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Cornell University 

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tine Cornell University Library. 

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Cornell University Library 

PR 2894.L48 1916 

A life of William Sliaicespeare. 

3 1924 013 148 410 






MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 




^Ci iiLuun cJ/iaAcJ/i care 

Jro)n 't/ie (yh^yc^i'/tcu/ futtfLh'fKf non' in t/n' 
oi-nadctinenrri' llrmrrialQallrii/ itl AlrnlJTi-i-i'n-^ livn. 









All rights restrved 


Copyright^ iSgS, 1909) And 19x6, 

New edition, rewritten and enlarged. Set up and electrotyped. 
Published January, Z916. ' 

J. 8. Gushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


This King Shakespeare does he not shine 
in crowned sovereignty, over us all, as 
the noblest, gentlest, yet strongest of 
rallying signs ; z«destructible ; really more 
valuable in that point of view than any 
other means or appliance whatsoever? 
We can fancy him as radiant aloft over 
all Nations of Englishmen, a thousand 
years hence. From Paramatta, from New , 
York, wheresoever, under what sort of 
Parish Constable soever, English men and 
women are, they will say to one another, 
' Yes, this Shakespeare is ours ; we pro- 
duced him, we speak and thinlc by him ; 
we are of one blood and kind with him.' 

(Thomas Caklyle: Heroes and Hero 
Worship [1841] : The Hero as Poet.) 


The biography of Shakespeare, which I originally pub- 
lished seventeen years ago, is here re-issued in a new 
shape. The whole has been drastically revised and 
greatly enlarged. Recent Shakespearean research has 
proved unexpectedly fruitful. My endeavour has been 
to present in a just perspective all the trustworthy and 
relevant information about Shakespeare's life and work 
which has become available up to the present tim'e. My 
obligations to fellow-workers in the Shakespearean field 
are numerous, and I have done my best to acknowledge 
them fully in my text and notes. The new documentary 
evidence, which scholars have lately discovered touching 
the intricate stage history of Shakespeare's era, has 
proved of especial service, and I have also greatly bene- 
fited by the ingenious learning which has been recently 
brought to bear on vexed questions of Shakespearean 
bibliography. Much of the fresh Shakespearean know- 
ledge which my personal researches have yielded during 
the past few years has already been published in various 
places elsewhere, and whatever in my recent publications 
has seemed to me of pertinence to my present scheme 
I have here co-ordinated as succinctly as possible with 
the rest of my material. Some additional information 
which I derived while this volume was in course of prepa- 
ration, chiefly from Elizabethan and Jacobean archives 
at Stratford-on-Avon and from the wills at Somerset 
House of Shakespeare's Stratford friends, few of which 
appear to have been consulted before, now sees the light 
for the first time.^ In the result I think that I may 

' My transcripts of the wills of William Combe the elder (</. 1611), 
and of his nephews Thomas Combe (a?. 1609) and John Combe (</. 1614), 
have enabled me to correct the many errors which figure in all earlier 
accounts of Shakespeare's relations with the Combe family. Similarly the 


claim to have rendered an account of Shakespeare's 
career which is more comprehensive at any rate than 
any which has been offered the public previously. 

It is with peculiar pleasure that I acknowledge the 
assistance rendered me, while these pages have been 
passing through the press, by M. Seymour de Ricci, a 
soldier and scholar of French nationality who is now 
serving as an interpreter with our army in Flanders. 
M. de Ricci has in the intervals of active warfare sent 
me from the front, entirely on his own initiative, numer- 
ous suggestive comments which he had previously made 
from time to tirne on an earlier edition of my Life of 
Shakespeare. The conditions in which M. de Ricci has 
aided me pointedly illustrate the completeness of the 
intellectual sympathy which now unites the French and 
English nations. 

My gratitude is also due to Mr. F. C. Wellstood, 
M.A. Oxford, secretary and librarian to the Trustees 
of Shakespeare's Birthplace and deputy keeper of the 
Records of the Stratford Corporation, for the assiduity 
and ability with which he has searched in my behai 
the collections of documents in his keeping. Finally, I 
have to thank my secretary, Mr. W. B. Owen, M.A. Cam- 
bridge, for the zealous service he has continuously ren- 
dered me throughout the laborious composition of the 
work. My sister, Miss Elizabeth Lee, has shared with 
Mr. Owen the tasks of reading the proofs and of com- 
piling the Index. 

Sidney Lee. 

London, October 15, 1915. 

will of the Southwark tomb-maker, Garret Johnson the elder has hrfned 
me. 111 consunction with documents belonging to the Duke nV R,y,nT«f 
Belvoir Castle to throw new light on the history of Shalespeafe^s monu 
ment in Stratford-upon-Avon Church and to solve some n^,?,lL T!w 
standing in regard to it. With the assent of the Trus^e^, Lh r A- ^ 
of Shakespeare's Birthplace I purpose depositing in thefr ,fh ^""ft ' 
ford, for the use of students, copies of all tL fresh or ginalml^- ^ ^^'i; 
I have gathered together in the interests of this volume ™*'"'^1 '«'b"=l' 


This work is based on the article on Shakespeare which 
I contributed last year to the fifty-first volume of the 
' Dictionary of National Biography.' But the changes 
and additions -which the article has undergone during 
my revision of it for separate publication are so numer- 
ous as to give the book a title to be regarded as an in- 
dependent venture. In its general aims, however, the 
present life of Shakespeare endeavours loyally to adhere 
to the principles that are inherent in the scheme of the 
' Dictionary of National Biography.' I have endeavoured 
to set before my readers a plain and practical narrative 
of the great dramatist's personal history as concisely as 
the needs of clearness and completeness would permit. 
I have sought to provide students of Shakespeare with 
a full record of the duly attested facts and dates of their 
master's career. I have avoided merely aesthetic criti- 
cism. My estimates of the value of Shakespeare's plays 
and poems are intended solely to fulfil the obligation 
that lies on the biographer of indicating succinctly the 
character of the successive labours which were woven 
into the texture of his hero's life. Esthetic studies of 
Shakespeare abound, and to increase their number is a 
work of supererogation. But Shakespearean literature, 
as far as it is known to me, still lacks a book that shall 
supply within a brief compass an exhaustive and well- 
arranged statement of the facts of Shakespeare's career, 
achievement, and reputation, that shall reduce conjecture 
to the smallest dimensions consistent with coherence, and 
shall give verifiable references to all the original sources 


of information. After studying Elizabethan literature, 
history, and bibliography for more than eighteen years, j 
I believed that I might, without exposing myself to a 
charge of presumption, attempt something in the way 
of filling this gap, and that I might be able to supply, 
at least tentatively, a guide-book to Shakespeare's life 
and work that should be, within its limits, complete and 
trustworthy. How far my belief was justified the readers 
of this volume will decide. 

I cannot promise my readers any startling revelations. 
But my researches have enabled me to remove some 
ambiguities which puzzled my predecessors, and to throw 
light on one or two topics that have hitherto obscured 
the course of Shakespeare's career. Particulars that 
have not been before incorporated in Shakespeare's bi- 
ography will be found in my treatment of the following 
subjects: the conditions under which 'Love's Labour's 
Lost ' and ' The Merchant of Venice ' were written ; the 
references in Shakespeare's plays to his native town and 
county ; his father's applications to the Heralds' College 
for coat-armour ; his relations with Ben Jonson and the 
boy-actors in 1601 ; the favour extended to his work by 
James I and his Court; the circumstances which led to 
the publication of the First Folio, and the history of the 
dramatist's portraits. I have somewhat expanded the 
notices of Shakespeare's financial affairs which have 
already appeared in the article in the ' Dictionary of 
National Biography,' and a few new facts will be found 
in my revised estimate of the poet's pecuniary position. 

In my treatment of the sonnets I have pursued what 
I believe to be an original line of investigation. The 
strictly autobiographical interpretation that critics have 
of late placed on these poems compelled me, as Shake- 
speare's biographer, to submit them to a very narrow 
scrutiny. My conclusion is adverse to the claim of the 
sonnets to rank as autobiographical documents, but I 
have felt bound, out of respect to writers from whose 
views I dissent, to give in detail the evidence on which 
I base my judgment. Matthew Arnold sagaciously laid 
down the maxim that 'the criticism which alone can 


much help us for the future is a criticism which regards 
Europe as being, for intellectual and artistic ' purposes, 
one gireat confederation, bound to a joint action and 
working to a common result.' It is criticism inspired 
by this liberalising principle that is especially applicable 
to the vast sonnet-literature which was produced by 
Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It is criticism of 
the type that Arnold recommended that can alone lead 
to any accurate and profitable conclusion respecting the 
intention of the vast sonnet-literature of the Elizabethan 
era. In accordance with Arnold's suggestion, I have 
studied Shakespeare's sonnets comparatively with those 
in vogue in England, France, and Italy at the time he 
wrote. I have endeavoured to learn the view that was 
taken of such literary endeavours by contemporary 
critics and readers throughout Europe. My researches 
have covered a very small portion of the wide field. 
But I have gone far enough, I think, to justify the con- 
viction that Shakespeare's collection of sonnets has no 
reasonable title to be regarded as a personal or autobi- 
ographical narrative. 

In the Appendix (Sections iii. and iv.) I have supplied 
a memoir of Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of South- 
ampton, and an account of the Earl's relations with the 
contemporary world of letters. Apart from Southamp- 
ton's association with the sonnets, he promoted Shake- 
speare's welfare at an early stage of the dramatist's 
career, and I can quote the authority of Malone, who 
appended a sketch of Southampton's history to his 
biography of Shakespeare (in the ' Variorum ' edition 
of 1621), for treating a knowledge of Southampton's 
life as essential to a full knowledge of Shakespeare's. 
I have also printed in the Appendix a detailed state- 
ment of the precise circumstances under which Shake- 
speare's sonnets were published by Thomas Thorpe in 
1609 (Section v.), and a review of the facts that seem to 
me to confute the popular theory that Shakespeare was 
a friend and prot^g^ of William Herbert, third Earl of 

' Arnold wrote ' spiritual,' but the change of epithet is needful to render 
the dictum thoroughly pertinent to the topic under consideration. 


Pembroke, who has been put forward quite unwarrant- 
ably as the hero of the sonnets (Sections vi., vii., viii.).^ 
I have also included in the Appendix (Sections ix. and 
X.) a survey of the voluminous sonnet-literature of the 
Elizabethan poets between 1591 and 1597, with which 
Shakespeare's sonnetteering efforts were very closely 
allied, as well as a bibliographical note on a correspond- 
ing feature of French and Italian literature between 
1550 and 1600. 

Since the publication of the article on Shakespeare in 
the ' Dictionary of National Biography,' I have received 
from correspondents many criticisms and suggestions 
which have enabled me to correct some errors. But a 
few of my correspondents have exhibited so ingenuous 
a faith in those forged documents relating to Shake- 
speare and forged references to his works, which were 
promulgated chiefly by John Payne Collier more than 
half a century ago, that I have attached a list of the 
misleading records to my chapter on 'The Sources of 
Biographical Information ' in the Appendix (Section i). 
I believe the list to be fuller than any to be met with 

The six illustrations which appear in this volume have 
been chosen on grounds of practical utiUty rather than 
of artistic merit. My reasons for selecting as the 
frontispiece the newly discovered ' Droeshout ' painting 
of Shakespeare (now in the Shakespeare Memorial Gal- 
lery at Stratford-on-Avon) can be gathered from the 
history of the painting and of its discovery which I give 
on pages 528-30. I have to thank Mr. Edgar Flower 
and the other members of the Council of the Shake- 
speare Memorial at Stratford for permission to repro- 
duce the picture. The portrait of Southampton in early 
life is now at Welbeck Abbey, and the Duke of Port- 
land not only permitted the portrait to be engraved for 

1 I have already published portions of the papers on Shakespeare's 
relations with the Earls of Pembroke and Southampton in the Fortni'hth 
Review (for February of this year) and in the CornhiU Magazine hot 
April of this year), and I have to thank the proprietors of those periodicals 
for permission to reproduce my material in this volume. 


this volume but lent me the negative from which the 
plate has been prepared. The Committee of the Gar- 
rick Club gave permission to photograph the interesting 
bust of Shakespeare in their possession,^ but, owing to 
the fact that it is moulded in black terra-cotta, no satis- 
factory negative could be obtained ; the engraving I 
have used is from a photograph of a white plaster cast 
of the original bust, now in the Memorial Gallery at 
Stratford. The five autographs of Shakespeare's signa- 
ture — all that exist of unquestioned' authenticity — 
appear- in the three remaining plates. The three signa- 
tures on the will have been photographed from the 
original document at Somerset House by permission of 
Sir Francis Jeune, President of the Probate Court ; the 
autograph on the deed of purchase by Shakespeare in 
1613 of the house in Blackfriars has been photographed 
from the original document in the Guildhall Library by 
permission of the Library Committee of the City of 
London ; and the autograph on the deed of mortgage 
relating to the same property, also dated in 161 3, has 
been photographed from the original document in the 
British Museum by permission of the Trustees. Shake- 
speare's coat-of-arms and motto, which are stamped on 
the cover of this volume, are copied from the trickings 
in the margin of the draft-grants of arms now in the 
Heralds' College. 

The Baroness Burdett-Coutts has kindly given me 
ample opportunities of examining the two peculiarly 
interesting and valuable copies of the First Folio ^ in 
her possession. Mr. Richard Savage, of Stratford-on- 
Avon, the Secretary of the Birthplace Trustees, and 
Mr. W. Salt Brassington, the Librarian of the Shake- 
speare Memorial at Stratford, have courteously replied 
to the many inquiries that I have addressed to them 
verbally or by letter. Mr. Lionel Cust, the Director of 
the National Portrait Gallery, has helped me to estimate 
the authenticity of Shakespeare's portraits. I have also 
benefited, while the work has been passing through the 

1 For an account of its history see p. 537. 

2 See pp. 562-3 and 567. 


press, by the valuable suggestions of my friends the 
Rev. H. C. Beeching and Mr. W. J. Craig, and I have 
to thank Mr. Thomas Seccombe for the zealous aid he 
has rendered me while correcting the final proofs. 

October is, iSgS. 


In Piam Memoriam 

Preface to 
(1898) . 

the First Edition 


Distribution of the name 
of Shakespeare .... i 

The poet's ancestry ... 2 

The poet's father settles in 
Stratford-on-Avon . . 4 

John Shakespeare in mu- 
nicipal office 5 

, The poet's mother ... 6 
1564, April. The poet's birth 

and baptism 8 

Shakespeare's birthplace . 9 
History of the Premises, 

1670-1847 10 

Their present uses ... 10 

II 4^ 


The plague of 1564 . . . 



The father as alderman and 




Brothers and sisters . . . 



The father's financial diffi- 



1571-7 Shakespeare's school 


Shakespeare's curriculum . 


Shakespeare's learning 


"The poet's classical equip- 




The influence of Ovid . . 


The use of translations 


The English Bible . . . 


Shakespeare and the Bible 


Youthful recreation , . . 


Queen Elizabeth at Kenil- 

worth 24 

Withdrawal from school . 25 

Dec. The poet's marriage 25 
Richard Hathaway of Shot- 

tery 26 

Anne Hathaway .... 26 
Anne Hathaway's cottage . 27 
The bond against impedi- 
ments 27 

May. Birth of a daughter 29 
Formal betrothal probably 

dispensed with .... 29 
The disputed marriage 

license 30 



Husband and wife ... 32 

Poaching at Charlecote . 34 
Unwarranted doubts of the 

tradition 34 

Justice Shallow . . . 
1585 The flight from Stratford 






1586 The journey to London . 37 

Alternative routes ... 39 

Stratford settlers in Lon- . 40 

don 40 

Richard Field 41 

Field and Shakespeare . 42 
Shakespeare's alleged legal 

experience . ... 43 
The literary habit of legal 

phraseology 43 



Early theatrical employ- 

The player's license . . . 
The acting companies . 
The great patrons . . 
The companies of boys 


The fortunes of Lord 

Leicester's company 51 

The King's servants . . 54 

Shakespeare's company . 54 

His ties with the Lord 

Chamberlain's men . . 55 



■The Theatre,' the first 

playhouse in England . 58 

"The Curtain' 59 

Shakespeare at the ' Rose ' 60 
The founding of the 

' Globe,' 1599 .... 63 

The Blackfriars .... 64 

The ' private ' playhouse . 67 

Performances at Court . . &/ 
Methods of presentation in 

pubhc theatres .... 72 

The structural plan ... 73 

The stage ... 74 

Costume 77 

Absence of women actors . 78 

Provincial tours . . 81 

Scottish tours 8^ 

English actors on the Con- 
tinent 85 

Shakespeare's alleged trav- 
els in Italy 86 

Shakespeare's r61es ... 87 



Pre-Elizabethan drama 


The birth of Elizabethan 



Amorphous developments 


Chronicle plays .... 


A period of purgation . . 



Shakespeare's debt to fel- 


low-workers ... 



The actor-dramatist . . . 



Shakespeare's dramatic 



His borrowed plots . . 
The revision of plays . 
Chronology of the plays 
Metrical tests .... 
The use of prose . 
Lovers Labour's Lost . . . 
Tuoo Gentlemen of Verona 
Comedy of Errors ■ . 
Romeo and Juliet . . 










Shakespeare as adapter of 

others' plays 115 

1592, Sept. Greene's attack on 

Shakespeare . . . .116 
Chettle's apology .... 118 
Shakespeare's contrlbuiion 
to the First Part of 

Henry VI iig 

First editions of the Sec- 
ond and Third Parts of 

Henry VI 119 

Shakespeare's coadjutors . 122 
Mulowe's influence . . . 123 

1593 Richard HI 123 

Publication of Richard HI 125 

1593 Richard 11 126 

Publication of Richard II . 127 
Shakespeare and the cen- 
sor 127 



The plague of 1593 . . .129 
Titus Andronicus . . . 130 
Publication of J'itas . . , 131 
August. The Merchant of 

Venice ..,.'.... 133 
Shylock and Roderigo 

Lopez 134 

Last acknowledgments to 

Marlowe 136 

Publication of The Mer- 
chant of Venice , , . 137 

King John 137 

Dec. 28. Comedy of Er- 
rors in Gray's Inn Hall . 139 
Early plays doubtfully as- 
signed to Shakespeare . 140 
Arden of Feversham (1592) 140 
Edward III 141 





April. Publication of Ve- 
nus and Adonis, 1593 . 142 
First letter to the Earl of 

Southampton .... 142 
'' The first heir of my in- 
vention ' 143 

The debt to Ovid .... 144 

Influence of Lodge . . . 145 

May. Lucrece .... 146 

First edition of 1594 . . . 147 

Sources of the story . . . 147 
Second letter to the Earl 

of Southampton . . . 148 
Enthusiastic reception of 

the two poems .... 149 

Bamfield's tribute . . . 150 

Shakespeare and Spenser . 151 

Patrons at Court .... 153 


The vogue of the Eliza- 
bethan sonnet .... 154 

Shakespeare's first experi- 
ments 15s 

1594 Majority of Shakespeare's 
sonnets composed in 

IS94 156 

Their literary value . . .158 
' Circulation m manuscript 159 
Their piratical publication 

in 1609 160 

A Lover's Complaint . . 161 
Thomas Thorpe and ' Mr. 

W. H.' 161 

The form of Shakespeare's 
sonnets 164 

Want of continuity . . . 165 

The two ' groups ' ... 166 

Main topics of the first 
. 'group' , 167 

Main topics 0/ the second 
'group' 168 

Lade of genuine sentiment 
in Elizabethan sonnets . 169 

Their dependence on 
French and Italian 
modes 170 




Sonnetteers' admissions of 
insincerity 173 

Contemporary censure of 
sonnetteers' false senti- 
ment 174 

' Gulling sonnets ' . . . . 175 


Shakespeare's scornful al- 
lusion to sonnets in his 
plays 17s 

The conventional profes- 
sions of .sincerity . . . 176 



Slender autobiographical 
element in Shakespeare's 

sonnets 177 

The imitative element . . 178 
The illusion of autobio- 
graphic confessions . . 178 
Shakespeare's Platonic 

conceptions 179 

The debt to Ovid's cosmic 

theory 180 

Shakespeare's borrowed 

physiography .... 181 

Other philosophic conceits 182 

Amorous conceits . . . 183 

The theme of ' unthrifty 

loveliness ' 185 

Shakespeare's claims of 
immortality for his son- 
nets 186 

Conceits in sonnets ad- 
dressed to a woman . . igo 

The praise of ' blackness ' 191 

The sonnets of vitupera- 
tion 192 

Jodelle's ' Contr' Amours ' 193 

Gabriel Harvey's ' Amo- 
rous Odious Sonnet ' . . 194 

The convention of ' the 
dark lady ' 194 



Biographic fact in the 
' dedicatory ' sonnets . . ,196 

The Earl of Southampton 
the poet's sole patron . 197 

I. The ' dedicatory ' son- 
nets 197 

Rivals in Southampton's 

favour 200 

Shakespeare's fear of rival 

poet 201 

Barnabe Barnes probably 

the rival 201 

Other theories as to the 

rival's identity .... 203 

II. Sonnets of friendship . 205 
Classical traditions of 

friendship 205 

Figurative language of love 206 
Gabriel Harvey ' courts * 

Sir Philip Sidney . . .208 
Shakespeare's assurances 

of affection 210 

Tasso and the Duke of 

Ferrara 211 

Jodelle's sonnets to his 

patron 212 

III. The sonnets of in- 
trigue 214 

The conflict of love and 

Boccaccio's treatment of 
the theme 

Palamon and Arcite . . . 

Tito and Gesippo . . . 

Lyly's Euphues and Phil- 

Clement Marot's testimony 

The crisis of the Two Gen- 

The likelihood of a per- 
sonal experience . . . 

External evidence . . . 

Willobie his Avisa . . . 

Direct references to South- 
ampton in the sonnets of 

His youthfulness .... 

The evidence of portraits . 

Sonnet cvii the last of the 

Allusion to Elizabeth's 

Allusions to Southampton's 
release from prison . . 

Summary of conclusions 
respecting the ' Sonnets ' 















1594-5 Midsummer Night's 

Dream 232 

The Sources 232 

1595 All's Well that Ends Well 233 
The heroine Helena . . . 234 
The puzzle of the style . . 234 

1595 The Taming of the Shrew 235 

The undeiplot 236 

! Stratford allusions in the 

I Induction 236 

Wincot 237 

1597 Henry IV 239 

The historical incident . . 239 
More Stratford memories . 240 
King Henry IV and his 

foils 241 

Falstaff 241 

The first protest .... 241 
Falstaif and Oldcastle . . 244 
FalstafFs personality . . 245 

1597 The Merry Wives of 

Windsor 246 

FalstaflF and Queen Eliza- 
beth 246 

The plot 247 

The text of The Merry 
Wives 249 

1598 Henry V 250 

The text 250 

Popularity of the topic . .251 

The choruses 251 

The soldiers in the cast . 252 
Shakespeare and the Earl 

of Essex 253 


Essex and the rebellion of 
1601 253 

The Globe and Essex's 
rebellion 254 

Shakespeare's popularity 
and influence .... 255 

The Mermaid meetings . 257 

1598 Meres's eulogy .... 25S 
The growing ' worship ' of 

Shakespeare as drama- 
tist 259 

Publishers' unprincipled 
use of Shakespeare's 
name 260 

False ascriptions of plays 
in his lifetime .... 260 

A Yorkshire Tragedy . . 262 

False ascriptions after his 
death '263 

The Merry Devill of Ed- 
monton 264 

Mucedorus . . . . j . 265 

Faire Em- 266 

1599 The Passionate Pilgrim . 267 
The third edition, 1612 . . 268 
Thomas Heywood's protest 

in Shakespeare's name . 269 

1600 The Phoenix and the 

Turtle 270 

Sir John Salisbury's pat- 
ronage of poets . . . 270 
Robert Chester's work . . 271 
Shakespeare and his fel- 
low-contributors . . . 272 

XIV c 


Shakespeare's residences 

in London 274 

His fiscal obligation . . . 274 

In Soufhwark 275 

A lodger in Silver Street, 

Cheapside, 1604 . . . 276 
Shakespeare's practical 

temperament .... 278 

His father's difliculties . . 279 

His wife's debt .... 280 

1596 Death of his only son . .281 

1596-9 Shakespeare and the 

Heralds' College . . . 281 
The draft ' Coat ' of 1596 . 282 

The exemplification of 1599 283 
Other actors' heraldic pre- 
tensions 285 

Contemporary criticism of 
Shakespeare's arms . . 286 

1597, May 4. Purchase of New 

Place 287 

Shakespeare and his fel- 
low-townsmen in 1598 . 290 
1598 Richard Quiney's mission 

to London 292 

Local appeals for aid . . 294 

1598, Oct. 25. Richard Quiney's 

letter to Shakespeare . 294 





Financial position before 

IS99 296 

Dramatists' fees until 1599 296 
Affluence of actors . . . 298 
Fees for Court perform- 
ances 299 

Shakespeare's average in- 
come before 1599 . . . 300 
Shalcespeare's share in the 

Globe theatre from 1599 300 
As a lessee of the site . . 301 
As an actor shareholder . 302 
The history of Shake- 
speare's shares, 1599-1616 304 
Shakespeare's share in the 

Blackfriars from 1608 . 306 
The takings at the Globe, 
1599-1613 307 

The takings at the Black- 
friars from 1608 .... 309 
The pecuniary profits of 
Shakespeare's theatrical 

shares 309 

Shareholders' lawsuits . . 310 
Increased fees from the 
Court under James I . .313 

Salary as. actor 314 

Later income as dramatist 314 
ShaJcespeare's final income 315 
1601-8. Cornestic incident . . 315 
1601-10 Formation of the estate 

at Stratford 317 

The Stratford tithes . . . 319 " 
Recovery of small debts . 321 



Literary work in 1599 . . 323 
1599 Much Ado about Nothing . 324 
The Italian source . . . 324 
Shakespeare's embellish- 
ments 325 

1599 As You Like It .... 325 
"The original characters . 326 

1600 Twelfth Night 327 

The performance in Mid- 
dle Temple Hall, Feb. 2, 
1602 328 

The Italian plot .... 328 
' Gli Inganiiati ' of Siena . 329 
Bandello's ' Nicuola ' . . 329 
The new dramatis personcE 330 
The pubHcation of the ro- 
mantic trilogy .... 331 

1600 Julius Ccssar 332 

Popularity of the theme . 333 
The debt to Plutarch . . 333 
Shakespeare's and other 

plays about Caesar . . 334 
Shakespeare's political in- 
sight 335 

His conception of Cassar . 336 
A rival piece ..... 336 
The Lord Mayor and the 

theatres 336 

1600, June 22. The Privy Coun- 
cil Order 338 

1601 The strife between adult 

and boy actors .... 340 


Shakespeare on the winter 

season 1600- 1 .... 341 
The actor's share in John- 
son's literary controver- 
sies, 1598-1601 .... 342 
Histriomastix, 1598 . . . 343 
Every -man out of his Hu- 
mour, 1599 343 

Cyfiihia's Revels .... 344 
Jack Drum's Entertain- 
ment, 1600 344 

Poetaster, 1601 .... 345 
Dekker's Satiro-masiix , 

1601 346 

The end of the dramatists' 

war 346 

Shakespeare and the ' po- 

etomachia ' 347 

Shakespeare's references to 

the stru^le 348 

His disinterested attitude . 349 
Virgil in Johnson's Poetas- 
ter 350 

The Return from Parnas- 
sus, 1601 351 

Shakespeare's alleged 

„'P">ge' 352 

Hamlet okq 

The Danish legend qca 

The old play ...'■. 355 
Kyd's authorship ...".' 3C6 
Revivals of the old piece '. 357 



The reception of Shake- 
speare's tragedy . . . 357 
Gabriel Harvey's comment 358 
Anthony Scoloker's notice 359 
The problem of publication 360 
The First Quarto. 1603 . . 360 
Shakespeare's first rough 

f draft 362 

The Second Quarto, 1604 . 363 
The First Folio version . 364 

Permanent Popularity of 

Hamlet 364 

1603 Troilus and Cressida . . 366 
The publication of 1609 . 367 
The First Folio version . 368 
' Treatment of the theme . 368 
Source of the plot . . , 369 
Shakespeare's acceptance 
of a' mediaeval tradition . 370 



Last performances before 
Queen EHzabeth . . . 372 
603, March 24. Shakespeare and 

the Queen 's death . . . 373 
James I's accession . . . 375 
603, May 19. The royal patent 
to Shakespeare's com- 
pany 375 

Shakespeare as groom of 

■ the chamber 375 

603, Dec. 2. At Wilton . . . 377 1 

1603-4, Christmas. At Hampton 

Court 378 

1604, March 15. The royal prog- 
ress through London . . 379 

1604, Aug. 9-28. The actors at 

Somerset House . . . 380 
Revival of Love's Labour's 
Lost , . . . 382 

1604-5 Shakespeare's plays at 

Court 383 



604 Othello (Nov.) and Meas- 
ure for Measure (Dec.) 385 
Their perfoirmances at 

Court 385 

Publication of Othello . . 387 
Cinthio's novels .... 387 
Shakespeare and the Ital- 
ian tale of Othello . . . 387 
Artistic unity of the tragedy 389 
The theme of Measure for 

Measure 389 

Cinthio's tale 389 

Shakespeare's variations . 390 

606. Macbeth 392 

The legend in Holinshed . 392 
The appeal to James I . . 392 
The scenic elaboration . . 393 
The chief characters . . . 394 
: Exceptional features . . . 394 
Signs of other .pens . . . 395 

607 Ring Lear 395 

The Quarto of 1608 . . .396 
Holinshed and the story of 

Lear . . .. , . . . .397 
The old play . '. . . .398 
Shakespeare's innovations 398 

The greatness of .ffiffifisar 399 
1608 Tim-on of Athens .... 400 
Timon and Plutarch . . 400 
The episode of Alcibiades 401 
The divided authorship . 401 

1608 Pericles 402 

The original legend of 

Pericles 402 

Incoherences of the piece . 403 
The issues in quarto . . . 404 
Shakespeare's share . . , 405 
George Wilkins's novel of 
Pericles 406 

1608 Antony and Cleopatra . . 406 
Plutarch's Life of Antony . 407 
Shakespeare's debt to Plu- 
tarch 408 

Shakespeare's re-creation 

of the story 409 

The style of the piece . .410 

1609 Coriolanus 410 

The fidelity to Plutarch . 411 
The chief characters of the 

tragedy 412 

The political crisis of the 
play 413 





Shakespeare's 'tragic pe- 
riod, 1600-9 41S 

Popularity of tragedy . . 416 

Shakespeare's return to 
romance 416 

The second romantic tril- 
ogy and the First Folio . 419 

Performances of the three 
latest plays during 1611 . 419 

1610 The triple plot of Cymbe- 

line 421 

Construction and charac- 
terisation 422 

1611 The Winter's Tale . . . 423 
The debt to Greene's novel 423 
Shakespeare's innovations 424 
The freshness of tone . . 425 

1611 Tie Tempest 426 

The sources of the fable . 426 

The shipwreck 428 

The significance of Caliban 429 
Shakespeare and the 

American native . . . 430 
Caliban's god Setebos . . 431 
Caliban's distorted shape . 432 
The Tempest at Court . . 432 

The vogue of the play , . 433 
Fanciful interpretations of 

The Tempest . . . . 43^ 
Shakespeare's relations 

with John Fletcher . . 435 
The lost play of Cardenio , 435 
The Two Noble Kinsmen . 437 

The plot 438 

Shakespeare's alleged 

share 435 

Henry VllI 440 

Previous plays on the topic 440 

All is true 441 

Holinshed's story .... 441 
Constructive defects in the 

play 441 

The scenic elaboration . . 442 
The divided authorship . 443 
Shakespeare's share ... 444 
Wolsey's farewell speech . 444 
1613, June 29. The burning of 

the Globe 445 

Ben Jonson on the disaster 447 
The rebuilding of the 

Globe 447 



1611 Retirement to Stratford . 448 
Continued interest in Lon- 
don theatres 449 

Visits to the Crown Inn at 

Oxford 449 

The christening of Sir 

William D'Avenant . . 450 
Relations with actor friends 451 
Shakespeare and Burbage 452 
1613 . The Earl of Rutland's ' im- 

presa ' 453 

The sixth Earl of Rutland . 454 
1613 Shakespeare's purchase of 

a house in Blackfriars . 456 
1615 Shakespeare's litigation 
over the Blackfriars 

property 458 

1611 Shakespeare and the Strat- 
ford highways .... 459 
Domestic incident . . . 460 
Marriage of Susanna 

Shakespeare, 1607 , . . 461 
Marriage of Judith Sh^e- 
speare, 1616 462 

Growth of Puritanism at 
Stratford 463 

The fire of 1614 . . . .464 

Shakespeare's social circle 
at Stratford 465 

Sir Henry Rainsford at 
Clifford Chambers . . 465 

Thomas Combe of the Col- 
lege 467 

John Combe of Stratford 468 

Coomb's legacy to Shake- 
speare 469 

Combe's tomb 470 

Combe's epitaph . . . .470 
1614, Oct. The threatened en- 
closure 472 

The town council's resist- 
ance 473 

The appeal to Shakespeare 475 
1614, Oct. 28. Shakespeare's 
agreement with the 
Combes' agent .... 475 
1614, Dec. 23. The Town Coun- 
cil's letter to Shakespeare 476 




1615, Sept. Shakespeare's state- 

ment 478 

The townsmen's triumph, 

1618 47Q 

Francis Collins and Shake- 
speare's will ..... 479 

1616, Feb.-March. Domestic af- 

fairs 480 

1616, March 25. The signing of 

Shakespeare's will . . .481 
The five witnesses . . . 482 
1616, Ap-il 23. Shakespeare's 

death 483 

1616, April 25. Shakespeare's 

burial ........ 483 

The minatory inscription 

on the tombstone . . . 484 
The will 485 


The religious exordium . 485 
Bequest to his wife . . . 486 

His heiress 487 

Legacies to friends . . . 488 
Thomas Russell, Esq. . . 490 
The bequests to the actors 490 
Overseers and executors . 491 
Shakespeare's theatrical 

' shares 491 

The estates of contempo- 
rary actors 493 

The Stratford monument . 494 

Its design 496 

The inscription .... 497 
Shakespeare and West- 
minster Abbey .... 498 
Shakespeare's personal 
character 500 



Shakespeare's brothers . . 503 
Shakespeare's widow . . 503 
Mistress Judith Quiney 

(1585-1662) 504 

Mr. John Hall 505 

Mrs. Susanna Hall (1583- 

1649) 506 

John Hall's notebooks . . 508 
The will of Mrs. Hall's son- 
in-law, Thomas Nash . 509 

Mrs. Hall's death .... 510 
The last descendant . . . 511 
Lady Bernard's will . . . 512 
The final fortunes of Shake- 
speare's estate .... 512 
The demolition of New 

Place, 1759 514 

The public purchase of 
New Place estate . . . 514 



The reUcs of Shakespeare's 

handwriting 516 

The six signatures, 1612-6 517 
Doubtful signatures . . . 518 
His mode of writing . . . 519 
Spelling of the poet's name 520 
The autograph spellings . 520 
Autographs in the will . . 521 
'Shakespeare ' the accepted 

form 521 

Shakespeare's portraits . . 522 
The Stratford monument . 522 
Dugdale's sketch .... 522 
Vertue's engraving, 1725 . 523 
The repairs of 1748 . . . 524 
The ' Stratford ' portrait . 525 
Droeshout's engraving . . 526 
The first state 527 

The original source of 

Droeshout's work . . . 52S 
The ' Flower ' or ' Droes- 

hout ' portrait .... 52B 
The ' Ely House ' portrait . 530 
Lord Clarendon's picture . 531 

Later portraits 531 

The ' Chandos ' portrait . 532 
"The ' Janssen ' portrait . . 534 
The ' Felton ' portrait . . 535 
The ' Soest ' portrait . . . 536 

Miniatures 536 

The Garrick Club bust . . 537 
Alleged death-mask . . . 538 
Sculptured memorials in 

public places .... 539 
The Stratford memorials . 540 







Early issues of the narra- 
tive poems 542 

Posthumous issues of the 

poems 542 

The Passionate Pilgrim . 543 

The Sonnets 543 

The Poems of 1640 . . . 544 
Quartos of the plays in the 

poet's lifetime .... 546 
The managers' objections 

to their issue .... 546 
The source of the ' copy ' . 547 
The various lifetime edi- 
tions 547 

The four unquestioned 

quartos of 1619 .... 548 
The five suspected quartos 

of 1619 549 

The charge against Pavier 549 
The posthumous issue of 

Othello 550 

The scarcity of the quartos 550 
The chief collections of . 

quartos 551 

The First Folio . . . .552 
Editors, printers, and pub- 
lishers 552 

The license of Nov. 8, 1623 554 

The order of the plays 
The prefatory matter 
The actors' addresses 
Their alleged authorship 

by Ben Jonson . . . 
Editorial professions . . 
The source of the ' copy 
The textual value of the 

nevfly printed plays . 
The eight neglected quar- 

The eight reprinted quartos 
The typography . 
Irregular copies . 
The Sheldon copy 
Jaggard's presentation 

copy of the First Folio 
The Turbutt copy . . 
Estimated number of ex- 
tant copies . . 
Continental copies 
The pecuniary value of the 
First Folio . . 
1632 The Second Folio 
1663-4 The Third Folio . 
1685 The Fourth Folio . 











The perplexities of the 

early texts 571 

Eighteenth-century editors 571 
Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) 572 
Alexander Pope (i688- 

1744) 573 

Lewis Theobald (1688- 

1744) 574 

Sir 1 homas Hanmer 

(1677-1746) 576 

Bishop Warburton (1698- 

1779) 577 

Dr. Johnson (1709-1784) . 578 
Edward Capell (1713- 

1781) ....... 578 

George Steevens (1736- 

1800) 579 

Edmund Malone (1741- 
1812) 580 

' Variorum ' editions . . .581 

The new ' Variorum ' . .582 

Nineteenth -century edi- 
tors 582 

Alexander Dyce (1798- 
1869) 583 

Howard Staunton (1810- 
1874) 583 

Nikolaus DeUus (1813- 
1888) 583 

The Cambridge edition 
(1863-6) 583 

Other nineteenth-century 
or twentieth-century edi- 
tions 583 






Shakespeare and the clas- 
sicists 586 

Ben Jonson's tribute, 1623 587 
The eulogies of 1632 . . 588 
Admirers in Charles I's 

reign 588 

Critics of the Restoration . 590 
Dryden's verdict .... 591 
Shakespeare's fashionable 

vogue 592 

The Restoration adapters . 592 
The * revised ' versions, 

1662-80 S94 

Shakespearean criticism 

from 1702 onwards . . 595 
The growth of critical in- 
sight 596 

The modern schools of 

criticism 59^ 

The new aesthetic school . 597 
Shakespeare publishing 
societies 598 


Shakespeare's fame at 

Stratford-on-Avon . 598 
Garrick at Stratford . . . 599 
'The Stratford Jubilee,' 

1769 S99 

On the English stage . . 600 
The first appearance of 
actresses in Shake- 
spearean parts . . ... 600 
David Garrick (1717-1779) 601 
John Philip Kemble (.1757- 

1823) 603 

Mrs. Sarah Siddons (17SS- 

1831) 603 

Edmund'Kean(i787-i833) 603 
William Charles Macready 

(1793-1873) 604 

Recent revivals .... 604 
The spectacular, setting of 

Shakespearean drama . 606 
Shakespeare in English 

music and art ... . 607 
Shakespeare in America . 608 



In Germany 610 

Early German Shake- 

speareana 611 

Lessing's tribute, 1759 . . 612 
Growth of study and en- 
thusiasm 613 

Schlegel's translation . . 613 
Modern German writers on 

Shakespeare 613 

On the German stage . . 6i5 
Shakespearean German 

music 618 

In France 618 

Voltaire's estimate . . . 619 
Voltaire's opponents . . 619 
Thefirst French translations 620 
French critics' gradual 
emancipation from Vol- 
tairean influence . . . 621 


On the French stage . . 623 

In Italy 624 

Shakespeare and the Ro- 
mantic pioneers . . . 625 
Italian translations . . . 625 

In Spain . 626 

In Holland 627 

In Denmark 627 

In Sweden 628 

In Russia 628 

The , Russian Romantic 
movement and Shake- 
speare 628 

Tolstoy's attack, 1906 . . 629 

In Poland 630 

Polish translations . . . 631 

In Hungary 631 

In other countries . . . 632 



Shakespeare's work and 
the biographic facts . . 633 

The impersonal aspect of 
his art 633 

Domestic and foreign influ- 
ences and affinities . . 634 I 

Shakespeare's receptive 
faculty 635 

General estimate of his 
genius 636 

His final achievement . . 636 

Its universal recognition . 637 





Contemporary records 

abundant 641 

First efforts in biography . 641 
Biographers of the nine- 
teenth century .... 642 
Stratford topography . . 643 
Specialised studies in biog- 
raphy 643 

Aids to study of plots and 

texts 644 

Concordances 644 

Bibliographies 645 

Critical studies . ... 645 
Shakespearean forgeries . 64! 
George Steevens's ' G. 

Peel' fabrication (1763) 64! 
John Jordan (1746-1809) . 64! 
Thelreland forgeries (1796) 64J 
Forgeries promulgated by 

Collier and others ( 1835- 

1849) 64; 

Falsely suspected docu- 
ments 545 



Perversity of the contro- 
versy 651 

Chief exponents of the 
Baconian and sceptical 
theory ... . . 651 

Its vogue in America . . 65a 
The Baconians' pleas . . 65J 
Sir Tobie Matthew's letter 

of 1621 . . , , . . .653^ 
The legal sceptics . . . 65I 


Southampton and Shake- 
speare 656 

Parentage 656 

iS73i Oct. 6. Southampton's 

birth 657 

Education 657 

Recognition of Southamp- 
ton's youthful beauty . . 658 

His reluctance to marry . 655 
Intrigue with Elizabeth 

Vernon 660 

1598 Southampton's marriage . 660 
1601-3 His imprisonment ... 661 

Later career 661 

1624, Nov. 10. His death . . .661 




References in his letters to 

poems and plays . . . 662 
His love of the theatre . . 663 
Poetic adulation .... 663 
Barnabe Barnes's sonnet . 664 
Tom Nashe's addresses . 664 

1595 Gervase Markham's sonnet 66i 
1598 Florio's address . . . . 66i 
1625 Thomas Heywood's tribute 1 

The congratulations of the 
poets in 1603 . . 

Elegies on Southampton 




The publication of the 
Sonnets in 1609 .... 669 

Publishers' dedications . . 670 

Thorpe's early life . , . 671 

His ownership of the man- 
uscript of Marlowe's 
Lucan 672 

His dedicatory address to 
Edward Blount in 1600 . 672 

Character of his business . 673 

Shakespeare's sufferings at 
publishers' hands . . . 674 

The use of initials in dedi- 
cations of Elizabethan 
and Jacobean books . . 674 

Frequency of wishes for 
' happiness ' and ' eter- 
nity ' in dedicatory greet- 
ings 675 

Five dedications by Thorpe 677 

* W. H.' signs dedication 
of Southwell's poems in 
1606 . . ■ 677 

■ W. H.' and Mr. William 
Hall 679 

' The onlie begetter ' means 
' only procurer ' . . . 679 



Origin of the notion that 
' Mr. W. H.' stands for 
' Mr. William Herbert ' . 682 

The Earl of Peinbroke 
known only as Lord 
Herbert in youth . . . 682 

Thorpe's mode of address- 
ing the Earl of Pembroke i 



Shakespeare with the act- 
ing company at Wilton 
in 1603 686 

The dedication of the First 
Folio in 1623 .... 687 

No suggestion in the Son- 
nets Qii the youth's iden- 
tity with Pembroke . . 688 

Aubrey's ignorance of any 
relation between Shake- 
speare and Pembroke . 689 



Elizabethan meanings of 
' will ' 690 

Shakespeare's uses of the 
word 691 

Shakespeare's puns on the 
word 692 

Arbitrary and irregular use 
of italics by Elizabethan 
and Jacobean printers . 693 

The conceits of Sonnets 
cxxxv-vi interpreted . . 693 

Sonnet cxxxv 695 

Sonnet cxxxvi 695 

Sonnet cxxxiv 697 

Meaning of Sonnet cxliii . 698 









Wyatt's and Surrey's son- 
nets published .... 699 
Watson's Centurie of Loue 699 
Sidney's Asiropkel and 

Stella . 700 

I. Collected sonnets of 

feigned love 701 

Daniel's Delia 701 

Fame of Daniel's sonnets . 702 
Constable's Diana . . . 702 
Barnes's sonnets . ... . 703 
Watson's Tears of Fancie 704 
Fletcher's Licia .... 704 
Lodge's Phillis .... 704 
Drayton's Idea . .■ . . 705 
Percy's Coelia , . . . 705 

Zepkeria 705 

Bamfield's sonnets to 
Ganymede 706 

IS9S Spenser's Amoretti . 
1595 Emaricdulfe . . . 

1595 Sir John Davies's Gullinge 


1596 Linche's Diella . . . 
1596 Griffin's Fidessa . . . 
1596 Thomas Campion . . 

1596 William Smith's Chloris 

1597 Robert Tofte's Laura , 
Sir William Alexander's 


Sir Fulke Grevllle's CtElica 

Estimate of number of love 

sonnets issued between 

1591 and 1597 .... 

n. Sonnets to patrons, 


III. Sonnets on philoso- 
phy and religion . . . 


Ronsard (1524-1585) and 
' La Pl^iade ' . . . . 711 

The Italian sonnetteers of 
the sixteenth century . .711 

Desportes (1546^1606) . . 712 


Chief collections of French 
sonnets published be- 
tween 1550 and 1584 . . 71! 

Minor collections of French 
sonnets published be- '■'' 
tween 1553 and 1605 . .713 




Frotn ihe ^ Droeshoui* or * Flower* painting, now in the 
Shakespeare Memorial Gallery, Strat/ord-on-Avon. 


Southampton, as a young man .... To face p. 224 

From ihe painting at IVelbeck Abbey. 

his deposition in the suit brought by stephen 
Bellott against his father-in-law Christopher 
MoNTjoY IN the Court of Requests, dated 
May II, 1612 . On page 517 

From the original document now preserved in the Public 
Record Oj^ce, London. 



dated March 10, 1612-3 To face p. 456 

From the original document now preserved in the Guilds ^ 
hall Library, London. 



March ii, 1612-3 " 458 

From the original document now preserved in the British 



OF HIS WILL . , " 486 

From the original document at Somerset House, London, 


From a piaster-cast of ike terra-cotta bust now in the pos- 
session of the Garrick Club. 



Now belongingto Mr. Coningsby Sibthorp. 



Shakespeare came of a family whose surname was 
borne through the middle ages by residents in very 
many parts of England — at Penrith in Djgtribu- 
Cumberland, at Kirkland and Doncaster in tionofthe 
Yorkshire, as weU as in nearly all the mid- "*™^" 
land counties. The surname had originally a martial 
significance, implying capacity in the wielding of the 
spear.^ Its first recorded holder is Wilham Shakespeare 
or ' Sakspere,' who was convicted of robbery and hanged 
in 1248^; he belonged to Clapton, a hamlet in the 
hundred of Kiftergate, Gloucestershire (about seven 
miles south of Stratford-on-Avon). The second re- 
corded holder of the surname is John Shakespeare, who 
in 1279 was living at 'Freyndon,' perhaps Frittenden, 
Kent.* The great mediaeval guild of St. Anne at Knowle, 
whose members included the leading inhabitants of 
Warwickshire, was joined by many Shakespeares in the 
fifteenth century.* In the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries the surname is found far more frequently in 
Warwickshire than elsewhere. The archives of no fewer 
than twenty-four towns and villages there contain 

'Camden, Remaines, ed. 1605, p. iii; Verstegan, Restitution, 1605, 
p. 294; see p. iji infra. 

* Assize rolls for Gloucestershire, 32 Henry III, roll 274. 

' Plac. Cor. 7 Edw. I, Kane. ; cf. Notes and Queries, ist ser. xi. 122. 

^ Cf. Register of the Guild at Knowle, ed. Bickley, 1894. 

B I 


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 
fewer than three Richard Shakespeares of Rowington, 
whose extant wills were proved respectively in 1560, 
1 591, and 1614, were fathers of sons called Wilham. 
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 defined with absolute 
certainty. The poet's father, when applying for a 
The poet's grant of arms in 1596, claimed that his grand- 
ancestry. father (the poet's great-grandfather) received 
for services rendered in war a grant of land in Warwick- 
shire from Henry VII.^ No precise confirmation of this 
pretension has been discovered, and it may be, after the 
manner of heraldic genealogy, fictitious. But there is 
a probability that the poet came of good yeoman stock, 
and that his ancestors to the fourth or fifth generation 
were fairly substantial landowners.' Adam Shakespeare,; 
a tenatit by mihtary service of land at Baddesley Clinton 
in Warwickshire in 1389, seems to have been great-' 
grandfather of one Richard Shakespeare who during the 
first thirty-four years (at least) of the sixteenth century 
held neighbouring land at Wroxall, some ten miles 
from Stratford-on-Avon. Another Richard Shakespeare 
who is conjectured to have been nearly akin to the 

»See for 'other William Shakespeares' Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's 
Environment, 1914, pp. 91-104. 

^ See p. 282 infra. 

'Ct. The Times, October 14, 1895; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. vii. 
Soi; Mrs. Stopes, Shakespeare's Family, 1901, pp. 35-49. 


Wroxall family was settled in 1535 as a farmer at Snitter- 
field, a village six miles south of Wroxall and four miles 
to the north of Stratford-on-Avon.^ It is probable that 
he was the poet's grandfather. In 1550 he was renting 
a messuage and land at Snitterfield of Robert Arden; 
he died at the close of 1560, and on February iq of 
the next year letters of administration of his goods, 
chattels, and debts were issued by the Probate Court 
at Worcester to his son John, who was there described 
as a farmer or husbandman (agricola) of Snitterfield. 
The estate was valued at 35Z. 175.^ Besides the son 
John, Richard of Snitterfield certainly had a son Henry ; 
while a Thomas Shakespeare, a considerable landholder 
at Snitterfield between 1563 and 1583, whose parentage 
is imdetermined, may have been a third son. The son 
Henry remained all his life at Snitterfield, where he 
engaged in farming with gradually diminishing success ; 
he died in very embarrassed circumstances in December 
1596.' John, the son who administered Richard's es- 
tate, was in all Kkelihood the poet's father. 

About 1551 John Shakespeare left the village of Snitter- 
field, which was his birthplace, to seek a career in the 
neighbouring borough of Stratford-on-Avon, then a well- 

^ 1 Cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 1887, ii. 
207, and J. W. Ryland, Records of Wroxall Abbey and Manor, Warwick- 
shire, 1903, passim. 

' The purchasing power of money may be reckoned in the middle of 
the sixteenth century eight times what it is now, and in the later years 
of the century when prices rapidly rose, five times. In comparing sums 
of money mentioned in the text with modem currency, they should be 
multiplied by eight if they belong to years up to 1560, and by five if they 
belong to subsequent years. (See p. 296 n. i infra.) The letters of ad- 
ministration in regard to Richard Shakespeare's estate, which are in the 
district registry of the Probate Court at Worcester, were printed in 
full by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps in his Shakespeare's Tours (privately 
issued 1887), pp. 44-s, and again in J. W. Gray's Shakespeare's Mar- 
riage, .pp. 259-60. They do not appear in any edition of HaUiweU- 
Phillipp's Outlines. 

'Henry Shakespeare, the dramatist's uncle, was buried at Snitter- 
field on Dec. 29, 1596, leaving no surviving issue. His widow Margaret 
was buried at Snitterfield six weeks later, on Feb. 9, IS96-7- Cf. Mrs. 
Stopes's Shakespeare's Environment, 1914, pp. 66 seq. 


to-do market town of some two thousand inhabitants.^ 
In the middle of the sixteenth century the 
The poefs j^^jn industries of Stratford were the weaving 
settfesin of wool into cloth or yarn and the making j 
Stratford- q£ ^g^^_ 5ojne substantial fortunes were 
made out of dealings in wool, and on June 28, 
ISS3, a charter of incorporation (or of self-government) 
rewarded the general advance of prosperity. Some 
fifty-seven years later, on July 23, 1610, the municipall 
privileges and franchises were confirmed anew by James 
I. Meanwhile, however, fortune proved fickle. As 
Queen Elizabeth's reign drew to a close, although the 
population was estimated to increase by half as much 
again, the manufacturing activities and the earnings of 
commerce and labour dechned. The local trade tended 
to confine itself to the retail distribution of imported i 
manufactures or agricultural produce. There were 
many seasons of scarcity and frequent losses by dis- 
astrous fires. Yet municipal life remained busy and. 
the richer townsfolk and neighbouring landowners did 
what they could to lighten the borough's burden of 

In the middle years of the century there was every 
promise of a prosperous career for an enterprising immi- . 
grant from a neighbouring village who was provided with 
a small capital. John Shakespeare arrived in Stratford;; 

^In 1547 the communicants residing in the main thoroughfare^ 
were reckoned at 1500; in 1562 the population would seem to have 
numbered as many as 2000. About 1598 the corporation when peti- 
tioning for an alteration of their charter reckoned the householders at 
1500 'at the least' — a figure which would suggest a population of 
near 5000; but there was a possible endeavour here to magnify the 
importance of the place. (See Wheler MSS., Shakespeare's Birth- 
place, i. f. 72.) According to a census of April 19, 1765, the population 
only numbered 2287. The census of 1911 gives the figure 8532. 

^ In 1590 the baUi£E and burgesses complained that the town 'had 
fallen much into decay for want of such trade as heretofore they had 
by clothing and making of yarn.' The decline seems to have made 
steady progress through Shakespeare's lifetime, and in 1615 it was 
stated that 'no clothes or stuffs were made at Stratford but were bought* 
at London or elsewhere.' (Malone, Variorum Shakespeare, ii. 554-55.) 


on the eve of its incorporation, and he at once set up as a 
trader in all manner of agricultural produce and in many 
articles which were manufactured out of it. Corn, wool, 
malt, meat, skins, and leather were among the com- 
modities in which he dealt. Documents of a somewhat 
later date 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 disclpsing its full extent. The 
bulk of his varied stock-in-trade came from the land, 
which his family farmed at Snitterfield and in which he 
enjoyed some interest. As long as his father hved he 
seems to have been a frequent visitor to Snitterfield, 
and until the date of his father's death in 1560 legal 
documents designated him a farmer or 'husbandman' 
of that place. But it was with Stratford-on-Avon that 
his life was mainly identified. 

In April 1552 John Shakespeare was living in Henley 
Street at Stratford, a thoroughfare leading to the market 
town of Henley-in-Arden. He is first men- joj^ 
tioned in the borough records as paying in that Shake- 
month a fine of twelvepence for having a munid^i 
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. For some seven and twenty 
years his mercantile progress knew no check and his 
local influence grew steadily. In October 1556 he pur- 
chased two freehold tenements at Stratford — one, with 
a garden, in Henley Street (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 under the con- 
stitution which the charter of 1553 brought into being. 
In 1557 he was chosen 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 coun- 
ciUor, and in September 1558, and again on October 6, 
1559, he was appointed one of the four petty constables 
by a vote of the jury of the court-leet. Twice — m 
ISS9 and 1561 — he was chosen one of the affeerors — 
officers appointed to determine the fines for those of- 
fences 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 financial responsibility whicji he 
held for two years. He deHvered his second statement 
of accounts to the corporation in January 1564. When 
attesting documents he, hke many of his educated neigh- 
bours, made his mark, and there is no unquestioned 
specimen of his handwriting in the Stratford archives; 
but his financial aptitude and ready command of figures 
satisfactorily reheve him of the imputation of illiteracy. 
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 i 
sums of money to the corporation. He was reputed to 
be a man of cheerful temperament, one of ' a merry cheek,' 1 
who dared crack a jest at any time.^ 

With characteristic shrewdness he chose a wife of 
assured fortune — Mary, youngest daughter of Robert f 
The poet's Ardcn, a wealthy farmer of Wilmcote in the 
mother. parish of Aston Cantlow, three miles from 
Stratford. The chief branch of the Arden family was 

' Archdeacon Thomas Plume (1630-1704) bequeathed to his native | 
town of Maiden in Essex, with books and other papers, a MS. collection i 
of contemporary hearsay anecdotes which he compiled about 1656. 
Of the dramatist the archdeacon there wrote that he 'was a glover's 
son' and that 'S[i]r John Mennes saw once his old f[athe]r in h[is] shop 
— a merry cheeked old man th[a]t s[ai]d "Will was a g[oo]d Hon[est] 
Fellow, but he darest h[ave] crackt a jeast w[i]th him at any time." ' 
(Communicated by the Rev. Andrew Clark, D.D., rector of Great ^^ 
Leighs, Chelmsford.) Plume was probably repeating gossip which he 
derived from Sir John Mennes, the versifier and admiral of Charles I's 
reign, who was only two years old when Shakespeare's father died in • 
1601, and could not therefore have himself conversed with the elder 
Shakespeare. No other Sir John Mennes is discoverable. 


settled at Parkhall, in the parish of Curdworth, near 
Birmingham, and it ranked with the most influential of 
the county. Robert Arden, a progenitor of that branch, 
was sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1438 
(16 Hen. VI), and this sheriff's direct descendant, Ed- 
ward Arden, who was himself high sheriff of Warwick- 
shire in 1575, was executed in 1583 for alleged compUcity 
in a Roman Catholic plot against the life of Queen 
Elizabeth. John Shakespeare's wife belonged to a 
humbler branch of the family, and there is no trust- 
worthy evidence to determine the exact degree of kin- 
ship between the two branches. Her grandfather, 
Thomas Arden, purchased in 1501 an estate at Snitter- 
field, which passed, with other property, to her father 
Robert; John Shakespeare's father, Richard, was one 
of this 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, sur- 
vived him ; by her he had no issue. When he died at the 
end of 1556, he owned a farmhouse and many acres at 
Wilmcote, besides some hundred acres at Snitterfield, 
with two farmhouses which he let out to tenants. The 
post-mortem inventory of his goods, which was made on 
December 9, 1556, shows that he had Uved in comfort; 
his house was adorned by as many as eleven 'painted 
cloths,' which then did duty for tapestries among the 
middle class.^ The exordium of his will, which was 
drawn up on November 24, 1556, and proved on De- 
cember 16 following, indicates that he was an observant 

' 'Painted cloths' were broad strips of canvas on which figures from 
the Bible or from classical mythology were, with appropriate mottoes, 
crudely painted in tempera. Cf. i Henry IV, iv. ii. 25, 'as ragged as 
Lazarus in the painted cloth.' Shakespeare lays stress on the embel- 
lishment of the mottoes in Lticrece, 245 : 

Who fears a sentence or an old man's saw 
Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe. 


Catholic. For his two youngest daughters, Alice and 
Mary, he showed especial affection by nominating them! 
his executors. Mary received not only 6 /. 135. 4d. in 
money, but the fee-simple of his chief property at 
Wilmcote, consisting of a house with some fifty acres 
of land, — an estate which was known as Asbies. She 
also acquired, under an earlier settlement, an interest 
in two messuages at Snitterfield.^ But, although she 
was well provided with worldly goods, there is no sure 
evidence that she could write ; several extant docu- 
ments bear her mark, and no autograph signature is 

John Shakespeare's marriage with Mary Arden doubt- 
less took place at Aston Cantlow, the parish church of 
The poet's Wilmcote, in the autumn of 1557 (the church 
birth and registers begin at a later date) . On Septem- 
apism. j^gj. ^^^ 1558, their first child, a daughter, 
Joan, was baptised in the church of Stratford. A second 
child, another daughter, Margaret, was baptised on 
December 2, 1562 ; but both these children died in 
infancy. The poet William, the first son and third 
child, was born on April 22 or 23, 1564. The later day 
was the day of his death, and it is generally accepted 
as his birthday. There is no positive evidence on the 
subject, but the Stratford parish registers a:ttest that 
he was baptised on April 26, and it was a common prac- 
tice at the time to baptise a child three days after birth. 
The baptismal entry runs 'Gulielmus filius Johannis 
Shakspere.' ^ 

Some doubt has been raised as to the ordinarily ac- 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 179. 

»The vicar, who performed the christening ceremony; was John 
Bretchgirdle, M.A. He had been appointed on Feb. 27, 1559-60, and 
was buried in Stratford church on June 21, 1565. The (broken) 'bowl 
of the old font of Stratford church is still preserved there (Bloom's 
Stratford-upon-Avon Church, 1902, pp. 101-2). The existing vellum 
parish register of this period is a transcript of the original 'paper book' ; • 
it was made before 1600, in accordance with an order of Convocation ; 
of Oct. 25, 1597, by Richard Byfield, who was vicar for some ten years 
from 1596. 


cepted scene of the dramatist's birth. Of two adjoining 
houses now forming a detached building on ghake- 
the north side of Henley Street and known as speare's 
Shakespeare's House or Shakespeare's Birth- birthplace. 
place, both belonged to the dramatist's father for many- 
years and were combined by him to serve at once as 
private residence and as shop or warehouse. The 
tenement to the east he purchased in 1556, but there 
is no documentary evidence that he owned the house 
to the west before 1575. Yet this western house has 
been Ipng known as the poet's birthplace, and a room 
on the first floor has been claimed for two centuries and 
more as that in which he was born. It may well be that 
John Shakespeare occupied the two houses jointly in 
1564 (the year of the poet's birth), although he only 
purchased the \yestern building eleven years later. 
The double residence became Shakespeare's property 
on his father's death in 1601, but the dramatist never 
resided there after his boyhood. His mother inhabited 
the premises until her death in 1608, and his sister Mrs. 
Joan Hart and her family dwelt there with her. Mrs. 
Hart was still living there in 161 6 when Shakespeare 
died, and he left his sister a hf e interest in the two houses 
at a nominal rent of one shilling. On Mrs. Hart's death 
thirty years later, the ownership of the property passed 
to the poet's elder daughter, Mrs. Hall, and on her 
death in 1649 to the poet's only granddaughter and last 
surviving descendant. Lady Bernard.^ By her will in 
1670 Lady Bernard made the buildings over to Thomas 
Hart, the dramatist's grandnephew, then the head of 
the family which suppHed an uninterrupted succession 
of occupiers for the best part of two centuries. 

Early in Mrs. Joan Hart's occupancy of the 'Birth- 
place' she restored the houses to their original state of 
two separate dwellings. While retaining the western 
portion for her own use, she sublet the eastern half to a 
tenant who converted it into an inn. It was known at 

^ See p. 512 infra. 


first as the ' Maidenhead ' and afterwards as the ' Swan 
and Maidenhead.' The premises remained subdivided- 
thus for some two hundred years, and the irm 
theprem-^ enjoyed a continuous existence until 1846. 
ises, 1670- Thomas Hart's kinsmen, to whom the ownership 
'*'*'■ of both eastern and western tenements mean- 

while descended, continued to confine their residence to 
the western house as long as the property remained in 
their hands. The tradition which identified that tene- 
ment with the scene of the dramatist's birth gathered 
substance from its intimate association with his sur- 
viving kindred through some ten generations. During 
the eighteenth century the western house was a popular 
showplace and the Harts derived a substantial emolu- 
ment from the visits of admirers of Shakespeare. 

