father liberally contributed to the relief of its poverty-stricken victims. Fortune still favoured him. On 4 July 1565 he reached the dignity of an alderman. From 1567 onwards he was accorded in the corporation archives the honourable prefix of ‘Mr.’ At Michaelmas 1568 he attained the highest office in the corporation gift, that of bailiff, and during his year of office the corporation for the first time entertained actors at Stratford. The queen's company and the Earl of Worcester's company each received from John Shakespeare an official welcome. On 5 Sept. 1571 he was chief alderman, a post which he retained till 3 Sept. of the following year. In 1573 Alexander Webbe, the husband of his wife's sister Agnes, made him overseer of his will; in 1575 he bought two houses in Stratford, one of them doubtless the alleged birthplace in Henley Street; in 1576 he contributed twelve pence to the beadle's salary. But after Michaelmas 1572 he took a less active part in municipal affairs; he grew irregular in his attendance at the council meetings, and signs were soon apparent that his luck had turned. In 1578 he was unable to pay, with his colleagues, either the sum of fourpence for the relief of the poor, or his contribution ‘towards the furniture of three pikemen, two bellmen, and one archer,’ who were sent by the corporation to attend a muster of the trained bands of the county. Meanwhile his family was increasing. A daughter Ann (bapt. 28 Sept. 1571)Brothers and sisters. was buried on 4 April 1579; but four children besides the poet—three sons, Gilbert (bapt. 13 Oct. 1566), Richard (bapt. 11 March 1574), and Edmund (bapt. 3 May 1580), with a daughter Joan (bapt. 15 April 1569)—reached maturity. To meet his growing liabilities, the father borrowed money from his wife's kinsfolk, and he and his wife mortgaged, on 14 Nov. 1578, Asbies, her valuable property at Wilmcote, for 40l. to Edmund Lambert of Barton-on-the-Heath, who had married her sister, Joan Arden. Lambert was to receive no interest on his loan, but was to take the ‘rents and profits’ of the estate. Asbies was thereby alienated for ever. Next year, on 15 Oct. 1579, John and his wife made over to Robert Webbe, doubtless a relative of Alexander Webbe, for the sum of 4l., his wife's property at Snitterfield (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 407–8). John Shakespeare obviously chafed under the humiliationThe father's financial difficulties. of having parted, although as he hoped only temporarily, with his wife's property of Asbies, and in the autumn of 1580 offered to pay off the mortgage; but his brother-in-law, Lambert, retorted that other sums were owing, and he would accept all or none. The negotiation, which proved the beginning of much litigation, thus proved abortive. Through 1585 and 1586 a creditor, John Brown, was embarrassingly importunate, and, after obtaining a writ of distraint, Brown informed the local court that the debtor had nothing on which distraint could be levied (ib. ii. 238). On 6 Sept. 1586 John was deprived of his alderman's gown, on the ground of his long absence from the council meetings.
Happily John Shakespeare was at no expense for the education of his four sons.Education. They were entitled to free tuition at the free grammar school of Stratford, which was reconstituted on a mediæval foundation by Edward VI. The eldest son, William, probably entered the school in 1571, when Walter Roche was master, and perhaps he knew something of Thomas Hunt, who succeeded Roche in 1577. The instruction that he received was mainly confined to the Latin language and literature. From the Latin accidence, boys of the period, at schools of the type of that at Stratford, were led, through conversation books like the ‘Sententiæ Pueriles’ and Lily's grammar, to the perusal of such authors as Seneca, Terence, Cicero, Virgil, Plautus, Ovid, and Horace. The eclogues of the popular mediæval poet, Mantuanus, were often preferred to Virgil's for beginners. The rudiments of Greek were occasionally taught in Elizabethan grammar schools to very promising pupils; but such coincidences as have been detected between expressions in Greek plays and those in Shakespeare's plays seem due to accident, and not to any study by Shakespeare while at school or elsewhere of the Athenian drama. With the Latin language and with many Latin poetsThe poet's
equipment. of the school curriculum, on the other hand, Shakespeare openly acknowledged his acquaintance. In the mouth of his schoolmasters, Holofernes in ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ and Sir Hugh Evans in ‘Merry Wives of Windsor,’ he placed phrases drawn directly from Lily's grammar, from the ‘Sententiæ Pueriles,’ and from ‘the good old Mantuan;’ Plautus was the source of his ‘Comedy of Errors,’ and the influence of Ovid, especially the ‘Metamorphoses,’ was apparent throughout his earliest literary work, both poetic and dramatic. In the Bodleian Library is a copy of the Aldine edition of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses’ (1502), and on the title is the signature ‘Wm. She.,’ which experts have declared—not quite conclusively—to be a genuine autograph of the poet (Macray, Annals of the Bodleian, 1890, pp. 379 seq.). Dr. Farmer enunciated in his ‘Essay on Shakespeare's Learning’ (1767) the theory that Shakespeare knew no language but his own, and owed whatever knowledge he displayed of the classics and of Italian and French literature to English translations. But by no means all the books in French and Italian whence Shakespeare is positively known to have derived the plots of his dramas—Belleforest's ‘Histoires Tragiques’ and Cinthio's ‘Hecatommithi,’ for example—were accessible to him in English translations; and on more general grounds the theory of his ignorance is adequately confuted. A boy with Shakespeare's exceptional alertness of intellect, during whose schooldays a training in the Latin classics lay within reach, could hardly lack in future years all means of access to the literature of Rome, France, and modern Italy. He had no title to rank as a classical scholar, and his lack of exact scholarship fully accounts for the ‘small Latin and less Greek’ with which he was credited by his scholarly friend, Ben Jonson. But Aubrey's report that ‘he understood Latin pretty well’ cannot be reasonably contested (cf. Spencer Baynes, ‘What Shakespeare learnt at School’ in Shakespeare Studies, 1894, pp. 147 seq.).
His father's financial difficulties doubtless caused Shakespeare's removal from school at an unusually early age. Probably in 1577, when he was thirteen, he was enlisted by his father in an effort to restore his decaying fortunes. ‘I have been told heretofore,’ wrote Aubrey, ‘by some of the neighbours that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade,’ which, according to the writer, was that of a butcher. It is possible that John's ill-luck at the period compelled him to confine himself to this occupation, which in happier days formed only one branch of his business. His son may have been formally apprenticed to him. An early Stratford tradition describes him as ‘a butcher's apprentice’ (Dowdall). ‘When he kill'd a calf,’ Aubrey proceeds less convincingly, ‘he would doe it in a high style and make a speech. There was at that time another butcher's son in this towne, that was held not at all inferior to him for a naturall witt, his acquaintance, and coetanean, but dyed young.’
At the end of 1582 Shakespeare, when little more than eighteen and a half yearsThe poet's marriage. old, took a step which was little calculated to lighten his father's anxieties. He married. His wife, according to the inscription on her tombstone, was his senior by eight years. Rowe states that she ‘was the daughter of one Hathaway, said to have been a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford.’
On 1 Sept. 1581 Richard Hathaway, ‘husbandman’ of Shottery, a hamlet in the parish of Old Stratford, made his will, which was proved on 9 July 1582, and is preserved in the prerogative court of Canterbury. His house and land, ‘two and a half virgates,’ had been long held in copyhold by his family, and he died in fairly prosperous circumstances. His wife Joan, the chief legatee, was directed to carry on the farm with the aid of her eldest son, Bartholomew, to whom a share in its proceeds was assigned. Six other children—three sons and three daughters—received sums of money; Agnes, the eldest daughter, and Catherine, the second daughter, were each allotted 6l. 13s. 4d., ‘to be paid at the day of her marriage,’ a phrase common in wills of the period. Anne
Hathaway.Anne and Agnes were in the sixteenth century alternative spellings of the same christian name; and there is little doubt that the daughter ‘Agnes’ of Richard Hathaway's will became, within a few months of his death, Shakespeare's wife.
The house at Shottery, now known as Anne Hathaway's cottage, and reached from Stratford by field-paths, undoubtedly once formed part of Richard Hathaway's farmhouse, and, despite numerous alterations and renovations, still preserves many features of a thatched farmhouse of the Elizabethan period. The house remained in the Hathaway family till 1838, although the male line became extinct in 1746. It was purchased in behalf of the public by the Birthplace trustees in 1892.
No record of Shakespeare's marriage survives. Although the parish of Stratford included Shottery, and thus both bride and bridegroom were parishioners, the Stratford parish register is silent on the subject. A baseless tradition assigns the ceremony to the village of Luddington, of which neither the church nor parish registers exist. But in the registry of the bishop of the diocese (Worcester) a deed is extant by which Fulk Sandells and John Richardson, ‘husbandmen of Stratford,’ bound themselves in the bishop's consistory court, on 28 Nov. 1582, in sureties of 40l. each, to disclose any lawful impediment—‘by reason of any precontract’ [i.e. with a third party] or consanguinity—to the marriage of William Shakespeare with Anne Hathaway. In the absence of such impediment (the deed continued), and provided that Anne obtained the consent of her friends, the marriage might proceed ‘with once asking of the bannes of matrimony betwene them.’ The effect of the deed would be to expedite the ceremony, while protecting the clergy from the consequences of any possible breach of canonical law. The two sureties, Sandells and Richardson, were farmers of Shottery. Sandells was a ‘supervisor’ of the will of Anne's father, who there describes him as ‘my trustie friende and neighbour.’ He and Richardson, representing the lady's family, doubtless secured the deed on their own initiative, so that Shakespeare might have small opportunity of evading a step which his intimacy with their friends' daughter had rendered essential to her reputation. The wedding probably took place a few weeks after the signing of the deed. Within six months, in May 1583, a daughter was born to the poet, and was baptised in the name of Susanna at Stratford parish church on the 26th.
Shakespeare's apologists have endeavoured to show that the formal betrothal or ‘troth-plight’ which was at the time a common prelude to a wedding carried with it all the privileges of marriage. But neither Shakespeare's detailed description of a betrothal (Twelfth Night, act v. sc. i. ll. 160–4) nor his frequent notices of the solemn verbal contract that usually preceded marriage lend the contention much support (Measure for Measure, act i. sc. ii. 1. 155, act iv. sc. i. 1. 73); while the exceptional circumstance that the lady's friends alone were parties to the bond renders it improbable that Shakespeare had previously observed any of the more ordinary formalities.
A difficulty has been imported into the narration of the poet's matrimonial affairs by the assumption of his identity with one ‘William Shakespeare,’ to whom, according to an entry in the bishop of Worcester's register, a license was issued on 27 Nov. 1582 (the day before the signing of the Hathaway bond), authorising his marriage with Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. The husband of Anne Whateley cannot reasonably be identified with the poet. He may well have been one of the numerous William Shakespeares who abounded in the parishes in the neighbourhood of Stratford. The theory that the maiden name of Shakespeare's wife was Whateley is quite untenable, and it is unsafe to assume that the bishop's clerk, when making out a license, erred so extensively as to write ‘Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton’ for ‘Anne Hathaway of Shottery.’ Had a license for the poet's marriage been secured on 27 Nov., it is unlikely that the Shottery husbandmen would have entered next day into a bond ‘against impediments.’
Anne Hathaway's seniority and the likelihood that the poet was forced into marrying her by her friends were not circumstances of happy augury. Although it is dangerous to read into Shakespeare's dramatic utterances allusions to his personal experience, the emphasis with which he insists that a woman should take in marriage an ‘elder than herself’ (‘Twelfth Night,’ act ii. sc. iv. l. 29), and that prenuptial intimacy is productive of ‘barren hate, sour-eyed disdain, and discord,’ suggest a personal interpretation (‘Tempest,’ act iv. sc. i. ll. 15–22). To both these unpromising features was added, in the poet's case, the absence of a means of livelihood, and his course of life in the years that immediately followed implies that he bore his domestic ties with impatience. Early in 1585 twins were born to him, a son (Hamnet) and a daughter (Judith); both were baptised on 2 Feb. All the extant evidence points to the conclusion, which the fact that he had no more children confirms, that in the later months of the year (1585) he left Stratford, and that, although he was never wholly estranged from his family, he saw little of wife or children for eleven years. Between the winter of 1585 and the autumn of 1596—an interval which synchronises with his first literary triumphs—there is only one shadowy mention of his name in Stratford records. In April 1587 there died Edmund Lambert, who held Asbies under the mortgage of 1578, and a few months later Shakespeare's name, as owner of a contingent interest, was joined to that of his father and mother in a formal assent given to an abortive proposal to confer on Edmund's son and heir, John Lambert, an absolute title to the estate on condition of his cancelling the mortgage and paying 20l. But the deed does not indicate that Shakespeare personally assisted at the transaction (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 11–13).
Shakespeare's early literary work proves that while in the country he eagerly studied birds, flowers, and trees, and gained a detailed knowledge of horses and dogs. All his kinsfolk were farmers, and with them he doubtless as a youth practised many field-sports. Sympathetic references to hawking, hunting, coursing, and angling abound in his early plays and poems (cf. Ellacombe, Shakespeare as an Angler, 1883; J. E. Harting, Ornithology of Shakespeare, 1872). But his sporting experiences passed at times beyond orthodox limits. A poaching adventure, according to a credible tradition, was the immediate cause of his long severance from his native place. ‘He had,’ wrote Rowe, ‘by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company, and, among them, some, that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him with them morePoaching at
Charlecote. than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely; and, in order to revenge that ill-usage, he made a ballad upon him, and though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire and shelter himself in London.’ The independent testimony of Archdeacon Davies, who was vicar of Saperton, Gloucestershire, late in the seventeenth century, is to the effect that Shakespeare ‘was much given to all unluckiness in stealing venison and rabbits, particularly from Sir Thomas Lucy, who had him oft whipt, and sometimes imprisoned, and at last made him fly his native county to his great advancement.’ The law of Shakespeare's day (5 Eliz. cap. 21) punished deer-stealers with three months' imprisonment and the payment of thrice the amount of the damage done.
The tradition has been challenged on the ground that the Charlecote deer-park was of later date than the sixteenth century. But Sir Thomas Lucy was an extensive game-preserver, and owned at Charlecote a warren in which a few hares or does doubtless found an occasional home. Samuel Ireland [q. v.] was informed in 1794 that Shakespeare stole the deer, not from Charlecote, but from Fulbroke Park, a few miles off, and Ireland supplied in his ‘Views on the Warwickshire Avon,’ 1795, an engraving of an old farmhouse in the hamlet of Fulbroke, where he asserted Shakespeare was temporarily imprisoned after his arrest. An adjoining hovel was locally known for some years as Shakespeare's ‘deer-barn,’ but no portion of Fulbroke Park, which included the site of these buildings (now removed), was Lucy's property in Elizabeth's reign, and the amended legend, which was solemnly confided to Sir Walter Scott in 1828 by the owner of Charlecote, seems pure invention (cf. C. Holte Bracebridge, Shakespeare no Poacher, 1862; Lockhart, Life of Scott, vii. 123).
The ballad which Shakespeare is reported to have fastened on the park gates of Charlecote does not, as Rowe acknowledged, survive. No authenticity can be allowed the worthless lines beginning ‘A parliament member, a justice of peace,’ which were represented to be Shakespeare's on the authority of an old man who lived near Stratford and died in 1703. But such an incident as the tradition reveals has left a distinct impress on Shakespearean drama. Justice Shallow is beyond doubt a reminiscence of the owner of Charlecote.Justice
Shallow. According to Davies of Saperton, Shakespeare's ‘revenge was so great that’ he caricatured Lucy as ‘Justice Clodpate,’ who was (Davies adds) represented on the stage as ‘a great man,’ and as bearing, in allusion to Lucy's name, ‘three louses rampant for his arms.’ Justice Shallow, who came to birth in the ‘Second Part of Henry IV,’ is represented in the opening scene of the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ as having come from Gloucestershire to Windsor to make a Star-chamber matter of a poaching raid on his estate. The ‘three luces hauriant argent’ were the arms borne by the Charlecote Lucys, and the dramatist's prolonged reference in this scene to the ‘dozen white luces’ on Shallow's ‘old coat’ finally establishes Shallow's identity with Lucy.
The poaching episode is best assigned to 1585, but it may be questioned whetherThe flight
from Stratford. Shakespeare, on fleeing from Lucy's persecution, at once sought an asylum in London. William Beeston, a seventeenth-century actor, remembered hearing that he had been for a time a country schoolmaster ‘in his younger years,’ and it seems possible that on first leaving Stratford he found some such employment in a neighbouring village. The suggestion that he joined, at the end of 1585, some youths of the district in serving in the Low Countries under the Earl of Leicester, whose castle of Kenilworth was within easy reach of Stratford, is based on an obvious confusion between him and others of his name (cf. W. J. Thoms, Three Notelets on Shakespeare, 1865, pp. 116 sq.). The knowledge of a soldier's life which Shakespeare exhibited in his plays is no greater and no less than that which he displayed of almost all other spheres of human activity, and to assume that he wrote of all or of any from practical experience, unless the evidence be conclusive, is to underrate his intuitive power of realising life in almost every aspect by force of his imagination.
To London Shakespeare naturally drifted, doubtless trudging thither on foot duringThe journey
to London. 1586, by way of Oxford and High Wycombe (cf. Hales, Notes on Shakespeare, 1884, pp. 1–24). Tradition points to that as Shakespeare's favourite route, rather than to the road by Banbury and Aylesbury. Aubrey asserts that at Grendon, near Oxford, ‘he happened to take the humour of the constable in “Midsummer Night's Dream”’—by which he meant, we may suppose, ‘Much Ado about Nothing’—but there were watchmen of the Dogberry type all over England, and probably at Stratford itself. The Crown Inn (formerly 3 Cornmarket Street) near Carfax, at Oxford, was long pointed out as one of his resting-places.
To only one resident in London is Shakespeare likely to have been known previously. Richard Field, a native of Stratford, and son of a friend of Shakespeare's father, had left Stratford in 1579 to serve an apprenticeship with Thomas Vautrollier [q. v.], the London printer. Shakespeare and Field, who was made free of the Stationers' Company in 1587, were soon associated as author and publisher, but the theory that Field found work for Shakespeare in Vautrollier's printing-office is fanciful (Blades, Shakspeare and Typography). No more can be said for the attempt to prove that Shakespeare obtained employment as a lawyer's clerk. In view of his general quickness of apprehension, his accurate use of legal terms, which deserves all the attention that has been paid it, may be attributable in part to his observation of the many legal processes in which his father was involved, and in part to early intercourse with members of the inns of court (cf. Lord Campbell, Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements, 1859; W. L. Rushton, Shakespeare as a Lawyer, 1858, and Shakespeare's Testamentary Language, 1869).
Tradition and common-sense alike point to one of the only two theatres (The TheatreTheatrical
employment. or The Curtain) that existed in London at the date of his arrival as an early scene of his regular occupation. The compiler of ‘Lives of the Poets’ (1753), assigned to Theophilus Cibber [q. v.], was the first to relate the story that his original connection with the playhouse was as holder of the horses of visitors outside the doors. According to the compiler, the story was related by D'Avenant to Betterton; but Rowe, to whom Betterton communicated it, made no use of it. The two regular theatres of the time were both reached on horseback by men of fashion, and the owner of the Theatre, James Burbage, kept a livery stable at Smithfield. There is no inherent improbability in the tale. Dr. Johnson's amplified version, in which Shakespeare was represented as organising a service of boys for the purpose of tending visitors' horses, sounds apocryphal.
There is every indication that Shakespeare was speedily offered employment inside the playhouse. In 1587 the two chief companies of actors, the queen's and Lord Leicester's, returned to London from a provincial tour, during which they visited Stratford. Two subordinate companies, who claimed the patronage of the Earl of Essex and Lord Stafford, also performed in the town during the same year. From such incidents doubtless sprang the opportunity which offered Shakespeare fame and fortune. According to Rowe's vague statement, ‘he was received into the company then in being at first in a very mean rank.’ William Castle, the parish clerk of Stratford at the end of the seventeenth century, was in the habit of telling visitors that he entered the playhouse as a servitor. Malone recorded in 1780 a stage tradition ‘that his first office in the theatre was that of prompter's attendant’ or call-boy. His intellectual capacity and the amiability with which he turned to account his versatile powers, were probably soon recognised, and thenceforth his promotion was assured.
Shakespeare's earliest reputation was made as an actor, and although his work as a dramatist Joins the
company.soon eclipsed his histrionic fame, he remained a prominent member of the actor's profession till near the end of his life. In 1587 and following years, besides three companies of boy-actors formed from the choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Chapel Royal and from Westminster scholars, there were at least six companies of adult London actors; five of these were called after noble patrons (the Earls of Leicester, Oxford, Sussex, and Worcester, and the lord admiral, Charles, lord Howard of Effingham), and one of them was called after the queen. Constant alterations of name, owing to the death or change from other causes of the patrons, render it difficult to trace with certainty each company's history. But there seems no doubt that the most influential of the companies named—that under the patronage of the Earl of Leicester—passed on his death in September 1588 under the patronage of Ferdinando Stanley, lord Strange, who became Earl of Derby on 25 Sept. 1592. When the Earl of Derby died on 16 April 1594, his place as patron was successively filled by Henry Carey, first lord Hunsdon, lord chamberlain (d. 23 July 1596), and by his son and heir, George Carey, second lord Hunsdon, who himself became lord chamberlain in March 1597. After King James's succession in May 1603 the company was promoted to be the king's players, and, thus advanced in dignity, it fully maintained the supremacy which, under successive titles, it had already long enjoyed.
It is fair to infer that this was the company that Shakespeare originally joined. Documentary evidence proves that he was a member of it in December 1594; in May 1603 he was one of its leaders. Four of its chief members—Richard Burbage [q. v.], the greatest tragic actor of the day, John Heming [q. v.], Henry Condell [q. v.], and Augustine Phillips—were among Shakespeare's lifelong friends. Under the same company's auspices, moreover, Shakespeare's plays first saw the light. Only two of the plays claimed for him, ‘Titus Andronicus’ and ‘3 Henry VI,’ seem to have been performed by other companies (the Earl of Sussex's men in the one case and the Earl of Pembroke's in the other).
At first the company performed at the Theatre, but while known as Lord Strange's men, and when under the temporary management of the great actor, Edward Alleyn (of the Admiral's company), they opened on 19 Feb. 1592 a new theatre, called the Rose, which Philip Henslowe had erected on the Bankside, Southwark. The Rose was doubtless the earliest scene of Shakespeare's successes alike as actor and dramatist. Subsequently he frequented the older stage of the Curtain in Shoreditch. Early in 1599 Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert built on the Bankside a theatre called the Globe. It was octagonal in shape, and built of wood, and doubtless Shakespeare described it (rather than the Curtain) as ‘this wooden O,’ in the opening chorus of ‘Henry V’ (l. 13). After 1599 the Globe was mainly occupied by Shakespeare's company, and in its profits he acquired a share. The Blackfriars Theatre, which was created out of a dwelling-house by James Burbage [q. v.], the actor's father, at the end of 1596, was for many years afterwards leased out to the company of boy actors, known as ‘the queen's children of the chapel;’ it was not occupied by Shakespeare's company until December 1609 or January 1610, when his acting days were nearing their end.
In London Shakespeare resided near the theatres. According to a memorandum by Alleyn (which Malone quoted), he lodged in 1596 near ‘the Bear Garden in Southwark.’ In 1598 one William Shakespeare, who was assessed by the collectors of a subsidy in the sum of 13s. 4d. upon goods valued at 5l., was a resident in St. Helen's parish, Bishopsgate, but it is not certain that this tax-payer was the dramatist (cf. Exchequer Lay Subsidies City of London, 146/369, Public Record Office; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 418).
Elizabethan actors performed not only in London but in the provinces, and a fewShakespeare's
travels.occasionally extended their professional tours to foreign courts. In Denmark, Germany, Austria, Holland, and possibly in France, many dramatic performances were given by English actors between 1580 and 1630 (cf. Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany, 1865; Meissner, Die englischen Comödianten zur Zeit Shakespeare in Oesterreich, Vienna, 1884; Jon Stefansson on ‘Shakespeare at Elsinore’ in Contemporary Review, January 1896; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ix. 43, xi. 520). Shakespeare may be credited with faithfully fulfilling all his professional functions. The many references to travel in his sonnets were doubtless reminiscences of acting tours through English country towns, and it has been repeatedly urged that he visited Scotland with his company (cf. Knight; Fleay, Stage, pp. 135–6). In November 1599 English actors went to Scotland under the leadership of Lawrence Fletcher and one Martin. The former was a colleague of Shakespeare in 1603, but is not known to have been one earlier. Shakespeare's company never included an actor named Martin. Fletcher repeated the visit in October 1601 (MS. State Papers Dom. Scotland; P. R. O. vol. lxv. No. 64; Fleay, Stage, pp. 126–44). There is nothing to indicate that any of his companions belonged to Shakespeare's company. That Shakespeare visited any part of the continent is even less probable. He repeatedly ridicules the craze for foreign travel (cf. As you like it, iv. i. 22–40). His name appears in no extant list of English actors who paid professional visits abroad. To Italy.To Italy, it is true, and especially to the northern towns of Venice, Padua, Verona, Mantua, and Milan, he makes frequent and familiar reference, and he supplied many a realistic portrayal of Italian life and sentiment. But the fact that he represents Valentine in the ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ (I. i. 71) as travelling from Verona to Milan by sea, and Prospero in ‘The Tempest’ as embarking on a ship at the gates of Milan (I. ii. 129–44), renders it almost impossible that he could have gathered his knowledge of northern Italy from personal observation (cf. Elze, Essays, 1874, pp. 254 seq.). He doubtless owed all to the verbal reports of travelled friends or to books, the contents of which he had a rare power of assimilating and vitalising.