In 1806 the surviving representatives of the Harts 
at Stratford abandoned the family home and the whole 
Their property was sold for 230/. to one Thomas 
present Court, the tenant of the eastern house which 
"^^^' still did duty as the 'Swan and Maidenhead' 

inn. Thereupon Court turned the western house into 
a butcher's shop.^ On the death of his widow in 1846 
the whole of the premises were put up for auction in 
London and they were purchased for 3000Z. on behalf 
of subscribers to a public fund on September 16, 1847. 
Adjoining buildings were soon demolished so as to 
isolate, the property, and after extensive restoration on 
the lines of the earliest accessible pictorial and other 

'In 1834 a writer in the Tewkesbury Magazine described 'Shake- 
speare's House' thus: 'The house in which Shakespeare's father lived, 
and in which he was born, is now divided into two — the northern [i.e. 
western] half being, or having lately been, a butcher's shop — and the 
southern [i.e. eastern] half, consisting of a respectable public-house, 
bearing the sign of the Swan and Maidenhead.' (French's Skake- 
speareana Genealogica, p. 409.) The wife of John Hart (1753-1800) of 
'the Birthplace,' son of Thomas Hart (1729-1793), belonged to Tewkes* 
bury and their son William Shakespeare Hart (1778-1834) settled^ 
here. The latter wrote of 'the Birthplace' in 1810: 'My grandfather 
[Thomas Hart] used to obtain a great deal of money by shewing the 
premises to strangers who used to visit them.' (Shakespeare's Birth- 
place MSS., Saunders MS. 1191, p. 63.) 


evidence, the two houses were reconverted into a single 
detached domicile for the purposes of public exhibition ; 
the western house (the 'birthplace') was left unfur- 
nished, and the eastern house (the 'inn') was fitted up 
as a museum and library. Much of the Elizabethan 
timber and stonework survives in the double structure, 
but a cellar under the 'birthplace' is the only portion 
which remains as it was at the date of the poet's birth.^ 
The buildings were vested under a deed of trust in the 
corporation of Stratford in 1866. In 1891 an Act of 
Parliament (54 & 55 Vict. cap. iii.) transferred the 
property in behalf of the nation to an independent body 
of trustees, consisting of ten life-trustees, together with a 
number of ex-OjBBicio trustees, who are representative of 
the authorities of the county of Warwickshire and of 
the town of Stratford. 

^ Cf. documents and sketches in Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 377-99. The 
earliest extant view of the Birthplace buildings is a drawing by Richard 
Greene (17 16-1793), ^ well-known Lichfield antiquary, which was en- 
graved for the Gentleman's Magazine, July 1769. Richard Greene's 
brother, Joseph (1712-1790), was long headmaster of Stratford Grammar 
School. In 1788 Colonel Pfiilip De la Motte, an archaeologist, of Bats- 
ford, Gloucestershire, made an etching of the Birthplace premises, which 
closely resembles Greene's drawing; the colonel's original copperplate 
is now preserved in the Birthplace. The restoration of the Birthplace 
in 1847 accurately conformed to the view of 1769. 



In July 1564, when William was three months old, the 
plague raged with unwonted vehemence at Stratford. 
The plague One in every seven of the inhabitants perished.; 
of 1564. Twice in his mature years — in 1593 and 1693 
— the dramatist was to witness in London more fatal 
visitations of the pestilence ; but his native place was 
spared any experience which compared with the calam- 
itous epidemic of his infancy.^ He and his family were 
unharmed, and his father Hberally contributed to the 
relief of his stricken neighbours, hundreds of whom were 
rendered destitute. 

Fortune still favoured the elder Shakespeare. On 
July 4, 1565, he reached the dignity of an alderman. 
Thefth F'^o™ 1567 onwards he was accorded in the 
as alder- Corporation archives the honourable prefix of 
m^^and 'Mr.'^ At Michaelmas 1568 he attained the 
highest office in the corporation gift, that of 
bailiff, and during his year of ofl&ce 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, 

^ An epidemic of exceptional intensity visited London from AugusSl 
to December 1563, and several country towns were infected somewhatl 
sporadically in the following spring. Leicester, Lichfield, and Canter-| 
bury seem with Stratford-on-Avon to have been the chief sufferers in 
the provinces. (Creighton, Epidemics m Britain, i. 309.) 

2 According to Sir Thomas Smith's Commonwealth of England, 1594, 
'Master is the title which men give to esquires and other gentlemen.' 
Cf. Merchant 0} Venice, II. ii. 45 seq., where Launcelot Gobbo, on being 
called Master Launcelot, persistently disclaims the dignity. 'No master, 
sir [he protests], but a poor man's son.' The dramatist reached the 
like titular dignity comparatively early (see p. 293). 


and gave a performance in the Guildhall before the 
council.' On September 5, 1571, he was chief alderman, 
a post which he retained till September 30 the following 
year. In 1573 Alexander Webbe, a farmer of Snitter- 
field, and the husband of his wife's sister Margaret, 
made him overseer of his will of which Henry Shake- 
speare, his brother, was executor. In 1 575 the dramatist's 
father added substantially to his real estate by purchas- 
ing two houses in Stratford ; one of them, the traditional 
'birthplace' in Henley S"treet, adjoined the tenement 
acquired nineteen years before. In 1576 Alderman 
Shakespeare contributed twelvepence to the beadle's 
salary. But after Michaelmas 1572 he took a less active 
part in municipal affairs, and he grew irregular in his 
attendance at the council meetings. 

Signs were gradually apparent that John Shake- 
speare's luck had turned. In 1578 he was unable to pay, 
with his colleagues, either the weekly sum of fourpence 
for the relief of the poor, or his contribution ' towards the 
furniture of three pikemen, two billmen, 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. Four children 
besides the poet — three sons, Gilbert (baptised October 
13, 1566), Richard (baptised March 11, 1573-4), Brothers 
and Edmund (baptised May 3, 1580), with a and sisters. 
daughter Joan (baptised April 15, 1569) — reached 
maturity. A daughter Ann was baptised on September 
28, 1571, and was buried on April 4, 1579. To meet 
his growing Uabihties, the father borrowed money 

' The Rev. Thomas Carter, in Shakespeare, Puritan and Recusant, 
1897, weakly argued that John Shakespeare was a puritan from the 
fact that the corporation ordered images to be defaced (1562-3) and 
ecclesiastical vestments to be sold (1571), while he held office as chamber- 
lain or chief alderman. These decrees were mere acts of conformity with 
the new ecclesiastical law. John Shakespeare's encouragement of actors 
is conclusive proof that he was no puritan. The Elizabethan puritans, 
too, according to Guillim's Display of Heraldrie (1610), regarded coat- 
armour with abhorrence, yet John Shakespeare with his son made per- 
sistent application to the College of Arms for a grant of arms. (Cf. 
infra, pp. 281 seq.) 


from his wife's kinsfolk, and he and his wife mortgaged, ; 
on November 14, 1578, Asbies, her valuable property at 
Wilmcote, for 40/. 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 October 
15, 1579, John and his wife made over to Robert Webbe, 
doubtless a relative of Alexander Webbe, for the sum of 
40/., his wife's property at Snitterfield.^ 

John Shakespeare obviously chafed under the humiUa- 
tion of having parted, although as he hoped only tem- 
porarily, with his wife's property of Asbies, and 
father's in the autumn of 1580 he offered to pay off 
^ffi°°it- the mortgage ; but his brother-in-law, Lambert, 
retorted that other sums were owing, and he 
would accept all or none. The negotiation, which was 
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 no goods on which process could be levied.' 
On September 6, 1586, John was deprived of his alder- 
man's gown, on the ground of his long absence from the 
council meetings.* 

' The sum is stated to be 4/. in one document (Halliwell-Pliillipps, 
ii. 176) and 40^. in another {ib. p. 179) ; the latter is the correct sum. 

' Edmund Lambert died on March i, 1586-7, in possession of Asbies. 
Fresh legal proceedings were thereupon initiated by John Shakespeare : 
to recover the property from Edmund Lambert's heir, John Lambert. 
The litigation went on intermittently through the next twelve years, 
but the dramatist's family obtained no satisfaction. Cf. Mrs. Stopes's 
Shakespeare's Environment, pp. 37 seq. 

» Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 238. The Henley Street property was ap- 
parently treated as immune from distraint. 

^The embarrassments of Shakespeare's father have been at times 
assigned in error to another John Shakespeare of Stratford. The second I 
John Shakespeare or Shakspere (as his name is usually spelt) came to ~ 
Stratford as a young man, married there 'on Nov. 25, 1584, and was for 
ten years a well-to-do shoemaker in Bridge Street, filling the office of i 
Master of the Shoemakers' Company in 1592 — a certain sign of pecuniary ] 
stability. He left Stratford in 1594 (cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 137-40). ; 


Happily John Shakespeare was at no expense for the 
education of his four sons. They were entitled to free, 
tuition at the grammar school of Stratford, ghake- 
which had been refashioned in 1553 by Edward speare's 
VI out of a fifteenth century foundation. An ^'^ °°'' 
unprecedented zeal for education was a prominent charac- 
teristic of Tudor England, and there was scarcely an 
English town which did not witness the establishment in 
the sixteenth century of a well-equipped public school."^ 
Stratford shared with the rest of the country the general 
respect for literary study. Secular literature as well as 
theology found its way into the parsonages, and libraries 
adorned the great houses of the neighbourhood.^ The 
townsmen of Stratford gave many proofs of pride in the 
municipal school which offered them a taste of academic 
culture. There John Shakespeare's eldest son William 
probably made his entry in 1571, when Walter Roche, 
B.A., was retiring from the mastership in favour of 
Simon Hunt, B.A. Hunt seems to have been succeeded 
in 1577 by one Thomas Jenldns, whose place was taken 
in 1579 by John Cotton 'late' of London.' Roche, Hunt, 
and Cotton were all graduates of Oxford ; Roche would 
appear to have held a Lancashire fellowship at his col- 
lege. Corpus Christi, and to have left the Stratford School 
to become rector of the neighbouring church of Clifford 

' Before the reign of the first Tudor sovereign Henry VII England 
could boast of no more than 16 granunar schools, i.e. public schools, 
unconnected with the monasteries. Sixteen were founded in addition 
in different towns during Henry VH's reign, 63 during Henry VIII's 
reign, 50 during Edward VI's reign, 19 during Queen Mary's reign, 
138 during Queen Elizabeth's reign, and 83 during James I's reign. 

2 The post-mortem inventory of the goods of John Marshall, curate 
of Bishopton, a hamlet of Stratford, enumerates 170 separate books, 
including Ovid's Tristia, Erasmus's Colloquia, Ascham's Scholemaster, 
Virgil, Aristotle's ProbUmes, Cicero's Epistles, besides much contro- 
versial divinity, scriptural commentaries and educational manuals. 
See Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's Environment (pp. 57-61). Sir George 
Carew (afterwards Earl of Totnes), of Clop ton House, Stratford, pur- 
chased, for his library there on its publication in 1598 John Florio's 
Worlde of Wordes, an Italian-English Dictionary; this volume is now 
in the Shakespeare Birthplace Library. (See Catalogue, No. 161.) 

' Gray's Shakespeare's Marriage, p. 108. 


Chambers. The schoohnasters owed their appoint- 
ment to the town coundl, but a teacher's license from 
the bishop of the diocese (Worcester) was a needful 

As was customary in provincial schools, the poetl 
learned to write the ' Old English ' character, which re- 
shake- sembles that still in vogue in Germany. He 
speare's was never taught the Itahan script, which was 
cumcuium. ^jj^jjig its way in cultured society, and is now 
universal among Englishmen. Until his death Shake- 
speare's 'Old EngUsh' handwriting testified to his pro- 
vincial education.^ The general instruction was con- 
veyed in Latin. From the Latin accidence, boys of the 
period, at schools of the type of that at Stratford, were 
led, through Latin conversation books like the 'Sen- 
tentise Pueriles,' and the standard elementary Latin 
grammar of Wilham Lily (first highmaster of St. Paul's 
School), to the perusal of such authors as Seneca, Ter- 
ence, Cicero, Virgil, Plautus, Ovid, and Horace. Some 
current Latin Hterature was in common use in the lower 
forms. The Latin eclogues of the popular renaissance 
poet, Baptista Mantuanus, were usually preferred to 
Virgil's for beginners ; they were somewhat crudely 
modelled in a post-classical idiom on Virgil's pastorals, 
but were reckoned 'both for style and matter very fa- 
miliar and grateful to children and therefore read in 
most schools.' ^ The rudiments of Greek were occasion- 

' See pp. S17 seq. infra. 

" Cf. Charles Hoole's New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching School 
(published 1660, written 1640). Evidence abounds of the popularity 
of Mantuanus's work, which Shakespeare quotes in the original in 
Love's Labour's Lost (see p. ig ». i). Diayton, a Warwickshire boy, 
records {Of Poets and Poesy) that his tutor 

First read to me honest Mantuan, 
Then Virgil's Eclogues. 

So Thomas Lodge {Defence of Poetry, 1579) : 'Miserable were our state 
if our younghngs [wanted] the wrytings of Mantuan.' Dr. Johnson 
notes that Mantuan was read in some English schools down to the 
beginmng of the eighteenth century {Lives of the Poets, ed. HiU, iii 317) 
Mantuanus's Eclogues have been fully and admirably edited by Dr 
W. P. Mustard, Baltimore, 1911. 


ally taught in Elizabethan grammar schools to very 
promising pupils; but such coincidences as have been 
detected between expressions in Greek plays and in 
Shakespeare seem due to accident, and not to any study, 
either at school or elsewhere, of the Athenian drama.^ 

Dr. Farmer enunciated in his ' Essay on Shakespeare's 
Learning' (1767) the theory that Shakespeare knew no 
language but his own, and owed whatever gj^^^^ 
knowledge he displayed of the classics and of speare's 
ItaUan and French literature to English trans- '^^^i^s- 
lations. But several French and Italian books whence 

^ James RusseU Lowell, who noticed some close parallels between 
expressions of Shakespeare and those of the Greek tragedians, hazarded 
the suggestion that Shakespeare may have studied the ancient drama in 
a GrcBci et Latine edition. I believe Lowell's parallelisms to be no more 
than curious accidents — proofs of consanguinity of spirit, not of any 
indebtedness on Shakespeare's part. In the Electra of Sophocles, which 
is akin in its leading motive to Hamlet, the Chorus consoles Electra for 
the supposed death of Orestes with the same commonplace argument 
as that with which Hamlet's mother and uncle seek to console him. In 
Electra are the lines 11 71-3 : 

Qin^Tov witpvKas Trarpis, 'HX^Krpa, ^pSver 
SvTjrbs 3* ^Op^cTTTjs • itttrre fiTj \iav ffrive. 
nficrtj' yhp T}fuv tovt' dcpeLKerai Tradeiv 

{i.e. 'Remember, Electra,- your father whence you sprang is mortal. 
Mortal, too, is Orestes. Wherefore grieve not overmuch, for by all of 
us has this debt of suffering to be paid'). In Hamlet (i. ii. 72 seq.) are 
the fa mili ar sentences : 

Thou know'st 'tis common ; all that live must die. . . . 
But you must know, your father lost a father ; 
That father lost, lost his . . . But to persever 
In obstinate condolement is a course 
Of impious stubbornness. 

Cf. Sophodes's (Edipus Coloneus, 880 : Tots toi dixalois x^ Ppo-X^' "'«? 
li^yav ('In a just cause the weak vanquishes the strong,' Jebb), and 
2 Henry VI, in. ii. 233, 'Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.' 
Shakespeare's 'prophetic soul' in Hamlet (i. v. 40) and the Sonnet (cvii. i) 
may be matched by the Trpd/iairns Sv/ils of Euripides's Andromache, 
107s; and Hamlet's 'sea of troubles' (iii. i. 59) by the KaKwv TiXayos 
of ^schylus's PerstB, 443. Among all the creations of Shakespearean 
and Greek drama, Lady Macbeth and .(Eschylus's Clytemnestra, who 
'in man's counsels bore no woman's heart' (yi/raiKis 6,vSpbpov\ov iXwl^ov 
Kiap, Agamemnon, 11), most closely resemble each other. But a 
study of the points of resemblance attests no knowledge of jEschylus 
on Shakespeare's part, but merely the close community of tragic genius 
that subsisted between the two poets. 


Shakespeare derived the plots of his dramas — Belle- j 
forest's 'Histoires Tragiques,' Ser Giovanni's 'II Pe- 
corone,' and Cinthio's 'Hecatommithi,' for example — 
were not accessible to him in English translations; and; 
on more general groimds the theory of his ignorance is 
adequately confuted. A boy with Shakespeare's excep- 
tional alertness of intellect, during whose schooldays a 
training in Latin classics lay within reach, could hardly 
lack in future years all means of access to the hterature'' 
of France and. Italy. Schoolfellows of the dramatist; 
who took to trade and lacked Hterary aspirations showed; 
themselves on occasion capable of writing letters in ac- 
curate Latin prose or they freely seasoned their familiar 
Enghsh correspondence with Latin phrases, while at 
least one Stratford schoolboy of the epoch shewed in 
manhood some famiHar knowledge of French poetry.' 
It was thus in accord with common experience that 
Shakespeare in his writings openly acknowledged his 
acquaintance with the Latin and French languages, and 
with many Latin poets of the school curriculum. In 
the mouth of his schoolmasters, Holof ernes in 'Love's 
Labour's Lost ' and Sir Hugh Evans in ' Merry Wives of 
The poet's Windsor,' Shakespeare placed Latin phrases 
classical drawn directly from Lily's grammar, from the 
equipment, 'gententias Pueriles,' and from 'the good old 
Mantuan.' ^ Some critical knowledge of Latin drama 

' Cf. Richard Quiney's Latin letter to his father (c. 1598) in Malone's. 
Variorum Shakespeare, ii. 564, and Abraham Sturley's English coxiWk 
spondence, which is studded with Latin phrases, in Halliwdl-Phillipfl 
ii. SQ. Thomas Quiney, a Stratford youth, who became one of Shalce- 
spear^'s sons-in-law, when chamberlain of the borough in 1623 inscribed 
on the cover of the municipal account book the French couplet : 

Heureux celui qui pour devenir sage 
Du mal d'autrui fait son apprentisage. 

(See Catalogue of Sliakespeare's Birthplace, p. 115.) ■ 

' From Mantuanus's first eclogue Holofernes quotes the opening 
words : J 

Fauste, precor, gelida quando pecus omne sub umbra I 


(^Love's Labour's Lost, iv. ii. 89-90). See p. 16 n. 3 supra. • 


is suggested by Polonius's remark in his survey of dra- 
matic literature : ' Seneca cannot be too heavy nor Plautus 
too light' ('Hamlet,' 11. ii. 395-6). Many a distinctive 
phrase of Senecan tragedy seems indeed to be interwoven 
with Shakespeare's dramatic speech, nor would the 
dramatist appear to have disdained occasional hints 
from Seneca's philosophical discourses.^ From Plautus's 
'Menaechmi' Shakespeare drew the leading motive of 
his 'Comedy of Errors,' while through the whole range 
of his literary work, both poetic and dramatic, signs 
are apparent of close intimacy with Ovid's verse, notably 
with the 'Metamorphoses,' the most popular classical 
poem, at school and elsewhere, in mediaeval and renais- 
sance Europe. 

' Apart from two Latin quotations from Seneca's Hippolytus in Titus 
Andronicus (of doubtful authorship), n. i. 133-5, iv- !• 82-3, there are 
many notable resemblances between Seneca's and Shakespeare's language. 
The following parallel is typical : 

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand? {Macbeth, 11. ii. 60-1.) 

Quis Tanais aut quis Nilus aut quis persica 

Violentus unda Tigris aut Rhenus ferox 

Tagusve hibera turbidus gaza fluens 

Abluere dextram potent? arctoum licet 

Maeotis in me gelida transfundat mare 

Et tota Tethys per meas currat manus : 

Haerebit altum facinus. {Hercules Furins, 1330-6.) 

See J. W. Cunliffe's The Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy, 
1893, and his Early English Classical Tragedies, 191 2. Professor E. A. 
Sonnenschein in Latin as an Intellectual Force, a paper read at the Inter- 
national Congress of the Arts and Sciences, St. Louis, September 1904, 
forcibly argued that Portia's speech on mercy was largely based on 
Seneca's tractate De dementia. The following passages illustrate the 
similarity of temper : 

It becomes Nullum dementia ex omnibus magis 

The throned monarch better than His quam regem aut principem decet. 
crown. {Merck, of Venice, iv. i. {De dementia, i. iii. 3.) 


And earthly power doth then show likest Quid autem? non proximum els (dis- 

God's locum tenet is qui se ex deorum natura 

When mercy seasons justice, (iv. i. gerit beneficus et largus et in melius 

196-7.) potens? (i. xix. 9.) 


Ovid's poetry filled the predominant place among . 
the studies of Shakespeare's schooldays. In his earliest! 
The Pl^y- 'Love's Labour's Lost' (rv. ii. 127), he 

influence cites him as the schoolboy's model for Latin 
of Ovid. verse: 'Ovidius Naso was the man: and 
why, indeed, Naso, but for smelhng out the odorifer-| 
ous flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention?' ^ In his 
later writings Shakespeare vividly assimilates number-| 
less mythological episodes from the rich treasury of the 
' Metamorphoses.' ^ The poems ' Venus and Adonis ' and 
'Lucrece' are both offspring of Ovidian parentage; the 
first theme comes direct from the 'Metamorphoses' and 
is interwoven by Shakespeare with two other tales from 
the same quarry, while the title-page bears a Latin; 
couplet from a different poem of Ovid — his 'Amores.'. 
In Shakespeare's latest play of 'The Tempest' Prospero's 
recantation of his magic art (v. i. 33 seq.) — j 

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves, &c. 

— verbally echoes Medea's incantation when making her 
rejuvenating potion, in the 'Metamorphoses' (vii.. 
197 seq.). In his 'Sonnets' too Shakespeare borrows| 
from the same Latin poem his cliief excursions into 
cosmic and metaphysical philosophy.' Finally there is 
good reason for believing that the actual copy of Ovid's ' 
work which the dramatist owned still survives. There , 
is in the Bodleian Library an exemplar of the Aldine 

* In Titus Andronicus, for which Shakespeare's full responsibility is 
questioned, Ovid's Metamorphoses is brought on the stage and from the 
volume the tragic tale of Philomel is read out (iv. i. 42 seq.). Later 
in the play (iv. iii. 4) the Latin words 'terras Astrsea reliquit!' are intro- : 
duced from the Metamorphoses, i. 150. An intimate acquaintance with 
Ovid's poem was an universal characteristic of Elizabethan culture. 

' When in the Induction to the Taming of the Shrew, sc. ii. SQ~6ii 
the lord's servant makes aUusion, for the benefit of the tinker Sly, to 
Daphne's disdain of Apollo's advances, he paraphrases Ovid's story in 
the Metamorphoses (i. So8-g). Twice Shakespeare makes airy allusion 
to the tale (which Ovid first narrated) of Baucis and Philemon, the 
rustics who entertained Jove unawares (Muck Ado, n. i, 100, and As 
You Like It, n. iii. lo-ii). Many other examples could be given. 

' Cf. the present writer's 'Ovid and Shakespeare's Sonnets' in Quar- 
terly Review, April 1909, and see pp. 180 seq. infra. 


edition of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (1502), and on the 
title is the signature 'W". Sh^,' which experts have de- 
clared — on grounds which deserve attention — to be a 
genmne autograph of the poet.^ 

EngKsh renderings of classical poetry and prose were 
growing common in Shakespeare's era. The poetry of 
Virgil and of Ovid, Seneca's tragedies and some ^j^^ ^^^ ^j 
parts of his philosophical work, fragments of transU- 
Homer and Horace, were among the classical ''™^' 
writings which were accessible in the vernacular in the 
eighth decade of the sixteenth century. Many of 
Shakespeare's reminiscences of the . ' Metamorphoses ' 
show indebtedness to the popular English version which 
came in ballad metre from the pen of Arthur Golding 
in 1567. That translation long enjoyed an especially 
wide vogue; a seventh edition was issued in, 1597, and 
Golding's phraseology is often reflected in Shakespeare's 
lines. Yet the dramatist never wholly neglected the 
Latin text to which he had been introduced at school. 
Twice does the Latin poet confer on Diana, in her char- 
acter of Goddess of Groves, the name Titania ('Met- 
amorphoses,' iii. 173 and vi. 364). In both cases the 
translator Golding omits this distinctive appellation, 
and calls Diana by her accustomed title. Ovid's Latin 
alone accounts for Shakespeare's designation of his fairy 
queen as Titania, a word of great beauty which he first 
introduced into English poetry. There is no ground for 
ranking" the dramatist with classical scholars or for 
questioning his hberal use of translations. A lack of 
exact scholarship fully accounts for the ' small Latin and 

' Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, 1890, pp. 379 seq. The 
volume was purchased for the Bodleian at the sale of a London book- 
seller, William Henry Alkins of Lombard Street, in January 1865. On 
a leaf facing the title-page is an inscription, the genuineness of which is 
unquestioned: 'This little Booke of Ovid was given to me by W Hall 
who satd it was once Will Shaksperes. T. N. 1682.' The identity of 
'W Hall' and 'T. N.' has not been satisfactorily established. The 
authenfficity of the Shakespeare signature is ably maintained by Dr. 
F. A. Leo in Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, vol. xvi. 
(1880), pp. 367-75 (with photographic illustrations). 


less Greek' with which he was credited by his scholaJ-ly| 
friend, Ben Jonson. But Aubrey's report that 'he 
understood Latin pretty well' is incontestable. The 
original speech of Ovid and Seneca lay weU within his 
mental grasp. 

Shakespeare's knowledge of French — the language of 
Ronsard and Montaigne — at least equalled his know- 
ledge of Latin. In 'Henry V the dialogue in many 
scenes is carried on in French, which is grammatically 
accurate, if not idiomatic. There is, too, no reason to 
•doubt that the dramatist possessed sufi&cient acquaint- 
ance with Itahan to enable him to discern the drift of 
an Italian poem by Ariosto or Tasso or of a novel lay 
Boccaccio or BandeUo.^ Hamlet knew that the story of 
Gonzago was 'extant, and written in very choice Italian' 
(m. ii. 256). ■ _ 

The books in the English tongue which were accessible 
to Shakespeare in his schooldays, whether few or many, 
TheEng- included the English Bible, which helped to 
lish Bible, mould his buddiug thought and expression. 
Two versions were generally available in his boy- 
hood — the Genevan version, which was first issued 
in a complete form in 1560, and the Bishops' revision of 
1568, winch the Authorised Version bf 161 1 closely fol- 
lowed and superseded. The Bishops' Bible was author- 
ised for use in churches. The Genevan version, which 

' Cf. Spencer Bajmes, 'What Shakespeare learnt at School,' in Shake- 
speare Studies, 1894, pp. 147 seq. Henry Ramsay, one of the panegyrists 
of Ben Jonson, in the collection of elegies entitled Jonsonus Virbius 
(1637), wrote of Jonson : 

That Latin he reduced, and could command 

That which your Shakespeare scarce could understand. 

Ramsay here merely echoes Jonson's familiar remarks on Shakespeare's; 
'small Latin.' No greater significance attaches to Jasper Mayne's 
vague assurance in his elegy on Jonson (also in Jonsomts Virbius) that 
Jonson's native genius was such that he 

Without Latin helps had been ais rare 

As Beaumont, Fletcher, or as Shakespeare were. 

The conjunction of Shakespeare with Beaumont and Fletcher, who were 
well versed in the classics, proves the futility of Mayne's rhapsody. 


was commonly found in schools and middle-class house- 
holds, was clearly the text with which youthful Shake- 
speare was chiefly familiar.^ 

References to scriptural characters and incidents are 
not conspicuous in Shalkespeare's plays, but, such as they 
are, they are drawn from all parts of the Bible, g^^.^^_ 
and indicate a general acquaintance with speareand 
the narrative of both Old and New Testa- ^'^^^''^i^- 
ments. Shakespeare quotes or adapts biblical phrases 
with far greater frequency than he makes allusion to 
episodes in bibhcal history. ' Elizabethan English was ' 
saturated with scriptural expressions. Many enjoyed 
colloquial currency, and others, which were more rec- 
ondite, were liberally scattered through Hohnshed's 
'Chronicles' and secular works whence the dramatist 
drew his plots. Yet there is a savour of early study about 
his normal use of scriptural phraseology, as of scriptural 
history. His scriptural reminiscences bear trace of the 
assimilative or receptive tendency of 'an alert youthful 
mind. It is futile to urge that his knowledge of the 
Bible was mainly the fruit of close and continuous appli- 
cation in adult life,^ 

Games flourished among Elizabethan boys, and Shake- 
speare shows acquaintance in his writings with childish 
pastimes, like 'the whipping of tops,' 'hide Youthful 
and seek,' 'more sacks to the mill,' 'push recreation, 
pin,' and 'nine men's morris.' Touring players vis- 

' When Shylock speaks of 'your prophet the Nazarite' (Merchant 
of Venice, i. iii. 31), and when Prince Henry speaks of 'a good amend- 
ment of life' (i Hen. IV. i. ii. 106), both the italicised expressions come 
from the Genevan version of the Bible, and are replaced by different 
expressions in other English versions, by the Nazarene in the first case, 
and by repentance in the second. Similar illustrations abound. 

2 Bishop Charles Wordsworth, in his Shakespeare's Knowledge and 
Use of the Bible (4th edit. 1892), gives a long list of passages for which 
Shakespeare may have been indebted to the Bible. But. the bishop's 
deductions as to the strength of Shakespeare's adult piety seem strained. 
The Rev. Thomas Carter's Shakespeare and Holy Scripture (1905) is 
open to much the same exceptions as the bishop's volume, but no Shake- 
spearean student will fail to derive profit from examining his exhaustive 
collection of parallel passages. 


ited Stratford from time to time during Shakespear^s , 
schooldays, and it was a habit of Ehzabethan parents in 
provincial towns to take their children with them to local 
performances of stage plays.^ The actors made, as we 
have seen, their first appearance at Stratford in 1568, 
while Shakespeare's father was bailiff. The experiment 
was repeated almost annually by various companies 
between the dramatist's ninth and twenty-first years.^ 
Dramatic entertainments may well have ranked among 
Shakespeare's juvenile amusements. There were, too, 
cognate diversions in the neighbourhood of Stratford in 
which the boy may have shared. In July 1575, when 
Shakespeare had reached the age of eleven, Queen EHza- 
beth made a progress through Warwickshire on a visit 
to her favourite, the Earl of Leicester, at his castle of 
Kenilworth. References have been justly detected in \ 
Oberon's vision in Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's 
Dream ' (n. i. 148-68) to the fantastic pageants, masques,! 
and fireworks with which the queen was entertained in i 
Kenilworth Park during her stay. Two full and graphic '- 
descriptions which were published in 1576 in pamphlet 

^ One R. WiUis, who was senior to Shakespeare by a year, tells how his 
father took him as a child to see a travelling company's rendering of a 
piece called the Cradle of Security in his native town of Gloucester. 'At . 
such a play my father tooke me with him, and made mee stand between^ 
his leggs as he sate upon one of the benches, where wee saw and heard 
very weU' — R WUlis's Mount Tabor or Private Exercises of a Penitent 
Sinner, published in the yeare of his Age 75, Anno Dom. 1639, pp. 
1 10-3; cf. Malone's Variorum Shakespeare, iii. 28-30. 

2 In 1573 Stratford was visited by the Earl of Leicester's men; in 
1576 by the Earl of Warwick's and the Earl of Worcester's men; 
in IS77 by the Earl of Leicester's and the Earl of Worcester's men; in 
1579 by the Lord Strange's and the Countess of Essex's men • in 1580 ■ 
by the Earl of Derby's players; in 1581 by the Earl of Worcester's and 
Lord Berkeley's players; m 1582 by the Earl of Worcester's players; 
in 1583 by Lord Berkeley's and Lord Chandos's players; in 1584 by 
players under the respective patronage of the Earl of Oxford the Earl ' 
of Warwick, and the Earl of Essex, and in 1586 by an unnamed com- ' 
pany. As many as five companies— the Queen's, the Earl of Essex's, ■ 
the Earl of Leicester's, Lord Stafford's and another company — visited 
the town in 1587 (Malone, Variorum Shakespeare, ii 150-1) Mr 
F. C. Wellstood, the secretary of the Birthplace Trustees, has kindly ' 
prepared for me a full transcript of all the references to actors in the 
Chamberlain's accounts in the Stratford-on-Avon archives. 


form, might have given Shakespeare his knowledge of 
the varied programme.^ But Leicester's residence was 
only fifteen miles from Stratford, and the country people 
came in large numbers to witness the open-air festivities. 
It is reasonable to assume that some of the spectators 
were from Stratford and that they included the elder 
Shakespeare and his son. 

In any case Shakespeare's opportunities of recreation, 
whether within or without Stratford, saw some restriction 
as his schooldays drew to an end. His father's 
financial difficulties grew steadily, and they drawai 
caused the boy's removal from school at an ^™™^j 
unusually early age. Probably in 1577, when 
he was thirteen, he was enhsted by his father in an 
effort to restore his decajdng fortunes. 'I have been 
told heretofore,' wrote Aubrey, 'by some of the neigh- 
bours 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 
'apprenticed to a butcher.'^ 'When he kill'd a calf,' 
Aubrey adds 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 acquaint- 
ance, and coetanean, but dyed young.' 

At the end of 1582 Shakespeare, when little more 
than eighteen and a half years old, took a step which 
was Httle calculated to lighten his father's 
anxieties. He married. His wife, according mamage.'^ 
to the inscription on her tombstone, was his 
senior by eight years. Rowe states that she 'was the 

Ij. ^ See p. 232 infra. 

^ Notes of John Dowdall, a tourist in Warwickshire in 1693 (pub- 
lished in 1838). 


daughter of one Hathaway, said to have been a sub- 
stantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. 

On September i, 1581, Richard Hathaway, 'husband- 
man' of Shottery, a hamlet in the parish of Old Strat- 
ford, made his wiU, which was proved on 
Hathaway July 9, 1582, and is now preserved at Somer- 
of Shot- set House. His house and land, two and a 
^'^' half virgates,' had been long held in copyhold 

by his family, and he died in fairly prosperous circum-- 
stances. His wife Joan, the chief legatee, was directed 
to carry on the farm with the aid of the eldest son, 
Bartholomew, to whom a share in its proceeds was as- 
signed. Six other children— three sons and three daugh- 
ters—received sums of money; Agnes, the eldest 
daughter, and Catherine, the second daughter, were 
each allotted 61. 135. 4J., 'to be paid at the day of her 
marriage,' a phrase common in wills of the period. 
Anne Anne and Agnes were in the sixteenth century i; 

Hathaway, alternative spelHngs 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 Richard Hathaway's death, Shak,espeare'^ 
wife.^ * 

The house at Shottery, now known as Anne Hatha- 
way's cottage, dnd reached from Stratford by field-paths,; 
undoubtedly once formed part of Richard Hathaway'sl 
farmhouse, and, despite numerous alterations and reno- 

' Thomas Whittington, a shepherd in the service of the Hathawayd 
at Shottery, makes in his will dated 1602 mention of Mrs. Atme Shake-1 
speare, Mrs. Joan Hathaway [the mother], John Hathaway and William 
Hathaway [the brothers] in such close collocation as to dissipate all 
doubt that Shakespeare's wife was a daughter of the Shottery householdl 
(see p. 280 infra). Longfellow, the American poet (in his Poems of 
Places, 1877, vol. ii. p. 198), rashly accepting a persistent popular fallacy, 
assigned to Shakespeare a valueless love poem entitled 'Anne Hathaway,' | 
which is in four stanzas with the weak puiming refrain 'She hath a way, 
Anne Hathaway.' The verses are by Charles Dibdin, the eighteenth- 
century song-writer, and appear in the chief collected editions of his 
songs, as well as in his novel Hannah Hewit; or the Female Crusoe, 1796. 
Dibdin helped Garrick to organise the Stratford jubilee of 1769, and 
the poem may date from that year. 


vations, still preserves the main features of a thatched 
farmhouse of the Elizabethan period.^ The 
house remained in the Hathaway family till ^ha- 
1838, although the male line became extinct ^^y'^ 
in 1746. It was purchased in behalf of the ""^^^' 
public by the Birthplace trustees in 1892. 

No record of the solemnisation 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 local tradition, which seems to have 
come into being during the nineteenth century, assigns 
the ceremony to the neighbouring hamlet or chapelry 
of Luddington, of which neither the chapel nor parish 
registers now exist. But one important piece of docu- 
mentary evidence directly bearing on the poet's matri- 
monial venture is accessible. In the registry of the bishop 
of the diocese (Worcester) a deed is extant wherein Fulk 
Sandells and John Richardson, responsible 'husbandmen 
of Stratford,' ^ botmd themselves in the bishop's con- 
sistory court, on November 28, 1582, in a surety of 40/. 
to free the bishop of all liability should a lawful im- 
pediment — 'by reason of any precontract' [i.e. with a 
third party] or consanguinity — ^be subsequently 
disclosed to imperil the validity of the marriage, agdnst'^ 
then in contemplation, of William Shakespeare impedi- 
with Anne Hathaway. On the assumption ™^ ^' 
that no such impediment was known to exist, and 
provided that Anne obtained the consent of her 

^ John Hathaway, a direct descendant of Richard (father of Shake- 
speare's wife) and owner of the house at the end of the seventeenth 
century, commemorated some repairs by inserting a stone in one of the 
chimney stacks which is still conspicuously inscribed 'I. H. 1697.' John 
Hathaway's reparations were clearly superficial. 

* Both Fulk SandeUs and John Richardson were men of substance 
and local repute. Richardson was buried at Stratford on Sept. ig, 1594, 
and SandeUs, who was many years his junior, on Oct. 14, 1624. SandeUs, 
who attested the post-mortem inventories of the property of several 
neighbours, helped to appraise the estate of Richardson, his fellow- 
bondsman, on Nov. 4, 1S94. (Stratford Records, Miscell. Doc. vol. 
V. 32.) 


'friends/ the marriage might proceed 'with once asking 
of the bannes of matrimony betwene them.' _ _ I 

Bonds of similar purport, although differing in signifi- 
cant details, are extant in all diocesan registries of the 
sixteenth century. They were obtainable on the pay- 
ment of a fee to the bishop's commissary, and had the 
effect of expediting the marriage ceremony while pro- 
tecting the clergy from the consequences of any possible 
breach of canonical law. But they were not commonji 
and it was rare for persons in the comparatively humble^ 
position in life of Anne Hathaway and young Shakespeare 
to adopt such cumbrous f ormahties when there was always 
available the simpler, less expensive, and more leisurely 
method of marriage by 'thrice asking of the banns. 'a 
Moreover, the wording of the bond which was drawn be- 
fore Shakespeare's marriage differs in important respects 
from that commonly adopted.^ In other extant examples 
it is usually provided that the marriage shall not take^ 
place without the consent of the parents or governors of 
both bride and bridegroom. In the case of the marriage 
of an 'infant' bridegroom the formal consent of his 
parents was essential to strictly regular procedure, al- 
though clergymen might be found who were ready to 
shut their eyes to the facts of the situation and to run 
the risk of solemnising the marriage of an 'infant' with- 
out inquiry as to the parents' consent. The clergyman 
who united Shakespeare in wedlock to Anne Hathaway j 
was obviously of this easy temper. Despite the circum- 
stance that Shakespeare's bride was of full age and he 
himself was by nearly three yearg a minor, the Shake-;j 
speare bond stipulated merely for the consent of the 
bride's 'friends,' and ignored the bridegroom's parents 
altogether. Nor was this the only irregularity in the 
document. In other pre-matrimonial covenants of the 
kind the name either of the bridegroom himself or of the 

1 These conclusions are drawn from an examination of like documents 
in the Worcester diocesan registry. Many formal declarations of con- 
sent on the part of parents to their children's marriages are also extant 
there among the sixteenth-century archives. 


bridegroom's father figures as one of the two sureties, and 
is mentioned first of the two. Had the usual form been 
followed, Shakespeare's father would have been the chief 
party to the transaction in behalf of his 'infant' son. 
But in the Shakespeare bond the sole sureties, Sandells 
and Richardson, were farmers of Shottery, the bride's 
native place. Sandells was a 'sup^'tvisor' of the will of 
' the bride's father, who there describes him as ' my trustie 
friende and neighbour.' 

The prominence of the Shottery husbandmen in the 
negotiations preceding Shakespeare's marriage suggests 
the true position of affairs. Sandells and Rich- Birth of a 
ardson, representing the lady's family, doubt- daughter. 
less secured the deed on their own initiative, so that 
Shakespeare might have small opportunity of evading 
a step which his intimacy with their friend's daughter 
had rendered essential to her reputation. The wedding 
probably took place, without the consent of the bride- 
groom's parents — it may be without their knowledge 
— soon after the signing of the deed-. The scene of the 
ceremony was clearly outside the bounds of Stratford 
parish — in . an unidentified church of the Worcester 
diocese, the register of which is lost. Within six months 
of the marriage bond — 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 pubhc betrothal or formal 'troth- Formal 
plight ' which was at the time a common prelude betrothal 
to a wedding carried with it all the privileges dispensed 
of marriage. But neither Shakespeare's detailed '"'''• 
description of a betrothal "■ nor of the solemn verbal 
contract that ordinarily preceded marriage lends the 
contention much support. Moreover, the circum- 

^ Twelfth Night, act v. sc. i. 11. 160-4 : 

A contract of eternal bond of love, 
•'^. Confirm'd by mutual joinder of your hands, 

'*** Attested by the holy close of lips, 

Strengthen 'd by interchangement of your rings ; 


Stances of the case render it highly improbable that;. 
Shakespeare and his bride submitted to the formal 
prehminaries of a betrothal. In that ceremony the 
parents of both contracting parties invariably played 
foremost parts, but the wording of the bond precludes the 
assumption that the bridegroom's parents were actors 
in any scene of the hurriedly planned drama of his 

A difficulty has been imported into the narration of 
the poet's matrimonial affairs by the assumption of his 

identity with one 'WiUiam Shakespeare,' to 
putted ^ whom, according to an entry in the Bishop 
marriage of Worcester's register, a license was issued 

on November 27, 1582 (the day before the 
signing of the Hathaway bond), authorising his marriage 
with Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. The theory 
that the maiden name of Shakespeare's wife was Whateley 
is quite untenable, and it seems unsafe to assume that the 
bishop's clerk, when making a note of the grant of the 
hcense in his register, erred so extensively as to write 
' Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton ' for ' Anne Hathaway 
of Shottery.' ^ The husband of Anne Whateley cannot 

And all the ceremony of this compact | 

Seal'd in my [i.e. the priest's] function by my testimony. 

In Measure for Measure Claudio's offence is intimacy with the Lady 
Juliet after the contract of betrothal and before the formality of marriagel 
(cf. act I. sc. ii. 1. 155, act iv. sc. i. 1. 73). In As You Like It, in. ii. 333 ' 
seq., Rosalind points out that the interval between ihe contract and the 
marriage ceremony, although it might be no more than a week, did not 
allow connubial intimacy : 'Marry, Time trots hard with a young maid 
between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnised. It 
the interim be but a sennight, Time's pace is so hard that it seems the 
length of seven years.' 

"^Inaccuracies in the surnames are not uncommon in die Bishop of 
Worcester's register of licenses for the period {e.g. Baker for Barbar,| 
Darby for Bradeley, Edgock for Elcocfc). But no mistake so thorough- 
going as in the Shakespeare entry has been discovered. Mr. J. W. 
Gray, in his Shakespeare's Marriage (1905), learnedly argues for the . 
clerk's error in copying, and deems the Shakespeare-Whateley license to ' 
be the authorisation for the marriage of the dramatist with Anne Hatha- 1 
way. He also claims that marriage by license was essential at certainj 
seasons of the ecclesiastical year during which marriage by banns was 


reasonably be identified with the poet. He was doubt- 
less another of the numerous William Shakespeares who 
abounded in the diocese of Worcester., Had a license 
for the poet's marriage been secured on November 27, 
it is unlikely that the Shottery husbandmen would have 
entered next day into a bond 'against impediments,' 
the execution of which might well have been demanded 
as a preliminary to the grant of a license but was super- 
erogatory after the grant was made. 

prohibited by old canonical regulations. The Shakespeare-Whateley 
license (of November 27) might on this showing have been obtained with 
a view to eluding the delay which one of the close seasons — from Ad- 
vent Sunday (November 27-December 3) to eight days after Epiphany 
(i.e. January 14) — interposed to marriage by banns. But it is ques- 
tionable whether the seasonal prohibitions were strictly enforced at the 
end of the sixteenth century, when marriage licenses were limited by 
episcopal rule to persons of substantial estate. In the year 1592 out of 
thirteen marriages (by banns) celebrated at the parish church of Strat- 
ford, as many as three, the parties to all of which were of humble rank, 
took place in the forbidden month of December. There is no means of 
determining who Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton precisely was. No 
registers of the parish for the period are extant. A Whateley family 
resided in Stratford, but there is nothing to show that Anne of Temple 
Grafton was connected with it. It is undoubtedly a strange coincidence 
that two persons, both named William Shakespeare, should on two suc- 
cessive days not only be arranging with the Bishop of Worcester's ofiScial 
to marry, but should be involving themselves, whether on their own 
initiative or on that of their friends, in more elaborate and expensive 
forms of procedure than were habitual to the humbler ranks of con- 
temporary society. But the Worcester diocese covered a very wide 
area, and was honeycombed with Shakespeare families of all degrees 
of gentility. The William Shakespeare whom Anne Whateley was 
licensed to marry was probably of the superior station, to which marriage 
by license was deemed appropriate. 



Anne Hathaway's greater burden of years and the 
likelihood that the poet was forced into marrying her by 
Husband her friends were not circumstances of happy 
and wife, augury. Although it is dangerous to read 
into Shakespeare's dramatic utterances allusions to Ms 
personal experience, the emphasis with which he insists 
that a woman should take in marriage an 'elder than 
herself,' ^ and that prenuptial intimacy is productive 
of 'barren hate, sour-ey'd disdain, and discord,' suggests 
a personal interpretation.^ To both these unpromising 
features was added, in the poet's case, the absence of a 
means of liveKhood, and his course of Hfe 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 February 2, and were named after their 
father's friends, Hamnet Sadler, and Judith, Sadler's wife. 
Hamnet Sadler, a prosperous tradesman whose brothf 
John was twice bailiff, continued a friend for hfe, rendering 
Shakespeare the last service of witnessing his will. The 

' Twelfth Night, act n. sc. iv. 1. 29 : 

Let still the woman take 
An elder than herself ; so wears she to him 
So sways she level in her husband's heart. 

^ Tempest, act iv. sc. i. 11. 15-22 : 

If thou dost break her virgin knot before 
All sanctimonious ceremonies may 
With full and holy rite be minister'd, 
No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall 
To make this contract grow ; but barren hate 
Sour-ey'd disdain, and discord, shall bestrew 
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly 
That you shall hate it both. 



dramatist's firstborn child Susanna was a year and nine 
moiiths old, when the twins were christened. Shake- 
speare had no more children, and all the evidence points 
to the conclusion, that in the later months of the year 
(1585) he left Stratford, and that he fixed his abode in 
London in the course of 1586. Although he was never 
wholly estranged from his family, he seems to have seen 
li little of wife or children for some eleven years. Between 
jithe winter of 1585 and the autumn of 1596 — an interval 
liwhich sjoichronises with his first literary triumphs — 
li there is only one shadowy mention of his name in Strat- 
ilford records. On March i, 1586-7, there died Edmund 
(jLambert, who held Asbies under the mortgage of 1578, 
J and a few months later Shakespeare's name, as owner of 
ia, contingent interest, was joined to that of his father and 
i| mother in a formal assent given to an abortive proposal 
I to confer on Edmund's son and heir, John Lambert, an 
J absolute title to the Wilmcote estate on condition of his 
jj cancelling the mortgage and paying 20I. But the deed 
I, does not indicate that Shakespeare personally assisted 
^ at the transaction.^ 

I Shakespeare's early literary work proves that while in 

J 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.^ There is small 

doiibt, too, that his sporting experiences passed at times 

beyond orthodox hmits. 

Some practical knowledge of the art of poaching seems 
to be attested by Shakespeare's early lines : 

' Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 11-13. 

2 Cf . Ellacombe, Shakespeare as an Angler, 1883; J. E. Harting, 
Ornithology of Shakespeare, 1872. The best account of Shakespeare's 
knowledge of sport is given by the Right Hon. D. H. Madden in his 
entertaining and at the same time scholarly Diary of Master Williark 
Silence: a Study of Shakespeare and Elizabethan Sport, 1897 (new edi- 
tion, 1907). 


What ! hast not thou full often struck a doe 
And borne her clfeanly by the keeper's nose? 

Titus Andronicus, n. i. 92-3. 

A poaching adventure, according to a credible tradition, 
was the immediate cause of Shakespeare's long severance 
Poaching ^'^o"^ ^^ native place. 'He had,' wrote the 
at biographer Rowe in 1709, 'by a misfortune 

Chariecote. common enough to young fellows, fallen into 
ill company; and, amongst them, some, that made a 
frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him with 
them more than once in robbing a park that belonged 
to Sir Thomas Lucy of Chariecote near Stratford.} 
For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he 
thought, somewhat too severely; and, in order to re- 
venge 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 for some time and shelter himself in Lon-| 
don.' The independent testimony of Archdeacon Rich-' 
ard Davies, who was vicar of Sapperton, Gloucester-I 
shire, late in the seventeenth century, is to the effect! 
that Shakespeare was 'much given to all unluckiness in 
stealing vension 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 EKz. cap. 21) punished deer-stealers with thiee: 
months' imprisonment and the pa)Tnent of thrice the ^5 
amount of the damage done. 

The tradition has been challenged on the ground 
that the Chariecote deer-park was of later date than the 
Unwar- sixteenth century. But Sir Thomas Lucy was 
dTubtl ^^ extensive game-preserver, and owned at 
of the Chariecote a warren in which a few harts or 
tradition. (jQgg doubtlcss found an occasional home. 
Samuel Ireland was informed in 1794 that Shakespearel 


stole the deer, not from Charlecote, but from Ful- 
broke Park, a few . miles off, and Ireland supplied 
in his 'Views on the Warwickshire Avon,' 1795, an en- 
graving of an old farmhouse in the hamlet of Fulbroke, 
where he asserted that Shakespeare was temporarily im- 
prisoned after his arrest. An adjoining hovel was locally 
5. 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 
EKzabeth's reign, and the amended legend, which was 
solemnly confided to Sir Walter Scott in 1828 by the 
owner of Charlecote, seems pure invention.' 

The ballad , which Shakespeare is reported to have 
fastened on the park gates of Charlecote does not, as 
Rowe acknowledged, survive. No authenticity justice 
can be allowed the worthless stanza beginning ShaUow. 
'A parHament member, a justice of peace,' which was 
represented to be Shakespeare's on the authority of 
Thomas Jones, an old man who hved near Stratford 
and died in 1703, aged upwards of ninety.^ But 
such an incident as the tradition reveals has left a 
distinct impress on Shakespearean drama. Justice 
Shallow is beyond douht a reminiscence of the owner of 
Charlecote. According to Archdeacon Davies of Sapper- 
ton, Shakespeare's 'revenge was so great that' he carica- 
tured 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^ Davies's 'Justice Clodpate,' 
came to birth in the 'Second Part of Henry IV' (1597), 
and he is represented in the opening scene of the ' Merry 
Wives of Windsor' as having come from Gloucester- 
shire to Windsor to make a Star-Chamber matter of a 

* Cf. C. Holte Bracebridge, Shakespeare no Deerstealer, 1862 ; Lock- 
bart, Life of Scott, vii. 123. 

^ Copies of the lines which were said to have been taken down from 
the old man's lips belonged to both Edward Capell and William Oldys 
(cf. Yeowell's Memoir of Oldys, 1862, p. 44). A long amplification, 
clearly of laterdate, is in Malone, Variorum, ii. 138, 563. 


poaching raid on his estate. 'Three luces hauriant 
argent' were the arms borne by the Charlecote Lucys. -| 
A 'luce' was a full-grown pike, and the meaning of the 
word fully explains Falstaff's contemptuous mention of 
the garrulous country justice as 'the old pike' ('2 Henry J 
IV/ III. ii. 323).! The temptation punningly to confuse 
' luce ' and ' louse ' was irresistible, and the dramatist's pro- 
longed reference in the ' Merry Wives ' to the ' dozen white ^ 
luces' on Justice Shallow's 'old coat' fully establishes! 
Shallow's identity with Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote. 
The poaching episode is best assigned to 1585, but 
it may be questioned whether Shakespeare, on fleeing | 
The flight ^^°™ Lucy's persecution, at once sought an 
from asylum in London. William Beeston, a seven- 

stratford. tccnth-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 neighbour- 
ing village. The suggestion that he joined, at the end 
of 1585, a band of 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 and county.^ 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 direct evidence be conclusive, is to underrate his 
intuitive power of realising life under almost every aspect : 
by force of his imagination. 

^ It is curious to note that William Lucy (1594-16 7 7), grandson of 
Shakespeare's Sir Thomas Lucy, who became Bishop of St. David's, • 
adopted the pseudonym of William Pike in his two volumes^(i6s7-8) '\ 
of hostile 'observations' on Hobbes's Leviathan. • 

' Cf. W. J. Thoms, Three Notelets on Shakespeare, 1865, pp. 16 seq. | 
Sir Philip Sidney, writing from Utrecht on March 24, 1585-6, to his | 
father-in-law, Sir Francis Walsingham, mentioned 'I wrote to yow 
a. letter by Will, my lord of Lester's jesting plaier' (Lodge's Portraits,^ 
ii. 176). The messenger was the well-known actor Will Kempe, and 
not, as has been rashly suggested, Shakespeare. 



Amid the clouds which gathered about him in his native 
place during 1585, Shakespeare's hopes turned towards 
London, where high-spirited youths of the The jour- 
day were wont to seek their fortune from all ney to 
parts of the country. It was doubtless in the °° °°'- 
early summer of 1586 that Shakespeare first traversed 
the road to the capital. There was much intercourse 
at the time between London aiid Stratford-on-Avon. 
Tradesmen of the town paid the great city repeated visits 
on legal or other business ; many of their sons swelled the 
ranks of the apprentices; a few were students at the 
Inns of Court.'- A packhorse carrier, bearing hi^ load 

1 Three students of the Middle Temple towards the end of the six- 
teenth century were natives of Stratford, viz. William, second son of 
John Combe, admitted on October 19, 1571 ; Richard, second son of 
Richard Woodward (born on March 1 1, 1578-9), on November 25, 1597 ; 
and William, son and heir of Thomas Combe, and grandnephew of his 
elder namesa!ke, on October 7, 1602 {Middle Temple Records, i. 181, 380, 
425). For names of Stratford apprentices in the publishing trade of 
London see p. 40 n. 2 infra. There is a remarkable recorded instance of 
a Stratford boy going on his own account and unbefriended to London 
to seek mercantile employment and making for himself a fortune and 
high position in trade there. The lad, named John Sadler, belonged 
to Shakespeare's social circle at Stratford. Born there on February 24, 
1586-7, the son of John Sadler, a substantial townsman who was twice 
bailiff in 1599 and 161 2, and nephew of the dramatist's friend Hamnet 
Sadler, the youth, early in the seventeenth century, in order to escape 
a marriage for which he had a. distaste, suddenly (according to his 
daughter's subsequent testimony) 'joined himself to the carrier [on a 
good horse which was supplied him by his friends] and came to London, 
where he had never been before, and sold his horse in Smithfield ; and 
having no acquaintance in London to recommend or assist him, he went 
from street to street and house to house, asking if they wanted an ap- 
prentice, and though he met with many discouraging scorns and a thou- 
sand denials, he went till he light on Mr. Brooksbank, a grocer in Buck- 



in panniers, made the journey at regular intervals, and 
a solitary traveller on horseback was wont to seek the 
carrier's protection and society.^ Horses could be hired 
at cheap rates. But walking was the common mode of 
travel for men of small means, and Shakespeare's first 
journey to London may well have been made on f oot.^ 

lersbury.' The story of Sadler's journey to London and his first em- 
ployment there is told in his daughter's autobiography, The Holy Life 
of Mrs. Elizabeth Walker, late wife of A[ntony] W[alker] D.D. (1690). 
Sadler's fortunes in London progressed uninterruptedly. He became 
one of the chief grocers or druggists of the day, and left a large estate, 
including property in Virginia, on his death in 1658. His shop was at 
the Red Lion in Bucklersbury — the chief trading quarter for men of 
his occupation. Shakespeare in Merry Wives, ni. iii. 62, writes of fops 
who smelt 'like Bucklersbury in simple time' — a reference to the dried 
herbs which the grocers stocked in their shops there. A Stratford neigh- 
bour, Richard Quiney, Sadler's junior by eight months, _ became his 
partner, and married his sister (on August 27, 1618) ; Quiney died in 
1655. Sadler and Quiney jointly presented to the Corporation of Strat- 
ford on August 22, 1632, 'two'fayre gilte maces,' which are still in use 
(cf. French's Shakespeareana Gencalogica, pp. 560 seq.), and they also 
together made over to the town a sum of 150/. 'to be lent out, tie in- 
crease [i.e. interest] to be given the poor of the borough for ever' (Wheler's I 
History of Stratford, p. 88). Shakespeare was on intimate terms with 
both the Sadler and Quiney families. Richard Quiney's father (of the 
same names) was a correspondent of the dramatist (see p. 294 infra), I 
and his brother Thomas married the dramatist's younger daughter, ' 
Judith (see p. 462 infra). 

^ Shakespeare graphically portrays packhorse carriers of the time in 
I Henry IV. n. i. i seq. 

^ Stage coaches were unknown before the middle of the seventeenth 
century, although at a little earlier date carriers from the large towns 
began to employ wagons for the accommodation of passengers as well 
as merchandise. Elizabethan men of letters were usually good pedes- 
trians. In 1570 Richard Hooker, the eminent theologian, journeyed 
as an undergraduate on foot from Oxford to Exeter, his native place. 
Izaak Walton, Hooker's biographer, suggests that, for scholars, walking 
'was then either more in fashion, or want of money or their humility 
made it so.' On the road Hooker visited at Salisbury Bishop Jewel, 
who lent him a walking staff with which the bishop 'professed he had 
travelled through many parts of Germany' (Walton's Lives, ed. Bullen, 
p. 173). Later in the century John Stow, the antiquary, travelled 
through the country 'on foot' to make researches in the cathedral towns 
(Stow's Annals, 1615, ed. Howes). In 1609 Thomas Coryat claimed to 
have walked in five months 1975 miles on the continent of Europe. In 
1618 Shakespeare's friend Ben Jonson walked from London to Edin- 
burgh and much of the way back. In the same year John Taylor, tiie 
water-poet, also walked independently from London to Edinburgh, and 
thence to Braemar (see his Pennyles Pilgrimage, 1618). 


There were two main routes by which London was 
approached from Stratford, one passing through Oxford 
and High Wycombe, and the other through Alternative 
Banbury and Aylesbury.'^ The distance either 'o"'«s. 
way was some 120 miles. Tradition points to the 
Oxford and High Wycombe road as Shakespeare's 
favoured thoroughfare. The seventeenth-century anti- 
quary, Aubrey, asserts on good authority that at Grendon 
Underwood, a village near Oxford, 'he happened to 
take the humour of the constable in "Midsummer 
Night's Dream'" — by which the writer meant, we may 
suppose, 'Much Ado about Nothing.' There were 
watchmen of the Dogberry t3T)e all over England, and 
probably at Stratford itself. But a specially blustering 
specimen of the class may- have arrested Shakespeare's 
attention while he was moving about the Oxfordshire 
countryside. The Crown- Inn (formerly 3 Cornmarket 
Street) near Carfax, at Oxford, was long pointed out as 
one of the dramatist's favourite resting places on his 
journeys to and from the metropolis. With the Oxford 
innkeeper John. Davenant and with his family Shake- 
speare formed a close intimacy. In 1605 he stood god- 
father to the son William who subsequently as Sir 
William D'Avenant enjoyed the reputation of a popular 

The two roads which were at the traveller's choice 
between Stratford and London becarne one within twelve 
miles of the city's walls. All Stratford wayfarers met 
at Uxbridge, thenceforth to follow a single path. Much 
desolate country intervened between Uxbridge and their 
destination. The most conspicuous landmark was 'the 
triple tree' of Tyburn (near the present Marble Arch) 
— the triangular gallows where London's felons met their 
doom. The long Uxbridge Road (a portion of which is 
now christened Oxford Street) knew few habitations until 
the detached village of St. Giles came in view. Beyond 

* Cf. J. W. Hales, Notes on Shakespeare, 1884, pp. 1-24. 
" See p. 449 infra. 


St. Giles, the posts and chains of Holborn Bars marked j 
(like Temple Bar in the Strand) London's extramural or 
suburban limit, but the full tide of city Hf e was first joined 
at the archway of Newgate. It was there that Shake- 
speare caught his first gUmpse of the goal of his youthfuli 

The population of London nearly doubled during 
Shakespeare's Ufetime, rising from 100,000 at the begin- 
stratford ning of Quecn EHzabeth's reign to 200,000 in 
settlers. jije course of her successor's. On all sides 
the capital was spreading beyond its old decaying! 
walls, so as to provide homes for rural iminigrants| 
Already in 1586 there were in London settlers from 
Stratford to offer Shakespeare a welcome. It is specially^ 
worthy of note that shortly before his arrival, three young 
men had come thence to be bound apprentice to London | 
printers, a comparatively new occupation with which the 
development of literature was closely allied. With one 
of these men, Richard Field, Shakespeare was soon in 
close relations, and was receiving from him useful aid 
and encouragement.^ 

' The traveller on horseback by either route spent two nights on the 
road and reached TJxbridge on lie third day. The pedestrian would 
spend three nights, arriving at Uxbridge on the fourth day. Several 
'bills of charges' incurred by citizens of Stratford in riding to and from 
London during Shakespeare's early days are extant among the Eliza- 
bethan manuscripts at Shakespeare's Birthplace. The Banbury route 
was rather more frequented than the Oxford Road; it seems to have 
been richer in village inns. Among the smaller places on this route at 
which the Stratford travellers found good accommodation were Stretton 
Audley, Chenies, Wendover, and Amersham (see Mr. Richard Savage's 
'Abstracts from Stratford Travellers' Accounts' in Athenaum, Sep- 
tember s, 1908). 

2 Of the two other stationer's apprentices from Stratford, Roger, son 
of John Locke, glover, of Stratford-on-Avon, was apprenticed on August 
24, 1577, for ten years to William Pickering (Arber, Transcripts of Regis- 
ters of the Stationers' Company, ii. 80), and Allan, son of Thomas Orrian, 
tailor, of Stratford, was bound apprentice on March 25, 1585, for seven 
years to Thomas Fowkes {ibid. ii. 132). Nothing further seems known 
of Roger Locke. Allan Orrian was made free of the Stationers' Com- 
pany on October 16, 1598 {ibid. ii. 722). No information is accessible,! 
regarding his precise work as stationer, but he was prosperous in business 
for some seven years, in the course of which there were bound to him 


Field's London career offers illuminating parallels with 
that of Shakespeare at many practical points. Born at 
Stratford in the same year as the dramatist, Richard 
he was a son of Henry Field, a fairly pros- ^'^'•^• 
perous tanner, who was a near neighbour of Shake- 
speare's father. The elder Field died in 1592, when 
the poet's father, in accordance with custom, attested 
'a trew and perfecte inventory' of his goods and chattels. 
On September 25, 1579, at the usual age of fifteen, 
Richard was apprenticed to a London printer and sta- 
tioner of repute, George Bishop, but it was arranged five 
weeks later that he should serve the first six years of his 
articles with a more interesting member of the printing 
fraternity, Thomas Vautrollier, a Frenchman of wide 
sympathies and independent views. Vautrollier had 
come to London as a Huguenot refugee and had estab- 
lished his position there by publishing in 1579 Sir Thomas 
North's renowned translation of ' Plutarch's Lives ' — a 
book in whicli Shakespeare was before long to be well 
versed. When the dramatist reached London, Vau- 
trollier was at Edinburgh in temporary retirement owing 
to threats of prosecution for printing a book by the 
Italian sceptic Giordano Bruno. His Stratford ap- 
prentice benefited by his misfortune. With the aid of 
his master's wife, Field carried on the business in Vau- 
troUier's absence, and thenceforth his advance was 
rapid and secure. Admitted a freeman of the Stationers' 
Company on February 6, 1586-7, he soon afterwards 
mourned his master's death and married his widow. 
VautroUier's old premises in Blackfriars near Ludgate 
became his property,^ and there until the century closed 
he engaged in many notable ventures. These included 

seven apprentices, aU youths from country districts. The latest notice 
of Orrian in the Stationers' Register is dated October 15, 1605, when 
he was fined 'i2(i for nonappearance on the quarter day' {ibid. ii. 840). 
In one entry in the Stationers' Register his name appears as 'Allan 
Orrian alias Currance' {ibid. ii. 243). 

^ About 1 600 Field removed from Blackfriars to the Sign of the 
Splayed Eagle in the parish of St. Michael in Wood Street. 


a new edition of North's translation of 'Plutarch' 
(159s) and the first edition of Sir John Harington's 
translation of Ariosto's 'Orlando Furioso' (1591)-^ 

Field long maintained good relations with his family 1 
at Stratford, and on February 7, 1 591-2, he sent for his l 
Field and jounger brother Jasper, to serve him as appren- 
shake- tice. In the early spring of the following year 
speare. j^^ ^^^^ signal proof of his intimacy with his 
fellowtownsman Shakespeare by printing his poem 
'Venus and Adonis,' the earliest specimen of Shake- 
speare's writing which was committed to the press. Next 
year Field performed a hke service for the poem 'Lucrece,' 
Shakespeare's second pubhcation. The metropoUtan 
prosperity of the two Stratford settlers was by that time 
assured, each in his own sphere. Some proof of defective 
sympathy with Shakespeare's ambitions may lurk in the 
fact that Field was one of the inhabitants of Blackfriars 
who signed in 1 596 a peevish protest against the plan of 
James Burbage, Shakespeare's theatrical colleague, to 
convert into a. ' common playhouse ' a Blackfriars dwell- 
ing-house.^ Yet, however different the aspirations of the 
two men, it was of good omen for Shakespeare to meet 
on his settlement in London a young fellow-townsman 
whose career was already showing that country breeding 
proved no bar to civic place And power.' Finally Field 
rose to the head of his profession, twice filling the high 
ofiice of Master of the Stationers' Company. He sur- 
vived the dramatist by seven years, dying in 1623. 

In the absence of strictly contemporary and categorical 
information as to how Shakespeare employed his time 
on arriving in the metropoUs, much ingenuity has been 
wasted in irrelevant speculation. The theory that Field 

1 A friendly note of typographical directions from Sir John Harington 
to Field is extant in an autograph copy of Harington's translation of 
Orlando Furioso (B.M. MSS. Addit.' 18920, f. 336). The terms of the 
note suggest very amiable relations between Field and his authors. 
(Information kindly supplied by Mr. H. F. B. Brett-Smith.) 

* Mrs. Stopes's Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage, 1913, pp. 174-5. 

' See Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis in facsiimle, edited by Sidney 
Lee, Oxford, 1905, pp. 39 seq. 


found work for him in Vautrollier's printing office is 
an airy fancy which needs no refutation, sbake- 
Little more can be said in behalf of the ^p^''^'^ 
attempt to prove that he sought his early ■ legaUx- 
livelihood as a lawyer's clerk. In spite of the perfence. 
marks of favour which have been showered on this 
conjecture, it fails to survive careful scrutiny. The 
assumption rests on no foundation save the circum- 
stance that Shakespeare frequently employed legal 
phraseology in his plays and poems.^ A long series of 
law terms and of metaphors which are drawn from legal 
processes figure there, and it is argued that so miscel- 
laneous a store of legal information could only have been 
acquired by one who was engaged at one time or another 
in professional practice. The conclusion is drawn from 
fallacious premises. Shakespeare's legal knowledge is a 
mingled skein of accuracy and inaccuracy, and the errors 
are far too numerous and important to justify on sober 
inquiry the plea of technical experience. No judicious 
reader of the 'Merchant of Venice' or 'Measure for 
Measure' can fail to detect a radical unsoundness in 
Shakespeare's interpretation alike of elementary legal 
principles and of legal procedure. 

Moreover the legal terms which Shakespeare favoured 
were common forms of speech among contem- The liter- 
porary men of letters and are not peculiar to his ary habit 
literary or poetic vocabulary. Legal phrase- phraft 
ology in Shakespeare's vein was widely dis- °^°sy- 
tributed over the dramatic and poetic literature of his 

* Lord Campbell, who greatly exaggerated Shakespeare's legal know- 
ledge in his Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements (1859), was the first writer 
to insist on Shakespeare's personal connection with the law. Many 
subsequent writers have been misled by Lord Campbell's book (see 
Appendix II). The true state of the case is presented by Charles Allen 
in his Notes on the Bacon Shakespeare Question (Boston, 1900, pp. 22 
seq.) and by Mr. J. M. Robertson in his Baconian Heresy (1913, pp. 31 
seq.). Mr. Allen's chapter (ch. vii) on 'Bad Law in Shakespeare' is 
especially noteworthy. Of the modish affectation of legal terminology 
by contemporary poets some instances are given below in Barnabe 
Barnes's Sonnets, 1593, and in the collection of sonnets called Zepheria, 
1594 (see Appendix 13$. 


day. Spenser in his 'Faerie Queene' makes as free 
as Shakespeare with strange and recondite technical 
terms of law. The dramatists Ben Jonson, Mas- 
singer, and Webster use legal words and phrases and 
describe legal processes with all the great dramatist's 
frequency and facility, and on the whole with fewer 
blunders.! jj- jg beyond question that all these writers 
lacked a legal training. Elizabethan authors' common 
habit of legal phraseology is indeed attributable to 
causes in which professional experience finds no pace. 
Throughout the period of Shakespeare's working career, 
there was an active social intercourse between men of 
letters and young lawyers, and the poets and dramatists J 
caught some accents of their legal companions' talk. 
Litigation at the same time engaged in an unprecedented! 
degree the interests of the middle classes among Eliza- 
beth's and James I's subjects. Shakespeare's father and 
his neighbours were personally involved in endless legal 
suits the terminology of which became household words,, 
among them. Shakespeare's Uberal emplojonent of law 
terms is merely a sign on the one hand of his habitual 
readiness to identify himself with popular literary 
fashions of the day, and, on the other hand, of his general 
quickness of apprehension, which assimilated suggestion 
from every phase of the life that was passing around him. 
It may be safely accepted that from his first arrival in 
London until his final departure Shakespeare's mental 
energy was absorbed by his poetic and dramatic ambi- 
tions. He had no time to devote to a technical or pro- 
fessional training in another sphere of activity. 

^ When in All's Well Bertram is ordered under compulsion by the 
king his guardian to wed Helena, Shakespeare ignores the perfectly^ 
good plea of 'disparagement' which was always available to protect a' 
ward of rank from forced marriage with a plebeian. Ben Jonson proved 
to be more alive to Bertram's legal privilege. In his Bartholomew Fair 
(act III. sc. i.) Grace Wellborn, a female ward who is on the point of 
being married by her guardian against her will, is appropriately advised 
to have recourse to the legal 'device of disparagement.' For Webster's 
liberal use of law terms see an interesting paper ' Webster and the Law ; 
a.ParaUel,' by L. J. Sturge in Shakespeare Jahrbtich, 1906, xlii. 148-57. 


Tradition and commonsense alike point to the stage 
as an early scene of Shakespeare's occupation in London. 
Sir William D'Avenant, the dramatist, who was 
ten years old when Shakespeare died and was theatrical 
an eager collector of Shakespearean gossip, is employ- 
credited with the story that the dramatist was ™™ " 
originally employed at 'the playhouse' in 'taking care of 
the gentlemen's horses who came to the play,' and that 
he so prospered in this humble vocation as • to organise 
a horse-tending service of 'Shakespeare's boys.' The 
pedigree of the story is fully recorded. D'Avenant con- 
fided the tale to Thomas Betterton, the great actor of 
the Restoration, who shared Sir William's zeal for 
amassing Shakespearean lore. By Betterton the legend 
was handed on to Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare's first 
biographer, who told it to Pope. But neither Rowe nor 
Pope published it. The report was first committed to 
print avowedly on D'Avenant's and Betterton's authority 
in Theophilus Gibber's 'Lives of the Poets' (i. 130) 
which were published in 1753.^ Only two regular theatres 
('The Theatre' and the 'Curtain') were working in 
London at the date of Shakespeare's arrival. Both were 
situate outside the city walls, beyond Bishopsgate; 
fields lay around them, and they were often reached on 
horseback by visitors. According to the Elizabethan 
poet Sir John Davies, in his 'Epigrammes,' No. 7 (1598), 

' Commonly assigned to Theophilus Gibber, they were written by 
Robert Shiels, an amanuensis of Dr. Johnson, and other hack-writers 
under Gibber's editorial direction. 



the well-to-do citizen habitually rode 'into the fields' 
when he was bent on playgoing.^ The owner of 'The 
Theatre,' James Burbage, kept a livery stable at Smith- 
field. There is no inherent improbabiHty in the main 
drift of D'Avenant's strange tale, which Dr. Johnson 
fathered in his edition of Shakespeare in 1765. 

No doubt is permissible that Shakespeare was speedily : 
offered employment inside the playhouse. According 
to Rowe's vague statement, 'he was received into the 
company then in being at first in a very mean rank.' 
William Castle,^ parish clerk of Stratford through great 
part of the seventeenth century, was in the habit of telling 
visitors that the dramatist entered the playhouse as 'a 
servitor.' In 1780 Malone recorded a stage tradition 1 
'that his first office in the theatre was that. of prompter'^ I 
attendant,' or call boy. Evidence abounds to show that 
his intellectual capacity and the amiabihty with which 
he turned to account his versatile powers were soon 
recognised, and that his promotion to more dignified 
employment was rapid. 

Shakespeare's earliest reputation was made as an actor, 
and, although his work as a dramatist soon eclipsed his 
Tfjg histrionic fame, he remained a prominent 

player's member of the actor's profession till near the 
license. ' ^^^ ^^ j^^ jj^^ ^j^^ profession, when Shake-., 
speare joined it, was in its infancy, but wliile he was a 
boy Parliament had made it on easy conditions a lawful! 
and an honourable calling. By an Act of ParHament of 
1571 (14 Eliz. cap. 2) which was re-enacted; in 1596 
(39 EKz. cap. 4) an obligation was imposed on players 
of procuring a'Hcense for the exercise of their function 

" So, too, Thomas Dekker in his Gids Hornbook, 1609 (ch v "How 
a young Gallant should behave himself in an Ordinary'), describes how 
French lacqueys and Irish footboys were wont to wait 'with their mas- 
ters hobby horses outside the doors orordinaries for the gentlemen i 
to nde to the new play ; that's the rendezvous, thither they are gaUoped ' 
in post. Only playhouses north of the Thames were thus reached To 
theatres south of the river the usual approach was by boat 

2 Castle's family was of old standing at Stratford, where he was born 
on July 19, 1614, and died m 1701 ; see Dowdall's letter, pp. 641-2 infra 


from a peer of the realm or ' other honourable personage 
of greater degree.' In the absence of such credential 
they were pronounced to be of the status of rogues, 
vagabonds, or sturdy beggars, and to be Uable to humili- 
ating pimishments ; but the license gave them the un- 
questioned rank of respectable citizens. Ehzabethan 
peers liberally exercised their Ucensing powers, and the 
Queen gave her subfects' activity much practical en- 
couragement. The services of licensed players were con- 
stantly requisitioned by the Court to provide dramatic 
entertainment there. Those who wished to become actors 
found indeed little difficulty in obtaining a statutory 
license under the hand and seal of persons in high station, 
who enrolled them by virtue of a formal fiction among 
their 'servants,' became surety for their behaviour and 
relieved them of all risk of derogatory usage.^ An early 
statute of King James's reign (i Jac. cap. 7) sought in 
1603 to check an admitted abuse whereby the idle para- 
sites of a magnate's household were wont to plead his 
'license' by way of exemption from the penalties of va- 
grancy or disorder. But the new statute failed seriously 
to menace the actors' privileges.^ Private persons may 

' The conditions attacMng in Shakespeare's time to the grant of an 
actor's license may be deduced from the earliest known document re- 
lating to the matter. In 1572 six 'players,' who claimed to be among 
the Earl of Leicester's retainers, appealed to the Earl in view of the 
new statute of the previous year 'to reteyne us at this present as your 
houshold Servaunts and dayUe wayters, not that we meane to crave 
any further stipend or benefite at your Lordshippes handes but our 
Lyveries as we have had, and also your honors License to certifye that 
we are your houshold Servaunts when we shall have occasion to travayle 
amongst our frendes' (printed from the Marquis of Bath's MSS., in 
Malone Soc. Coll. i. 348-9). The licensed actor's certificate was an im- 
portant asset; towards the end of Shakespeare's life there are a few 
cases of fraudulent sale by .a holder to an unauthorised person or of 
distribution of forged duplicates by an unprincipled actor who aimed at 
forming a company of his own. But the regulation of the profession 
was soon strict enough to guard against any widespread abuse (Dr. C. 
W. Wallace in EngUsche Studien, xliii. 385, and Murray, English Dramatic 
Companies, ii. 320, 343 seq.) 

* Under this new statute proceedings were sanctioned against sus- 
pected rogues or vagrants notwithstanding any 'authority' which 
should be 'given or made by any baron of this realm or any other hon- 


have proved less ready, in \dew of the greater stringency 
of the law, to exercise the right of hcensing players, but 
there was a compensating extension of the range of the 
royal patronage. The new King excelled his predecessor | 
in enthusiasm for the drama. He acknowledged by 
letters patent the full corporate rights of the leading 
company, and other companies of repute were soon 
admitted under Uke formahties into the 'service' of his 
Queen and of his two elder sons, as well as of his daugh- 
ter and son-in-law. The actor's calUng escaped challenge 
of legahty, nor did it suffer legal disparagement, at any 
period of Shakespeare's epoch.^ j 

From the middle years of the sixteenth century many 
hundreds of men received licenses to act from noblemem.:| 
The acting and Other persons of social position, and the 
companies. Hcensces formed themselves into companies of 
players which enjoyed under the statute of 1571 the 
standing of lawful corporations. Fully a hundred peers 
and knights during Shakespeare's youth bestowed the 
requisite legal recognition on bands of actors who were 
each known as the patron's 'men' or 'servants' and 
wore his 'Hvery' with his badge on their sleeves. The 
fortunes of these companies varied. Lack of public 
favour led to financial difificulty and to periodic suspen- 1 
sion of their careers, or even to complete disbandment. i 
Many companies confined their energies to the provinces 
or they only visited the capital on rare occasions in order 

ourable personage of greater degree unto any other person or persons.' 
The clauses which provided 'houses of correction' for the punishment i| 
of vagrants were separately re-enacted in a stronger form six years ' 
later (7 Jac. cap. 4); all reference to magnates' licensed 'servants' was " 
there omitted. , j. 

^ Shakespeare's acquaintance, Thomas Heywood, the well-knowii»!i 
actor and dramatist, in his Apology for Actors, 1612, asserts of the actors' 
profession (Sh. Soc. p. 4) : 'It hath beene esteemed by the best and ' 
greatest. To omit all the noble patrons of the former world, I need 
alledge no more then the royall and princely services in which we now 
live.' Towards the end of his tract Heywood after describing the es- 
timation in which actors were held abroad adds (p. 60) : 'But in no 
country they are of that eminence that ours are : so our most royall 
and ever renouned soveraigne hath licenced us in London : so did his 
predecessor, the thrice vertuous virgin, Queene Elizabeth.' 


to perform at Court at the summons of the Sovereign, 
who wished to pay a compliment to their titled master. 
Yet there were powerful influences making for perma- 
nence in the infant profession, and when Shakespeare 
arrived in London fJiere were at work there at least 
seven companies, whose activities, in spite of vicissi- 
tudes, were continuous during a long course of years. 
The leading companies each consisted on the average of 
some twelve active members, the majority of whom were 
men, and the rest youths or boys, for no women found 
admission to the actors' ranks and the boys filled the 
female parts. ^ Now and then two companies would com- 
bine, or a prosperous company would absorb an unsuc- 
cessful one, or an individual actor would transfer his 
services from one company, to another ; but the great 
companies formed as a rule independent and organic 
units, and the personal constitution only saw the gradual 
changes which the passage of years made inevitable. 
Shakespeare, Hke most of the notable actors of the epoch, 
remained through his working days faithful to the same 
set of colleagues.^ 

Of the well-established companies of Hcensed actors 
which enjoyed a reputation in London and the provinces 
when Shakespeare left his native place, three The great 
were under the respective patronage of the patrons. 
Earls of Leicester, of Pembroke,' and of Worcester, while 

' As many as twenty-six actors are named in the full list of members 
of Shakespeare's company which is prefixed to the First Folio of 1623, 
but at that date ten of these were dead, and three or four others had 
retired from active work. 

^ The best account of the history and organisation of the companies 
is given in John Tucker Murray's English Dramatic Companies, 1558- 
1642, 2 vols. London, igio. Fleay's History of the Stage, which also 
collects valuable information on the theme, is full of conjectural asser- 
tion, much of which Mr. Murray corrects. 

' This theatrical patron was Henry Herbert, second Earl of Pem- 
broke, the father of William Herbert, the third Earl, who is well known 
to Shakespearean students (see infra, pp. 164, 682-9). The Pembroke 
company broke up on the second Earl's death on January 19, i6or, and 
it was not till some' years after Shakespeare's death that an Earl of 
Pembroke again fathered a company of players. 


a fourth ' served ' the Lord Admiral Lord Charles Howardl 
of Effingham. These patrons or licensers were all peers 
of prominence at Queen Elizabeth's Court, and a noted 
band of actors bore one or other of their names.^ 

The fifth association of players which enjoyed general^ 
repute derived its hcense from Queen EUzabeth and was 
called the Queen's company .^ This troop of actors was 
first formed in 1583 of twelve leading players who were 
drawn from other companies. After being 'sworn the: 
Queen's servants' they 'were allowed wages and Hveries 
as grooms of the chamber.' ^ The company's career, in 
spite of its auspicious inauguration, was chequered ; it 
ceased to perform at Court after 1591 and was irregular 
in its appearances at the London theatres after 1594; 
but it was exceptionally active on provincial tours until 
the Queen's death. 

In the absence of women actors the histrionic vocation 
was deemed especially well adapted to the capacity of 
The com- boys, and two additional companies, which 
paaiesof were formed exclusively of boy actors, were 
°^^" in the enjoyment of Ucenses from the Crown. 

They were recruited from the choristers of St. Paul's 
Cathedral and the Chapel Royal. The youthful per- 
formers, whose dramatic programmes resembled those 
of their seniors, acquired much popularity and proved 
formidable competitors with the men. The rivalry: 
knew little pause during Shakespeare's professional life. 

The adult companies changed their name when a 

1 The companies of the Earls of Sussex and of Oxford should not be 
reckoned among the chief companies; they very rarely gave public 
performances in London; nor in the country were they continuously! 
employed. The Earl of Oxford's company, which was constituteB| 
mainly of boys, occupied the first Blackfriars theatre in 1582-4, but 
was only seen publicly again in London in the two years 1587 and 1602; 
in the latter year it disappeared altogether. 

2 A body of men was known uninterruptedly by the title of the Queen's 
Players from the opening years of Henry VIII's reign ; but no marked 
prestige attached to the designation until the formation of the new 
Queen's company of 1583. 

' Stow's Chronicle, ed. Howes (sub anno 1583). 


new patron succeeded on the death or the retirement of 
his predecessor. Alterations of the companies' titles 
were consequently frequent, and introduce xhefor- 
some perplexity in the history of their several ^'^^^ 9£ 
careers. But there is good reason to believe Leicester's 
that the band of players which first fired company. 
Shakespeare's histrionic ambitions was the one wliich 
long enjoyed the patronage of Queen EUzabeth's 
favourite, the Earl of Leicester, and subsequently under 
a variety of designations filled the paramount place in 
the theatrical annals of the era. 

At the opening of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the Earl of 
Leicester, who was known as Lord Robert Dudley before 
the creation of the earldom in 1564, numbered among 
his household retainers, men who provided the house- 
hold with rough dramatic or musical entertainment. 
Early in 1572 six of these men applied to the Earl for 
a license in conformity with the statute of 1571, and 
thus the earliest company of licensed players was 
created.^ The histrionic organization made rapid prog- 
ress. In 1574 Lord Leicester's company which then 
consisted of no more than five players inaugurated an- 
other precedent by receiving the grant of a patent of 
incorporation under the privy seal. Two years later 
James Burbage, whose name heads the hst of Lord 
Leicester's 'men' in the primordial charters of the stage, 
built in the near neighbourhood of London the first 
Enghsh playhouse, which was known as 'The Theatre.' 
The company's numbers grew quickly and in spite of 
secessions which temporarily deprived them both of 
their home at 'The Theatre' and of the services of James 
Burbage, Lord Leicester's players long maintained a 
coherent organisation. They acted for the last time at 
Court on Dec. 27, 1586,^ but were busy in the provinces 

1 See p. 47, n. i. The names run, James Burbage, John Perkin, 
John Laneham, WUliam Johnson, Robert Wilson and Thomas Clarke. 
Thomas Clarke's name was omitted from the patent of 1574. 

^Cf. E. K. Chambers's 'Court Performances before Queen Eliza- 
beth' in Modern Language Review, vol. ii. p. 9. 


until their great patron's death on September 4, 1588. 
Then with httle delay the more prominent members 
joined forces with a less conspicuous troop of actors who 
were under the patronage of a highly cultured nobleman 
Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange, son and heir of the 
fourth Earl of Derby. Lord Leicester's company was 
merged in that of Lord Strange to whose literary sym- 
pathies the poet Edmund Spenser bore witness, and when 
the new patron's father died on September 25, 1593, the 
company again changed its title to that of the Earl 
of Derby's servants. The new Earl Hved less than seven 
months longer, dying on April 16, 1594,^ and, though 
for the following month the company christened itseK 
after his widow 'the Countess of Derby's players,' it:: 
found in June a more influential and more constant 
patron in Henry Carey, first Lord Hunsdon, who hfeld 
(from 1585) the office of Lord Chamberlain. 

Lord Hunsdon had already interested himself modestly 
in theatrical affairs. For some twelve previous years 
his protection was extended to players of humble fame, 
some of whom were mere acrobats.^ The Earl of Sussex, 
too, Hunsdon's predecessor in the post of Lord Chamber- 
lain (i 572-1 583), had at an even,earUer period lent his 
name to a small company of actors, and, while their 
patron held office at Court, Lord Sussex's men occa- 

^ The sth Earl of Derby was celebrated under tie name 'Arayntas'^ 
in Spenser's Colin Clout's Come Home Again (c. 1594). His brother zm 
successor, William Stanley, 6th Earl, on succeeding to the earldom,, 
appears to have taken under his protection a few actors, but his com-' 
pany won no repute and its operations which lasted from 1594 to 1607 ;i 
were confined to the provinces. Like many other noblemen, the sixth-j 
Earl of Derby was deeply interested in the drama and would seem to 
have essayed playwriting. See p. 232 infra. 

2 During 1584 an unnamed person vaguely described as 'owner' of 
'The' Theatre' claimed that he was under Lord Hunsdon's protection. 
The reference is probably to one John Hyde to whom the building was 
then mortgaged by James Burbage rather than to Burbage himself. 
Lord Hunsdon's men were probably performing at the house in the 
absence of Leicester's company. Cf. Malone Society's Collections, 
vol. i. p. 166 ; Dr. C. W. Wallace, The First London Theatre (NebrasW 
University Studies), 1913, p. 12; Murray, English Dramatic Companiesj^t 


sionally adopted the alternative title of the Lord 
Chamberlain's servants.' ^ But the association of the 
Lord Chamberlain with the stage acquired genuine 
importance in theatrical history only in 1594 when Lord 
Hunsdon re-created his company by enrolling with a 
few older dependents the men who had won their pro- 
fessional spurs as successive retainers of the Earls of 
Leicester and Derby. James Burbage now rejoined old 
associates, while his son Richard, who, unlike his father, 
had worked with Lord Derby's men, shed all the radiance 
of his matured genius on the Lord Chamberlain's new 
and far-famed organisation.^ The subsequent stages in 
the company's pedigree are readily traced. There were 
no further graftings or reconstitution. When the Lord 
Chamberlain died on July 23, 1596, his son and heir, 
George Carey, second Lord Hunsdon, accepted his 
histrionic responsibilities, and he, after a brief interval, 
himself became Lord Chamberlain (in March 1597)- 
On February 19, 1597-8, the Privy Council bore witness to 
the growing repute of ' The Lord Chamberlain's men ' by 
making the announcement (which proved comphmentary 
rather than operative) that that company and the Lord 
Admiral's company were the only two bands of players 
whose Hcense strictly entitled them to perform plays any- 
where about London or before Her Majesty's Court.^ 

* Malone Society's Collections, vol. i. pp. 36-7 ; Malone's Variorum 
Shakespeare (1821), iii. 406. 

2 Besides Richard Burbage the following actors, according to extant 
lists of the two companies, passed in 1594 from the service of the Earl 
of Derby (formerly Lord Strange) to that of the Lord Chamberlain 
(Lord Hunsdon), viz. : William Kemp, Thomas Pope, John Heminges, 
Augustine Phillips, George Bryan, Harry Condell, Will Sly, Richard 
Cowley, John Duke, Christopher Beeston. Save the two last, aU these 
actors are named in the First Folio among 'the principal actors' in 
Shakespeare's plays ; they follow immediately Shakespeare and Richard 
Burbage who head the First Folio list. WilUam Kemp, Thomas Pope, 
and George Bryan were at an earlier period prominent among Lord 
Leicester's servants. The continuity of the company's personnel through 
all the changes pf patronage is well attested. (Fleay's History of the 
Stage, pp. 82-85, 13s, 189.) , ... o / N 

' Acts of the Privy Council, new series, vol. xxvni. 1597-159° (,i9°4)) 
p. 327 ; see p. 338 infra. 


The company underwent no further change of name 
until the end of Queen EHzabeth's reign. A more signal 
recognition awaited it when King James ascended the 
throne in 1603. The new King took the company into 
The King's his own patronage, and it became known as 
servants, "phe King's' or 'His Majesty's' players. 
Thus advanced in titular dignity, the company re-, 
mained true to its well-seasoned traditions during the 
rest of Shakespeare's career and through the generation 

There is little doubt that at an early period Shake- 
speare joined this eminent company of actors which in 

Shake- ^^^ *^™^ ^°^ ^^^ favour of King James, 
speare's From 1592, soine six years after the drama-, 
company, ^jg^-'g arrival in London, until the close of his 
professional career more than twenty years later, such 
an association is well attested. But the precise date 
and circumstance of his enrolment and his initial promo- 
tions are matters of conjecture. Most of his colleagues 
of latter hfe opened their histrionic careers in Lord 
Leicester's professional service, and there is plausible 
ground for inferring that Shakespeare from the first trod 
in their footsteps.^ But direct information is lacking. 
Lord Leicester, who owned the manor of Kenilworth, 
was a Warwickshire magnate, and his players twice 
visited Stratford in Shakespeare's boyhood, for the first 
time in 1573 and for the second in 1577. Shakespeare 
may well have cherished hopes of admission to Lord 
Leicester's company in early youth. A third visit was 
paid by Leicester's company or its leading members to 

1 Richard Burbage and John Heminges, leading actors of the com- 
pany while it was known successively as Lorrffierby's and the Lord 
Chamberlain's 'men,' were close friends of Shakespeare from early 
years, but the common assumption that they were natives of Stratfo* 
is erroneous. Richard Burbage was probably born in Shoreditch (Lon- 
don) and John Heminges at Droitwich in Worcestershire. ThonOT 
Green, a popular comic actor at the Red Bull theatre until his deaths 
1612, is conjectured to have belonged to Stratford on no grounds that 
deserve attention. Shakespeare is not known to have been associaf"' 
with him in any way. 


Shakespeare's native town in 1587, a year in which as 
many as four other companies also brought Stratford 
within the range of their provincial activities. But by 
that date the dramatist, according to tradition, was 
already in London. Lord Leicester's 'servants' gave a 
farewell performance at Court at Christmas 1586,1 and 
early in 1587 the greater number of them left London 
for a prolonged country tour. James Burbage had tem- 
porarily seceded and was managing 'The Theatre' in 
other interests and with the aid of a few only of his former 
colleagues. The legend which connects Shakespeare's 
earliest theatrical experience exclusively with Burbage's 
playhouse therefore presumes that he associated himself 
near the outset of his career with a small contingent of 
Lord Leicester's ' servants ' and did not share the adven- 
tures of the main body. 

Shakespeare's later theatrical fortunes are on record. 
In 1589, after Lord Leicester's death, his company was 
reorganised, and it regained under the aegis His ties 
of Lord Strange its London prestige. With with the 
Lord Strange's men Shakespeare was closely chamber- 
associated as dramatic author. He helped in lain-smen. 
the authorship of the First Part of 'Henry VI,' 
with which Lord Strange's men scored a triumphant 
success early in 1592. When in 1594 that company 
(then renamed the Earl of Derby's men) was merged 
in the far-famed Lord Chamberlain's company, 
Shakespeare is proclaimed by contemporary official 
documents to have been one of its foremost members. 
In December of that year he joined its two leaders, 
Richard Burbage the tragedian and William Kemp the 

' Lord Leicester's men are included among the players whose activities 
in London during Shakespeare's first winter there (1586-7) are thus 
described in an unsigned letter to Sir Francis Walsingham under date 
Jan. 25, 1586-7: 'Every day in the weeke the playeres billes are sett 
upp in sondry places of the cittie, some in the name of her Majesties 
menne, some the Earle of Leic : some the E. of Oxfordes, the Lo. Ad- 
myralles, and djrvers others, so that when the belles tole to the lectoures, 
the trumpettes sounde to the stages.' (Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 286; 
Halliwell-PhiUipps, Illustrations, 1874, p. 108.) 


comedian, in two performances at Court.^ He was 
prominent in the counsels of the Lord Chamberlain's 
servants through 1598 and was recognised as one of their 
chieftains in 1603. Four of the leading members of the 
Lord Chamberlain's company — Richard Burbage, John 
Heminges, Henry Condell and Augustine PhilHps, all of 
whom worked together under Lord Strange (Earl 
of Derby) — were among his lifelong friends. Similarly 
under this company's auspices, almost all of Shake- 
speare's thirty-seven plays were presented to the 
pubhc.^ Only two of the dramas claimed for him — 
' Titus Andronicus ' and ' The True Tragedie of Richard 
Duke of Yorke,' a first draft of '3 Henry VJ' — are 
positively known to have been performed by other 
bands of players. The 'True Tragedie' was, accord- 
ing to the title-page of the published version of 1595, 
' sundrie times acted by the Right Honourable the Earle 
of Pembroke his servants,' while 'Titus Andronicus* 
is stated on the title-page of the first edition of 1594 to 
have been 'plaide' not only by the company of 'the 
Right Honourable the Earle of Derbie,' but in addition 
by the seryants of both 'the Earle of Pembroke and 
Earle of Sussex.' ^ Shakespeare was responsible for 
fragments only of these two pieces, and the main authors 

^ See p. 87. 

' On the title-pages of thirteen plays which were published (in quarto) 
in Shakespeare's lifetime it was stated that they had been acted by this 
company under one or other of its four successive designations (the Earl 
of Derby's, the Lord Chamberlain's, Lord Hunsdon's, or the King's 
servants). The First Folio of 1623, which collected all Shakespeare's 
plays, was put together by Shakespeare's fellow actors Heminges and 
Condell, who claimed ownership in them as having been written for their 

'The second edition of Tikis Andronicus (1600) adds 'the Lord 
Chamberlain's servants'; but the Earl of Derby -and the Lord Cham- 
berlain were as we have seen successive patrons of Shakespeare's com- 
pany. Lord Pembroke's servants in 1593-4 were in financial straits, 
and sold some of their plays to Shakespeare's and other companies. 
Titus was produced as a 'new play' by Lord Sussex's men at the Rose 
Theatre on January 23, 1593-4 (cf. Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 78, 
los) ; itmay have been sold to them by the Pembroke company after, 
an abortive attempt at rfepresentation. .,; 


would seem to have been attached to other companies, 
which, after having originally produced them, trans- 
ferred them to Shakespeare's colleagues. It is alone 
with the company which began its career under the pro- 
tection of Lord Leicester and ended it under royal 
patronage that Shakespeare's dramatic activities were 
conspicuously or durably identified. 



'The Theatre,' the playhouse at Shoreditch, where 
Shakespeare is credibly reported to have gained his first 
the first experience of the stage, was a timber structure 
playhouse' which had been erected in 1576. Its builder 
in England. ^^^ proprietor James Burbage, an original 
member of Lord Leicester's company, was at one time 
a humble carpenter and joiner, and he carried out his 
great design on borrowed capital. The site, which had 
once formed part of the precincts of -the Benedictine 
priory (or convent) of Holywell, lay outside the city's 
north-eastern boundaries, and within the jurisdiction 
not of the Lord Mayor and City .Council which viewed 
the nascent drama with puritanic disfavour, but of the 
justices of the peace for Middlesex, who had not com- 
mitted themselves to an attitude of hostility. The 
building stood a few feet to the east of the thoroughfare 
now known as Curtain Road, Shoreditch, and near at 
hand was the open tract of land variously known as 
Finsbury Fields and Moorfields.^ 'The Theatre' was 
. the first house erected in England to serve a theatri- 
cal purpose. Previously plays had been publicly per-; 
formed in innyards or (outside London) in Guildhall^ 
More select representations were given in the halls of 

iThe precise site of 'The Theatre' has been lately determined by 
Mr. W. W. Brames, a principal officer of the London County Council. 
(See London County Council — Indication of Houses of HistoriH 
Interest in London — Part xliii. Holywell Priory and the site of the 
Theatre, Shoreditch, 1915.) Mr. Braines corrects errors on the subject 
for which Halliwell-Phillipps {O-utlines, i. 351) was responsible. 



royal palaces, of noblemen's mansions and of the Inns 
of Court. Throughout Shakespeare's career all such 
places continued to serve theatrical uses. Drama never 
ceased altogether in his time to haunt innyards and the 
other makeshift scenes of its infancy to which the public 
at large were admitted on payment ; there was a growth, 
too, in the practice of presenting plays before invited 
guests in great halls of private ownership. But James 
Burbage's primal endeavour to give the drama a home 
of its own quickly bore abundant fruit. Puritanism 
launched vain invectives a;gainst Burbage's 'ungodly 
edifice ' as a menace to pubhc moraUty. City Councillors 
at the instigation of Puritan preachers made futile en- 
deavours to close its doors. Burbage's innovation prom- 
ised the developing drama an advantage which was 
appreciated by the upper classes and by the mass of 
the people outside the Puritan influence. The growth 
of the seed which he sowed was httle hindered by the 
clamour of an unsympathetic piety. The habit of play- 
going spread rapidly, and the older and more promis- 
cuous arrangements for popular dramatic recreation 
gradually yielded to the formidable competition which 
flowed from the energy of Burbage and his disciples. 

James Burbage, in spite of a long series of pecuniary 
embarrassments, remained manager and owner of 'The 
Theatre ' for nearly twenty-one years. Shortly "The 
after the building was opened, in 1576, there c™tMn." 
came into being in its near neighbourhood a second 
London playhouse, the 'Curtain,'^ also within a 
short distance of Finsbury Fields or Moorfields, and 
near the present Curtain Road, Shoreditch, which pre- 
serves its name. The two playhouses proved friendly 
rivals, and for a few years (1585-1592) James Burbage 
of 'The Theatre' shared in the management of the 
younger house at the same time as he controlled the 
older. Towards the close of the century Shakespeare 

' The name was derived from an adjacent 'curtain' or outer wall of 
m obsolete fortification abutting on the old London Wall. 


spent at least one season at the Curtain.^ But between 
1586 and 1600 there arose in the environs of London six 
new theatres in addition to 'The Theatre' and the 
'Curtain,' and within the city walls the courtyards 
of the larger inns served with a new vigour theatrical 
purposes. Actors thus enjoyed a fairly wide choice of 
professional homes when Shakespeare's career was in 
fullflight.2 I 

When Shakespeare and his colleagues first came under 
the protection of Lord Strange, they were faithful to 
Shake- "^^^ Theatre' save for an occasional perfomm I 
speareat ance in the innyard of the 'Crosskeys' in 
the 'Rose.' Graccchurch Street,^ but there soon followed | 
a prolonged season at a playhouse caUed the ' Rose,' \ 

' After 1600 the vogue of the 'Curtain' declined. No reference to 
the 'Curtain' playhouse has been found later than 1627. 

2 The chief of the Elizabethan playhouses, apart from 'The Theatre' 
and the 'Curtain' were the Newington Butts (erected before 1586); 
the Rose on the Bankside (erected about 1587 and reconstructed 'm 
1592); the Swan also on the Bankside (erected in isgs); the Globgi 
also on the Bankside (erected out of the dismantled fabric of 'The 
Theatre' in 1599) ; the Fortune in Golden Lane without Cripplegate 
(modelled on the Globe in 1600) ; and the Red BuU in St. John's Street, 
Clerkenweh (built about 1600). Besides these edifices which were un- ' 
roofed there were two smaller theatres of a more luxurious and seclude!' 
type — 'Paul's' and 'Blackfriars' — which were known as 'private' 
houses (see p. 67 infra). At the same time there were several inns, 
in the quadrangular yards or courts of which plays continued to be 
acted froni time to time in Shakespeare's early years; these were the 
Bel Sauvage in Ludgate Hill, the Bell and the Crosskeys both in Grace- 
church Street, the BuU in Bishopsgate, and the Boar's Head in East- 
cheap. During the latter part of Shakespeare's life only one addition 
was made to the public theatres, viz. the Hope in 1613 on the site of the 
demolished Paris Garden, in Southwark, but two new 'private' theatres 
were construtted — the Whitefriars, adjoining Dorset Gardens, Fleet 
Street (built before 1608), and the Cockpit, afterwards rechristened'ithe 
Phcenix (built about 1610), the first playhouse in Drury Lane. See 
Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, 1904 ; W. J. Lawrence's The Elizor 
bethan Playhouse and other Studies, 2nd ser. p. 237 ; James Greenstreet's 
'Lawsuit about the Whitefriars Theatre in 1609' in New Shakspere 
Society's Transactions, 1887-92, pp. 269 seq., and Dr. Wallace's Tkrm 
London Theatres of Shakespeare's Time, in Nebraska University Studie^ 
1909, ix. pp. 287 seq., his Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars (1597- 
1603), 1908, and his paper 'The Swan Theatre and the Earl of Pem- 
broke's Servants' in Englische Studien (1910-1) xliii. 350 sq. 
? Hazlitt's English Drama, 1869, pp. 34-5. 


(fhich Philip Henslowe, the speculative theatrical 
nanager, had lately reconstructed on the Bankside, 
southwark. It was the earhest playhouse in a district 
jfhich was soon to be specially identified with the drama. 
Lord Strange's men began work at the 'Rose' on Feb- 
ruary 19, 1591-2. At the date of their occupation of 
this theatre, Shakespeare's company temporarily allied 
.tseii with the Lord Admiral's men, which was its chief 
rival among the companies of the day. The Lord Ad- 
mral's players numbered the great actor Edward AUeyn 
imong them.^ AUeyn now for a few months took the 
lirection at the ' Rose ' of the combined companies, but 
the two bodies quickly parted, and no later opportunity 
«ras offered Shakespeare of enjoying professional rela- 
tions with Alleyn. The 'Rose' theatre was the first 
scene of Shakespeare's pronounced successes alike as 
ictor and dramatist. 

Subsequently, during the theatrical season of 1594, 
Shakespeare and his company, now known as the Lord 
Chamberlain's men', divided their energies between the 
itage of another youthful theatre at Newington Butts 
md the older-fashioned innyard of the 'Crosskeys.' 
The next three years were chiefly 'spent in their early 
shoreditch home 'The Theatre,' which had been occu- 
pied in their absence by other companies. But during 
[598, owing to 'The Theatre's' structural decay and to 
:he manager Burbage's difficulties with his creditors 
ind with the ground landlord,, the company found a 
jrief asylum in the neighbouring 'Curtain,' in which 
nore than one fellow-actor of the dramatist acquired a 
jroprietary interest.^ There 'Romeo and Juliet' was 
revived with applause.^ This was Shakespeare's last 

' Alle3m and the Lord Admiral's men had previously worked for a 
ime with James Burbage at 'The Theatre,' and AUejm's company 
oined the older Lord Chamberlain's company in a performance at 
^ourt, January 6, 1585-^. (Halliwell's Illustrations, 31.) 

' See Thomas Pope's and John Underwood's wills in Collier's Lives 
f the Actors, pp. 127, 230, 

' Marston's Scourge of Villanie, 1598, Satyre 10. 


experience for some twelve years of a playhouse on the 
north side of the Thames. The theatrical quarter- of 
London was rapidly shifting from the north to the soutll 
of the river. 

At the close of 1598 the primal English playhouse 
'The Theatre' underwent a drastic metamorphosiSi in 
which the dramatist played a foremost part. James 
Burbage, the owner and builder of the veteran house; 
died on February 2, 1596-7, and the control of the prop- 
erty passed to his widow and his two sons Cuthbert 
and the actor Richard. The latter, Shakespeare's 
Mfe-long friend, was nearing the zenith of his renown. 
The twenty-one years' lease of the land in Shoreditch 
ran out on April 13 following and the landlord was reluc- 
tant to grant the Burbages a renewal of the tenancy.' 
Prolonged negotiation failed to yield a settlement. 
Thereupon Cuthbert Burbage, the elder son and heir, 
in conjunction with his younger brother Richard, took 
the heroic resolve of demolishing the biiilding and trans- 
ferring it bodily to ground to be rented across the Thames. 
Shakespeare and four other members of the company, 
Augustine PhilUps, Thomas Pope, John Heminges, and 
WilUam Kemp, were taken by the Burbages into their 
counsel. The seven men proceeded jointly to lease 
for a term of thirty-one years a site on the Bankside 
in Southwark. The fabric of 'The Theatre' was accord- 
ingly torn down in defiance of the landlord during the last 
days of December 1598 and the timber materials were 
re-erected, with liberal reinforcements, on the new site 

1 James Burbage, throughout his tenure of 'The Theatre,' was in- 
volved in very complicated litigation arising out of the terms of the 
original lease of the ground and of the conditions in which money was 
invested in the venture by various relatives and others. The numerous 
legal records are in the Public Record Office. A few were found there 
and were printed by J. P. Collier in his Memoirs of the Principal Actors 
tn the Plays of Shakespeare (1846), pp. 7 seq., and these reappeaif with 
substantial additions m Halliwell-Phillipps's Quinines of the Life of Shak- 
speare (1. 357 seq.). Dr. WaUace's researches have yielded a mass ol 
supplementary documents which were previously unknown, and he has 
printed the whole in The First London Theatre, Materials for a History, 
Nebraska University Studies, 1913. 


between January and May 1599.^ The transplanted 
building was christened 'The Globe,' and it quickly 
entered on an era of prosperity which was 
without precedent in theatrical annals. 'The ingofthe*^" 
Glory of the Bank [i.e. the Bankside],' as Ben Globe, 
Jonson called 'The Globe,' was, like 'The '^''' 
Theatre,' mainly constructed of wood. A portion 
only was roofed, and that was covered with thatch. 
The exterior, according to the only extant contem- 
porary ■ view, was circular, and resembled a magni- 
fied martello tower .^ In the opening chorus of 'Henry 
V Shakespeare would seem to have written of the 
theatre as 'this cockpit' (Une 11), and 'this wooden O' 
(line 13), and to have Ukened its walls to a girdle about 
the stage (line 19).* Legal instruments credited Shake- 
speare with playing a principal r6le in the mai^y complex 
transactions of which the ' Globe' theatre was the fruit.* 

^ Giles Allen, the ground landlord of 'The Theatre,' brought an 
action against Peter Street, the carpenter who superintended the removal 
of the fabric to Southwark, but after a long litigation the plaintiff was 

^ See Hondius's 'View of London 1610' in Halliwell-Phillipps's Out- 
lines, i. 182. The original theatre was burnt down on June 29, 1613, 
and was rebuilt 'in a far fairer manner than. before' (see pp. 445-7 infra). 
Visscher, in his well-known View of London 1616, depicts the new struc- 
ture as of octagonal or polygonal shape. The new building was de- 
molished on Apnl 16, 1644, and the site occupied by small tenements. 

* The prologue to The Merry Devil of Edmonton acted at the Globe 
before r6o7 has the line : 

We ring this rotmi-mXh our invoking spells. 

* See p. 301 infra. The Globe Theatre abutted on Maid Lane (now 
known as Park Street), a modest thoroughfare in Southwark running 
some way behind Bankside on the river bank and parallel with it. There 
is difficulty in determining whether the theatre stood on the north or 
the south side of the roadway, the north side backing on to Bankside 
and the south side stretching landwards. At a short distance to the 
south of Maid Lane there long ran a passage (now closed), which was 
christened after the theatre Globe Alley. A commemorative tablet 
was placed in igog on the south side of die street on the outer wall of 
Messrs. Barclay and Perkins's brewery, which formerly belonged to 
Henry Thrale, Dr. Johnson's friend, and has for 150 years been locally 
identified with the site of the theatre. The southern site is indeed power- 
fully supported by a mass of legal evidence, by plans and maps, and by 
local tradition qf the seventeenth and dghteenth centuries. (See Dr. 


With yet another memorable London theatre — the, 
Blackfriars — Shakespeare's fortunes were intimately 
The bound, though only through the closing years 

Blackfriars. of his professional Hfe. The precise circum- 
stances and duration of his connexion with this 
playhouse have often been misrepresented. In origin 
the Blackfriars was only a Httle younger than The 
Theatre,' but it differed widely in structure and saw 
many changes of fortune in the course of years. _ As 
early as 1578 a spacious suite of rooms in a dwelling- 
house within the precincts of the dissolved monastery 
of Blackfriars was converted into a theatre of modest 
appointment. For six years the Blackfriars playhouse 
enjoyed a prosperous career. But its doors were closed 
in 1584, and for some dozen years the building resumed 
its former status of a private dwelUng. In 1596 James 
Burbage, the founder of 'The Theatre,' ambitious to 
extend his theatrical enterprise in spite of the attendant 
anxieties, purchased for 600^. the premises which had 
given Blackfriars a fleeting theatrical fame together with 
adjacent property, and at a large outlay fashioned his 
purchase afresh into a playhouse on an exceptionally 
luxurious plan.^ It was no more than half the size of the 

William Martin's exhaustive and fully illustrated paper on 'The Site 
of the Globe Playhouse' in Surrey Archmological Collections, vol. xxiii. 
(1910), pp. 148-202.) But it must be admitted that Dr. Wallace brought 
to light in 1909 a legal document in the theatrical lawsuit, Ostelern. 
Heminges, 1616 (Pro Coram Rege, 1454, 13 Jac. i, Hil. m. 692), which, 
according to the obvious interpretation of the words, allots the theatre 
to the north side of Maid Lane (see Shakespeare in London, The Times, 
October 2 and 4, 1909). Further evidence (dating between 1593 and 
1606), which was adduced by Dr. Wallace in 1914 from the Records of 
the Sewers Commissioners, shows that the owners of the playhouse owned 
property on the north side even if the theatre were on tiie south side 
(see The Times, April 30, 1914), while Visscher's panoramic map of 
London 16 16 alone of maps of the time would appear to place the theatre 
on the north side. It seems barely possible to reconcile the conflicting 
evidence. The controversy has lately been continued in Notes and 
Queries (nth series, xi. and xii.) chiefly by Mr. George Hubbard, who 
champions anew the northern site, and by Dr. Martin who strongly 
supports afresh the southern site. 

'■ Halliwell-Phillipps, in his Outlines (i. 299), printed the deed of the 
transfer of the Blackfriars property to James Burbage on Feb. 4, 1595-6 


Globe, .but was its superior in comfort and equipment. 
Unhappily the new scheme met an unexpected check. 
The neighbours protested against the restoration of the 
Blackfriars stage, and its re-opening was postponed. 
The adventurous owner died amid the controversy (on 
February 2, 1596-7), bequeathing his remodelled theatre 
to his son Richard Burbage. Richard declined for the 
time personal charge of his father's scheme, and he 
arranged for the occupation of the Blackfriars by the 
efficient company of young actors known as the Chil- 
dren of the Chapel Royal.^ On September 21, 1600, 
he formally leased the house for twenty-one years to 
Henry Evans who was the Children's manager. For 
the next five seasons the Children's performances at 
Blackfriars rivalled in popularity those at the Globe it- 
self. Queen Elizabeth proved an active patron of the 
boys of the Blackfriars, inviting them to perform at 
Court twice in the winters of 1691 and of 1602.^ When 

(cf. Malone Soc. Collections, vol. ii. pt. i. 60-9). Much further light on 
the history of the Blackfriars theatre has been shed by the documents 
discovered by Prof. Albert Feuillerat and cited in his 'The Origin of 
Shakespeare's Blackfriars Theatre: Recent Discovery of Documents,' 
in the Shakespeare Jahrbuck, vol. xlviii. (1912), pp. 81-102, and in his 
'Blackfriars Records' in Malone Society's Collections, vol. ii. pt. i. (1913). 
Dr. Wallace also brought together much documentary material in his 
Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, 1597-1603 (1908), and in his ' Shake- 
speare in London' (The Times, Oct. 2 and 4, 1909). The Blackfriars 
theatre was on the site of The Times publishing of&ce off Queen Victoria 
Street. Its memory survives in the passage called Playhouse Yard, 
which adjoins The Times premises. 

^ Evans was lessee and general manager of the theatre and instructed 
the Children in acting. Nathaniel Giles, a competent musical composer, 
who became 'Master of the Children of the Chapel' under a patent dated 
July 15, IS97, was their music master. (Fleay, Hist, of Stage, 126 seq.) 
When, at Michaelmas 1600, Evans took, in 'confederacy' with Giles, 
a lease of the Blackfriars theatre from Burbage for twenty-one years at 
an annual rental of 40^. in the interest of the Children's performances 
the building was described in the instrument as 'then or late' in Evans's 
'tenure or occupation.' These words are quite capable of the inter- 
pretation that the 'Children' were working at the Blackfriars under 
GUes and Evans some years before Evans took his long lease (but cf. 
E. K. Chambers in Mod. Lang. Rev. iv. 156). 

'Murray, i. 335; E. K. Chambers, Mod. Lang. Rev. ii. 12. Sir 
Dudley Carleton, the Court gossip, wrote on Dec. 29, 1601, that the 
Queen dined that day privately at my Lord Chamberlain's («.e. Lord 


James I ascended the throne they were admitted to the 
service of Queen Anne of Denmark and rechristened 
'Children of the Queen's Revels' (Jan. 13,, 1603-4.) 
But the youthful actors were of insolent demeanour and 
often produced plays which offended the Court's political 
susceptibiUties.i In 1605 the company was peremptorily 
dissolved by order of the Privy Council. Evans's lease 
of the theatre was unexpired but no rent was forth- 
coming, and Richard Burbage as owner recovered posses- 
sion on August 9, leoS.'* After an interval, in January 
1610, the great actor assumed full control of his father's 
chequered venture, and Shakespeare thenceforth figured 
prominently in its affairs. Thus for the last six years 
of Shakespeare's hfe his company maintained two Lon- 
don playhouses, the Blackfriars as well as the Globe. 
The summer season was spent on the Bankside and the 
winter at Blackfriars.* 

Hunsdon's). He adds 'I came even now from the Blackfriars where I 
saw her at the play with all her Candidas auditrices.' (Cal. Stale Papers' 
Dom. 1601-3, p. 136; Wallace, Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, 
p. 95.) The last words have been assumed to mean that the Queen 
visited the Blackfriars theatre. There is no other instance of her appear- 
ance in a playhouse. The house of the Queen's host, Lord Hunsdon, lay 
in the precincts of Blackfriars and the reference is probably to a dramatic 
entertainment which he provided for his royal guest under his own roof. 
A dramatic entertainment after dinner was not uncommon at Hunsdon 
House. On March 6, 1599-1600, Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon 'feasted' 
the Flemish envoy Verreiken 'and there in the afternoone his Plaiers 
acted before [his guest] Sir John Oldcastell to his great contentment' 
(Sydney Papers, ii. 175). Queen Henrietta Maria seems to be the first 
English Sovereign of whose visit to a theatre there is no question. Her 
presence in the Blackfriars theatre on May 13, 1634, is fully attested 
{Variorum Shakespeare, iii. 167). 

^ See p. 306 infra. 

''The 'Children' were rehabilitated in 1608, and Burbage allowed 
them to act at the Blackfriars theatre at intervals till January 4, 1609-10. 
Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady was the last piece which they 
produced there. They then removed to the Whitefriars theatre. Two 
years later they were dissolved altogether, the chief members of the 
troop being drafted into adult companies. 

' This arrangement continued long after Shakespeare's death — until 
Sept. 2, 1642, when all theatres were closed by order of the Long Parlia- 
ment. The Blackfriars was pulled down on August 5, 1655, and, as in 
the case of the Globe Theatre which was demolished eleven years earlier, 
tenements were erected on its site. 


The divergences in the structure of the two houses 
rendered their usage appropriate at different seasons of 
the year. A 'public' or 'common' theatre Hke ^j^^ 
the Globe had no roof over the arena. The 'private' 
Blackfriars, which was known as a ' private '\p''-^''°"'^- 
theatre, better observed conditions of privacy or seclu- 
sion in the auditorium, and made fuller provision for the 
comfort of the spectators. | It was as well roofed as a 
private residence and it was lighted by candles.^ At the 
private theatre properties, costumes, and music were 
more elaborately contrived than at the public theatre.' 
But the same dramatic fare was furnished at both kinds 
of playhouse. Each fiUed an identical part in the drama's 
literary history. 

It was not only to the London public which frequented 
the theatres that the professional actor of Shakespeare's 
epoch addressed his efforts. Beyond the perfonn- 
theatres lay a superior domain in which the ancesat 
professional actor of Shakespeare's day con- °"^' 
stantly practised his art with conspicuous advantage 
both to his reputation and to his purse. Every winter 
and occasionally %t other seasons of the year the well- 
estaWished companies gave, at the royal palaces which 
ringed London, 'dramatic performances in the presence 
of the Sovereign and the Court. The pieces acted at 
Ehzabeth's Court were officially classified as 'morals, 
pastorals, stories, histories, tragedies, comedies, inter- 
ludes, inventions,, and antic plays.' During Shake- 
speare's youth, masques or pageants in which scenic 
device, music, dancing, and costume overshadowed the 
spoken word, fiUed a large place in the royal programme. 

' The 'private' type of theatre, to which the Blackfriars gave assured 
vogue, was inaugurated in a playhouse which was formed in 1581 out of 
the singing school at St. Paul's Cathedral near the Convocation House 
for the acting company of the cathedral choristers ; this building was 
commonly called 'Paul's.' Its theatrical use by St. Paul's boys was 
suspended between 159° and 1600 and finally ceased in 1606 when the 
manager of the rival company of the 'chapel' boys at the Blackfriars 
bribed the manager of the St. Paul's company to close his doors. Cf. 
E. K. Chambers, Mod. Lang. Review, 1909, p. 153 seq. 


Such performances were never excluded from the Court 
festivities, and in the reign of King James I were often 
undertaken by amateurs, who were drawn from the 
courtiers, both men and women. But full-fledged stage 
plays which were only capable of professional presenta*i 
tion signally encroached on spectacular entertainment. 
Throughout Shakespeare's career the chief companies 
made a steadily increasing contribution to the recrea- 
tions of the palace, and the largest share of the coveted 
work fell in his later years to the dramatist and .his col- 
leagues. The boy companies were always encouraged 
by the Sovereign, and they long vied with their seniors 
in supplying the histrionic demands of roy3.1ty. But 
Shakespeare's company ultimately outstripped at Court 
the popularity even of the boys. 

The theatrical season at Court invariably opened on 
the day after Christmas, St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26), , 
and performances were usually continued on the succeed- 
ing St. John's Day (Dec. 27), on Innocents' Day (Decj 
28), on the next Sunday, and on Twelfth Night (Jan. 6). 
The dramatic celebrations were sometimes resumed on 
Candlemas day (Feb. 2), and always on Shrove Sunday 
or Shrove Tuesday. Under King James, Hallowmas 
(Nov. i) and additional days in November and at Shrove- 
tide were also similarly distinguished, and at other periods 
of the year, when royal hospitaUties were extended to 
distinguished foreign guests, a dramatic entertaiimient 
by professional players was commonly provided. A dif- 
ferent play was staged at each performance, so that in 
some years there were produced at Court as many as 
twenty-three separate pieces. The dramas which the 
Sovereign witnessed were seldom written for the occa- 
sion. They had already won the public ear in the 
theatre. A special prologue and epilogue were usually 
prepared for the performances at Court, but in other 
respects the royal productions were faithful to the popu- 
lar fare. The Court therefore enjoyed ample oppor- 
tunity of familiarising itself with the public taste. 


^ Queen Elizabeth sojourned by turns at her many 
palaces about London. Christmas was variously spent 
at Hampton Court, Whitehall, Windsor, and Greenwich. 
At other seasons she occupied royal residences, which 
have long since vanished, at Nonsuch, near Cheam, and 
at Richmond, Surrey. James I acquired an additional 
residence in Theobalds Palace at Cheshunt in Hertford- 
shire. To all these places, from time to time, Shakespeare 
and his fellow-players were warmly welcomed. A tem- 
porary stage was set up for their use in the great hall of 
each royal dwelling, and numerous artificers, painters, 
carpenters, wiredrawers, armourers, cutlers, plumbers, 
tailors, feather-makers were enlisted by the royal officers 
in the service of the drama. Scenery, properties and 
costume were of rich and elaborate design, and the com- 
mon notion that austere simplicity was an universal char- 
acteristic of dramatic production through Shakespeare's 
lifetime needs some radical modification, if due considera- 
tion be paid to the scenic methods which were habitual 
at Court. Spectacular embellishments characterised the 
performances of the regular drama no less than of masques 
and pageants. Painted canvas scenery was a common 
feature of aU Court theatricals. The scenery, was con- 
structed on the multiple or simultaneous principle which 
prevailed at the time in France and Italy and rendered 
superfluous change in the course of the performance. 
The various scenic backgrounds which the story of the 
play prescribed formed compartments (technically known 
as 'houses' or 'mansions') which were linked together 
so as to present to the audience an unbroken semicircle. 
The actors moved about the stage from compartment to 
compartment or from 'house' to 'house' as the develop- 
ment of the play required. This 'multiple setting' was 
invariably employed during Elizabeth's reign in the pro- 
duction at Court not merely of pageants or spectacles, 
but of the regular drama.^ In the reign of King James 

* That scenic elaboration on the 'house' system, to which painted 
canvas scenery was essential, accompanied dramatic entertainments 


the scenic machinery at Court rapidly developed at the 
hands of Inigo Jones, the great architect, and separate 
set scenes with devices for their rapid change came to 
replace the old methods of simultaneous multiplicity. 
The costume too, at any rate in the production of 
masques, ultimately satisfied every call of archaeological or 
historical, as well as of artistic propriety. The perform- 
ances at Court always took place by night, and great 
attention was bestowed on the lighting of the royal hall 
by means of candles and torches. The emoluments 
which were appointed for the players' labours at Court 
were substantial.^ For nearly twenty years Shakespeare 
and his intimate associates took a constant part in dra- 
matic representations which were rendered in these 
favoured conditions.- 

of all kinds at Queen Elizabeth's Court is clearly proved by the extant 
records of the Master of the Revels Office (Feuillerat's Le Bureau da 
Menus-Plaisirs, p. 66 n.). Sir Thomas Benger, Master of the Revels at 
the opening of the Queen's reign, gave, according to the documentary 
evidence, orders which his successors repeated 'for the apparelling, 
disgyzinge, ffurnishing, fitting, garnishing & ,orderly setting foorthe 
of men, woomen and children: in sundry Tragedies, playes, maskes 
and sportes, with theier apte howses of paynted canvas & properties 
incident suche as mighte most lyvely expresse the effect of the histories 
plaied, &c.' (Feuillerat's Documents &c., 129). Elsewhere the evidence 
attests that 'six playes . . . were lykewise throwghly apparelled, & 
furniture, ffitted and garnished necessarely, & answerable to the matter, 
person and parte to be played : having also apt howses : made of can- 
vasse, fframed, fiEashioned & paynted accordingly, as mighte best serve 
theier severall purposes. Together with sundry properties incident, 
flfashioned, paynted, garnished, and bestowed as the partyes them 
selves required and needed' {ibid. 145). In 1573 4.0s. was paid 'for 
canvas for the howses made for the players' (ibid. 221) and in 1574-5 
8/. I5.r. for canvas 'imployed upon the houses and properties made for 
the players' {ibid. 243). 

' See pp. 2§9, 313 infra. 

s The activities of the players at the Courts of Elizabeth and James I 
are very amply attested. For the official organisation of the court 
performances and expenditure on the scenic arrangement during Queen 
Elizabeth's reign, see E. K. Chambers, Notes on the History of the Revek 
Office under the Tudors, 1906, and Feuillerat's Documents relating to the 
Office of the Revels in the Time of Elizabeth in Bang's Materialien, Bd. xxi, 
(Louvain, 1908) and in Le Bureau des Menus-Plaisirs et la mise en scene 
d la cour d' Elizabeth (Louvain, 1910) . Court performances were formally 
registered in three independent repertories of original official documents, 
viz. : I. The Treasurer of the Chamber's Original Accounts (of which 


The royal example of requisitioning select perform- 
ances of plays by professional actors at holiday seasons 
was followed intermittently by noblemen and by the 
benchers of the Inns of Court."- Of the welcome which 
was accorded to travelling companies at private mansions 
Shakespeare offers a graphic picture in the 'Taming of 
the Shrew ' and in ' Hamlet.' In both pieces he laid under 
contribution his personal experience. Evidence, more- 
over, is at hand to show that his ' Comedy of Errors ' 
was acted before benchers, students, and their guests 
(on Innocents' Day, Dec. 28, 1594) in the hall of Gray's 
Inn, and his 'Twelfth Night' in that of the Middle 
Temple on Candlemas Day, February 2, 1 601-2. In 
such environment the manner of presentation was iden- 
tical with that which was adopted at the' Court. 

abstracts were entered in the Declared Accounts of the Audit Ofi&ce, 
such abstracts being duplicated in the Rolls of the Pipe Office) ; 2. The 
Acts of The Privy Council; and 3. The 'original accounts' or office books 
of the Masters of the Revels. The entries in the three series of records 
follow different formulse, and the information which is given in one 
series supplements that given in the others. Only the Declared Accounts 
which abstract the Original Accounts and are dupUcated in the Pipe 
RoUs, are now extant in a complete state. The bull of all these records 
are preserved at the Public Record Office, but some fragments have 
drifted into the British Museum (Harl. MSS. 1641, 1642, and 1644) and 
into the Bodleian Library {Rawl. MSS. A 239 and 240). A selection of 
the accessible data down to 1585 was first printed in George Chalmers's 
An Apology for Believers, 1797, p. 394 seq., and this was reprinted with 
important additions in Malone's Variorum Shakespeare, 1821, iii. 360- 
409, 423-9, 445-50. Peter Cunningham, in his Extracts from the Revels 
at Court in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James the First (Shake- 
speare Society, 1842), confined his researches to the extant portions of 
the Treasurer of the Chamber's Original Accounts, and to the Master 
of the Revel's Office Books, between 1560 and 1619. Dr. C. W. Wallace, 
in The Evolution of the English Drama up to Shakespeare, Berlin, 191 2, 
pp. 199-225, prints most of the relevant documents in the Record Office 
respecting Court performances between 1558 and 1585. Mr. E. K. 
Chambers, in his 'Court Performances before Queen Elizabeth' {Mod. 
Lang. Renew, 1907, pp. 1-13) and in his 'Court Performances under 
James I' {ib. 1909, pp. 153-66) valuably supplements the information 
which is printed elsewhere, from the Declared Accounts and the Pipe 
Rolls between 1558 and 1616. 

' Dramatic performances which were more or less elaborately staged, 
were usually provided for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth^ and 
James I on their visits to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 
But the pieces were commonly written specially by graduates for the 
occasion, and were acted by amateur students. 


Methods of representation in the theatres of Shake- 
speare's day, whether of the pubhc or private type, had 
Methods of little in common with the complex splendours 
presenta- in vogue at Court. Yet the crudity of the 
pubii? equipment which is usually imputed to the 
theatres. Elizabethan theatre has been much exagger- 
ated. It was only in its first infancy that the 
EHzabethan stage showed that poverty of scenic ma- 
chinery which has been erroneously assigned to it through 
the whole of the Shakespearean era. The rude traditions 
of the innyard, the earhest pubHc home of the drama, 
were not ehminated quickly, and there was never any 
attempt to emulate the luxurious Court fashions, but 
there were many indications during Shakespeare's life- 
time of a steady development of scenic or spectacular 
appUances in professional quarters. The 'private' play- 
house of which the Blackfriars was the most successful 
example mainly differed from the pubHc theatre in the 
enhanced comfort which it assured the playgoer, and in 
the more select audience which the slightly higher prices 
of admission encouraged. The substantial roof covering 
all parts of the house gave the 'private' theatre an ad- 
vantage over the 'pubHc' theatre, the area of which was 
open to the sky, and the innovation of artificial lighting 
proved a complementary , attraction. The scenic appa- 
ratus and accessories of the 'private' theatre may have 
been more abundant and more refined than in the 'pub- 
Uc' theatre. But there was no variation in principle 
and it was for the pubhc theatres that most of Shake- 
speare's work as both actor and dramatist was done. 
In the result the scenic standards with which he was 
familiar outside the precincts of the Court fell far short 
of the elaboration which flourished there, but they ulti- 
mately satisfied the more modest calls of scenic illusion. 
Scenic spectacle invaded the regular playhouse at a much 
later date. In the Shakespearean theatre the equip* 
ment and machinery were always simple enough to thro-v\| 
on the actor a heavier responsibility than any whic^ 


his successors knew. The dramatic 'effect owed almost 
everything to his intonation and gesture. The available 
evidence credits Elizabethan representations with making 
a profound impression on the audience. The fact bears 
signal tribute to the histrionic efficiency of the profession 
when it counted Shakespeare among its members. 