Although the old actor William Beeston asserted that Shakespeare ‘did act exceedingly well’ (Aubrey), Shakespeare's
rôles.the rôles in which he distinguished himself are very imperfectly recorded. Few surviving documents directly refer to performances by him. At Christmas 1594 he joined the popular actors William Kemp, the chief comedian of the day, and Richard Burbage in ‘two several comedies or interludes’ which were acted on St. Stephen's day and on Innocents' day (27 and 28 Dec.) at Greenwich Palace before the queen. The three players received ‘xiiili. vjs. viiid. and by waye of her Majesties rewarde vili. xiiis. iiijd., in all xxli.’ (Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 121; Jahrbuch d. deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, 1896, xxxii. 182 seq.). Neither plays nor parts are named. Shakespeare's name stands first on the list of those who took part in the original performances of Ben Jonson's ‘Every Man in his Humour’ (1598) and of his ‘Sejanus’ (1603), but the character allotted to each actor is not stated. Rowe identified only one of Shakespeare's parts, ‘the Ghost in his own “Hamlet,”’ which Rowe asserted to be ‘the top of his performance.’ John Davies noted that he ‘played some kingly parts in sport’ (Scourge of Folly, 1610, epigr. 159). One of Shakespeare's younger brothers, assumably Gilbert, often came, wrote Oldys, to London in his younger days to see his brother act in his own plays, and in his old age, when his memory was failing, he recalled his brother's performance of Adam in ‘As you like it.’ In the 1623 folio edition of Shakespeare's ‘Works’ his name heads the prefatory list ‘of the principall actors in all these playes.’
That Shakespeare chafed under some of the conditions of the actor's calling appears from the sonnets. He reproaches himself with making himself ‘a motley to the view’ (cx. 2), and chides fortune for having provided for his livelihood nothing better than ‘public means that public manners breed,’ whence his name received a brand (cxi. 4–5). His ambitions lay elsewhere, and at an early period of his theatrical career he was dividing his labours as an actor with those of a playwright.
The whole of Shakespeare's dramatic work was probably begun and ended within two decades (1591–1611), between his twenty-seventh Dramatic
work.and forty-seventh year. If, on the one hand, the works traditionally assigned to him include some contributions from other pens, he was perhaps responsible, on the other hand, for portions of a few plays that are traditionally claimed for others. When the account is balanced, Shakespeare must be credited with the production, during these twenty years, of an annual average of two plays, nearly all of which belong to the supreme rank of literature. Three volumes of poems must be added to the total. Ben Jonson was often told by the players that ‘whatsoever he penned he never blotted out (i.e. erased) a line.’ The editors of the first folio attested that ‘what he thought he uttered with that easinesse that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.’ Signs of hasty workmanship are not lacking, but they are few and unimportant when it is considered how rapidly his numerous compositions came from his pen.
By borrowing his plots he to some extent economised his energy, but he transformed most of them, and it was not His borrowed
plots.probably with the object of conserving his strength that he systematically levied loans on popular current literature like Holinshed's ‘Chronicles,’ North's translation of ‘Plutarch,’ widely read romances, and successful plays. In this regard he betrayed something of the practical temperament which is traceable in the conduct of the affairs of his later life. It was doubtless with the calculated aim of exploiting public taste to the utmost that he unceasingly adapted, as his genius dictated, themes which had already, in the hands of inferior writers or dramatists, proved capable of arresting public attention.
The professional playwrights retained no legal interest in their plays after disposing of the manuscript to a theatrical manager, and it was customary for the manager to invite extensive revision at the hands of others before a play was produced on the stage, and again whenever it was revived. Shakespeare doubtless gained his earliest experience as a dramatist by revising or rewriting behind The revision
of plays.the scenes plays that his manager had purchased. Possibly not all his labours in this direction have been identified. In a few cases his alterations were slight, but as a rule his fund of originality was too abundant to restrict him, when working as an adapter, to mere recension, and the results of most of his labours in that capacity are entitled to rank among original composition.
The exact order in which Shakespeare's plays were written depends largely on conjecture. External evidence is accessible Chronology
of the plays.in only a few cases, and, although always worthy of the utmost consideration, is not invariably conclusive. The date of publication rarely indicates the date of composition. Only sixteen of the thirty-seven plays commonly assigned to Shakespeare were published in his lifetime, and it is questionable whether any were published under his supervision. But subject-matter and metre both afford rough clues to the period in his career to which each play may be referred. In his early plays the spirit of comedy or tragedy appears in all its simplicity, but as his powers grew to maturity he depicted life in its complexity, and portrayed with masterly insight all the gradations of human sentiment, and the mysterious workings of human passion. Comedy and tragedy are gradually blended; and his work finally developed a pathos such as could only have come of ripe experience. Similarly the metre undergoes emancipation from established rule and becomes flexible and irregular enough to respond to every phase of human feeling. In the blank verse of the early plays a pause is strictly observed at the close of each line, and rhyming couplets are frequent. Gradually the verse overrides such artificial restrictions; rhyme largely disappears; the pause is varied indefinitely; extra syllables are, contrary to strict metrical law, introduced at the end of lines, and at times in the middle; recourse is more frequently made to prose (cf. W.S. Walker, Shakespeare's Versification, 1854; Charles Bathurst, Difference in Shakespeare's Versification at different Periods of his Life, 1857). Fantastic and punning conceits which abound in early work are rarely accorded admission to later work. At the same time allowance must be made for ebb and flow in Shakespeare's artistic progress. Early work occasionally anticipates features that become habitual to late work, and late work at times embodies traits that are mainly identified with early work. No exclusive reliance in determining the precise chronology can be placed on the merely mechanical tests afforded by tables of metrical statistics. The chronological order can only be deduced with any confidence from a consideration of all the internal characteristics as well as the known external history of each play. The premisses are often vague and conflicting, and no chronology hitherto suggested receives at all points universal assent.
There is no external evidence that any piece in which he had a hand was produced before the spring of 1592. No play by him was published before 1597, and none bore his name on the title-page till 1598. But his first essays have been with confidence allotted to 1591. To ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ ‘Love's Labour's
Lost.may reasonably be assigned priority in point of time of all Shakespeare's dramatic productions. Internal evidence alone indicates the date of composition, and proves that it was an early effort, but the subject-matter suggests that its author had already enjoyed extended opportunities of surveying London life and manners, such as were hardly open to him in the very first years of his settlement. ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ embodies keen observation of contemporary life in many ranks of society, both in town and country, while the speeches of the hero Biron clothe much sound philosophy in masterly rhetoric. Its slender plot stands almost alone among Shakespeare's plots in that it is not known to have been borrowed. The names of the chief characters are drawn from those of the leaders in the civil war in France, which was in progress between 1589 and 1594, and was anxiously watched by the English public. Contemporary projects of academies for disciplining young men; fashions of speech and dress current in fashionable circles; recent attempts on the part of Elizabeth's government to negotiate with the czar of Russia; the inefficiency of rural constables and the pedantry of village schoolmasters and curates are all satirised with good humour (cf. ‘A New Study of “Love's Labour's Lost,”’ by the present writer in Gent. Mag. October 1880; Transactions of the New Shakspere Society, pt. iii. p. 80*). The play was revised in 1597, probably for a performance at court. It was first published next year, and on the title-page, which described the piece as ‘newly corrected and augmented,’ Shakespeare's name first appeared in print as that of author of a play.
Less gaiety characterised another comedy of the same date, ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ which dramatises a romantic story of love and friendship. There is every ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona.’likelihood that it was an adaptation—amounting to a re-formation—of a lost ‘History of Felix and Philomena,’ which had been acted at court in 1584. The story is the same as that of ‘The Shepardess Felismena’ in the Spanish pastoral romance of ‘Diana’ by George de Montemayor. No English translation of ‘Diana’ was published before that of Bartholomew Yonge in 1598, but manuscript versions may have been accessible. Barnabe Rich's story of ‘Apollonius and Silla,’ which Shakespeare employed again in ‘Twelfth Night,’ doubtless gave him some hints. Trifling and irritating conceits abound in the ‘Two Gentlemen,’ but passages of high poetic spirit are not wanting, and the speeches of the clowns, Launce and Speed, overflow with farcical drollery. The ‘Two Gentlemen’ was not published in Shakespeare's lifetime; it first appeared in the folio of 1623, after having, in all probability, undergone some revision (cf. Fleay, Life, pp. 188 seq.).
Shakespeare next tried his hand, in the ‘Comedy of Errors’ (commonly known at the time as ‘Errors’), at boisterous farce. It may have been founded on a play, no longer extant, called ‘The Historie of Error,’ which was acted in 1576 at Hampton Court. ‘Comedy of Errors.’In subject-matter it resembles the ‘Menæchmi’ of Plautus, and treats of mistakes of identity arising from the likeness of twin-born children. The scene (act iii. sc. i.) in which Antipholus of Ephesus is shut out from his own house, while his brother and wife are at dinner within, recalls one in the ‘Amphitruo’ of Plautus. It is possible that Shakespeare had direct recourse to Plautus as well as to the old play; no English translation of Plautus was published before 1595. In the ‘Comedy of Errors’ (which was first published in 1623) allusion is made, as in ‘Love's Labour's Lost,’ to the civil war in France. France is described as ‘making war against her heir’ (act v. sc. ii. 125).
To more effective account did Shakespeare in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (his first tragedy) turn a tragic romance of Italian origin, which was already popular in the English versions of Arthur Broke in verse (1562) and William Painter ‘Romeo and Juliet.’in prose (in his ‘Palace of Pleasure,’ 1567). Shakespeare made little change in the plot, but he impregnated it with poetic fervour, and relieved the tragic intensity by developing the humour of Mercutio, and by grafting on the story the new comic character of the Nurse (cf. Originals and Analogues, pt. i. ed. P. A. Daniel, New Shakspere Society). The fineness of insight which Shakespeare here brought to the portrayal of youthful emotion is as noticeable as the lyric beauty and exuberance of the language. If the Nurse's remark, ‘'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years’ (i. iii. 23), be taken literally, the composition of the play must be referred to 1591, for no earthquake in the sixteenth century was experienced in England after 1580. There are some parallelisms with Daniel's ‘Complainte of Rosamond,’ published in 1592, and it is probable that Shakespeare completed the piece in that year. It was first anonymously and surreptitiously printed by John Danter in 1597 from an imperfect acting copy. A second quarto of 1599 (by T. Creede for Cuthbert Burbie) was printed from an authentic version which had undergone much revision (cf. ‘Parallel Texts,’ ed. P. A. Daniel, New Shakspere Society; Fleay, Life, pp. 191 seq.).
Three other pieces of the period, of the first production of which we have direct information, reveal Shakespeare undisguisedly as an adapter of plays by other hands. On 3 March 1592 a new piece, called ‘Henry VI,’ was ‘Henry VI.’acted at the Rose Theatre by Lord Strange's men. It was no doubt the play which was subsequently known as Shakespeare's ‘1 Henry VI.’ On its first production it won a popular triumph. ‘How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French),’ wrote Nash in his ‘Pierce Pennilesse’ (1592, licensed 8 Aug.), in reference to the striking scenes of Talbot's death (act iv. sc. vi. and vii.), ‘to thinke that after he had lyne two hundred yeares in his Tombe, hee should triumphe againe on the Stage, and have his bones newe embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least (at severall times) who, in the Tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding!’ There is no record of the production of a second piece in continuation of the theme, but it quickly followed, for a third piece, treating of the concluding incidents of Henry VI's reign, attracted much attention on the stage early in the following autumn.
The applause attending this effort drew from one rival dramatist a rancorous protest. Robert Greene, who died on 3 Sept. 1592, wrote on his Greene's attack.deathbed an ill-natured farewell to life, entitled ‘Groats-worth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance.’ Addressing three brother dramatists—Marlowe, Nash, and Peele or Lodge—he bade them beware of puppets ‘that speak from our mouths,’ and of ‘antics garnished in our colours.’ ‘There is,’ he continued, ‘an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers heart wrapt in a players hide supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his owne conceit the only Shake-scene in a countrie. … Never more acquaint [those apes] with your admired inventions, for it is pity men of such rare wits should be subject to the pleasures of such rude groomes.’ The ‘only Shake-scene’ is a punning denunciation of Shakespeare. The tirade was probably inspired by an author's resentment of the energy of the actor—the theatre's factotum—in revising professional dramatic work. The italicised quotation travesties a line from the third piece in the trilogy of Shakespeare's ‘Henry VI:’
Oh Tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide.
But Shakespeare's amiability of character and versatile ability had already won him admirers. In December 1592 Greene's publisher, Henry Chettle, prefixed to his ‘Kind Hartes Dreame’ an apology Chettle's apology. for Greene's attack on the young actor. ‘I am as sory,’ he wrote, ‘as if the originall fault had beene my fault because myselfe have seene his (i.e. Shakespeare's) demeanour no lesse civill than he [is] exelent in the qualitie he professes, besides divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing that aprooves his art.’
The first of the three plays dealing with the reign of Henry VI was first published in the collected edition of Shakespeare's works; the second and third plays were previously printed in a form very different from that which they assumed when they Divided authorship of ‘Henry VI.’followed it in the folio. Criticism has proved beyond doubt that in these plays Shakespeare did no more than add, revise, and correct other men's work. In pt. i. the scene in the Temple Gardens, where white and red roses are plucked as emblems by the rival political parties (act ii. sc. iv.), the dying speech of Mortimer, and perhaps the wooing of Margaret by Suffolk, alone bear the impress of his style. A play dealing with the second part of Henry VI's reign was published anonymously from a rough stage copy in 1594, with the title ‘The first part of the Contention betwixt the two famous houses of Yorke and Lancaster.’ A play dealing with the third part was published with greater care next year under the title ‘The True Tragedie of Richard, Duke of Yorke, and the death of good King Henry the Sixt, as it was sundrie times acted by the Earl of Pembroke his servants.’ In both these plays Shakespeare's hand can be traced. The humours of Jack Cade in ‘The Contention’ can only owe their savour to him. After he had hastily revised them, perhaps with another's aid, they were doubtless put on the stage in 1592, the first two parts by his own company (Lord Strange's men), and the third, under some exceptional arrangement, by Lord Pembroke's men. But Shakespeare was not content to leave them thus. Within a brief interval, possibly for a revival, he undertook a more thorough revision, still in conjunction with another writer. The first part of ‘The Contention’ was thoroughly overhauled, and was converted into what was entitled in the folio ‘2 Henry VI;’ there more than half the lines are new. ‘The True Tragedie,’ which became ‘3 Henry VI,’ was less drastically handled; two-thirds of it was left practically untouched; only a third was completely recast (cf. Fleay, Life, pp. 235 seq.; Trans. New Shakspere Soc., 1876, pt. ii. by Miss Jane Lee; Swinburne, Study, pp. 51 seq.).
Who Shakespeare's coadjutors were in the two revisions of ‘Henry VI’ cannot be determined. The theory that Greene and Peele produced the original draft of the three parts of ‘Henry VI’ may help to account for Greene's indignation. Much can be said, too, in behalf of the suggestion that Shakespeare joined Marlowe, the greatest of his predecessors, in the first revision which resulted in ‘The Contention’ and the ‘True Tragedie,’ and that Marlowe returned the compliment by adding a few touches to the final revision, for which Shakespeare was mainly responsible.
Many of Shakespeare's comedies—notably ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ and ‘Much Ado about Nothing’—exhibit familiarity with the dramatic work of John Lyly. Elsewhere traces may be found of an appreciative study of the writings of Samuel Daniel, Sir Philip Sidney, and Thomas Lodge. But Marlowe alone of Shakespeare's contemporaries can be credited with exerting on him any Marlowe's
influence.substantial influence. Marlowe was in 1592 and 1593 at the zenith of his fame, and two of Shakespeare's earliest historical tragedies, ‘Richard III’ and ‘Richard II,’ which formed the natural sequel of his labours on ‘Henry VI,’ betray an ambition to follow in Marlowe's footsteps. In ‘Richard III’ Shakespeare takes up the history of England near the point at which the third part of ‘Henry VI’ left it. The subject was already familiar to dramatists, but Shakespeare sought his materials in Holinshed. A Latin piece, by Dr. Thomas Legge, had been in favour with academic audiences since 1579, and in 1594 the ‘Richard III.’‘True Tragedie of Richard III’ was published anonymously; but Shakespeare's piece bears little resemblance to either. Throughout Shakespeare's ‘Richard III’ the effort to emulate Marlowe is undeniable. It is, says Mr. Swinburne, ‘as fiery in passion, as single in purpose, as rhetorical often, though never so inflated in expression, as “Tamburlaine” itself.’ The turbulent piece was naturally popular. Burbage's impersonation of the hero was one of his most effective performances, and his vigorous enunciation of ‘A horse, a horse! my kingdom for a horse!’ gave the line proverbial currency.
‘Richard II’ seems to have followed ‘Richard III’ without delay. Subsequently both were published anonymously in the same year (1597) as they had ‘been publikely acted by the right Honorable the Lorde Chamberlaine his servants;’ but the deposition scene in ‘Richard II,’ which dealt with a topic distasteful to the queen, was omitted from the early impressions. Though ‘Richard II’ was in ‘Richard II.’style and treatment far less deeply indebted to Marlowe than its predecessor, it was clearly suggested by Marlowe's ‘Edward II,’ which it imitates at many points in the development and collapse of the weak king's character—the leading theme. Shakespeare drew the facts from Holinshed, but his embellishments are numerous and include the magnificently eloquent eulogy of England which is set in the mouth of John of Gaunt. Prose is avoided throughout the play, a certain sign of early work. The piece was probably composed very early in 1593. The ‘Merchant of Venice,’ which is of later date, bears a somewhat similar relation to Marlowe's ‘Jew of Malta.’
In ‘As you like it’ (iii. 5, 80) Shakespeare parenthetically commemorated his acquaintance with, and his general indebtedness to, the elder dramatist by apostrophising him in the lines
Dead Shepherd! now I find thy saw of might:
‘Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?
The second line is a quotation from Marlowe's poem ‘Hero and Leander.’
Between February 1593 and the end of the year the London theatres were closed, owing to the prevalence of the plague. But Shakespeare was busily employed, and before the close of 1594 gave marvellous proofs of his rapid powers of production.
‘Titus Andronicus’ was in his own lifetime claimed for Shakespeare, but Edward Ravenscroft [q. v.], who prepared a new version in 1678, wrote of it: ‘I have been ‘Titus
Andronicus.’told by some anciently conversant with the stage that it was not originally his, but brought by a private author to be acted, and he only gave some master-touches to one or two of the principal parts or characters.’ Ravenscroft's assertion deserves acceptance. The tragedy contains powerful lines and situations, but is far too repulsive in plot and treatment, and too ostentatious in classical allusions to connect it with Shakespeare's acknowledged work. Ben Jonson credits ‘Titus Andronicus’ with a popularity equalling Kyd's ‘Spanish Tragedy,’ and internal evidence shows that Kyd was capable of writing much of ‘Titus.’ It was suggested by a piece called ‘Titus and Vespasian,’ which Lord Strange's men played on 11 April 1592 (Henslowe, p. 24); this is only extant in a German version acted by English players in Germany, and published in 1620 (cf. Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany, pp. 155 et seq.). ‘Titus Andronicus’ was doubtless taken in hand soon after the production of ‘Titus and Vespasian’ in order to exploit popular interest in the topic. It was acted by the Earl of Sussex's men on 23 Jan. 1593–4, when it was described as a new piece; but that it was also acted subsequently by Shakespeare's company is shown by the title-pages of the first and second editions, which describe it as having been performed by the Earl of Derby's and the lord chamberlain's servants (successive titles of Shakespeare's company), as well as by those of the Earls of Pembroke and Sussex. It was entered on the ‘Stationers' Register’ to John Danter on 6 Feb. 1594 (Arber, ii. 644). Langbaine claims to have seen an edition of this date, but none earlier than that of 1600 is now known.
For part of the plot of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Shakespeare seems to have had recourse to ‘II Pecorone,’ a collection of Italian novels by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino. ‘Merchant
of Venice.’There a Jewish creditor demands a pound of flesh of a defaulting Christian debtor, and the latter is rescued through the advocacy of ‘the lady of Belmont.’ A similar story figures in the ‘Gesta Romanorum,’ while the tale of the caskets is told independently in another portion of the same work. But Shakespeare's ‘Merchant’ owes much to other sources, including more than one old play. Stephen Gosson describes in his ‘Schoole of Abuse’ (1579) a lost play called ‘the Jew .… showne at the Bull [inn] .… representing the greedinesse of worldly chusers and bloody mindes of usurers.’ This description suggests that the two stories of the pound of flesh and the caskets had been combined before. The scenes in Shakespeare's play in which Antonio negotiates with Shylock are roughly anticipated, too, by dialogues between a Jewish creditor Gerontus and a Christian debtor in the extant play of ‘The Three Ladies of London,’ by R[obert] W[ilson] 1584.
Above all is it of interest to note that Shakespeare in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ betrayed for the last time his discipleship to Marlowe. Although the delicate comedy which lightens the serious interest of Shakespeare's play sets it in a different category from that of Marlowe's ‘Jew of Malta,’ the humanised portrait of the Jew Shylock embodies reminiscences of Marlowe's caricature of the Jew Barabbas. Doubtless the popular interest aroused by the trial in February 1594 and the execution in June of the queen's Jewish physician, Roderigo Lopez [q. v.], incited Shakespeare to a new and subtler study of Jewish character (cf. ‘The Original of Shylock,’ by the present writer, in Gent. Mag. February 1880; Dr. H. Graetz, Shylock in den Sagen, in den Dramen und in der Geschichte, Krotoschin, 1880; and New Shakespere Soc. Trans. 1887–92, pt. ii. pp. 158–92). The main interest of the ‘Merchant’ culminates in the trial scene and Shylock's discomfiture, but there is an ease in the transition to the gently poetic and humorous incidents of the concluding act which attests a rare mastery of stagecraft. The ‘Venesyon Comedy,’ which Henslowe, the manager, produced at the Rose on 25 Aug. 1594, was probably the earliest version of the ‘Merchant of Venice.’ It was not published till 1600, when two editions appeared, each printed from a different stage-copy.
To 1594 must also be assigned ‘King John,’ which, like the ‘Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Richard II,’ altogether eschews prose; it was not printed till 1623. The piece was directly adapted from a worthless play called ‘The Troublesome Raigne King John.of King John’ (1591), which was fraudulently reissued in 1611 as ‘written by W. Sh.,’ and in 1622 as by ‘W. Shakespeare.’ There is very small ground for associating Marlowe's name with the old play. Into the adaptation Shakespeare flung all his energy, and the theme grew under his hand into genuine tragedy. The three chief characters—the king, Constance, and Faulconbridge—are in all essentials of his own invention, and are portrayed with a sureness of touch that leaves no doubt of his developing strength.
At the close of 1594 a performance of Shakespeare's early farce, ‘The Comedy of Errors,’ gave him a passing notoriety that he could well have spared. The piece was played on the evening of Innocents' day (28 Dec.) 1594, in the The performance
Inn Hall.hall of Gray's Inn, before a crowded audience of benchers, students, and their friends. Shakespeare was not present; he was acting on the same night before the queen at Greenwich. There was some disturbance during the evening on the part of guests from the Inner Temple, who, dissatisfied with the accommodation afforded them, retired in dudgeon. ‘So that night,’ the contemporary chronicler states, ‘was ever afterwards called the “Night of Errors”’ (Gesta Grayorum, printed in 1688 from a contemporary manuscript). Next day a commission of oyer and terminer inquired into the causes of the tumult, which was attributed to a sorcerer having ‘foisted a company of base and common fellows to make up our disorders with a play of errors and confusions.’ (A second performance at Gray's Inn Hall was given by the Elizabethan Stage Society 6 Dec. 1895.)
Two other plays attracted much public attention during the period under review (1591–4)—‘Arden of Feversham’ (licensed 3 April 1592, and published in 1592) and ‘Edward III’ (licensed for publication 1 Dec. 1595, and published in 1596). Shakespeare's hand has been traced in both, mainly on the ground that their dramatic energy is of superior quality to that found in the extant efforts of any contemporary. There is no external evidence in favour of Shakespeare's
Shakespeare.authorship in either case. ‘Arden of Feversham’ dramatises with intensity and insight a sordid story of the murder of a husband by a wife which took place in 1551, and was fully reported by Holinshed. The subject is of a different type from any which Shakespeare is known to have treated, and although the play may be, as Mr. Swinburne insists, ‘a young man's work,’ it bears no relation either in topic or style to the work on which young Shakespeare was engaged at a period so early as 1591 or 1592. A play in Marlowe's vein, ‘Edward III,’ which Capell reprinted in his ‘Prolusions’ in 1760 and described as ‘thought to be writ by Shakespeare,’ has been assigned to him on even more shadowy grounds. Many speeches scattered through the drama, and one whole scene—that in which the Countess of Salisbury repulses the advances of Edward III—show the hand of a master (act ii. sc. 2). But there is even in the style of these contributions much to dissociate them from Shakespeare's accredited productions, and justify their ascription to some less efficient disciple of Marlowe (cf. Swinburne, Study of Shakspere, pp. 231–274). A line in act ii. sc. i. (‘Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds’) reappears in Shakespeare's ‘Sonnets’ (xciv. l. 14). It was contrary to his practice to literally plagiarise himself. The line was doubtless borrowed from a manuscript copy of the ‘Sonnets.’