The Elizabethan public theatres were usually of oc- 
tagonal or circular shape. In their leading, features they 
followed an uniform structural plan, but iJiere xhestruc- 
were many variations in detail, which perplex turaipian. 
counsel. The area or pit was at the dispositidn 
of the 'groundlings' who crowded round three sides of 
the projecting stage. Their part of the building which 
was open to the sky was without seats. The charge for 
admission there was one penny. Beneath a narrow cir- 
cular roof of thatch three galleries, a development of the 
balconies of the quadrangular innyards, encircled the 
auditorium ; the two lower ones were partly divided into 
boxes or rooms while the uppermost gallery was unpar- 
titioned. The cost of entry to the galleries ranged from 
twopence in the highest tier to half a crown in the lowest. 
Seats or cushions were to be hired at a small additional 
fee. Foreign visitors to the Globe were emphatic in 
acknowledgment that from all parts of the house there 
was a full view of the stage.^ A small section of the 
audience was also accommodated in some theatres in less 
convenient quarters. In many houses visitors were 
allowed to occupy seats on the stage.^ Sometimes ex- 
pensive 'rooms' or 'boxes' were provided in an elevated 

' A foreign visitor's manuscript ^ary, now in the Vatican, describes 
a visit to the Globe on Monday, July 3, 1600. His words ran ' Audivimus 
Comoediam Anglicam; theatrum ad morem antiquorum Romanorum 
constructum ex lignis, ita formatum ut omnibus ex partibus spectatores 
commodissime singula videre possint.' {The Times, April 4, 1914.) 

^ Cf. Thomas Dekker, Guls Hornbook, 1609, chap. vi. ('How a Gallant . 
should behave himself in a Playhouse') : 'Whether therefore the gather- 
ers [i.e. the money-takers] of the publique or private playhouses stand 
to receive the afternoones rent, let our Gallant (having paid it) presently 
advance himselfe up to the Throne of the stage on the very Rushes where 
tlie Comedy is to dance. ... By sitting on the stage you may have a 
good stool for sixpence.' 


gallery overlooking the back of the stage. It has been 
estimated that the Globe Theatre held some 1200 spec- 
tators, and the Blackfriars half that number.i 

The stage was a rough development of the old impro- 
vised raised platform of the innyard. It ran far into the 
auditorium so that the actors often spoke in 
The stage. ^^^ centre of the house, with the audience of 
the arena well-nigh encircling them. There was no front 
curtain or proscenium arch. The wall which closed the 
stage at 'the rear had two short and sKghtly projecting 
wings, each of which was pierced by a door opening side- 
ways on the boards while a third door in the back wall 
directly faced the auditorium. Through one or other of 
the three doors the actors made their entrances and exits 
and thence they marched to the' front of the platform. 
Impinging on the backward limit of the stage was the 
'tiring house' ('mimorum aedes') which was commonly 
of two stories. There the actors had their dressing-rooms. 

1 Cf. C. W. Wallace, The Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, 1597- 
1603, 1908,' pp. 49 seq. The chief pieces of documentary evidence as 
to the internal structure of the Elizabethan theatres are the detailed 
huilding contracts for the erection of the Fortune Theatre in 1600 after 
the plan of the Globe and of the Hope Theatre in 1613 after the plan 
of the Swan. Both are at Dulwich and were first printed by Malone 
{Variorum, iii. 338 seq.) and more recently in Henslowe Papers, ed. Greg, 
pp. 4 seq. and ig seq. A Dutchman John De Witt visiting London in 
1596 made a drawing of the interior of the Swan Theatre, a copy of 
which is extant in the hbrary at Utrecht. A short description in Latin 
is appended. De Witt's sketch is of great interest, not merely from its 
size and completeness, but as being the only strictly contemporary pic- 
ture of the interior of a sixteenth century playhouse which has yet come 
to light. At the same time it is difficult to reconcile De Witt's sketch 
with the other extant information. He may have depended for his de- 
tail on memory. His statement that the Swan Theatre held 3000 per- 
sons 'in sedilibus' {i.e. in the seated galleries apart from the arena) 
would seem to be an exaggeration (see Zur Kenntniss der Altenglischen 
BUhne von Karl Theodor Gaedertz. Mit der ersten authentischen innern 
Ansicht des Schwan-T heaters in London, Bremen, 1888). Three later 
. pictorial representations of a seventeenth-century stage are known; all 
are of small size and they differ in detail from De Witt and from one 
anotheiy they appear respectively on the title-pages of WiUiam Ala- 
baster's Roxana (1632), of Nathaniel Richards's Tragedy of MessalUna 
(1640), and of The Wits, or Sport upon Sport (1672). The last is de- 
scribed as the stage of the Red Bull Theatre. The theatres shown on 
the two other seventeenth-century engravings are not named. "1 


From the first story above the central stage door there 
usually projected a narrow balcony forming an elevated 
or upper stage overhanging the Back of the great plat- 
form and leaving the two side doors free. From this 
balcony the actdrs spoke (' aloft ' or ' above ') when occa- 
sion required it to those below. From such an elevation 
Juhet addressed Rgja^o in the balcony scene, and the 
citizens of Angers (in 'King John') or of Harfleur (in 
'Henry V) held colloquy from their ramparts with the 
English besiegers. At times room was also found in the 
balcony for musicians or indeed for a limited number of 
spectators. From the fore-edge of the balcony there 
hung sliding ' arras' curtains, technically known as ' trav- 
erses.' The background which these curtains formed 
when they were drawn together, gave the stage one of 
its most distinctive features. The recess beyond the 
'traverses' served, when they were drawn back, as an 
interior which stage directions often designated as 
'within.' It was in this fashion that a cave, an arbour, 
or a bedchamber was commonly presented. In ' Romeo 
and Juliet' (v. iii.) the space exposed to view behind the 
curtains was the tomb of the Capulets; in 'Timon of 
Athens' and in 'Cjnnbeline' it formed a cave; in 'The 
Tempest' it was Prospero's cell.^ 

' Much special study has been bestowed of late years by students 
in England, America, France, and Germany on the shape and appoint- 
ments of the Elizabethan stage as well as on the methods of Elizabethan 
representation. The variations in practice at difiEerent theatres have 
occasioned controversy. The minute detail which recent writers have 
recovered from contemporary documents or from printed literature 
far exceeds that which their predecessors accumulated. Yet the earlier 
researches of Malone, J. P. Collier and F. G. Fleay illuminated most 
of the broad issues and remain of value, in spite of errors which later 
writers have corrected. Perhaps the most important of the numerous 
recent expositions of the structure and methods of the Elizabethan 
theatre are G. F. Re3molds's Some Principles of Elizabethan Staging, 
Chicago, 1905; William Creizenach's Die Schauspiele der Englischen 
KomSdianten, Berlin and Stuttgart (n.d.); Richard Wegener's Die 
Biihneneinrichtung des Shakespeareschen Theaters nach der zeitgenossischen 
Dramen, Halle, 1907 ; Dr. Wallace, Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, 
Nebraska, 1908; Mr. William Archer's article 'The Elizabethan Stage' 
in the Quarterly Review, 1908; Victor E. Albright's The Shakesperian 


A slanting canopy of thatch was fixed high above the 
stage; technically known as 'the shadow' or 'the 
heavens,' it protected the actors from the elements, to 
which the spectators in the arena were exposed.^ The 
tapestry hangings were suspended from this covering, at 
some height from the stage, but well within view of the 
audience. When tragedies were performed, the hangings 
were of black. ' Hung be the heavens with hlack ' — the 
opening words of the First Part of 'Henry VI' — had 
in theatrical terminology a technical significance.^ The 
platform stage was fitted with trap-doors from which 
ghosts and spirits ascended or descended. Thunder 
was simulated and guns were fired from apartments in 
the ' tiring house ' behind or above the stage. It was at 
a performance of 'Henry VIII' 'that certain cannons 
being shot off at the King's entry, some of the paper or 
other stuff wherewith one of them was stopped did light 
on the thatch' of the stage roof, 'and so caused a fire, 
which demolished the theatre.' ^ 

The set scenery or 'painted canvas' which was familiar 
at Court was unknown to the Ehzabethan theatre ; but 
there were abundant endeavours to supplement the scenic 
illusion of the 'traverses' by a lavish use of properties. 
Rocks, tombs, and trees (made of canvas and paste- 
board), thrones, tables, chairs, and beds were among a 
hundred articles which were in constant request. The 
name of the place in which the author located his scene 
was often inscribed on a board exhibited on the stage, or 
was placarded above one or other of the side-doorways 
of entry and exit. Sir Phihp Sidney, in the pre-Shake- 
spearean days of the Elizabethan theatre, made merry 
over the embarrassments which the spectators suffered 
by such notifications of dramatic topography. He con- 
doled, too, with the playgoer whose imagination was left 
to create on the bare platform a garden, a rocky coast, 

Stage, New York, 1909; and Mr. W. J. Lawrence's The Elimbetluin 

Playhouse and other Studies, two series, 1912-13. 

^Cl. 'Black stage for tragedies and murders fell.' Lucrece, 1. 766. ■ 
* See p. 44S infra. .1 


and a battle-field in quick succession.^ But the use alike 
of properties and of the irmer curtains greatly facilitated 
scenic illusion on the public stage after Sidney's time, 
and although his criticism never lost all its point, it is 
not literally applicable to the theatrical production of 
Shakespeare's prime.^ 

Costume on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stages was 
somewhat in advance of the scenic standards. There" 
was always opportunity for the exercise of artistic in- 
genuity in the case of fanciful characters like 'Rumour 
painted fuU of tongues' in the Second Part of 'Henry IV,' 
or 'certg,in reapers properly habited' in the masque of 
'The Tempest.' But the actors in normal roles wore the 
ordinary costumes of the day without precise reference 
to the period or place of action. Ancient Greeks and 
Romans were attired in doublet arid hose, or, if they 
were soldiers, in Tudor armour. The contents of the 
theatrical wardrobe were often of rich material and in 
the height of current fashion. Many foreign 
visitors to London recorded in their diaries 
their admiration of the splendour of the leading actors' 
costume.^ False hair and beards, crowns and sceptres, 

* Sidney's Apology for Poetrie, ed. by E. S. Shuckburgh, p. 52. 

' Only after the Restoration in 1660 did the public theatres adopt 
the curtain in front of the stage and the changeable scenic cloth at the 
back. Both devices were employed in dramatic performances at Jjtmes 
I's court. The crudity of the scenic apparatus on the popular stage in 
James I and Charles I's reign has been unduly emphasised. Richard 
Flecknoe in his Short Discourse of the English 'Stage published in 1664 
generalised rather too sweepingly when he wrote 'The theatres of for- 
mer times had no other scenes or decorations of the stage, but only 
old tapestry and the stage strewd with rushes.' (Hazlitt, English 
Drama, Documents and Treatises, p. 280.) On the other hand tapestry 
hangings, if the illustrations in Rowe's edition of Shakespeare (1709) are 
to be trusted, still occasionally formed in the early eighteenth century 
the stage background of Shakespearean productions, in spite of the 
almost universal adoption of painted scenic cloths. 

' German writers seem to have measured fine costume by the stand- 
ards of magnificence which they reckoned characteristic of English 
actors. Well-dressed Germans were said to 'strut along like the Eng- 
lish comedians in the_ theatres* Q. O. Variscus, Ethnographia Mundi, 
pars iv, Geldtklage, Slagdeburg, 1614, p. 472, cited in Cohn's Shake- 
speare in Germany, p. cxxxvi.) 


mitres and croziers, armour, helmets, shields, vizors, and 
weapons of war, hoods, bands, and cassocks, were freely 
employed to indicate differences of age, rank, or profes- 
sion. Towards the close of Shakespeare's career, plays 
on English history were elaborately 'costumed.' In the, 
summer of 1613 'Henry VIII' 'was set forth with many 
extraordinary circumstances of Pomp and Majesty, even 
' to the matting of the stage ; the Knights of the Order, 
with their Georges and Garters, the Guards with their 
embroidered coats, and the like.' ^ 

A very notable distinction between Elizabethan and 
modern modes of theatrical representations was the corn- 
Absence of plfite absence of women actors from the Eliza- 
women bethan stage. All female roles were, until the 
actors. Restoration, assumed in pubhc theatres by men 
or boys. Shakespeare alludes to the appearance of men 
or boys in women's parts when he makes Rosalind say 
laughingly to the men of the audience in the epilogue to 
'As You Like It' 'If I were a woman I would kiss as 
many of you as had beards that please me.' Similarly, 
in 'Antony and Cleopatra' (v. ii. 216-220), Cleopatra 
on her downfall laments 

the quick comedians 
Extemporally will stage us . . . and I shall see 
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness. 

Men taking women's parts seem to have worn masks. 
In 'Midsummer Night's Dream' Flute is bidden (i. ii. 52) 
by Quince play Thisbe 'in a mask' because he has a 
beard coming. It is clear that during Shakespeare's pro- 
fessional career boys or young men rendered female roles 
effectively and without serious injury to the dramatist's 
conceptions. ^ Although age was always telling on mas- 
culine proficiency in women's parts and it was never 
easy to conceal the inherent incongruity of the habit, the 
prejudice against the presence of women on the public 
stage faded slowly. It did not receive its death-blow till 
December 8, 1660, when at a new theatre in Clare Market 

•• See p. 443 infra. 


a prologue announced the first appearance of women on 
the stage and intimated that the rSle of Desdemona was 
no longer to be entrusted to a petticoated page.^ 

Three flourishes on a trumpet announced the beginning 
of the performance. The trumpeter was stationed within 
a lofty open turret overlooking the stage. No pro- 
grammes were distributed among the audience. The 
name of the day's play was placarded beforehand on 
posts in the street. Such advertisements were called, 
'the players' 'bills,' and a similar 'bill' was paraded on 
the stage at the opening of the performance. Musical 
diversion was provided on a more or less ample scale. A 
band of musicians stood either on the stage or in a neigh- 
bouring box or 'room.' They not merely accompanied 
incidental songs or dances, and sounded drum and trum- 
pet in military episodes, but they provided instrumental 
interludes between the acts.^ The scenes of each act 

^ See pp. 600-1 infra. The prologue, which was by the hack poetThomas 
Jordan, sufficiently exposed the demerits of the old custom : ^ 

I come unknown to any of the rest, 
To tell you news : I saw the lady drest : 
The woman plays to-day ; mistake me not. 
No man in gown, or page in petticoat. 

In this reforming age 

We have intents to civilize the stage. 

Our women are defective and so siz'd 

You'd think they were some of the guard disguis'd. 

For to speak truth, men act, that are between 

Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen ; 

With bone so large, and nerve so incompliant, 

When you call Desdemona, enter Giant. 

The ancient practice of entrusting women's parts to men survived in 
the theatres of Rome till the end of the eighteenth century, and Goethe 
who was there in 1786 and 1787 describes the highly favourable impres- 
sion which that histrionic method left on him, and seeks somewhat para- 
doxically to justify it as satisfsang the aesthetic aims of imitation {Travels 
in Italy, Bohn's Libr. 1885, pp. 567-571)- On the other hand, Mon- 
tesquieu reports on his visit to England in 1730 how he heard Lord 
Chesterfield explain to Queen Caroline that the regrettable absence of 
women from the Elizabethan stage accounted for the coarseness and 
inadequacy of Shakespeare's female characterisation (Montesquieu, 
(Euvres Completes, ed. Laboidaye, 1879, vii. 484). 

' See G. H. Cowling, Music on the Shakespearean Stage, Cambridge, 
1913 ; and W. J. Lawrence, The Elizabethan Playhouse and Other Studies, 
ist ser. 191 2, ch. iv. 


would seem to have followed one another without any 
longer pause than was required by the exits and entries 
of the actors. The absence of a front curtain might well 
leave an audience in some uncertainty as to the point 
at which a scene or act ended. In blank verse dramas a 
rhyming couplet at the end of a scene often gave the 
needful cue, or the last speaker openly stated that he 
and the other actors were withdrawing.^ 

In Shakespeare's early days the public theatres were 
open on Sundays as well as on week-days ; but the Puri- 
tan outcry gradually forced the actors to leave the stage 
untenanted on the Lord's Day. In the later years of 
Queen Elizabeth's reign, Sunday performances were for- 
bidden by the Privy Council on pain of imprisonment, 
but it was only during her successor's reign that they 
ceased altogether; they were not forbidden by statute 
till 1628 (3 Car. I, c. i) and the example of the Court 
which favoured dramatic entertainment on the Sabbath 
always challenged the popular rehgious scruple. More 
effective and more embarrassing to the players was the 
Privy Council's prohibition of performances during the 
season of Lent, and 'likewise at such time and times as 
any extraordinary sickness or infection of disease shall 
appear to be in or about the city.' ^ The announcement 
of thirty deaths a week of the plague was held to warrant 
the closing of the theatres until the rate of mortality fell 
below that figure.^ At the public theatres the perform- 

' For example, in Shakespeare's Tempest the last words of nearly 
every scene are to such efEect; cf. 'Come, follow' (i. ii.), 'Go safely 
on' (11. i.), 'Follow, I pray you' (in. iii.), and 'Follow and do me ser- 
vice' (iv. i.). Similarly in tragedies the closing words of the text often 
categorically direct the removal of the dead heroes; cf. Hamlet, v. iii. 
393, 'Take up the bodies,' and Coriolanus, v. vi. 148, 'Take him [i.e. 
the dead hero] up.' Hotspur, when slain, in i Henry IV, is carried off 
on Falstaff's back. 

" Cf. Acts of the Privy Council, ed. J. R. Dasent, vol. xxx. 1599- 
1600, p. 397; see Earle's Microcosmographie xxiii. ('A Player') : 'Lent 
is more damage to him [i.e. the player] than the butcher' (the sale of 
meat being forbidden during Lent). 

' See Privy Council Warrant, April 9, 1604, in Henslowe Papersf 
ed. Greg, 1907, p. 61 ; and cf . Middleton's Your Five Gallants, licensed 


ances usually began at two o'clock in winter and three 
o'clock in the summer and they lasted from two to three 
hours.^ No artificial light was admitted, unless the text 
of the play prescribed the use of a lantern or a candle on 
the stage. 

However important the difference between the organi- 
sation of the public theatres in Shakespeare's day and 
our own, many professional customs which fell Provincial 
within his experience still survive without much *°"'^^- 
change. The practice of touring in the provinces 
was followed in Queen Elizabeth's and James I's 
reigns with a frequency which subsequent ages scarcely 
excelled. The chief actors rode on horseback, while 
their properties were carried in wagons. The less pros- 
perous companies which were colloquially distinguished 
by the epithet 'strolling' avoided London altogether and 
only sought the suffrages of provincial audiences. But 
no companies with headquarters in London' remained 
there through the summer or autumn, and every country 
town with two thousand or more inhabitants could safely 
reckon on at least one visit of actors from the capital 
between May and October. The compulsory closing of 
the London theatres during the ever-recurrent outbreaks 
of plague or lack of sufiicient theatrical accommodation 
in the capital at times drove thriving London actors into 
the provinces at other seasons than summer and autumn. 
Now and then the London companies were on tour in 
mid-winter. Many records of the Elizabethan actors' 
provincial visits figure in municipal archives of the 

March 22, 1608: "Tis e'en as uncertain as playing, now up and now 
down; for if the bill do rise to above thirty, here's no place for players.' 
The prohibiting rate of mortality was raised to 40 in 1620. 

1 When the- Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon petitioned the Lord Mayor 
on Oct. 8, IS94> to permit Shakespeare's company to perform during 
the winter at the 'Crosskeys' in Gracechurch Street, it was stated that 
the performances would 'begin at two and have done betweene fower 
and five' (Halliwell's Illustrations, 32). For acting purposes the author's 
text was often drastically abbreviated, so as to bring the performance 
within the two hours limit which Shakespeare twice lightly mentions — 
in prologues to Romeo and Juliet (line 12) and to Henry VIII (line 13). 


period. The local records have not yet been quite ex- 
haustively searched but the numerous entries which have 
come to light attest the wide range of the players' cir- 
cuits. Shakespeare's company, whose experience is 
typical of that of the other London companies of the 
time, performed in thirty-one towns outside the me- 
tropohs during the twenty-seven years between 1587 and 
1614, and the separate visits reached, as far as is known, 
a total of eighty. The itinerary varied in duration and 
direction from year to year. In 1593 Shakespeare and 
his fellow players were seen at eight provincial cities and 
in 1606 at six. They would appear to have contented 
themselves with a single visit in 1590 (to Faversham), 
in 1591 (to Cambridge), in 1602 (to Ipswich), and in 1611 
(to Shrewsbury). Their route never took them far 
north; they never passed beyond York, which they 
visited twice. But in all parts of the southern half of 
the kingdom they were more or less famihar figures. 
To each of the cities Coventry and Oxford they paid 
eight visits and to Bath six. To Marlborough, Shrews- 
bury and Dover they went five times, and to Cambridge 
four times. Gloucester, Leicester, Ipswich and Maidstone 
come next in the provincial scale of favour with three 
visits apiece. Apparently Southampton, Chester, Not- 
tingham, Folkestone, Exeter, Hythe, Saffron Walden, 
Rye, Plymouth, and Chelmsford did not invite the com- 
pany's return after a first experience, nor did Canterbury, 
Bristol, Barnstaple, Norwich, York, New Romney, 
Faversham, and Winchester after a second.'- 

' In English Dramatic Companies 1558-1642 (1910) Mr. J. Tucker 
Murray has carefuUy, though not exhaustively, investigated tiie actors' 
tours of the period. His work supersedes, however, HalUwell-Phillipps's 
Visits of Shakespeare's Company of Actors to the Provincial Cities and 
Towns of England (privately printed, 1887). Thomas Haywood in his 
Apology for Actors mentions performances by unidentified companies 
at Lynn in Norfolk and at Perrin in Cornwall. These are not noticed 
by Mr. Murray, who also overlooks visits of Shakespeare's company 
to Oxford and Maidstone in 1593, to Cambridge in 1594, and to Notting- 
ham in 1615. (See F. S. Boas's University Drama, p. 226, and his 'Ham- 
let in Oxford,' Fortnightly Review^ August 1913 ; Cooper's Annals oj 
Cambridge, ii. 538; Nottingham Records, iv. 328, and Maidstone Cham- 



Shakespeare may be credited with faithfully fulfilling 
all his professional functions, and some of the references 
to travel in his Sonnets have been reasonably interpreted 
as reminiscences of early acting tours. It is clear that 
he had ample opportunities of first-hand observation of 
his native land. But it has often been argued Scottish 
that his journeys passed beyond the Hmits of t"""^^- 
England. It has been repeatedly urged that Shake- 
speare's company visited Scotland and that he went 
with it.^ In November 1599 EngHsh actors arrived 
in Scotland under the leadership of Lawrence Fletcher 
and one Martin Slater,^ and were welcomed with enthu- 
siasm by the King.' 

berlains' Accounts, MS. notes kindly communicated by Miss Katharine 
Martin.) The following seems to have been the itinerary of Shake- 
speare's company year by year while he was associated with it : 


1587 Dover, Canterbury, Oxford, 

Marlborough, Southamp- 
ton, Exeter, Bath, Glouces- 
ter,' Stratford-on-Avon, 
Lathom House, Lanes., 
Coventry (twice), Leices- 
ter, Maidstone, and Nor- 

1588 Dover, Plymouth, Bath, 

Gloucester, York, Coven- 
try, Norwich, Ipswich, 

1590 Faversham. 

1591 Cambridge. 

1592 Canterbury, Bath, Glouces- 

ter and Coventry. 

1593 Chelmsford, Bristol, Bath, 

Shrewsbury, Chester, 

York, Maidstone and 

1594 Coventry, Cambridge, Leices- 

ter, Winchester, Marl- 

* Cf. Knight's Life of Shakespeare (1843), p. 41 ; Fleay, Stage, pp. 135-6. 

* Martin Slater (often known as Martin) was both an actor and 
dramatist. From 1594 to 1597 he was a member of the Admiral's Com- 
pany, and was subsequently from 1605 to 1625 manager of a subsidiary 
traveUing company, under the patronage of Queen Anne. Cf. Dr. 
Wallace in Englische Studien, xliii. 383. 

' The favour bestowed by James VI on these English actors was so 

IS97 Faversham, Rye, 

1602 Ipswich. 

1603 Shrewsbury, Coventry. 

1604 Bath, Oxford, Mortlake. 

1605 Barnstaple, Oxford. 

1606 Marlborough, Oxford, Leices- 

ter, Saffron Walden, 
Dover, Maidstone. 

1607 Barnstaple, Oxford, Cam- 


1608 Marlborough, Coventry. 

1609 Ipswich, Hythe, New Rom- 


1610 Dover, Oxford, Shrewsbury. 

1611 Shrewsbury. 

16 1 2 New Romney, Winchester. 

1613 Folkestone, Oxford, Shrews- 


1614 Coventry. 

1 61s Nottingham. 


Fletcher was a colleague of Shakespeare in 1603, hut 
is not known to have been one earher. Shakespeare!s 
company never included Martin Slater. Fletcher re- 
peated the Scottish visit in October 1601.^ There is noth- 
ing to indicate that any of his companions belonged to 
Shakespeare's company. In Hke manner, Shakespeare's 
accurate reference in 'Macbeth' to the 'nimble' but 
'sweet' climate of Inverness^ and the vivid impression 
he conveys of the aspects of wild Highland heaths have 
been judged to be the certain fruits of a personal experi- 
ence ; but the passages in question, into which a more 
definite significance has possibly been, read than Shake- 
speare intended, can be satisfactorily accounted for by his 
inevitable intercourse with Scotsmen in London and at 
the theatres after James I's accession. 

A few English actors in Shakespeare's day combined 
from time to time to make professional tours through 
foreign lands, where Court society invariably gave 
them a hospitable reception. In Denmark, Germany, 

marked as to excite the resentment of the leaders of the Kirk. The 
EngUsh agent, George Nicholson, in a (hitherto unpublished) despatch 
dated from Edinburgh on November 12, 1599, wrote : 'The four Sessions 
of this Town (without touch by name of our English players, Fletcher 
and Mertyn (i.e. Martyn), widi their company), and not knowing the 
King's ordinances for them to play and be heard, enacted (that) their 
flocks {yfere) to forbear and not topome to or haunt profane games, 
sports, or plays.' Thereupon the ffing summoned the sessions before 
him in Council and threatened them with the fuH rigour of the law. 
Obdurate at first, the ministers subsequently agreed to moderate their 
hostile references to the actors. Finally, Nicholson adds, 'The King 
this day by proclamation with sound of trumpet hath commanded the 
players liberty to play, and forbidden their hinder or impeachment 
therein.' (MS. State Papers Dom. Scotland, P.R.O. vol. kv. No. 64.) 

^ Fleay, Stage, pp. 126-44. On returning to England Fletcher seems 
to have given a performance at Ipswich on May 30, 1602, and to have 
, irresponsibly called himself and his companions 'His Majesty's Players.' 
Cf. Murray's EngUsh Dramatic Companies, i. 104 n. 

2 Cf. Duncan's speech (on arriving at Macbeth's castle of Inverness) : 

This castle hath a pleasant seat ; the air ^ 

Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses. 

Banquo. This guest of summer. 

The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, 
By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath 
Smells wooingly here. ('Macbeth,' i. vi. i-6.) 


Austria, Holland, and France many dramatic perform- 
ances were given at royal palaces or in public 
places by English actors between 1580 and 1630. actors on 
The foreign programmes included tragedies or ^\^j°"" 
comedies which had proved their popularity 
on the London stage, together with* more or less extem- 
porized interludes of boisterous farce. Some of Shake- 
speare's plays found early admission to the foreign reper- 
tories. At the outset the English language was alone 
employed, although in Germany a native comedian was 
commonly associated with the English players and he 
spoke his part in his own tongue. At a later period the 
English actors in Germany ventured on crude German 
translations of their repertory.^ German-speaking audi- 
ences proved the most enthusiastic of all foreign cUents, 
and the towns most frequently visited were Frankfort- 
on-the-Main, Strasburg, Nuremberg, Cassel, and Augs- 
burg. Before Shakespeare's Hfe ended, English actors 
had gone on professional missions in German-speaking 
countries as far East as Konigsberg and Ortelsburg and 
as far South as Munich and Graz.^ 
That Shakespeare joined any of these foreign expedi- 

^ There was published in 1620 sine loco (apparently at Leipzig) a 
volume entitled Engelische Comedien vnd Tragedien containing German 
renderings of ten English plays and five interludes which had been 
lately acted by English companies in Germany. The collection in- 
cluded crude versions of Titus Andronicus and The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona. A second edition appeared in 1624 and a second volume 
('ander theU') — Engelische Comodien — followed in 1630 supplying 
eight further plays, none of which can be identified with extant English 
pieces. In the library at Dresden is a rough German translation in 
manuscript of the first quarto of Hamlet ('Der bestrafte Brudermord')., 
which is clearly of very early origin. Early German manuscript ren- 
derings of The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet sue also eitant. 
(Cf. Cohn's Shakespeare in Germany, 1865.) 

^ Thomas Heywood in his Apology for -Actors, 1612 (Shakespeare 
Soc. 1841), mentions how in former years Lord Leicester's company of 
English comedians was entertained at the court of Deimiark (p. 40), 
how at Amsterdam English actors h'ad lately performed before the 
burghers and the chief inhabitants (p. 58), and how at the time of writ- 
ing the Duke of Brunswick, the Landgrave of Hesse, and the Cardinal 
at Bruxelles each had in their pay a company of English comedians 
(p. 60). Cf. Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany, 1865 ; E. Herz's Englische 
Schauspieler und engUsches Schauspiel mr Zeit Shakespeares in Deutsck- 


tions is improbable. Few actors of repute at home took 
part in them ; the majority of the foreign performers 
never reached the first rank. Many Usts of those who 
joined in the tours are extant, and Shakespeare's name 
appears in none of them. It would seem, moreover, that 
only on two occasions, and both before Shakespeare 
joined the theatrical profession, did members of his own 
company visit the Continent."- 

It is, in fact, unhkely that Shakespeare ever set foot 
on the Continent of Europe in either a private or a pro- 
Shake- fessional capacity. He repeatedly ridicules the 
speareand craze for foreign travel.^ To Italy, it is true, 
^'^'^- and especially to cities of Northern Italy, like 

Venice, Padua, Verona, Mantua, and Milan, he makes 
frequent and famiUar reference, and he suppUed many 
a reahstic portrayal of Italian life and sentiment. But 
his Itahan scenes lack the intimate detail which would 
attest a first-hand experience of the country. The pres- 
ence of barges on the waterways of northern Italy was 
common enough partially to justify the voyage of Valen- 

land, Hamburg, 1903; H. Maas's 'Aussere Geschichte der Englischen 
Theatertruppen in dem Zeitraum von 1559 bis 1642 ' (Bang's Materialien, 
vol. xix. Louvain, 1907); J. Bolte's 'Englische Komodianten in Dane- 
mark und Schweden' (Shakespeare Jahrbuch, xxiv. p. 99, 1888); and 
his 'Englische Komodianten in Munster und Ulm' {ibid, xxxvi. p. 273, 
1900); K. Trautmann's 'Englische Komodianten in Numberg, 1593- 
1648' (Arckiv, vols. xiv. and xv.) ; Meissner, Die englischen Comodiankn 
zur Zeit Shakespeare's in Oesterreich, Vienna, 1884; Jon Stefansson on 
'Shakespeare at Elsinore' in Contemporary Review, Jan. 1896; and M. 
Jusserand's Shakespeare in France, 1899, pp. 50 seq. 

^ In 1585 and 1586 a detachment of Lord Leicester's servants made 
tours through Germany, which were extended to the Danish Court at 
Elsinore. The leader was the comic actor, William Kemp, who was 
subsequently to become for a time a prominent colleague of Shake- 
speare. In the closing years of the sixteenth century the Earl of 
Worcester's company chiefly supplied the English actors who undertook 
expeditions on the European Continent. The Englishmen who won 
foreign histrionic fame early in the seventeenth century were rarely 
known at home. 

^ Cf. As You Like It, iv. i. 22 seq. (Rosalind loq.), ' Farewell, Monsielffi 
Traveller : look you lisp and wear strange suits ; disable all the benefits 
of your own country ; be out of love with your nativity and almost cliide 
God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think 
you have swam in a gondola.' 


tine by 'ship' from Verona to Milan ('Two Gent.' i. 
i. 71). But Prospero's embarkation in 'The Tempest' 
on an ocean ship at the gates of Milan (i. ii. 129-144) 
renders it difficult to assume that the dramatist gathered 
his Italian knowledge from personal observation.^ 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. 
^ . The publisher Chettle wrote in 1592 that Shakespeare 
was 'exelent in the quaUtie^ he professes,' and the old 
actor William Beeston asserted in the next century that 
Shakespeare 'did act exceedingly well." But the rSles 
in which he distinguished himself are imper- gjjake- 
fectly recorded. Few surviving documents speare's 
refer specifically to performances by him. At '^^'"" 
Christmas 1594 he joined the popular actors WiUiam 
Kemp, the chief comedian of the day, who had lately 
created Peter in 'Romeo and Juliet,' and Richard Bur- 
bage, the greatest tragic actor, who had lately created 
Richard III, in ' two several comedies or interludes ' which 
were acted on St. Stephen's Day and on Innocents' Day 
(December 26 and 28) at Greenwich Palace before the 
Queen. The three players received in accordance with 
the accepted tariff ' xiij'fo'. vjs. wiiid. and by waye of her 
Majesties reward vjfo'. xiiJ5. mjd. in all xx/i.' ^ Neither , 
plays nor parts are mentioned. .^ 

^ Cf. Elze, Essays, 1874, pp. 254 seq. Dr. Gregor Sarrazin in a series 
of well-informed papers generally entitled Neue italienische Skizzen zu 
Shakespeare (in the Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 189s, 1900, 1903, 1906), argues 
in favour of Shakespeare's personal experience of Italian travel, and his 
view is ably supported by Sir Edward Sullivan in ' Shakespeare and the 
Waterways of North Italy' in Nineteenth Century, 1908, ii. 215 seq. But 
the absence of any direct confirmation of an Italian visit leaves Dr. 
Sarrazin's and Sir Edward's arguments very shadowy. 

2 'Quality' in Elizabethan English was the technical term for the 
actor's 'profession.' 

' Aubrey's Lives, ed. Andrew Clark, ii. 226. 

* The entry figures in the Accounts of the Treasurer of the Royal 
Chamber (Pipe Office Declared Accounts, vol. 542, fol. 207b, Public 
Record Office) which are the chief available records of the acting com- 
panies' performances at Court. Mention is sometimes made of the 
plays produced, but the parts assumed by professional actors at Court 


Shakespeare's name stands first on the list of those 
who took part in 1598 in the original production by the 
Lord Chamberlain's servants, apparently ■ at 'The Cur- 
tain,' of Ben Jonson's earUest and best-known comedy 
'Every Man in his Humour.' Five years later, in 1603, 
a second play by Ben Jonson, his tragedy of ' Sejanus,' 
was first produced at the 'Globe' by Shakespeare's com- 
pany, then known as the King's servants. Shakespeare 
was again one of the interpreters. In the original cast 
of this play the actor's names are arranged in two 
columns, and Shakespeare's name heads the second 
column, standing parallel with Burbage's, which heads 
the first.! The Hsts of actors in Ben Jonson's plays fail 
to state the character allotted to each actor ; but it is 
reasonably claimed that in 'Every Man in his Hiunour' 
Shakespeare filled the role of 'Kno'well an old gentle-, 
man.' ^ John Davies of Hereford noted that he 'played 
some kingly parts in sport.' ' One of Shakespeare's 
younger brothers, presumably 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, and 
with faiHng memory, he recalled his brother's perform- 
ance of Adam in 'As You Like It' when the dramatist 
'wore a long beard.' ^ Rowe, Shakespeare's first biog- 
rapher, identified only one of Shakespeare's parts — 
'the Ghost in his own "Hamlet."' He declared his 
assumption of that character to be 'the top of his per- 
formance.' Until the close of Shakespeare's career his 

are never stated. It is very rare, as in the present instance, to find the 
actors in the royal presence noticed individually. No name is usually 
found save that of the manager or assistant-manager to whom the royal 
fee was paid. (Cf. HaUiwell-Phillipps, i. 121 ; . Mrs. Stopes in Jahrbuch 
der deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, 1896, xxxii. 182 seq.) 

1 The date of the first performance with the lists of the original actors 
of Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour and of his Sejanus is given in 
Jonson's works, 1616, fol. The first quarto editions of Every Man in 
his Humour (1S98) and of Sejanus (1605) omit these particulars. 

^ In the first edition Jonson gave his characters Italian names and 
old Kno'well was there called Lorenzo di Pazzi senior. 

' Scourge of Polly, 1610, epigr. 159. , 

' j3.mesYeoviel\'sMemoirofWiUiamOldys{i862),p./i6:ci.p.i^6oinfra, 


company was frequently summoned to act at Court, and 
it is clear that he regularly accompanied them. The 
plays which he and his colleagues produced before his 
spvereign in his Ufetime included his own pieces 'Love's 
Labour's Lost,' 'The Comedy of Errors,' 'The Merchant 
of Venice,' ' i Henry IV,' 'The Merry Wives of Windsor,' 
'Henry V,' 'Much Ado about Nothing,' 'Othello,' 
'Measure for Measure,' 'King Lear,' 'A Winter's Tale,' 
and 'The Tempest.' It may be presumed that in all 
these dramas some role was allotted him. In the 1623 
foHo 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 actors' calUng is commonly inferred from the 
'Sonnets.' There he reproaches himself with becoming 
'a motley to the view' (ex. .2), and chides fortune for 
having provided for his livelihood nothing better than 
pubUc means that public maimers breed, whence his 
name received a brand (cxi. 4-5) . If such regrets are to 
be literally or personally interpreted, they only reflected 
an evanescent mood. His interest m whatever touched 
the efficiency of his profession was permanently active. 
All the technicaHties of the theatre were famihar to him.' 
He was a keen critic of actors' elocution, and in 'Ham- 
let ' shrewdly denounced their common failings, while he 
clearly and hopefully pointed out the road to improve- 
ment. As a shareholder in the two chief playhouses of 
his time,^ he long studied at close quarters the practical 
organisation of theatrical effort. His highest ambitions 
lay, it is true, elsewhere than in acting or theatrical 
management, and at an early period of his theatrical 
career he undertook, with triumphant success, the labours 
of a playwright. It was in dramatic poetry that his 
genius found its goal. But he pursued the profession of 
an actor and fulfilled all the obligations of a theatrical 
shareholder loyally and uninterruptedly until very near 
the date of his death. 

1 See pp. 300 seq. infra. 



The English drama as an artistic or poetic branch of 
literature developed with magical rapidity. It had not 
Pre-Eliza- P^ssed the Stage of infancy when Shakespeare 
bethan left Stratford-on-Avon for London, and within 
drama. three dccades the unmatched strength of its 
maturity was spent. The Middle Ages were fertile 
in 'miracles' and 'mysteries' which were embryonic 
dramatisations of the Scriptural narrative or legends of 
Saints. Late in the fifteenth and early in the sixteenth 
century there flourished 'morah ties' or moral plays 
where allegorical figures interpreted more or less dra- 
matically the significance of virtues or vices. But these 
rujlimentary efforts lacked the sustained plot, the por- 
trayal of character, the distinctive expression and the 
other genuine elements of dramatic art. No very ma- 
terial change was effected in the middle of the sixteenth 
century by the current vogue of the interlude — an off- 
shoot of the moraHty. There the allegorical machinery 
of the morahty was superseded by meagre sketches of 
men and women, presenting in a crude dramatic fashion 
and without the figurative intention of the morahty a 
more or less farcical anecdote of social life. The drama 
to which Shakespeare devoted his genius owed no sub- 
stantial debt to any of these dramatic experiments, and 
all were nearing extinction when he came of age. Such 
opportunities as he enjoyed of observing them in boy- 
hood left small impression on his dramatic work.^ 

* Miracle and mystery plays were occasionally performed in provincial 
places till the close of the sixteenth century. The Warwickshire town 



Although in its development Ehzabethan drama as- 
similated an abundance of the national spirit, it can claim 
no strictly English parentage. It traces its 
origin to the regular tragedy and comedy of rf^Eiba^ 
classical invention which flourished at Athens ^ethan 
and bred imitation at Rome. .Elizabethan 
drama openly acknowledged its descent from Plautus 
and Seneca, types respectively of dramatic levity and 
dramatic seriousness, to which, according to Polonius, 
all drama, as he knew it, finally conformed.^ An Eng- 
lish adaptation of a comedy by Plautus and an EngUsh 
tragedy on the Senecan model begot the Enghsh strain 
of drama which Shakespeare glorified. The schoolmaster 
Nicholas Udall's farcical 'Ralph Roister Bolster' (1540), 
a free English version of the Plautine comedy of 'Miles 
Gloriosus,' and the first attempt of two young barristers, 
Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton, to give Senecan 
tragedy an English dress in their play of 'Gorboduc' 
(1561) are the starting-points of dramatic art in this 
country. The primal Enghsh comedy, which was in 
doggerel rhyme, was acted at Eton College, and the 
primal English tragedy, which was in blank verse, was 
produced in the Hall of the Middle Temple. It was in 
cultured circles that the new and fruitful dramatic move- 
ment drew its first breath. 

In the immediate succession of Elizabethan drama the 
foreign mould remained undisguised. During 1566 the 
examples set by 'Ralph Roister Bolster' and 'Gorboduc' 
were followed in a second comedy and a second tragedy, 

of Coventry remained an active centre for this shape of dramatic energy 
until about 1575. At York, at Newcastle, at Chester, at Beverley, 
the representation of 'miracles' or 'mysteries' continued some years 
longer (E. K. Chambers, Medieval Stage; Pollard, English Miracle Plays, 
1909 ed., p. lix). But the sacred drama, in spite of some endeavours to 
continue its life, was reckoned by the Elizabethans a relic of the past. 
The morality play with its ethical scheme of personification, and the 
'interlude' with its crude farcical situations, were of later birth than 
the miracle or mystery, and although they were shorter-lived, absorbed 
much literary industry through the first stages of Shakespeare's career. 
* Hamlet, n. ii. 395-6. 


both from the pen of George Gascoigne, who, after edu- 
cation at Cambridge, became a member of parliament' 
and subsequently engaged in mihtary service abroad; 
both pieces were produced in the Hall of Gray's Inn.- 
Gascoigne's comedy, the 'Supposes,' which was in prose 
and developed a slender romantic intrigue, was a trans- 
lation from the ItaUan of Ariosto, whose dramatic work 
was itself of classical inspiration. Gascoigne's tragedy, 
of 'Jocasta,' which Hke 'Gorboduc' was in Wank verse, 
betrayed more directly its classical affinities. It was 
an adaptation from the 'Phoenissae' of Euripides, and 
was scarcely the less faithful to its statuesque ori^nal 
because the English adapter depended on an intermediary 
Italian version by the well-known Lodovico Dolce. 

Subsequent dramatic experiments in England showed 
impatience of classical models in spite of the parental 
debt. The history of the nascent Elizabethan drama 
indeed shows the rapid elimination or drastic modification 
of many of the classical elements and their supersessioii 
by unprecedented features making for Ufe and liberty 
in obedience to national sentiment. The fetters of the 
classical laws of unity — the triple unity of action, place, 
and time — were soon loosened or abandoned. The clas- 
sical chorus was discarded or was reduced to the slim 
proportions of a prologue or epilogue. Monologue was 
driven from its post of vantage. The violent action, 
which was relegated by classical drama to the descrip- 
tive speeches of messengers, was now first physically pre- 
sented on the stage. There was a fusing of comedy and 
tragedy — the two main branches of drama which, accord- 
ing to classical critics, were mutually exclusive. A new 
element of romance or sentiment was admitted into both 
branches and there ultimately emerged a new middle 
type of romantic drama. In all Ehzabethan drama, 
save a sparse and fastidious fragment which sought the 
select suffrages of classical scholars, the divergences 
between classical and Enghsh methods grew very wide. 
But the literary traces of a classical origin were never 


wholly obliterated at any stage in the growth of the 
Elizabethan theatre. 

During Shakespeare's youth literary drama in England 
was struggling to rid itself of classical restraint, but it gave 
in the process no promise of the harvest which Amorphous 
his genius was to reap. During the first deveiop- 
eighteen years of Shakespeare's hfe (1564- ™^'^- 
1582) there was no want of workers in drama of the new 
pattern. But their hterary powers were modest, and 
they obeyed the call of an uncultured pubHc taste. They 
suffered coarse buffooneries and blood-curdling sensa- 
tions to deform the classical prinpiples which gave them 
their cue. The audience not merely applauded tragedy 
of blood or comedy or horseplay, but they encouraged 
the incongruous combination in one piece of the two 
kinds of crudity. Sir Phihp Sidney accused the first 
Elizabethan dramatists of Unking hornpipes with fu- 
nerals. Even Gascoigne yielded to the temptation of 
concocting a 'tragicall comedie.' Shakespeare subse- 
quently flung scorn on the unregenerate predilection 
for 'very tragical mirth.' ^ Yet the primordial incoher- 
ence did not deter him from yoking together comedy 
and tragedy within the confines of a single play. But he, 
more fortunate than his tutors, managed, while he defied 
classical law, to reconcile the revolutionary poUcy with 
the essential conditions of dramatic art. 

^ Theseus, when he reads the title of Bottom's'play : 

A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus 
And his love Thisbe: very tragical mirth. 

adds the comment 

Merry and tragical ! tedious and brief ! 

That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow. 

How shaJl we find the concord of this discord? 

Mids. Night's Dream, v. i. S7-6o- 

A typical early tragicomedy by Thomas Preston was entitled 'A 
lamentable tragedy, mixed full of pleasant mirth conteyning the Life 
of Cambises Kmg of Persia' (1569). Falstaflf, when seeking to express 
himself grandiloquently, refers mockingly to the hero of this piece.: 
'I must speak it in passion and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein,' 
I Henry IV, u. iv. 370. 


Another method of broadening the bases of drama was 
essayed in this early epoch, ffistory was enhsted in 
the service of the theatre. There, too, the first results 
were halting. The ' chronicle plays ' were mere pageants 
or processions of ill-connected episodes of history in 
Chronicle which drums and trumpets and the clatter of 
Plays. swords and cannon largely did duty for dra- 
matic speech or action. Here again Shakespeare ac- 
cepted new methods and proved by- his example how 
genius might evoke order out of disorder and supplant 
violence by power. The EngHsh stage of Shakespeare's 
boyhood knew nothing of poetry, of coherent plot, of 
graphic characterisation, of the obhgation of restraint. 
It was his glory to give such elements of drama an abid- 
ing place of predominance. 

In his early manhood — after 1582 — gleams of re- 
form lightened the dramatic horizon and helped him to 
A period o£ his goal. A period of purgation set in. At 
purgation, length the new forms of drama attracted the 
literary and poetic aspiration of men who had re- 
ceived at the universities sound classical training. 
From 1582 onwards John Lyly, an Oxford graduate, 
was framing fantastic comedies with lyric interludes 
out of stories of the Greek mythology, and his plays, 
which were capably interpreted by boy actors, won the 
special favour of Queen EUzabeth and her Court. Soon 
afterwards George Peele, another Oxford graduate, 
sought among other dramatic endeavours to fashion a 
play to some dramatic purpose out of the historic career 
of Edward I. Robert Greene, a Cambridge gradual 
after an industrious career as a writer of prose romances, 
dramatised a few romantic tales, and he brought literary 
sentiment to qualify the prevaiHng crudity. Thomas 
Kyd, who knew Latin and modern languages, though he 
enjoyed no academic training, shghtly tempered the 
blood-curdhng incident of tragedy by interpolating ro- 
mance, but he owed his vast popularity to extravagantly 
sensational situations and 'the swelling bombast of 


bragging blank verse.' Finally another graduate of 
Cambridge, Christopher Marlowe, signally challenged 
the faltering standard of popular tragedy, and in his 
stirring drama of ' Tamberlaine ' (1588) first proved be- 
yond question that the English language was capable 
of genuine tragic elevation. 

It was when the first reformers of the crude infant 
drama, Lyly, Greene, Peele, Kyd, and Marlowe, were 
busy with their experiments that Shakespeare shake- 
joined the ranks of EngHsh dramatists. As he speare's 
set out on his road he profited by the lessons fe1iow° 
which these men were teaching. Kyd and workers. 
Greene left more or less definite impression on all Shake- 
speare's early efforts. But Lyly in comedy and Marlowe 
in tragedy may be reckoned the masters to whom he 
stood on the threshold of his career in the relation of 
disciple. With Marlowe there is evidence that he was 
for a brief season a working partner. 

Shakespeare shared with other men of genius that 
receptivity of mind which impelled them to assimilate 
much of the intellectual energy of their contemporaries.^ 
It was not only from the current drama of his youth 
that his mind sought some of its sustenance. The poetic 
fertility of his epoch outside the drama is barely rivalled 
in literary history, and thence he caught abundant 
suggestion. The lyric and narrative verse of Thomas 
Watson, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Sir Philip 
Sidney, and Thomas Lodge, were among the rills which 
fed the mighty river of his lyric invention. But in all 
directions he rapidly bettered the instruction of fellow- 
workers. Much of their work was unvalued ore, which 
he absorbed and transmuted into gold in the process. 

' Ruskin forcibly defines the receptivity of genius in the following 
sentences: 'The greatest is he who has been oftenest aided; and, if 
the attainments of all human minds could be traced to their real sources, 
it would be found that the world had been laid most under contribution 
by the men of most original power, and that every day of their existence 
deepened their debt to their race, while it enlarged their gifts to it. ' — 
Modern Painters, iii. 362 (Appendix). 


By the magic of his genius English drama was finally 
lifted to heights above the reach of any forerunner or 

No. Elizabethan actor achieved as a dramatist a posi- 
tion which was comparable with Shakespeare's. But in 
The actor his practice of combining the work of a play- 
dramatist. Wright with the functions of a player, and 
later of a theatrical shareholder, there was noth- 
ing uncommon. The occupation of dramatist grew 
slowly into a professional calhng. The development 
was a natural sequel of the organisation of actors on 
professional Hues. To each licensed company there, 
came to be attached two or three dramatic writers whose 
services often, but not invariably, were exclusively 
engaged. In many instances an acting member of 
the corporation undertook to satisfy a part, at any rate, 
of his colleagues' dramatic needs. George Peele, who 
was busy in the field of drama before Shakespeare en- 
tered it, was faithful to the double role of actor and 
dramatist through the greater part of his career. The 
first association of the dramatist Ben Jonson with the 
theatre was in an actor's capacity. Probably the most 
instructive parallel that could be drawn between the 
experiences of Shakespeare and those of a contemporary 
is offered by the biography of Thomas Heywqod, the 
most voluminous playwright of the era, whom Charles 
Lamb generously dubbed 'a sort of prose Shakespeare.' 
There is ample evidence of the two men's personal ac- 
quaintance. For many years before 1600 He3nvood 
served the Admiral's company as both actor and drama- 
tist. In 1600 he transferred himself to the Earl of 
Worcester's company, which on James I's accession was 
taken into the patronage of the royal consort Queen Anne 
of Denmark. Until her death in 1619 he worked in- 
defatigably in that company's interest. He ultimately 
claimed to have had a hand in the writing of more than 
220 plays, although his literary labours were by no 
means confined to drama. In his elaborate 'Apology 


for Actors' (1612) he professed pride in his actor's 
vocation, from which, despite his other employments, 
he never dissociated himself.^ 

In all external regards Shakespeare's experience can 
be matched by that of his comrades. The outward 
features of his career as dramatist, no less than as actor, 
were cast in the current mould. In his prohfic industry, 
in his habit of seeking his fable in pre-existing literature, 
in his co-operation with other pens, in his avowals of 
deference to popular taste, he faithfully followed the 
common paths. It was solely in the supreme quality of 
his poetic and dramatic achievement that he parted com- 
pany with his fellows. 

The whole of Shakespeare's dramatic work was proba- 
bly begun and ended within two decades (1591-1611) 
between his twenty-seventh and forty-seventh 
year. If the works traditionally assigned to sp^are's 
him include some contributions from other dramatic 
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 a yearly average of two 

^ See pp. 112 n. 3, 269, 6gs. Numerous other instances could be 
given of the pursuit by men of letters of the theatrical profession. When 
Shak'espeare first reached London, Robert Wilson was at once a leading 
dramatist and a leading actor. (See p. 134 n. i.) The poet Michael 
Drayton devoted much time to drama and was a leading shareholder 
in the Whitefriars theatre and in that capacity was involved in much 
htigation {New Shak. Soc. Trans. i?>?ij-p2, pt. iii. pp. 269 seq.). William 
Rowley, an industrious playwright with whom there is reason for be- 
lieving that Shakespeare collaborated in the romantic drania of Pericles, 
long pursued simultan,eously the histrionic and dramatic vocations. 
The most popular impersonator of youthful rSles in Shakespeare's day, 
Nathaniel Field, made almost equal reputation in the two crafts ; while 
another boy actor, William Barkstead, co-operated in drama with 
John Marston and wrote narrative poems in the manner of Shakespeare, 
on whose 'art and wit' he bestowed a poetic crown of laurel. Cf. Bark- 
stead's Mirrha, the Mother of Adonis (1607) : 

His song was worthie merrit {Shakespeare hee) : 
Lawrell is due to him, his art and wit 
Hath purchas'd it. 


plays, nearly all of which belong to the supreme rank of 
Uterature. Three volumes of poems must be added to 
the total. Ben Jonson was often told by the playfrs 
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 when it is considered how rapidly his 
numerous compositions came from his pen, and in the 
aggregate they are unimportant. 

By borrowing his plots in conformity with the general 
custom he to some extent economised his energy. The 
Hisbor- range of literature which he studied in his 
rowed Search for tales whereon to build his dramas 
^°'^' was wide. He consulted not merely chronicles' 

of English history (chiefly Ralph HoHnshed's) on which' 
he based his English historical plays, but he was well 
read in the romances of Italy (mainly in French or Eng- 
lish translations), in the biographies of Plutarch, and in 
the romances and plays of English contemporaries. His 
Roman plays of ' JuUus Caesar,' 'Antony and Cleopatra,' 
and 'Coriolanus' closely follow the narratives of the 
Greek biographer in the masculine Enghsh rendering of 
Sir Thomas North. Romances by his contemporaries, 
Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene, suggested the fables 
respectively of 'As You Like It' and 'A Winter's Tale.' 
'All's Well that Ends Well' and 'Cymbehne' largely 
rest on foundations laid by Boccaccio in the fourteenth 
century. Novels by the sixteenth-century Italian, 
Bandello, are the liltimate sources of the stories of 
' Romeo and Juliet,' 'Much Ado about Nothing,' and 
'Twelfth Night.' The tales of 'Othello' and 'Measure 
for Measure' are traceable to an Italian novehst of his 
own era, Giraldi Cinthio. Belleforest's 'Histoires 
Tragiques,' a popular collection of French versions of 
the ItaUan romances of Bandello, was often in Shake- 
speare's hands. In treating of King John, Henry IV, 


Henry V, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, King 
Lear, and Hamlet, he worked over ground which fellow- 
dramatists had first fertilised. Most of the fables which 
he borrowed he transformed, and it was not probably 
with any conscious object of conserving his strength 
that he systematically levied loans on popular current 
literature. In his untiring assimilation of others' la- 
bours he betrayed something of the practical tempera- 
ment which is traceable in the conduct of the affairs of 
his later hfe. It was doubtless with the calculated aim 
of ministering to the public taste that he unceasingly 
adapted, as his genius dictated, themes which had al- 
ready, in the hands of inferior writers «r dramatists, 
proved capable of arresting public attention. 

The professional plajrwrights sold their plays outright 
to the acting companies with which they were associated, 
and they retained no legal interest in them j^^ 
after the manuscript had passed into the revision 
hands of the theatrical manager.^ It was ° ^^^°" 
not unusual for the manager to invite extensive revision 
of a play at the hands of others than its author before it 
was produced on the stage, and again whenever it was 
revived. Shakespeare gained much early experience as 
a dramatist by revising or rewriting behind the scenes , 
plays that had become the property of his manager. 
It is possible that some of his labours in this direction 
remain unidentified. In a few cases his alterations 
were possibly sUght, 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 known labours in that capacity are entitled to 
rank among original compositions. 

' One of the many crimes laid to the charge of the dramatist Robert 
Greene was that of fraudulently disposing of the same play to two 
companies. 'Ask the Queen's players,' his accuser bade him in Cuth- 
bert Cony-Catcher's Defence of Cony-Catching, 1592, 'if you sold them 
not Orlando Purioso for twenty nobles [i.e. about ^l.], and when they 
were in the country sold the same play to the Lord Admiral's men for 
as many more.' 


The determination of the exact order in which Shake- 
speare's plays were written depends largely on con- 
Chronoiogy jecture. External evidence is accessible in 
of the only a few cases, and, although always worthy 
plays. q£ ^jjg utmost consideration, is not invariably 
conclusive. The date of pubHcation rarely indicates 
the date of composition. Only sixteen of the thirty- 
seven plays commonly assigned to Shakespeare were, 
pubHshed in his hfetime, and it is questionable whether 
any were pubHshed 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 
its simplicity; as his powers gradually matured he de- 
picted hf e in its most complex involutions, and portrayed 
with masterly insight the subtle gradations of hutaan 
sentiment and the mysterious workings of human- pas- 
sion. Comedy and tragedy are gradually blended; 

^ The playhouse authorities deprecated the publishing of plays in 
the belief that their dissemination in print was injurious to the receipts 
of the theatre, and Shakespeare would seem to have had no direct re- 
sponsibility for the publication of his plays. Professional opinion con- 
demned such playwrights as sought 'a double sale of their labours, first 
to the stage and after to the press' (Hey wood's Rape of Lucrece, 1638. 
Address to Reader). A very small proportion of plays acted in tiie 
reigns of Elizabeth and James I — some 600 out of a total of 3000 — 
consequently reached the printing press, and the bulk of them is now 
lost. In 1633 Hey wood wrote of 'some actors who think it against 
their peculiar profit to have them [i.e. plays] come into print.' (English 
Traveller pref.). But, in the absence of any law of copyright, publidiers 
often contrived to defy the wishes of the author or owner of manuscripts. 
The poet and satirist George Wither, in his The Scholler's Purgatory 
[1625], which is the classical indictment of publishers of ShakespeSe's 
day, charged them with habitually taking 'uppon them to publish 
bookes contrived altered and mangled at their owne pleasures withoul 
consent of the writers . . . and all for their owne private lucre.' Many 
copies of a popular play were made for the actors or their patrons, and 
if one of these copies chanced to fall into a publisher's hands, it was 
issued without any endeavour to obtain either author's or manager's 
sanction. It was no uncommon practice, moreover, for a visitor to tiie 
theatre to take down a popular piece surreptitiously in shorthand (see 
p. 1X2 «. 2 infra), and to dispose to a publisher of his unauthorised tran- 
script, which was usually confused and only partially coherent. For 
fuller discussion of the conditions in which Shakespeare's plays saw the 
light see bibliography, pp. 545 seq. infra. 


and his work finally developed a pathos such as could 
only come of ripe experience. Similarly the metre 
undergoes emancipation from the hampering restraints 
of fijced rule and becomes flexible enough to Metrical 
respond to every phase of human feeHng. In t^^'^- 
the blank verse of the early plays a pause is strictly ob- 
served at the close of almost every Une, and rhyming 
couplets are frequent. . Gradually the poet overrides such 
artificial restrictions; rhyme largely disappears; the pause 
is varied indefinitely ; iambic feet are replaced by trochees ; 
lines occasionally lack the orthodox number of feet ; extra 
syllables are, contrary to strict metrical law, introduced at 
the end of fines, and at times in the middle ; the last word 
of the fine is often a weak and unemphatic conjunction or 
preposition.^ In his early work Shakespeare was chary 
of prose, and employed verse in scenes to The use 
which prose was better adapted. As his ofprose. 
experience grew he invariably clothed in prose the voice 
of broad humour or low comedy, the speech of mobs, 
clowns and fools, and the famifiar and intimate con- 
versation of women.^ To the latest plays fantastic 

' W. S.' Walker in his Shakespeare's Versification, 1854, and Charles 
Bathurst in his Difference in Shakespeare's Versification at Different 
Periods of his Life, 1857, were the first to point out the general facts. 
Br. Ingram's paper on 'The Weak Endings' in New Shakspere Society's 
Transactions (1874), vol. i. is of great value. Mr. Fleay's metrical tables, 
which first appeared in the same Society's Transactions (1874), and were 
re-issued by Dr. FurnivaU in a somewhat revised form in his introduction 
to his Leopold Shakspere and elsewhere, give all the information possible. 

* In Italy prose was the generally accepted instrument of the comedy 
of the Renaissance from an early period of the sixteenth century. This 
usage soon spread to France and somewhat later grew familiar in Eliza- 
bethan England. In 1566 Gascoigne rendered into English prose, Gli 
Suppositi, Ariosto's Italian prose comedy, and most of Lyly's 'Court 
Comedies' were wholly in prose. In his first experiment in comedy, 
Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare, apparently under the influence of 
foreign example, makes a liberal employment of prose, more than a 
third of the whole eschews verse. But in all other plays of early date 
Shakespeare uses prose sparingly ; in two pieces, Richard II and King 
John, he avoids it_ altogether. In his mature work he first uses it on a 
large scale in the two parts of Henry IV, and it abounds in Henry V 
and in the three romantic comedies Twelfth Night, _ As You Like It, and 
Much Ado. The Merry Wives is almost entirely in prose, and there is 
a substantial amount in Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida. 


and punning conceits which aboimd in early work are 
for the most denied admission. But, while Shake- 
speare's achievement from the beginning to the end of 
Ins career offers clearer evidence than that of any other 
writer of genius of the steady and orderly growth of 
his poetic faculty, some allowance must be made for 
ebb and flow in the current of his 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 si^- 
gested receives at aU points universal assent. 

There is no external evidence to prove that any piece 
in which Shakespeare had a hand was produced before 
'Love's -t^^ spring of 1592. No play by him was 
Labour's published before 1597, and none bore his 

^'' name on the title-page tiU 1598. But his 

first essays have been with confidence allotted to 1591. 
To 'Love's Labour's Lost' may reasonably be assigned 
priority in point of time of all Shakespeare's dramatit 
productions. In 1598 an amorous poet, writing in a 
melancholy mood, recorded a performance of the piece 
which he had witnessed long before.^ Liternal evidence, 

In the great tragedies Julius Casar, AnUmy and Cleopatra, Macbeth and 
Othello, there is comparatively little prose. In Hamlet, King Lear, 
Coriolanus, and Winter's Tale, the ratio of prose to verse again mounts 
high, but it falls perceptibly in Cymbdine and The Tempest. In the 
aggregate Shakespeare's prose writing is of substantial amount; fuDy 
a fourth part of his extant work takes that shape. 

* Loves Labor Lost, I once did see a Play 
Ydeped so, so called to my paine . . . 
To every one (saue me) twas Comicall, 
Whilst Tragick like to me it did befalL 
Each Actor plaid in cunning wise his part. 
But chiefly Those entrapt in Cupids snare. £L 

Rfobert] T[ofte], AJba, 1598 (in Grosart's reprint 1880, p. 105). M 


which alone offers any precise clue, proves that it was 
an early effort. But the general treatment suggests 
that the author had already lived long enough in London 
to profit by study of a current inode of Ught comedy 
which was winning a fashionable vogue, while much of 
the subjoc'l-matter proves that he had already enjoyed 
extended opportunities of surveying London life and 
manners, such as wore hardly open to him in the very 
first years of his settlement in the metropolis. 'Love's 
Labpur's Lost' embodies keen observation of contem- 
porary 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 often charged with 
poetic fervour. Its slender plot stands almost alone 
among Shakespeare's plots in that it is not known to 
have been borrowed, and it stands quite alone in its 
sustained travesty of familiar traits and incidents of cur- 
rent social and political life. The names of the chief 
characters are drawn from 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 EUza- 

' The hero is the King of Navarre, in whose dominions the scene is 
laid. The two chief lords in attendance on him in the play, Biron and 
Longaville, bear the actual namea of the two most strenuous supporters 
of the real King of Navarre (Biron's later career subsequently formed 
the subject of a double tragedy by Chapman, TAe Conspiracie and 
Tragedie of Charles Duke of Byron, Marshall of France, which was pro- 
duced in 1608). The name of tlie Lord Dumain in Love's Labour's Lost 
is a common anglicised version of that Due de Maine or Mayenne whose 
name was so frequently mentioned in popular accounts of French affairs 
in connexion with Navarre's movements that Shakespeare was led to 
number him also among his supporters. Mothe or La Mothe, the name 
of the pretty, ingenious page, was that of a French ambassador who 
was long popular in London; and, though he left England in 1583, 
he lived in the memory of playgoers and playwrights long after Love s 
Labour's Lost was written. In Chapman's An fhtmourous Day's Mirth, 
15OQ, M. Le Mot, a sprightly courtier in attendance on the King of 
France, is drawn from the some original, and his name, as in Shake- 
speare's play, suggests much punning on the word 'mote,' As late as 


beth's government to negotiate with the Tsar of Russia; 
the inefficiency of rural constables and the pedantry of 
village schoolmasters and curates are all satirised with 
good humour. Holofernes, Shakespeare's Latinising 
pedagogue, is nearly akin to a stock character of the 
sixteenth-century comedy of France and Italy which 
was just obtaining an Enghsh vogue. 

In 'Love's Labour's Lost,' moreover, Shakespeare 
assimilates some new notes which EUzabethan comedy 
owed to the ingenuity of John Lyly, an active map of 
letters during most of Shakespeare's life. Lyly secured 
his first fame as early as 1580 by the pubUcation of his 
didactic romance of 'Euphues,' which brought into 
fashion a mannered prose of strained antitheses and 
affected conceits.^ But hardly less originaHty was be- 

1602 Middleton, in his Blurt, Master Constable, act ii-. scene ii. line 215, 

wrote : 

Ho God ! Ho God ! thus did I revel it 
When Monsieur Motte lay here ambassador. 

Armado, 'the fantastical Spaniard' who haunts Navarre's Court, and 
is dubbed by another courtier 'a phantasm, a Monarcho,' is a caricature 
of a half-crazed Spaniard known as 'fantastical Monarcho' who for 
many years hung about Elizabeth's Court, and was under the delusion 
that he owned the ships arriving in the port of London. On his death 
Thomas Churchyard wrote a poem called Fantastkall Monarcho's 
Epitaph, and mention is made of him in Reginald Scott's Discoverie of 
Witchcraft, 1584, p. 54. The name Armado was doubtless suggested 
by the expeditioii of 1588. Braggardino in Chaprnan's Blind Beggar of 
Alexandria, 1598, is drawn on the same lines. The scene {Love's Labour's 
Lost, V. ii. 158 sqq.) in which the princess's lovers press their suit in the 
disguise of Russians follows a description of the reception by ladies of 
Elizabeth's Court in 1584 of Russian ambassadors who came to London 
to seek a wife among the ladies of the English nobility for the Tsar 
(cf. Horsey's Travels, ed. E. A. Bond, Hakluyt Soc). For further in- 
dications of topics of the day treated in the play, see 'A New Study of 
"Love's Labour's Lost,"' by the present writer, in Gent. Mag. Oct. 
1880; and Transactions of the New Shakspere Society, pt. iii. p. 80*. 
The attempt to detect in the schoolmaster Holofernes a caricature of the 
Italian teacher and lexicographer, John Florio, seems unjustified (see 
p. iss n. 2). 

' In later life Shakespeare, in Hamlet, borrows from Lyly's Euphues 
Polonius's advice to Laertes; but, however he may have regarded the 
moral sentiment of that didactic romance, he had no respect for tie 
afiectations of its prose style, which he ridiculed in a familiar passage in 
I Henry IV, 11. iv. 445 : Tor though the camomile, tie more it is trodden 


trayed, by the writer in a series of eight comedies which 
jcame from his pen between 1580 and 1592, and were 
enthusiastically welcomed at Queen Elizabeth's Court, 
where they were rendered by the boy companies under 
the royal patronage.^ Lyly adapted to the stage themes 
of Greek mythology from the pages of Lucian, Apuleius, 
or Ovid, and he mingled with his classical fables scenes 
of low comedy which smacks of Plautus. The lan- 
guage is usually euphuistic. In only one play, 'The 
Woman in the Moone,' does he attempt blank verse; 
elsewhere his dramatic vehicle is exclusively prose. 
The most notable characteristics of Lyly's dramatic 
work are brisk artificial dialogues which glow with 
repartee and word-play, and musically turned lyrics. 
Such features were directly reflected in Shakespeare's 
first essay in comedy. Many scenes and characters in 
'Love's Labour's Lost' were obviously inspired by 
Lyly. Sir Tophas, 'a foolish braggart' in Lyly's play of 
'Endimion,' was the father of Shakespeare's character 
of Armado, while Armado's pagcrboy, Moth, is as fihally 
related to Sir Tophas's page-boy, Epiton. The verbal 
encounters of Sir Tophas and Epiton in Lyly's 'En- 
dimion' practically reappear in the dialogues of 
Armado and Moth in Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's 
Lost.' Probably it was in conformity with Lyly's 
practice that Shakespeare denied the ornament of verse 
to fuUy a third part of 'Love's Labour's Lost,' while 
in introducing lyrics into his play Shakespeare again 
accepted Lyly's guidance. Shakespeare had at com- 
mand from his early days a fuUer-blooded humanity 
than that which lay within Lyly's range. But Lyly's 

on, the faster it grows, yet youth the more it is wasted, the sooner it 
wears.' Cf. Lyly's Works, ed. R. W. Bond (1902), i. 164-75. 

1 The titles of Lyly's chief comedies are (with dates of first publica- 
tion) : Alexander and Cumpaspe, 1584 ; 'Sapho and Phao, 1584 ; Endimion, ■ 
1591; Gallathea, 1592; Mydas,iS92; Mother Bombie, 1594; The Woman 
in the Moone (in blank verse), 1597; Love's Metamorphosis, 1601. The 
first six pieces were issued together in 1632 as 'Six Courte Comedies . . .. 
Written by the only rare poet of that time, the wittie, comicall, face- 
tiously quicke and unparalleled John Lilly, Master of Arts.' 


influence long persisted in Shakespearean comedy. It is 
clearly visible in the succeeding plays of 'The Two Gen- 
tlemen of Verona' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' 

Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's Lost' was revised in 
1597, probably for a Christmas performance at Court. 
'A pleasant conceited comedie called Loues labors lost' 
was first published next year ' as it was presented before 
her Highness this last Christmas.' The publisher was 
Cuthbert Burbie, a Hveryman of the Stationers' Company 
with a shop in Cornhill adjoining the Royal Exchange.' 
On the title-page, which described the piece as 'newly 
corrected and augmented,' Shakespeare's name ('By 
W. Shakespere ') first appeared in print as that of author 
of a play. No license for the publication figures in 
the Stationers' Company's Register.^ The manuscript 
which the printer followed seems to have been legibly 
written, but it did not present the author's final correc- 
tions. Here and there the pubHshed text of 'Love's 
Labour's Lost' admits passages in two forms — the 
unrevised original draft and the revised version. The 
copyist failed to delete many umrevised Knes, and his 
neglect, which the press-corrector did not repair, has 
left Shakespeare's first and second thoughts side by 
side. A graphic illustration is thus afforded of the 
flowing current of Shakespeare's art.' 

Less gaiety characterised another comedy of the same 
date: 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona,' for the most 
'Two P^'^t ^ lyrical romance of love and friendship, 

Gentlemen reflects Something of Lyly's influence in both 
of Verona, j^.^ ggntimental and its comic vein, but the 
construction echoes more distinctly notes coming from 

' The printer was William White, of Cow Lane, near the Holbom 

^ Lme's Labour's Lost was first mentioned in the Stationers' Register 
on Jan. 22, 1606-7, when the publisher Burbie transferred his right in 
the piece to Nicholas Ling, who made the title over to another stationer 
John Smethwick oh Nov. 19, 1607. No quarto of the play was published 
by Smethwick till 1631. 

'Cf. Love's Labour's Lost, iv. iii. U. 299-301 and 320-333; ib. U. 
302-304 and 350-353; V. ii. 11. 827-832 and 847-881. 


the South of Europe — from Italy and Spain. The 
perplexed fortunes of the two pairs of youthful lovers 
and the masculine disguise of one of the heroines are 
reminiscent of Italian or Spanish ingenuity. Shake- 
speare "had clearly studied ' The pleasaunt- and fine con- 
ceited Comedie of Two Itahan Gentlemen,' a crude 
comedy of double intrigue penned in undramatic rhjniie, 
which was issued anonymously in London in 1584, and 
was adapted from a somewhat coarse Italian piece of 
European repute.^ The eager pursuit by Shakespeare's 
JuKa in a man's disguise of her wayward lover Proteus 
suggests, at the same time, indebtedness to the Spanish 
story of 'The Shepardess FeHsmena,' who endeavoured 
to conceal her sex in her pursuit of her fickle lover Don 
Felix. The tale of Felismena forms part of the Spanish 
pastoral romance 'Diana,' by George de Montemayor, 
which long enjoyed popularity in England.^ The ' history 
of Felix and Philomena,' a lost piece which was acted at 
Court in 1584, was apparently a first attempt to drama- 
tise Montemayor's story, and it may have given Shake- 
speare one of his cues.^ 

^ Fidele and Portunio, The Two Italian Gentlemen, which was edited 
for the Malone Society by W. W. Greg in 1910. is of uncertain author- 
ship. Collier ascribed it to Anthony Munday, but some passages seem 
to have come from the youthful pen of George Chapman (see England's 
Parnassus, ed. by Charles Crawford, 1913, pp. 517 seq. ; Malone Soc. 
Collections, igog, vol. i. pp. 218 seq.). The Italian original called II 
Fedele was by Luigi Pasqualigo, and was printed at Venice in 1576. A 
French version, Le Piddle, by Pierre de Larivey, a popular French 
dramatist, appeared in 1579, and near the same date a Latin rendering 
was undertaken by the English classicist, Abraham Fraunce. Fraunce's 
work was first printed from the manuscript at Penshurst by Prof. G. C. 
Moore Smith in Bang's Materialien, Band XIV., Louvain, 1906, under 
the title Victoria, the name of the heroine. 

^ No complete English translation of Montemayor's romance was 
published before that of Bartholomew Yonge in 1598, but a manuscript 
version by Thomas Wilson, which was dedicated to Shakespeare's patron, 
the Earl of Southampton, in isg6, possibly circulated earlier (Brit. Mus. 
Addit. MSS. 18638). 

' Some verses from Diana were translated by Sir Philip Sidney and 
were printed with his poems as early as 1591. Other current Italian 
fiction, which also anticipated the masculine disguise of Shakespeare's 
Julia, was likewise accessible in an English garb. The industrious 
soldier-author* Barnabe Riche drew a cognate story ('Apolonius and 


Many of Lyly's idiosyncrasies readily adapted them- ^ 
selves to the treatment of the foreign fable. Trifling and 
irritating conceits abound and tend to an atmosphere of 
artificiahty ; but passages of high poetic spirit are not 
wanting, and the speeches of the clowns, Launce and 
Speed — the precursors of a long Une of whimsical 
serving-men — overflow with a farcical drollery which 
improves on Lyly's verbal smartness. The 'Two 
Gentlemen' was not pubhshed in Shakespeare's life- 
time ; it first appeared in the FoUo of 1623, after having, 
in all probabihty, undergone some revision.^ 

Shakespeare next tried his hand, in the 'Comedy of 
Errors' (commonly known at the time as 'Errors'), at 
'Comedy boisterous farce. The comic gusto is very 
of Errors.' sHghtly rcKeved by romantic or poetic speech, 
but a fine note of sober and restrained comedy is 
struck in the scene where the abbess rebukes the 
shrewish wife Adriana for her persecution of her 
husband (v. i.). 'The Comedy of Errors,' like 'The 
Two Gentlemen,' was first published in 1623. Again, 
too, as in 'Love's Labour's Lost,' allusion was made 
to the civil war in France. France was described as 
'making war against her heir' (iii. ii. 125) — an allusion 
which assigns the composition of the piece to 1591. 
Shakespeare's farce, which is by far the shortest of all 
his dramas, may have been founded on a play, no longer 
extant, called 'The Historic of Error,' which was acted 
in 1576 at Hampton Court. In theme Shakespeare's 
piece resembles the 'Menaschmi' of Plautus, and treats 
of mistakes of identity arising from the likeness of 

Silla') from an Italian source, Giraldi Cinthio's Hecalommithi, is6Si 
pt. I, isth_day,_Novel 8. Riche's story is the second tale in his 'Fare- 
well to Militarie Profession conteining verie pleasaunt discourses fit 
for a peaceable tyme,' 1581. A more famous Italian novelist, Bandello, 
had previously employed the liite theme of a girl in man's disguise to 
more satisfying purpose in his iVoweZ/e (1554; Pt. II. Novel 36). Under 
Bandello's guidance Shakespeare treated the topic again and with finer 
insight in Twelfth Night, his masterpiece of romantic comedy (see pp. 
327-8 infra). 

1 Fleay, Life, pp. 188 seq. 


twin-born children, although Shakespeare adds to 
Plautus's single pair of identical twins a second couple 
of serving men. The scene in Shakespeare's play (act 
in. sc. i.) in which Antipholus of Ephesus is shut out of 
his own house, while his indistinguishable brother is 
entertained at dinner within by his wife who mistakes 
him for her husband, recalls an episode in the 
'Amphitruo' of Plautus. Shakespeare doubtless had di- 
rect recourse to Plautus as well as to the old play. He 
had read the Latin dramatist at school. There is only 
a bare possibiHty that he had an opportunity of reading 
Plautus in English when 'The Comedy of Errors' was 
written in 1591. The earHest translation of the 'Me- 
nffichmi ' was not hcensed for publication before June 10, 
1594, and was not pubhshed until the following year. 
No translation of any other play of Plautus appeared in 
print before. On the other hand, it was stated in the 
preface to this first pubhshed translation of the 
'Menaechmi' that the translator, W. W., doubtless 
WilUam Warner, a veteran of the Ehzabethan world of 
letters, had some time previously 'EngHshed' that and 
■ ' divers ' others of Plautus's comedies, and had circulated 
them in manuscript 'for the use of and deKght of his 
private friends, who, in Plautus's own words, are not 
able to understand them.' 

Each of these three plays — 'Love's Labour's Lost,' 
'The Two Gentlemen of Verona,' and 'The Comedy of 
Errors' — gave promise of a dramatic capacity 'Romeo 
out of the common way; yet none can be andjuUet.' 
with certainty pronounced to be beyond the abihty 
of other men. It was not until he produced 'Romeo 
and Juhet,' his first tragedy, that Shakespeare proved 
himself the possessor of a poetic instinct and a dramatic 
insight of unprecedented quahty. Signs of study of the 
contemporary native drama and of other home-born 
literature are not wanting in this triumph of distinctive 
genius. To Marlowe, Shakespeare's only EngUsh pred- 
ecessor in poetic and passionate tragedy, some rhetori- 


cal circumlocutions and much metrical dexterity are 
undisguised debts. But the pathos which gave 
'Romeo and Juliet' its nobility lay beyond Marlowe's 
dramatic scope or sympathy. Where Shakespeare, in 
his early efforts, manipulated themes of closer affinity 
with those of Marlowe, the influence of the master 
penetrates deeper. In 'Romeo and Juliet' Shakespeare 
turned to rare account a tragic romance of Italian origin, 
which was already popular in English versions, and was 
an accepted theme of drama throughout Western Eu- 
rope.i Arthur Broke, who in 1562 rendered the story 
into English verse from a French rendering of Bandello's 
standard Italian narrative, mentions in his ' Address to 
the Reader' that he had seen 'the same argument lately 
set forth on stage with more commendation' than he 
could 'look for,' but no tangible proof of this statement 
has yet come to light. A second English author, Wil- 
liam Painter, greatly extended the EngUsh vogue of 

* The story, which has been traced back to the Greek romance of 
Anthia and Abrocomas by Xenophon Ephesius, a writer of the second 
century, seems to have been first told in modem Europe about 1470 by 
Masuccio, ' the Neapolitan Boccaccio,' in his Novellino (No. xxxiii. : cf. 
W. G. Waters's translation, ii. iSS-65). It was adapted from Masuccio 
by Luigi da Porto in his novel, La Giulietta, 1535, and by BandeUo in 
his Novelle, 1554, pt. ii. No. ix. Bandello's version became classical; 
it was traiislated into French in the Histoires Tragiques of Frangois de 
BeUeforest (Paris, iSSp) by Pierre Boaistuau de Launay, an occasional 
collaborator with BeUeforest. The English writers Broke and Painter 
are both disciples of Boaistuau. Near the same time that Shakespeare 
was writing Romeo and Jidiet, the Italian story was dramatised, chiefly 
with Bandello's help, by Italian, French, and Spanish writers. The 
bUnd dramatist Luigi Groto pubUshed at Venice in 1583 La Hadriana,- 
tragedia nova, which tells of Romeo and Juliet under other names and 
closely anticipates many passages of Shakespeare's play. (Cf . Originals 
and Analogues, pt. i. ed. P. A. Daniel, New Shakspere Soc, pp. xxi seq.) 
Meanwhile a French version (now lost) of Bandello's Romeo and Jidiet, 
by C6me de la Gambe, called ' Chateauvieux,' a professional actor and 
groom of the chamber to Henri III, was performed at the French Court 
in 1580. (See the present writer's French Renaissance in England, 1910, 
pp. 439-440.) Subsequently Lope de Vega dramatised the tale in his 
Spanish play called Castelmnes y Monteses {i.e. Capulets and Montagus). 
For an analysis of Lope's play, which ends happily, see Variorum Shake- 
speare, 1 82 1, xxi. 451-60. Lope's play appeared in an inaccurate Eng- 
lish translation in 1770, and was rendered literally by Mr. F. W. Cosens 
in a privately printed volume in 1869. 


the legend by publishing in 1567, in his anthology of 
fiction called 'The Palace of Pleasure,' a prose para- 
phrase of the same French version as Broke employed. 
Shakespeare followed Broke's verse more closely than 
Painter's prose, although he studied both. At the same 
time he impregnated the familiar story with a wholly 
original poetic fervour, and reheved the tragic intensity 
by developing the humour of Mercutio, and by investing 
with an entirely new and comic significance the character 
of the Nurse.^ Dryden was of opinion that, 'in his 
Mercutio, Shakespeare showed the best of his skill' 
as a delineator of 'gentlemen,' and the critic, who was 
writing in 1672, imputed to Shakespeare the remark 
'that he was forced to kill him [Mercutio] in the third 
act to prevent being kiUed by him.' ^ The subordinate 
comic character of Peter, the nurse's serving-man, en- 
joyed the advantage of being interpreted on the pro- 
duction of the piece by William Kemp, a leading come- 
dian of the day.^ Yet it is the characterisation of hero 
and heroine on which Shakespeare focussed his strength. 
The ecstasy of youthful passion is portrayed by Shake- 
speare in language of the highest lyric beauty, and al- 
though he often jdelds to the current predilection for 
quibbles and conceits, 'Romeo and Juliet,' as a tragic 
poem on the theme of love, has no rival in any literature. 
If the Nurse's remark, "Tis since the earthquake now 
eleven years' (i. iii. 23), be taken literally, the composiv 
tion of the play must at least have begun in 1591, for 

* Cf. Originals and Analogues, pt. i. ed. P. A. Daniel, New Shakspere 

' Dryden's Essays, ed. W. P. Ker, i. 174. Dryden continued his 
comments thus on Shakespeare's alleged confession : 'But, for my part, 
I cannot find he [Mercutio] was so dangerous a person : I see nothing 
in him but what was so exceedingly harmless, that he might have lived 
to the end of the play, and died in his bed, without oflEence to any 

' By a copyist's error Kemp's name is substituted for Peter's in the 
second and third quartos of the play (iv. v. 100). A like error of tran- 
scription in the text of Much Ado about Nothing (Act 11. Sc. ii.) establishes 
the fact tiat Kemp subsequently created the part of Dogberry. 


no earthquake in the sixteenth century was experienced' 
in England after 1580. A few parallehsms with Daniel's 
'Coniplainte of Rosamond' suggest that Shakespeare 
read that poem before completing his play. Daniel's 
work was pubhshed in 1592, and it is probable that 
Shakespeare completed his piece early that year. The 
popularity of the tragedy was unquestioned from the 
first, and young lovers were for a generation commonly 
credited with speaking 'naught but pure Juliet and 
Romeo. ' ^ 

The tragedy underwent some revision after its first 
production.^ The earliest edition appeared in 1597 
annonymously and surreptitiously. The title-page ran: 
'An excellent conceited Tragedie of Romeo and luUet. 
As it hath been often (with great applause) plaid pub- 
Hquely by the right honourable the L[ord] of Hunsdon 
his seruants.' The printer and publisher, John JDanter, a 
very notorious trader in books, of Hosier Lane, near Hol- 
born Conduit, had acquired an unauthorised transcript 
which had doubtless been prepared from a shorthand 
report.^ The reporter filled gaps in his imperfect notes 

^ Marston's Scourge of Villanie (1598), Satyre 10. 

2 Cf . Parallel Texts, ed. P. A. Daniel, New Shakspere Society ; Fleay, 
Life, pp. 191 seq. 

'Danter first obtained notoriety in 1593 as the publisher of Thomas 
Nashe's scurrilous attacks on the Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey. 
Subsequently he enjoyed the unique distinction among Elizabethan 
stationers of being introduced under his own name in the dramatis per- 
soncB of an acted play of the period. 'Danter the printer' figured as a 
trafficker in the licentious products of academic youth in the academic 
play of The Relume from Parnassus, act 1. sc. iii (1600?). Besides 
Romeo and Juliet, Danter published Tihis Andronicus (early in 1594; 
see p. 132). He died in 1597 or 1598. The evil practice of publishing 
crude shorthand reports of plays, from which Shakespeare was to suffer 
frequently, is capable of much independent illustration. The dramatist 
Thomas Heywood, who began his long career as dramatist before 1600, 
complained that some of his pieces accidentally fell into the printer's 
hands, and then 'so corrupt and mangled, copied only by the ear, that 
I have been as unable to know them as ashamed to challenge them' 
{Rape of Lucrece, 1638, address). Similarly Heywood included in his 
Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637 (pp. 248-9) a prologue for the 
revival of an old play of his concerning Queen Elizabeth, called 'If 
you know not me, you know nobody,' which he had lately revised for 


with unwieldy descriptive stage directions of his own 
devising. A second quarto — -'The most excellent and 
lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet, newly cor- 
rected, augmented, and amended; As it hath bene 
sundry times publiquely acted by the right honourable 
the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants' — was .published, 
from an authentic stage version, in 1599, by a stationer 
of higher reputation, Cuthbert Burbie of Comhill.^ In 
Burble's edition the tragedy first took coherent shape. 
Ten years later a reprint of Burble's quarto introduced 
further improvements ('as it hath been sundrie times 
publiquely acted by the Kings Maiesties Seruants at 

acting purposes. Nathaniel Butter had published the first and second 
editions of the piece in 1605 and 1608, and Thomas Pavier the third in 
1610. In a prose note preceding the new prologue the author denounced 
the printed edition as 'the most corrupted copy, which was published 
without his consent.' In the prologue itself, Haywood declared that 
the piece had on its original production on the stage pleased the audience : 

So much that some by stenography drew 
The plot, put it in print, scarce one word true. 

Sermons and lectures were frequently described on their title-page as 
'taken by characterie' (cf. Stephen Egerton's Lecture 1598, and Ser- 
mons of Henry Smith, 1590 and 1591). The popular system of Eliza- 
bethan shorthand was that devised by Timolliy Bright in his 'Char- 
acterie: An arte of shorte scripte, and secrete writing by character,' 
1588. In 1590 Peter Bales devoted the opening section of his 'Writing 
Schoolmaster' to the 'Arte of Brachygraphy.' In 1612 Sir George Buc, 
in his 'Third Vniversitie of England' (appended to Stow's Chronicle), 
wrote of 'the much-to-be-regarded Art of Brachygraphy' (chap, xxxix.), 
that it 'is an art newly discovered or newly recovered, and is of very 
good and necessary use, being well and honestly exercised, for, by the 
meaijes and helpe thereof, they which know it can readily take a Ser- 
mon, Oration, Play, or any long speech, as they are spoke, dictated, 
acted, and uttered in the instant.' 

1 This quarto was printed for Burbie by Thomas Creede at the Katha- 
rine Wheel in Thames Street. Burbie had a year earlier_ issued the 
quarto of Love's Labour's Lost. He had no other association with 
Shakespeare's work. The Stationers' Company's Register contains no 
license for the issue of either Banter's or Burble's quarto of Romeo and 
Juliet. The earliest mention of the piece in the Stationers' Register is 
under date January 22, 1606-7, when Burbie assigned his rights in that 
tragedy, as well as in Love's Labour's Lost and The Taming of the Shrew, 
to the stationer Nicholas Ling ; but Ling transferred his title on Novem- 
ber 19, 1607, to John Smethwick, who was responsible for the third 
quarto of Romeo and JuUet of 1609. 


the Globe'), and that volume, which twice re-appeared 
in quarto — without date and in 1637 — ^^•s the basis 
of the standard text of the First Folio. The prolonged 
series of quarto editions show that 'Romeo and Juliet' 
fuUy retained its popularity throughout Shakespeare's 



Three pieces with which Shakespeare's early activities 
were associated reveal him as an adapter of plays by 
other hands. Though they lack the interest shake- 
attaching to his unaided work, they throw in- speareas 
valuable hght on some of his early methods of others"" 
composition and on his early relations with p'^^^- 
other dramatists. Proofs are offered of Shakespeare's 
personal co-operation with his great forerunner Marlowe, 
and the manner of influence which Marlowe's example 
exerted on him is precisely indicated. Shakespeare, 
moreover, now experimented for the first time with the 
dramatisation of his country's history. That special 
branch of drama was rousing immense enthusiasm in 
Elizabethan audiences, and Shakespeare's first venture 
into the historical field enjoyed a liberal share of the 
popular applause. 

On March 3, 1591-2, 'Henry VI,' described as a 
'new' or reconstructed piece, was acted at the Rose 
Theatre by Lord Strange's men. It was 'Henry 
no doubt the play subsequently known ,as ^■' 
Shakespeare's ' The First Part of Henry VI,' which pre- 
sented the war in France and the factious quarrels of 
the nobiUty at home from the funeral of King Henry 
V (in" 1422) to the humihating treaty of marriage be- 
tween his degenerate son, King Henry VI, with Margaret 
of Anjou (in 1445) . On its production the piece, owing 
to its martial note, won a popular triumph, and the 
unusual number of fifteen performances followed within 
the year.^ ' How would it have Joyed brave Talbot (the 

^ Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, i. 13 et passim; ii. 152, 338. The last 
recorded performance was on Jan. 31, 1593. 



terror of the French),' wrote Thomas Nashe, the satiric 
pamphleteer, in his 'Pierce Pennilesse' (1592, licensed 
August 8), with reference to the striking scenes of 
Talbot's death (act iv. sc. vi. and viii.), 'to thinke that 
after he had lyne two hundred yeares in his Tombe, hee 
should triumplie againe on the Stage, and have his bones 
newe embalmed with the teares of ten thousand specta- 
tors at least (at severall times) who, in the Tragedian 
that represents his person, imagine they behold him 
fresh bleeding ! ' There is no categorical record of the 
production of a second piece in continuation of the theme, 
but indirect evidence planly attests that such a play 
was quickly staged. A third piece, treating of the 
concluding incidents of Henry VI's reign, attracted much 
attention in the theatre early in the autumn of the same 
year (1592). 

The applause attending the completion of this histori- 
cal trilogy caused -bewilderment in the theatrical pro- 
Greene's fession. Older dramatists awoke to the fact 
attack. tiiat their popularity was endangered by a 
young stranger who had set up his tent in their 
midst, and was challenging the supremacy of the camp. 
A rancorous protest was uttered without delay. Late 
in the summer of 1592 Robert Greene lay, after a reck- 
less life, on a pauper's deathbed. His last hours were 
spent in preparing for the press a miscellany of eu- 
phuistic fiction which he entitled ' Greens Groatsworth 
of Wit bought with a MilHon of Repentaunce.' Tow- 
ards the close the sardonic author introduced a letter 
addressed to 'those gentlemen his quondam acquaint- 
ance that spend their wits in making plays.' Here he 
warned three nameless Uterary friends who may best 
be. identified with Peele, Marlowe, and Nashe, against 
putting faith in actors whom he defined as 'buckram 
gentlemen,. painted monsters, puppets who speak from 
pur mouths, antics garnished in our colours.' Such 
men were especially charged with defying their just 
obligations to dramatic authors. But Greene's venom 


was chiefly excited by a single member of the acting 
fraternity. '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 con- 
ceit, the onely Shake-scene in a countrie. . . . Never 
more acquaint [those apes] with your admired inven- 
tions, for it is pittie men of such rare wits should be 
subject to the pleasures of such rude groomes.' The 
'only Shake-scene' is a punning attack on Shakespeare. 
The tirade is an explosion of resentment on the part of a 
disappointed senior dramatist at the energy of a young 
actor — the theatre's factotum — in trespassing on the 
playwriter's domain. The 'upstart crow' had revised 
the dramatic work of his seniors without adequate 
acknowledgment but with such masterly effect as to 
imperil their future hold on the esteem of manager and 
playgoer. When Greene mockingly cites as a specimen 
of his 'only Shake-scene's' capacity the Hne 'Tyger's 
heart wrapt in a players hide' he travesties the words 
'Oh Tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide' ^ from the 
third piece in the trilogy of Shakespeare's 'Henry VI' 
(i. iv. 137). It may be inferred that Greene was espe- 
cially ' angered by Shakespeare's revision of this piece 
in devising which he originally had a part.^ 

The sour critic died on September 3, 1592, as soon 
as he laid down his splenetic pen. But Shakespeare's 
amiability of character and versatile ambition had 

* These words which figure in one of the most spirited outbursts 
in the play — the Duke of York's savage denunciation of Queen Margaret 
— were first printed in 1595 in the earliest known draft of the drama 
The True Tragedie of the Duke of York (see p. 120 infra). 

* Greene's complaint that he was robbed of his due fame by literary 
plagiaries, among whom he gave Shakespeare the first place, was em- 
phatically repeated by an admiring elegist : 

Greene gaue the ground to all that wrote vpon him. 
Nay more the men that so eclipst his fame 
Purloynde his Plumbs; can they deny the same? 

{Greenes PuneraUs, by R. B. 1594. ed. R, B. McKerrow, 1911, Sonnet IX.) 


already won him admirers, and his success excited 
the S5Tnpathetic regard of colleagues more kindly than 
Chettle's Greene. At any rate the djdng man had clearly 
apology. miscalculated Marlowe's sentiment. Marlowe- 
was already working with Shakespeare, and showed 
readiness to continue the partnership. In December 
1592, moreover, Greene's pubHsher, Henry Chettle, who 
was himself about to turn dramatist, prefixed an apology 
for Greene's attack on the young actor to his 'Kind 
Hartes Dreame,' a tract describing contemporary phases 
of social Ufe. He reproached himself with failing to 
soften Greene's phraseology before committing it to 
the press. 'I am as sory,' Chettle wrote, 'as if the 
original fault had beene my fault, because myselfe 
have seene his [i.e. Shakespeare's] demeanour no lesse 
civill than he exelent in the quahtie 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.' It is obvious that 
Shakespeare at the date of Chettle's apology was 
winning a high reputation alike as actor, man, and 

The first of the three plays dealing with the reign of 
'Henry VI' was originally published in 1623, in the 
collected edition of Shakespeare's works. The actor- 
editors of the First Foho here accepted a veteran stage 
tradition of its authorship. The second and third plays 
were previous to the pubhcation of the First Folio each 
printed thrice in quarto volumes in a form very different 
from that which they assumed long after when they 
followed the first part in the Foho. Two editions of 
the second and third parts of 'Henry VI' came forth 
without any author's name ; but the third separate issue 
boldly ascribed both to Shakespeare's pen. The attri- 
bution has justification but needs quahfying. Criticism 
has proved beyond doubt that in the three parts of 
'Henry VI' Shakespeare with varjdng energy revised 
and expanded other men's work. In the first part 


there may be small trace of his pen, but in the second 
and third evidence of his handiwork abounds. 

At the most generous computation no more than 300 
out of the 2600 lines of the 'First Part' bear the impress 
of Shakespeare's style. It may be doubted 
whether he can be safely credited with aught fpe^^Js 
beyond the scene in the Temple Gardens, cp^tribu- 
where white and red roses are plucked as 'TheFirst 
emblems by the rival political parties (act 11. HetfryVi' 
sc. iv.), and Talbot's speeches on the battle- 
field (act IV. sc. v.-vii.), to the enthusiastic recep- 
tion of which on the stage Nashe bears witness. It 
may be, however, that the dying speech of Mortimer 
(act II. sc. V.) and the wooing of Margaret by Suffolk 
(act V. sc. iii.) also bear marks of Shakespeare's vivid 
power. The lifeless beat of the verse and the crudity 
of the language conclusively deprive Shakespeare of all 
responsibility for the brutal scenes travest3dng the story 
of Joan of Arc which the author of the first part of ' Henry 
VI' somewhat slavishly drew from Hohnshed. The clas- 
sical allusions throughout the piece are far more numer- 
ous and recondite than Shakespeare was in the habit of 
employing. HoKnshed's ' Chronicle ' suppUes the histori- 
cal basis for all the pieces, but the playwright defies 
historic chronology in the 'First Part' with a callous 
freedom exceeding anything in Shakespeare's fully 
accredited history work. 

The second part of Henry VI's reign, which carried 
on the story from the coronation of Queen Margaret to 
the initial campaign of 'the Wars of the Roses, pj^gj ^jj. 
was first published anonjonously in 1594 from twnsof 
a rough stage copy by Thomas Milhngton, a anTxhird 
stationer of Comhill. A Ucense for the pub- ^^^^^yj, 
lication was granted him on March 12, 
1593-4, and the volume, which was printed by Thomas 
Creede of Thames Street, bore on its title-page the 
rambUng description 'The first part of the Contention 
betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster 


with the death of the good Duke Humphrey : and the 
banishment and death of the Duke of Suffolk, and the 
Tragicall end of the proud Cardinall of Winchester, 
with the notable Rebelhon of Jacke Cade; and the 
Duke of Yorkes first claime unto the crowne.' 

The third part of Henry VI's reign, which continues 
the tale to the sovereign's final dethronement and death, 
was first printed under a different designation with 
greater care next year by Peter Short of Bread Street 
Hill, and was published, as in the case of its predecessor, 
by MiUington. This quarto bore the title 'The True 
Tragedie of Richard, Duke of Yorke, and the death of 
good King Henrie the Sixt, with the whole contention 
betweene the two Houses Lancaster and Yorke as it 
was sundrie times acted by the Right Honourable the 
Earle of Pembroke his seruants. ' ^ The first part of the 
trilogy had been acted by Lord Strange's company with 
which Shakespeare was associated, and the interpreta- 
tion of the third and last instalment by Lord Pembroke's 
men was only a temporary deviation from normal practice. 

In their earhest extant shape, the two continuations 
of the First Part of 'Henry VI' — the 'Contention' 
and the ' True Tragedie ' — show Uberal traces of 
Shakespeare's revising pen. The foundations were 

1 MUlington reissued both Ths Contention and True Tragedie in 1600, 
the former being then printed for him by Valentine Simmes (or Sims), 
the latter by William White. On April 19, 1602, Millington made 
over to another publisher, Thomas Pavier, his interest in 'The first 
and second parts of Henry the »_/"' ii bookes' (Arber, iii. 304). This 
entry would seem at a first glance to imply that the first as well as the 
second part of Shakespeare's Henry VI were prepared for separate pub- 
lication in 1602, but no extant edition of any part of Henry VI belongs 
to that year. It is more probable that Pavier' s reference is to The 
Contention and True Tragedie — early drafts respectively of Parts II 
and III of Henry VI. Pavier, to whom Millington assigned the two 
parts of Henry the vj"' in 1602, published a new edition of The Conten- 
tion with the True Tragedie in 1619, when the title-page bore the words 
'newly corrected and enlarged. Written by William Shake-speare, 
Gent.' This is the earliest attribution of the two plays to Shakespeare, 
but Pavier the publisher, although he had some warrant in this case, 
is rarely a trustworthy witness, for he had little scruple in attaching 
Shakespeare's name to plays by other pens (see p. 262 infra). 


clearly laid throughout by another hand, but Shakespeare 
is responsible for much of the superstructure. The 
humours of Jack Cade in 'The Contention' can owe 
their savour to him alone. Queen Margaret's simple 
words in the 'True Tragedie,' when in the ecstasy of 
grief she cries out to the murderers of her son 'You have 
no children,' have a poignancy of which few but Shake- 
speare had the secret. Twice in later plays did he repeat 
the same passionate rebuke in cognate circumstances.^ 

Shakespeare may be absolved of all responsibihty for 
the original drafts of the three pieces. Those drafts have 
not survive^- It was in revised versions that the plays 
were put on the stage in 1592, and the text of the second 
and third parts which the actors then presented is extant 
in the printed editions of 'The Contention' and 'The 
True Tragedie.' But much further reconstruction en- 
gaged Shakespeare's energy before he left the theme. 
With a view to a subsequent revival, Shakespeare's 
services were enHsted in a fresh recension, at any rate 
of the second and third parts, involving a great expan- 
sion. 'The Contention' was thoroughly overhauled, 
and was converted into what was entitled in the Foho 
'The Second Part of Henry VI.' There more than 500 
lines keep their old form: 840 lines are more or less 
altered; some 700 of the earlier lines are dropped al- 
together, and are replaced by 1700 new lines. 'The 
True Tragedie,' which became 'The Third Part of 
Henry VI' of the Foho, was less drastically handled; 
no part of the old piece is here abandoned ; some 1000 
lines are retained unaltered, and some 900 are recast. 
But a thousand fresh lines make their appearance. Each 
of the Foho pieces is longer than its forerunner by at 
least a third. The 2000 Unes of the old pieces grow into 
the 3000 of the new.^ 

^Cf. Constance's bitter cry to the papal legate in King John 'He 
talks to me that never had a son' (m. iv. 91) ; and Macduff's reproach 
'He has no children' {Macbeth, iv. iii. 216). 

^Cf. Fleay, Life, pp. 23s seq. ; Trans. New Shakspere Soc, 1876, 
pt. ii. by Miss Jane Lee; Swinburne, Study, pp. 51 seq. 


Of the two successive revisions of the primal 'Henry 
VI' in which Shakespeare had a hand the first may be 
Shake ^^^^^ ^^ ^59^ ^^^ ^^^ second in 1593. That 
speare's Shakespeare in both revisions shared the work 
coadjutors, ^j^j^ another is clear from the internal evidence, 
and the identity of his coadjutor may be inferred with 
reasonable confidence. The theory that Robert Greene, 
with George Peele's co-operation, produced the original 
draft of the three parts of 'Henry VI,' which Shake- 
speare twice helped to recast, can alone account for 
Greene's indignant denunciation of Shakespeare as 'an 
upstart crow, beautified with the feathersi of himself 
and his fellow dramatists. Greene and Peele were classi- 
cal scholars to whom there would come naturally such 
unfamiliar classical allusions as figure in all the pieces. 
The' lack of historic sense which is characteristic of 
Greene's romantic tendencies may well account for the 
historical errors which set 'The First Part of Henry VI' 
in a special category of ineptitude. Peele elsewhere, in 
his dramatic presentation of the career of Edward I, 
libels, under the sway of anti-Spanish prejudice, the 
memory of Queen Eleanor of Castile; he would have 
found nothing uncongenial in the work of viUfying Joan 
of Arc. Signs are not wanting that it was Marlowe, the 
greatest of his predecessors, whom Shakespeare joined 
in the first revision which brought to birth ' The Conten- 
tion' and the 'True Tragedie.' There the fine writing, 
the over-elaboration of commonplace ideas, the tendency 
to rant in language of some dignity, are sure indications 
of Marlowe's hand. In the second and last recension 
there are also occasional signs of Marlowe's handi- 
work,i but most of the new passages are indubitably from 

1 Few will question that among the new lines in the 'Second Part' 
Marlowe is responsible for such as these (iv. i. 1-4) : 

The gaudy blabbing and remorseful day 
Is crept into the bosom of the sea, 
And now loud howling wolves arouse the jades 
That drag the tragic melancholy night. 

When in the ' Third Part ' the Duke of York's son Richard persuaded 


Shakespeare's pen. Marlowe's assistance at the final 
stage was fragmentary. It is probable that he began 
with Shakespeare the last revision, but that his task was 
interrupted by his premature death. The hen's share of 
the closing phase of the work fell to his younger coadjutor. 

Marlowe, who alone of Shakespeare's contemporaries 
can be credited with exerting on his efforts in tragedy a 
really substantial influence, met his death on Marlowe's 
June I, 1593, in a drunken brawl at Deptford. "iflu™ce. 
He died at the zenith of his fame, and the esteem 
which his lurid tragedies enjoyed in his lifetime at 
the playhouse survived his violent end. 'Tambur- 
laine,' 'The Jew of Malta,' ' Dr. Faustus,' and 'Edward 
II' were among the best applauded productions through 
the year 1594. Shakespeare's next two tragedies, 
'Richard III' and 'Richard II,' again pursued historical 
themes; a little later the tragic story of Shylock the 
Jew was enshrined in his comedy of 'The Merchant of 
Venice.' In all three pieces Shakespeare plainly dis- 
closed a conscious and a prudent resolve to follow in the 
dead Marlowe's footsteps. 

In 'Richard III' Shakespeare, working singlehanded, 
takes up the history of England at the precise point 
where Marlowe and he, working in partnership, 'Richard 
left it in the third part of 'Henry VI.' The ^^■' 
murder of King Henry closes the old piece; his 
funeral opens the new; and the historic episodes are 
carried onwards, until the Wars of the Roses are finally 
ended by Richard's death on Bosworth Field. Richard's 
career was already familiar to dramatists, but Shake- 

his father to aim at the throne it is unthinkable that any other pen 
than Marlowe's converted the bare lines of the old piece, 

Then, noble father, resolve yourself e. 
And once more claime the crowne, 

into the touching but strained eloquence of the new piece (i. ii. 28-31) : 

Father, do but think 
How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown : 
Within whose circuit is Elysium, 
And all that poets feign of bliss and joy. 


speare found all his material in the ' Chronicle' of Holin- 
shed. 'Ricardus Tertius,' a Latin piece of Senecan 
temper by Dr. Thomas Legge, Master of Caius College, 
Cambridge, had been in favour with academic audiences 
since 1579, when it was first acted by students at St. 
John's College, Cambridge.^ About 1591 'The True 
Tragedie of Richard III,' a crude piece in EngHsh of the 
chronicle type by some unknown pen, was produced at a 
London theatre, and it issued from the press in 1594. 
Shakespeare's piece bears Uttle resemblance to either 
of its forerunners. The occasional similarities which 
have been detected seem due to all the writers' common 
dependence on the same historic authority .^ Through- 
out Shakespeare's play the effort to emulate Marlowe 
is unmistakable. The tragedy is, says Swinburne, 'as 
fiery in passion, as single in purpose, as rhetorical often, 
though never .so inflated in expression, as Marlowe's 
"Tamburlaine" itself.' In thought and melody Mar- 
lowe is for the most part outdistanced, yet the note of 
lyric exaltation is often caught from his lips. As in 
his tragic efforts, the interest centres in a colossal type 
of hero. Richard's boundless egoism and intellectual 
cunning overshadow all else. Shakespeare's characteri- 
sation of the King betrayed a subtlety beyond Mar- 
lowe's reach. But it was the turbulent incident in his 
predecessor's vein which chiefly assured the popularity 
of the piece. Burbage's stirring impersonation of the 
hero was the earliest of his many original interpretations 
of Shakespeare's characters to excite pubHc enthusiasm. 
His vigorous enunciation of Richard Ill's cry 'A horse, 
a horse ! my kingdom for a horse ! ' gave the words 
proverbial currency.' 

' See F. S. Boas, University Drama in the Ttidor Age, 1914, pp. in seq. 

" See G. B. Churchill, Richard III up to Shakespeare, Berlin, 1900. 

3 Cf. Richard Corbet's Iter Boreale written about 1618, where it is 
said of an innkeeper at Bosworth who acted as the author's guide to the 
local battlefield : 

For when he would have said King Richard died 
And called 'A horse, a horse ! ' he Burbage cried. 


It was not until 'Richard III' had exhausted its first 
welcome on the stage that an attempt was made to 
publish the piece. A quarto edition ' as it hath putucation 
beene lately acted by the. Right honourable of 'Richard 
the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants,' appeared ^^^'' 
in 1597. That year proved of importance in the history 
of Shakespeare's fame and of the pubHcation of his work. 
In 1597 there also came from the press the crude version 
of 'Romeo and Juliet' and the first issue of 'Richard 
II,' the play which Shakespeare wrote immediately after 
'Richard III.' But the text of the early editions of 
' Richard III ' did the drama scant justice. The Quarto 
followed a copy which had been severely abbreviated 
for stage purposes. The First FoHo adopted another 
version which, though more complete, omits some 
necessary passages of the earlier text. A combination 
of the Quarto and the FoHo versions is needful to a full 
comprehension of Shakespeare's effort. None the less 
the original edition of the play was, despite its defects, 
warmly received, and before the First Folio was published 
in 1623 as many as six re-issues of the defective quar- 
ter were in circulation, very slightly varying one from 

The composition of 'Richard II' seems to have fol- 
lowed that of 'Richard III' without delay. The piece 
was probably written very early in 1593. Once again 

1 Andrew Wise, who occupied the shop at the sign of the Angel in 
St. Paul's Churchyard for the ten years that he was in trade (1593- 
1603), was the first publisher of Richard III. He secured licenses for 
the publication of Richard II and Richard III on August 29 and October 
20, IS97, respectively. Both volumes were printed for Wise by Valen- 
tine Simmes (or Sims), whose printing office was at the White Swan, 
at the foot of Adling Hill, near Baynard's Castle. Second editions of 
each were issued by Wise in 1598; Richard II was again printed by 
Siirmies, but the second quarto of Richard III was printed by Thomas 
Creede at the Katharine Wheel in Thames Street. In 1602 Creede 
printed for Wise a third edition of Richard III which was described 
without due warrant as 'newly augmented.' On June 25, 1603, Wise 
made over his interest in both Richard II and- Richard III to Matthew 
Lawe of St. Paul's Churchyard, who reissued Richard III in 1605, 
1612, 1622, and 1629, and Richard II in 1608 and 1615. 


Shakespeare presents an historic figure who had already 
received drainatic attention. Richard. II was a chief 
'Richard character in a brief dramatic sketch of Wat 
^^•' Tyler's rebellion (in 1381), which was com- 

posed in 1587 and was pubUshed anonymously in 
1593 as 'The Life and Death of Jack Straw.' The 
King's troubled career up to his delusive triumph over 
his enemies in 1397, was also the theme of a longer 
piece by another anonymous hand.^ But Shakespeare 
owed little to his predecessors' labours. He confined his 
attention to the two latest years and the death of the 
King and ignored the earlier crises of his reign which 
had alone been dramatised previously. 'Richard 11' 
is a more penetrating study of historic character and 
a more concentrated portrayal of historic action than 
Shakespeare had yet essayed. There is a greater re- 
straint, a freer flow of dramatic poetry. But again 
there is a clear echo of Marlowe's 'mighty line,' albeit 
in the subdued tone of its latest phase. Shakespeare; 
in ' Richard II ' pursued the chastened path of placidity 
on which Marlowe entered in 'Edward II,' the last piece 
to engage his pen. Both Shakespeare's and Marlowe's 
heroes were cast by history in the same degenerate 
mould, and Shakespeare's piece stands to that of Mar- 
lowe -in much the relation of son to father. Shake- 
speare traces the development of a self-indulgent tem- 
perament under stress of misfortune far more subtly 
than his predecessor. He endows his King Richard in 
his fall with an imaginative chalrm, of which Marlowe's 

' The old play of Richard II, which closes with the murder of the 
King's uncle Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, in 1397, 
survives in MS. in the British Museum (MS. Egerton 1994). It was 
first printed in an edition of eleven copies by HalliweU in 1870, and 
for a second time in the Shakespeare Jahrbiich for 1900, edited by Dr. 
Wolfgang Keller. The piece is a good specimen of the commonplace 
•dramatic work of the day. Its composition may be referred to the 
year 1591. A second (lost) piece of somewhat later date, again dealing 
exclusively with the early part of Richard II's reign, which Shake- 
speare's play ignores, was witnessed at the Globe Theatre on April 30, 
161 1, by Simon Forman, who has left a description of the chief incidents 
(New Shakspere Soc. Trans. 1875-6, pp. 415-6). 


King Edward shows only incipient traces. Yet Mar- 
lowe's inspiration nowhere fails his great disciple al- 
together. Shakespeare again drew the facts from Hohn- 
shed, but his embelhshments are more numerous than 
in 'Richard III'; they include the magnificent eulogy 
of England which is set in the mouth of John of Gaunt. 
The speech indicates for the time the high-water mark 
of dramatic eloquence on the Elizabethan stage, and 
illustrates the spirited patriotism which anima-ted 
Shakespeare's interpretation of Enghsh history. As in 
the first and third parts of 'Henry VI,' prose is avoided 
throughout ; gardeners and attendants speak in verse Hke 
their betters, a sure sign of Shakespeare's youthful hand. 

The printers of the quarto edition of 'Richard II,' 
which first appeared in 1597, had access to what was 
in the main a satisfactory manuscript. Two re- pubucation 
prints followed in Shakespeare's hfetime, and of 'Richard 
the editors of the First FoKo were content to 
adopt as their own the text of the third quarto. The 
choice was prudent. From the first two quartos, in 
spite of their general merits, an important passage was 
omitted, and the omission was not repaired till the issue 
of the third iii 1608 when the title-page announced that 
the piece was reprinted 'with new additions of the Parlia- 
ment sceane and the deposing of King Richard, as it 
hath been lately acted by the Kinge's Maiesties seruantes 
at the Globe.' The cause of this temporary mutilation 
of the text demands some inquiry, for it illustrates a 
common peril of Uterature of the time, which Shake- 
speare here, encountered for the first, but, as it proved, 
the only time. 

Since the infancy of the drama a royal proclamation 
had prohibited playwrights from touching 'matters of 
religion or governance of the estate of the ghake- 
common weal,' ^ and on November 12, 1589, speareand 
when Shakespeare was embarking on his career, 

, ' The proclamation was originally promulgated on May 16, 1559, 
long before the drama had any settled habitation or literary coherence. 


the Privy Council reiterated the prohibition, and' 
created precise machinery for its enforcement. All 
plays were to be licensed by three persons, one to be 
nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the second 
by the Lord Mayor, and the third by the Master of the 
Revels. Again there was a warning against unseemly 
reference to matters of divinity and state,' This regula- 
tion of 1589 remained in force through Shakespeare!s 
working days with two sHght qualifications. In tie 
first place the Master of the Revels — an officer of the 
Royal household — came to perform the licensing duties 
singlehanded, and in the second place ParliameiS 
strengthened the licenser's hand by constituting impiety 
on the stage a penal offence.'- 

In the course of Shakespeare's Hfetime fellow dramar 
,tists not infrequently fell under the licenser's lash on 
charges of theological or pohtical comment and their 
offence was purged by imprisonment or fine. Ben 
Jonson, Chapman, and Thomas Nashe were among the 
playwrights who were at one time or another suspected' 
of covert censure of Government or Church and suffered 
in consequence more or less condign punishment. There 
was a nervous tendency on the part of the authorities 
to scent mischief where none was intended. Yet, in 
spite of official sensitiveness and some vexatious molesta- 
tion of authors, literature on and off the stage enjoyed 
in practice a large measure of liberty. The allegation in 
Shakespeare's ' Sonnets ' (Ixvi. 9) that ' art ' was ' tongue- 
tied by authority ' is the casual expression of a pessimistic 
mood, and has no precise bearing on Shakespeare's 
personal experience. Amid the whole range of Shake- 
speare's work there is only a single passage which, as 
far as is known, evoked official censure. The licenser's 
veto only fell upon 165 Hnes in Shakespeare's play of 

Mayors of cities, lords lieutenants of counties, and justices of the peace 
were directed to inhibit within their jurisdictions the performance of 
stage plays tending to heresy or sedition (CoUier's History, i. 168-9).^ 

' A statute of 1605 (3 Jac. I. cap. 21) rendered players liable to a fine 
of ten pounds for 'profanely abusing the name of God' on the stage. 


'Richard II.' When that drama was produced, the 
scene of the King's deposition in Westminster HalL 
was robbed of the fine episode where the conquered hero, 
summoned to hear his doom, makes his great speeches 
of submission (iv. i. 154-318). It is curious to note that 
a cognate incident in Marlowe's 'Edward II' (act v. sc. 
i.) escaped rebuke and figured without abridgment in 
the printed version of 1594. But Richard II's fate 
always roused in Queen Elizabeth an especially active 
sense of dread. Her fears were not wholly caprice, for a 
few years later — ^ early in 1601 — disaffected subjects 
cited Richard II's fortunes as an argument for rebel- 
lion, and the rebel leaders caused Shakespeare's piece 
to be revived at the Globe theatre with the avowed 
object of fanning a revolutionary flame.'- The hcenser 
of 'Richard II' had some just groimd for his endeavour 
to concihate royal anxieties. Even so, he did his spiriting 
gently ; he sanctioned the scenes portrajdng the monarch's 
arrest and his murder in Pomfret Castle, and his knife 
only fell on the King's voluntary surrender of his crown. 
The prohibition, moreover, was not lasting. The 
censored lines were restored to the issue of 1608 when 
James I was King. Shakespeare's interpretation of 
historic incident was invariably independent and sought 
the truth. ' It does honour to hiniself and to the govern- 
ment of the country that at no other point in lus work 
did he encounter official reprimand. 

Through the last nine months of 1593, from April to 
December, the London theatres were closed, owing to the 
virulence of the plague. The outbreak excelled The plague 
in severity any of London's recent experiences, °^ ^S93. 
and although there were many recurrences of the 
pestilence before Shakespeare's career ended, it was 
only once — in 1603 — that the terrors of 1593 were 
surpassed. In 1593 the deaths from the plague reached 
a total of 15,000 for the city and suburbs, one in 15 of 
the population; the victims included the Lord Mayor 
' See p. 254 infra. 


of London and four aldermen. Not merely was public 
recreation forbidden until the peril passed, but contrary 
to precedent, no Bartholomew fair was held in Smithfield.' 
Deprived of the opportunity of exercising their craft 
in the capital, the players travelled in the country, 
visiting among other places Bristol, Chester, Shrews- 
bury, Chelmsford, and York. There is small reason to 
question that Shakespeare accompanied his colleagues 
on their long tour. 

But, wherever he sojourned while the plague held 
London in its grip, his pen was busily employed, and 
before the close of the next year — 1594 — he had given 
marvellous proof of his rapid and versatile industry. 

It was early in that year (1594) that there was both 
acted and pubHshed 'Titus Andronicus,' a bloodstained 
'Titus An- tragedy which plainly savoured of an earlier 
dromcus.' epQcj^ although it was described as 'new.' 
The piece was in his own Hfetime claimed for Shake- 
speare without qualification. Francis Meres, Shake- 
speare's admiring critic of 1598, numbered it among his 
fully accredited works, and it was admitted to the First 
Folio. But Edward Ravenscroft, a minor dramatist of 
Charles II's time, who prepared a new version of the 
piece in 1678, wrote of it: 'I have been told by some 
anciently conversant with the stage that it" was not 
originally his [i.e. Shakespeare's] 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 san- 
guinary tragedy presents a fictitious episode illustrative 
of the degeneracy of Imperial Rome. The hero is a 
mythical Roman general, who gives and receives blows of 
nauseating ferocity. The victims of the tragic story are 
not merely killed but savagely mutilated. Crime suc- 
ceeds crime at an ever-quickening pace. The repulsive 
plot and the recondite classical allusions differentiate ij^ii 

' Stow's Annals, p. 766; Creighton's Epidemics in Britain, i. 253-4; 
Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 74 n. 


from Shakespeare's acknowledged work. Yet the offen- 
sive situations are often powerfully contrived and there 
are lines of artistic force and even of beauty. Shake- 
speare's hand is only visible in detached embellishments. 
The play was in all probabihty written orginally in 1591 
by Thomas Kyd, with some aid, it may be, from Greene 
or Peele, and it was on its revival in 1594 that Shake- 
speare improved it here and there.^ A lost piece of like 
character called 'Titus and Vespasian' was played by 
Lord Strange's men on April 11, 1591.^ 'Titus Androni- 
cus' may well have been a drastic adaptation of this 
piece which was designed, with some help from Shake- 
speare, to prolong public interest in a profitably sensational 
theme. Ben Jonson credits 'Titus Andronicus' with a 
popularity equalling Kyd's lurid 'Spanish Tragedy.' It 
was favorably known abroad as well as at home. 

The Shakespearean 'Titus Andronicus' was acted at 
the Rose theatre by the Earl of Sussex's men on January 
23, 1593-4, when it was described as a 'new' Publication 
piece; yet that company's hold on it was °* 'Titus.' 
fleeting; it was immediately afterwards acted by 
Shakespeare's company, while the Earl of Pembroke's 
men also claimed a share of the early representations. 
The title-page of the first edition of 1594 describes it as 
having been performed by the Earl of Derby's servants 
(one of the successive titles of Shakespeare's company), 
as well as by those of the Earls of Pembroke and Sussex. 

' Mr. J. M. Robertson, in his Did Shakespeare write Titus Andronicus ? 
(1905) ably questions Shakespeare's responsibility at any point. 

^ Cf. Henslowe, ed. Greg, i. 14 seq. ; ii. 155 and 159-162. A German 
play called Tito Andronico, which presents with broad divergences the 
same theme as the Shakespearean piece, was acted by English players 
in Germany and was published in 1620. There Vespasianus, who is 
absent from the Shakespearean Titus, figures among the dramatis per- 
sona. The German piece is doubtless a rendering of the old English 
play Titus and Vespasian, no text of which survives in the original lan- 
guage. (See Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany, pp. 155 seq.) Two Dutch 
versions of Titus and Vespasian were made early in the seventeenth 
century. Of these the later, which alone survives, was first printed 
in 1642 (see a paper by H. de W. Fuller in Modern Language Association 
of America Publications, 1901, ix. p. i). 


In the title-page of the second edition of 1600, to 
these three noblemen's names was added that of the 
Lord Chamberlain, who was .the Earl of Derby's suc- 
eessor in the patronage of Shakespeare's company. 
Whatever the circumstances in which other companies 
presented the piece, it was more closely identified with 
Shakespeare's colleagues than with any other band of 
players. John Danter, the printer, of Hosier Lane, who 
produced the first (imperfect) quarto of 'Romeo and 
Juliet' received a Ucense to publish the piece on February 
6, 1593-4. His edition soon appeared, being pubUshed 
jointly by Edward White, whose shop 'at the Uttle North 
doore of Paules' bore, as the title-page stated, 'the sign 
of the Gun,' and by Thomas MilHngton, the pubHsher of 
'The First Contention' and the 'True Tragedie' (early 
drafts of the Second and Third Parts of 'Henry VI'), 
whose shop, unmentioned in the 'Titus' title-page, was 
in Cornhill.i ^ second edition of 'Titus' was pubUshed 
solely by Edward White in 1600.^ This edition was 
printed by James Roberts, of the Barbican, who was 
printer and publisher of 'the players' bills' or placards 
of the theatrical performances which were displayed on 
posts in the street.^ Roberts was in a favourable posi- 
tion to reaUse how strongly 'Titus Andronicus' gripped 
average theatrical taste. 

On any showing the distasteful fable of 'Titus An- 
dronicus' engaged little of Shakespeare's attention. All 
his strength was soon absorbed by the composition of 

* Only one copy of this quarto is known. Its existence was noticed 
by Langbaine in 1691, but no copy was found to confirm Langbaine's 
statement until January 1905, when an exemplar was discovered among 
the books of a Swedish gentleman of Scottish descent, named Robson, 
who resided at Lund (cf. Atkenaum, Jan. 21, 1905). The quarto was 
promptly purchased by an American collector, Mr. H. C. Folger, of 
New York, for 2000/. 

^ Some years later — in 16 11 — Edward White published a reprint 
of his second edition, which was reproduced in the First Folio. Tlie 
First Folio version adds a short scene (act .ni. sc. ii.), which had not 
been in print before. 

'This office Roberts purchased in 1594 of John Charlewood, and 
held it till 1615, when he sold it to WiUiam Jaggard. See p. 553 inf'i- 


'Tke Merchant of Venice,' a comedy, in which two ro- 
mantic love stories are magically blended with a theme 
of tragic import. The plot is a child of mingled .^j^^ 
parentage. For the main thread Shakespeare Merchant 
had direct recourse to a book in a foreign tongue °^ '^^^'^^■' 
— to 'II Pecorone,' a fourteenth-century collection of 
Itahan novels by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, of which there 
was no EngUsh translation.^ 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,' who is wife of the debtor's friend. 
The management of the plot in the Itahan novel is closely 
followed by Shakespeare. A similar story of a Jew and 
his debtor's friend is very barely outhned in a popular 
mediaeval collection of anecdotes called 'Gesta Roma- 
norum,' while a tale of the testing of a lover's character 
by offer of a choice of three caskets of gold, silver, and 
lead, which Shakespeare combined in 'The Merchant' 
with the legend of the Jew's loan, is told independently 
(and with variations from the Shakespearean form) 
in another portion of the 'Gesta.' But Shakespeare's 
'Merchant' owes important debts to other than Itahan 
or Latin sources. He caught hints after his wont from 
one or more than one old EngHsh play. Stephen Gosson, 
the sour censor of the infant drama in England, described 
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.' The writer excepts this piece from the cen- 
sure which he flings on well-nigh all other EngHsh plays. 
Gosson's description suggests that the two stories of the 
pound of flesh and the caskets had been combined in 
drama before Shakespeare's epoch. The scenes in 
Shakespeare's play in which Antonio negotiates with 

' Cf. W. G. Waters's translation of II Pecorone, pp. 44-60 (fourth 
day, novel i). The Italian collection was not published till 1558, and 
the story followed by Shakespeare was not accessible in his day in any 
language but the original. 


Shylock are roughly anticipated, too, by dialogues be- 
tween a Jewish creditor Gerontus and a Christian debtor 
in the extant play of 'The Three Ladies of London' by 
R[obert] W[ilson], which was printed in 1584.^ There 
the Jew opens the attack on his Christian debtor with the 

Signor Mercatore, why do you not pay me? Think you I will be 
mocked in this sort? 

This three times you have flouted me — it seems you make thereat a 

Truly pay me my money, and that even now presently, 

Or by mighty Mahomet, I swear I will forthwith arrest thee. 

Subsequently, when the judge is passing judgment in 
favour of the debtor, the Jew interrupts : 

Stay there, most puissant judge. Signor Mercatore, consider what 
you do. 

Pay me the principal, as for the interest I forgive it you. 

Such phrases are plainly echoed by Shakespeare.^ 

Above all is it of interest to note that Shakespeare 
in ' The Merchant of Venice ' shows the last indisputable 
Shylock ^^^ material trace of his discipleship to Mar- 
andRode- lowe. Although the delicate comedy wMch 
rigo opez. ligj^^gj^g ^.jjg serious interest of Shakespeare's 
play sets it in a wholly different category from that of 
Marlowe's 'Jew of Malta,' the humanized portrait of 
the Jew Shylock embodies reminiscences of Marlowe's 

'■ The author Robert Wilson was, like Shakespeare himself, well 
known both as player and playwright. The London historian Stow 
credited him with 'a quick delicate refined extemporal wit.' He made 
a reputation by his improvisations. In his Three Ladies of London, as 
ui the other plays assigned to him, allegorical characters (in the vein of 
the morality) join concrete men and women in the dramatis persona. 