During these busy years (1591–4) Shakespeare came before the public in yet another literary capacity. On 18 April 1593 his friend Richard Field, the printer, who was his fellow-townsman, obtained a license for the publication of ‘Venus and Adonis,’ a love poem, written with a license which stamps it as a product of youth. It was published a month or two Publication of ‘Venus and Adonis.’later, without an author's name on the title-page, but Shakespeare appended his full name to the dedication, which he addressed in conventional style to Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton. ‘I know not how I shall offend,’ he wrote, ‘in dedicating my unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop for supporting so weak a burden. … But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather.’ ‘The first heir of my invention’ implies that the poem was written before Shakespeare's dramatic work. The title-page bears a Latin motto from Ovid's ‘Amores.’ Lodge's ‘Scillas Metamorphosis,’ which appeared in 1589, is not only written in the same metre (six-line stanzas rhyming a b a b c c), but opens with the same incidents, and deals with them in the same spirit. There is little doubt that Shakespeare drew from Lodge some of his inspiration (Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis and Lodge's Scillas Metamorphosis, by James P. Reardon, in ‘Shakespeare Society's Papers,’ iii. 143–6).
A year later, in 1594, Shakespeare published another poem in like style, but in seven-line (Chaucer's rhyme royal, a b a b b c c) instead of six-line stanzas. It was entered in the ‘Stationers' Registers’ on 9 May 1594 under the title of ‘A Booke intitled the Ravyshement of Lucrece,’ and was published in the same year under the title ‘Lucrece.’‘Lucrece.’ Richard Field printed it, and John Harrison published it and sold it at the sign of the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard. Samuel Daniel's ‘Complaint of Rosamond’ (1592) stood to ‘Lucrece’ in something of the same relation as Lodge's ‘Scilla’ to ‘Venus and Adonis.’ Again, Shakespeare dedicated the volume to the Earl of Southampton, but instead of addressing him in the frigid compliment that was habitual to dedications, he employs the outspoken language of devoted friendship: ‘The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end, whereof this pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous moiety. … What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours.’
Both the poems were widely read and appreciated. They drew upon Shakespeare a far larger share of public notice than his early dramatic productions. No less than Enthusiastic reception of the poems.seven editions of ‘Venus’ appeared between 1594 and 1602, and an eighth followed in 1617. ‘Lucrece’ reached a fifth edition a year earlier. ‘Lucrece,’ wrote Michael Drayton in his ‘Legend of Matilda’ (1594), was ‘revived to live another age.’ In 1595 William Clerke [q. v.] in his ‘Polimanteia’ gave ‘all praise’ to ‘Sweet Shakespeare’ for his ‘Lucrecia.’ John Weever, in a sonnet addressed to ‘Honey-tongued Shakespeare’ in his ‘Epigramms’ (1595), eulogised the two poems as his main achievement, although he mentioned Romeo and Richard and ‘more whose names I know not.’ Richard Carew at the same time classed him with Marlowe as deserving the praises of an English Catullus (‘Excellencie of the English Tongue’ in Camden's Remaines, p. 43). There is a likelihood, too, that Spenser was drawn by the poems into the ranks of Shakespeare's admirers. There is little doubt that Spenser referred to Shakespeare and Spenser.Shakespeare in ‘Colin Clouts come home againe’ (completed in 1594), under the name of ‘Aetion’ (a familiar Greek proper name derived from Aetos, an eagle)
And there, though last not least is Aetion;
A gentler Shepheard may no where be found,
Whose muse, full of high thought's invention,
Doth, like himselfe, heroically sound.
Meanwhile Shakespeare was gaining personal esteem outside the circles of actors and men of letters. His genius and ‘civil demeanour’ of which Chettle wrote arrested the notice of noble patrons of literature and the drama. His summons to act at court with the most famous actors of the day at the Christmas of 1594 was possibly due in part to Patrons of the court.personal interest in himself. Elizabeth quickly showed him special favour. Until the end of her reign his plays were repeatedly acted in her presence. The revised version of ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ was given at Whitehall at Christmas 1597, and tradition credits the queen with unconcealed enthusiasm for Falstaff, who came into being a little later. Under Elizabeth's successor he greatly strengthened his hold on royal favour, but Ben Jonson claimed that the queen's appreciation equalled that of James I. Jonson wrote of
Those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza and our James.
To Shakespeare's personal relations with men and women of the court his ‘Sonnets’ owed their existence. Between 1591 and 1597 no aspirant to poetic fame in England failed to seek a The ‘Sonnets.’patron's ear by a trial of skill as a sonneteer. Shakespeare applied himself to sonneteering when the fashion was at its height. Many critics are convinced that throughout the ‘Sonnets’ Shakespeare avows the experiences of his own heart (cf. C. Armitage Brown, Shakespeare's Autobiographical Poems, 1838; Richard Simpson, Philosophy of Shakespeare's Sonnets, 1868). But the two concluding sonnets (cliii. and cliv.) are directly suggested by an apologue illustrating the potency of love which figures in the Greek anthology (Palatine Anthology, ix. 627). Elsewhere many conceits are adapted from contemporary sonnets. While Shakespeare's poems bear traces of personal emotion and are coloured by personal experience, they seem to have been to a large extent undertaken as literary exercises. His ever-present dramatic instinct may be held to account for most of the illusion of personal confession which they call up in many minds. Their style suggests that they came from a youthful pen—from a man not more than thirty. Probably a few dated from 1591, and the bulk of them were composed within a brief period of the publication of his two narrative poems in 1594. The rhythm and metre display in the best examples—for the inequalities are conspicuous—a more mellowed sweetness than is found in those works. The thought is usually more condensed, and obscure conceits are more numerous. But these results may be assigned in part to the conditions imposed by the sonnet-form and in part to the sonnets' complex theme. External evidence confirms the theory of their early date. Shakespeare's early proficiency as a sonneteer and his enthusiasm for the sonnet-form are both attested by his introduction of two Their early date.admirably turned sonnets into the dramatic dialogue of ‘Love's Labour's Lost’—probably his earliest play. It has, too, been argued—ingeniously, if on slender grounds—that he was author of the sonnet, ‘Phæton, to his friend Florio,’ which prefaced in 1591 ‘Florio's Second Frutes’ (Minto, Characteristics of English Poetry, 1885, pp. 371–382). A line from a fully accredited sonnet (xciv.) was quoted in ‘Edward III,’ which was probably written before 1595. Meres, writing in 1598, mentions Shakespeare's ‘sugred sonnets among his private friends’ in close conjunction with his two narrative poems. That all the sonnets were in existence before Meres wrote is rendered probable by the fact that William Jaggard piratically inserted in 1599 two of the most mature of the series (Nos. cxxxviii and cxliv) in his ‘Passionate Pilgrim.’ Shakespeare speaks of himself in the first of these two sonnets as feeling the incidents of age (‘my days are past the best’). But when the two poems fell into Jaggard's predatory hands in 1599, the poet was only thirty-five. Hence there is no ground for the assumption that the many references to his growing years demand a literal interpretation and prove a far later date of composition (cf. xxx. lxii. lxxiii.). The ‘Sonnets’ were first published in 1609, but Shakespeare cannot be credited with any responsibility for the publication. There was appended a previously unpublished poem of forty-nine seven-line stanzas (the metre of ‘Lucrece’), entitled ‘A Lover's Complaint,’ in which a girl laments her betrayal by a deceitful youth. If, as is possible, it be by Shakespeare, it must have been written in very early days.
Shakespeare's ‘Sonnets’ ignore the somewhat complex scheme of rhyme adopted by Petrarch and followed by nearly all the great English sonneteers. Their form.Seeking greater metrical simplicity, they consist of three decasyllabic quatrains with a concluding couplet, and the quatrains rhyme alternately. It is rarely that a single sonnet forms an independent poem. As in the sonnets of Spenser, Sidney, and Drayton, the same train of thought is pursued continuously through two or more. The collection, numbering 154 sonnets in all, thus presents the appearance of a series of poems, each in a varying number of fourteen-line stanzas. It seems doubtful if the order in which the sequences are printed preserves that in which they were penned. It is rarely that a single sonnet or a short sequence of sonnets betrays much logical connection with those that precede or follow (cf. cxlv. cxlvi. and cli.).
No clear nor connected story is deducible from the poems, which divide themselves into two main groups. In the first (i.–cxxvi.), Shakespeare addresses for the most part a young man. The subject-matter.In the opening sequence, the right of which to priority seems questionable, the youth is urged to marry that his beauty may survive in children (i.–xvii.). Elsewhere the poet insists, in language originally borrowed from classical literature but habitual to sonneteers of the day, that his verse will perpetuate for ever his friend's memory (xviii. xix. liv. lv. lx. lxiii. lxv. lxxxi. cvii.). In four sequences (xxvii.–xxxii. xliii.–lvi. xcvii.–xcix. cxiii.–cxiv.) the poet dwells on the effects of absence in intensifying love. At times the youth is rebuked for sensuality (xxxii.–xxxv. lxix.–lxx. xcix.–xcvi.). At times melancholy overwhelms the writer; he despairs of the corruptions of the age, and longs for death (lxvi.–lxviii. lxxi.–lxxiv.). In one sequence the writer's equanimity is disturbed by the favour bestowed by a young patron on a rival poet (lxxviii.–lxxxvi.). The first group concludes with a series of sequences in which the poet declares his constancy in friendship.
In the second group, most of which are addressed to a woman (cxxvi.–clii.), Shakespeare, in accord with a contemporary convention of sonneteers, narrates more or less connectedly the story of the disdainful rejection of a lover by an accomplished siren with raven-black hair and eyes. In one group of six sonnets (xl. xli. xlii. cxxxiii. cxxxiv. cxliv.), which stands apart from those that immediately succeed or follow them, a more personal note seems to be struck. The six poems relate how the writer's mistress has corrupted his friend and drawn him from his ‘side.’ Sonnet cxliv. (published by Jaggard in 1599) suggested the state of feeling generated by this episode:
Two loves I had of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest [i.e. tempt] me still;
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
The story of intrigue developed in these six sonnets is not easily paralleled. It may owe its origin to a genuine experience of the poet himself.
Many attempts have been made to identify among Shakespeare's contemporaries the anonymous persons to whom the poet seems to refer, but no result hitherto reached rests on sure foundations. Identification of the persons noticed.The sole clue the text offers lies in the plain avowal that a young man was a patron of the poet's verse, which had derived from him ‘fair assistance’ (Sonnet lxxviii.). Shakespeare is not known to have formally acknowledged any literary patron except Southampton, and some of the phrases in the dedication to ‘Lucrece’ so closely resemble expressions that were addressed in the sonnets to a young friend as to identify the latter with Southampton. Southampton, Shakespeare's junior by nine years, was a patron of literature and of the drama. On 11 Oct. 1599 he was spoken of as passing ‘away the tyme in London Lord Southampton.merely in going to plaies every day’ (Sidney Papers, ii. 132), and when Queen Anne of Denmark visited him in London in January 1604–5, Shakespeare's ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ was performed (Hatfield MSS.; Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 83, 167). John Florio [q. v.] may be reasonably included among Shakespeare's early London friends, although there is little ground for regarding him as the original of Holofernes in ‘Love's Labour's Lost,’ and he was long in Southampton's ‘pay and patronage.’ An independent tradition confirms the closeness of Shakespeare's intimacy with Southampton. According to Rowe, ‘there is one instance so singular in its magnificence of this patron of Shakespeare's that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William D'Avenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted; that my Lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to.’
Shakespeare's description of the rival poet, ‘of tall building and goodly pride,’ and the references to ‘the proud full sail of his great verse,’ would (it is commonly suggested) apply to George Chapman, George Chapman.and allusions have been detected in Sonnets lxxxii. and lxxxvi. to Chapman's devotion to Homer, and to phraseology employed by Chapman in his ‘Shadow of Night,’ 1594 (cf. Minto, Characteristics, p. 291; Leopold Shakspere, ed. Furnivall, lxv.). But Chapman was only one among many of the protégés of Southampton, and another of them, Barnabe Barnes, has claims to be considered ‘the rival poet’ of the ‘Sonnets.’ Southampton married in 1598, against the queen's wish, Elizabeth, daughter of John Vernon, a lady of the court, but there is no ground for identifying her with the conventional lady of the ‘Sonnets’ (cf. Gerald Massey, Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets, 1888).
Other theories of identification rest on wholly erroneous premisses. Shakespeare undoubtedly plays more than once on his own Christian name, Baseless theories.Will (cxxxv.–vi., cxliii.); but there is nothing in the wording of these punning passages to warrant the assumption that his friend bore the same appellation (this misinterpretation is attributable to the misprinting in the early editions of the second ‘will’ as ‘Will’ in cxxxv. l. 1). No more importance can be attached to the fantastic suggestion that the line describing the youth as
A man in hue all hues in his controlling
(xx. 7), and other applications of the word ‘hue,’ imply that his surname was Hughes. There is no other pretence of argument for the conclusion that the friend's name was William Hughes. No known contemporary of the name answers either in age or position in life the requirements of the problem (Notes and Queries, 5th ser. v. 443).
Thomas Thorpe's position.
A third theory has received wide acceptance. When the sonnets were published in 1609 they appeared with the following dedication: ‘To. the. onlie. begetter. of. | these. insving. sonnets. | Mr. W. H. all. happinesse. | and. that. eternitie. | promised. | by. | ovr. ever-liuing. poet. | wisheth. | the. well-wishing. | adventvrer. in. | setting. | forth. | T. T.’ T. T. are the initials of Thomas Thorpe, who procured the manuscript for publication. He belonged to a class of men well known at the time in the book trade who neither printed books nor sold them, but procured manuscripts how they could, and, in the absence of any copyright law, the means they employed were not keenly scanned. Having procured the manuscript, they commissioned others to print and sell the book, and in the case of Shakespeare's ‘Sonnets’ Thorpe commissioned George Eld to print them, and the function of distribution he divided between John Wright and William Aspley. Some title-pages give Wright's name as the seller, others give Aspley's. Thorpe stood in no need of Shakespeare's assent before publishing his ‘Sonnets,’ and there is no ground for supposing that it was given or even invited. The volume's tradesmanlike entry as ‘Shakespeare's Sonnets,’ not only in the ‘Stationers' Register’ but also on the title-page, practically confers on the speculator in the manuscript—‘the well-wishing adventurer in setting forth’—sole responsibility for the enterprise.
As proprietor of the ‘copy’ Thorpe was entitled to supply the dedication. In 1600 he dedicated Marlowe's edition of ‘Lucan,’ the manuscript of which he had somehow acquired, to a friend in the trade, Edward Blount [q. v.] Oblivious of Thorpe's position, writers on Shakespeare have assumed that he was in Shakespeare's confidence, that Shakespeare inspired or even wrote the ‘Mr. W. H.’dedication, and that the Mr. W. H. in Thorpe's inscription concealed the initials of the Sonnets' youthful hero. The perplexing phrase ‘the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets,’ with the words that follow, was doubtless a high-flown compliment which in a dedication cannot be taken literally. No single person begot the sonnets in the sense of inspiring them; at least two persons, the youth and the dark lady, were in an equal degree sources of the poet's inspiration. ‘Beget’ was often used in the sense of ‘get’ or ‘procure’ (cf. ‘beget … the reversion,’ Dekker, Satiromastix, 1602; ‘acquire and beget a temperance,’ Hamlet, iii. sc. 2; see Murray, New English Dict.) It is therefore probable that the object of the dedication was some friend of Thorpe through whose good offices the manuscript of the poems had reached his hands.
But since 1832, when James Boaden first propounded the theory in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ Mr. W. H. has not only been regarded as the friend commemorated in the ‘Sonnets,’ but he has been confidently identified with William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke [q. v.] (cf. Boaden, On the Sonnets of Shakespeare, 1837). Pembroke, who was known from birth until his father's death as ‘Lord Herbert’ exclusively, belonged to the same court circle as The Pembroke theory inadmissible.Southampton. He was a patron of letters; to him and his brother the first collected edition of Shakespeare's works was dedicated seven years after his death in language that suggests that he had shown appreciation of them in the poet's lifetime. But there is no evidence that he was in his youth acquainted with the poet, or at any time closely associated with him. In 1594, when the ‘Sonnets’ seem to have been completed, Pembroke was fourteen years old, and, although his father made an abortive effort to negotiate a marriage for him in 1598, it is unlikely that Shakespeare should have urged him at an earlier age, as he urges the youth of the ‘Sonnets,’ to marry. Late in 1600 Pembroke involved himself in a discreditable intrigue with a lady of the court, Mary Fitton, and the supporters of the Pembroke theory have identified Mary Fitton with the ‘dark’ lady (cf. Sonnets, ed. T. Tyler, 1890, passim). But no historical justification is needed for the creation of the conventional personage, and one of the ‘Sonnets’ in which she figures was surreptitiously published by Jaggard in 1599, before the intrigue between Pembroke and Mary Fitton is known to have begun. The identification of ‘Mr. W. H.’ with Pembroke seems, moreover, confuted by Thorpe's form of address. In 1601 Lord Herbert succeeded his father as Earl of Pembroke; by 1609 he was knight of the Garter and holder of many court offices. Thorpe dedicated several books to him by name, and always gave him the full benefit of his titles. He approached him like all his noble patrons, in terms of subservience. That he should have deserted his practice in the case of Shakespeare's ‘Sonnets,’ and should have dubbed the influential Earl of Pembroke (formerly Lord Herbert) ‘Mr. W. H.,’ is an inadmissible inference.
The story of a lover's supersession by his friend in the favours of his mistress—the burden of those six sonnets that may have a personal significance—may possibly The ‘W.S.’ of ‘Willobie his Avisa.’reflect an affair of gallantry in the poet's own life, to which obscure reference seems extant elsewhere. The adventure, in that case, caused no lasting wound. At the end of 1594 there was published a poem entitled ‘Willobie his Avisa’ (licensed 3 Sept. 1594), in which the writer described the progress of a profound passion [see Willoughby or Willobie, Henry]. Some anonymous prefatory verses commend Shakespeare's ‘Lucrece,’ and by way of argument to canto xliv. the writer relates how, in search of a cure for the disastrous effects of love, he appealed to ‘his familiar friend W.S., who not long before had tried the courtesy of the like passion and was now newly recovered of the like infection.’ But ‘W.S.’ offered a remedy which aggravated the disease, ‘because,’ the narrator suggests, ‘he [i.e. W. S.] would see whether another could play his jest better than himself, and, in viewing afar off the course of this loving comedy, he determined to see whether it would sort to a happier end for the new actor than it did for the old player.’ In cantos xliv.–xlviii. Willobie engages in dialogue with W. S., who offers him chilling comfort. Although it is hazardous to hang a theory on the identity of initials, Shakespeare's recent experiences may have prompted Willobie's references to W. S., ‘the old player,’ and to the latter's complete recovery from love's ‘infection’ (Willobie, Avisa, ed. Grosart, 1880).
Meanwhile, despite distraction, Shakespeare's dramatic work steadily advanced. To the winter season of 1595 probably belongs ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ (two editions appeared ‘Midsummer Night's Dream.’ in 1600). It may well have been written to celebrate a marriage—perhaps the marriage of Lucy Harington to Edward Russell, third earl of Bedford, on 12 Dec. 1594; or that of William Stanley, earl of Derby, at Greenwich on 24 Jan. 1594–5. The elaborate compliment to the queen, ‘a fair vestal throned by the west,’ was at once an acknowledgment of past marks of royal favour, and an invitation for their extension to the future. The whole is in the airiest and most graceful vein of comedy. Hints for the story can be traced to a variety of sources (Chaucer's ‘Knight's Tale,’ Plutarch's ‘Life of Theseus,’ Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ bk. iv.), and the influence of John Lyly is noticeable, but the final scheme of the piece is of the author's invention. In the humorous presentation of Pyramus and Thisbe by the village clowns, Shakespeare improved upon a theme which he had already employed in ‘Love's Labour's Lost.’
More sombre topics engaged him in the comedy of ‘All's well that ends well,’ which may be tentatively assigned to 1595. The plot, like that of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ was drawn from Painter's ‘All's Well.’‘Palace of Pleasure’ (No. xxxviii.). The original source is Boccaccio's ‘Decamerone’ (giorn. iii. nov. 9). Shakespeare, after his wont, grafted on the touching story of Helena's love for the unworthy Bertram the comic characters of the braggart Parolles, the pompous Lafeu, and a clown less witty than his compeers. Another original creation, Bertram's mother, Countess of Rousillon, is a charming portrait of old age. In frequency of rhyme and other metrical characteristics the piece closely resembles ‘The Two Gentlemen,’ but the characterisation betrays far greater power, and there are fewer conceits or crudities of style. The pathetic element predominates. Meres attributed to Shakespeare, in 1598, a piece called ‘Love's Labour's Won.’ This title, which is not otherwise known, may well be applied to ‘All's Well.’ ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ which has also been identified with ‘Love's Labour's Won,’ has far slighter claim to the designation.
‘The Taming of the Shrew’—which, like ‘All's Well,’ was first printed in the folio—was probably of a little later date. It is a revision of an old play on lines somewhat differing from those which Shakespeare had followed previously. From ‘The Taming of a Shrew,’ a comedy first published in 1594 ‘Taming of the Shrew.’(repr. Shakespeare Soc. 1844), Shakespeare drew the induction and the scenes, in which hero Petruchio conquers Catherine the Shrew. He first infused into them the genuine spirit of comedy, and introduced into the induction reminiscences of Stratford which may be due to his renewal in 1596 of personal relations with the town. The tinker, Christopher Sly, describes himself as ‘Old Sly's son of Burton Heath,’ who has run up a score with the fat alewife of Wincot. Burton Heath is Barton-on-the-Heath, the home of Shakespeare's aunt, Edmund Lambert's wife, and of her sons. Wincot is Wilmcote, his mother's native place. But while following the old play in its general outlines, the revised version added an entirely new underplot—the story of Bianca and her lovers, which owes something to the ‘Supposes’ of George Gascoigne [q. v.], an adaptation of Ariosto's ‘Suppositi.’ Evidence of styles makes it difficult to allot the Bianca scenes to Shakespeare; as in the case of ‘Henry VI,’ those scenes were probably due to a coadjutor.
In 1597 Shakespeare turned once more to English history. From Holinshed's ‘Chronicle,’ and from a valueless but very popular piece, ‘The ‘Henry IV.’Famous Victories of Henry V,’ which was repeatedly acted between 1588 and 1595 (licensed 1594, and published 1598), he worked up with splendid energy two plays on the reign of Henry IV. They form one continuous whole, but are known respectively as parts i. and ii. of ‘Henry IV.’ The kingly hero had figured as a spirited young man in ‘Richard II;’ he was now represented as weighed down by care and age. With him are contrasted (in part i.) his impetuous and ambitious subject Hotspur and (in both parts) his son and heir Prince Hal, whose boisterous disposition drives him from court to seek adventures among the haunters of taverns. Shakespeare, in both parts, originally named the chief of the prince's riotous companions after Sir John Oldcastle, a character in the old play. But Henry Brooke, eighth lord Cobham, who succeeded to the title early in 1597, and claimed descent from the historical Sir John Oldcastle [q. v.], the lollard leader, raised objection; and when the first part of the play was printed by the acting-company's authority in 1598 (‘newly corrected’ in 1599), Shakespeare bestowed on Prince Hal's Falstaff.tun-bellied follower the new name of Falstaff. The latter designation was doubtless a hazy reminiscence of Sir John Fastolf [q. v.], an historical warrior who had already figured in ‘Henry VI,’ and was owner at one time of the Boar's Head tavern in Southwark; the prince and his companions frequent the ‘Boar's Head,’ Eastcheap, in ‘Henry IV,’ according to traditional stage directions (first adopted by Theobald in 1733; cf. Halliwell-Phillips, ii. 257). A trustworthy edition of the second part also appeared with Oldcastle's name substituted for that of Falstaff in 1600. There the epilogue emphatically denied that Falstaff had any characteristic in common with the martyr Oldcastle. Meanwhile humbler dramatists (Munday, Wilson, Drayton, and Hathaway), seeking to profit by the attention drawn by Shakespeare to the historical Oldcastle, produced a poor dramatic version of the latter's genuine history; and of two editions published in 1600, one printed for [Thomas] P[avier] was impudently described on the title-page as by Shakespeare. Shakespeare's purely comic power culminated in Falstaff, who may be claimed as the most humorous figure in literature. The Elizabethan public recognised the triumphant success of the effort, and many of Falstaff's telling phrases, with the names of his associates, Justice Shallow and Silence, at once took root in popular speech.