^ In The Orator (a series of imaginary declamations, which Anthony 
Munday translated from the French and published in 1596) the speech 
of a Jew who claims a pound of flesh of a Christian debtor and the reply 
of the debtor bear a further resemblance to Shylock's and Antonio's 
passages at arms. The first part of the Orator appeared in French in 
1571, and the whole in 1581. It is unsafe to infer that the MerchaiA 
of Vemce must have been written after 1596, the date of the issue of the 
first English version of the Orator. Shakespeare was quite capable of 
consulting the book in the original language. 


caricature presentment of the Jew Barabas, while Mar- 
lowe's Jewess Abigail is step-sister to Shakespeare's 
Jewess Jessica. But everywhere Shakespeare outpaced 
his master, and the inspiration that he drew from Marlowe 
in the ' Merchant ' goes little beyond the general concep- 
tion of the Jewish figures. Marlowe's Jewish hero, al- 
though he is described as a victim of persecution, typifies 
a savage greed of gold, which draws him into every man- 
ner of criminal extravagance. Shakespeare's Jew, de- 
spite his mercenary instinct, is a penetrating and tolerant 
interpretation of racial characteristics which are de- 
graded by an antipathetic enviroimient. Doubtless the 
popular interest aroused by the trial in February 
1594 and the execution in June of the Queen's Jewish 
physician, Roderigo Lopez, incited Shakespeare to a subt- 
ler study of Jewish character than had been essayed be- 
fore.^ It is Shylock (not the merchant Antonio) who is 
the hero of the play, and the main interest culmiiiates 
in the Jew's trial and discomfiture. That solemn scene 
trembles on the brink of tragedy. Very bold is the transi- 

1 Lopez was the Earl of Leicester's physician before 1586, and the 
Queen's chief physician from that date. An accomplished Unguist, with 
friends in all parts of Europe, he acted in 1590, at the request of the Earl 
of Essex, as interpreter to Aiitonio Perez, a victim of PhilipII's perse- 
cution, whom Essex and his associates brought to England in order to 
stimulate the hostihty of the English public to Spain. Don Antonio (as 
the refugee was popularly caUed) proved querulous and exacting. A 
quarrel between Lopez and Essex followed. Spanish agents in London 
offered Lopez a bribe to poison Antonio and the Queen. The evidence 
that he assented to the murderous proposal is incomplete, but he was 
convicted of treason, and, although the Queen long delayed signing his 
death-warrant, he was hanged at Tyburn on June 7, 1594. His trial 
and execution evoked a marked display of anti-Semitism on the part 
of the London populace. Very few Jews were domiciled in England 
at the time. That a Christian named Antonio should be the cause of 
the ruin alike of the greatest Jew in Elizabethan England and of the 
greatest Jew of the Elizabethan drama is a curious confirmation of the 
theory that Lopez was the begetter of Shylock. Cf. the article on 
Roderigo Lopez in the Dictionary of National Biography; '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; New Shakespere Soc. Trans. 1887-92, pt. ii. pp. 158- 
92; 'The Conspiracy of Dr. Lopez,' by the Rev. Arthur Dimock, m 
English Historical Review (1894), iv. 440 seq. 


tion to the gently poetic and humorous incidents of the 
concluding act, where Portia and her waiting maid in 
masculine disguise lightly banter their husbands Bassanio 
and Gratiano on their apparent fickleness. The change 
of- tone attests a mastery of stage craft ; yet the interest 
of the play, while it is sustained to the end, is, after 
Shylock's final exit, pitched in a lower key. 

A piece called "The Venesyon Comedy' which the 
Lord Admiral's men produced at the Rose theatre on 
August 25, 1594, and performed twelve times 
k^owkdg- within the following nine months,^ was pre- 
mentsto sumcd by Malone to be an early version of 
- cpj^g Merchant of Venice.' The identifica- 
tion is very doubtful, but the 'Merchant's' af&nity with 
Marlowe's work, and the metrical features which resemble 
those of the 'Two Gentlemen,' suggest that the -date of 
first composition was scarcely later than 1 594. ' The Mer- 
chant' is the latest play in which Marlowe's sponsorship 
is a living inspiration. Shakespeare's subsequent allu- 
sions to his association with Marlowe sound like fading 
reminiscences of the past. In 'As You Like It' (in. v. 
80) he parenthetically and vaguely commemorated his 
acquaintance with the elder dramatist by apostrophising 
him in the Hnes : 

Dead Shepherd ! now I find thy saw of might : 
'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?' 

The 'saw' is a quotation from Marlowe's poem 'Hero and 
Leander' (line 76). In the 'Merry Wives of Windsor' 
(ill. i. 17-21) Shakespeare places on the Ups of Sir Hugh 
Evans, the Welsh parson, confused snatches of verse from 
Marlowe's charming lyric, ' Come live with me and be my 
love.' The echoes of his master's voice have lost their 

On July 17, 1598, several years after its production 
on the stage, the well-established 'stationer' James 
Roberts, who printed the second edition of 'Titus 

1 Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, i. 19, ii. 167 and 170. 


Andronicus' and other of Shakespeare's plays, secured a 
license from the Stationers' Company for the publica- 
tion of 'The Merchaunt of Venyce, or otherwise pubUcation 
called the Jewe of Venyce.' But to the hcense of 'The 
there was attached the unusual condition that M^'^'^'^^n'' 
neither Roberts nor 'any other whatsoever' should print 
the piece before the Lord Chamberlain gave his assent to 
the publication.^ More than two years elapsed after the 
grant of the original license before 'The Merchant' 
actually issued from the press. 'By consent of Master 
Roberts' a second license was granted on October 28, 
1600, to another stationer Thomas Heyes (or Haies), and 
when the year 1600 was closing Heyes published- the first 
edition which Roberts printed for him. Heyes's text, 
which was more satisfactory than was customary, was in 
due time transferred to the First FoHo.^ 

To 1594 must be assigned one more historical piece, 
'King John.' Like the First and Third Parts of 'Henry 
VI' and 'Richard II' the play altogether 'King 
eschews prose. Strained conceits and rhe- J°^°' 

' Arber, Stationers' Registers, iii. 122. Apparently the players were 
endeavouring to persuade their patron the Lord Chamberlain to exert 
his influence against the unauthorised publication of plays. On June i, 
IS99, the wardens of the Stationers' Company, by order of the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, gave the drastic direc- 
tion 'That noe playes be printed excepte they bee allowed by suche as 
haue aucthorytie.' The prohibition would seem to have resulted in a 
temporary suspension of the issue of plays which were in the repertory 
of Shakespeare's company; but the old irregular conditions were re- 
sumed in the autumn of 1600, and they experienced no further check in 
Shakespeare's era. 

2 The imprint of the first quarto of The Merchant runs : 'At London, 
Printed by I[ames] R[oberts] for Thomas Heyes and are to be sold in 
Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Greene Dragon. 1600.' Cf. 
Arber, Transcript, iii. 175. Heyes attached pecuniary, value to his 
publishing rights in The Merchant of Venice. On July 8, 1619, his son, 
Laurence, as heir to his father, paid a fee to the Stationers' Company on 
their granting him a formal recognition of his exclusive interest in the 
publication (Arber, iii. 651). There is ground for treating another early 
quarto of The Merchant which bears the imprint 'Printed by J. Roberts 
1600' as a revised but unauthorised and misdated reprint of Heyes's 
quarto which William Jaggard, the successor to Roberts's press, printed 
for Thomas Pavier, an unprincipled stationer, in 1619 (see Pollard, 
Shakespeare Folios and Quartos, 1909, pp. 81 seq., and p. 559 infra). 


torical extravagances which tend to rant and bom- 
bast are clear proofs of early composition. Again the 
theme had already attracted dramatic effort. Very 
early in Queen Elizabeth's reign, Bishop Bale, a fanati- 
cal protestant controversialist, had produced a crude piece 
called 'King Johan,' which presented from an ultra- 
protestant point of view the story of that King's struggle 
with Rome for the most part allegorically, after the 
manner of the morality. There is no evidence that 
Shakespeare knew anything of Bale's work, which re- 
mained in manuscript until 1838. More pertinent is the 
circumstance that in 1591 there was pubUshed anony- 
mously a rough piece in two parts entitled ' The Trouble- 
some Raigne of King John.' A preHminary 'Address to 
the Gentlemen Readers' reminds them of the good re- 
ception which they lately gave to the Scythian TambuF= 
laine. This reference to Marlowe's tragedy points to 
the model which the unknown author set before himself. 
There is no other ground for associating Marlowe's name 
with the old play, which lacks any sign of genuine power. 
Yet the old piece deserves grateful mention, for it sup- 
plied Shakespeare with all his material for his new 'his- 
tory.' In 'King John' he worked without disguise over 
a predecessor's play, and sought no other authority. 
Every episode and every character are anticipated in 
the previous piece. Like his guide, Shakespeare em- 
braces the whole sixteen years of King John's reign, yet 
spends no word on the chief political event — the signing 
of Magna Carta. But into the adaptation Shakespeare 
flung all his energy, and the theme grew under his hand 
into great tragedy. It is not only that the chief charac- 
ters are endowed with new Ufe and glow with dramatic 
fire, but the narrow polemical and malignant censure of 
Rome and Spain which disfigures the earher play is for 
the most part eliminated. The old ribald scene de- 
signed to expose the debaucheries of the monks of 
Swinstead Abbey is expunged by Shakespeare, and he 
pays Uttle heed to the legend of the monk's poisoning 


of King John, which fills a large place on the old canvas. 
The three chief characters ■ — the mean and cruel king, the 
noble-hearted and desperately wronged Constance, and 
the soldierly humorist, Faulconbridge — are recreated 
by Shakespeare's pen, and are portrayed with the same 
sureness of touch that marks in Shylock his rapidly 
maturing strength. The scene in which the gentle boy 
Arthur learns from Hubert that the king has ordered 
his eyes to be put out is as affecting as any passage in 
tragic literature. The older playwright's Ufeless presen- 
tation of the incident gives a fair measure of his inepti- 
tude. Shakespeare's 'King John' was not printed till 
1623, but an unprincipled and ill-advised endeavour was 
made meanwhile to steal a march on the reading public. 
In 1611 the old piece was reissued as 'written by W. Sh.' 
In 1622 the publisher went a step further in his career of 
fraud and on the title-page of a new edition declared its 
author to be 'W. Shakespeare.' 

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 (apparently by professional of Errors' 
actors) on the evening of Innocents' Day j^^^^u 
(December 28), 1594, in the hall of Gray's Inn, 
before a crowded audience of benchers, students, and 
their friends. 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,' a contemporary 
chronicler states, 'was begun and continued to the end 
in nothing but confusion and errors, whereupon it was 
ever afterwards called the "Night of Errors." ' ^ Shake- 
speare was acting on the same day before the Queen at 
Greenwich, and it is doubtful if he were present. On the 
morrow a commission of oyer and terminer inquired into 

' Gesla Grayorum, printed in 1688 from a contemporary manuscript. 
A second perfonnance of the Comedy of Errors was given at Gray's Inn 
Hall by the Elizabethan Stage Society on Dec. 6, 1895. 


the causes of the tumult, which was mysteriously attri- 
buted to a sorcerer having 'foisted a company of base and 
common fellows to make up our disorders with a play of 
errors and confusions.' 

Fruitful as were these early years, there are critics who 
would enlarge by conjecture the range of Shakespeare's 
Early plays accredited activities. Two plays of uncertain 
doubtfuUy authorship attracted pubUc attention during 
shaS- ° the period under review (1591-4) — 'Arden of 
speare. Feversham' ^ and 'Edward III.' ^ Shake- 
speare's hand has been traced in both, mainly on the 
ground that their dramatic energy is of a quality 
not to be discerned in the work of any contemporary 
whose writings are extant. There is no external evi- 
dence in favour of Shakespeare's authorship in either 
case. 'Arden of Feversham' dramatises with intensity 
and insight a sordid murder of a husband by a wife which 
was perpetrated at Faversham on February 15, 1550-1, 
'Axden of ^^*^ ^^^ fuUy reported by Holinshed and more 
Fever- briefly by Stow. The subject in its realistic 
^ **"■ veracity is of a different t3T)e from any which 
Shakespeare is known to have treated, and although 
the play may be, as 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 
date so early as 1591 or 1592. The character of the 
murderess (Arden's wife AHce) is finely touched, but her 
brutal instincts strike a jarring note which conflicts with 
the Shakespearean spirit of tragic art.* 

'Edward III' is a play in Marlowe's vein, and has 
been assigned to Shakespeare with greater confidence on 
even more shadowy grounds. The competent Shake- 

' Licensed for publication April 3, 1592, and published in 1592. 

2 Licensed for publication December i, 1595, and published in 1596. 

' In 1770 the critic Edward Jacob, in his edition of Arden of Fever- 
sham, first assigned Arden to Shakespeare,' claiming it to be 'his earliest 
dramatic work.' Swinburne supported the theory, which is generally 
discredited. The piece would seem to be by some unidentified disciplfe 
of Kyd (cf. Kyd's Works, ed. Boas, p. kxxix). 


spearean critic Edward Capell reprinted it in his ' Pro- 
lusions ' in 1760, and described it as 'thought to be writ 
by Shakespeare.' A century later Tennyson 'Edward 
accepted with some qualification the attri- ^^■' 
bution, which Swinburne, on the other hand, warmly 
contested. The piece is a curious medley of history and 
romance. Its main theme, confusedly drawn from Holin- 
shed, presents Edward Ill's wars in France, with the 
battles of Crecyand.Poitiers and the capture of Calais, but 
the close of act i. and the whole of act 11. dramatise an 
unhistoric tale of dishonourable love which the Italian 
novelist Bandello told of an unnamed King of England 
who sought to defile 'the Countess of SaKsbury,' the wife 
of a courtier. Bandello's fiction was rendered into Eng- 
lish in Painter's ' Palace of Pleasure,' and the author of 
'Edward III' unwarrantably put the tale of ilUcit love 
to the discredit of his hero. Many speeches scattered 
through the drama and the whole scene (act n. sc. ii.) , in 
which the Countess of Salisbury repulses the advances 
of Edward III, show the hand of a master. The Coun- 
tess's language, which breathes a splendid romantic en- 
ergy, has chiefly led critics to credit Shakespeare with 
responsibility for the piece. But there is even in the style 
of these contributions much to dissociate them from 
Shakespeare's acknowledged work, and to justify their 
ascription to some less gifted disciple of Marlowe.^ A 
line in act 11. sc. i. ('Lihes that fester smell far worse than 
weeds') reappears in Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' (xciv. 
line 14),^ and there are other expressions in those poems, 
which seem to reflect phrases in the play of 'Edward III.' 
It was contrary to Shakespeare's practice literally to 
plagiarise himself. Whether the dramatist borrowed 
from a manuscript copy of the 'Sonnets' or the sonnet- 
teer borrowed from the drama are questions which are 
easier to ask than to answer.* 

' Cf. Swinburne, Study of Shakespeare, pp. 231-274. 
2 See p. IS9 infra. , . , . . t 1 1 

' For other plays of somewhat later date which have been falsely 
assigned to Shakespeare, see pp. 260 seq. infra. 



During the busy years (1591-4) that witnessed his first 
pronounced successes as a dramatist, Shakespeare came 
Publication before the pubUc in yet another Hterary. ca- 
of 'Venus pacity. On April 18, 1593, Richard Field, 
Adonis,' the printer, who was his feUow-townsman, ob- 
^593- tained a license for the publication of 'Venus 

and Adonis,' Shakespeare's metrical version of a classi- 
cal tale of love. The manuscript was set up at Field's 
press at Blackfriars, and the book was published in 
accordance with the common contemporary division 
of labour by the stationer John Harrison, whose shop was 
at the sign of the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Church^ 
yard. No author's name fi,gured on the title-page, but 
Shakespeare appended his full signature to the dedica- 
tion, which he addressed in conventional terms to Henry 
Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton. The Earl, who 
was in his twentieth year, was reckoned the hand- 
somest man at Court, with a pronounced disposition to 
gallantry. He had vast possessions, was well educated, 
loved literature, and through hfe extended to men of 
letters a generous patronage.^ 'I know not 
to the Earl how I shall offend,' Shakespeare now wrote to 
ampto'n" ^™ ^^ ^ ^^V^^ flavoured by euphuism, 'in dedi- 
cating my unpolished lines to your lordship, 
nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong: 
a prop to support so weak a burden ; only if your Honour 
seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and 
vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have hon- 

' See Appendix, sections iii. and iv. 


cured you with some graver labour. But if the first 
heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it 
had so noble a godfather ; and never after ear [i.e. plough] 
so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. 
I leave it to your honourable survey, and your Honour 
to your heart's content ; which I wish may always answer 
your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.' 
The subscription ran ' Your Honour's in all duty, WilUam 

The writer's mention of the work as 'the first heir of 
my invention' implies that the poem was written, or at 
least designed, before Shakespeare undertook .The first 
any of his dramatic work. But there is reason heir of my 
to believe that the first draft lay in the author's '"^™''°°- 
desk through four or five summers and underwent some 
retouching before it emerged from the press in its final 
shape. Shakespeare, with his gigantic powers of work, 
could apparently count on 'idle hours' even in the 
well-filled days which saw the completion of the four 
original plays — 'Love's Labour's Lost,' 'Two Gentle- 
ment of Verona,' 'Comedy of Errors,' and 'Romeo and 
Juliet' — as well as the revision of the three parts of 
'Henry VI' and 'Titus Andronicus,' while 'Richard III' 
and ' Richard II ' were in course of drafting. Marlowe's 
example may here as elsewhere have stimulated Shake- 
speare's energy ; for at that writer's death (June i, 1593) 
he left unfinished a poetic rendering of another amorous 
tale of classic breed — the story of Hero and Leander 
by the Greek poet Musaeus.^ 

Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' is affluent in 
beautiful imagery and metrical sweetness; but it is 

* Marlowe's Hero and Leander was posthumously licensed for the 
press on September 28, 1593, some months after Venus and Adonis; 
but it was not published till 1598, in a volume to which George Chap- 
man contributed a continuation completing the work. About 1596 
Richard Carew in a letter on the 'ExceUencie of the English tongue' 
linked Shakespeare's poem with Marlowe's 'fragment,' and credited 
them jointly with the literary merit of Catullus (Camden's Remaines, 
1614, p. 43). 


imbued with a juvenile tone of license, which harmo- 
nises with its pretension of youthful origin. The irrele- 
vant details, the many figures drawn from the sounds and 
sights of rural or domestic life, confirm the impression of 
adolescence, although the graphic justness of observation 
and the rich harmonies of language anticipate the touch' 
of maturity, and traces abound of wide reading in both 
classical and recent domestic literature. The topic was 
one which was likely to appeal to a young patron like 
Southampton, whose culture did not discourage lascivious 

The poem offers signal proof of Shakespeare's early 
devotion to Ovid. The title-page bears a beautiful Latin 
motto : 

Vilia miretur vulgus ; mihi flavus Apollo 
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua. 

The lines come from the Roman poet's 'Amores,' and, 
in his choice of the couplet, Shakespeare again showed 
loyalty to Marlowe's example.^ 

The legend of Venus and Adonis was sung by Theoc- 
ritus and Bion, the pastoral poets of Sicily; but 
The debt Shakespeare made its acquaintance in the brief 
to Ovid. version which figures in a work by Ovid which 
is of greater note than his 'Amores' — in his 'Meta- 
morphoses' (Book X. 520-560; 707-738). Not that 

' The motto is taken from Ovid's Amores, liber i. elegy xv. 11. 35-6. 
Portions of the Amores or Elegies of Love were translated by Mar- 
lowe about 1589, and were first printed without a date, probably 
about IS97, in Epigrammes and Elegies by I[ohn] D[avies] and C[hris- * 
topher] M[arlowe]. Marlowe, whose version circulated in manuscript 
in the eight years' interval, rendered the lines quoted by Shakespeare 

Let base conceited wits admire vile things, 
Fair Phoebus lead me to the Muses' springs ! 

This poem of Ovid's Amores was popular with other Elizabethans. 
Ben Jonson placed another version of it on the lips of a character called 
Ovid in his play of the Poetaster (1602). Jonson presents Shakespeare's 
motto in the awkward garb : 

Kneele hindes to trash : me let bright Phoebus swell, 
With cups full flowing from the Muses' well. 


Shakespeare was a slavish borrower. On Ovid's nar- 
rative of the Adonic fable he embroidered reminis- 
cences of two independent episodes in the same treasury 
of mythology, viz. : the wooing of the reluctant Herma- 
phroditus by the maiden Sahnacis (Book IV.) and the 
hunting of the Calydonian boar (Book VIII.). Again, 
however helpful Ovid's work proved to Shakespeare, 
'the first heir' of his invention found supplementary 
inspiration elsewhere. The Roman poet had given the 
myth a European vogue. Echoes of it are heard in the 
pages of Dante and Chaucer, and it was developed before 
Shakespeare wrote by poets of the Renaissance in six- 
teenth-century Italy and France. In the year of 
Shakespeare's birth Ronsard, the chieftain of contempo- 
rary French poetry, versified the tale of Venus and Adonis 
with pathetic charm,^ and during Shakespeare's boyhood 
many fellow-countrymen emulated the Continental 
example. Spenser, Robert Greene, and Marlowe bore 
occasional witness in verse to the myth's influence, 
fascination, while Thomas Lodge described in of Lodge, 
detail Adonis's death and Venus's grief in prefatory 
stanzas before his 'Scillaes Metamorphosis: Enterlaced 
with the unfortunate love of Glaucus' (published in 
1589). Lodge's main theme was a different fable, 
drawn from the same rich mine of Ovid. His effort is 
the most notable pre-Shakespearean experiment in the 
acclimatisation of Ovid's ' Metamorphoses ' in English 

Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' is in the direct 
succession of both Continental and Elizabethan culture, 
which was always loyal to classical tradition. His metre 
is the best proof of his susceptibihty to current vogue. 
He employed the sixain or six-line stanza rhyming ababcc, 
which is the commonest of all forms of narrative verse 
in both EngUsh and French poetry of the sixteenth 
century. Spenser had proved the stanza's capacity in his 
'Astrophel,' his elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, while Thomas 
1 See French Renaissance in England, 220. 


Lodge had shown its adaptabiKty to epic purpose in that 
Ovidian poem of 'Scillaes Metamorphosis' which treats 
in part of Shakespeare's theme. On metrical as well as 
on critical grounds Lodge should be credited with helping 
efficiently to mould Shakespeare's first narrative poem.' 
A year after the issue of 'Venus and Adonis,' in 1594, 
Shakespeare pubHshed another poem in Kke vein, which 
'Lucr ' ^°^^ ^^^ tragic tale of Lucrece, the accepted 
pattern of conjugal fidelity alike through 
classical times and the Middle Ages. The tone is graver 
than that of its predecessor,' and the poet's reading 
had clearly taken a wider range. Moral reflections 
abound, and there is some advance in metrical dex- 
terity and verbal harmony. But there is less fresh- 
ness in the imagery and at times the language tends to 
bombast. Long digressions interrupt the flow of the 
narrative. The heroine's allegorical addresses to ' Op- 
portunity Time's servant' and to 'Time the lackey of 
Eternity' occupy 133 hues (869-1001), while the spirited 
description of a picture of the siege of Troy is prolonged 
through 202 hues (1368-1569), nearly a ninth part of the 
whole poem. The metre is changed. The six-line stanza 
of 'Venus' is replaced by a seven-line stanza which 
Chaucer often used in the identical form ababbcc. The 

* Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis and Lodge's Scillaes Metamor- 
phosis, by James P. Reardon, in 'Shakespeare Society's Papers,' iiL 
143-6. Cf. Lodge's description of Venus's discovery of tlie wounded 
Adonis : 

Her daintie hand addrest to dawe her deere. 
Her roseall lip alied to his pale cheeke. 
Her sighs and then her lookes and heavie cheere, 
Her bitter threates, and then her passions meeke : 

How on his senseless corpse she lay a-crying, 

As if the boy were then but new a-dymg. 

In the minute description in Shakespeare's poem of the chase of the 
hare (11. 673-708) there are curious resemblances to the Ode de la Chase. 
(on a stag hunt) by the French dramatist, Estienne Jodelle, in his (Euvres 
et Meslanges Poetiques, 1574. For fuller illustration of Shakespeare's 
sources and analogues of the poem, and of its general literary history and 
bibliography, see the present writer's introduction to the facsimile re- 
production of the first quarto edition of Venus and Adonis (1593), Claren- 
don Press, 1905. 


stanza was again common among Elizabethan poets. 
Prosodists christened it 'rhyme royal' and regarded it 
as peculiarly well adapted to any 'historical or grave' 

The second poem was entered in the 'Stationers' 
Registers' on May 9, 1594, under the title of 'A Booke 
in titled the Ravyshement of Lucrece,' and pj^.^^ 
was pubUshed in the same year under the title edition, 
of 'Lucrece.' As in the case of 'Venus and '^'*' 
Adonis,' it was printed by Shakespeare's fellow-towns- 
man Richard Field. But the copyright was vested in 
John Harrison, who pubhshed and sold it at the sign of 
the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard. He was 
a prominent figure in the book-trade of the day, being 
twice master of the Stationers' Company, and shortly 
after publishing Shakespeare's second poem he acquired 
of Field the copyright, in addition, of the dramatists' 
first poem, of which he was already the publisher. 

Lucrece's story, which flourished in classical literature, 
was absorbed by mediaeval poetry, and like the tale of 
Venus and Adonis was subsequently endowed Sources of 
with new fife by the literary effort of the Euro- 'he story, 
pean Renaissance. There are signs that Shakespeare ' 
sought hints at many hands. The classical version 
of Ovid's 'Fasti' (ii. 721-852) gave him a primary 
clue. But at the same time he seems to have assimilated 
suggestion from Livy's version of the fable in his ' History 
of Rome' (Bk. I. ch. 57-59), which Wilham Painter para- 
phrased in EngHsh in the 'Palace of Pleasure.' Ad- 
mirable help was also available in Chaucer's 'Legend of 
Good Women' (fines 1680-1885), where the fifth section 
deals with Lucretia's pathetic fortunes, and Bandello had 
developed the theme in an Itafian novel. Again, as in 
'Venus and Adonis,' there are subsidiary indications in 
phrase, episode, and sentiment of Shakespeare's debt to 
contemporary Engfish poetry. The accents of Shake- 
speare's 'Lucrece' often echo those of Daniel's poetic 
'Complaint of Rosamond' (King Henry II's mistress), 


which, with its seven-Hne stanza (1592), stood to 'Lu- 
crece' in even closer relation than Lodge's 'Scilla,'^ with 
its six-line stanza, to ' Venus and Adonis.' The piteous 
accents of Shakespeare's heroine are those of Daniel's 
heroine purified and glorified.^ Lucrece's apostrophe to 
Time (lines 939 seq.) suggests indebtedness to two other 
English poets, Thomas Watson in 'Hecatompathia,' 
1582 (Sonnets xlvii. and Ixxvii.), and Giles Fletcher in 
'Licia,' 1593 (Sonnet xxviii.)- Fletcher anticipated at 
many points Shakespeare's catalogue of Time's varied 
activities.^ The curious appeal of Lucrece to personi- 
fied 'Opportunity' (lines 869 seq.) appears to be his 
unaided invention. 

Shakespeare dedicated his second volume of poetry to 
the Earl of Southampton, the patron of his first, but his 
Second language displays a greater warmth of feeling, 
letter to Shakespeare now addressed the young Earl in 
South- terms of devoted friendship, which were not un- 
ampton. common at the time in communications be- 
tween patrons and poets, but they suggest here 
that Shakespeare's relations with the brilUant young 
nobleman had grown closer since he dedicated 'Venus 
and Adonis' to him in more formal style a year before. 
' The love I dedicate to your lordship,' Shakespeare wrote 

* Rosamond, in Daniel's poem, muses thus when King Henry chal- 
lenges her honour : 

But what? he is my King and may constraine me; 
Whether I yeeld or not, I live defamed. 
The World will thinke Authoritie did gaine me, 
I shall be judg'd his Love and so be shamed ; 
We see the faire condemn'd that never gamed. 

And if I yeeld, 'tis honourable shame. 

If not, I live disgrac'd, yet thought the same. 

' The general conception of Time's action can of course be traced 
very far back in poetry. Watson acknowledged that his lines were 
borrowed from the ItaUan Serafino, and Fletcher imitated the NeapoUtan 
Latinist Angerianus; while both Serafino and Angerianus owed much 
to Ovid's pathetic lament in Tristia (iv. 6, i-io). That Shakespeare 
knew Watson's chain of reflections seems proved by his verbatim quota- 
tion of one link in Muck Ado about Nothing (i. i. 271) : 'In time the 
savage bull doth bear the yoke.' There are plain indications in Shake- 
speare's Sonnets that Fletcher's Licia was faroiUar to him. 


in the opening pages of ' Lucrece,' ' is without end, whereof 
this pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous 
moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable dis- 
position, not the worth of my untutored hues, makes it 
assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours, what I 
have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours. 
Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater ; 
meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship ; to whom 
I wish long hfe still lengthened with all happiness.' The 
subscription runs ' Your Lordship's in all duty, Wil- 
liam Shakespeare.' ^ 

In these poems Shakespeare made his earliest appeal 
to the world of readers. The London playgoer already 
knew his name as that of a promising actor 
and a successful playwright. But when ' Ve- f" rece^' 
nus and Adonis' appeared in 1593, no word tionoifthe 
of his dramatic composition had seen the hght ^° p"^""^' 
of the printing press. Early in the following year, a 
month or two before the pubhcation of ' Lucrece,' there 
were issued the plays of ' Titus Andronicus ' and the first 
part of the 'Contention' (the early draft of the Second 
Part of 'Henry VI'), to both of which Shakespeare had 
lent a revising hand. But so far, his original dramas had 
escaped the attention of traders in books. His early 
plays brought him at the outset no reputation as a man 
of letters. It was not as the myriad-minded dramatist, 
but in the restricted rdle of versifier of classical fables 
familiar to all cultured Europe, that he first impressed 
studious contemporaries with the fact of his mighty 
genius. The reading public welcomed his poetic tales 
with unquahfied enthusiasm. The sweetness of the verse, 
the poetic flow of the narrative, and the graphic imagery 
discountenanced censure of the hcentious treatment of 
the themes even on the part of the seriously minded. 
Critics vied with each other in the exuberance of the eulo- 

' For fuller illustration of the poem's literary history and bibliography, 
see the present writer's introduction to the facsimile reproduction of &e 
first quarto edition of Lucrece (1594), Clarendon Press, 1905; 


gies in which they proclaimed that the fortunate author 
had gained a place in permanence on the sunmrit of 
Parnassus. 'Lucrece,' wrote Michael Drayton in his 
'Legend of Matilda' (1594), was 'revived to Kve another 
age.' A year later William Covell, a Cambridge fellow, 
in his 'PoHmanteia,' gave 'all praise' to 'sweet Shake- 
speare' for his 'Lucrecia.' ^ 

In 1598 Richard Barnfield, a poet of some lyric power, 
sums up the general estimate of the two works thus : 

Bamfield's And Shakespeare thou, whose hony-flowing Vaine, 
tribute. (Pleasmg the World) thy Praises doth obtaine. 

Whose Venus, and whose Lucrece (sweete and chaste) 
Thy name in fames immortall Booke have plac't, 
Live ever you, at least in Fame live ever : 
Well may the Bodye dye, but Fame dies never.' 

In the same year the rigorous critic and scholar, Gabriel 
Harvey, distinguished between the respective impres- 
sions which the two poems made on the pubUc. Harvey 
reported that 'the younger sort take much dehght' in 
'Venus and Adonis,' while 'Lucrece' pleased 'the wiser 
sort.' ^ A poetaster John Weever, in a sormet addressed 
to ' honey- tongued Shakespeare' in his 'Epigramms' 
(1599), eulogised the poems indiscriminately as an un- 
matchable achievement, while making vaguer and less 
articulate mention of the plays 'Romeo' and 'Richard' 
and 'more whose names I know not.' 

Printers and publishers of both poems strained their 
resources to satisfy the demands of eager purchasersi 
No fewer than six editions of ' Venus ' appeared between 
1592 and 1602 ; a seventh followed in 1617, and a 

* In a copy supposed to be unique of this work, formerly the property 
of Prof. Dowden, the author gives his name at the foot of the dedication 
to the Earl of Essex as 'W. Covell.' (See Dowden's Sale Catalogue 
Hodgson and Co., London, Dec. i6, 1913, p. 40.) Covell was a Fellow 
of Queens' College, Cambridge. (See Diet. Nat. Biog.) In aU other 
known copies of the PoHmanteia the author's signature appears as 
'W. C — initials which have been wrongly identified with those of 
William Clerke, FeEow of Trinity College, Cambridge. 

2 Bamfield's Poems in Divers Humours, 1589, 'A Remembrance of 
some English Poets.' 

' Harvey's Marginalia, ed. G. C. Moore Smith, 1913 ; see p. 358. 


twelfth in 1636. 'Lucrece ' achieved a fifth edition in the 
year of Shakespeare's death, and an eighth edition in 

There is a likelihood, too, that Edmund Spenser, the 
greatest of Shakespeare's poetic contemporaries, was first 
drawn by the poems into the ranks of Shake- g^^^^ 
speare's admirers. Among the ten contempo- speareand 
rary poets whom Spenser saluted mostly under ^p™^"- 
fanciful names in his 'CoUn Clouts come home againe' 
(completed in 1594),^ it is hardly doubtful that he greeted 
Shakespeare under the name of 'Aetion' — a familiar 
Greek proper name derived from aertk, an eagle. Spen- 
ser wrote : 

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 himseUe, heroically sound. 

The last hne alludes to Shakespeare's surname, and ad- 
umbrates the later tribute paid by the dramatist's friend, 
Ben Jonson, to his 'true-filed lines,' which had the power 
of 'a lance as brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.' ' We 
may assume that the admiration of Spenser for Shake- 
speare was reciprocal. At any rate Shakespeare paid 
Spenser the compliment of making reference to his 
"Teares of the Muses' (1591) in 'Midsummer Night's 
Dream' (v. i. 52-3). 

The thrice three Muses, mourning for the death] 
Of learning, late deceased in beggary, 

is there paraded as the theme of one of the dramatic 
entertainments wherewith it is proposed to celebrate 

* See pp. S42-3 infra. 

' Cf. Malone's Variorum, ii. 224-279, where an able attempt is made 
to identify all the writers noticed by Spenser, e.g. Thotaas Churchyard 
('Harpalus'), Abraham Fraunce ('Corydon'), Arthur Gorges ('Alcyon'), 
George Peele ('Palin'), Thomas Lodge ('Alcon'), Arthur Golding 
('Palemon'), and the fifth Earl of Derby ('Amyntas'), the patron of 
Shakespeare's company of actors. Spenser mentions Alabaster and 
Daniel without disguise. 

' 'Similarly Fuller, in his Worthies, likens Shakespeare to 'Martial 
in the warlike sound of his surname.' 


Theseus's marriage. In Spenser's 'Teares of the Muses' 
each of the Nine laments in turn her decUning influence 
on the Uterary and dramatic effort of the age. Shake- 
speare's Theseus dismisses the suggestion with the frank 
but not unkindly comment : 

That is some satire keen and critical, 
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony. 

But it may be safely denied that Spenser in the same 
poem referred figuratively to Shakespeare when he made 
Thalia deplore the recent death of ' our pleasant WiUy.' ' 
The name Willy was frequently used in contemporary 
hterature as a term of familiarity without relation to the 
baptismal name of the person referred to. Sir Philip 
Sidney was addressed as 'Willy' by some of his elegists. 
A comic actor, ' dead of late ' in a Hteral sense, was clearly 
intended by Spenser, and there is no reason to dispute 
the view of an early seventeenth-century commentator 
that Spenser was paying a tribute to the loss English 
comedy had lately sustained by the death of the comedian, 
Richard Tarleton.^ Similarly the 'gentle spirit' who is 
described by Spenser in a still later stanza as sitting 'in 
idle cell' rather than turn his pen to base uses cannot be 
more reasonably identified with Shakespeare.* 

^ All these and all that els the Comick Stage 
With seasoned wit and goodly pleasance graced. 
By which mans life in his likest image 
Was Umned forth, are wholly now defaced . . . 
And he, the man whom Natmre selfe had made 
To mock her selfe and Truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under mimick shade. 
Our pleasant Willy, ah ! is dead of late ; 
With whom all joy and jolly meriment 
Is also deaded and in dolour drent (11. 199-210). 

2 A note to this effect, in a genuine early seventeenth-century hand 
was discovered by HalliweU-PhUlipps in a copy of the 161 1 edition of 
Spenser's Works (cf. Outlines, ii. 394-5). 

' But that same gentle spirit, from whose pen 
Largestreames of honnie and sweete nectar flowe, 
Scorning the boldnes of such base-borne men 
Which dare their foUies forth so rashlie throwe. 
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell 
Than so himselfe to mockerie to sell (11. 217-22). 


Meanwhile Shakespeare was gaining personal esteem in 
a circle more exclusive than that of actors, men of letters, 
or the general reading public. His genius and patrons 
'civil demeanour' of which Chettle wrote in at court. 
1592 arrested the notice not only of the brilliant 
Earl of Southampton but of other exalted patrons of 
literature and the drama. His summons to act at Court 
with Burbage and Kemp, the two most famous actors of 
the day, during the Christmas season of 1594 was pos- 
sibly due in part to the personal interest which he had 
excited among satellites of royalty. Queen Elizabeth 
quickly showed him special favour. Until the end of her 
reign his plays were repeatedly acted in her presence. 
Every year his company contributed to her Christmas 
festivities. The revised version of 'Love's Labour's 
Lost' was given at Whitehall at Christmas 1597, and 
tradition credits the Queen with unconcealed enthu- 
siasm for Falstaff, who came into being a little later. 
Under Queen Elizabeth's successor Shakespeare greatly 
strengthened his hold on royal favour, but Ben Jonson 
claimed that the Queen's appreciation equalled that of 
King James I. When Jonson in his elegy of Shake- 
speare wrote 

Those flights upon the banks of Thames 
That so did take Eliza and our James, 

he was mindful of the many representations of Shake- 
speare's plays which glorified the river palaces of White- 
hall, Windsor, Richmond, and Greenwich during the last 
decade of the great Queen's reign. 



It was doubtless to Shakespeare's personal relations with 
men and women of the Court that most of his sonnets 
The vogue owed their existence. In Italy and France the 
of the practice of writing and circulating series of 
Sthan sonnets inscribed to great personages flour- 
sonnet, ished continuously through the. greater part 
of the sixteenth century. In England, until the last 
decade of that century, the vogue was intermittent. 
Wyatt and Surrey inaugurated sonnetteering in the 
English language under Henry VIII, and Thomas 
Watson devoted much energy to the pursuit when 
Shakespeare was a boy. But it was not until 1591, 
when Sir Philip Sidney's collection of sonnets en- 
titled 'Astrophel and Stella' was first published, that 
the sonnet enjoyed in England any conspicuous or con- 
tinuous favour. For the half-dozen years following the 
appearance of Sir Philip Sidney's volume the writing of 
sonnets, both singly and in connected sequences, engaged 
more literary activity in this country than it engaged at 
any period here or elsewhere.^ Men and women of the 
cultivated Elizabethan nobihty encouraged poets to 
celebrate in single sonnets or in short series their virtues 
and graces, and under the same patronage there were 
produced multitudes of long sonnet-sequences which 
more or less fancifully narrated, after the manner of 
Petrarch and his successors, the pleasures and pains of 
love. Between 1591 and 1597 no aspirant to poetic fame 

' Section ix. of the Appendix to this volume gives a sketch of each 
of the numerous collections of sonnets which bore witness to the un- 
exampled vogue of the Elizabethan sonnet between 1591 and 1597. 


in the country failed to count a patron's ears by a trial of 
skill on the popular poetic instrument, and Shakespeare, 
who habitually kept abreast of the currents of contempo- 
rary literary taste, applied himself to sonnetteering with 
all the force of his poetic genius when the fashion was at 
its height. 

The dramatist hghtly experimented with the sonnet 
from the outset of his Hterary career. Ten times he wove 
the quatorzain into his early dramatic verse. 
Seven examples figure in 'Love's Labour's spire's 
Lost,' probably his earUest play^; both the ^g^j^P^"" 
choruses in 'Romeo and Juliet' (before acts i. 
and II.) are couched in the sonnet form ; and a letter of 
the heroine Helena in ' All's Well that Ends Well,' which 
bears traces of early composition, takes the same shape 
(m. iv. 4-17). It has, moreover, been argued ingen- 
iously, if not convincingly, that he was author of the 
somewhat clumsy sonnet, 'Phaeton to his friend Florio,' 
which prefaced in 1591 Florio's 'Second Frutes,' a series 
of Italian-English dialogues for students.^ 

^Love's Labour's Lost, i. i. 80-93, 163-176; rv. ii. 109-122; iii. 26- 
39, 60-73 ; V. ii. 343-56 ; 402-IS- 

' Minto, Characteristics of English Poetry, 1885, pp. 371, 382. The 
sonnet, headed 'Phaeton to his friend Florio,' runs : 

Sweet friend, whose name agrees with thy increase. 

How fit a rival art thou of the Spring ! 

For when each branch hath left his flourishing, 
And green-locked Summer's shady pleasures cease ; 
She makes the Winter's storms repose in peace. 

And spends her franchise on each hving thing : 

The daisies sprout, the Uttle birds do sing. 
Herbs, gums, and plants do vaunt of theh release. 
So when that all our EngUsh Wits lay dead, 

(Except the laurel that is ever green) 
Thou with thy Fruit our barrenness o'erspread, 

And set thy flowery pleasance to be seen. 
Such fruits, such flow'rets of moraUty, 
Were ne'er before brought out of Italy. 

John Florio (iSS3?-ii525), at first a teacher of Italian at Oxford and 
later well known in London as a lexicographer and translator, was a 
protegS of the Earl of Southampton, whose 'pay and patronage' he ac- 
knowledged in 1598 when dedicating to him his Worlde of Wordes. He 
was afterwards a beneficiary of the Earl of Pembroke. His circle of 
acquaintance included the leading men of letters of the day. Shake- 


But these were sporadic efforts. It was not till the 
spring of 1593, after Shakespeare had secured a noble- 

. . man's patronage for his earliest publication, 
of shake^ 'Venus and Adonis,' that he turned to sonnet- 
sonnS teering on the regular plan, outside dramatic 
composed composition. One hundred and fifty-four 
"" ^^^'^' sonnets survive apartfr^m his plays, and there 
are signs that a large part of tne collection was inaugu- 
rated while the two narrative poems were xmder way 
during 1593 and 1594 — his thirtieth and thirty-first 
years. Occasional reference in the sonnets to the 
writer's growing age was a conventional device — trace- 
able to Petrarch — of all sonnetteers of the day, and 
admits of no literal interpretation.^ In matter and in 

speare doubtless knew Florio first as Southampton's proUgl. He quotes 
his fine translation of Montaigne's Essays in The Tempest; seep. 429. 
Although the fact of Shakespeare's acquaintance with Florio is not 
open to question, it is responsible for at least one mistaken inference. 
Farmer and Warburton argue that Shakespeare ridiculed Florio in 
Holofemes in Love's Labour's Lost. They chiefly rely on Florio's bom- 
bastic prefaces to his Worlde of Wordes and his translation of Mon- 
taigne's Essays (1603). There is nothing there to justify the suggestion. 
Florio writes more in the vein of Armado than of Holofernes, and, be- 
yond the fact that he was a teacher of languages to noblemen, he beais 
no resemblance to Holofernes, a village schoolmaster. 
^ Shakespeare writes in his Sonnets : 

My glass shall not persuade me I am old (xxii. i). 

But when my glass shows me myself indeed, 

Seated and chopp'd with taim'd antiquity (Ixii. g-io). 

That time of year thou may'st in me behold 

When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang (bcxiii. 1-2). 

My days are past the best (cxxxviii. 6). 

Daniel in Delia (xxiii.) in 1591, when twenty-nine years old, exclaimed: 

My years draw on my everlasting night, 
. . . My days are done. 

Richard Bamfield, at the age of twenty, bade the boy Ganymede, to 
whom he addressed his Affectionate Shepherd and a sequence of sonnets 
in IS94 (ed. Arber, p. 23) : 

Behold my gray head, full of silver hairs, 
My wrinkled skin, deep furrows in my face. 

Similarly Drayton in a sonnet {Idea, xiv.) published in 1394, when he 
was barely thirty-one, wrote : 

Looking into the glass of my youth's miseries, 

I see the ugly face of my deformed cares 

With withered brows all wrinkled with despairs ; 


manner the greater number of the poems suggest that 
they came from the pen of a man not yet middle-aged. 
Language and imagery closely connect the sonnets 
with the poetic and dramatic work which is known to 
have engaged Shakespeare's early pen. The phrase- 
ology which is matched in plays of a later period is 
smaller in extent than that which finds a parallel in the 
narrative poems of 1593 and 1594, or in the plays of 
similar date. Shakespeare's earliest comedy, 'Love's 
Labour's Lost,' seems to offer a longer list of parallel 
passages than any other of his works. Doubtless he 
renewed his sonnetteering efforts from time to time and 
at irregular intervals during the closing years of Queen 
Ehzabeth's reign, although only once — in the epilogue 
of 'Henry V,' which was penned in 1599 — did he in- 
troduce the sonnet-form into his maturer dramatic verse. 
Sonnet cvn., in which reference is made to Queen Eliza- 
beth's death, may be fairly regarded as one of the latest 
acts of homage on Shakespeare's part to the importu- 
nate vogue of the Ehzabethan sonnet. All the evidence, 
whether internal or external, points to the conclusion 
that the sonnet exhausted such fascination as it exerted 
on Shakespeare before his dramatic genius attained its 
full height. 

In literary value Shakespeare's sonnets are notably 
unequal. Many reach levels of lyric melody and medi- 

and a little later (No. xliii. of the 1599 edition) he repeated how 

Age rules my lines with wrinkles in my face. 

All these lines are echoes of Petrarch, and Shakespeare and Drayton 
followed the Italian master's words more closely than their contempora- 
ries. Cf. Petrarch's Sonnet cxliii. (to Laura aUve), or Sonnet Ixxxi. (to 
Laura after death) ; the latter begins : — 

Dicemi spesso il mio fidato speglio, 

L'animo stance e la cangiata scorza 

E la scemata mia destrezza e forza; 
Non ti nasconder piii : tu se' pur veglio. 

{i.e. 'My faithful glass, my weary spirit and my wrinkled skin, and my 
decaying wit and strength repeatedly tell me: "It cannot longer be 
hidden from you, you are old."') 


tative energy that are hardly to be matched elsewhere 
in poetry. The best examples are charged with the 
Their mellowed sweetness of rhythm and metre, the 
Hterary depth of thought and feeling, the vividness 
value. ^f imagery and the stimulating fervour of ex- 
pression which are the finest fruits of poetic power. On 
the other hand, many sink almost into inanity beneath 
the burden of quibbles and conceits. In both their 
excellences and' their defects Shakespeare's sonnets be- 
tray near kinship to his early dramatic work, in which 
passages of the highest poetic temper at times alternate 
with unimpressive displays of verbal jugglery. There 
is far more concentration in the sonnets than in 'Venus 
and Adonis' or in 'Lucrece,' although traces of their in- 
tensity appear in occasional utterances of Shakespeare's 
Roman heroine. The superior and more evenly sustained 
energy of the sonnets is to be attributed less to the acces- 
sion of power that comes with increase of years than to 
the innate principles of the poetic form, and to metrical 
exigencies, which impelled the sonnetteer to aim at a 
uniform condensation of thought and language. 

In accordance with a custom that was not uncommon, 
Shakespeare did not pubhsh his sonnets ; he circulated 
them in manuscript.^ But their reputation grew, and 

1 The Sonnets of Sidney, Watson, Daniel, and Constable long cir- 
culated in manuscript, and suffered much the same fate as Shakespeare's 
at the hands of piratical publishers. After circulating many years in 
manuscript, Sidney's Sonnets were published in 1591 by an irresponsible 
trader, Thomas Newman, who in his self-advertising dedication wrote of 
the collection that it had been widely 'spread abroad in written copies,' 
and had 'gathered much corruption by ill writers' [i.e. copyists]. Con- 
stable produced in 1592 a collection of twenty sonnets in a volume which 
he entitled 'Diana.' This was an authorised publication. But in 1594 
a printer and a publisher, without Constable's knowledge or sanction, 
reprinted these sonnets and scattered them through a volume of nearly 
eighty miscellaneous sonnets by Sidney and many other hands; tlie 
adventurous publishers bestowed on their medley the title of 'Diana,' 
which Constable had distinctively attached to his own collection. Daniel 
suffered in much the same way. See Appendix ix. for further notes on 
the subject. Proofs of the commonness of the iabit of circulating Utera- 
ture in manuscript abound. Fulke Greville, writing to Sidney's father-in- 
law, Sir Francis Walsingham, in 1587, expressed regret that uncorrected 


public interest was aroused in them in spite of his un- 
readiness to give them publicity. The meUiflu- circulation 
ous verse of Richard B arnfield, which was printed in manu- 
in 1594 and 1595, assimilated many touches ^™p'" 
from Shakespeare's sonnets as well as from his narrative 
poems. A line from one sonnet : 

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds (xciv. 14) * 

and a phrase 'scarlet ornaments' (for 'hps') from another 
(cxlii. 6) were both repeated in the anonymous play of 
'Edward III,' which was pubKshed in 1596 and was prob- 
ably written before 1595. Francis Meres, the critic, 
writing in 1598, enthusiastically commends Shake- 
speare's 'sugred^ sonnets among his private friends,' 
and mentions them in close conjunction with his two 
narrative poems.^ Wilham Jaggard piratically inserted 
in 1599 two of the most mature of the series (Nos. cxxxviii. 
and cxliv.) in the poetic miscellany which he deceptively 
entitled ' The Passionate Pilgrim by W. Shakespeare.' 

At length, in 1609, a collection of Shakespeare's sonnets 
was surreptitiously sent to press. Thomas Thorpe, the 

manuscript copies of the then unprinted Arcadia were 'so common.' 
In 1591 Gabriel Cawood, the publisher of Robert Southwell's Mary 
Magdalen's Funeral Tears, wrote that manuscript copies of the work 
had long flown about 'fast and false.' Nash, in the preface to his Terrors 
oj the Night, 1594, described how a copy of that essay, which a friend 
had 'wrested' from him, had 'progressed [without his authority] from 
one scrivener's shop to another, and at length grew so common that it 
was ready to be hung out for one of their figures [i.e. shop-signs], like a 
pair of indentures.' Thorpe's bookselling friend, Edward Blount, 
gathered together, without the author's aid, the scattered essays by 
John Earle, and he published them in 1628 under the title of Micro- 
cosmographie, frankly describing them as 'many sundry dispersed tran- 
scripts, some very imperfect and surreptitious.' 
' Cf. Sonnet Ixix. 12 : 

To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds. 

^ For other instances of the application of this epithet to Shake- 
speare's work, see p. 259, note i. 

' Meres's words run: 'As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to 
live in Pythagoras: So the sweete wittie soule of Ovid lives in mellifluous 
and hony-tongued Shakespeare, witnes his Ventts and Adonis, his Lttcrece, 
his sugred Sonnets among his private friends, &c.' 


moving spirit in the design of their publication, was a 
camp-follower of the regular publishing army. He was 
professionally engaged in procuring for publica- 
Sraticai tion literary works which had been widely dis- 
pubiication geminated in written copies, and had thus passed 
"^ ' °^' beyond their authors' control ; for the law 
then ignored any natural right in an author to the crea- 
tions of his brain, and the full owner of a manuscript copy 
of any literary composition was entitled to reproduce it, 
or to treat it as he pleased, without reference to the 
author's wishes. Thorpe's career as a procurer of neg- 
lected 'copy' had begun well. He made, in 1600, his 
earliest hit by bringing to light Marlowe's translation of 
the 'First Book of Lucan.' On May 20, 1609, he ob- 
tained a license for the publication of 'Shakespeare's 
Sonnets,' and this tradesman-like form of title figured not 
only on the 'Stationers' Company's Registers,' but on 
the title-page. Thorpe employed George Eld, whose 
press was at the White Horse, in Fleet Lane, Old Bailey, 
to print the work, and two booksellers, William 
Aspley of the Parrot in St. Paul's Churchyard and John 
Wright of Christ Church Gate near Newgate, to dis-^ 
tribute the volume to the public. On half the edition. 
Aspley's name figured as that of the seller, and on the 
other half that of Wright. The book was issued in 
June,' and the owner of the 'copy' left the public under 
no misapprehension as to his share in the production by 
printing above his initials a dedicatory preface from his 
own pen. The appearance in a book of a dedication from 
the publisher's (instead of from the author's) hand was, 
unless the substitution was specifically accounted for on 
other grounds, an accepted sign that the author had no 
part in the pubhcation. Except in the case of his two 
narrative poems, which were published in 1593 and 1594 

1 The actor AUeyn paid fivepence for a copy in that month (cf . Ws^i- 
Tiei's_ Dulwich MSS. p. 92). The symbol 's'^' (i.e. fivepence) is also 
inscribed in contemporary handwriting on the title-page of the copy 
of Shakespeare's sonnets (1609) in the John Rylands Library, Manchester. 


respectively, Shakespeare made no effort to publish any 
of his works, and uncomplainingly submitted to the 
wholesale piracies of his plays and the ascription to him 
of books by other hands. Such practices were encour- 
aged by his passive indifference and the contemporary 
condition of the law of copyright. He cannot be credited 
with any responsibility for the publication of Thorpe's 
collection of his sonnets in 1609. With characteristic 
insolence Thorpe took the added hberty of appending 
a previously unprinted poem of forty-nine seven-line 
stanzas entitled 'A Lover's Complaint, by William 
Shake-speare,' in which a gitl laments her be- <a Lover's 
trayal by a deceitful youth. The title is com- Com- ^ 
mon in Elizabethan poetry, and although the p""'- 
metre of the Shakespearean 'Lover's Complaint' is that 
of 'Lucrece,' it has no other afl&nity with Shakespeare's 
poetic style. Its vein of pathos is unknown to the 
'Sonnets.' Throughout, the language is strained and 
the imagery far-fetched. Many awkward words g.ppear 
in its lines for the first and only time, and their inven- 
tion seems due to the author's imperfect command of the 
■available poetic vocabulary. Shakespeare's responsibil- 
ity for 'A Lover's Complaint' may well be questioned.^ 

A misunderstanding respecting Thorpe's preface and 
his part in the publication has encouraged many critics 
in a serious misinterpretation of Shakespeare's Thomas 
poems,^ and has caused them to be accorded a Jnd'^r. 
place in his biography to which they have small w. h.' 

' Cf . the present writer's introduction to the facsimile of the Sonnets, 
Clarendon Press, 1905, pp. 49-50, and, especially. Prof. J. W. Mackail's 
essay on A Lover's Complaint in Engl. Association Essays and Studies, 
vol. iii. 191 2. After a careful critical study of the poem Prof. Mackail 
questions Shakespeare's responsibility. He suggests less convincingly 
tiat the rival poet of the Sonnets may be the author. 

* The present writer has published much supplementary illustration 
of the Sonnets and their history in the Introduction to the Clarendon 
Press's facsimile reproduction of the first edition of the Sonnets (1905), 
in the footnotes to the Sonnets in the Caxton Shakespeare [1909], vol. 
xbc., and in The French Renaissance in England, 1910, pp. 266 seq. The 
chief recent separate editions of the Sonnets with critical apparatus 
are those of Gerald Massey (1872, reissued 1888), Edward Dowden 


title. Thorpe's dedication was couched in the bombas- 
tic language which was habitual to him. He advertised 
Shakespeare as 'our ever-hving poet.' As the chief 
promoter of the undertaking, he called himself in mer- 
cantile phraseology of the day, 'the well-wishing adven- 
turer in setting forth,' and in resonant phrase designated 
as the patron of the venture a partner in the speculation, 
'Mr. W. H.' In the conventional dedicatory formula 
of the day he wished 'Mr. W. H.' 'all happiness' and 
'eternity,' such eternity as Shakespeare in the text of 
the sonnets conventionally foretold for his own verse. 
When Thorpe was organising the issue of Marlowe's 
'First Book of Lucan' in 1600, he sought the patronage 
of Edward Blount, a friend in the trade. 'W. H.' was 
doubtless in a like position.^ When Thorpe dubbed 
'Mr. W. H.,' with characteristic magniloquence, 'the 
onlie begetter [i.e. obtainer or procurer] of these ensuing 
sonnets,' he merely indicated that that personage was the 
first of the publishing fraternity to procure a manu- 
script of Shakespeare's sonnets, and to make possible 
its surreptitious issue. In accordance with custom, 
Thorpe gave the procurer's initials only, because he was 
an intimate associate who was known by those initials 

(187s, reissued i8g6), Thomas Tyler (1890), George Wyndham (1898), 
Samuel Butler (1899), and Dean Beeching (1904). Butler and Dean 
Beeching argue that the sonnets were addressed to an unknown youth 
of no high birth, who was the private friend, and not the patron, of the 
poet. Massey identifies the young man to whom many of the sonnets 
were addressed with the Earl of Southampton. Tyler accepts the 
identification with William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Mr. C. M. 
Walsh, in Shakespeare's Complete Sonnets (1908), includes the sonnets 
from the plays, holds aloof from the conflicting theories of solutiA, 
arranges the poems in a new order on internal evidence only, and adds 
new and useful illustrations from classical sources. 

^ 'W. H.' is best identified with a stationer's assistant, William Hall, 
who was professionally engaged, like Thorpe, in procuring 'copy.' In 
i5o6 'W. H.' won a conspicuous success in that direction, and conducted 
his operations under cover of the familiar initials. In that year 'W. H.' 
announced that he had procured a neglected manuscript poem — 'A 
Foure-fould Meditation' — by the Jesuit Robert Southwell, who had 
been executed in 1595, and he published it with a dedication (signed 
'W. H.') vaunting his good fortune in meeting with such treasure-trove 
(see Appendix v.). 


to their common circle of friends. Thorpe's ally was not 
a man of such general reputation as to render it likely 
that the printing of his fuU name would excite additional 
interest in the book or attract buyers. 

It has been assumed that Thorpe in this boastful 
preface was covertly addressing, under the initials 'Mr. 
W. H.,' a young nobleman, to whom (it is argued) the 
sonnets were originally addressed by Shakespeare. But 
this assumption ignores the elementary principles of pub- 
lishing transactions of the day, and especially of those 
of the type to which Thorpe's efforts were confined.^ 
There was nothing mysterious or fantastic, although from 
a modern point of view there was much that lacked 
principle, in Thorpe's methods of business. His choice 
of patron for this, like all his volumes, was dictated 
by his mercantile interests. He was under no induce- 
ment and in no position to take into consideration cir- 
cumstances touching Shakespeare's private affairs. The 
poet, through aU but the earliest stages of his career, 
belonged socially to a world that was cut off by impassa- 
ble barriers from that in which Thorpe pursued his ques- 
tionable calling. It was outside Thorpe's aim to seek to 
mystify his customers by investing a dedication with a 
cryptic significance. 

No peer of the day, moreover, bore a name which 
could be represented by the initials 'Mr. W. H.' Shake- 
speare was never on terms of intimacy (although the 

' It has been wrongly inferred that Shakespeare asserts in Sonnets 
cxxxv.-vi. and cxliii. that the young friend to whom he addressed some 
of the sonnets bore his own Christian name of Will (see for a full examina- 
tion of these sonnets Appendix viii.). Further, it has been fantastically 
suggested that the friend's surname was Hughes, because of a pun sup- 
posed to lurk in the line (xx. 7) describing the youth (in the original text) 
as 'A man in hew, all Hews in his controwUng' (i.e. a man in hue, or com- 
plexion, who exerts, by virtue of his fascination, control, or influence over 
the hues or complexion of all he meets). Three other applications to 
the youth of the ordinary word 'hue' (cf. 'your sweet hue,' civ. 11) are 
capriciously held to corroborate the theory. On such grounds a few 
critics have claimed that the friend's name was WUliam Hughes. No 
known contemporary of that name, either in age or position in life, bears 
any resemblance to the young man who is addressed by Shakespeare in 
his Sonnets (cf. Notes and Queries, sth ser. v. 443). 


contrary has often- been asserted) with William (Herbert), 
third Earl of Pembroke, when a youth.^ But were com- 
plete proofs of the acquaintanceship forthcoming, they 
would throw no light on Thorpe's 'Mr. W. H.' The 
Earl of Pembroke was, from his birth to the date of his 
succession to the earldom in 1601, known by the courtesy 
title of Lord Herbert and by no other name, and he could 
not have been designated at any period of his life by the 
symbols 'Mr. W. H.' In 1609 the Earl of Pembroke was 
a high ofi&cer of state, and numerous books were dedicated 
to him in all the splendour of his many titles. Star- 
Chamber penalties would have been exacted of any pub- 
lisher or author who denied him in print his titular dis- 
tinctions. Thorpe had occasion to dedicate two books 
to the earl in later years, and he there showed not merely 
that he was fully acquainted with the compulsory eti- 
quette, but that his tradesmanlike temperament rendered 
him only eager to improve on the conventional formulas 
of servihty. Any further consideration of Thorpe's 
address to 'Mr. W. H.' belongs to the biographies of 
Thorpe and his friend ; it lies outside the scope of Shake- 
speare's biography.^ 

Shakespeare's ' Sonnets ' ignore the somewhat complex 
scheme of metre adopted by Petrarch whom the Eliza- 
The form ^cthan sonnettccrs, like the French and Italian 
of Shake- sonnettcers of the sixteenth century, recognised 
lonnetl. *° ^^ ^° *^°^^ respects their master. The 
foreign writers strictly divided their poems into 
an octave and a sestett, and they subdivided each 
octave into two quatrains, and each sestett into two 
tercets (abba, abba, cde, cde). The rhymes of the regular 
foreign pattern are so repeated as never to exceed a total 
of five, and a couplet at the close is sternly avoided. 

' See Appendix vi., 'Mr. William Herbert'; and vu., 'Shakespeare 
and the Earl of Pembroke.' 

2 The full results of my researches into Thprpe's history, his methods 
of business, and the significance of his dedicatory addresses, of which 
four are extant besides that prefixed to the volume of Shakespeare's 
Sonnets in 1609, are given in Appendix v., 'The True History of Thomas 
Thorpe and "Mr, W,H,"' 


Following the example originally set by Surrey and Wyatt, 
and generally pursued by Shakespeare's contemporaries, 
his sonnets aim at far greater metrical simplicity than 
the Italian or the French. They consist of three -deca- 
syllabic quatrains with a concluding couplet ; the qua- 
trains rhyme alternately, and independently of one 
another; the number of different rhyming syllables 
reach a total of seven {abah cdcd efef gg)} A single sonnet 
does not always form an independent poem. As in the 
French and Italian sonnets of the period, and in those of 
Spenser, Sidney, Daniel, and Drayton, the same train 
of thought is at times pursued continuously through two 
or more. The collection of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets 
thus has the aspect of a series of detached poems, many in 
a var3dng number of fourteen-line stanzas. The longest 
sequence (i.-xvii.) numbers seventeen sonnets, and in 
Thorpe's edition opens the volume. 