In all probability ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor,’ a comedy inclining to farce, followed close upon ‘Henry IV.’ Rowe asserts that ‘Queen Elizabeth was so well ‘Merry Wives of Windsor.’pleased with that admirable character of Falstaff in the two parts of “Henry IV” that she commanded him to continue it for one play more, and to show him in love.’ Dennis, in the dedication of ‘The Comical Gallant’ (1702), noted that the ‘Merry Wives’ was written at the queen's ‘command and by her direction; and she was so eager to see it acted that she commanded it to be finished in fourteen days, and was afterwards, as tradition tells us, very well pleased with the representation.’ In his ‘Letters’ (1721, p. 232) Dennis reduces the period of composition to ten days—‘a prodigious thing,’ added Gildon (Remarks, p. 291), ‘where all is so well contrived and carried on without the least confusion.’ The localisation of the scene at Windsor, and the complimentary references to Windsor Castle, corroborate the tradition that it was prepared to meet a royal command. An imperfect draft of the play was printed by Thomas Creede in 1602 (cf. Shakespeare Society's reprint, 1842, ed. Halliwell); the folio of 1623 first supplied a complete version. The plot was probably suggested by an Italian novel. A tale from Strapparola's ‘Notti’ (ii. 2), of which an adaptation figured in Tarleton's ‘Newes out of Purgatorie’ (1590), another tale from the ‘Pecorone’ of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino (ii. 2), and a third, the Fishwife's tale of Brainford in ‘Westward for Smelts’ (said to have been published in 1603, although no edition earlier than 1620 is known), supply incidents distantly resembling episodes in the play (cf. Shakespeare's Library, ed. Hazlitt, I. ii. 1–80). The buoyant country life was the unaided outcome of Shakespeare's own experience.
The character of Prince Hal offered to its creator as many attractions as Falstaff offered to the queen, and in ‘Henry V’ ‘Henry V.’Shakespeare, during 1598, brought his career to its close. The play was performed early in 1599, probably in the newly built Globe Theatre. Again Thomas Creede printed, in 1600, an imperfect draft, which was thrice reissued before a complete version was supplied in the first folio of 1623. The dramatic interest of ‘Henry V’ is slender. The piece presents a series of episodes in which the hero's manliness is advantageously displayed as soldier, ruler, and lover. The topic appealed to patriotic sentiment. Besides the ‘Famous Victories,’ there was another piece on the subject, which Henslowe produced for the first time on 28 Nov. 1595 (Diary, p. 61). ‘Henry V’ may be regarded as Shakespeare's final experiment in the dramatisation of English history. For ‘Henry VIII,’ which was produced very late in his career, he was only in part responsible.
In the prologue to act v. of ‘Henry V’ Shakespeare foretold for Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, ‘the general of our gracious empress,’ an enthusiastic reception by the people of London when he should have ‘broached’ rebellion in Essex and the rebellion of 1601.Ireland. He had set out on that disastrous mission on 27 March 1599. The fact that Southampton went with him probably accounted for Shakespeare's avowal of sympathy. But Essex's effort failed, and when he sought in 1601, again with the support of Southampton, to recover his position by stirring up rebellion in London, the friends of the rebel leaders sought the dramatist's countenance. They paid 40s. to Augustine Phillips, a leading member of Shakespeare's company, for reviving at the Globe ‘Richard II’ (beyond doubt Shakespeare's play), in the hope that its scene of the deposition of a king might encourage a popular outbreak. The performance of ‘Richard II’ took place on Saturday (7 Feb. 1601), the day preceding that fixed for the rising. The queen, in a conversation with William Lambarde [q. v.] on 4 Aug. 1601, complained that ‘this tragedie’ had been played with seditious intent ‘forty times in open streets and houses’ (Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth, iii. 552). Phillips gave evidence against Essex and his friends, and Southampton was imprisoned until the queen's death. But no proceedings were taken against the players.
For several years Shakespeare's genius as dramatist and poet had been acknowledged by critics and playgoers alike, and his social and professional position had become considerable. Shakespeare's popularity and influence.Inside the theatre his influence was supreme. When, in 1598, the manager of the company rejected Ben Jonson's ‘Every Man in his Humour,’ Shakespeare intervened, according to a credible tradition (reported by Rowe but denounced by Gifford), and procured a reversal of the decision. He took a part when the piece was performed. Jonson, despite his difficult and jealous temper, which may have led to an occasional coolness, cherished esteem and affection for his benefactor till death (cf. Gilchrist, Examination of the Charges … of Jonson's Enmity towards Shakspeare, 1808).
Tradition reports that Shakespeare joined, at the Mermaid Tavern in Bread Street, those meetings of Jonson and his associates which Beaumont described in his poetical ‘Letter’ The Mermaid meetings.to Jonson. ‘Many were the wit-combats,’ wrote Fuller of Shakespeare in his ‘Worthies’ (1662), ‘betwixt him and Ben Johnson, which two I behold like a Spanish great gallion and an English man of war; Master Johnson (like the former) was built far higher in learning, solid but slow in his performances. Shakespear, 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.’
Of the many testimonies paid to Shakespeare's literary reputation at this period of his career, the most striking was that of Francis Meres's eulogy, 1598.Meres [q. v.] In a survey of contemporary literary effort in England (Palladis Tamia, 1598), Meres asserted that ‘the Muses would speak Shakespeare's fine filed phrase if they could speak English.’ ‘Among the English,’ Meres declared, ‘he was the most excellent in both kinds for the stage’ (i.e. tragedy and comedy). The titles of six comedies (‘Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ ‘Errors,’ ‘Love's Labour's Lost,’ ‘Love's Labour's Won,’ ‘Midsummer Night's Dream,’ and ‘Merchant of Venice’) and of six tragedies (‘Richard II,’ ‘Richard III,’ ‘Henry IV,’ ‘King John,’ ‘Titus,’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’) were enumerated, and mention followed of his ‘Venus and Adonis,’ his ‘Lucrece,’ and his ‘sugred sonnets among his private friends.’ These were cited as proof ‘that the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare.’ In the same year, and in the same strain, Richard Barnfield, in ‘Poems in divers Humors,’ predicted immortality for Shakespeare, whose ‘honey-flowing vein had pleased the world.’
His name was thenceforth of value to unprincipled publishers. Already, in 1595, Thomas Creede, the surreptitious printer of ‘Henry V’ and the ‘Merry Wives,’ Value of his name to publishers.had issued the ‘Tragedie of Locrine,’ as ‘newly set foorth, overseene and corrected by W. S.’ The like initials figured on the title-pages of ‘The Puritaine, or the Widdow of Watling-streete’ (printed by G. Eld in 1607), and of ‘The True Chronicle Historie of Thomas, Lord Cromwell’ (licensed 11 Aug. 1602, and printed by Thomas Snodham in 1613). ‘The Life of Oldcastle’ in 1600 (printed by T[homas] P[avier]), ‘The London Prodigall’ in 1605 (printed by T. C. for Nathaniel Butter), and ‘The Yorkshire Tragedy’ in 1608 (by R. B. for Thomas Pavier) were all published under the fraudulent pretence that they were by Shakespeare, whose name, in full, appeared on their title-pages. None of these six plays have any internal claim to Shakespeare's authorship, but all were included in the third folio of his collected works (1664). Schlegel and a few other critics have, on no grounds that merit acceptance, detected signs of Shakespeare's work in ‘The Yorkshire Tragedy;’ it is ‘a coarse, crude, and vigorous impromptu,’ which is clearly by a far less experienced hand. With even smaller justification, the worthless old play on the subject of King John was attributed to Shakespeare in the re-issues of 1611 and 1622. But poems as well as plays in which Shakespeare had no hand were deceptively placed to his credit. In 1599 William Jaggard, another piratical publisher, issued a volume which he entitled ‘The Passionate Pilgrim, by W. Shakespeare.’ Jaggard included two sonnets by Shakespeare which were not previously in print, and three poems drawn from the already published ‘Love's Labour's Lost;’ but the bulk of the volume was by Richard Barnfield and others (cf. Halliwell-Phillips, i. 401–4, for analysis of volume). When a third edition of the ‘Passionate Pilgrim’ was printed in 1612, Shakespeare gently raised objection, according to Heywood's ‘Apology for Actors’ (1612), to the unwarranted use (‘altogether unknown to him’) of his name, and it was apparently removed from the title-page of some copies. In 1601 Shakespeare's full name was appended to ‘a poetical essaie on the Turtle and the Phœnix,’ which was published in Robert Chester's ‘Love's Martyr,’ a collection of poems by Marston, Chapman, Jonson, and others. This obscure allegory may be from Shakespeare's pen; happily he wrote nothing else of like character.
Shakespeare, in middle life, brought to practical affairs a singularly sane and sober temperament. The anonymous author of ‘Ratseis Ghost’ (1605) [see Ratsey, Gamaliel] Shakespeare's practical temperament.cynically urged an unnamed actor of repute, who has been identified with Shakespeare, to practise the utmost frugality in London. ‘When thou feelest thy purse well lined (the counsellor proceeded), buy thee some place or lordship in the country that, growing weary of playing, thy money may there bring thee to dignitie and reputation.’ It was this prosaic course of conduct that Shakespeare followed. As soon as his position in his profession was assured, he devoted his energies to re-establishing the fallen fortunes of his family in his native place, and to acquiring for himself and his successors the status of gentlefolk. His father's pecuniary embarrassments had steadily His father's difficulties.increased since his son's departure. Creditors harassed him unceasingly. In 1587 one Nicholas Lane pursued him for a debt for which he had become liable as surety for his brother Henry. Through 1588 and 1589 he retaliated with pertinacity on a debtor named John Tompson. But in 1591 a creditor, Adrian Quiney, obtained a writ of distraint against him, and although in 1592 he attested inventories taken on the death of two neighbours, Ralph Shaw and Henry Field, father of the printer, he was on 25 Dec. of the same year ‘presented’ as a recusant for absenting himself from church. The commissioners reported that his absence was probably due to ‘fear of process for debt.’ He figures for the last time in the proceedings of the local court, in his customary rôle of defendant, in March 1595, and there is every indication that in that year he retired from trade, vanquished at every point. In January 1596–7 he conveyed a slip of land attached to his dwelling in Henley Street to one George Badger. There is a likelihood that the poet's wife fared, in the poet's absence, no better. The only contemporary mention made of her between her marriage in 1582 and her husband's death in 1616 is as the borrower at an His wife's debt.unascertained date (doubtless before 1595) of forty shillings from Thomas Whittington, who had formerly been her father's shepherd. The money was unpaid when Whittington died in 1601, and he directed his executor to recover the sum from the poet and distribute it among the poor of Stratford (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 186).
It was probably in 1596 that Shakespeare returned, after nearly eleven years' absence, to his native town, and worked a revolution in the affairs of his family. The prosecutions of his father in the local court then ceased. Thenceforth the poet's relations with Stratford were uninterrupted. He still resided in London for most of the year; but until the close of his professional career he paid the town at least one annual visit, and he was always formally described as ‘of Stratford-on-Avon, gentleman.’ He was no doubt there on 11 Aug. 1596, when his only son, Hamnet, was buried in the parish church; the boy was eleven and a half years old.
Two months later the bankrupt father, took a step, by way of regaining his prestige which must be assigned to his son's intervention. On 20 Oct. 1596 John Shakespeare applied for a coat-of-arms in consideration, it was stated in the first draft-grant, of the The coat-of-arms.services of his ancestors to Henry VII, and of his having married Mary Arden. A second copy of the draft altered ‘ancestors’ to ‘grandfather.’ The application does not seem to have been persisted in (cf. Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, 2nd ser. 1886, i. 109). A new grant was drafted by the college of arms three years later, when it was alleged that a coat-of-arms had been assigned to John while he was bailiff of Stratford. In the draft of 1599 greater emphasis was laid on the gentle descent of Shakespeare's mother, the arms of whose family her children were authorised to quarter with their own. But this draft, like the first, remained unconfirmed. The father's arms were described as ‘gold on a bend sable a spear of the first, the point steeled proper, and for his crest or cognisance, a falcon his wings displayed argent standing on a wreath of his colours supporting a spear gold steeled as aforesaid: set upon a helmet with mantels and tassels.’ In the margin of the first draft a pen sketch is given, with the motto ‘Non sanz droict;’ in the draft of 1599 the arms both of Shakespeare and of the Arden family are very roughly tricked (Herald and Genealogist, i. 510; Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 56, 60). Two copies of the draft of 1596 and one of that of 1599 are at the college of arms. Although no evidence survives to show that the poet used the arms personally, they are prominently displayed on his tomb; they appear on the seal and tomb of his elder daughter Susanna, impaled with those of her husband; and they were quartered by Thomas Nash, the first husband of the poet's granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall (French, Genealogica Shakespeareana, p. 413).
In 1597 the poet took in his own person a more effective step in the way of rehabilitating himself and his family in the eyes of his fellow Purchase of New Place.townsmen. On 4 May he purchased the largest house in the town, known as New Place. It had been built by Sir Hugh Clopton [q. v.] more than a century before, and seems to have fallen into a ruinous condition. But Shakespeare paid for it, with two barns and two gardens, the then substantial sum of 60l. Owing to the sudden death of the vendor, William Underhill, on 7 July 1597, the original transfer of the property was left at the time incomplete. Underhill's son Fulk died a felon, and he was succeeded in the family estates by his brother Hercules, who on coming of age, May 1602, completed in a new deed the transfer of New Place to Shakespeare (Notes and Queries, 8th ser. v. 478). On 4 Feb. 1597–8 Shakespeare was described as a householder in Chapel Street ward, in which New Place was situated, and as the owner of ten quarters of corn. The inventory was made owing to the presence of famine in the town, and very few inhabitants were credited with a larger holding. In the same year (1598) he procured stone for the repair of the house, and before 1602 had planted a fruit orchard. He is traditionally said to have interested himself in the garden, and to have planted (after 1609) with his own hands a mulberry tree, which was long a prominent feature of it. When this was cut down, in 1758, numerous relics were made from it, and were treated with an almost superstitious veneration (Halliwell-Phillips, i. 411–16). Shakespeare does not appear to have permanently settled at New Place till 1611. In 1609 the house, or part of it, was occupied by the town clerk, Thomas Greene, ‘alias Shakespeare,’ who claimed to be the poet's cousin. His grandmother seems to have been a Shakespeare. He often acted as the poet's legal adviser.
It was doubtless under Shakespeare's guidance that his father and mother set on foot in November 1597—six months after the acquisition of New Place—a lawsuit against John Lambert for the recovery of the mortgaged estate of Asbies in Wilmcote. The litigation dragged on for some years without result. Three letters written during 1598 by leading men at Stratford are still extant among the corporation's archives, and leave no doubt of the reputation for wealth and influence with which the purchase of New Place invested the poet in his fellow-townsmen's eyes. Abraham Sturley, who was once bailiff, writing early in 1598, apparently to a brother in London, says: ‘This is one special Appeals for aid from his fellow-townsmen.remembrance from our father's motion. It seemeth by him that our countryman, Mr. Shakspere, is willing to disburse some money upon some odd yardland or other at Shottery, or near about us: he thinketh it a very fit pattern to move him to deal in the matter of our tithes. By the instructions you can give him thereof, and by the friends he can make therefor, we think it a fair mark for him to shoot at, and would do us much good.’ Richard Quiney, another townsman, father of Thomas (afterwards one of Shakespeare's two sons-in-law), was, in the autumn of the same year, harassed by debt, and on 25 Oct. appealed to Shakespeare for a loan of money. ‘Loving countryman,’ the application ran, ‘I am bold of you as of a friend craving your help with xxxli.’ Quiney was staying at the Bell in Carter Lane, London, and his main business in the metropolis was to procure exemption for the town of Stratford from the payment of a subsidy. Abraham Sturley pointed out to him in a letter dated 4 Nov. 1598 that since the town was wholly unable, in consequence of the dearth of corn, to pay the tax, he hoped ‘that our countryman, Mr. Wm. Shak., would procure us money, which I will like of, as I shall hear when, and where, and how.’
The financial prosperity, to which this correspondence and the transactions immediately preceding it point, has been treated as one of the chief mysteries of Shakespeare's Financial position before 1599.career, but the difficulties have been exaggerated. It was not until 1599, when the Globe Theatre was built, that he acquired any share in the profits of a playhouse. But his revenues as a successful dramatist and actor were by no means contemptible at an earlier date. His gains in the capacity of dramatist were certainly small. The highest price known to have been paid to an author for a play by an acting company was 10l.; 6l. was the ordinary rate. (In order to compare the sums mentioned here with the present currency, they should be multiplied by ten.) The publication of a play produced no profit for the author. The nineteen plays which may be set to Shakespeare's credit between 1591 and 1599 cannot consequently have brought him more than 150l., or some 17l. a year. But as an actor his income was far larger. An efficient actor received in 1635 as large a regular salary as 180l. The lowest known valuation set an actor's wages at 3s. a day, or about 45l. a year. Shakespeare's emoluments as an actor in 1599 are not likely to have fallen below 100l.; while the remuneration due to performances at court or in noblemen's houses, if the accounts of 1594 be accepted as the basis of reckoning, added some 15l. Shakespeare's friendly relations, too, with the printer Field, secured him, despite the absence of any copyright law, some part of the profits in the large and continuous sale of his poems. Thus over 130l. (equal to 1,300l. of to-day) would be Shakespeare's average annual revenue before 1599. Such a sum would be regarded as a substantial income in a country town. According to the author of ‘Ratseis Ghost,’ Shakespeare practised in London a strict frugality, and there seems no reason why he should not have been able in 1597 to draw from his savings 60l. wherewith to buy New Place. Whether his income or savings wholly justified his fellow-townsmen's opinion of his wealth in 1598, or sufficed between 1597 and 1599 to meet his expenses, in rebuilding the house, stocking the barns with grain, and in various legal proceedings, may be questioned. According to tradition, Southampton gave him a large gift of money to enable him ‘to go through with’ a purchase to which he had a mind. A munificent gift, added to professional gains, would amply account for Shakespeare's financial position before 1599.
After 1599 his sources of income from the theatre greatly increased. In 1635 the heirs of the actor Richard Burbage were engaged in litigation respecting their proprietary Financial position after 1599.rights in the two playhouses, the Globe and the Blackfriars theatres. The documents relating to this litigation supply authentic, although not very detailed, information of Shakespeare's interest in theatrical property. Richard Burbage, with his brother Cuthbert, erected at their sole cost the Globe Theatre in the winter of 1598–9, and the Blackfriars, which their father was building at the time of his death in 1597, was also their property. After completing the Globe they leased out, for twenty-one years, shares in the receipts to ‘those deserving men Shakespeare, Hemings, Condell, Philips, and others.’ All the shareholders named were, like Burbage, active members of Shakespeare's company of players. The shares, which numbered sixteen in all, carried with them the obligation of providing for the expenses of the playhouse, and were doubtless in the first instance freely bestowed. Hamlet claims, in the play scene (iii. ii. 293), that the success of his improvised tragedy would ‘get him a fellowship in a cry of players’—a proof that a successful dramatist might reasonably expect such a reward for a conspicuous effort. How many shares originally fell to Shakespeare there is no means of determining. Records of later subdivisions suggest that they did not exceed two. But the Globe was an exceptionally popular playhouse, and its receipts were large. In ‘Hamlet’ both a share and a half-share of ‘a fellowship in a cry of players’ are described as assets of enviable value (iii. ii. 294–6). According to the documents of 1635, an actor-sharer at the Globe received above 200l. a year on each share, besides his actor's salary of 180l. Thus Shakespeare drew from the Globe Theatre, at the lowest estimate, more than 500l. a year in all. His interest in the Blackfriars Theatre was comparatively unimportant, and is less easy to estimate. The often quoted documents on which Collier depended to prove him a substantial shareholder in that playhouse have been long proved to be forgeries. The pleas in the lawsuit of 1635 show that the Burbages, the owners, leased the Blackfriars Theatre after its establishment in 1597 for a long term of years to the master of the children of the chapel, but bought out the lessee at the end of 1609, and then ‘placed’ in it ‘men-players which were Hemings, Condell, Shakespeare, &c.’ To these and other actors they allotted shares in the receipts, the shares numbering eight in all. The profits were far smaller than at the Globe, and if Shakespeare held one share (certainty on the point is impossible), it added not more than 100l. a year to his income, and that not until 1610.
His remuneration as dramatist for the seventeen plays completed between 1599 and 1611 may be estimated, in consideration of their exceptional Later income.popularity, at 170l. or some 15l. a year, while the increase in the number of court performances under James I, and the additional favour bestowed on Shakespeare's company, may well have given that source of income the enhanced value of 20l. a year. With an annual professional income reaching near 600l. a year, Shakespeare could easily, with good management, have completed those purchases of houses and land at Stratford on which he laid out a total sum of 970l. between 1599 and 1613, or an annual average of 70l. These properties, it must be remembered, represented investments, and he drew rent from most of them. He traded, too, in agricultural produce. There is nothing inherently improbable in the statement of John Ward, the seventeenth-century vicar of Stratford, that in his last years ‘he spent at the rate of a thousand a year, as I have heard,’ although we may reasonably make allowance for exaggeration in the round figures. Shakespeare realised his theatrical shares several years before his death in 1616, when he left, according to his will, 350l. in money in addition to his real estate and personal belongings. His friends and fellow-actors, Heming and Condell, amassed equally large, if not larger, fortunes, while a contemporary theatrical proprietor, Edward Alleyn, purchased the manor of Dulwich for 10,000l. (in money of his own day), and devoted it, with much other property, to public uses, at the same time as he made ample provision for his family out of the residue of his estate. Gifts from patrons may have continued to occasionally augment Shakespeare's resources, but his wealth can be satisfactorily assigned to better attested agencies. There is no ground for treating it as of mysterious origin (cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 312–19; Fleay, Stage, pp. 324–8).
Between 1599 and 1611, while London remained Shakespeare's chief home, he built up his estate at Stratford. In 1601 his father died, being buried on 8 Sept. He apparently left no will, and the poet, as the eldest son, inherited the houses in Henley Street, the only portion of the elder Shakespeare's or his wife's property which had not been alienated to creditors. Shakespeare permitted his mother to reside in one of the Henley Street houses till her death (she was buried 9 Sept. 1608), and he derived a modest rent from the other. On 1 May 1602 he purchased of the rich landowners William and John Combe of Formation of the estate at Stratford, 1601–10.Stratford, for 320l., 107 acres of arable land near the town. The conveyance was delivered, in the poet's absence, to his brother Gilbert, ‘to the use of the within named William Shakespere’ (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 17–19). A third purchase quickly followed. On 28 Sept. 1602, at a court baron of the manor of Rowington, one Walter Getley transferred to the poet a cottage and garden which were situated at Chapel Lane, opposite the lower grounds of New Place. They were held practically in fee-simple at the annual rental of 2s. 6d. It appears from the roll that Shakespeare did not attend the manorial court then held at Rowington, and it was stipulated that the estate should remain in the hands of the lady of the manor until he completed the purchase in person. At a later period he was admitted to the copyhold, and he settled the remainder on his two daughters in fee. In April 1610 he purchased from the Combes 20 acres of pasture land, to add to the 107 of arable land that he had acquired of the same owners in 1602.
As early as 1598 Abraham Sturley had suggested that Shakespeare should purchase the tithes of Stratford. Seven years later he became their part owner, and thus The Stratford tithes.conspicuously extended his local influence. On 24 July 1605 he bought for 440l. of Ralph Huband an unexpired term of thirty-one years of a ninety-two years' lease of a moiety of the tithes of Stratford, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe. The moiety was subject to a rent of 17l. to the corporation, who were the reversionary owners on the lease's expiration, and of 5l. to John Barker, the heir of a former proprietor. The investment brought Shakespeare, under the most favourable circumstances, a net income of 38l. a year, and the refusal of persons who claimed an interest in the other moiety to acknowledge the full extent of their liability to the corporation led that body to demand from the poet payments justly due from others. After 1609 he joined with two interested persons, Richard Lane of Awston and Thomas Greene, the town clerk of Stratford, in a suit in chancery to determine the exact responsibilities of all the tithe-owners, and in 1612 they presented a bill of complaint to Lord-chancellor Ellesmere, with what result is unknown.
Shakespeare inherited his father's love of litigation, and stood rigorously by his rights. In March 1600 he recovered in London a debt of 7l. from one John Clayton. In Recovery of small debts.July 1604, in the local court at Stratford, he sued one Philip Rogers, to whom he had supplied since the preceding March malt to the value of 1l. 19s. 10d., and had on 25 June lent 2s. in cash. Rogers paid back 6s., and Shakespeare sought the balance of the account, 1l. 15s. 10d. During 1608 and 1609 he was at law with another fellow-townsman, John Addenbroke. On 15 Feb. 1609 Shakespeare, who was apparently represented by Thomas Greene, obtained judgment from a jury against Addenbroke for the payment of 6l., and 1l. 5s. costs, but Addenbroke left the town, and the triumph proved barren. Shakespeare avenged himself by proceeding against one Thomas Horneby, who had acted as the absconding debtor's bail (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 77–80).
With an inconsistency that is more apparent than real, the astute business transactions of these years (1597–1611) synchronise with the production of Shakespeare's Literary work in 1599.noblest literary work—of his most sustained and serious efforts in comedy, tragedy, and romance. In 1599, after abandoning English history in ‘Henry V,’ he produced in rapid succession his three most perfect essays in comedy—‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ ‘As you like it,’ and ‘Twelfth Night.’ Their good-humoured tone seems to reveal their author in his happiest frame of mind; in each the gaiety and tenderness of youthful womanhood are exhibited in fascinating union; while Shakespeare rarely put his lyric gift to better advantage than in the songs with which the three plays are interspersed. The first two were entered on the ‘Stationers' Registers’ before 4 Aug. 1600, on which day a prohibition was set on their publication, as well as on the publication of ‘Henry V’ and Jonson's ‘Every Man in his Humour.’ Probably the acting company found the publication of plays injurious to their rights in them, and sought to stop the practice. Nevertheless, ‘Much Ado,’ like ‘Henry V,’ was published before the close of the year. ‘As you like it,’ like ‘Twelfth Night,’ was not printed till it appeared in the folio.
In ‘Much Ado,’ which appears to have been written in 1599, the brilliant comedy of Benedick and Beatrice, and of the blundering watchmen Dogberry and Verges, is wholly original; but the sombre story of Hero and Claudio with which it is ‘Much Ado.’entwined is drawn from an Italian source, either from Bandello (Novel. xxii.) through Belleforest's ‘Histoires Tragiques,’ or from Ariosto's ‘Orlando Furioso’ through Sir John Harington's translation (canto v.). ‘As you like it,’ which quickly followed, is a dramatic adaptation of Lodge's romance, ‘Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie’ (1590), but Shakespeare added ‘As you like it.’three new characters of first-rate interest—Jaques the meditative cynic, the fool Touchstone, and the hoyden Audrey. The date of ‘Twelfth Night’ is probably 1600. Steevens supposed that ‘the new map with the augmentation of the Indies,’ spoken of by ‘Twelfth Night.’Maria (act iii. sc. ii. l. 86), had reference to the map in Linschoten's ‘Voyages,’ 1598. Like the ‘Comedy of Errors,’ ‘Twelfth Night’ first achieved general notice through a presentation before barristers. It was produced at Middle Temple Hall on 2 Feb. 1601–2, and Manningham, a barrister who was present, described the performance (Diary, Camden Soc. p. 18; the Elizabethan Stage Society repeated the play on the same stage on 10, 11, and 12 Feb. 1897). Manningham wrote that the piece was ‘much like the “Comedy of Errors” or “Menechmi” in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called “Inganni.”’ Two Italian plays entitled ‘Gl' Inganni’ (‘The Cheats’), and a third called ‘Gl' Ingannati,’ present resemblances to ‘Twelfth Night;’ but it is doubtful if Shakespeare had recourse to any of them. Shakespeare drew the story from the ‘Historie of Apolonius and Silla’ in ‘Riche his Farewell to Militarie Profession’ (1581), an English rendering of a tale in Cinthio's ‘Hecatommithi.’ The characters of Malvolio, Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Fabian, the clown Feste, and Maria, who lighten the romantic pathos with their mirth, are Shakespeare's own creations. The ludicrous gravity of Malvolio proved exceptionally popular on the stage.
In 1601 Shakespeare made a new departure. He first drew a plot from North's translation of ‘Plutarch's Lives’ (1579; 2nd edit. 1595). On Plutarch's lives of Julius Cæsar, Brutus, and Antony he based his historical tragedy of ‘Julius Cæsar.’ Weever, in 1601, in his ‘Mirror of Martyrs,’ plainly refers to the masterly speech allotted by Shakespeare to Antony, of which there is no ‘Julius Cæsar,’ 1601.suggestion in Plutarch; hence the date cannot be questioned. The general topic was already familiar on the stage (cf. Hamlet, act iii. sc. ii. l. 108). A play of the same title was known as early as 1589, and was acted in 1594 by Shakespeare's company. Shakespeare's piece, which is a penetrating study of political life, is exceptionally well planned and balanced. The characters of Brutus, Antony, and Cassius are exhibited with faultless art.
Meanwhile, Shakespeare's friend Ben Jonson was engaged in bitter warfare with his fellow-dramatists, Marston and Dekker, and in 1601 Ben Jonson's quarrels.Jonson, in his ‘Poetaster’ (acted by the children of the chapel at the Blackfriars Theatre), effectively held his opponents up to ridicule, while they retorted in like fashion (cf. Feis, Shakespeare and Montaigne, 1884). Jonson figures personally in the ‘Poetaster’ under the name of Horace. Episodically he expresses approval of the work of another character, Virgil, in terms so closely resembling those which he is known to have applied to Shakespeare that they may be regarded as intended to apply to him (act v. sc. i.). Jonson points out that Virgil, by his penetrating intuition, achieved the great effects which others laboriously sought to reach through rules of art.
His learning labours not the school-like gloss
That most consists of echoing words and terms …
Nor any long or far-fetched circumstance—
Wrapt in the curious generalities of arts—
But a direct and analytic sum
Of all the worth and first effects of arts.
And for his poesy, 'tis so rammed with life
That it shall gather strength of life with being,
And live hereafter, more admired than now.
Shakespeare's attitude to Jonson's quarrel has given rise to various conjectures. In the same year (1601) ‘The Return from Parnassus’—a third piece in a trilogy of plays—was ‘acted by the students in St. John's College, Cambridge.’ In this piece, as in its two predecessors, Shakespeare received, both as a playwright and a poet, high commendation, although his poems were judged to reflect somewhat too largely ‘love's lazy foolish languishment.’ In a prose dialogue between Shakespeare's fellow-actors Burbage and Kempe, which is a prominent feature of the ‘Return,’ Kempe remarks of university dramatists, ‘Why, here's our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down; aye, and Ben Johnson, too. O ! that Ben Johnson is a pestilent fellow. He brought up Horace, giving the poets a pill; but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit.’ Burbage adds: ‘He is a shrewd fellow, indeed.’ A literal interpretation of this perplexing passage implies that Shakespeare took part against Jonson in his controversy with Dekker and his friends. But such a conclusion is otherwise uncorroborated. The general references subsequently made by Shakespeare (Hamlet, act ii. sc. ii. l. 354 seq.) to the Shakespeare's alleged participation.interest taken by the public in a pending controversy between poets and players, and to the jealousy existing between men-actors and boy-actors, were doubtless suggested by Jonson's quarrel, but indicate that their author maintained a neutral attitude. Probably the ‘purge’ that Shakespeare was alleged to have given Jonson, who was perhaps in this instance credited with a jealousy in excess of the fact, meant no more than that Shakespeare had signally outstripped Jonson in popular esteem, possibly as the author of ‘Julius Cæsar,’ a subject peculiarly in Jonson's vein.
At any rate in 1602 Shakespeare finally left Jonson and all friends and foes lagging far behind. In that year he produced ‘Hamlet,’ with Burbage in the title-rôle. The story of the prince of Denmark had been popular on the stage in a lost dramatic version by another writer as ‘Hamlet,’ 1602.early as 1589, and to that version Shakespeare's tragedy doubtless owed much. But the story was also accessible in the ‘Histoires Tragiques’ of Belleforest, who adapted it from the ‘Historia Danica’ of Saxo Grammaticus. An English translation of Belleforest's ‘Hystorie of Hamblet’ appeared in 1608 (cf. Gericke und Max Moltke, Hamlet-Quellen, Leipzig, 1881).
The bibliography of ‘Hamlet’ offers a puzzling problem. On 26 July 1602 ‘A Book called the Revenge of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as it was lately acted by the Lord The problem of its publication.Chamberlain his Servants,’ was entered on the ‘Stationers' Registers,’ and it was published in quarto next year (for N[icholas] L[ing] and John Trundell). The title-page stated that it had been ‘acted divers times in the city of London, as also in the two universities of Cambridge and Oxford and elsewhere.’ In all probability this crude production was a piratical and carelessly transcribed copy of Shakespeare's first draft of the play, in which he drew largely on the older piece. A revised version appeared with the company's assent in 1604 as ‘The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare, newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect copy’ (by I[ames] R[oberts] for N[icholas] L[ing]). The concluding words—‘according to the true and perfect copy’—of the title-page of the second quarto stamp its predecessor as surreptitious. But the second quarto was itself printed from a copy which had been curtailed for acting purposes. A third version (long the textus receptus) figured in the folio of 1623. Here some passages, not to be found in the quartos, appear for the first time, but a few others that appear in the quartos are omitted. The folio text probably followed an acting copy which had been curtailed in a different fashion from that adopted in the second quarto (cf. Hamlet—parallel texts of the first and second quarto, and first folio—ed. Wilhelm Vietor, Marburg, 1891; The Devonshire Hamlets, 1860, parallel texts of the two quartos; Hamlet, ed. George Macdonald, 1885, a study with the text of the folio).
Humorous relief is supplied to the tragic theme by Polonius and the gravediggers, and if the topical references to contemporary theatrical history (ii. ii. 350–89) could only count on an appreciative reception from an Elizabethan audience, the pungent censure of actors' perennial defects is calculated to catch the ear of the average playgoer of all ages. But ‘Hamlet’ is mainly a philosophical effort, a masterly study of the reflective temperament in excess. The action develops slowly; at times there is no movement at all. Except ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ which exceeds it by sixty lines, the piece is the longest of Shakespeare's plays, while the total length of Hamlet's speeches far exceeds that of those allotted by Shakespeare to any others of his characters. Yet the interest excited by the character of the hero carries all before it, and amply accounts for the position of the play in popular esteem. ‘Hamlet’ was the only drama by Shakespeare that was acted in his lifetime at the two universities. Its popularity on the stage from its author's day to our own, when it is as warmly Popularity of ‘Hamlet.’welcomed in the theatres of France and Germany as in those of England and America, lends signal testimony to the eminence of Shakespeare's dramatic instinct.
Although the difficulties of determining the date of ‘Troilus and Cressida’ are very great, there are many grounds for assigning its composition to the early ‘Troilus and Cressida.’days of 1603. In 1599 Dekker and Chettle were engaged by Henslowe to prepare for the Earl of Nottingham's company—a rival of Shakespeare's company—a play of ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ of which no trace survives. On 7 Feb. 1602–3 James Roberts obtained a license for ‘the booke of Troilus and Cresseda as yt is acted by my lord chamberlens men,’ i.e. Shakespeare's company (Arber, iii. 226). Roberts printed the second quarto of ‘Hamlet’ and others of Shakespeare's plays; but his effort to publish ‘Troilus’ proved abortive owing to the interposition of the players. The metrical characteristics—the regularity of the blank verse—powerfully confirm the date of composition which Roberts's license suggests. Six years later, however, on 28 Jan. 1608–9, a new license for the issue of ‘a booke called the history of Troylus and Cressida’ was granted to Richard Bonian and Henry Walley (ib. p. 400), and these publishers, more fortunate than Roberts, soon printed a quarto with Shakespeare's full name as author. In a bombastic advertisement, in which they paid high-flown compliments to the author as a writer of comedies, they defiantly boasted that the ‘grand possessors’—i.e. the owners—of the play deprecated the publication, and they asserted, by way of enhancing the value of what were obviously stolen wares, that the piece was new and unacted. This statement was probably a commercial trick, rendered safe from immediate detection by the fact that the play had not been produced for six years. Perhaps, too, it was speciously justified by recent revisions which their edition embodied. At the time of publication a revival was in contemplation. Later in 1609 a second quarto appeared without the preliminary address, and bearing on the title-page the additional words, ‘As it was acted by the king's majesty's servants at the Globe.’
The story was mainly drawn from Chaucer's ‘Troilus and Cresseide,’ but Shakespeare seems also to have consulted Lydgate's ‘Troy Book’ and Chapman's translation of Homer's ‘Iliad.’ In defiance of his authorities, he invested with contemptible characteristics nearly all the Greek heroes who fought against Troy. Helen and Cressida are presented as heartless coquettes. In style the work is unequal, but in the speeches of Ulysses Shakespeare concentrates a mass of pithily expressed worldly wisdom, much of which has obtained proverbial currency.
Despite the association of Shakespeare's company with the rebellion of 1601, it retained its hold on court favour till the close of Elizabeth's reign, and as late as 2 Feb. 1603 entertained the dying queen at Richmond. Her death on 24 March 1603 drew from Shakespeare's early eulogist, Queen Elizabeth's death, 24 March 1603.Chettle, a vain appeal to him, under the fanciful name of Melicert, to
Drop from his honied muse one sable teare,
To mourne her death that gracèd his desert,
And to his laies opened her royall eare
(England's Mourning Garment, 1603, sign. D. 3). But the withdrawal of one royal patron only supplied Shakespeare and his friends with another, who proved even more liberal and appreciative. On 19 May 1603, very soon after James I's accession, a royal license was granted to Shakespeare and other actors ‘freely to use and exercise the arte and facultie of playing comedies, tragedies, histories, enterludes, moralls, pastoralles, stage-plaies, and such other like as they have already studied, or hereafter shall use or studie as well for the recreation of our loving subjectes as for our solace and pleasure, when we shall thinke good to see them during our pleasure.’ The Globe Theatre was noted as the customary scene of their labours, but permission was granted to them to perform in the town-hall or moot-hall of any country town. Ten actors are named. Lawrence Fletcher stands James I's patronage.first on the list; he had already performed before James in Scotland in 1599 and 1601. Shakespeare comes second and Burbage third; the rest were doubtless all members of the lord chamberlain's company. The company was thenceforth styled the king's company, while its members became ‘the king's servants.’ Shakespeare's plays were repeatedly performed at court, and Oldys related that James wrote Shakespeare a letter in his own hand, which was at one time in the possession of Sir William D'Avenant, and afterwards, according to Lintot, in that of John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham. In December 1603 the company performed at Wilton while the king was on a visit to William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke. At the time the prevalence of the plague had led to the closing of the theatres in London, and James sent the king's players a gift of 30l. On 15 March 1604 the company walked from the Tower of London to Westminster in the procession which accompanied the king on his formal entry into London, and in August they were all summoned to attend at Somerset House on the occasion of the arrival there of the new Spanish ambassador, Juan de Taxis, Conde de Villa Mediana.
Under the incentive of such exalted patronage, Shakespeare's activity redoubled. To other causes must be assigned his ‘Othello’ and ‘Measure for Measure.’absorption during the next six years in the highest themes of tragedy, and the intensity and energy which thenceforth illumined every scene that he contrived. To 1604 the composition of two of his greatest plays can be confidently assigned. ‘Othello’ was doubtless the first new piece by Shakespeare that was acted before James. It was produced at Whitehall on 1 Nov. ‘Measure for Measure’ followed on 26 Dec. Neither was printed in Shakespeare's lifetime. ‘Othello’ was re-created from a painful story found in Cinthio's ‘Hecatommithi’ (decad iii. nov. 3), and not known to have been translated into English. The tragedy displays to magnificent advantage the dramatist's fully matured powers. An unfaltering equilibrium is maintained in the treatment of both plot and characters. The perilous story of ‘Measure for Measure’ also comes from Cinthio, who made it the subject not only of a romance, but of a tragedy called ‘Epitia.’ There is a likelihood that Shakespeare knew Cinthio's play, which was untranslated. The romance had been twice rendered into English by George Whetstone [q. v.]—in his play of ‘Promos and Cassandra’ (1578), and in his collection of prose tales, ‘Heptameron of Civil Discources’ (1582). In ‘Measure for Measure’ Shakespeare treated with a solemnity that seems at times tinged by cynicism the corruption with which unchecked sexual passion threatens society. The duke's reference to his dislike of mobs, despite his love of his people, was perhaps penned in deference to James I, whose horror of crowds was notorious (act i. sc. i. 67–72).
In ‘Macbeth,’ which Shakespeare began in 1605 and completed next year, he employed a setting wholly in harmony with the ‘Macbeth.’accession of a Scottish king. The story was drawn from Holinshed's ‘Chronicle of Scottish History,’ with occasional reference, perhaps, to earlier Scottish sources (cf. Athenæum, 25 July 1896). The supernatural machinery of the three witches accorded with the king's superstitious faith in demonology; the dramatist lavished full sympathy on Banquo, James's ancestor; while Macbeth's vision of kings carrying ‘twofold balls and treble sceptres’ (IV. i. 20) plainly alludes to the union of Scotland with England and Ireland under James's sway. The allusion by the porter (act ii. sc. iii. 9) to the ‘equivocator … who committed treason’ was perhaps suggested by the defence of the doctrine of equivocation made by the jesuit Henry Garnett [q. v.], who was executed early in 1606 for his share in the ‘gunpowder plot.’ Much scenic elaboration characterised the production. Dr. Simon Forman [q. v.] witnessed a performance of the tragedy at the Globe in April 1611, and noted that Macbeth and Banquo entered the stage on horseback, and that Banquo's ghost was materially represented (act iii. sc. iv. 40 seq.). The characters of Macbeth and his wife are depicted with the utmost subtlety and concentrated insight. Nowhere, moreover, has Shakespeare introduced comic relief into a tragedy with bolder effect than in the porter's speech after the murder of Duncan (act ii. sc. iii. 1 seq.). The theory that this and a few other passages were from another hand does not merit acceptance (cf. Macbeth, ed. Clark and Wright, Clarendon Press Ser.). The resemblances between Thomas Middleton's ‘Witch’ and portions of ‘Macbeth’ may safely be ascribed to plagiarism on Middleton's part. Of two songs which, according to the stage directions, were to be sung in ‘Macbeth’ (act iii. sc. v. and act iv. sc. i.), only the first line of each is noted there, but songs beginning with the same lines are set out in full in Middleton's play; they were probably by Middleton, and were interpolated by actors in a stage version of ‘Macbeth;’ the piece was not printed until 1623.
‘King Lear’ was written during 1606, and was produced before the court at Whitehall on the night of 26 Dec. of that year. It was ‘King Lear.’entered on the ‘Stationers' Registers’ on 26 Nov. 1607, and two editions, published by Nathaniel Butter, appeared in the following year; neither exactly corresponds with the other or with the accepted text of the folio. Like ‘Macbeth,’ it was mainly founded on Holinshed's ‘Chronicle.’ The leading theme had been dramatised as early as 1593, but Shakespeare's attention was no doubt directed to it by the publication of an adaptation of Holinshed's version in 1605 under the title of ‘The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his three Daughters—Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordelia.’ Shakespeare did not adhere closely to his original. He invested the tale of Lear with a hopelessly tragic conclusion, and on it he grafted the equally distressing tale of Gloucester and his two sons, which he drew from Sidney's ‘Arcadia.’ Hints for the speeches of Edgar when feigning madness were drawn from Harsnet's ‘Declaration of Popish Impostures,’ 1603. In ‘Lear’ the pity and terror of which tragedy is capable reach their climax. The agony—‘the living martyrdom’—springing from filial ingratitude is unrelieved at any point. The faithful fool who attends the king jests sadly, and serves to intensify the pathos.
Although Shakespeare's powers showed no sign of exhaustion, he reverted next year (1607) to his earlier habit of collaboration, and with another's aid composed two ‘Timon of Athens.’dramas—‘Timon of Athens’ and ‘Pericles.’ An extant play on the subject of ‘Timon of Athens’ was composed in 1600 (edited from the manuscript by Dyce in 1842), but there is nothing to show that Shakespeare and his coadjutor were acquainted with it. They doubtless derived a part of their story from Painter's ‘Palace of Pleasure,’ and the rest from Plutarch's ‘Life of Marc Antony’ and perhaps a dialogue of Lucian entitled ‘Timon,’ which Boiardo had previously converted into a comedy under the name of ‘Il Timone.’ Internal evidence makes it clear that Shakespeare's coadjutor was responsible for nearly the whole of acts iii. and v. But the character of Timon himself and all the scenes which he dominates are from Shakespeare's pen. Timon is cast in the mould of Lear.
There seems some ground for the belief that Shakespeare's coadjutor in ‘Timon’ was George Wilkins [q. v.], who, in ‘The Miseries of Enforced Marriage’ (1607), first treated the story that afterwards served for the plot of ‘The Yorkshire Tragedy.’ At any rate, Wilkins may safely be credited with ‘Pericles.’portions of ‘Pericles,’ a romantic play which can be referred to the same year as ‘Timon.’ Shakespeare contributed only acts iii. and v. and parts of iv., which together form a self-contained whole, and do not combine satisfactorily with the remaining scenes. The presence of a third hand, of even inferior merit to Wilkins, has been suspected, and to this collaborator (perhaps William Rowley) may be best assigned the three scenes of purposeless coarseness which take place in or before a brothel (iv. 2, 5, and 6). From so distributed a responsibility the piece naturally suffers. It lacks homogeneity, and the story is helped out by dumb shows and prologues. But a matured felicity of expression characterises Shakespeare's own contributions, which charmingly narrate the romantic quest of Pericles for his daughter Marina, who was born and abandoned in a shipwreck. At many points he here anticipated his latest dramatic effects. The shipwreck is depicted (act iv. 1) as impressively as in the ‘Tempest,’ and Marina and her mother Thaisa enjoy many experiences in common with Perdita and Hermione in the ‘Winter's Tale.’ The prologues, which were not by Shakespeare, were spoken by an actor representing the mediæval poet John Gower, who versified the story under the title of ‘Apollonius of Tyre’ in his ‘Confessio Amantis.’ It is also found in a prose translation (from the French), which was printed in Lawrence Twyne's ‘Patterne of Painfull Adventures’ in 1576, and again in 1607. After the play was produced George Wilkins, one of the alleged coadjutors, based on it a novel called ‘The Painful Adventures of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre, being the True History of the Play of Pericles as it was lately presented by the worthy and ancient Poet, John Gower’ (1608). The play was issued as by William Shakespeare in a mangled form in 1608, and again in 1611, 1619, 1630, and 1635. It was not included in Shakespeare's collected works till 1664.
In May 1608 Edward Blount [q. v.] entered in the ‘Stationers' Registers,’ by the authority of Sir George Buc, the licenser of plays, ‘a booke called ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’“Anthony and Cleopatra.”’ No copy of this date is known, and once again the company probably hindered the publication. It was first printed in the folio of 1623. The source of the play is the life of Antonius in North's ‘Plutarch,’ and Shakespeare closely followed the historical narrative. But he breathed into the characters even more than his wonted fire, and invested the whole theme with a dramatic grandeur which lifts even Cleopatra's moral worthlessness into sublimity. The ‘happy valiancy’ of the style, too—to use Coleridge's admirable phrase—sets the tragedy very near the zenith of his achievement.
‘Coriolanus’ (first printed in 1623) similarly owes its origin to North's ‘Plutarch,’ although Shakespeare may have read the story in ‘Coriolanus.’Painter's ‘Palace of Pleasure’ (No. iv.). He adhered to the text of Plutarch with the utmost literalness. The metrical characteristics prove the play to have been written at the same period, probably in the same year as ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ (1608). In its austere temper it contrasts at all points with its predecessor. The courageous self-reliance of Coriolanus's mother, Volumnia, is severely contrasted with the submissive gentleness of Virgilia, Coriolanus's wife. The hero falls a victim to unchecked pride of caste, but for the rabble, who procure Coriolanus's overthrow, Shakespeare shows ironical contempt.
In ‘Cymbeline,’ ‘Winter's Tale,’ and ‘Tempest,’ the three latest plays that came from Shakespeare's unaided pen, he dealt with romantic themes The latest plays.which all end happily, but he instilled into them a pathos which sets them in a category of their own apart alike from comedy and tragedy. The placidity of tone conspicuous in these three plays has been often contrasted with the storm and stress of the great tragedies that preceded them. But the commonly accepted theory that traces in this change of tone a corresponding development in the author's own emotions ignores the objectivity of Shakespeare's dramatic work. Every phase of feeling lay within the scope of his intuition, and the successive order in which he approached them bore no explicable relation to the course of his private life or experience. In ‘Cymbeline’ he freely adapted a fragment of British history taken from Holinshed, interweaving with it a story from ‘Cymbeline.’Boccaccio's ‘Decameron’ (Novel ix. Day 2). The Ginevra of the Italian novel corresponds to Shakespeare's Imogen. Her story is also told in a tract called ‘Westward for Smelts,’ no edition of which earlier than 1620 is now known, although Steevens and Malone doubtfully assume that it was first published in 1603, and that it had been already laid under contribution by Shakespeare in the ‘Merry Wives.’ Dr. Forman saw ‘Cymbeline’ acted either in 1610 or 1611. On Imogen Shakespeare lavished all the fascination of his genius. The play contains the splendid lyric ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun’ (act iv. sc. ii. 258 seq.). The poor verse of the vision of Posthumus (act v. sc. iv. lines 30 seq.) must have been supplied by another hand.
‘A Winter's Tale’ was seen by Dr. Forman at the Globe on 15 May 1611. It is based upon Greene's popular romance which was called ‘Pandosto’ in the ‘A Winter's Tale.’first edition of 1588, and subsequently ‘Dorastus and Fawnia.’ Shakespeare followed Greene in allotting a seashore to Bohemia—an error over which Ben Jonson, like many later critics, made merry (Conversations with Drummond, p. 16). But Shakespeare created the thievish pedlar Autolycus and the high-spirited Paulina, and invented the reconciliation of Leontes with Hermione. In Perdita, Florizel, and the boy Mamilius, he depicted youth in its most attractive guise. The freshness of the pastoral incident, too, surpasses that of all his presentations of country life.