It is unlikely that the order in which the poems were 
printed follows the order in which they were written. 
Endeavours have been made to detect in want of 
the original arrangement of the poems a con- continuity, 
nected narrative, but the thread is on any showing 
constantly interrupted.^ It is usual to divide the son- 

1 The metrical structure of the fourteen-line stanza adopted by Shake- 
speare is in no way peculiar to himself. It is the type recognised by 
Elizabethan writers on metre as correct and customary in England 
long before he wrote. George Gascoigne, in his Certayne Notes of In- 
struction concerning the making of Verse or Ryme in English (published 
in Gascoigne's Posies, iSTS), defined sonnets thus: 'Fouretene lynes, 
every lyne conteyning tenne syllables. The first twelve to ryme in 
staves of foure lynes by cross metre and the last two ryming togither, 
do conclude the whole.' In twenty-one of the 108 sonnets of which 
Sidney's collection entitled Astrophel and Stella consists, the rhymes 
are on the foreign model and the final couplet is avoided. But these 
are exceptional. Spenser interlaces his rhymes more subtly than Shake- 
speare; but he is faithful to the closing couplet. As is not uncommon 
in Elizabethan sonnet-coUections, one of Shakespeare's sonnets (xcix.) 
has fifteen lines ; another (cxxvi.) has only twelve lines in rhymed couplets 
(cf. Lodge's Phillis, Nos. viii. and xxvi.) ; and a third (cxlv.) is in octo- 
syllabics. But it is doubtful whether the second and third of these 
sonnets rightly belong to the collection. They were probably written 
as independent lyrics: see p. 166, note i. 

* If the critical ingenuity which has detected a continuous thread of 


nets into two groups, and to represent that all those 
numbered i.-cxxvi. by Thorpe were addressed to a young 
The two man, and all those numbered cxxvii.-cliv. were 
'groups;' addressed to a woman. This division cannot 
be Uterally justified. In the first group some eighty of 
the sonnets can be proved to be addressed to a man by 
the use of the masculine pronoun or some other un- 
equivocal sign ; but among the remaining forty there is 
no clear indication of the addressee's sex. Many of these 
forty are meditative soliloquies which address no person 
at all (cf . cv. cxvi. cxix. cxxi.). A few invoke abstractions 
like Death (Ixvi.) or Time (cxxiii.), or 'benefit of ill' 
(cxix.). The twelve-fined poem (cxxvi.), the last of the 
first 'group,' does fittle more than sound a variation on 
the conventional poetic invocations of Cupid or Love 
personified as a boy who is warned that he must, in due 
course, succumb to Time's inexorable law of death.' 
And there is no vaUd objection to the assumption that 
the poet inscribed the rest of these forty sonnets to a 
woman (cf . xxi. xlvi. xlvii.) Similarly, the sonnets in the 
second 'group' (cxxvii.-cHv.) have no uniform super- 
narrative in the order that Thorpe printed Shakespeare's sonnets were 
applied to the booksellers' miscellany of sonnets called Diana (1594), 
that volume, which rakes together sonnets on all kinds of amorous sub- 
jects from all quarters and numbers them consecutively, could be made 
to reveal the sequence of an individual lover's moods quite as readily, 
and, if no external bibliographical evidence were admitted, quite as 
convincingly, as Thorpe's collection of Shakespeare's sonnets. Almost 
all Elbabethan sonnets, despite their varying poetic value, are not 
merely substantially in the like metre, but are pitched in what sounds 
superficially to be the same key of pleading or yearning. Thus almost 
every collection gives at a first perusal a specious and delusive impression 
of homogeneity. 

1 Shakespeare merely warns his 'lovely boy' that, though he be now 
the 'minion' of Nature's 'pleasure,' he will not succeed in defying Time's 
inexorable law. Sidney addresses in a lighter vein Cupid as 'blind 
hitting boy,' as in his Astrophel (No. xlvi.). Cupid is similarly invoked 
in three of Drayton's sonnets (No. xxvi. in the edition of 1594, and 
Nos. xxxiii. and xxxiv. in that of 1605), and in six in Ftilke Greville's 
collection entitled Ccslica (cf. Ixxxiv., beginning 'Farewell, sweet boy, 
complain not of my truth'). A similar theme to that of Shakespeare's 
Sonnet cxxvi. is treated by John Ford in the song 'Love is ever dying,' 
in his tragedy of the Broken Heart, 1633. 


scription. Six invoke no person at all. No. cxxviii. is 
an overstrained compliment on a lady playing on the 
virginals. No. cxxix. is a metaphysical disquisition on 
lust. No. cxlv. is a playful lyric in octosyllabics, Hke 
Lyly's song of 'Cupid and Campaspe,' and its tone has 
close affinity to that and other of Lyly's songs. No. 
cxlvi. invokes the soul of man. Nos. cliii. and cliv. 
soliloquise on an ancient Greek apologue on the force of 
Cupid's fire.^ 

The choice and succession of topics in each 'group' 
give to neither genuine cohesion. In the first 'group' 
the long opening sequence (i.-xvii.) forms the , . 

, , 1 . . Main 

poet s appeal to a young man to marry so topics of 
that his youth and beauty may survive in the first 
children. There is almost a contradiction in 
terms between the poet's handling of that topic and his 
emphatic boast in the two following sonnets (xviii.-xix.) 
that his verse alone is fully equal to the task of immor- 
talising his friend's youth and accomplishments. The 
same asseveration is repeated in many later sonnets (cf . 
Iv. Lx. bdii. Ixxiv. Ixxxi. ci. cvii.). These assurances alter- 
nate with conventional adulation of the beauty of the 
object of the poet's affections (cf. xxi. lii. bcviii.) and de- 
scriptions of the effects of absence in intensifying devotion 
(cf. xlviii. 1. cxiii.). There are many reflections on the 
nocturnal torments of a lover (cf . xxvii. xxviii. xHii. bd.) 
and on his blindness to the beauty of spring or summer 
when he is separated from his love (cf. xcvii. xcviii.). 
At times a youth is rebuked for sensual indulgences ; he 
has sought and won the favour of the poet's mistress in 
the poet's absence, but the poet is forgiving (xxxii.-xxxv. 
xl.-xlii. Mx. xcv.-xcvi.). In Sonnet Ixx. the young man 
whom the poet addresses is credited with a different 
disposition and experience : 

And thou present'st a pure unstained prime. 
Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days, 
Either not assail'd, or victor being charg'd ! 

1 See p. 185, note 2. 


At times melancholy overwhelms the writer : he despairs 
of the corruptions of the age (Ixvi.), reproaches himself 
with carnal sin (cxix.), declares himself weary of his pro- 
fession of acting (ex. cxi.), and foretells his approaching 
death (Ixxi.-lxxiv.). Throughout are dispersed obsequious 
addresses to the youth in his capacity of sole patron of 
the poet's verse (cf. xxiii. xxxvii. c. ci. ciii. civ.). But in 
one sequence the friend is sorrowfully reproved for be- 
stowing his patronage on rival poets (Ixxviii.-lxxxvi.). In 
three sonnets near the close of the first group in the 
original edition, the writer gives varied assurances of his 
constancy in love or friendship which apply indifferently 
to man or woman (cf. cxxii. cxxiv. cxxv.). 

In two sonnets of the second 'group' (cxxvii. cliv.) 
the poet compHments his mistress on her black complex- 

. ion and raven-black hair and eyes. In twelve 

topics of sonnets he hotly denounces his 'dark' mistress 
the second fQj- j^g,- proud disdaiu of his affection, and for 
her manifold infideHties with other men. Ap- 
parently continuing a theme of the first 'group' the poet 
rebukes a woman for having beguiled his friend to yield 
himself to her seductions (cxxxiii.-cxxxvi.). Elsewhere 
he makes satiric reflections on the extravagant compli- 
ments paid to the fair sex by other sonnetteers (No. 
cxxx.), or lightly quibbles on his name of 'Will' (cxxx.- 
vi.) — the word 'will' being capable of many meanings 
in Elizabethan Enghsh. In tone and subject-matter 
numerous sonnets in the second as in the first 'group' 
lack visible sign of coherence with those they immediately 
precede or follow. 

It is not merely a close study of the text that confutes 
the theory, for which recent writers have fought hard, of 
a logical continuity in Thorpe's arrangement of the poems 
in 1609. There remains the historic fact that readers 
and publishers of the seventeenth century acknowledged 
no sort ojf significance in the order in which the poems 
first saw the light. When the sonnets were printed for 
a second time in 1640 — thirty-one years after their first 


appearance — they were presented in a completely dif- 
ferent order.i The short descriptive titles which were 
then supplied to single sonnets or to short unbroken 
sequences proved that the collection was regarded as a 
disconnected series of occasional poems in more or less 
amorous vein. 

In whatever order Shakespeare's sonnets be studied, 
the claim that has been advanced in their behalf to rank 
as autobiographical documents can only be , , 
accepted with rhany qualifications. The fact genuine 
that they create in many minds the illusion j^^e^^^*^ 
of a series of earnest personal confessions bethan 
does not justify their treatment by the biog- =°'™^'=- 
rapher as self-evident excerpts from the poet's auto- 
biography. Shakespeare's mind was dominated and en- 
grossed by genius for drama, and his supreme mastery 
of dramatic power renders it unlikely that any production 
of his pen should present an unqualified piece of auto- 
biography. The emotion of the sonnets may on a priori 
grounds weU owe much to that dramatic instinct which 
reproduced inttdtively in the plays the subtlest thought 
and feeling of which man's mind is capable. In his 
drama Shakespeare acknowledged that ' the truest poetry 
is the most feigning.' The exclusive embodiment in 
verse of mere private introspection was barely known to 
his era, and in this phrase the dramatist paid an explicit 
tribute to the potency in poetic literature of artistic 
impulse and control contrasted with the impotency of 
personal sensation, which is scarcely capable of discipline. 
To few of the sonnets can a controlling artistic impulse 
\ be denied by criticism. To pronounce^ them, alone of his 
extant work, wholly free of that 'feigning,' which he 
identified with 'the truest poetry,' is almost tantamount 
to denying his authorship of them, and to dismissing 
them from the Shakespearean canon. 

In spite of their poetic superiority to those of his 
contemporaries, Shakespeare's sonnets c3.nnot be dis- 
' See p. S44 infra. 


sociated from the class of poetic endeavour with 
which they were identified in Shakespeare's own time. 
Elizabethan sonnets of all degrees of merit were 
commonly the artificial products of the poet's fancy. 
A strain of personal emotion is discernible in a 
detached effort, and is vaguely traceable in a few 
sequences; but autobiographical confessions were not 
the stuff of which the Elizabethan soimet was made. 
The t5rpical collection of Elizabethan sonnets was a 
mosaic of plagiarisms, a medley of imitative or assimi- 
lative studies. Echoes of the French or of the Italian 
sonnetteers, with their Platonic idealism, are usually 
the dominant notes. The echoes often have a musical 
quality pecuUar to themselves. Daniel's fine sonnet 
(xlix.) on 'Care-charmer sleep,' although directly in- 
spired by the French, breathes a finer melody than the 

sonnet of Pierre de Brach ^ apostrophising 'le 
pendence sommeil chasse-soin ' (in the collection entitled 
on French 'Les Amours d'Aymee'), or the sonnet of 
modeK '^° Philippe Desportes invoking ' Sommeil, paisible 

fils de la nuit solitaire' (in the collection en- 
titled 'Amours d'Hippolyte'). But, throughout Eliza- 
bethan sonnet literature, the heavy debt to classical 
Italian and French effort is urunist'akable.^ Spenser, 
in 1569, at the outset of his Hterary career, avowedly 
translated numerous sormets from Du Bellay and from 
Petrarch, and his friend Gabriel Harvey bestowed on him 
the title of 'an English Petrarch' — the highest praise 
that the critic conceived it possible to bestow on an 
English sonnetteer.* Thomas Watson in 1582, in his 

'■ 1547-1604. Cf. De Brach, CEuwes Poetigues, edited by Reinhold 
Dezeimeris, 1861, i. pp. 59-60. 

J* See Appendices dc. and x. Of the vastness of the debt that the 
Elizabethan sonnet owed to foreign poets, a fuller estimate is given by 
the present writer in his preface to Elizabethan Sonnets (2 vols. 1904), 
in the revised edition of-Arber's English Garner. 

' Gabriel Harvey, in his Pierces Supererogation (1593, p. 61), after 
enthusiastic commendation of Petrarch's sonnets ('Petrarch's invention 
is pure love itself; Petrarch's elocution pure beauty itself), justifies the 
common English practice of imitating them on the ground tiat 'all the 


collection of metrically irregular sonnets which he en- 
titled 'EKATOMHAeiA, or A Passionate Century of 
Love,' prefaced each poem, which he termed a 'passion,' 
with a prose note of its origin and intention. Watson 
frankly informed his readers that one 'passion' was 
'wholly translated out of Petrarch'; that in another 
passion 'he did very busily imitate and augment a certain 
ode of Ronsard'; while 'the sense or matter of "a 
third" was taken out of Serafino in his "Strambotti."' 
In every case Watson gave the exact reference to his 
foreign original, and frequently appended a quotation.^ 

noblest Italian, French, and Spanish poets have in their several veins 
Petrarchized ; and it is no dishonour for the daintiest or divinest Muse 
to be his scholar, whom the amiablest invention and beautifuUest elocu- 
tion acknowledge their master.' Both French and English sonnetteers 
habitually admit that they are open to the charge of plagiarising Pe- 
trarch's sonnets to Laura (cf. Du Bellay's Les Amours, ed. Becq de 
Fouqui6res, 1876, p. 186, and Daniel's Ddia, Sonnet xxxviii.). The 
dependent relations in which both English and French sonnetteers 
stood to Petrarch may be best realised by comparing such a popular 
sonnet of the Italian master as No. ciii. (or in some editions Ixxxviii.) 
in Sonetti in Vita di M. Laura, beginning 'S' amor non 6, che dunque 
h quel ch' i' sento?' with a rendering of it into French like that of De 
Balf in his Amours de Francine (ed. Becq de Fouquifires, p. 121), be- 
ginning, ' Si ce n'est pas Amour, que sent donques mon coeur ? ' or with 
a rendering of the same sonnet into English like that by Watson in his 
Passionate Century, No. v., beginning, 'If 't bee not love I feele, what 
is it then?' Imitation of Petrarch is a constant characteristic of the 
English sonnet throughout the sixteenth century from the date of the 
earliest efforts of Surray and Wyatt. It is interesting to compare the 
skin of the early and late sonnetteers in rendering the Italian master. 
Petrarch's sonnet In vita di M. Laura (No. kxx. or kxxi., beginning 
'Cesare, poi che '1 traditor d' Egitto') was independently translated 
both by Sir Thomas Wyatt, about 1530 (ed. Bell, p. 60), and by Francis 
Davison in his Poetical Rhapsody (1602, ed. BuUen, i. go). Petrarch's 
sonnet (No. xcv. or cxiii., beginning 'Pommi ove '1 Sol uccide i fiori e 
I'erba') was also rendered independently both by Wyatt (cf. Putten- 
ham's Arte of English Poesie, ed. Arber, p. 231) and by Drummond of 
Hawthomden (ed. Ward, i. 100, 221). 

^ Eight of Watson's sonnets are, according to his own accoimt, ren- 
derings from Petrarch; twelve are from Serafino deU' Aquila (T466- 
1500) ; four each come from Strozza, an Italian poet, and from Ron- 
sard; three from the Italian poet Agnolo Firenzuola (1493-1S48) ; two 
each from the French poet, Etienne Forcadel, known as Forcatulus 
(iSi4?-iS73), the Italian Girolamo Parabosco (Jl. 1548), and .lEneas 
Sylvius; while many are based on passages from such authors as (among 
the Greeks) Sophocles, Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes (author of 


Drayton in 1594, in the dedicatory sonnet of his collec- 
tion of sonnets entitled 'Idea,' declared that it was 'a 
fault too common in this latter time' 'to filch from 
Desportes or from Petrarch's pen.' ^ Lodge did not 
acknowledge his many literal borrowings from Ronsard 
and Ariosto, but he made a plain profession of indebted- 
ness to Desportes when he wrote : ' Few men are able to 
second the sweet conceits of Philippe Desportes, whose 
poetical writings are ordinarily in everybody's hand.'^ 
Dr. Giles Fletcher, who in his collection of sonnets called 
'Licia' (1593) simulated the varying moods of a lover 
under the sway of a great passion as successfully as most 
of his rivals, stated on his title-page that his poems were 
all written in 'imitation of the best Latin poets and 
others.' Very many of the love-sonnets in the series of 
sixty-eight penned ten years later by WiUiam Drum- 
mond of Hawthornden have been traced to their sources 
not merely in the Itahan sonnets of Petrarch, and the 
sixteenth-century poets Guarini, Bembo, Giovanni Bat- 
tista Marino, Tasso, and Sannazzaro, but in the French 
verse of Ronsard, of his colleagues of the Pleiade, and of 
their half-forgotten disciples.' The Elizabethans usually 

the epic 'Argonautica'); or (among the Latins) Virgil, Tibullus, Ovid, 
Horace, -Propertius, Seneca, Pliny, Lucan, Martial, and Valerius Flaccus, 
or (among other modern Italians) Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494) and 
Baptista Mantuanus (1448-1516) ; or (among other modem French- 
men) Gervasius Sepinus of Saumur, writer of eclogues after the manner 
of Virgil and Mantuanus. 

_'_No importance can be attached to Drayton's pretensions to greater 
originality than his rivals. The very line in which he makes the claim 
('I am no pick-purse of another's wit') is a verbatim quotation from a 
sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney {Astrophel and Stella, Ixxiv. 8), and is origi- 
nally from an epigram of Persius. 

2 Lodge's Margarite, p. 79. See Appendix ix. for the text of Des- 
portes s sonnet (Diana, livre ii. No. iii.) and Lodge's translation ia 
Phillis. Lodge gave two other translations of the same sonnet of Des- 
portes — ui_ his romance of Rosalind (Hunterian Society's reprint, 
p. 74), and in his volume of poems called Scillaes Metamorphosis (p. 44)- 
Many sonnets in Lodge's Phillis are rendered with equal literalness 
from Ronsard, Ariosto, Paschale, and others. 

_ ' See Drummond's Poems, ed. W. C. Ward, in Muses' Library, 1894, 
1. 207 seq. ; and The Poetical Works of William Drummond, ed. L. E. 
Kastner (Manchester University Press), 1913, 2 vols. 


gave the fictitious mistresses after whom their volumes 
of sonnets were called the names that had recently served 
the like purpose in France. Daniel followed Maurice 
Seve^ in christening his collection 'Delia'; Constable 
followed Desportes in christening his collection 'Diana'; 
while Drayton not only applied to his sonnets on his 
title-page in 1594 the French term 'Amours,' but be- 
stowed on his imaginary heroine the title of Idea, which 
seems to have been the invention of Claude de Pontoux,^ 
although itwas employed by other French contemporaries. 
With good reason Sir Phihp Sidney warned the public 
that ' no inward touch ' was to be expected from sonnet- 
teers of his day, whom he describes as 

PVIen] that do dictionary's method bring 
Into their rhymes running in rattling rows; 
[Men] that poor Petrarch's long deceased woes 
With newborn sighs and denizened wit do sing. 

Sidney unconvincingly claimed greater sincerity for his 
own experiments. But 'even amorous sonnets in the 
gallantest and sweetest civil vein,' wrote Gabriel Harvey 
in 'Pierces Supererogation' in 1593, 'are but 
dainties of a pleasurable wit.' Drayton's son- teers'^ad- 
nets more nearly approached Shakespeare's in missions of 
quality than those of any contemporary. Yet 
Drayton told the readers of his collection entitled ' Idea ' ' 

* SSve's D&ie was first published at Lyons in 1544. 

* Pontoux's L'ldte was published at Lyons in 1579, just after the 
author's death. 

' In two of his century of sonnets (Nos. xiii. and xxiv. in the 1594 
edition, renumbered xxxii. and liii. in 1619 edition) Drayton asserts 
that his 'fair Idea' embodied traits of an identifiable lady of his ac- 
quaintance (see p. 466 infra), and he repeats the statement in two other 
short poems; but the fundamental principles of his sonnetteering ex- 
ploits are defined explicitly in Sonnet xviii. in the 1594 edition. 

Some, when in rhyme, they of their loves do tell, . . . 

Only I call [i.e. I call only] on my divine Idea. 
Joachim du Bellay, one of the French poets who anticipated Drayton 
in addressing sonnets to 'L'Id6e,' left the reader in no doubt of his in- 
tent by concluding one poem thus : 

LS., 6 mon Sme, au plus hault ciel guidle 
Tu y pourras recognoistre I'ld^e 
De la beauts qu'en ce monde j'adore. 

(Du Bellay's Olvoe, No. cxiii., published in 1568.) 


(after the French) that if any sought genuine passion 
in them, they had better go elsewhere. 'In all 
humours sportively he ranged,' he declared. Dr. Giles 
Fletcher, in 1593, introduced his collection of imitative 
sonnets entitled 'Licia, or Poems of Love,' with the 
warning, 'Now in that I have written love sonnets, if 
any man measure my affection by my style, let him 
say I am in love. . . . Here, take this by the way . . . 
a man may write of love and not be in love, as well as 
of husbandry and not go to the plough, or of witches 
and be none, or of hohness and be profane.' ^ 

The dissemination of false or artificial sentiment by 
the sonnetteers, and their monotonous and mechanical 
treatment of 'the pangs of despised love' or 
porary the joys of requited affection, did not escape 
some™"* the censure of contemporary criticism. The 
teers' false air soon rang with sarcastic protests from the 
sentiment. jjjQg^ respected writers of the day. In early 
life Gabriel Harvey wittily parodied the mingling of 
adulation and vituperation in the conventional sonnet- 
sequence in his 'Amorous Odious Sonnet intituled The 
Student's Loove or Hatrid.' ^ Chapman in 1595, in a 
series of sonnets entitled 'A Coronet for his mistress 
Philosophy,' appealed to his literary comrades to aban- 
don 'the painted cabinet' of the love-sonnet for a cofEer 
of genuine worth. But the most resolute of the censors 
of the sonnetteering vogue was the poet and lawyer. Sir 
John Davies. In a sonnet addressed about 1596 to his 
friend Sir Anthony Cooke (the patron of Drayton's 
'Idea') he inveighed against the 'bastard sonnets' which 
'base rhymers' 'daily' begot 'to their own shames and 
poetry's disgrace.' In his anxiety to stamp out the folly 
he 'wrote and circulated in manuscript a specimen series 

' Ben Jonson, echoing without acknowledgment an Italian critic's 
epigram (cf. Athenaum, July 9, 1904), told Drummond of Hawthornden 
that 'he cursed Petrarch for redacting verses to sonnets which he said 
were like that tyrant's bed, where some who were too short were racked, 
others too long cut short' (Jonson's Conversations, p. 4). 

' See p. 194 infra. 



of nine 'gulling sonnets' or parodies of the conventional 
efforts.^ Even Shakespeare does not seem to have 
escaped Davies's condemnation. Sir John is 'Gulling 
especially severe on the sonnetteers who handled Sonnets.' 
conceits based on legal technicalities, and his eighth 
' gulling sonnet,' in which he ridicules the apphcation of 
law terms to affairs of the heart, may well have been 
suggested by Shakespeare's legal phraseology in his 
Sormets Ixxxvii. and cxxiv.^; while Davies's Sonnet ix., 
beginning : 

To love, my lord, I do knight's service owe 

must have parodied Shakespeare's Sonnet xxvi., begin- 

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage, &c.' 

Echoes of the critical hostihty are heard, it is curious 
to note, in nearly all the references that Shakespeare 
himself makes to sonnetteering in his plays, gj^^j^^ 
'Tush, none but minstrels like of sonnetting,' speare's 
exclaims Biron in 'Love's Labour's Lost' S^fJSmsto 
(iv. iii. 158). In the 'Two Gentlemen of sonnets in 
Verona' (iii. ii. 68 seq.) there is a satiric touch ""^P'^y^- 
in the recipe for the conventional love-sonnet which 
Proteus offers the amorous Duke : 

You must lay lime to tangle her desires 

By wailful sonnets whose composed rime 

Should be full fraught with serviceable vows . . . 

Say that upon the altar of her beauty 

You sacrifice your sighs, your tears, your heart. 

Mercutio treats Elizabethan sonnetteers even less respect- 
fully when alluding to them in his flouts at Romeo : ' Now 
is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in : Laura, 
to his lady, was but a kitchen-wench. Marry, she had 

' They were first printed by Dr. Grosart for the Chetham Society 
in 1873 in his edition of 'the Dr. Farmer MS.,' a sixteenth and seven- 
teenth century commonplace book preserved in the Chetham Library 
at Manchester, pt. i. pp. 76-81. Dr. Grosart also included the poems 
in his edition of Sir John Davies's Works, 1876, ii. S3~62. 

^ Davies's Sonnet viii. is printed in Appendix rx. 

' See p. 198 infra. 


a better love to be-rhyme her.' ^ In later plays Shake- 
speare's disdain of the sonnet is equally pronounced. In 
'Henry V (in. vii. 33 et seq.) the Dauphin, after bestow- 
ing ridiculously magniloquent commendation on his 
charger, remarks, ' I once writ a sonnet in his praise, and 
begun thus: "Wonder of nature!"' The Duke of 
Orleans retorts : ' I have heard a sonnet begin so to one's 
mistress.' The Dauphin repKes : ' Then did they imitate 
that which I composed to my courser ; for my horse is 
my mistress.' In 'Much Ado about Nothing' (v. ii. 
4-7) Margaret, Hero's waiting-woman, mockingly asks 
Benedick to 'write her a sonnet in praise of her beauty.' 
Benedick jestingly promises one 'in so high a style that 
no man living shall come over it.' Subsequently (v. 
iv. 87) Benedick is convicted, to the amusement of his 
friends, of penning 'a halting sonnet of his own pure 
brain ' in praise of Beatrice. 

The claim of Sidney, Drayton, and others that their 
efforts were free of the fantastic insincerities of fellow 
Shake- practitioners was repeated by Shakespeare, 
speareand More than once in his sonnets Shakespeare 
vOTtionai declares that his verse is innocent of the 
profession 'strained touches' of rhetoric (Ixxxii. 10), of 
sincerity, ^j^^ 'proud' and 'false compares' (xxi. and 
cxxx.), of the 'newfound methods' and 'compounds 
strange' (Ixxvi. 4) — which he imputes to the sonnetteer- 
ing work 'of contemporaries.^ Yet Shakespeare modestly 
admits elsewhere (kxvi. 6) that he keeps 'invention in a 
noted weed' [i.e. he is faithful to the normal style]. 
Shakespeare's protestations of veracity are not always 
distinguishable from the like assurances of other Eliza- 
bethan sonnetteers. 

' Romeo and Juliet, ii. iv. 4.1-4. 

' Cf. Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet iii., where the poet affinns 
that his sole inspiration is his beloved's natural beauty. 

Let dainty wits cry on the Sisters nine . . . 
Ennobling new-found tropes with problems old, 
Or with strange similes enrich each line . . . 
Phrases and problems from my reach do grow. . . , 



At a first glance a far larger proportion of Shakespeare's 
sonnets give the reader the illusion of personal confessions 
than those of any contemporary, but when 
allowance has been made for the current con- aJftoblo- 
ventions of Elizabethan sonnetteering, as well graphical 
as for Shakespeare's unapproached affluence in shS^ '° 
dramatic instinct and invention — an affluence speare's 
which enabled him to identify himself with 
every phase of human emotion — ■ the autobiographic 
element, although it may not be dismissed altogether, is 
seen to shrink to slender proportions. As soon as the 
collection of Shakespeare's sonnets is studied compara- 
tively with the many thousand poems of cognate theme 
and form that the printing-presses of England, France, 
and Italy poured forth during the last years of the six- 
teenth century, a vast number of Shakespeare's perform- 
ances prove to be little more than trials of skill, often of 
superlative merit, to which he deemed himself challenged 
by the poetic effort of his own or of past ages at home and 
abroad. Francis Meres, the critic of 1598, adduced 
not merely Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' and his 
'Lucrece' but also 'his sugared sonnets' as evidence that 
'the sweet witty soul of Ovid Mves in mellifluous and 
honey-tongued Shakespeare.' Much of the poet's thought 
in the sonnets bears obvious trace of Ovidian inspiration. 
But Ovid was only one of many nurturing forces. 
Echoes of Plato's ethereal message filled the air of Eliza- 
bethan poetry. Plato, Ovid, Petrarch, Ronsard, and 
Desportes (among foreign authors of earlier time), Sidney, 

N 177 



Watson, Constable, and Daniel (among native contem- 
poraries) seem to have quickened Shakespeare's sonnet- 
™ teering energy in much the same fashion as Ms- 

imitative torical writings, romances or plays of older and 
element. contemporary date ministered to his dramatic 
activities. Of Petrarch's and Ronsard's sonnets scores 
were accessible to Shakespeare in English renderings, but 
there are signs that to Ronsard and to some of Ronsard's 
fellow countrymen Shakespeare's debt was often as direct 
as to tutors of his own race. Adapted or imitated ideas 
or conceits are scattered over the whole of Shakespeare's 
collection. The transference is usually manipulated 
with consummate skill. Shakespeare invariably gives 
more than he receives, yet his primal indebtedness is 
rarely in doubt. It is just to interpret somewhat literally 
Shakespeare's own modest criticism of his sonnets (kxvi. 
11-12) : 

So all my best is dressing old words new, 
Spending again what is already spent. 

The imitative or assimilative element in Shakespeare's 
'sugared sonnets' is large enough to refute the assertion 
. . that in them as a whole he sought to 'unlock 
ofautobio-" his heart.' ^ Few of the poems have an indis- 
confesslons P^^^^le right to be regarded as untutored 
cries of the soul. It is true that the sonnets 
in which the writer reproaches himself with sin, or gives 
expression to a sense of melancholy, offer at times a con- 
vincing illusion of autobiographic confessions. But the 
energetic lines in which the poet appears to betray his 
inmost introspections are often adaptations of the less 
forcible and less coherent utterances of contemporary 
poets, and the ethical or emotional themes are common 

' Wordsworth in his sonnet on The Sonnet (1827) claimed that 'With 
this key Shakespeare unlocked his heart' — a judgment whici Robert 
Browning, no mean psychologist or literary scholar, strenuously at- 
tacked in the two poems At the Mermaid and House (1876). Browning 
cited in the latter poem Wordsworth's assertion, adding the gloss: 'Did 
Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare he !' 


to almost all Elizabethan collections of sonnets.^ Shake- 
speare's noble sonnet on the ravages of lust (cxxix.), for 
example, treats with marvellous force and insight a 
stereotyped topic of sonnetteers, and it may have owed 
its immediate cue to Sir Philip Sidney's sonnet on 
'Desire.' 2 

Plato's ethereal conception of beauty which Petrarch 
first wove into the sonnet web became under the in- 
fluence of the metaphysical speculation of the shake- 
Renaissance a dominant element of the love speare's 
poetry of sixteenth century Italy and France, concep-'^ 
In Shakespeare's England, Spenser was Plato's *'°''^- 
chief poetic apostle. But Shakespeare often caught in 
his sonnets the Platonic note with equal subtlety. Plato's 
disciples greatly elaborated their master's conception of 
earthly beauty as a reflection or 'shadow' of a heavenly 
essence or 'pattern' which, though immaterial, was the 
only true and perfect 'substance.' Platonic or neo- 
Platomc 'ideas' are the source of Shakespeare's metaphy- 
sical questionings (Sonnet liii. 1-4) : 

' The fine exordium of Sonnet cxix. : 

What potions have I drunk of Siren tears, 
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within, 

adopts expressions in Bamabe Barnes's sonnet (No. xlix.), where, after 
denouncing his mistress as a 'siren,' that poet incoherendy ejaculates: 

From my love's limbeck [sc. have I] still [di]stilled tears ! 

Almost every note in the scale of sadness or self-reproach is sounded 
from time to time in Petrarch's sonnets. Tasso in Scelta delle Rime, 
1582, p. ii. p. 26, has a sonnet (beginning 'Vinca fortuna homai, se 
sotto il peso') which adumbrates Shakespeare's Sonnets xxix. ('When 
in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes') and bcvi. ('Tired with all 
these, for restful death I cry'). Drummond of Hawthomden translated 
Tasso's sonnet in his sonnet (part i. No. xxxiii.) ; while Drummond's 
Sonnets xxv. ('What cruel star into this world was brought') and xxxii. 
('If crost with aU mishaps be my poor life') are pitched in the identical 

^ Sidney's Certain Sonnets (No. xiii.) appended to Astrophel and 
Stella in the edition of 1598. In Emaricdidfe: Sonnets wr.itlen by E. C. 
IS9S, Sonnet xxxvii. beginning 'O lust, of sacred love the foul corrupter,' 
even more closely resembles Shakespeare's sonnet in both phraseology 
and sentiment. E. C.'s rare volimie is reprinted in the Lamport Car- 
land (Roxburghe Club), 1881. 


What is your substance, whereof are you made 
That millions of strange shadows on you tend? 
Since every one hath, every one, one shade, 
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.' 

Again, when Shakespeare identifies truth with beauty^ 
and represents both entities as independent of matter 
or time, he is proving his loyalty to the mystical creed 
of the Grseco-Itahan Renaissance, which Keats subse- 
quently summarised in the familiar lines : 

Beauty is truth, truth beauty; that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

Shakespeare's favourite classical poem, OAdd's 'Meta- 
morphoses,' which he and his generation knew well in 

Golding's EngUsh version, is directly responsible 
to Ovid's for a more tangible thread of philosophical 
cosmic speculation which, after the manner of other 

contemporary poets, Shakespeare also wove 
dispersedly into the texture of his sonnets.* In varied 
periphrases he confesses to a fear that 'nothing' is 
'new'; that 'that which is hath been before'; that 
Time, being in a perpetual state of 'revolution,' is for 
ever reproducing natural phenomena in a regtdar rota- 
tion ; that the most impressive efforts of Time, which the 
untutored mind regards as 'novel' or 'strange' 'are but 
dressings of a former sight,' merely the rehabihtations 
of a past experience, which fades oiily to repeat itself at 
some future epoch. 

The metaphysical argument has only a misty relevance 
to the poet's plea of everlasting love for his friend. The 

' The main philosophic conceits of the Sonnets are easily traced to 
their sources. See J. S. Harrison, Platonism in English Poetry (New 
York, 1903) ; George Wyndham, The Poems of Shakespeare (London, 
1898), p. cxxii. seq.; Lilian Winstanley, Introduction to Spenser's 
Foure Hymnes (Cambridge, 1907). 

2 Cf. 'Thy end is truth and beauty's doom and date' (Sonnet xiv. 4). 
'Both truth and beauty on my love depend' (ci. 3) ; cf. liv. 1-2. 

' The debt of Shakespeare's sonnets to Ovid's Metamorphoses has 
been worked out in detail by the present writer in an article in the 
Quarterly Review, April, 1909. 


poet fears that Nature's rotatory processes rob his pas- 
sion of the stamp of originahty. The reaUty and in- 
dividuality of passionate experience appear to be pre- 
judiced by the classical doctrine of universal 'revolution.' 
With no very coherent logic he seeks refuge from his 
depression in an arbitrary claim on behalf of his friend 
and himself' to personal exemption from Nature's and 
Time's universal law which presumes an endless recur- 
rence of 'growth' and 'waning.' 

It is from the last book of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' 
that Shakespeare borrows his cosmic theory which, 
echoing Golding's precise phrase, he defines in gjjake- 
one place as 'the conceit of thife inconstant speare's 
stay' ^ (xv. 9), and which he christens elsewhere phy^o-* 
'nature's changing course' (xviii. 8), 'revolu- graphy. 
tion' (lix. 12), 'interchange of state' (Ixiv. 9), and 'the 
course of altering things' (cxv. 8). But even more 
notable is Shakespeare's literal conveyance from Ovid 
or from Ovid's English translator of the Latin writer's 
physiographic illustrations of the working of the alleged 
rotatory law. Ovid's graphic appeal to the witness of 
the sea wave's motion — 

As every wave drives others forth, and that that comes behind 
Both thrusteth and is thrust himself; even so the times by kind 
Do fly a,nd follow both at once and evermore renew — 

is loyally adopted by Shakespeare in the fine lines : 

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, 

So do our minutes hasten to their end ; 
Each changing place with that which goes before. 

In sequent toil all forwards do contend. — Sonnet Ix. 1-4. 

Similarly Shakespeare reproduces Ovid's vivid de- 
scriptions of the encroachments of land on sea and sea 
on land which the Latin poet adduces from professedly 

\ Golding, Ovid's Elizabethan translator, when he writes of the 
Ovidian theory of Nature's unending rotation, repeatedly employs a 
negative periphrasis, of which the word 'stay' is the central feature. 
Thus he asserts that 'in all the world there is not that that standeth 
at a stay,' and that 'our bodies' and 'the elements never stand al stay.' 


personal observation as further evidence of matter's 
endless rotations. Golding's lines run : 

Even so have places oftentimes exchanged their estate. 
For / have seen it sea which was substantial ground alate: 
Again where sea was, / have seen the same become dry land. 

This passage becomes under Shakespeare's hand : 

When / have seen the hungry ocean gain 
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, 

And the firm soil win of the watery main 

Increasing store with loss, and loss with store; 

When / have seen such interchange of state. — (Soimet kiv.) 

Shakespeare has no scruple in claiming to 'have seen' 
with his own eyes the phenomena of Ovid's narration. 
Shakespeare presents Ovid's doctrine less confidently 
than the Latin writer. In Sonnet lix. he wonders whether 
'five hundred courses of the sun' result in progress or 
in retrogression, or whether they merely bring things 
back to the precise point of departure (11. 13-14)- Yet, 
despite Shakespeare's hesitation to identify himself cate- 
gorically with the doctrine of 'revolution,' the fabric of 
his speculation is Ovid's gift. 

In the same Ovidian quarry Shakespeare may have 
found another pseudo-scientific theory on which he 
other meditates in the Sonnets — xliv. and xlv. — the 

philosophic notion that man is an amalgam of the four 
conceits. elements, earth, water, air, and fire ; but that 
superstition was already a veteran theme of the sonnet- 
teers at home and abroad, and was accessible to Shake- 
speare in many places outside Ovid's pages."- In Sonnet 
cvi. Shakespeare argues that the splendid praises of 
beauty which had been devised by poets of the past 
anticipated the eulogies which his own idol inspired. 

So all their praises are hut prophecies 

Of this our time, all you prefiguring; 
And, for they look'd but with divining eyes, 

They had not skill enough your worth to sing. 

' Cf . Spenser, Iv. ; Barnes's Parthenophe and Parthenophil, Ixxvii. ; 
Fulke Greville's Ccelica, No. vii. 


The conceit which has Platonic or neo-Platonic af- 
finities may well be accounted another gloss on Ovid's 
cosmic philosophy. But Henry Constable, an English 
sonnetteer, who wrote directly under continental guid- 
ance, would here seem to have given Shakespeare an 
immediate cue : 

Miracle of the world, I never will deny 
That former poets praise the beauty of their days; 
But all these beauties were but figures of thy praise, 
And all those poets did of thee but prophesy} 

Another of Shakespeare's philosophic fancies — 
thought's nimble triumphs over space (xliv. 7-8) — is 
clothed in language which was habitual to Tasso, Ron- 
sard, and their followers.^ 

The simpler conceits wherewith Shakespeare illustrates 
love's working under the influence of spring or summer, 
night or sleep, often appear to echo in deepened Amorous 
notes Petrarch', Ronsard, De Baif, and Des- conceits, 
portes, or English disciples of the ItaHan and French 
masters.' In Sonnet xxiv. Shakespeare develops the 

1 In his Miscellaneous Sonnets (No. vii.) written about 1590 (see 
Hazlitt's edition, 1859, p. 27) — not in his Diana. Constable significantly 
headed his sonnet: 'To his Mistrisse, upon occasion of a Petrarch he 
gave her, showing her the reason why the Italian commentators dissent 
so much in the exposition thereof.' 

* Cf. Ronsard's Amours, i. cbcviii. (' Ce fol penser, pour s'envoler 
trop haut'); Du Bellay's Olive, xliii. (Tenser volage, et leger comme 
vent'); Amadis Jamyn, Sonnet xxi. ('Penser, qui peux en un moment 
grande erre courir'); and Tasso's Rime (1583, Venice, i. p. 33) ('Come 
s' human pensier di giunger tenta Al luogo'). 

' Almost all sixteenth-century sonnets on spring in the absence of 
the poet's love (cf. Shakespeare's Sonnets xcviii. xcix.) play variations 
on the sentiment and phraseology of Petrarch's well-known sonnet xlii., 
'In morte di M. Laura,' beginning : 

Zefiro toma e '1 bel tempo rimena, 

E 1 fiori e r erbe, sua dolce famiglia, 

E garrir Progne e pianger Filomena, 

E primavera Candida e vermiglia. 
Ridono i prati, e '1 ciel si rasserena ; 

Giove s' allegra di mirar sua figlia ; 
L' aria e 1' acqua e la terra 6 d' amor piena; 

Ogni animal d' amar si riconsiglia._ 
Ma per me, lasso, tornano i piil gravi 

Sospiri, che del cor profondo tragge, &c. 


old-fashioned fancy to which Ronsard gave a new lease 
of life, that his love's portrait is painted on his heart; 
and in Sonnet cxxii. he repeats something of Ronsard's 
phraseology in describing how his friend, who has just 
made him a gift of 'tables,' is ' character 'd ' in his brain.' 
Again Constable may be credited with suggesting 
Shakespeare's Sonnet xcix., where the flowers are re- 
proached with stealing their charms from the features 
of the poet's love. Constable had published in 1592 
an identically turned compliment in honour of his 
poetic mistress Diana (Sonnet xvii.). Two years later 
Drayton issued a sonnet in which he fancied that his 
'fair Muse' added one more to 'the old nine.' Shake- 
speare adopted the conceit (xxxviii. 9-10 :) 

Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth 
Than those old nine, which rhymers invocate.' 

_ In two or three instances Shakespeare engaged in the 
literary exercise of offering alternative renderings of the 
same conventional conceit. In Sonnets xlvi. and xlvii. 
he paraphrases twice over — appropriating many of Wat- 
son's words — the unexhilarating notion that the eye 
and heart are in perpetual dispute as to which has the 

See a translation bw William Drummond of Hawthomden in Sonnets, 
pt. u. No. ix. Similar sonnets and odes on April, spring, and summer 
abound m French and English (cf. Becq de FouquiSre's (Euwes ckoisies 
de J. -A. de Baif, passim, and (Euwes ckoisies des Contemporains de 
Ronsard,p. io8 (by Remy BeUeau),p. 129 (by Amadis Jamyn) et passim). 
boi descriptions of mght and sleep see especially Ronsard's Amours 
(livre 1. clxxxvi., Uvre u. xxii. ; Odes, livre iv. No. iv., and his Odes Re- 
tranch&es m (Euvres, edited by Blanchemain, ii. 302-4). Cf. Barnes's 
Parthenophe and Parthenophil, Ixxxiii. cv. 

T^u i9f' ^o''^'"d's Amours, \mt i. cbcxviii.; Sonnets pour Asfrle,-n. 
The latter opens : 

n ne falloit, maistresse, autres tablettes 
Pour vous graver que celles de men coeur 
Ou de sa main Amour, nostre vainqueur, 
Vous a gravfie et vos graces parfaites. 

*!, l^T^ Drayton's Ideas Mirrow, 1594, Amour 8. Drayton represents 
that his ladyloveadds one to the nine angels and the nine worthies as 
well as to the nine muses. Sir John Davies severely castigated this 
extravagance in his Epigram In Decium. Cf. Jonson's Conversations 
mth Drummond (Shakespeare Soc, p. 15). 


greater influence on lovers.^ In the concluding sonnets, 
cliii. and cliv., he gives alternative versions of an apologue 
illustrating the potency of love which first figured in 
the Greek Anthology, had been translated into Latin, 
and subsequently won the notice of English, French, and 
Italian sonnetteers.^ 

Two themes of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets,' both of which, 
in spite of their different cahbre, touch rather more 
practical issues than any which have yet been 
cited — the duty of marriage on the one hand ot'^w'-^^^ 
and the immortality of poetry on the other — thrifty 

, . , , i- 1 1. J n -J. loveliness. 

present with exceptional coherence deiimte 
phases of contemporary sentiment. ' The seventeen open- 
ing sonnets in which the poet urges a youth to marry, 
and to bequeath his beauty to posterity, repeat the plea of 
'unthrifty loveliness,' which is one of the commonplaces 
of Renaissance poetry.' As a rule the appeal is ad- 
dressed by earher poets to a woman. Yet in Guarini's 
world-famous pastoral drama of 'Pastor Fido' (1585) a 

* A similar conceit is the topic of Shakespeare's Sonnet xxiv. Ron- 
sard's Ode (livre iv. No. xx.) consists of a like dialogue between the 
heart and the eye. The conceit is traceable to Petrarch, whose Sonnet 
Iv. or bdii. ('Occhi, piangete, accompagnate il core') is a dialogue be- 
tween the poet and his eyes, while his Sonnet xcix. or cxvii. is a com- 
panion dialogue between the poet and his heart. Cf. Watson's Tears 
ofFancie, xix. xx. (a pair of sonnets on the theme which closely resembles 
Shakespeare's pair); Drayton's Idea, xxxiii. ; Barnes's Parthenophe 
and Parthenophil, xx., and Constable's Diana, vi. 7. 

* The Greek epigram is in Palatine Anthology, ix. 627, and is translated 
into Latin in Selecta Epigrammata, Basel, 1529. The Greek lines relate, 
as in Shakespeare's sonnets, how a nymph who sought to quench loves' 
torch in a fountain only succeeded in heating the water. An added 
detail Shakespeare borrowed from a very recent adaptation of the 
epigram in Giles Fletcher's Licia, 1593 (Sonnet xxvii.), where the poet's 
Love bathes in the fountain, with the result not only that 'she touched 
the water and it burnt with Love,' but also 

Now by her means it purchased hath that bliss 
Which all diseases quickly can remove. 

Similarly Shakespeare in Sonnet cUv. not merely states that the 'cool 
well' into which Cupid's torch had fallen 'from Love's fire took heat 
perpetual,' but also that it grew 'a bath and healthful remedy for men 

'The common conceit may owe something to Ovid's popular Ars 
Amatoria, where appear the lines : 


young man, Silvio, who is the hero of the poem, receives 
the warning of Shakespeare's sonnets, while in Sir Philip 
Sidney's 'Arcadia' (Book iii.) in one place a young man 
and in another a young woman are severally reminded 
that their beauty, which will perish unless it be repro- 
duced, lays them under the obligation of marrying. 
Itahan and French sonnetteers developed the conceit 
on Unes which Shakespeare varied Httle.^ Nor did 
Shakespeare show in the sonnets his first familiarity 
with the widespread theme. Thrice in his 'Venus and 
Adonis' does Venus fervently urge on Adonis the duty 
of propagating his charm (cf. hnes 129-132, 162-174, 
751-768), and a fair maiden is admonished of the like 
duty in 'Romeo and Juliet' (i. i. 218-228).^ 

It is abundantly proved that a gentle modesty was 
an abiding note of Shakespeare's character. In the nu- 
merous sonnets in which he boasted that his 
speare's vcrsc was SO Certain of immortality that it was 
to^Mr-"* capable of immortalising the person to whom 
taiityfor it was addressed, he therefore gave voice to 
■s sonnets. ^^ conviction that was pecuhar to his mental 
constitution. He was merely proving his supreme mas- 
tery of a theme which Ronsard, Du Bellay, and Des- 
portes, emulating Pindar, Horace, Ovid, and other 
classical poets, had lately made a commonplace of the 
poetry of Europe.' Sir Philip Sidney, in his 'Apologie 

Carpite florem 
Qui, nisi carptus erit, turpiter ipse cadet, (iii. 79-80). 

Erasmus presents the argument in full in his Colloquy 'Prod et Puellae,' 
and Sir Thomas Wyatt notices it in his poem 'That the season of en- 
joyment is short.' 

' See French Renaissance in England, pp. 268-9. 

2 Cf. also All's Well, i. i. 136, and Twelfth Night, i. v. 273-5, where 
the topic is treated more cursorily. Shakespeare abandons 3ie conceit 
in his later work. 

' In Greek poetry the topic is treated in Pindar's Olympic Odes, xi., 
and in a fragment by Sappho, No. 16 in Bergk's Poeta Lyrici Graci 
In Latin poetry the topic is treated in Ennius as quoted in Cicero, De 
Senectute, c. 207 ; in Virgil's Georgics, iii. 9 ; in Propertius, iii. i ; and in 
Martial, x. 27 seq. But it is the versions of Horace (Odes, iii. 30) and 
of Ovid (Metamorphoses, xv. 871 seq.) which the poets of the sixteenth 


for Poetrie' (1595), wrote that it was the common habit 
of poets ' to tell you that they will make you immortal by 
their verses.' ^ Men of great calling,' Nashe declared in 
his 'Pierce Pennilesse,' 1593, 'take it of merit to have 
their names eternised by poets.' ^ In the hands of 
Elizabethan sonnetteers the 'eternising' faculty of their 
verse became a staple and indeed an inevitable topic. 
Spenser wrote of his mistress in his 'Amoretti' (1595, 
Sonnet Ixxv.) : 

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, 
And in the heavens write your glorious name.^ 

century adapted most often. In French and English literature numer- 
ous traces survive of Horace's far-famed ode (iii. 30) : 

Exegi monumentum sere perennius 
Regalique situ pyramidum altius. 
Quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens 
Possit diruere, aut innumerabilis 
Annorum series, et fuga temporum. 

as well as of the lines which end Ovid's Metamorphoses (xv. 871-9). 

Jamque opus exegi, quod nee Jovis ira nee ignes, 
Nee poterit ferrum, nee edax abolere vetustas. 
Cum volet ilia dies, quas nil nisi corporis hujus 
Jus habet, incerti spatum mihi finiat aevi ; 
Parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis 
Astra ferar nomenque erit indelebile nostrum. 

Among French sonnetteers Ronsard attacked the theme most boldly, 
although Bu Bellay popularised Ovid's lines in an avowed translation, 
and also in an original poem, 'De I'immortalit^ des pontes,' which gave 
the boast an exceptionally buoyant expression. Ronsard's odes and 
sonnets promise immortality to the persons to whom they are addressed 
with an extravagant and a monotonous liberality. The following lines 
from Ronsard's Ode (livre i. No. vii.) 'Au Seigneur Camavalet,' illus- 
trate his habitual treatment of the theme : 

C'est un travail de bon-heur 

Chanter les hommes louables, 

Et leur bastir un honneur 

Seul vainqueur des ans muables. 

Le marbre ou I'airain vestu 

D'un labeur vif par I'enclume 

N'animent tant la vertu 

Que les Muses par la plume. . . . 

{CEuwes de Ronsard, ed. Blanchemain, ii. 58, 62.) 
' Ed. Shuckburgh, p. 62. 
' Shakespeare Soc. p. 93. 
' Spenser, when commemorating the death of the Earl of War- 

Les neuf divines pueelles 
Gardent ta gloire chez elles ; 
Et mon luth, qu'eU'ont fait estre 
De leurs secrets le grand prestre. 
Par cest hymne solennel 
Kespandra dessus ta race 
Je ne sjay quoy de sa grace 
Qui te doit faire etemel. 


Drayton and Daniel developed the conceit with unblush- 
ing iteration. Drayton, who spoke of his efforts as 
'my immortal song' ('Idea,' vi. 14) and 'my world-out- 
wearing rhymes' (xliv. 7), embodied the vaunt in such 
lines as : 

While thus my pen strives to eternize thee ('Idea,' xliv. i). 
Ensuing ages yet my rhymes shall cherish (ib. xliv. ii). 
My name shall mount unto eternity {ib. xliv. 14). 
All that I seek is to eternize thee [ib. xlvii. 14). 

Daniel was no less explicit : 

This [sc. verse] may remain thy lasting monument (Delia, xxxvii. 9). 

Thou mayst in after ages live esteemed, 

Unburied in these lines (ib. xxxix. 9-10). 

These [sc. my verses] are the arks, the trophies I erect 

That fortify thy name against old age; 

And these [sc. verses] thy sacred virtues must protect 

Against the dark and time's consuming rage (ib. 1. 9-12). 

Shakespeare, in his references to his 'eternal lines' 
(xviii. 12) and in the assurances that he gives the subject 
of his addresses that the sonnets are, in Daniel's exact 
phrase, his 'monument' (Ixxxi. 9, cvii. 13), was merely 
accommodating himself to the prevailing taste. Amid 
the obUvion of the day of doom Shakespeare foretells 
that his friend 

shall in these black lines be seen, 
And they shall live, and he in them still green. (Sonnet bdii. 13-14.) 
'Your monument' (the poet continues) 'shall be my gentle verse, 
Which eyes not yet created shall o'erread . . . 
You still shall live, — such virtue hath my pen. (Sonnet Ixxxi. g-io, 13,) 

Characteristically in Sonnet Iv. Shakespeare invested 
the conventional vaunt with a splendour that was hardly 
approached by any other poet : 

wick in the Ruines of Time (c. 1591), assured the Earl's widowed 


Thy Lord shall never die the whiles this verse 
Shall live, and surely it shall live for ever : 
For ever it shall live, and shall rehearse 
His worthie praise, and vertues dying never, 
Though death his soul doo from his body sever; 
And thou thyself herein shalt also live : 
Such grace the heavens doo to my verses give. 


Not marble, nor the gilded monuments 

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme ; 

But you shall shine more bright in these contents 

Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time. 

"When wasteful war shall statues overturn. 

And broils root out the work of masonry, 

Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn 

The living record of your memory. 

'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity 

Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room 

Even in the eyes of all posterity 

That wear this world out to the ending doom. 

So, till the judgement that yourself arise, 

You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes. 

Very impressively does Shakespeare subscribe to a lead- 
ing tenet of the creed of all Renaissance poetry.^ 

The imitative element is no less conspicuous in the 
sonnets that Shakespeare distinctively addresses to a 
woman. In two of the latter (cxxxv.-vi.), where he 
quibbles over the fact of the identity of his own name 
of Will with a lady's 'will' (the synon)nii in Elizabethan 

' See also Shakespeare's Sonnets xix. liv. Ix. Ixv. and cvii. In the 
three quotations in the text Shakespeare catches very nearly Ronsard's 
notes : 

Donne moy I'encre et le papier aussi. 

En cent papiers tesmoins de men soud 

Je veux tracer la peine que j'endure : 

En cent, papiers plus durs que diamant, 

A fin qu'un jour nostra race future 

Juge du mal que je soufEre en aimant. 

{Amours, 1. cxxxili. CEmres, i. 109.) 

Vous vivrez et croistrez comma Laura an grandeur 

Au moins tant que vivront las plumes at le llvre. 

{Sonnets pour HSUne, n. ii.) 

Plus dur qua fer j'ay fini mon ouvrage. 

Qua I'an, dispos k demener las pas. 

Qua I'eau, le vent ou la brulant orage, 

L'injuriant, ne ru'ront i. has. 

Quand ce viendra que le dernier trespas 

M'assoupira d'uii somme dur, a I'haure, 

Sous le tombeau tout Ronsard n'ira pas, 

Restant de luy la part meilleure. ... 

Sus donque. Muse, emporte au ciel la gloire 

Qua j'ay gaign^e, annonfant la victoire 

Dent a bon droit ja me voy jouxssant. ... 

{Odes, livre v. No. xxxii. 'A sa Muse.') 

In Sonnet Ixxii. in Amours (livre i.), Ronsard declares that his mis- 
tress's name 

Victorieux das pauples et das rois 
S'en voleroit sus I'aile de ma ryme. 


English of both 'lust' and 'obstinacy'), he derisively 
challenges comparison with wire-drawn conceits of 
rival sonnetteers, especially of Barnabe Barnes, 
fomrts'ad" who had enlarged on his disdainful mistress's 
dressed to 'wills,' and had turned the word 'grace' to 
a woman. ^^^ ^^^^ punning account as Shakespeare 
turned the word 'will.'^ Similarly in Sonnet cxxx., 
beginning — 

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun ; 
Coral is far more red than her lips' red . . . 
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head,* 

the poet satirises the conventional hsts of precious stones, 
metals, and flowers, to which the sonnetteers likened their 
mistresses' features. It was not the only time that 
Shakespeare deprecated the sonnetteer's practice of 
comparing features of women's beauty with 'earth and 
sea's rich gems' (xxi. 5-6).' 

In two sonnets (cxxvii. and cxxxii.) Shakespeare 
graciously notices the black complexion, hair, and eyes 
of his mistress, and expresses a preference for features 

' See Appendix vrn., 'The Will Sonnets,' for the interpretation of 
Shakespeare's conceit and like efforts of Barnes. 

2 Wires in the sense of hair was peculiarly distinctive of the sonnet- 
teers' affected vocabulary. Cf. Daniel's Delia, 1591, No. xxvi., 'And 
golden hair may change to silver wire'; Lodge's Phillis, 1595, 'Made 
blush the beauties of her curled wire'; Barnes's Parthenophil, sonnet 
xlviii., 'Her hairs no grace of golden wires want.' For the habitual 
comparison of lips with coral cf. 'Coral-coloured lips' [Zepheria, IS94) 
No. xxiii.); 'No coral is her lip' (Lodge's Phillis, 1595, No. viii.) 'Ce 
beau coral' are the opening words of Ronsard's Amours, livre i. No. 
xxiii., where a list is given of stones and metals comparable with women's 
features. Remy Belleau, one of Ronsard's poetic colleagues, treated 
that comparative study most comprehensively in 'Les Amours et nou- 
veaux eschanges des pi'erres prficieuses, vertus et proprietez d'icelles' 
which was first published at Paris in 1576. In A Lover's Complaint, 
lines 280-1, the writer betrays knowledge of such strained imagery when 
he mentions : 

, deep-brained sonnets that did amplify 
Each stone's dear nature, worth and quality. 

' Here Spenser in his Amoretti, No. ix., gives Shakespeare a very 
direct cue, as may be seen when Spenser's cited sonnet is read alongside 
of Shakespeare's sonnet xxi. 


of that hue over those of the fair hue which was, he tells 
us, more often associated in poetry with beauty. He 
commends the 'dark lady' for refusing to prac- ^j^^ ^^j^^ 
tise those arts by which other women of the day of 'biack- 
gave their hair and faces colours denied them °^^' 
by Nature.! In his praise of 'blackness' or a dark 
complexion Shakespeare repeats almost verbatim his 
own Knes in 'Love's Labour's Lost' (iv. iii. 241-7), 
where the heroine RosaHne is described as 'black as 
ebony,' with 'brows decked in black,' and in 'mourning' 
for her fashionable sisters' indulgence in the disguising 
arts of the toilet. ' No face is fair that is not full so black, 
exclaims Rosaline's lover. But neither in the sonnets 
nor in the play can Shakespeare's praise of 'blackness' 
claim the merit of being his own invention. The conceit 
is famiUar to the French sonnetteers.^ Sir Philip Sidney, 
in Sonnet vii. of his 'Astrophel and Stella,' had antici- 
pated its employment in England. The 'beams' of the 
eyes of Sidney's mistress were 'wrapt in colour black' 
and wore 'this mourning weed,' so 

That whereas black seems beauty's contrary, 
She even in black doth make all beauties flow.' 

^ Cf. Sonnet kviii. 3-7. Desportes had previously protested with 
equal warmth against the artificial disguises — false hair and cosmetics 
— of ladies' toilets : 

Ceste vive coxjleur, qui ravit et qui blesse 
Les esprits des amans, de la feinte abusez, 

Ce n'est que Wane d'Espagne, [i.e. a cosmetic] et ces cheveux frisez 
Ne sont pas ses cheveux : c'est une fausse tresse. 

('Diverses Amours,' Sonnet xxix. in (Euwes, ed. Michiels, p. 398.) 

La modeste Venus, la honteuse et las age, 
Estoit par les anciens toute peinte de noir . . 
Noire est la Verity cach^e en un nuage. 

(Amadis Jamyn, (Euwes, i. p. 129, No. xcv.) 

' Shakespeare adopted this phraseology- of Sidney literally in both 
the play and the sonnet ; while Sidney's further conceit that the lady's 
eyes are in 'this mourning weed' in order 'to honour all their deaths 
who for her bleed' is reproduced in Shakespeare's Sonnets cxxxii. — one 
of the two under consideration — where he tells his mistress that her 
eyes 'have put on black' to become 'loving mourners' of him who is 
denied her love. 


To his praise of 'blackness' in Love's Labour's Lost' 
Shakespeare appends a playful but caustic comment on 
the paradox that he detects in the conceit.^ Similarly, 
the sonnets, in which a dark complexion is pronounced 
to be a mark of beauty, are followed by others in which 
the poet argues in self-confutation that blackness of 
feature is hideous in a woman, and invariably indicates 
moral turpitude or blackness of heart. Twice, in much 
the same language as had already served a like purpose 
in the play, does he mock his 'dark lady' with this un- 
complimentary interpretation of dark-coloured hair and 

The two sonnets, in which this uncomplimentary view 
of 'blackness ' is developed, form part of a series of twelve, 
which belongs to a special category of sonnet- 
nets of teering effort. In them Shakespeare abandons 
vitupera- ^j^g sugared sentiment which characterises most 

"Oil- ^ , . T - - - . , , 

of his hundred and forty-two remainmg sonnets. 
He grows vituperative and pours a volley of passionate 
abuse upon a woman whom he represents as disdaining 
his advances. She is as ' black as hell,' as ' dark as night,' 
and with ' so foul a face ' was ' the bay where all men ride.' 
The genuine anguish of a rejected lover often expresses 
itself in curses both loud and deep, but in Shakespeare's 
sonnets of vituperation, despite their dramatic intensity, 
there is a declamatory parade of figurative extravagance 
which suggests that the emotion is feigned. 

Every sonnetteer of the sixteenth century, at some 
point in his career, devoted his energies to vituperation 
of a cruel siren. Among Shakespeare's English contem- 
poraries Barnabe Barnes affected to contend in his sonnets 
with a female 'tyrant,' a 'Medusa,' a 'rock.' 'Women' 
(Barnes laments) ' are by nature proud as devils.' On the 

• paradox ! Black as the badge of hell, 
The hue of dungeons and the scowl of night. 

(Love's Labour's Lost, IV. iii. 254-5.) 
To look like her are chimney-sweepers black, 
And since her time are colUers counted bright. 
And Ethiops of their sweet complexion crack. 
Dark needs no candle now, for dark is Ught (»6. 266-9). 


European continent the method of vituperation was long 
practised systematically. Roijsard's sonnets celebrated 
in Shakespeare's manner a 'fierce tigress,' a 'murderess,' 
a 'Medusa.' Another French sonnetteer Claude de 
Pontoux broadened the formula in a sonnet addressed 
to his mistress which opened : 

Affamee Meduse, enragee Gorgonne, 
Horrible, espouvantable, et felonne tigresse, 
Cruelle et rigoureuse, allechante et traistresse, 
Meschante abominable, et sanglante Bellonne.* 

A third French sonnetteer, of Ronsard's school, Eti- 
enne Jodelle, designed in 1570 a collection of as many as 
three hundred vituperative sonnets which he jodeiie's 
inscribed to 'hate of a woman,' and he ap- 'Cont'r' 
propriately entitled them 'Contr' Amours' ^°"'=' 
in distinction from 'Amours,' the term applied to son- 
nets in the honeyed vein. Only seven of Jodelle's 
'Contr' Amours' are extant. In one the poet forestalls 
Shakespeare's confession of remorse for having lauded 
the black hair arid complexion of his mistress.^ But at 

' De Pontoux's L'Idee (sonnet ccviii.), a sequence of 288 sonnets 
published in 1579. 

2 No. vii. of Jodelle's Contr' Amours runs thus : 

Combien de fois mes vers ont-ils dort 

Ces cheueux noirs dignes d'vne Meduse? 

Combien de fois ce teint noir qui m'amuse, 

Ay-ie de lis et roses colore? 
Combien ce front de rides labour^ 

Ay-ie applani? et quel a fait ma Muse 

Le gros sourcil, oil folle elle s'abuse, 

Ayant sur luy Tare d' Amour figure? 
Quel ay-ie fait son ceil se renfonfant? 

Quel ay-ie fait son grand nez rougissant? 

Quelle sa bouche et ses noires dents quelles 
Quel ay-ie fait le reste de ce corps? 

Qtii, me sentant endurer mille morts, 

Viuoit heureux de mes peines mortelles. 

(Jodelle's (Euwes, 1597, pp. 91-94.) 

With this should be compared Shakespeare's Sonnets cxxxvii. cxlviii. 
and cl. In No. vi. of his Contr' Amours Jodelle, after reproaching his 
'traitres vers' with having untruthfully described his siren as a beauty, 
and concludes : 

Ja si long temps faisant d'un Diable vn Ange 
Vous m'ouurez I'ceil en I'iniuste louange, 
Et m'aueuglez en I'iniuste tourment. 


all points there is complete identity of tone between 
Jodelle's and Shakespeare's vituperative efforts. 