‘The Tempest’ was probably the latest drama that he completed. In the summer of 1609, when a fleet, under the command of Sir ‘Tempest.’George Somers [q. v.], had been overtaken by a storm off the West Indies, the admiral's ship, the ‘Sea-Venture,’ was driven on the Bermuda coast. The crew, escaping in two boats of cedar to Virginia, reached England in 1610. An account of the wreck, entitled ‘A Discovery of the Bermudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels,’ was written by Sylvester Jourdain or Jourdan [q. v.], one of the survivors, and published in October 1610. Shakespeare, who mentions the ‘still vexed Bermoothes’ (act i. sc. i. l. 229), incorporated in ‘The Tempest’ many hints from Jourdain. No source for the complete plot has been discovered, but the German writer, Jacob Ayrer, who died in 1605, dramatised a somewhat similar story in ‘Die schöne Sidea,’ where the adventures of Prospero, Ferdinand, Ariel, and Miranda are roughly anticipated (printed in Cohn). English actors were performing at Nuremberg, where Ayrer lived, in 1604 and 1606, and may have brought reports of the piece to Shakespeare. Or perhaps both English and German plays had a common origin in some novel that has not yet been traced. Gonzalo's description of an ideal commonwealth is derived from Florio's translation of Montaigne's essays (1603). A highly ingenious theory represents ‘The Tempest’ (which, excepting ‘Macbeth’ and the ‘Two Gentlemen,’ is the shortest of Shakespeare's plays) as a masque written to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth (like Miranda, an island-princess) with the Elector Frederick. This marriage took place on 14 Feb. 1612–13, a very late date to which to assign the composition of the piece. The plot, which revolves about the forcible expulsion of a ruler from his dominions, and his daughter's wooing by the son of the usurper's chief ally, is hardly one that a shrewd playwright would have chosen as the setting of an official epithalamium in honour of the daughter of a monarch so sensitive about his title to the crown as James I (cf. Universal Review, April 1889, by Dr. R. Garnett).
Although Shakespeare gives as free a rein to his imagination in the ‘Tempest’ as in ‘Midsummer Night's Dream,’ and magical or supernatural agencies are the mainsprings of the plot, the tone is so solemn and impressive that critics may be forgiven if they detect in it something more than the irresponsible play of poetic fancy. Many of the characters seem the outcome of speculation respecting the least soluble problems of human existence. Ariel appears to suggest the capabilities of human intellect when detached from physical attributes. Caliban seems to typify human nature before the evolution of moral sentiment (cf. Daniel Wilson, Caliban, or the Missing Link; Renan, Caliban: a Drama; Browning, Caliban upon Setebos). In Prospero, the guiding providence of the romance, who resigns his magic power in the closing scene, traces have been sought without much reason of the lineaments of the dramatist himself, who in this play probably bade farewell to the enchanted work of his life.
But if in 1611 Shakespeare finally abandoned dramatic composition, there seems little doubt that he left with the manager of his Unfinished plays.company unfinished drafts of more than one play which others were summoned at a later date to complete. His place at the head of the active dramatists was at once filled by John Fletcher (1579–1625) [q. v.], and Fletcher, with some aid possibly from his friend Philip Massinger [q. v.], probably undertook the working up of Shakespeare's unfinished sketches. On 9 Sept. 1653 the publisher Humphrey Moseley [q. v.] obtained a license for the publication of a play which he described as ‘History of Cardenio, by Fletcher and Shakespeare.’ It was probably identical with the lost play, ‘Cardano,’ which was acted at court in 1613. Moseley, whose description may have been fraudulent, failed to publish the piece, and nothing is otherwise known of it. Two other pieces, ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’ and ‘Henry VIII,’ ‘Two Noble Kinsmen.’which are attributed to similar authorship, survive. ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’ was first printed in 1634, and was written, according to the title-page, ‘by the memorable worthies of their time, Mr. John Fletcher and Mr. William Shakespeare, gentlemen.’ It was included in the folio of Beaumont and Fletcher of 1679. On grounds alike of æsthetic criticism and metrical tests, a substantial portion of the play was assigned to Shakespeare by Charles Lamb, Coleridge, and Dyce. The last included it in his edition of Shakespeare. Coleridge detected Shakespeare's hand in act i., act ii. sc. i., and act iii. sc. i. and ii. Act iv. sc. iii., and act v. (except sc. ii.) were subsequently set to his credit (Spalding, Shakespeare's Authorship of Two Noble Kinsmen, 1833, reprinted by New Shakspere Society, 1876; Spalding in ‘Edinburgh Review,’ 1847; ‘Transactions’ New Shakspere Soc. 1874; ‘Two Noble Kinsmen,’ ed. Littledale). All these passages develop the main plot, which is drawn from Chaucer's ‘Knight's Tale of Palamon and Arcite,’ and seems to have been twice dramatised previously—in a lost play, ‘Palæmon and Arcyte,’ by Richard Edwardes [q. v.], which was acted at court in 1566, and in a second piece, called ‘Palamon and Arsett’ (also lost), which was purchased by Henslowe in 1594. The residue is disfigured by indecency and triviality, and is of no literary value. Some recent critics assign much of the alleged Shakespearean work to Massinger, and they narrow Shakespeare's contribution to the first scene (with the opening song) and act v. sc i. and iv. (cf. Mr. Robert Boyle in ‘Transactions’ of the New Shakspere Soc. 1882). Certainty is impossible, but frequent signs of Shakespeare's workmanship are unmistakable.
Similar perplexity attends an examination of ‘Henry VIII.’ It was in course of performance at the Globe Theatre on 29 June 1613, when the firing of some cannon incidental to the performance set fire to the playhouse, which was burned down; it was rebuilt next year (cf. Court and Times of James I). Sir Henry Wotton, describing the disaster on 6 July, entitled the piece ‘All is True representing some principal pieces in the Reign of Henry VIII.’ The play is loosely constructed, and the last act ill coheres with its predecessors. The whole resembles an ‘historical masque.’ It was first printed in the folio of Shakespeare's works in 1623, but shows traces of more hands than one. The three chief characters—the king, Queen Katharine of Arragon, and Cardinal Wolsey—bear clear marks of Shakespeare's best workmanship; but only act i. sc. i., act ii. sc. iii. and iv. (Katharine's trial), act iii. sc. ii. (except ll. 204–460), act v. sc. i., can on either æsthetic or metrical grounds be assigned to him. These portions may, according to their metrical characteristics, be dated, like the ‘Winter's Tale,’ about 1611. The remaining thirteen scenes are from the pen of Fletcher, perhaps with occasional aid from Massinger. Wolsey's familiar farewell to Cromwell (act iii. sc. ii. ll. 204–460) is undoubtedly by Fletcher. James Spedding's theory that Fletcher hastily completed Shakespeare's unfinished draft for the special purpose of enabling the company to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Elector Palatine, which took place on 14 Feb. 1612–13, seems fanciful. During May 1613, according to an extant list, twenty plays were produced at court in honour of the event, but ‘Henry VIII’ is not among them (Bodl. MS. Rawl. A 239; cf. Spedding in Gent. Mag. 1850, reprinted in New Shakspere Soc. ‘Transactions,’ 1874). The conjecture that Massinger and Fletcher alone collaborated in ‘Henry VIII’ (to the exclusion of Shakespeare altogether) rests on equally doubtful premisses (cf. Mr. Robert Boyle in New Shakspere Society ‘Transactions,’ 1884).
The concluding years of Shakespeare's life (1611–1616) were mainly passed at Stratford, and probably in 1611 he disposed of his shares in the Globe and Blackfriars theatres. He owned none at the date of his death. But until 1614 he paid frequent visits to London, where friends in sympathy with his work were alone to be found. His plays continued to form the staple of court performances. In May 1613, during the Princess Elizabeth's marriage festivities, Heming, Plays at court in 1613.Shakespeare's former colleague, produced at Whitehall no less than seven of his plays, viz. ‘Much Ado,’ ‘Tempest,’ ‘Winter's Tale,’ ‘Sir John Falstaff’ (i.e. ‘Merry Wives’), ‘Othello,’ ‘Julius Cæsar,’ and ‘Hotspur’ (doubtless ‘1 Henry IV’) (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 87). Of his actor-friends, one of the chief, Augustine Actor-friends.Phillips, died in 1605, leaving by will ‘to my fellowe, William Shakespeare, a thirty-shillings piece of gold.’ With Burbage, Heming, and Condell his relations remained close to the end. Burbage and he were credited with having engaged together in many sportive adventures. The sole anecdote of Shakespeare recorded in his lifetime relates that Burbage, when playing Richard III, agreed with a lady in the audience to visit her after the performance; Shakespeare, overhearing the conversation, anticipated the actor's visit, and met Burbage on his arrival with the quip that ‘William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third’ (Manningham, Diary, 13 March 1601, Camd. Soc. p. 39). Such gossip deserves little more acceptance than the later story, in the same key, which credits Shakespeare with the paternity of Sir William D'Avenant [q. v.] The latter was baptised at Oxford on 3 March 1605, as the son of John D'Avenant, the landlord of the Crown Inn, where Shakespeare lodged in his journeys to and from Stratford. The story was long current in Oxford, and was at times complacently accepted by the reputed son. But it is safer to adopt the less compromising version which makes Shakespeare the boy's godfather. He was a welcome guest at John D'Avenant's house, and another son, Robert, reported the kindly notice which the poet took of him as a child (cf. Aubrey, Lives; Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 43; art. D'Avenant, Sir William). Ben Jonson and Drayton—the latter a Warwickshire man—seem to have been Shakespeare's chief literary friends in his latest years.
At Stratford Shakespeare in his declining days took a full share of social and civic responsibilities. On 16 Oct. 1608 he stood chief Final settlement at Stratford.godfather to William, son of Henry Walker, a mercer and alderman. On 11 Sept. 1611, when he had finally settled in New Place, his name appeared in the margin of a folio page of donors (including all the principal inhabitants of Stratford) to a fund that was raised ‘towards the charge of prosecuting the bill in Parliament for the better repair of the highways.’
Meanwhile, domestic affairs engaged some of his attention. Of his two surviving children—both daughters—the eldest, Susanna, had married, on 5 June 1607, John Hall (1575–1635) [q. v.], a rising physician of puritan leanings, and in the following February was born the poet's only granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall. On 9 Sept. 1608 the poet's mother was buried in the parish church, and on Domestic affairs. 4 Feb. 1613 his third brother Richard. On 15 July 1613 Mrs. Hall preferred, with her father's assistance, a charge of slander against one Lane in the ecclesiastical court at Worcester; the defendant, who had apparently charged the lady with illicit relations with one Ralph Smith, did not appear, and was excommunicated.
In the same year (1613), when on a short visit to London, he invested a small sum of money in a new property—his last Purchase of a house in Blackfriars.investment in real estate. He purchased a house, the ground-floor of which was a haberdasher's shop, with a yard attached. It was situated within six hundred feet of the Blackfriars Theatre—on the west side of St. Andrew's Hill, formerly termed Puddle Hill or Puddle Dock Hill, in the near neighbourhood of what is now known as Ireland Yard. The former owner, Henry Walker, a musician, had bought the property for 100l. in 1604. Shakespeare in 1613 agreed to pay him 140l. The deeds of conveyance bear the date of 10 March in that year. The indenture prepared for the purchaser is in the Halliwell-Phillipps collection, which was sold to Mr. Marsden J. Perry of Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A., in January 1897. That held by the vendor is in the Guildhall Library. Next day, on 11 March, Shakespeare executed another deed (now in the British Museum) which stipulated that 60l. of the purchase-money was to remain on mortgage until the following Michaelmas, but the money was unpaid at Shakespeare's death. In all three documents—the two indentures and the mortgage deed—Shakespeare is described as ‘of Stratford-on-Avon, in the Countie of Warwick, Gentleman.’ There is no reason to suppose that he acquired the house for his own residence. He at once leased the property to John Robinson, already a resident in the neighbourhood.
In the spring of 1614 a preacher at Stratford, doubtless of puritan proclivities, was entertained at New Place after delivering a sermon. Shakespeare's son-in-law Hall was probably responsible for the civility. In July John Combe, a rich inhabitant of Stratford, died and left 5l. to Shakespeare. The legend that Shakespeare alienated him by composing some doggerel on his practice of lending money at ten per cent. seems apocryphal, although it is accepted by Rowe. Combe's death involved Shakespeare more conspicuously than before in civic affairs. Combe's heir William no sooner succeeded to his father's lands than he, with a neighbouring owner, Arthur Mannering, steward of Lord-chancellor Ellesmere (who was ex-officio lord of the manor) attempted to enclose the common fields, which belonged to the corporation of Attempt to
fields.Stratford, about his estate at Welcombe. The corporation resolved to offer the scheme a stout resistance. Shakespeare had a twofold interest in the matter by virtue of his owning 106 acres at Welcombe and Old Stratford, and as joint owner—now with Thomas Greene, the town clerk—of the tithes of Old Stratford, Welcombe, and Bishopton. His interest in his freeholds could not have been prejudicially affected, but his interest in the tithes might be depreciated by the proposed enclosure. Shakespeare consequently joined with his fellow-owner Greene in obtaining from Combe's agent Replingham in October 1614 a deed indemnifying both against any injury they might suffer from the enclosure. But having secured himself against loss, Shakespeare threw his influence into Combe's scale. In November 1614 he was on a last visit to London, and Greene, whose official position as town clerk compelled him to support the corporation, visited him there to discuss the position of affairs. On 23 Dec. 1614 the corporation in formal meeting drew up a letter to Shakespeare imploring him to aid them. Greene himself sent to the dramatist ‘a note of inconveniences [to the corporation that] would happen by the enclosure.’ But although an ambiguous entry of a later date (September 1615) in the few extant pages of Greene's ungrammatical diary has been unjustifiably tortured into an expression of disgust on Shakespeare's part at Combe's conduct, it may be inferred that, in the spirit of his agreement with Combe's agent, he continued to lend Combe his countenance. Happily Combe's efforts failed, and the common lands remained unenclosed (Shakespeare and the Enclosure of Common Fields at Welcombe, a facsimile of Greene's diary, now at Stratford, with a transcript by Mr. E. J. L. Scott, edited by Dr. C. M. Ingleby, 1885).
At the beginning of 1616 Shakespeare's health was failing. He directed Francis Collins, a solicitor of Warwick, to draft his will, but, though it was prepared for signature on 25 Jan., it was for the time laid aside. On 10 Feb. 1616 Shakespeare's younger daughter, Judith, married, at the parish church, Thomas Quiney, son of an old friend of the poet, four years her junior. The ceremony took place before a license was procured, and the irregularity led to the summons of the bride and bridegroom before the ecclesiastical court at Worcester and the imposition of a fine. According to the testimony of John Ward, the vicar, Shakespeare entertained at New Place his two friends, Michael Drayton and Ben Death.Jonson, in the spring of 1616, and ‘had a merry meeting,’ but ‘itt seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a feavour there contracted.’ A popular local legend, which was not recorded till 1762 (Brit. Mag. June 1762), credited Shakespeare with engaging at an earlier date in a prolonged and violent drinking bout at Bidford, a neighbouring village (cf. Malone, Shakespeare, 1821, ii. 500–2; Ireland, Confessions, 1805, p. 34; Green, Legend of the Crab Tree, 1857), but his achievements as a hard drinker may be dismissed as unproven. The cause of his death is undetermined, but probably a recurrence of illness led him in March to sign the will that had been drafted in the previous January. On Tuesday, 23 April, he died at the age of fifty-two. (The date is in the old style, and is equivalent to 3 May in the new; Cervantes, whose death is often described as simultaneous, died at Madrid ten days earlier—on 13 April in the old style, i.e. 23 April 1616 in the new.) On Thursday, Burial.25 April (O.S.), the poet was buried inside Stratford church, near the northern wall of the chancel, in which, as one of the lay-rectors, he had a right of interment. Hard by was the charnel-house, where bones dug up from the churchyard were deposited. Over the poet's grave were inscribed the lines:
Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To dig the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
According to one William Hall, who described a visit to Stratford in 1694 (London, 1884, 4to), these verses were penned by Shakespeare to suit ‘the capacity of clerks and sextons, for the most part a very ignorant set of people.’ Had this curse not threatened them, Hall proceeds, they would not have hesitated in course of time to remove Shakespeare's dust to ‘the bone-house;’ the grave was made seventeen feet deep, and was never opened, even to receive his wife, although she expressed a desire to be buried with her husband.
Shakespeare's will, the first draft of which was drawn up before 25 Jan. 1616, received many interlineations and The will.erasures before it was signed in the ensuing March. Francis Collins, the solicitor of Warwick, and Thomas Russell, ‘esquier,’ of Stratford, were the overseers; it was proved by John Hall, the poet's son-in-law and joint-executor with Mrs. Hall, in London on 22 June following. The religious exordium is in conventional phraseology, and gives no clue to Shakespeare's personal religious opinions. What those opinions were, we have neither the means nor the warrant for discussing. But while it is possible to quote from the plays many contemptuous references to the puritans and their doctrines, we may dismiss as idle gossip Davies's irresponsible report that ‘he dyed a papist.’ The name of Shakespeare's wife was omitted from the original draft of the will, but by an interlineation in the final draft she received his second best bed with its furniture. No other bequest was made her. Her right to a widow's Bequest to his wife.dower—i.e. to a third share for life in freehold estate—was not subject to testamentary disposition, but Shakespeare seems to have barred her dower, at any rate in the case of his Blackfriars purchase. The precision with which the will accounts for and disposes of every known item of his property refutes, too, the conjecture that he had provided for his wife under a previous settlement or jointure. But however plausible the theory that his relations with her, especially in early life, were wanting in sympathy, it is improbable that the slender mention of her in the will was a deliberate mark of his indifference or dislike. Local tradition subsequently credited her with a wish to be buried in his grave; and her epitaph proves that she inspired her daughters with genuine affection. Probably her ignorance of affairs and the infirmities of age (she was past sixty) combined to unfit her in the poet's eyes for the control of property, and he committed her to the care of his elder daughter, who inherited, according to such information as is accessible, some of his own shrewdness, and had a capable adviser in her husband. This elder daughter, Susannah Hall, was, according to the will, to become mistress of New Place, and practically of all the poet's estate. She received (with remainder to her issue in strict entail) New Place, all the land, barns, and gardens at and near Stratford (except the tenement in Chapel Lane), and the house in Blackfriars, London, while she and her husband were appointed executors and residuary legatees, with full rights over nearly all the poet's household furniture and personal belongings. To the granddaughter, or ‘niece,’ Elizabeth Hall, was bequeathed the poet's plate, with the exception of his broad silver and gilt bowl, which was reserved for his younger daughter, Judith. To his younger daughter he also left, with the tenement in Chapel Lane (in remainder to the elder daughter), 150l. in money, of which 100l., her marriage portion, was to be paid within a year, and another 150l. to be paid to her if alive three years after the date of the will. (150l. is described as a substantial jointure in ‘Merry Wives,’ act iii. sc. iii. l. 49). To the poet's sister, Joan Hart, whose husband, William Hart, predeceased the testator by only six days, he left, besides a contingent reversionary interest in Judith's pecuniary legacy, his wearing apparel, 20l. in money, a life interest in the Henley Street property, with 5l. for each of her three sons, William, Thomas, and Michael. To the poor of Stratford he gave 10l., and to Mr. Thomas Combe (apparently a brother of William, of the enclosure controversy) his sword. To each of his Stratford friends, Hamlett Sadler, William Reynoldes, Anthony Nash, and John Nash, and to each of his ‘fellows’ (i.e. theatrical colleagues), John Heming, Richard Burbage, and Henry Condell, he left xxvjs. viijd., with which to buy memorial rings. His godson, William Walker, received ‘xx’ shillings in gold.
Before 1623 an elaborate monument, by a London sculptor, Gerard Johnson, was erected to Shakespeare's memory in the chancel of the The tomb.parish church (cf. Dugdale, Diary, 1827, p. 99; see under Janssen, Bernard). It includes a half-length bust, and a pen is in the right hand. The inscription, which was apparently written by a London friend, runs:
Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
Terra tegit, populus mæret, Olympus habet.
Stay passenger, why goest thou by so fast?
Read if thou canst, whom envious death hath plast
Within this monument; Shakspeare with whome
Quick nature dide; whose name doth deck ys tombe
Far more than cost; sith all yt he hath writt
Leaves living art but page to serve his witt.
Obiit ano. doi 1616 Ætatis 53 Die 23 Ap.
At the opening of Shakespeare's career Chettle wrote of his ‘civil demeanour’ and of the reports of ‘his uprightness of dealing which Personal character.argues his honesty.’ After the close of his career Jonson wrote of him: ‘I loved the man and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest and of an open and free nature’ (‘Timber,’ in Works, 1641). No other contemporary left on record any definite impression of Shakespeare's personal character. But the references in his will to his fellow-actors, and the spirit in which (as they announce in the first folio) they approached the task of collecting his works after his death, corroborate the description of him as a sympathetic friend. The later traditions brought together by Aubrey depict him as ‘very good company, and of a very ready and pleasant smooth wit,’ and there is much in other early references to suggest a genial, if not a convivial, temperament, with a turn for good-humoured satire. Pope had just warrant for his surmise that Shakespeare
For gain not glory winged his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despite.
With his literary power and sociability there clearly went the shrewd capacity of a man of business. His literary attainments and successes were chiefly valued as serving the prosaic end of providing permanently for himself and his children. His highest ambition was to restore among his fellow-townsmen the family repute which his father's misfortunes had imperilled. Ideals so homely are reckoned rare among poets, but Chaucer and Sir Walter Scott, among writers of exalted genius, vie with Shakespeare in the sobriety of their personal aims and the sanity of their mental attitude towards life's ordinary incidents.
Shakespeare's widow died on 6 Aug. 1623, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried near her husband inside the chancel two days later. Some affectionately phrased Latin elegiacs—doubtless from Dr. Hall's pen—were inscribed on a brass plate fastened to the stone above her grave. The younger daughter, Judith, resided with her husband, Thomas Quiney, at The Cage, a house which he leased in Bridge Street from 1616 till 1652. There he carried on the trade of a vintner, and took part in municipal affairs, acting as a councillor from 1617 and as chamberlain in 1621–2 and 1622–3, but after 1630 his affairs grew embarrassed, and he left Stratford late in 1652 for London, where he seems to have died a few months later. Of his three sons by Judith, the eldest, Shakespeare (bapt. 23 Nov. 1616), was buried in Stratford churchyard on 8 May 1617; Richard (bapt. 9 Feb. 1617–8) was buried on 28 Jan. 1638–9; and Thomas (bapt. 23 Jan. 1619–20) was buried on 26 Feb. 1638–9. Judith survived her husband, sons, and sister, dying at Stratford on 9 Feb. 1661–1662, in her seventy-seventh year.
The elder daughter, Susannah Hall, resided at New Place till her death. Her sister Judith alienated to her the Chapel Place tenement before 1633, but that, with the interest in the Stratford tithes, she soon disposed of. Her husband John Hall died on 25 Nov. 1635. In 1642 James Cooke, a surgeon in attendance on some royalist troops stationed at Stratford, visited Mrs. Hall and examined manuscripts in her possession, but they were apparently of her husband's, not of her father's, composition (cf. Hall, Select Observations, ed. Cooke, 1657). From 11 to 13 July 1643 Queen Henrietta Maria, while journeying from Newark, was billeted on Mrs. Hall at New Place for three days. She was buried beside her husband in Stratford churchyard on 11 July 1649, and a rhyming inscription, describing her as ‘witty above her sex,’ was engraved on her tombstone.
The last descendant.
Mrs. Hall's only child, Elizabeth, was the last surviving descendant of the poet. In April 1626 she married her first husband, Thomas Nash of Stratford (b 1593), who studied at Lincoln's Inn, was a man of property, and, dying childless at New Place on 4 April 1647, was buried in Stratford church next day. Mrs. Nash married at Billesley, a village four miles from Stratford, on 5 June 1649, a widower, John Bernard or Barnard of Abington, Northamptonshire, who was knighted by Charles II in 1661. About the same date she seems to have abandoned New Place for her husband's residence at Abington. Dying without issue, she was buried there on 17 Feb. 1669–70. Her husband survived her four years, and was buried beside her (Baker, Northamptonshire, i. 10; New Shaksp. Soc. Trans. 1880–5, pt. ii. pp. 13†–15†). Lady Barnard inherited under the poet's will (on her mother's death in 1649) the land near Stratford, New Place, the house at Blackfriars, and (on the death of the poet's sister Joan in 1646) the houses in Henley Street, while her father left her in 1635 a house at Acton with a meadow. She sold the Blackfriars house, and apparently the Stratford land, before 1667. By her will, dated January 1669–70, and proved in the following March, she left small bequests to the daughters of Thomas Hathaway, of the family of her grandmother, the poet's wife. The houses in Henley Street passed to her cousin, Thomas Hart, the grandson of the poet's sister Joan, and they remained in the possession of Thomas's direct descendants till 1806 (the male line expired on the death of John Hart in 1800). By her will Lady Barnard ordered New Place to be sold, and it was purchased on 18 May 1675 by Sir Edward Walker, through whose daughter Barbara, wife of Sir John Clopton, it reverted to the Clopton family. Sir John rebuilt it in 1702. On the death of his son Hugh in 1752 it was bought by the Rev. Francis Gastrell (d. 1768), who demolished the new building in 1759 (Halliwell-Phillipps, Hist. of New Place, 1864, fol.).
Of Shakespeare's three brothers, only one, Gilbert, seems to have survived him. Edmund, the youngest brother, ‘a player,’ was Shakespeare's brothers.buried at St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, ‘with a forenoone knell of the great bell,’ on 31 Dec. 1607; he was in his twenty-eighth year. Richard, John Shakespeare's third son, died at Stratford, in February 1613, aged 39. ‘Gilbert Shakespeare adolescens,’ who was buried at Stratford on 3 Feb. 1611–12, was doubtless son of the poet's next brother, Gilbert; the latter, having nearly completed his forty-sixth year, could scarcely be described as ‘adolescens;’ his death is not recorded, but according to Oldys he survived to a patriarchal age.
Much controversy has arisen over the spelling of the poet's surname. It has been proved capable of four thousand variations Spelling of the poet's surname.(Wise, Autograph of William Shakespeare … together with 4,000 ways of spelling the name, Philadelphia, 1869). The name of the poet's father is entered sixty-six times in the council books of Stratford, and is spelt in sixteen ways. The commonest form is ‘Shaxpeare.’ Five autographs of the poet of undisputed authenticity are extant: his signature to the indenture relating to the purchase of the property in Autograph signatures.Blackfriars, dated 10 March 1612–13 (since 1841 in the Guildhall Library); his signature to the mortgage deed relating to the same purchase, dated 11 March 1612–13 (since 1858 in the British Museum); and the three signatures on the three sheets of his will, dated 25 March 1615–16 (now at Somerset House). In all the signatures some of the letters are represented by recognised signs of abbreviation. The signature to the first document is ‘William Shakspere,’ though in all other portions of the deeds the name is spelt ‘Shakespeare.’ The signature to the second document has been interpreted both as Shakspere and Shakspeare. The ink of the first signature in the will has now faded almost beyond decipherment, but that it was ‘Shakspere’ may be inferred from the facsimile made by Steevens in 1776. The second and third signatures to the will, which are difficult to decipher, have been read both as Shakspere and Shakspeare; but a close examination suggests that, whatever the second signature may be, the third is ‘Shakespeare.’ Shakspere is the spelling of the alleged autograph in the British Museum copy of Florio's ‘Montaigne,’ but the genuineness of that signature is disputable (see art. Florio, John; and Madden's Observations on an Autograph of Shakspere, 1838). Shakespeare was the form adopted in the full signature appended to the dedicatory epistles of the ‘Venus and Adonis’ of 1593 and the ‘Lucrece’ of 1594, volumes which were produced under the poet's supervision. It is the spelling adopted on the title-pages of the majority of contemporary editions of his works, whether or not produced under his supervision. It is adopted in almost all the published references to the poet during the seventeenth century. It appears in the grant of arms in 1596, in the licence to the players of 1603, and in the text of all the legal documents relating to the poet's property. The poet, like most of his contemporaries, acknowledged no finality on the subject. According to the best authority, he spelt his surname in two ways when signing his will. There is consequently no good ground for abandoning the form which is sanctioned by legal and literary custom (cf. Halliwell-Phillips, New Lamps or Old, 1880; Malone, Inquiry, 1796).
Aubrey reported that Shakespeare was ‘a handsome, well-shap't man.’ Only two extant portraits can be regarded as fully The Stratford bust.authenticated: the bust in Stratford church and the frontispiece to the folio of 1623. There is considerable discrepancy between the two; their main point of resemblance is the baldness on the top of the head. The bust, attributed to Gerard Johnson, is a rudely carved specimen of mortuary sculpture; the round face and eyes present a heavy, unintellectual expression, and it has no apparent claim to be regarded as an accurate likeness. It was originally coloured, but in 1793 Malone caused it to be whitewashed. In 1861 the whitewash was removed, and the colours, as far as traceable, restored. The eyes are hazel. There have been numberless reproductions, both engraved and photographic. It was first engraved—very imperfectly—for Rowe's edition in 1709; then by Vertue for Pope's edition of 1725; and by Gravelot for Hanmer's edition in 1744. A good engraving by William Ward appeared in 1816. A phototype and a chromo-phototype, issued by the New Shakspere Society, are the best reproductions for the purposes of study. The painting known as the ‘Stratford’ portrait, and The Stratford portrait.presented in 1867 by W. O. Hunt, town clerk of Stratford, to the Birthplace Museum, was probably painted from the bust in the seventeenth century; the picture belonged at one time to the Clopton family.
The engraved portrait—nearly a half-length—which was prefixed to the folio of 1623, was by Martin Droeshout [q. v.] On the Droeshout's engraving.opposite page lines by Ben Jonson congratulate ‘the graver’ on having satisfactorily ‘hit’ the poet's ‘face.’ Jonson's testimony must be accepted, but the expression of countenance is very crudely rendered. The face is long and the forehead high; the top of the head is bald, but the hair falls in abundance over the ears. There is a scanty moustache and a thin tuft under the lower lip. A stiff and wide collar, projecting horizontally, conceals the neck. The coat is closely buttoned and elaborately bordered, especially at the shoulders. In the unique proof copy which belonged to Halliwell-Phillipps (now with his collection in America), the tone is clearer than in the ordinary copies, and the shadows are less darkened by cross-hatching and coarse dotting. A copy of the Droeshout engraving, by William Marshall, was prefixed to Shakespeare's ‘Poems’ in 1640, and Faithorne made another copy for separate issue in 1655. A portrait painted on a panel, with ‘Will Shakespeare 1609’ in the upper left-hand corner (since 1892 in the Shakespeare Memorial Gallery at Stratford), bears close resemblance to the engraving, and was doubtless executed in the seventeenth century, but the contention that it was the original painting whence the engraving was made has not been established; it was more probably painted from the engraving. The same remark applies to a somewhat similar picture, the ‘Ely House’ portrait (now the property of the Birthplace Trustees at Stratford), which formerly belonged to Thomas Turton [q. v.], bishop of Ely; it is inscribed ‘æ. 39 x. 1603’ (Harper's Mag., May 1897).
Of the numerous extant paintings which have been described as portraits of Shakespeare, only the three at Stratford The Chandos portrait.already mentioned resemble either the bust or the folio engraving. Of those presenting other features of interest, the most famous is the Chandos portrait. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, and may possibly have been painted by Janssens or Van Somer. Its pedigree suggests that it was designed to represent the poet, but some conspicuous divergences from the two authenticated likenesses show that it was painted from fanciful descriptions of him after his death. The face is bearded, and rings adorn the ears. Oldys reported that it was from the brush of Burbage and had belonged to Joseph Taylor, an actor contemporary with Shakespeare. Later owners are said to have been D'Avenant, Betterton, and Mrs. Barry the actress. In 1693 Sir Godfrey Kneller made a copy as a gift for Dryden. At length it reached the hands of James Brydges, third duke of Chandos, through his father-in-law, John Nichols, and it subsequently passed, through Chandos's daughter, to her husband, the Duke of Buckingham, at the sale of whose heir's effects at Stowe in 1848 it was purchased by the Earl of Ellesmere. The latter presented it to the nation. Edward Capell presented a copy by R. Barret to Trinity College, Cambridge, and other copies are assigned to Sir Joshua Reynolds and Ozias Humphrey (1783). It was engraved for Pope's edition (1725), and often later, one of the best engravings being by Vandergucht. The Baroness Burdett-Coutts purchased in 1874 a portrait of similar type, which had at one time belonged to John, lord Lumley (1534?–1609) [q. v.]; it was chromolithographed by Vincent Brooks. At Hampton Court is a wholly unauthentic portrait of the same type, which was at one time at Penshurst; it bears the legend ‘Ætatis suæ 34’ (Law, Cat. of Hampton Court, p. 234).
The so-called ‘Jansen’ or Janssens portrait, which belongs to the Duke of Somerset, was first doubtfully identified about 1770, when in the possession of Charles Jennens [q. v.] Janssens did not come to England before Shakespeare's death. A fine mezzotint by R. Earlom was issued in 1811.
The ‘Felton’ portrait, a small head on a panel (now belonging to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts) was purchased by S. Felton of Drayton, Shropshire, in 1794 of J. Wilson, the owner of the Shakespeare Museum in Pall Mall; it bears a late inscription, ‘Gul. Shakespear 1597, R. B.’ [i.e. Richard Burbage]. It was engraved by Josiah Boydell for George Steevens in 1797, and by J. Neagle for Isaac Reed's edition in 1803.
Three portraits are assigned to Zucchero, who left England in 1580, and cannot have had any relations with Shakespeare. One is in the Art Museum, Boston, U.S.A.; another, formerly the property of Richard Cosway, R.A., and afterwards of Mr. J. A. Langford of Birmingham, was engraved in mezzotint by H. Green; a third, purchased in 1862, belonged to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.
The ‘Soest’ or ‘Zoust’ portrait—in the possession of Sir John Lister-Kaye of Denby Grange, Wakefield—was in the collection of T. Wright, painter, of Covent Garden, in 1725, when I. Simon engraved it. Soest was born twenty-one years after Shakespeare's death, and the portrait is only on fanciful grounds identified with the poet. A chalk drawing by Joseph Michael Wright [q. v.], obviously inspired by the Soest portrait, is the property of Sir Arthur Hodgson of Clopton House, and is on loan at the Memorial Gallery, Stratford.
A portrait inscribed ‘ætatis suæ 47, 1611,’ belonging to Clement Kingston of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was engraved in mezzotint by G. F. Storm in 1846.
A miniature by Hilliard, at one time in the possession of William Somerville [q. v.] the poet, and now the property of Sir Stafford Northcote, bart., was engraved by Agar for vol. ii. of the ‘Variorum Shakespeare’ of 1821, and in Wivell's ‘Inquiry,’ 1827. Another miniature (called the ‘Auriol’ portrait), of doubtful authenticity, formerly belonged to Mr. Lumsden Propert, and a third is at Warwick Castle.
A bust, said to be of Shakespeare, was discovered in 1845 bricked up in a wall in Spode & Copeland's china warehouse in The Garrick Club bust.Lincoln's Inn Fields. The warehouse had been erected on the site of the Duke's Theatre, which was built by D'Avenant in 1660. The bust, which was believed to have adorned the proscenium of the Duke's Theatre, was acquired by William Clift [q. v.], from whom it passed to his son-in-law, Richard (afterwards Sir Richard) Owen. The latter sold it to the Duke of Devonshire, who presented it in 1851 to the Garrick Club, after having two copies made.
The Kesselstadt death-mask was discovered by Dr. Ludwig Becker in a rag-shop at Mayence in 1849. The features resemble those of an Alleged death-mask.alleged portrait of Shakespeare (dated 1637) which Dr. Becker purchased in 1847. This picture had long been in the possession of the family of Count Francis von Kesselstadt of Mayence, who died in 1843. Dr. Becker brought the mask and the picture to England in 1849, and Richard Owen supported the theory that the mask was taken from Shakespeare's face after death, and was the foundation of the bust in Stratford church. The mask is now the property of Dr. Ernest Becker (the discoverer's brother), and is at the ducal palace, Darmstadt. The features are singularly attractive; but the chain of evidence which would identify them with Shakespeare is incomplete.
In 1885 Mr. Walter Rogers Furness issued, at Philadelphia, a volume of composite portraits, combining the Droeshout engraving and the Stratford bust with the Chandos, Jansen, Felton, and Stratford portraits (James Boaden, Inquiry into various Pictures and Prints of Shakespeare, 1824; Abraham Wivell, Inquiry into Shakespeare's Portraits, 1827, with engravings by B. and W. Holl; George Scharf, Principal Portraits of Shakespeare, 1864; J. Hain Friswell, Life-portraits of Shakespeare, 1864; William Page, Study of Shakespeare's Portraits, 1876; Ingleby, Man and Book, 1877, pp. 84 seq.; J. Parker Norris, Portraits of Shakespeare, Philadelphia, 1885, with numerous plates; Illustrated Cat. of Portraits in Shakespeare's Memorial at Stratford, 1896).
A monument, the expenses of which were defrayed by public subscription, was set up in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1741. Later memorials.Pope and the Earl of Burlington were among the promoters. The design was by William Kent [q. v.], and the statue of Shakespeare was executed by Peter Scheemakers [q. v.] (cf. Gent. Mag. 1741, p. 105). Another statue was executed by Roubiliac for Garrick, who bequeathed it to the British Museum in 1779. A third statue is in Leicester Square, London; a fourth (by Mr. J. A. Q. Ward) was placed in 1882 in the Central Park, New York; a fifth, by M. Paul Fournier, was erected in Paris in 1888, at the expense of an English resident, Mr. W. Knighton; it stands at the point where the Avenue de Messine meets the boulevard Haussmann.
At Stratford, the Birthplace, which was acquired by the public in 1846 and converted into a museum, is, with Anne Hathaway's cottage (acquired by the Birthplace trustees in 1892), a place of pilgrimage for tourists from all parts of the globe. The 27,038 persons who visited it in 1896 represented over forty nationalities. The site of the demolished New Place, with the gardens, was also purchased by public subscription in 1861. Of a new memorial building on the river-bank at Stratford, consisting of a theatre, picture-gallery, and library, the foundation-stone was laid on 23 April 1877. The theatre was opened exactly two years later, when ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ was performed, with Helen Faucit (Lady Martin) as Beatrice and Barry Sullivan as Benedick. Performances of Shakespeare's plays have since been given annually during April. The library and picture-gallery were opened in 1881 (A History of the Shakespeare Memorial, Stratford-on-Avon, 1882; Illustrated Cat. of Pictures in the Shakespeare Memorial, 1896). A memorial Shakespeare library was opened at Birmingham on 23 April 1868 to commemorate the tercentenary of 1864, and, although destroyed by fire in 1879, was restored in 1882, and now possesses 9,640 volumes relating to Shakespeare.
At the time of Shakespeare's death in 1616 there had been printed seven editions of his ‘Venus and Adonis’ Quartos of the poems.(1593, 1594 in 4to, 1596, 1599, 1600, and two in 1602 in 8vo); five editions of his ‘Lucrece’ (1594 in 4to, 1598, 1600, 1607, 1616 in 8vo); one edition of the ‘Sonnets’ (1609, facsimiled in 1862), and three editions of the piratical ‘Passionate Pilgrim,’ containing a few poems by him (1599, 1600 unknown, 1612). (The first editions of these four volumes were reproduced in facsimile at Oxford in 1905.) A sixth edition of ‘Lucrece’ (1624) and six later editions of ‘Venus’ (1617, 1620, 1627, two in 1630, and 1636) preceded the issue of the first collected edition of the ‘Poems’ in 1640 (London, by T. Cotes for I. Benson). Marshall's copy of the Droeshout engraving of 1623 formed the frontispiece. There are prefatory poems by Leonard Digges and John Warren, as well as an address ‘to the reader’ signed by the initials of the publisher, together with ‘an addition of some excellent poems to those precedent by other Gentlemen,’ which are mainly from Thomas Heywood's ‘General History of Women.’ A reprint appeared 1885.
Of Shakespeare's plays there were in print in 1616 only sixteen (all in quarto), or eighteen if we include the ‘Contention,’ the first draft of ‘2 Henry VI’ (1594 and 1600), and ‘The True Tragedy,’ the Quartos of plays.first draft of ‘3 Henry VI’ (1595 and 1600). Of the sixteen fully authenticated quartos, two plays reached five editions before 1616, viz. ‘Richard III’ (1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612) and ‘1 Henry IV’ (1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1615). Three reached four editions, viz. ‘Richard II’ (1597, 1598, 1608 supplying the deposition scene for the first time, 1615), ‘Hamlet’ (1603 imperfect, 1604, 1605, 1611), and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1597 imperfect, 1599, two in 1609). Three reached three editions, viz. ‘Titus’ (1594, 1600, 1611), ‘Henry V’ (1600 imperfect, 1602, 1608), ‘Pericles’ (two in 1609, 1611). Four reached two editions, viz. ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ (both in 1600), ‘Merchant of Venice’ (both in 1600), ‘Lear’ (both in 1608), and ‘Troilus and Cressida’ (both in 1609). Four achieved only one edition, viz. ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ (1598), ‘2 Henry IV’ (1600), ‘Much Ado’ (1600), ‘Merry Wives’ (1602 imperfect).
A second edition of ‘Merry Wives’ (again imperfect) and a fourth of ‘Pericles’ are both dated 1619. ‘Othello’ was first printed in 1622 (4to), and in the same year sixth editions of both ‘Richard III’ and ‘1 Henry IV’ appeared. Lithographed facsimiles of most of these volumes, with some of the quarto editions of the poems (forty-eight volumes in all), were prepared by Mr. E. W. Ashbee, and issued to subscribers by Halliwell-Phillipps between 1862 and 1871. A cheaper set of quarto facsimiles, undertaken by Mr. W. Griggs, and issued under the supervision of Dr. F. J. Furnivall, appeared in forty-three volumes between 1880 and 1889. The largest collection of the original quartos—each of which only survives in four, five, or six copies—are in the libraries of the Duke of Devonshire, the British Museum, the Bodleian, and Trinity College, Cambridge. Perfect copies range in price, according to their rarity, from 200l. to 2,000l. In 1864, at the sale of George Daniel's library, quarto copies of ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ and of ‘Merry Wives’ (first edition) each fetched 346l. 10s. On 23 April 1904 a copy of the quarto of ‘The Second Part of Henry IV’ (printed in 1600) was sold at Sotheby's for 1,035l. All the quartos were issued in Shakespeare's day at sixpence each.
On 8 Nov. 1623 Edward Blount and Isaac (son of William) Jaggard obtained license to publish sixteen hitherto unprinted plays, The First Folio.viz. ‘The Tempest,’ ‘The Two Gentlemen,’ ‘Measure for Measure,’ ‘Comedy of Errors,’ ‘As you like it,’ ‘All's Well,’ ‘Twelfth Night,’ ‘Winter's Tale,’ ‘3 Henry VI,’ ‘Henry VIII,’ ‘Coriolanus,’ ‘Timon,’ ‘Julius Cæsar,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ and ‘Cymbeline.’ In the same year Blount and Jaggard produced a folio volume of nearly a thousand pages containing all the plays mentioned, with the exception of ‘Pericles,’ and with the addition of ‘King John,’ ‘1 and 2 Henry VI,’ and the ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (none of the latter pieces received a license). Thirty-six pieces in all were thus brought together. The volume was sold at a pound a copy, and was described in the colophon as printed at the charges of W. Jaggard, I. Smithweeke, and W. Aspley, as well as of Blount. The latter doubtless saw it through the press (cf. Bibliographica, i. 489 seq.). The plays are arranged under three headings—‘Comedies,’ ‘Histories,’ and ‘Tragedies’—and each division is separately paged. ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ which is absent from the list of contents, was inserted hastily after the volume was printed off; it is placed at the end of the ‘Histories,’ and is unpaged. Doubtless the large work was long in printing. A unique copy in the Lenox Library, New York, bears the date 1622, and includes two cancelled leaves of sheet R (‘As you like it’). On the title-page is engraved the Droeshout portrait. Commendatory verses are supplied by Ben Jonson, Hugh Holland, Leonard Digges [q. v.], and I. M., perhaps Jasper Maine [q. v.] The dedication to the brothers William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, and Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery, as well as an address ‘to the great variety of readers,’ is signed by Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, Heming and Condell, who accept a large responsibility for the enterprise. They disclaim ‘ambition either of selfe-profit or fame,’ being solely moved by anxiety to ‘keepe the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare.’ ‘It had bene a thing we confesse worthie to haue bene wished,’ they inform the reader, ‘that the author himselfe had liued to haue set forth and ouerseen his owne writings. … As where (before) we were abus'd with diuerse stolne and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious impostors that expos'd them; even those are now offer'd to your view cur'd and perfect of their limbes, and all the rest absolute in their numbers as he conceived them.’ The title-page states, too, that all the plays were printed ‘according to the true originall copies.’ But the first-folio text is not in every case superior to that of the sixteen pre-existent quartos, from which it differs invariably, although in varying degrees. The quarto texts of ‘Love's Labour's Lost,’ ‘Midsummer Night's Dream,’ and ‘Richard II’ are, for example, of higher value than the folio texts. On the other hand, the folio first repairs the glaring defects of the quarto versions of ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ and of ‘Henry V.’
About fourteen perfect copies and 170 imperfect copies of the first folio seem now known. One of the finest copies was purchased by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts for 716l. 2s. at the sale of George Daniel's library in 1864. Frederick Locker-Lampson's copy fetched 3,600l. at Sotheby's 23 March 1907.
A reprint unwarrantably purporting to be exact was published in 1807–8 (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 47). The best reprint was issued in three parts by Lionel Booth in 1861, 1863, 1864. A photo-zincographic reproduction by Sir Henry James, under the direction of Howard Staunton, was issued in sixteen folio parts between Feb. 1864 and Oct. 1865. A reduced photographic facsimile appeared in 1876, with a preface by Halliwell-Phillipps. A collotype facsimile was issued by the Oxford University Press in 1902, with introduction and ‘Census of Extant Copies’ by the present writer. A pamphlet of ‘Additions to the Census’ followed in 1906.
The second folio edition was printed in 1632 by Thomas Cotes for Robert Allot and William Aspley, each of whose names figures as publisher on different copies. To Allot The Second Folio. Blount had transferred, on 16 Nov. 1630, his rights in the sixteen plays which were first licensed for publication in 1623 (Arber, iii. 242–3). The second folio is identical with the first. Charles I's copy is at Windsor, and Charles II's at the British Museum. The ‘Perkins folio,’ now in the Duke of Devonshire's possession, in which Collier introduced forged emendations, was a copy of that of 1632 [see for the controversy, Collier, John Payne]. The third folio was first published in 1663 by Peter The Third Folio.Chetwynde, who reissued it next year with the addition of seven plays, six of which have no claim to admission among Shakespeare's works. ‘Unto this Impression,’ runs the title-page of 1664, ‘is added seven Playes never before printed in folio, viz.: Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The London Prodigall. The History of Thomas Ld. Cromwell. Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham. The Puritan Widow. A Yorkshire Tragedy. The Tragedy of Locrine.’ The six spurious pieces were attributed by unprincipled publishers to Shakespeare in his lifetime. The fourth folio, printed in 1685 ‘for H. The Fourth Folio.Herringman, E. Brewster, R. Chiswell, and R. Bentley,’ reprints the folio of 1664 with the spurious appendix.
Since 1685 some two hundred independent editions of the collected works have been published in Great Britain and Ireland, and many Eighteenth-century editors.thousand editions of separate plays. The chief eighteenth-century editors of the collected works were: 1. Nicholas Rowe [q. v.], the earliest critical editor (1709–10, 7 vols.; 2nd edit. 1714). 2. Alexander Pope (1725, 6 vols.; imperfectly ‘collated and corrected.’ Reprints are dated 1728, with contributions by George Sewell [q. v.], 1731, 1735, 1766; by Foulis of Glasgow, 1768; by Baskerville of Birmingham). 3. Lewis Theobald [q. v.], who made some brilliant emendations (1733, 7 vols; eight reprints to 1777). 4. Sir Thomas Hanmer (1744, 6 vols. with glossary and various readings, Oxford, 4to; 2nd edit. 1770–1). 5. Bishop Warburton, who re-edited Pope's version in 1747 in 8 vols. and was severely criticised among others by Thomas Edwards (1699–1757) [q. v.] 6. Dr. Johnson (1765, 8 vols., with his well-known preface and notes; 2nd edit. 1768). 7. Edward Capell [q. v.] (1768, 10 vols., with ‘Notes, various readings, and the School of Shakespeare,’ in 3 vols. 1783). 8. Edmund Malone [q. v.] (1790, 10 vols.). 9. Meanwhile, George Steevens, who reprinted twenty of the quartos in 1766, joined with Johnson in producing the first attempt at a The Variorum Editions. variorum edition in 1773 (10 vols. 8vo). Contributions by Dr. Farmer and Malone were incorporated. This long remained the standard edition. A second issue is dated 1778 (10 vols.); a third, revised by Isaac Reed [q. v.], in 1785; and a fourth, somewhat recklessly revised by Steevens himself, in 15 vols. in 1793. A fifth edition, undertaken by Reed in 1803, in 21 vols., is known among booksellers as the ‘First Variorum’ edition. A sixth edition (1813, 21 vols.) embodied prefatory essays and notes by Edmund Malone, and is known as ‘the Second Variorum.’ The seventh edition, on which Malone was long engaged, was prepared for the press by James Boswell the younger [q. v.], and appeared in 1821. It is known as ‘the Third Variorum,’ or ‘Boswell's Malone,’ and is the best of its kind. A new ‘Variorum’ edition, on an exhaustive scale, was undertaken by Mr. H. Howard Furness of Philadelphia, and ten volumes have appeared since 1871 (including ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Hamlet,’ 2 vols., ‘King Lear,’ ‘Othello,’ ‘Merchant of Venice,’ ‘As you like it,’ ‘Tempest,’ and ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’).
Among nineteenth-century editors of repute are William Harness (1825, 8 vols.); Samuel Weller Singer (1826, 10 vols., Nineteenth-century editors.printed in the Chiswick Press for William Pickering, illustrated by Stothard and others, and in 1856 with essays by William Watkiss Lloyd); Thomas Campbell, 1838; Charles Knight (1791–1873) [q. v.], with interesting if discursive notes (‘Pictorial edition,’ 1838–43, often reissued under different designations); Bryan Waller Procter, i.e. Barry Cornwall (1839–43, 3 vols.); John Payne Collier (1841–4, 8 vols.); Samuel Phelps (1851–4); J. O. Halliwell (1853–61, 15 vols. folio); Nikolaus Delius (Elberfeld, 1854–61, 7 vols.; 5th edit. 1882, 2 vols.); Alexander Dyce (1857, 9 vols., a useful edition, with full glossary); Richard Grant White (Boston 1857–65, 12 vols.); Howard Staunton (1858–60, 3 vols.); W. G. Clark, J. Glover, and Dr. Aldis Wright (‘Cambridge edition,’ 1863–6, 9 vols., exhaustively noting textual variations; new edit. 1887, and in 40 vols. 1893); the Rev. H. N. Hudson (1851–6, 11 vols., reissued as Harvard edition, Boston, 1881, 20 vols.). The latest complete annotated editions are ‘The Henry Irving Shakespeare,’ ed. F. A. Marshall and others—especially useful for notes on stage history (8 vols. 1888–90)—‘The Temple Shakespeare,’ concisely edited by Mr. Israel Gollancz (38 vols. 12mo, 1894–6), and the Eversley Shakespeare, ed. Prof. Harford, 10 vols. 1899.
Of one-volume editions the best are the Globe, edited by W. G. Clark and Dr. Aldis Wright (1864, and constantly reprinted); the Leopold (1876, from the text of Delius, with preface by Dr. Furnivall); and the Oxford (1894), ed. W. J. Craig (1843–1906).
The highest estimate was formed of Shakespeare's work by his contemporaries, by critics as well as playgoers. Anticipating the final verdict, the editors of the first Ben Jonson's tribute.folio wrote: ‘These plays have had their trial already and stood out all appeals.’ Ben Jonson, as a champion of classical canons, noted that Shakespeare ‘wanted art,’ but he allowed him, in verses prefixed to the earliest folio, the first place among all dramatists, including those of Greece and Rome, and claimed that all Europe owed him homage. In 1630 Milton penned in like strains an epitaph on ‘the great heir of fame’ (cf. L'Allegro); and Milton was followed within ten years by critics of tastes so varied as Thomas Heywood, Sir John Suckling, the ‘ever-memorable’ John Hales of Eton, and Sir William D'Avenant. Leonard Digges (in the first edition of the ‘Poems,’ 1640) asserted that every revival of his plays drew crowds to pit, boxes, and galleries alike. At a little later date Shakespeare's plays were the ‘closet companions’ of Charles I's ‘solitudes’ (Milton, Iconoclastes, 1690, pp. 9–10).
After the Restoration public taste in English veered towards the French and classical dramatic models (cf. Evelyn, Diary, i. 342). Shakespeare's work was subjected to some unfavourable criticism as the product of 1660–1702.nature to the exclusion of art, but the eclipse proved more partial and temporary than is commonly admitted. The pedantic censure of Thomas Rymer [q. v.] on the score of Shakespeare's indifference to the classical laws attracted attention, but awoke in England no substantial echo. In Pepys's eyes ‘The Tempest’ had ‘no great wit,’ and ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ was ‘the most insipid and ridiculous play;’ yet this exacting critic witnessed thirty-six performances of twelve of Shakespeare's plays between 11 Oct. 1660 and 6 Feb. 1668–9, seeing ‘Hamlet’ four times, and ‘Macbeth,’ which he admitted to be ‘a most excellent play for variety,’ nine times. Dryden, the literary Dryden's view.dictator of the day, repeatedly complained of Shakespeare's inequalities—‘he is the very Janus of poets’ (Conquest of Granada, 1672). But in almost the same breath Dryden declared that Shakespeare was held in as much veneration as Æschylus among the Athenians, and that ‘he was the man who of all modern and perhaps ancient poets had the largest and most comprehensive soul. … When he describes anything, you more than see it—you feel it too’ (Essay on Dramatic Poesie, 1668). Writers of such opposite temperaments as Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (1664), and Sir Charles Sedley (1693) vigorously argued for Shakespeare's supremacy, and the many adaptations of his plays that were contrived to meet Restoration sentiment failed to supersede their originals. Dryden and D'Avenant converted ‘The Tempest’ into an opera (1670); D'Avenant singlehanded adapted ‘The Two Noble Restoration adaptations.Kinsmen’ (1668) and ‘Macbeth’ (1674); Dryden dealt similarly with ‘Troilus’ (1679); Thomas Duffett with ‘The Tempest’ (1675); Shadwell with ‘Timon’ (1678); Nahum Tate with ‘Richard II’ (1681), ‘Lear’ (1681), and ‘Coriolanus’ (1682); John Crowne with ‘Henry VI’ (1681); D'Urfey with ‘Cymbeline’ (1682); Ravenscroft with ‘Titus’ (1687); Otway with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1692), and John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham, with ‘Julius Cæsar’ (1692). But during the same period the chief actor of the day, Thomas Betterton, won his spurs as the interpreter of Shakespeare's chief tragic parts, mainly in unrevised versions. ‘Hamlet’ was accounted that actor's masterpiece (cf. Shakspere's Century of Praise, 1591–1693, New Shakspere Soc., ed. Ingleby and Toulmin Smith, 1879; and Fresh Allusions, ed. Furnivall, 1886).
From the accession of Queen Anne to the present day the tide of Shakespeare's reputation, both on the stage and among From 1702 onwards.critics, has flowed onward almost uninterruptedly. The censorious critic, John Dennis, in his ‘Letters’ on Shakespeare's ‘genius,’ gave his work in 1711 whole-hearted commendation, and two of the greatest men of letters of the eighteenth century, Pope and Johnson, although they did not withhold all censure, paid him the homage of becoming his editor. Through the middle and late years of the century many critics, of whom Theobald and Capell were the most acute, concentrated their energies on textual emendation of difficult and corrupt passages, and they founded a school of textual criticism, which has never ceased its activity (cf. W. Sidney Walker, Critical Examination of the Text of Shakespeare, 1859). At the end of the eighteenth century Edmund Malone [q. v.] devoted himself with unprecedented zeal to the biography of the poet and the contemporary history of the stage, and he secured later disciples in Francis Douce, Joseph Hunter, J. P. Collier, and J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. Meanwhile a third school arose to expound exclusively the æsthetic excellence of the plays. Coleridge in his ‘Notes and Lectures’ (which was written partly under German influences), and Hazlitt in his ‘Characters of Shakespeare's Plays’ (1817), are the chief representatives of the æsthetic school, and, although Professor Dowden, in his ‘Shakespeare, his Mind and Art’ (1874), and Mr. Swinburne in his ‘Study of Shakespeare’ (1880), are worthy successors, Coleridge and Hazlitt remain as æsthetic critics unsurpassed. In the effort to supply a fuller interpretation of Shakespeare's works—textual, historical, and æsthetic—two publishing societies have done much valuable work. ‘The Shakespeare Society’ was founded in 1841 by J. P. Collier, J. O. Halliwell, and their friends, and published some forty-eight volumes before its dissolution in 1853. The New Shakspere Society, which was founded by Dr. Furnivall in 1874, issued during the ensuing twenty years twenty-seven publications, illustrative mainly of the text and of contemporary life and literature.
In 1769 Shakespeare's ‘jubilee’ was celebrated for three days (6–8 Sept.) at Stratford, under the direction of Garrick, Dr. Stratford festivals.Arne, and Boswell. The festivities were repeated on a small scale in April 1827 and April 1830; while ‘the Shakespeare tercentenary festival,’ which was held at Stratford from 23 April to 4 May 1864, claimed to be a national celebration (R. E. Hunter, Shakespeare and the Tercentenary Celebration, 1864).
On the English stage the name of every eminent actor since Betterton has been chiefly identified with Shakespearean parts.
On the English stage.Robert Wilks and Charles Macklin were in the middle of the eighteenth century eclipsed by David Garrick [q. v.] The latter's enthusiasm for the poet and histrionic genius did much to strengthen Shakespeare's hold on public taste, but Garrick did not scrupulously adhere to the authorised text. To Garrick, who was ably seconded by Mrs. Cibber and Mrs. Pritchard, soon succeeded John Philip Kemble and his sister, Mrs. Siddons; and during the present century the torch has been kept alive by Edmund Kean, by Macready, by Samuel Phelps, by Helen Faucit (afterwards Lady Martin), by C. A. Calvert, by Miss Ellen Terry, and Sir Henry Irving. Music and art in England also owe much to Shakespeare's influence. From Thomas Morley [q. v.], Purcell, Matthew Locke, and Arne to In music
and art.William Linley, Sir Henry Bishop, and Sir Arthur Sullivan, every distinguished musician has sought to improve on his predecessor's setting of one or more of Shakespeare's songs, or has composed concerted music in illustration of some of his dramatic themes (cf. Alfred Roffe, Shakspere Music, 1878; Songs in Shakspere … set to Music, 1884, New Shakspere Soc.). In art, John Boydell [q. v.] organised between 1790 and 1800 a scheme for illustrating Shakespeare's work by the greatest living English artists, and some fine pictures were the result. Few great artists of later date, from Sir Daniel Maclise to Sir John Millais, have lacked the ambition to interpret some scene or character of Shakespearean drama.
In America no less enthusiasm for Shakespeare has been manifested. Editors and critics are hardly less numerous there than in In America.England, and some criticism from American pens, like that of James Russell Lowell, has reached the highest literary level. Nowhere, probably, has more labour been devoted to the study of his works than that devoted by Mr. H. H. Furness of Philadelphia to the preparation of his ‘New Variorum’ edition. The Barton collection of Shakespeareana in the Boston Public Library is one of the most valuable extant: the elaborate catalogue (1878–80) contains some 2,500 entries. First of Shakespeare's plays to be represented in America, ‘Richard III’ was performed in New York in March 1750. More recently Edwin Forrest (1806–1872), Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin Booth, Charlotte Cushman, and Miss Ada Rehan have maintained on the American stage the great traditions of Shakespearean acting; while Mr. E. A. Abbey has devoted high artistic gifts to pictorial representation of scenes from the plays.
The bible, alone of all literary compositions, has been translated more frequently or into a greater number of languages than the works of Shakespeare. The progress of his reputation in Germany, France, Italy, and Russia was somewhat slow at the outset. But in Germany the poet has received for nearly a century and a half a recognition scarcely less pronounced than that accorded him in America and in his own country. Three of Shakespeare's plays, now in the Zurich Library, were brought thither by In Germany.J. R. Hess from England in 1614. As early as 1626 ‘Hamlet,’ ‘King Lear,’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ were acted at Dresden, and a version of the ‘Taming of the Shrew’ was played there and elsewhere at the end of the seventeenth century. But such mention of Shakespeare as is found in German literature between 1640 and 1740 only indicates a knowledge on the part of German readers either of Dryden's criticisms or of the accounts of him printed in English encyclopædias (cf. D. G. Morhoff, Unterricht von der teutschen Sprache und Poesie, Kiel, 1682, p. 250). The earliest sign of a direct acquaintance with the plays is a poor translation into German of ‘Julius Cæsar’ by Baron C. W. von Borck, formerly Prussian minister in London, which was published at Berlin in 1741. A worse rendering of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ followed in 1758. Meanwhile J. C. Gottsched (1700–66), an influential man of letters, warmly denounced Shakespeare in a review of Von Borch's effort in ‘Beiträge zur deutschen Sprache’ and elsewhere. Lessing came without delay to Shakespeare's rescue, and set his reputation, in the estimation of the German public, on that exalted pedestal which it has not ceased to occupy. It was in 1759, in a journal entitled ‘Litteraturbriefe,’ that Lessing first claimed for Shakespeare superiority, not only to the French dramatists Racine and Corneille, who hitherto had dominated European taste, but to all ancient or modern poets. Lessing's doctrine, which he developed in his ‘Hamburgische Dramaturgie’ (Hamburg, 1767, 2 vols. 8vo), was at once accepted by the poet Johann Gottfried Herder in the ‘Blätter von deutschen Art und Kunst,’ 1771. Christopher Martin Wieland (1733–1813) in 1762 began a prose translation which Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743–1820) completed (Zurich, 13 vols., 1775–84). Between 1797 and 1833 appeared at intervals the classical German rendering by August Wilhelm von Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, leaders of the romantic school of German literature, whose creed embodied, as one of its first articles, an unwavering veneration for Shakespeare. Schlegel translated only seventeen plays, and his workmanship excels that of the rest of the translation. Tieck's part in the undertaking was mainly confined to editing translations by various hands. Many other German translations followed—by J. H. Voss and his sons (Leipzig, 1818–1829), by J. W. O. Benda (Leipzig, 1825–6), by A. Böttger (Leipzig, 1836–7) and others. Most of these have been many times reissued, but Schlegel and Tieck's achievement still holds the field. Schlegel's lectures on ‘Shakespeare and the Drama,’ which were delivered at Vienna in 1808, and were translated into English in 1815, are worthy of comparison with those of Coleridge, who acknowledged their influence. Goethe poured forth, in his voluminous writings, a mass of equally illuminating and appreciative criticism (cf. Wilhelm Meister); and, although he deemed Shakespeare's works unsuited to the stage, he adapted ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Weimar Theatre, while Schiller prepared ‘Macbeth’ (Stuttgart, 1801). Heine published in 1838 charming studies of Shakespeare's heroines (English transl. 1895).
During the last half-century textual, æsthetic, and biographical criticism has been pursued in Germany with unflagging industry and energy; and although laboured and supersubtle theorising characterises much German æsthetic criticism, its mass and variety testify to the impressiveness of the appeal that Shakespeare's work has made to the German intellect. The vain effort to stem the current of Shakespearean worship made by the dramatist, J. R. Benedix in ‘Die Shakespearomanie’ (Stuttgart, 1873, 8vo), stands practically alone. In studies of the text and metre Nikolaus Delius (1813–1888) should, among recent German writers, perhaps be accorded the first place; in studies of the biography and stage history Friedrich Karl Elze (1821–1889); in æsthetic studies Friedrich Alexander Theodor Kreyssig (1818–1879), author of ‘Vorlesungen über Shakespeare’ (Berlin, 1858 and 1874), and ‘Shakespeare-Fragen’ (Leipzig, 1871). Ulrici's ‘Shakespeare's Dramatic Art’ (first published at Halle in 1839) and Gervinus's Commentaries (first published at Leipzig in 1848–9), both of which are familiar in English translations, are suggestive but unconvincing æsthetic interpretations. The German Shakespeare Society, which was founded at Weimar in 1865, has published forty-three year-books (edited successively by von Bodenstedt, Delius, Elze, F. A. Leo, and Prof. Brandl), which contain many useful contributions to Shakespearean study.
Shakespeare has been no less effectually nationalised on the German stage. The three great actors—Friedrich Ulrich Ludwig On the German stage.Schroeder (1744–1816) of Hamburg, Ludwig Devrient (1784–1832), and his nephew Gustav Emil Devrient (1803–1872)—largely derived their fame from their successful assumptions of Shakespearean characters. Another of Ludwig Devrient's nephews, Eduard (1801–1877), also an actor, prepared, with his son Otto, an acting German edition (Leipzig, 1873, and following years). An acting edition by Wilhelm Oechelhaeuser, appeared previously at Berlin in 1871. As many as twenty-eight of the thirty-seven plays assigned to Shakespeare are now on recognised lists of German acting plays (cf. Jahrbuch der Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft for 1894). In 1895 as many as 706 performances of twenty-five of Shakespeare's plays were given in German theatres (ib. for 1896, p. 438). ‘Othello,’ ‘Hamlet,’ and ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ usually prove most popular. Of the many German composers who have worked on Shakespearean themes, Mendelssohn (in ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’), Schumann, and Franz Schubert have achieved the greatest success.
In France Shakespeare won recognition after a longer struggle than in Germany. Cyrano de Bergerac (1619–1655) In France.plagiarised ‘Cymbeline,’ ‘Hamlet,’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in his ‘Agrippina.’ About 1680 Nicolas Clement, Louis XIV's librarian, allowed Shakespeare imagination, natural thoughts, and ingenious expression, but deplored his obscenity (Jusserand, A French Ambassador, p. 56). Half a century elapsed before French public attention was again directed to Shakespeare (cf. Al. Schmidt, Voltaire's Verdienst von der Einführung Shakespeares in Frankreich, Königsberg, 1864). The Abbé Prévost, in his periodical ‘Le Pour et Contre’ (1733, et seq.), acknowledged his power. But it is to Voltaire that his countrymen owe, as he himself boasted, their first effective introduction. Voltaire studied Shakespeare thoroughly on his visit to England between 1726 and 1729, and his Voltaire.influence is visible in his own dramas. In his ‘Lettres Philosophiques’ (1731), afterwards reissued as ‘Lettres sur les Anglais,’ 1734 (Nos. xviii. and xix.), and in his ‘Lettres sur la Tragédie’ (1731), he expressed admiration for Shakespeare's genius, but attacked his want of taste and art. He described him as ‘le Corneille de Londres, grand fou d'ailleurs, mais il a des morceaux admirables.’ Writing to the Abbé des Fontaines in November 1735, Voltaire admitted many merits in ‘Julius Cæsar,’ on which he published ‘Observations’ in 1764. Johnson replied to Voltaire's general criticism in the preface to his edition (1765), and Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu [q. v.] in 1769 in a separate volume, which was translated into French in 1777. Diderot made, in his ‘Encylopédie,’ the first stand in France against the Voltairean position, and increased opportunities of studying Shakespeare's works increased the poet's vogue. Twelve plays were translated in De La Place's ‘Théâtre Anglais’ (1745–8). Jean-François Ducis (1733–1816) adapted without much insight six plays for the French stage, beginning in 1769 with ‘Hamlet,’ which was acted with applause. In 1776 Pierre Le Tourneur began a bad prose translation (completed in 1782) of all Shakespeare's plays and declared him to be ‘the god of the theatre.’ Voltaire protested against this estimate in a new remonstrance consisting of two letters, of which the first was read before the French Academy on 25 Aug. 1776. Here Shakespeare was described as a barbarian, whose works—‘a huge dunghill’—concealed some pearls. Although Voltaire's censure was rejected by the majority of later French critics, it expressed a sentiment born of the genius of the nation, and made an impression that was only gradually effaced. Marmontel, La Harpe, Marie-Joseph Chénier, and Chateaubriand, in his ‘Essai sur Shakespeare,’ 1801, inclined to Voltaire's view; but Madame de Staël wrote effectively on the other side in her ‘De la Littérature’ 1804 (i. caps. 13, 14, ii. 5). The revision of Le Tourneur's translation by François Guizot and A. Pichot in 1821 gave Shakespeare a fresh advantage. Paul Duport, in ‘Essais Littéraires sur Shakespeare’ (Paris, 1828, 2 vols.), was the last French critic of repute to repeat Voltaire's censure unreservedly. Guizot, in his ‘Sur la Vie et les Œuvres de Shakespeare’ (reprinted separately from the translation of 1821), as well as in his ‘Shakespeare et son Temps’ (1852); Villemain in a general essay (Mélanges Historiques, 1827, iii. 141–87), and Barante in a study of ‘Hamlet’ (ib. 1824, iii. 217–34), acknowledge the mightiness of Shakespeare's genius with comparatively few qualifications. Other translations followed—by Francisque Michel (1839), by Benjamin Laroche (1851), and by Emil Montégut (1867), but the best is that in prose by François Victor Hugo (1859–66), whose father, Victor Hugo, published a rhapsodical eulogy in 1864. Alfred Mézières's ‘Shakespeare, ses Œuvres et ses Critiques’ (Paris, 1860), is a saner appreciation. Meanwhile ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Othello’ and a few other Shakespearean plays, became On the French stage.stock-pieces on the French stage. Alfred de Vigny prepared a version of ‘Othello’ for the Théâtre-Français in 1829 with eminent success. An adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ by Alexandre Dumas was first performed in 1847, and a rendering by De Chatelain (1864) was often repeated. George Sand translated ‘As you like it’ (Paris, 1856) for representation by the Comédie Française on 12 April 1856. ‘Lady Macbeth’ has been represented in recent years by Madame Sarah Bernhardt, and ‘Hamlet’ by M. Mounet Sully of the Théâtre-Français (cf. Lacroix, Histoire de l'Influence de Shakespeare sur le Théâtre Français, 1867; Edinb. Rev. 1849, pp. 39–77; Elze, Essays, pp. 193 sq.; M. Jusserand, ‘Shakespeare en France sous l'Ancien Régime,’ in Cosmopolis, Nov.–Dec. 1896, Jan.–Feb. 1897).
In Italy Shakespeare was little known before the present century. Such references as eighteenth-century In Italy.Italian writers made to him were based on remarks by Voltaire (cf. Giovanni Andres, Dell' Origine, Progressi e Stato attuale d'ogni Letteratura, 1782). The French adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ by Ducis was issued in Italian blank verse (Venice, 1774, 8vo). Complete translations of all the plays made direct from the English were issued by Michele Leoni (in verse) at Verona 1819–22, and by Carlo Rusconi in prose at Padua in 1831 (new edit. Turin, 1858–9). ‘Othello’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ have been most often translated into Italian separately. The Italian actors, Madame Ristori (as Lady Macbeth), Salvini (as Othello), and Rossi rank among Shakespeare's most effective interpreters. Verdi's operas on Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff (the last two with libretti by Boito), betray a close and appreciative study of Shakespeare.
In Eastern Europe, Shakespeare first became known through French and German translations. Into Russian ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was translated in 1772, ‘Richard III’ in 1783, and ‘Julius Cæsar’ in 1786. In Russia.Sumarakow translated Ducis' version of ‘Hamlet’ in 1784 for stage purposes, while the Empress Catherine II adapted the ‘Merry Wives’ and ‘King John.’ Numerous versions of all the chief plays followed; and in 1865 there appeared at St. Petersburg the best translation in verse (direct from the English), by Nekrasow and Gerbel. A prose translation, by N. Ketzcher, begun in 1862, was completed in 1879. Gerbel issued a Russian translation of the ‘Sonnets’ in 1880, and many critical essays in the language, original or translated, have been published. Almost every play has been represented in Russian on the Russian stage (cf. New Shaksp. Soc. Trans. 1880–5, pt. ii. 431 seq.). A Polish version of ‘Hamlet’ was acted at Lemberg in 1797; and as many as sixteen plays now hold a recognised place among Polish acting plays. The standard Polish translation of Shakespeare's collected works appeared at Warsaw in 1875 (edited by the Polish poet Kraszewski), and is reckoned among the most successful renderings in a foreign tongue.
Other complete translations have been published in Hungarian (Budapest, 1864–8), in Bohemian (Prague, 1874), in Swedish (Lund, 1847–51), in Dutch, in Danish (1845– 1850), and Finnish (Helsingfors, 1892–5). In Spanish a complete translation is in course of publication (Madrid, 1885 et seq.), and the Spanish critic Menéndez y Pelayo has placed Shakespeare above Calderon. In Armenian, although only three plays (‘Hamlet,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and ‘As you like it’) have been issued, the translation of the whole is ready for the press. Separate plays only have appeared in Welsh, Portuguese, Friesic, Flemish, Servian, Roumanian, Maltese, Ukrainian, Wallachian, Croatian, Finnish, modern Greek, Latin, and Hebrew; while a few have been rendered into Bengali, Hindustani, Marathi, Gujarati, and Urdu, Kanarese, and other languages of India, and have been acted in native theatres.
No estimate of Shakespeare's genius can be adequate. In knowledge of human character, in wealth of humour, in depth of General
estimate.passion, in fertility of fancy, in soundness of judgment, and in mastery of language he has no rival. His language and versification adapt themselves to every phase of sentiment, and sound almost every note in the scale of felicity. Although sudden transitions, elliptical expressions, mixed metaphors, obsolete words, indefensible verbal quibbles, and a few hopelessly corrupt readings disturb the modern reader's equanimity, the glow of the author's imagination leaves few passages wholly unillumined. It is the versatile working of Shakespeare's intellect that renders his supremacy unassailable. His mind, as Hazlitt suggested, contained within itself the germs of every faculty and feeling. He knew intuitively how every faculty and feeling would develop in every conceivable change of fortune. Men and women—good or bad, old or young, wise or foolish, merry or sad, rich or poor—yielded their secrets to him, and his genius illumined in turn every aspect of humanity that presents itself on the highway of life. Each of his characters gives voice to thought or passion with an individuality and a naturalness that rouse in the intelligent playgoer and reader the illusion that they are overhearing men and women speak unpremeditatingly among themselves, rather than that they are reading speeches or hearing written speeches recited. The more closely the words are studied, the completer the illusion grows. Creatures of the imagination—fairies, ghosts, witches—are delineated with a like potency, and the reader or spectator feels instinctively that these supernatural entities could not speak, feel, or act otherwise than Shakespeare represents them. So mighty a faculty sets at naught the common limitations of nationality, and in every quarter of the globe to which civilised life has penetrated Shakespeare's power is recognised. All the world over, language is applied to his creations that ordinarily applies to beings of flesh and blood. Hamlet and Othello, Lear and Macbeth, Falstaff, Brutus, Romeo, and Shylock are studied in almost every civilised tongue as if they were historic personalities, and the chief of the impressive phrases that fall from their lips are rooted in the speech of civilised humanity.