The artificial regularity with which the sonnetteers 
of all lands sounded the vituperative stop, whenever 

they exhausted their faculty of adulation, 
Haxve^'-s excited ridicule in both England ^nd France. 
'Amorous In Shakespeare's early life the convention was 
Somet.' wittily parodied by Gabriel Harvey in 'An 

Amorous Odious Sonnet intituled The Stu- 
dent's Loove or Hatrid, or both or neither, or what shall 
please the looving or hating reader, either in sport or 
earnest, to make of such contrary passions as are here 
discoursed.' ^ After extolhng the beauty and virtue of 
his mistress above that of Aretino's Angehca, Petrarch's 
Laura, CatuUus's Lesbia, and eight other far-famed 
objects of poetic adoration, Harvey suddenly denounces 
her in burlesque rhyme as 'a serpent in brood,' 'a poi- 
sonous toad,' 'a heart of marble,' and 'a stony mind 
as passionless as a block.' Finally he tells her, 

If ever there were she-devils incarnate 
They are altogether in thee incorporate. 

The 'dark lady' of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' may 
in her main hneaments be justly ranked with the son- 

netteer's well-seasoned type of fenunine ob- 
ventionof duracy. It is quite possible that Shakespeare 
lad^ '^^'^^ ™^y have met in real life a dark-complexioned 

siren, and it is possible that he may have fared 
ill at her disdainful hands. But no such incident is needed 

With this should be compared Shakespeare's Sonnet cxliv., lines g-io: 

And whether that my angel be tum'd fiend 
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell. 

A conventional sonnet of extravagant vituperation, which Drummond 
of Hawthomden translated from Marino {Rime, 1602, pt. i. p. 76), is 
introduced with grotesque inappropriateness into Drummond's collec- 
tion of 'sugared' sonnets (see pt. i. No. xxxv. : Drummond's Poems, 
ed. W. C. Ward, i. 69, 217). 

' The parody, which is not in sonnet form, is printed in Harvey's 
Letter-book (Camden Soc. pp. 101-43). 


to account for the presence of the 'dark lady' in the son- 
nets. The woman acquires more distinctive features in 
the dozen sonnets scattered through the collection which 
reveal her in a treacherous act of intrigue with the poet's 
friend. At certain points in the series of sonnets she 
becomes the centre of a conflict between the competing 
calls of love and friendship. Though . the part which 
is there imputed to her lies outside the sonnet teer's 
ordinary conventions, the r61e is a traditional one 
among heroines of Itahanate romance. It cannot have 
lain beyond the scope of Shakespeare's dramatic inven- 
tion to vary his portrayal of the sonnetteer's conven- 
tional type of feminine obduracy by drawing a fresh 
romantic interest from a different branch of literature.^ 
She has been compared, not very appositely, with Shake- 
speare's splendid creation of Cleopatra in his play of 
' Antony and Cleopatra.' From one point of view the 
same criticism may be passed on both. There is no 
greater and no less ground for seeking in Shakespeare's 
personal environment the original of the ' dark lady ' 
of his sonnets than for seeking there the original of his 
Queen of Egypt. 

* The theories that all the sonnets addressed to a woman were ad- 
dressed to the 'dark lady,' and that the 'dark lady' is identifiable with 
Mary Fitton, a mistress of the Earl of Pembroke, are shadowy conjec- 
tures. The extant portraits of Mary Fitton prove her to be fair. The 
introduction of her name into the discussion is due to the mistaken 
notion that Shakespeare was the protigi of Pembroke, that most of the 
sonnets were addressed to him, and that the poet was probably acquainted 
with his patron's mistress. SeeAppendix vil. The expressions in two of 
the vituperative sonnets to the effect that the disdainful mistress had 
'robb'd others' beds' revenues of their rents' (cxlii. 8) and 'in act her bed- 
vow broke' (clii. 37) have been held to imply that the woman denounced 
by Shakespeare was married. The first quotation can only mean that 
she was unfaithful with married men, but both quotations seem to be 
general phrases of abuse, the meaning of which should not be pressed 



Amid the borrowed conceits and poetic figures of Shake- 
speare's sonnets there lurk suggestive references to the 

circumstances in his extemat life that at- 
i.dffa'the^ tended their composition. If few can be 
'dedica- safely regarded as autobiographic revelations 
nets. ^°° of sentiment, many of them offer evidence of 

the relations in which he stood to a patron, and 
to the position that he sought to fill in the circle of that 
patron's Kterary retainers. Twenty sonnets, which may 
for purposes of exposition be entitled 'dedicatory' son- 
nets, are addressed to one who is declared without much 
periphrasis to be a patron of the poet's verse (Nos. 
xxiii. xxvi. xxxii. xxxvii. xxxviii. Ixix. bcxvii.-kxxvi. 
c. ci. ciii. cvi.) In one of these — Sonnet kxviii. — 
Shakespeare asserted : 

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse 
And found such fair assistance in my verse 
As every alien pen hath got my use 
And under thee their poesy disperse. 

Subsequently he regretfully pointed out how his patron's 
readiness to accept the homage of other poets seemed to 
be thrusting him from the enviable place of pre-eminence 
in his patron's esteem. 

Shakespeare's biographer is under an obligation to 
attempt an identification of the persons whose relations 
with tiie poet are indicated so expUcitly. The problem 
presented by the patron is simple. Shakespeare states 
unequivocally that he has no patron but one. 

Sing [sc. O Muse !] to the ear that doth thy lays esteem, 
And gives thy pen both skill and argument (c. 7-8). 


For to no other pass my verses tend 

Than of yQur graces and your gifts to tell (ciii. 11-12). 

The Earl of Southampton, the patron of his narrative 
poems, is the only patron of Shakespeare who is known 
to biographical research. No contemporary 
document or tradition gives any hint that ^'^lout^' 
Shakespeare was the friend or dependent ampton_ 
of any other man of rank. Shakespeare's ^lepatron. 
close intimacy with the Earl is attested under 
his own hand in the dedicatory epistles of his 'Venus 
and Adonis' and 'Lucrece,' which were penned respec- 
tively in 1593 and 1594. A trustworthy tradition cor- 
roborates that testimony. According to Nicholas Rowe, 
Shakespeare's first adequate biographer, 'there is one 
instance so singular in the magnificence of this patron of 
Shakespeare's that if I had not been assured that the 
story was handed down by Sir WilHam 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. A bounty very great 
and very rare at any time.' 

There is no difl&culty in detecting the lineaments of 
the Earl of Southampton in those of the man who is 
distinctively greeted in the sonnets as the 
poet's patron. Three of the twenty 'dedi- 'dedica- 
catory' sonnets merely translate into the ^o'v' 

T /. / r 1 1 . 1 1 sonnets. 

language of poetry the dedicated words 
which writers use' (Ixxxii. 3), the accepted expressions 
of devotion which had already done duty in the dedica- 
tory epistle in prose that prefaces 'Lucrece.' 

That epistle, which opens with the sentence 'The love 
I dedicate to your lordship is without end,'^ is finely 
paraphrased in Sonnet xxvi. : 

' The whole epistle is quoted on pp. 148-g supra. For comment on 
the use of 'lover' and 'love' in Elizabethan English as synonyms for 
'friend' and 'friendship,' see p. 205 n. i. 


Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage 

Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit, 

To thee I send this written, 

To witness duty, not to show my wit : 

Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine 

May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it, 

But that I hope some good conceit of thine 

In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it 

Till whatsoever star that guides my moving, 

Points on me graciously with fair aspect, 

And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving 

To show me worthy of thy sweet respect : 

Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee ; 

Till then not show my head where thou may'st prove me.' 

The 'Lucrece' epistle's intimation that the patron's 
love alone gives value to the poet's 'untutored lines' 
is repeated in Sonnet xxxii., which doubtless reflected 
a moment of depression : 

If thou survive my well-contented day, 
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover. 
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey 
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover, 
Compare them with the bettering of the time, 
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen, 
Reserve them for my love, not for their rh3nne, 
Exceeded by the height of happier men. 
O, then vouchsafe me but this loving thought : 
'Had my friend's Muse grown with this growing age, 
A dearer birth than this his love had brought, 
To march in ranks of better equipage ^ ; 
But since he died, and poets better prove, 
Theirs for their style. I'll read, his for his love.' 

' There is little doubt that this sonnet was parodied by Sir Jolin 
Davies in the ninth and last of his 'gulling' sonnets, in which he ridicules 
the notion that a man of wit should put his wit in vassalage to any one. 

To love my lord I do knight's service owe. 

And therefore now he hath my wit in ward ; 

But while it [i.e. the poet's wit] is in his tuition so 

Methinks he doth intreat [i.e. treat] it passing hard . . . 

But why should love after minority 

(When I have passed the one and twentieth year) 

Preclude my wit of his sweet liberty, 

And make it still the yoke of wardship bear? 

I fear he [i.e. my lord] hath another title [i.e. right to my wit] got 

And holds my wit now for an idiot. 

^ Thomas Tyler assigns this sonnet to the year 1398 or later, on the 
fallacious ground that this line was probably imitated from an expression 


A like vein is pursued in greater exaltation of spirit in 
Soiinet xxxviii. : 

How can my Muse want subject to invent, 

While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse 

Thine own sweet argument, too excellent 

For every vulgar paper to rehearse? 

O give thyself the thanks, if aught in me 

Worthy perusal stand against thy sight ; 

For who's so dumb that cannot write to thee, 

When thou thyself dost give invention Ught? 

Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth ' 

Than those old nine which rhymers invocate; 

And he that caUs on thee, let him bring forth 

Eternal numbers to outlive long date. 
If my slight Muse do please these curious days. 
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise. 

The central conceit here so finely developed — that 
the patron may claim as his own handiwork the protege's 
verse because he inspires it — belongs to the most 
conventional schemes of dedicatory adulation. When 
Daniel, in 1592, inscribed his volume of sonnets entitled 
'DeKa' to the Countess of Pembroke, he played in the 
prefatory sonnet on the same note, and used in the con- 
cluding couplet almost the same words as Shakespeare. 
Daniel wrote : 

Great patroness of these my humble rhymes. 
Which thou from out thy greatness dost inspire . . . 
O leave [i.e. cease] not stUl to grace thy work in me . . . 

Whereof the travail I may challenge mine, , 

But yet the glory, madam, must be thine. 

Elsewhere in the sonnets we hear fainter echoes of 
the 'Lucrece' epistle. Repeatedly does the sonnetteer re- 
new the assurance given there that his patron is 'part 

in Marston's Pigmalion's Image, published in 1598, where 'stanzas' are 
said to 'march rich bedight in warlike equipage.' The suggestion of 
plagiarism is quite gratuitous. The phrase was common in Elizabethan 
literature long before Marston employed it. Nashe, in his preface to 
Greene's Menaphon, which was published in 1589, wrote that the works 
of the poet Watson 'march in equipage of honour with any of your an- 
cient poets.' (Cf. Peek's Works, ed. BuUen, ii. 236.) 
1 Cf. Drayton's Ideas Mirrow 1594, Amour 8. 


of all ' he has or is. Frequently do we meet in the sonnets 
with such expressions as these : 

[I] by a part of all your glory live (xxxvii. 12) ; 
Thou art all the better part of me (xxxix. 2) ; 
My spirit is thine, the better part of me (Ixjdv. 8) ; 

while 'the love without end' which Shakespeare had 
vowed to Southampton in the hght of day reappears in 
sonnets addressed to the youth as 'eternal love' (cviii. 
9) and a devotion 'what shall have no end' (ex. 9). 

The identification of the rival poets whose 'richly 
compiled' 'comments' of his patron's 'praise' excited 

Shakespeare's jealousy is a more difficult in- 
in South- quiry than the identification of the patron. 
fr^ur'^'^ The rival poets with their 'precious phrase by 

all the Muses filed' (Ixxxv. 4) are to be sought 
among the writers who eulogised Southampton and are 
known to have shared his patronage. The field of choice 
is not small. Southampton from boyhood cultivated 
Uterature and the society of literary men. In 1594 no 
nobleman received so abundant a measure of adulation 
from the contemporary world of letters.^ Thomas Nashe 
justly described the Earl, when dedicating to him his 
'Life of Jack Wilton' in 1594, as ' a dear lover and 
cherisher as well of the lovers of poets as of the poets 
themselves.' Nashe addressed to him many affection- 
ately phrased sonnets. The prolific sonnetteer Barnabe 
Barnes and the miscellaneous literary practitioner Ger- 
vase Markham confessed, respectively in 1593 and 1595, 
yearnings for Southampton's countenance in sonnets 
which glow hardly less ardently than Shakespeare's 
with admiration for his personal charm. Similarly 
John Florio, the Earl's Italian tutor, who is to be reckoned 
among Shakespeare's literary acquaintances,^ wrote to 
Southampton in 1598, in his dedicatory epistle before 

' See Appendix rv. for a full account of Southampton's relations with 
Nashe and other men of letters, 
^.^ee p. 155-6, note 2. 


his 'Worlde of Wordes' (an Italian-English dictionary), 
' as to me and many more, the glorious and gracious sun- 
shine of your honour hath infused light and life.' 

Shakespeare magnanimously and modestly described 
that protegi of Southampton, whom he deemed a 
specially dangerous rival, as an 'able' and a 
' better [ 'spirit,' 'a worthier pen,' a vessel 'of spefr^s 
tall building and of goodly pride,' compared fearo^a 
with whom he was himself 'a worthless boat.' "™ ^^' 
He detected a touch of magic in the man's writ- 
ing. His 'spirit,' Shakespeare hyperbolically declared, 
had been 'by spirits taught to write above a mortal 
pitch,' and 'an affable famihar ghost' nightly gulled him 
with intelligence. Shakespeare's dismay at the fascina- 
tion exerted on his patron by ' the proud full sail of his 
[rival's] great verse' sealed for a time, he declared, the 
springs of his own invention (Ixxxvi.). 

There is no need to insist too curiously on the justice 
of Shakespeare's laudation of 'the other poet's' powers. 
He was presumably a new-comer in the literary field 
who surprised older men of benevolent tendency into 
admiration by his promise rather than by his achieve- 
ment. 'Eloquence and courtesy,' wrote Gabriel Har- 
-vey at the time, 'are ever bountiful in the amplifying 
vein ' ; and writers of amiability, Harvey adds, ha- 
bitually blazoned the perfections that they hoped to 
see their young friends achieve, in language implying 
that they had already achieved them. All the condi- 
tions of the problem are satisfied by the rival's „ 
identification with the Oxford scholar Barnabe Bames 
Barnes, a youthful panegjnrist of Southampton ^^"''^^^ 
and a prolific sonnetteer, who was deemed by 
contemporary critics certain to prove a great poet. His 
first collection of sonnets, 'Parthenophil and Parthe- 
nophe,' with niany odes and madrigals interspersed, was 
printed in 1593 ; and his second, 'A Centurie of Spirit- 
ual Sonnets,' in 1595- Loud applause greeted the first 
book, which included numerous adaptations from the 


classical, Italian, and French poets, and disclosed, 
among many crudities, some fascinating lyrics and at 
least one first-rate sonnet (No. lx\d. 'Ah, sweet con- 
tent, where is thy mild abode?')- The veteran Thomas 
Churchyard called Barnes 'Petrarch's scholar' ; the 
learned Gabriel Harvey bade him ' go forward in maturity 
as he had begun in pregnancy,' and 'be the gallant poet, 
like Spenser'; the fine poet Campion judged his verse 
to be 'heady and strong.' In a sonnet that Barnes 
addressed in this earliest volume to the 'virtuous' 
Earl of Southampton he declared that his patron's eyes 
were 'the heavenly lamps that give the Muses light,' 
and that his sole ambition was 'by flight to rise' to a 
height worthy of his patron's 'virtues.' Shak^peare 
sorrowfxilly pointed out in Sonnet Ixxviii. that his lord's 

that taught the dumb on high to ang. 
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly. 
Have added feathers to the leamed's wing. 
And given grace a double majesty; 

while in the following sonnet he asserted that the 
'worthier pen' of las dreaded rival when lending his 
patron 'virtue' was guilty of plagiarism, for he 'stole 
that word ' from his patron's ' behaviour.' The emphasis, 
laid by Barnes on the inspiration that he sought from 
Southampton's 'gracious eyes' on the one hand, and his 
reiterated references to his patron's 'virtue' on the 
other, suggest that Shakespeare in these sonnets directly 
alluded to Barnes as his chief competitor in the hody 
contested race for Southampton's favour. In Sonnet 
Ixxxv. Shakespeare declares that he cries '"Amen" to 
every hymn that able spirit [i.e. his rival] affords.' 
Very few poets of the day in England followed Ron- 
sard's practice of bestowing the title of hymn on mis- 
cellaneous poems, but Barnes twice applies the word 
to his poems of love.' When, too, Shakespeare in Sonnet 

^ Cf. ParthenophU, Madrigal L line 12 ; Sonnet x\tL line 9. The 
French usage of applying the term 'hymne' to secular lyijcs was un- 


Ixxx. employs nautical metaphors to indicate the rela- 
tions of himself and his rival with his patron — 

My saucy bark, inferior far to his . . . 

Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat, — 

he seems to write with an eye on Barnes's identical choice 
of metaphor 

My fancy's ship tossed here and there by these [sc. sorrow's floods] 

Still floats in danger ranging to and fro. 

How fears my thoughts' swift pinnace thine hard rock ! ' 

Gervase Markham, an industrious man of letters, is 
equally emphatic in his sonnet to Southampton on the 
potent influence of his patron's 'eyes,' which, „ 

r (,, J. • ^ • ! Other theo- 

ne says, crown the most victonous pen — a ries as to 
possible reference to Shakespeare. Nashe's l^^^^'^ 
poetic praises of the Earl are no less enthusi- 
astic, and are of a finer literary temper than Markham's. 
But Shakespeare's description of his rival's literary work 
fits far less closely the verse of Markham and Nashe 
than the verse of their fellow aspirant Barnes. 

Many critics argue that the numbing fear of his rival's 
genius and of its influence on his patron to which Shake- 
speare confessed in the sonnets was more Ukely to be 
evoked by the work of George Chapman, .the dramatist 
and classical translator, than by that of any other con- 
temporary poet. But Chapman produced no con- 
spicuously 'great verse' till he began his rendering of 
Homer in 1598; and although he appended in 1610 
to a complete edition of his translation a sonnet to 
Southampton, it was couched in cold terms of formaUty, 
and it was one of a series of sixteen sonnets each ad- 
dressed to a distingiiished nobleman with whom the 
writer imphes that he had previously no close relations.^ 

common in 'England, although Chapman styles each section of his 
poem 'Shadow of the Night' (1594) 'a hymn' and Michael Drayton 
contributed 'h)Tnns' to his Harmonie of the Church (1591). 

' Parthenophil, Sonnet xci. 

* Much irrelevance has been introduced into the discussion of Chap- 


The poet Drayton, and the dramatists Ben Jonson and 
Marston, have also been identified by various critics 
with ' the rival poet,' but none of these shared Southamp- 
ton's bounty, nor are the terms which Shakespeare 
applies to his rival's verse specially applicable to the 
productions of any of them. 

man's claim to be the rival poet. Prof. Minto in Us Characteristics of 
English Poets, p. 291, argued that Chapman was the man mainly be- 
cause Shakespeare declared his competitor to be taught to write by 
'spirits' — 'his compeers by night' — as weU as by 'an affable familiar 
ghost' which guUedhim with intelligence at night (Ixxxvi. s seq.). Pro- 
fessor Minto saw in these phrases allusions to some lines by Chapman ia 
his Shadows of Night (1594), a poem on Night. There Chapman warned 
authors in one passage that the spirit of literature will often withhold 
itself from them unless it have 'drops of theiir blood like a heavenly 
familiar,' and in another place sportively invited 'nimble and aspiring 
wits' to join him in consecrating their endeavours to 'sacred night.' 
There is no connection between Shakespeare's theory of the supernatural 
and nocturnal sources of his rival's influence and Chapman's trite allu- 
sion to the current faith in the power of 'nightly familiars' over men's 
minds and lives, or Chapman's invitation to his literary comrades to 
honour Night with him. Nashe in his prose tract called independently 
The Terrors of the Night, which was also printed in 1594, described the 
nocturnal habits of 'familiars' more explicitly than Chapman. The 
publisher Thomas Thorpe, in dedicatmg in 1600 Marlowe's translation 
of Lucan (bk. i.) to his friend Edward Blount, humorously referred to 
the same topic when he reminded Blount that ' this spirit [i.e. Marlowe], 
whose ghost or genius is to be seen walk the Churchyard [of St. Paul's] 
in at the least three or four sheets . . . was sometime a familiar of 
your own.' On the strength of these quotations, and accepting Professor 
Minto's line of argument, Nashe, Thorpe, or Blount, whose 'famihar' is 
declared to have been no less a personage than Marlowe, has as good a 
claim as Chapman to be the rival poet of Shakespeare's sonnets. A 
second argument in Chapman's favour has been suggested. Chapman 
in the preface to his translation of the Iliads (16 11) denounces without 
mentioning any name 'a certain envious windsucker that hovers up and 
down, laboriously engrossing all the air with his luxurious ambition, and 
buzzing into every ear my detraction.' It is suggested that Chapman 
here retaliated on Shakespeare for his references to him as his rival in 
the sonnets ; but it is out of the question that Chapman, were he the 
rival, should have termed those high compliments 'detraction.' There 
is small ground for identifying Chapman's 'windsucker' with Shake- 
speare (cf. Wyndham, p. 255). Mr. Arthur Acheson in Shakespeare 
and the Rival Poet (1903) adopts Prof. Minto's theory of Chapman's 
identity with the rival poet, arguing on fantastic grounds that Shake- 
speare and Chapman were at lifelong feud, and that Shakespeare not 
only attacked his adversary in the soimets but held him up to ridicule 
as Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost and as Thersites in Troiltts and 


Many besides the 'dedicatory' sonnets are addressed 
to a handsome youth of wealth ai;d rank, for whom the 
poet avows 'love/ in the Elizabethan sense of jj ^j^^ 
friendship.^ Although no specific reference is Sonnets of 
made outside the twenty 'dedicatory' sonnets fn^<i^i"P- 
to the youth as a literary patron, and the clues to his 
identity are elsewhere vaguer, there is good ground for 
the inference that the greater number of the sonnets 
of devoted 'love' also have Southampton for their 

Classical study is mainly responsible in the era of 
the Renaissance for the exalted conception of friendship 
which placed it in the world of Hterature on 
the level of love. The elevated estimate traditions 
was largely bred in Renaissance poetry of the f. . ,. 
traditions attaching to such twin heroes of ™ ^ '^' 
antiquity as Pylades and Orestes, Theseus and Pirithous, 
Laelius and Scipio. To this classical catalogue Boc- 
caccio, amplifying the classical legend, added in the 
fourteenth century the new examples of Palamon and 
Arcite and of Tito and Gesippo, and the latter pair of 
heroic friends fully shared in -Shakespeare's epoch the 
literary vogue of their forerunners. It was to well- 
seasoned classical influence that poetry of the sixteenth 
century owed the tendency to identify the ideals of 
friendship and love.^ At the same time it is important 

' 'Lover' and 'friend' were interchangeable terms in Elizabethan 
English. Cf. p. 197 note. Brutus opens his address to the citizens of 
Rome with the words, 'Romans, countrymen, and lovers,' and subse- 
quently describes Julius Caesar as 'my best lover' {Jtditis Ccesar, iii. 
ii. 13-49). Portia, when referring to Antonio, the bosom friend of her 
husband Bassanio, calls him 'the bosom lover of my lord' {Merchant of 
Venice, rn. iv. 17). Ben Jonson in his letters to Donne commonly de- 
scribed himself as his correspondent's 'ever true lover'; and Drayton, 
writing to William Drummond, of Hawthomden, informed him that 
an admirer of his literary work was 'in love' with him. The word 'love' 
was habitually applied to the sentiment subsisting between an author 
and Ws patron. Nashe, when dedicating Jack WiUon in 1594 to South- 
ampton, calls him 'a dear lover ... of the lovers of poets as of the poets 

^ Records of friendship in Elizabethan literature invariably acknow- 


to recognise that in Elizabethan as in all Renaissance 
literature — more especially in sonnets — the word 
'love' together with all the common terms of endear- 
ment was freely employed in a conventional or figura- 
tive fashion, which deprives the expressions of much 
of the emotional force attaching to them in ordinary 

That the whole language of love was appUed by Eliza- 
bethan poets to their more or less professional inter- 
course with those who appreciated and en- p;gujative 
couraged their literary activities is convinc- language 
ingly illustrated by the mass of verse which ° °^^' 
was addressed to the greatest of all patrons of Eliza- 

ledged the classical debt. Edmund Spenser when describing the perfect 
quality of friendship, cites as his witnesses : 

great Hercules, and Hyllus dear ; 
True Jonathan, and David trusty tried ; 
Stout Theseus, and Pirithous his fear ; 
Pylades and Orestes by his side ; 
Mild Titus, and Gesippus without pride ; 
Damon and Pythias, whom death could not sever. 

{Faerie Queene, Bk. iv. Canto x. st. 27.) 

Lyly, in his romance of Euphues, makes his hero Euphues address his 
friend Philautus thus (ed. Arber, p. 49) : 

' Assure yourself that Damon to his Pythias, Pilades to his Orestes, Tytus to his 
Gysippus, Thesius to his Pirothus, Scipio to his Laelius, was never fouade more faithfull, 
then Euphues will bee to Philautus.* 

The Story of Damon and Pythias formed the subject of a popular Eliza- 
bethan tragicomedy by Ridiard Edwardes (1570). Shakespeare pays a 
tribute to the current vogue of this classical legend when he makes 
Hamlet call his devoted friend Horatio 'O Bamon dear' {Hamlet, in. 
ii. 284). Cicero's treatise De Amicitia which was inspired by the ideal 
relations subsisting between Scipio and Laslius was very familiar to 
Elizabethan men of letters in both the Latin original and English transla- 
tions, and that volume helped to keep alive the classical example. Mon- 
taigne echoed the classical strain in his essay 'On Friendship' which 
finely describes his affection for Etienne de la Bo6tie and their perfect 
community of spirit. It may be worth noticing that Bacon, while in 
his essay 'On Friendship' he pays a fine tribute to the sentiment, takes 
an unamiable view of it in a second essay 'On Followers and Friends,' 
where he scornfully treats friends as merely interested and self-seeking 
dependents and frankly disparages the noble classical conception. The 
concluding words of Bacon's second essay are significant : 

' There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals, which wa^ 
wont to be magnified. That that is, is between superior and inferior, 'whose fortunes may 
comprehend the one the other.' 


bethan poetry — the Queen. The poets who sought 
her favour not merely commended the beauty of her 
mind and body with the semblance of amorous ecstasy; 
they carried their protestations of 'love' to the ex- 
treme limits of realism; they seasoned their notes 
of adoration with reproaches of inconstancy and in- 
fidelity, which they clothed in peculiarly intimate 
phraseology. Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh, 
Richard Barnfield, and Sir John Davies were among 
many of Shakespeare's contemporaries who wrote of 
their sovereign with a warmth that would mislead any 
reader who ignores the current conventions of the 
amorous vocabulary.^ 

^ Here are some of the lines in which Spenser angled for Queen Eliza- 
beth's professional protection ('Colin Clouts come home againe,' c. 

IS94) : 

To her my thoughts I daUy dedicate, 

To her my heart I nightly martyrize ; 

To her my love I lowly do prostrate, 

To her my life I wholly sacrifice : 

My thought, my heart, my love, my life is she. 

Sir Walter Raleigh similarly celebrated his devotion to the Queen in a 
poem called 'Cjoithia' of which only a fragment survives. The tone of 
such portion as is extant is that of unrestrainable passion. At one point 
the poet reflects how 

that the eyes of my mind held her beams 
In every part transferred by love's swift thought : 

Far off or near, in waking or in dreams. 
Imagination strong their lustre brought. 

Such force her angelic appearance had 
To master distance, time or cruelty. 

The passionate Ulusion could hardly be produced with more vivid 
efifect than in a succeeding stanza from the pen of Raleigh in the capacity 
of literary suitor : 

The thoughts of past times, Uke flames of hell. 
Kindled afresh within my memory 

The many dear achievements that befell 
In those prime years and infancy of love. 

See 'Cynthia,' a fragment in Poems of Raleigh, ed. Hannah, p. 38. 
Richard Barnfield in his like-named poem of Cynthia, 1595, and Fulke 
Greville in sonnets addressed to Cjmthia, also extravagantly described 
the Queen's beauty and graces. In 1599 Sir John Davies, poet and 
lawyer, apostrophised Elizabeth, who was then sixty-six years old, thus : 


It was in the rhapsodical accents of Spenser and 
Raleigh that Elizabethan poets habitually sought, not 
Gabriel the Queen's countenance only, but that of her 
Harvey courtiers. Great lords and great ladies alike 
a? PMi'ip were repeatedly assured by poetic chents of the 
Sidney. infatuation which came of their mental and 
physical charms. The fashionable tendency to clothe 
love and friendship in the same Uterary garb eUminated 
aU distinction between the phrases of afifection which 
were addressed to patrons and those which were ad- 
dressed to patronesses. Nashe, a tj^ical Elizabethan, 
bore graphic witness to the poetic practice when he in 
159s described how Gabriel Harvey, who rehgiously 
observed the professional ritual, 'courted' his patron 
Sir Philip Sidney with every extravagance of amorous 

Fair soul, since to the fairest body knit 

You give such lively life, such quickening power, 

Such sweet celestial influences to it 

As keeps it still in youth's immortal flower . . . 

O many, many years may you remain 

A happy angel to this happy land. 

{Nosce Teipsum, dedication.) 

Davies published in the same year twenty-six 'Hjnuues of Astrea' on 
Elizabeth's beauty and graces; each poem forms an acrostic on the 
words 'Elizabetha Regina,' and the language of love is simulated on 
almost every page. 

^ Nashe wrote of Harvey: 'I have perused vearses of his, written 
vnder his owne hand to Sir Philip Sidney, wherein he courted him as he ■ 
were another Cyparissus or Ganimede : the last Gordian true loues knot 
or knitting up of them is this : 

Sum iecur, ex quo te primum, Sydneie, vidi ; 
Os oculosque regit, cogit amare iecur. 

AU timr am I, Sidney, since I saw thee ; 

.My mouth, eyes, rule it and to loue doth draw mee.' 

Have with you to Safron Walden in Nashe's Works, ed. McKerrow, iii. 
92. Cf. Shakespeare's comment on a love sonnet in Love's Labour's Lost 
(iv. iii. 74 seq.) : 

This is the liver vein, which makes flesh a deity, 

A green goose a goddess ; pure, pure idolatry. 

God amend us, God amend ! we are much out of the way. 

Throughout Europe sonnets or poems addressed to patronesses display 
identical characteristics with those that were addressed to patrons. 


The tide of adulation of patrons and patronesses aUke, 
in (what Shakespeare himself called) *the liver vein,' 
long flowed without check. Until comparatively late 
in the seventeenth century there was ample justifica- 
tion for Sir Philip Sidney's warning of the flattery that 
awaited those who patronised poets and poetry : ' Thus 
doing, you shall be [hailed as] most fair, most rich, most 
wise, most all ; thus doing, you shall dwell upon super- 
latives; thus doing, your soul- shall be placed with 
Dante's Beatrice.' ^ There can be little doubt that 
Shakespeare, always susceptible to the contemporary 

One series of Michael Angelo's impassioned sonnets was addressed to a 
young nobleman Tommaso dei Cavalieri, and another series to a noble 
patroness Vittoria Colonna, but the tone is the same in bbth, and in- 
ternal evidence fails to enalsle the critic to distinguish between the two 
series. The poetic addresses to the Countess of Bedford and other noble 
patronesses of Donne, Ben Jonson, and their colleagues are often amorous 
in their phraseology, and akin in temper to Shakespeare's sonnets of 
friendship. Nicholas Breton, in his poem The Pilgrimage to Paradise 
coyned with the Countess of Pembroke's Love, 1592, and another work of 
his. The Countess of Pembroke's Passion (first printed from manuscript 
in 1867), pays the countess, his Uterary patroness, a homage which is 
indistinguishable from the ecstatic utterances of a genuine and over- 
mastering passion. Patronesses as well as patrons are addressed in the 
same adulatory terms in the long series of sonnets before Spenser's 
Faerie Queene, at the end of Chapman's Iliad, and at the end of John 
Davies's Microcosmos, 1603. Other addresses to patrons and patronesses 
are scattered through collections of occasional poems, such as Ben Jon- 
son's Forest and Underwoods and Donne's Poems. Sonnets to men are 
occasionally interpolated in sonnet-sequences in honour of women. 
Sonnet xi. in Drayton's soimet-fiction called 'Idea' (in 1599 edition) 
seems addressed to a man, in much the same manner as Shakespeare 
often addressed his hero; and a few others of Drayton's sonnets are 
ambiguous as to the sex of their subject. John Soothern's eccentric col- 
lection of love-sonnets. Pandora (1584), has sonnets dedicatory to the 
Earl of Oxford; and William Smith in his Chloris (1596) (a sonnet-fiction 
of the conventional kind) in two prefatory sonnets and in No. x\ii. of 
the substantive collection invokes the affectionate notice of Edmund 
Spenser. Only one English contemporary of Shakespeare published a 
long sequence of sonnets addressed to a man who does not prove on in- 
vestigation to have been a professional patron. In 1595 Richard Barn- 
field appended to his poem Cynthia a set of twenty sonnets, in which he 
feignedly avowed affection for a youth called Ganymede. Barnfield 
explained that he was fancifully adapting to the sonnet-form the second 
of Virgil's Eclogues, in which the shepherd Corydon apostrophises the 
shepherd-boy Alexis. 

^ Apologie for Poetrie (1595), ed. Shuckburgh, p. 62. 


vogue, penned many sonnets in that 'liver vein 'which 
was especially Calculated to flatter the ear of a praise- 
loving Maecenas like the Earl of Southampton. It is 
quite possible that beneath all the conventional adula- 
tion there lay a . genuine affection. But the perfect 
illusion of passion which often colours Shakespeare's 
poetic vows of friendship may well be fruit of his 
interpretation of the common usage in the glow of 
dramatic instinct. 

Shakespeare assured his friend that he could never 

grow old (civ.), that the finest types of beauty and 

chivalry in mediaeval romance lived again in 

speare's him (cvi.), that absence from him was misery, 

assurances ^nd that his affectiou was unalterable. Writ- 

of affection. . . , , ... 

mg Without concealment m their own names, 
many other poetic clients gave their Maecenases the 
like assurances, crediting them with every perfection of 
mind and body, and 'placing' them, in Sidney's phrase, 
'with Dante's Beatrice.' Matthew Roydon wrote of 
his patron, Sir Philip Sidney : 

His personage seemed most divine, 
A thousand graces one might count 
Upon his lovely cheerful eyne. 
To heare him speak and sweetly smile 
You were in Paradise the while. 

Edmund Spenser in a fine sonnet told his patron, Ad- 
miral Lord Charles Howard, that 'his good personage 
and noble deeds' made him the pattern to the present 
age of the old heroes of whom 'the antique poets' were 
'wont so much to sing.' This compUment, which 
Shakespeare turns to splendid account in Sonnet cvi.,' 
recurs with especial frequency in contemporary sonnets 
of adulation. Ben Jonson apostrophised the Earl of 
Desmond as 'my best-best lov'd.' Campion told Lord 

' Cf . Sonnet lix. : 

Show me your image in some antique book . . . 

Oh sure I am the wits of former days 

To subjects worse have given admiring praise. 


Walden, the Earl of Suffolk's undistinguished heir, 
that although his muse sought to express his love, 'the 
admired virtues' of the patron's youth 

Bred such despairing to his daunted Muse 
That it could scarcely utter naked truth.' 

Yet it is in foreign poetry which just proceded Shake- 
speare's era that the English dramatist's plaintive and 
yearning language is most closely adumbrated. ^^^^ ^^^ 
The greatest Italian poet of the era, Tasso, the Duke 
not merely recorded in numerous sonnets his °^^^"*''^- 
amorous devotion for his first patron, the Duke of 
Ferrara, but he also carefully described in prose the 
sentiments which, with a view to retaining the ducal 
favour, he sedulously cultivated and poetised. In a 
long prose letter to a later friend and patron, the Duke 
of Urbino, he wrote of his attitude of mind to his first 
patron thus : ^ ' I confided in him, not as we hope in 
men, but as we trust in God. ... It appeared tome, 
so long as I was under his protection, fortune and death 
had no power over me. Burning thus with devotion to 
my lord, as much as man ever did with love to his mis- 
tress, I became, without perceiving it, almost an idolater. 
I continued in Rome and Ferrara many days and months 
in the same attachment and faith.' With ;illuminating 
frankness Tasso added : ' I went so far with a thousand 
acts of observance, respect, affection, and almost adora- 
tion, that at last, as they say the courser grows slow by 
too much spurring, so his [i.e. the patron's] goodwill 
towards me slackened, because I sought it too ardently.' 

There is practical identity between the alternations 
of feeling which find touching voice in many of the son- 
nets of Shakespeare and those which colour Tasso's 

1 Campion's Poems, ed. Bullen, pp. 148 seq. Cf. Shakespeare's 

how I faint when I of you do write (Ixxx. i). 
Finding thy worth a limit past my praise (Ixxxii. 6). 

See also Donne's Poems (in Muses' Library), ii. 34. 
' Tasso, Opere, Pisa, 1821-32, vol. xiii. p. 298. 


picture of his intercourse with his Duke of Ferrara. 
Italian and English poets profess for a man a loverlike 
'idolatry,' although Shakespeare conventionally warns 
his 'lord' : 'Let not my love be called idolatry' (Sonnet 
cv.)- Both writers attest the hopes and fears which his 
favour evokes in them, with a fervour and intensity of 
emotion which it was only in the power of great poets 
to feign. 

An even closer parallel in both sentiment and phrase- 
ology with Shakespeare's soimets of friendship is furnished 
TodeUe's ^y ^^ soimets of the French poet Etienne 
sonnets to JodcUe, whose high reputation as the inventor 
his patron. ^^ French classical drama did not obscure his 
fame as a lyrist. Jodelle was well known in both capa- 
cities to cultivated Elizabethans. The suspicions of 
atheism under which he laboured, and his premature 
death in distressing poverty at the early age of forty- 
one, led EngHsh observers of the day to hken him to 
'our tragical poet Marlowe.' ^ To a noble patron, 
Comte de Fauquemberge et de Courtenay, Jodelle 
addressed a series of eight sonnets which anticipate 
Shakespeare's sonnets at every turn.^ In the opening 
address to the nobleman Jodelle speaks of his desolation 
in his patron's absence which no crowded company 
can alleviate. Yet when his friend is absent, the French 
poet yearningly fancies him present — 

Present, absent, je pais I'ame a toy toute deue. 
So Shakespeare wrote to his hero : 

Thyself away art present still with me ; 

For thou not further than my thoughts can move (dvii. lo-ii). 

^ The parallel between the careers of Marlowe and Jodelle first ap- 
peared in Thomas Beard's Theatre of God's Judgements, 1597, and was 
repeated by Francis Meres next year in his Palladis Tamia (cf . Frewk 
Renaissance in England, 430-1). 

^ These were first published with a long collection of 'amours' chiefly 
in sonnet form, in 1574. Cf. Jodelle, (Euvres, 1870, ed. ii. p. I74' 
Throughout these soimets Jodelle addresses his lord in the second per- 
son singular, as Shakespeare does in all but thirty-four of his sonnets. 


Jodelle credits his patron with a genius which puts 
labour and art to shame, with rank, virtue, wealth, with 
intellectual grace, and finally with 

Une bont^ qui point ne change ou s'epouvante. 

Similarly Shakespeare commemorates his patron's 
'birth or wealth or wit' (xxxvii. 5) as well as his 'bounty' 
(liii. 11) and his 'abundance' (xxxvii. 11). None the 
less the French poet, echoing the classical note, avers 
that the greatest joy in the Count's Kfe is the com- 
pleteness of the S5anpathy between the patron and his 
poetic admirer, which guarantees them both immortal- 
ity. Hotly does the French sonnetteer protest the 
eternal constancy of his affection. His spirit droops 
when the noble lord leaves him to go hunting or shooting, 
and he then finds his only solace in writing sonnets in 
the truant's honour. Shakespeare in his sonnets, it 
will be remembered, did no less : 

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour 
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you, 
Nor thinik the bitterness of absence sour 
When you have bid your servant once adieu. 

avii. S-8.) 

O absence ! what a );orment wouldst thou prove, 
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave 
To entertain the time with thoughts of love. 

(xxxix. g-ii.)^ 

Elsewhere Jodelle declares that he, a servant {serf, 
serviteur), has passed into the relation of a beloved and 
loving friend. The master's high birth, wealth, and 
intellectual endowments, interpose no bar to the force 
of the friendship. The great friends of classical antiq- 
uity, Pylades and Orestes, Sdpio and Laelius, and the 

1 Cf . also : 

Being your slave, what should I do but tend 
Upon the hours and times of your desire? 

(Sonnet Ivii. 1-2.) 

That god forbid that made me first your slave, 
I should in thought control your times of pleasure. 

(Sonnet Iviii. 1-2.) 


rest, lived with one another on such terms of perfect 
equaKty. While Jodelle wrote of his patron 

Et si Ion dit que trop par ces vers je me vante, 
Cast qu'estant tien je veux ie vanter en mas heurs, 

Shakespeare greeted his 'lord of love' with the assurance 

'Tis thee, myself, — that for myself I praise. 

(Sonnet Ixii. 13.) 

Finally Jodelle confesses to Shakespeare's experience of 
suffering, and grieves, like the English sonnetteer, that 
he was the victim of slander. Although Shakespeare's 
poetic note of pathos is beyond JodeUe's range, yet the 
phase of sentiment which shapes these French greetings 
of a patron in sonnet form is rarely distingtiishable from 
that of Shakespeare's sonnetteering triumph. 

Some dozen poems which are dispersed through Shake- 
speare's collection at irregular intervals detach them- 
III The selves in point of theme from the rest. These 
sonnets of pieces Combine to present the poet and the 
intrigue. youth in relations which are not easy at a 
first glance to reconcile with an author's ideaUsed wor- 
ship of a patron. The poet's friend, we are here told, 
yielded to the seductions of the poet's mistress. The 
woman is bitterly denounced for her treachery, the 
youth is complacently pardoned amid regretful rebukes. 
The poet professes to be torn asunder by his double 
affection for friend and mistress, and he lays the blame 
for the crisis on the woman's malign temperament.^ 

Two loves I have 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 colour'd ill. (Sonnet cxliv.) 

^ The dozen sonnets fall into two groups. Six of them — xxxiii.-v., 
Ixix. and xcv.-vi. — reproach the youth in a general way with sensual 
excesses, and the other six — xl.-xUi. cxxxii.-iii. and cxliv. — specifically 
point to the poet's traitorous mistress as the wilful cause of the youth's 
'fault.' ' 


The traitress is 'the dark lady' of the Sonnets of con- 
ventional vituperation. Whether the misguided youth 
of the intrigue is to be identified with the patron-friend 
of the other sonnets of friendship may be an open ques- 
tion. It might be in keeping with Southampton's 
sportive temperament for him to accept the attentions 
of a Circe, by whose fascination his poet was lured. The 
sonnetteer's sorrowful condonation of the young man's 
offence may be an illustration, drawn from life, of the 
strain which a self-willed patron under the spell of the 
ethical irregularities of the Renaissance laid on the for- 
bearance of a poetic protege. 

But while we admit that some strenuous touches in 
Shakespeare's presentation of the episode may weU owe 
suggestion either to autobiographic experience „, 

'I , , 4.- i. u • The Con- 

or to personal observation, we must bear m fictof 

mind that the intrigue of the 'Sonnets' in its l°.'^^^'l4 

, . * , r T> . fnendship. 

mam phase is a commonplace 01 Kenaissance 
romance, and that Shakespeare may after his wont be 
playing a variation on an accepted literary theme with 
the slenderest prompting apart from his sense of literary 
or dramatic effect. Italian poets and novelists from the 
fourteenth century onwards habitually brought friend- 
ship and love into rivalry or conflict.^ The call of friend- 
ship often demanded the sacrifice of love. The laws of 
'sovereign amity' were so fantastically interpreted as 
frequently to require a lover, at whatever cost of emo- 
tional suffering, to abandon to his friend the woman 
who excited their joint adoration. 

The Italian novelist Boccaccio offered the era of the 
Renaissance two alternative solutions of this puzzling 
problem and both long enjoyed authority in the liter- 

' Cf. Petrarch's sonnet ccxxvii. 

' Caritil,di signore, amor di donna 
Son le'catene, ove con multi affanni_ 
Legato son, perch'io stesso mi strinsi.' 

So Beza's Poemata, 1548, Epigrammata, xc. : 'De sua in Candidam et 
Audebertum benevolentia.' 


ary world. In his narrative poem of 'Teseide,' Boc- 
caccio pictured the two devoted friends Palamon and 
Arcite as alienated by their common love for 
fr^tmeit' the fair EmiKa. Their rival claims to the lady's 
of the hand are decided by a duel in which Palamon 
'""^' is vanquished although he is not mortally 
wounded. But just after his victory Arcite is fatally 
Palamon injured by a fall from his horse. In his dying 
and Arcite. momcnts he bestows Emilia's hand on his 
friend. This is the fable which Chaucer retold in his 
'Knight's Tale,' and Shakespeare and Fletcher, accept- 
ing the cue of an earlier Elizabethan dramatist, com- 
bined to dramatise it in 'The Two Noble Kinsmen.'' 
But Boccaccio also devised an even more famous pre- 
scription for the disorder of friends caught in the same 
toils of love. In the 'Decameron' (Day x.. Novel 8) 
Gesippo, whose friendship with Tito has the classical 
perfection, is affianced to the lady Sophronia. But 
Tito and Gesippo soon discovered that his friend is like- 
Gesippo. TffigQ enslaved by the lady's beauty. There- 
upon Gesippo, in the contemporary spirit of quixotiq 
chivalry, contrives that Tito shall, by a trick wMch the 
lady does not suspect, take his place at the marriage 
and become her husband.^ In the sequel Gesippo is 
justly punished with a long series of abject misfortunes 
for his self-denying wiles. But Tito, whose friendship 
is immutable, finally restores Gesippo's fortunes and 
gives him his sister in marriage.' The chequered ad- 

' The perfect identity which is inherent in friendship of the Renais- 
sance type finds emphatic expression in this play. Palamon assures 
Arcite : 

We are an endless mine to one another ; 

We're one another's wife, ever begetting 

New births of love ; we're father, friends, acquaintance ; 

We are, in one another, families ; 

I am your heir, and you are mine. (n. ii. 79-83.) 

*Into two plays, All's Well and Measure for Measure, Shakespeare, 
true to the traditions of the Renaissance, introduces the like deception, — 
on the part of Helena in the former piece and on that of Mariana in the 

' The first outline of this story is found in a miscellany of the twelfth 


ventures of these devoted friends of Italy caught the 
literary sentiment of Tudor England, and enjoyed a 
wide vogue there in Shakespeare's youth.' 

Shakespeare's contemporary, John Lyly, in his populaf 
romance of 'Euphues,' treated the theme of friendship 
in competition with love on Boccaccio's lines 
although with important variations. Lyly's Euphues 
hero, Euphues, forms a rapturous friendship, ^ig^^ug 
which the author likens to that of Tito and 
Gesippo, with a young man called Philautus. The 
latter courts the fair but fickle Lucetta, and he is soon 
supplanted in her good graces by his 'shadow' Euphues. 
Less amiable than Boccaccio's Gesippo, Lyly's Philau- 
tus denounces, with all the fervour of Shakespeare's 
vituperative sonnets, both man and Woman. But 
Lucetta soon transfers her attentions to a new suitor, 

century, De Clericali disciplina by Petrus Alfonsus, and thence found, 
its way into the Gesta Romanorum (No. 171), the most popular story 
book of the Middle Ages. Boccaccio's tale enjoyed much vogue in a 
Latin version in the fifteenth century by Filippo Beroaldo. This was 
rendered back into Italian by Bandello in 1509 and was turned into 
French verse by Franpois Habert in 1551. Early in the seventeenth 
century the French dramatist Alexandre Hardy dramatised the story as 
Gesippe ou les deux Amis. 

' Sir Thomas Elyot worked a long rendering of Boccaccio's story into 
his fojmal treatise on the culture of Tudor youth which he called The 
Governour (1531), see Croft's edition, ii. 132 seq., while two English 
poetasters contributed independent poetic versions to early Tudor litera- 
ture. The later of these, which was issued in 1562, is entitled The most 
wonderful and pleasaunt History of Tittts and Gisippus, whereby is fully 
declared the figure of perfect frendshyp, drawen into English metre. By 
Edward Lewicke, 1562. Robert Greene frequently cites the tale of Tito 
and Gesippo as an example of perfect friendship (cf . Works, ed. Grosart, 
iv. 211, vii. 243), and the story is the theme of the popular Elizabethan 
ballad 'Alphonso and Ganselo' (Sievers, Thomas Deloney, Berlin, 1904, 
pp. 83 seq.). Twice was the tale dramatised in the infancy of Tudor 
drama, once in Latin by a good scholar and schoolmaster Ralph Rad- 
cliffe in the reign of Edward VI, and again in English about 1576 by an 
anonymous pen. Queen Elizabeth directed the English play — The 
Historic of Titus and Gisippus — to be acted before her on the night of 
Shrove Tuesday, February 19, 1576-7. Neither the Latin nor the Eng- 
lish play survives. Two plays by Richard Edwards (d. 1566) on like 
themes of friendship — Damon and Pythias and Palemon and Arcite — 
were acted before the Queen, in 1564 and 1566 respectively. Only 
Damon and Pythias is extant. 


Curio, and Euphues and Philautus renew _ their in- 
terrupted ties of mutual devotion in their former 
strength. Lyly's Philautus, his Euphues, and his 
Lucetta, are, before the advent of Curio, in the precise 
situation with which Shakespeare's sonnet-intrigue 
credits the poet, the friend, and the lady. 

Yet another phase of the competing calls of love and 
friendship is portrayed by the French poet, Clement 
Clement Marot. He personally claims the experience 
Marot's wMch Shakespeare in his intrigue assigns to 
testimony, j^j^ friend. Marot relates how he was solicited 
in love by his comrade's mistress, and in a poetic ad- 
dress, 'A celle qui souhaita Marot aussi amoureux 
d'elle qu'un sien Amy' warns her of the crime against 
friendship to which she prompts him. Less complacent 
than Shakespeare's 'friend,' Marot rejects the Siren's 
invitation on the ground that he has only half a heart 
to offer her, the other half being absorbed by friendship.' 

Before the sonnets were penned, Shakespeare himself 
too, in the youthful comedy 'The Two Gentlemen of 
, . Verona,' treated friendship's struggle with 
of the"^'° love in the exotic light which the Renaissance 
^TwoGen- sanctioned. In 'The Two Gentlemen,' when 
Valentine learns of his friend Proteus ' infatua- 
tion for his own lady-love Silvia, he, like Gesippo in 
Boccaccio's tale, resigns the girl to his supplanter. 
Valentine's unworthy surrender is frustrated by the 
potent appeal of Proteus' own forsaken mistress Julia. 
But the episode shows that the issue at stake in the 
sonnets' tale of intrigue already fell within Shakespeare's 
dramatic scrutiny. 

Shakespeare would have been conforming to his 
wonted dramatic practice had he adapted his tale of 
intrigue in the ' Sonnets ' from the stock theme of con- 
temporary romance. Yet a piece of external evidence 

^ Marot's CEuvres, 1565, p. 437. On Marot's verse loans were freely 
levied by Edmund Spenser and other Elizabethan poets. See Frauh 
Renaissance in England, 109 seq. 


suggests that in some degree fact mingled with fiction, 
truth with make-believe, earnestness with jest 
in Shakespeare's poetic presentation of the hoodo/a 
clash between friendship and love,^ and that p^sonai 
while the poet knew something at first hand of 
the disloyalty of mistress and friend, he recovered his 
composure as quickly and completely as did External 
Lyly's romantic hero Philautus under a hke evidence, 
trial. A literary comrade obtained a license on Sep- 
tember 3, 1594, for the pubHcation of a poem 'wiiioWe 
called 'Willobie his Avisa, or the True Picture WsAvisa.' 
of a Modest Maid and of a Chaste and Constant Wife.' ^ 
In this volume, which mainly consists of seventy-two 
cantos in varjdng numbers of six-Hne stanzas, the chaste 
heroine, Avisa, holds converse — in the opening section 
as a maid, and in the later section as a wife — with a 
series of passionate adorers. In every case she firmly 
repulses their advances. Midway through the book its 
alleged author — Henry Willobie ^- is introduced in his 
own person as an ardent admirer, and the last twenty- 
nine of the cantos rehearse his woes and Avisa's obduracy. 
To this section there is prefixed an argument in prose 

^ The closest parallel to the Shakespearean situation (see esp. Sonnet 
xlii.) is that seriously reported by the seventeenth-century French writer, 
Saint Evremond, who complaining of a close friend's relations with his 
mistress (apparently la Comtesse d'Olonne), wrote thus to her in 1654 
of his twofold affection for her and for his comrade: 'Apprenez-moi 
centre qui je me dois ficher d'avantage, ou contre lui qui m'enlSve une 
maltresse, ou contre vous, qui me volez uu ami. . . . J'ai trop de pas- 
sion pour donner rien au ressentiment ; ma tendresse I'importera tou- 
jours sur vos outrages. J'aime la perfide [i.e. the mistress], j'aime 
I'infidye [i.e. the friend].' (CEuvres MiUes de Saint Evremond, ed. 
Giraud, 1865, iii. 5.) 

' The edition of 1594 was reprinted by Dr. Grosart in his Occasional 
Issues, 1880, and in 1904 by Mr. Charles Hughes, who brings new argu- 
ments to justify association of the book with Shakespeare's biography. 
Extracts from the poem appear in the New Shakspere Society's Allusion 
Books, i. 169 seq. In Mistress D'Avenant the dark lady of Shakespeare's 
Sonnets (1913), Mr. Arthur Acheson again reprints Willobie his Avisa 
by way of supporting a fanciful theory which would make the 'dark 
lady' of the sonnets the heroine of that poem,, and would identify her 
with the wife of the Oxford innkeeper who was mother of Sir William 
D'Avenant (see p. 449). 


(canto xliv.)- It is there stated that Willobie, 'being 
suddenly affected with the contagion of a fantastical 
wit at the first sight of Avisa, pineth a while in secret 
grief. At length, not able any longer to endure the 
burning heat of so fervent a humour, [he] bewrayeth 
the secrecy of his disease unto his famihar friend W. S., 
who not long before had tried the courtesy of the like passion 
and was now newly recovered of the like infection. Yet 
[W. S.], finding his friend let blood in the same vein, 
took pleasure for a time to see him bleed, and instead 
of stopping the issue, he enlargeth the wound with the 
sharp razor of wilHng conceit,' encouraging Willobie to 
believe that Avisa would ultimately yield 'with pains, 
diligence, and some cost in time.' 'The miserable com- 
forter' [W. S.], the narrative continues, was moved to 
comfort his friend 'with an impossibihty,' for one of two 
reasons. Either he 'now would secretly laugh at his 
friend's folly' because he 'had given occasion not long 
before unto others to laugh at his own.' Or 'he would 
see whether another could play his part better than 
himself, and, in viewing after the course of this loving 
comedy,' would 'see whether it would sort to a happier 
end for this new actor than it did for the old player. 
But at length this comedy was like to have grown to a 
tragedy by the weak and feeble estate that H. W. was 
brought unto,' owing to Avisa's unrelenting temper. 
Happily, 'time and necessity' effected a cure.^ In 
two succeeding cantos in verse (xlv. and xlvii.) W. S. 
is introduced in dialogue with Willobie, and he gives 
.him, in oratio recta, Ught-hearted and cynical counsel. 
Identity of initials, on which the theory of Shake- 
speare's identity with H. W.'s unfeeling adviser mainly 
rests, is not a strong foundation,^ and it is to be re- 

^ The narrator ends by claiming for his 'discourse' that in it 'is lively 
represented the unruly rage of unbridled fancy, having the reins to rove 
at liberty, with the divers and sundry changes of affections and tempta- 
tions, virhich Will, set loose from Reason, can devise.' {Willobie his 
Avisa, ed. C. Hughes, p. 41.) 

^ W. S. are common initials, and at least two authors bearing them 


membered that some attempt was made by a supposi- 
■ titious editor of the poem to question the veracity 
of the story of the heroine 'Avisa' and her lovers. In 
a pr^ace signed Hadrian Dorell, the writer, after men- 
tioning that the alleged author (Willobie) was dead, 
enigmatically discusses whether or no the work be 'a 
poetical fiction.' In a new edition of 1596 the same 
editor decides the point in the affirmative. But Dorell's 
protestations scarcely carry conviction, and suggest an 
intention to put his readers off the true scent. In any 
case the curious episode of 'W. S.' is left without com- 
ment. The mention of 'W. S.' as 'the old player,' 
and the employment of theatrical imagery in discussing 
his relations with Willobie, must be coupled with the 
fact that Shakespeare, at a date when mentions of him 
in print were rare, was greeted by name as the author of 
'Lucrece' ('And Shakespeare paints poore Lucrece rape') 
in some prefatory verses to the volume. From such 
considerations the theory of Shakespeare's identity with 
'W. S.,'WiUobie's acquaintance, acquires substance. If 
we agree that it was Shakespeare who took a roguish 
delight in watching his friend Willobie suffer the dis- 
dain of ' chaste Avisa ' because he had 'newly recovered' 
from the effects of a like experience, it follows that the 
soimets' tale of the theft of the poet's mistress by his 
friend is no cry of despair springing, as is often 
represented, from the depths of the poet's soul. The 
allusions that were presumably made to the episode by 
the author of 'Avisa' remove it, in fact, from the confines 
of tragedy and bring it nearer those of comedy. 

The story of intrigue which is interpolated in the 
Sonnets has much interest for the student of psychology 

made some reputation in Shakespeare's day. There was a dramatist 
named Wentworth Smith (see p. 260 ». jw/ra), and there was a William 
Smith who published a volume of lovelorn sonnets called Chloris in 1595. 
A specious argument might possibly be devised in favour of the latter's 
identity with WiUobie's counsellor. But Shakespeare, of the two, has 
the better claim. 


and for the literary historian, but the precise propor- 
tion in which it mingles elements of fact and fiction' 

does not materially affect the general inter- 
references prctation of the main series of the ppems. 
to South- The trend of the story is not out of keeping 
the'sonnets with the somewhat complex conditions of Eliza- 
oHriend- bethan friendship. The vocabulary in which 

professions of EUzabethan friendship were 
phrased justify, as we have seen, the inference that 
Shakespeare's only Uterary patron, the Earl of Southamp- 
ton, was the hero of the greater number of the sonnets. 
That conclusion is corroborated by such definite personal 
traits as can be deduced from the shadowy eulogies in 
those poems of the youth's gifts and graces. In real 
fife beauty, birth, wealth, and wit sat 'crowned' in the 
Earl, whom poets acclaimed the handsomest of Eliza- 
bethan courtiers. Southampton has left in his correspond- 
ence ample proofs of his hterary learning and taste, 
and, hke the hero of the sonnets, might justly be de- 
clared to be 'as fair in knowledge as in hue.' The open- 
ing sequence of seventeen sonnets, in which a youth is 
admonished to marry and beget a son so that 'his fair 
house' may not fall into decay, was appropriately ad- 
dressed to a young peer like Southampton, who was as 
yet immarried, had vast possessions, and was the sole 
male representative of his family. The sonnetteer's 
exclamation, 'You had a father, let your son say so,' 
had pertinence to Southampton at any period between 
his father's death in his boyhood and the close of his 
bachelorhood in 1598. To no other peer of the day do 
the words seem to be exactly applicable. The 'lasciv- 
ious comment' on his 'wanton sport' which pursues the 
young friend through the Sonnets, and adds point to 
the picture of his fascinating youth and beauty, asso- 
ciates itself with the reputation for sensual indulgence 
that Southampton acquired both at Court and, accord- 
ing to Nashe, among men of letters.^ 

^ See p. 664, note 1. 


There is no force in the objection that the young man 
of the sonnets of 'friendship' must have been another 
than Southampton because the terms in Hisyouth- 
which he is often addressed imply extreme fulness, 
youth.^ The young man had obviously reached man- 
hood, and Southampton was under twenty-one in 1594, 
when we have good reason to believe that the large 
majority of the sonnets was in course of composition. In 
Sonnet civ. Shakespeare notes that the first meeting 
between him and his friend took place three years be- 
fore that poem was written, so that, if the words are to 
be taken Uterally, the poet may have at times embodied 
reminiscences of Southampton when he was only seven- 
teen or eighteen.^ But Shakespeare, already worn in 
worldly experience, passed his thirtieth birthday in 
1594, and he probalDly tended, when on the threshold of 
middle life, to exaggerate the youthfulness of the noble- 
man almost ten years his junior, who even later im- 
pressed his acquaintances by his bo3dsh appearance and 
disposition.' ' Young ' was the epithet invariably ap- 
plied to Southampton by all who knew anything of him 
even when he was twenty-eight. In 1601 Sir Robert 
Cecil referred to him as the 'poor young Earl.' 

But the most striking evidence of the identity of the 
friend of Shakespeare's sonnets with Southampton is 
found in the likeness of feature and complexion which 
characterises the poet's description of the youth's out- 

1 This objection is chiefly taken by those who unjustifiably assign the 
composition of the sonnets to a date approximating to 1609, the year of 
their publication. 

* Three years was the conventional period which sonnetteers allotted 
to the development of their passion. Cf. Ronsard, Sonnets pour Helene 
(No. xiv.), beginning: 'Trois ans sont ja passez que ton oeil me tient 
pris.' See French Renaissance in England, p. 267. 

' Octavius Cffisar at thirty-two is described by Mark Antony after 
the battle of Actium as the 'boy Caesar' who 'wears the rose of youth' 
{Antony and Cleopatra, ni. ii. 17 seq.). Spenser in his Astrophel apostro- 
phises Sir Philip Sidney on his death, near the close of his thirty-second 
year, as 'oh wretched boy' (1. 133) and 'luckless boy' (1. 142). Con- 
versely it was a recognised convention among sonnetteers to exaggerate 
their own age. See p. 156, n. i. 


ward appearance and tlie extant pictures of Southai^ 
ton as a young man. Shakespeare's many, refereiices 
Theevi- ^^ ^^ youth's 'painted counterfeit' (xvi. xxiv. 
denceof xlvii. Ixvii.) suggest that his hero often sat. for 
portraits. ^^ portrait. Southampton's countenance" sur- 
vives in probably more canvases than that of any of his 
contemporaries. At least fifteen extant portraits; have 
been, identified on good authority — ten paintings^ i three 
miniatures (two by Peter Oliver and one byJ Isaac 
Oliver), and two contemporary prints.^ Most of these, 
it is true, portray their subject in middle age, when the 
roses of youth had faded, and they contribute nothin'^ to 
the present argument. But the two portraits, that are 
now at Welbeck, the property of the Duke of Portland, 
give all the information that can be desired of Southamp- 
ton's aspect 'in his youthful morn.'^ One of these 
pictures represents the Pari at twenty-one, and the 
other at twenty-five or twenty-six. The earlier por- 
trait, which is reproduced on the opposite page, shows a 

^ Two portraits, representing the Earl in early manhood, are jat Wel- 
beck Abbey, and are described above. . Of the remaining eight paintings 
two have been assigned to Van Soiner, and represent tiieEarl in early 
middle age; one, a full-length in drab doublet and hose, is in thp Shake- 
speare Memorial Gallery at Stratford-on-Avon; the other, a half-length, 
a charming picture formerly belonging to the late Sir James Knowles, 
and now to Mrs. Holman Hunt, is more probably by Mireveldt.^ That 
artist certainly painted the Earl several times at a later period of -his 
career; portraits by Mireveldt are now at Wobum Abbey (the propeirty 
of the Duke of Bedford), at Althorpe, and at the Nations^ Portrait 
Gallery. A fifth picture, assigned to Mytens, belongs to Viscount 
Powerscourt; a. sixth, by an unknown artist, belongs to Mr. Wingfield 
Digby, and the seventh (in armour) is in the Master's Lodge at St. 
John's College, Cambridge^ where Southampton was educatedi^ The 
miniature by Isaac Oliver, which' also represents Southampton in late 
life, was formerly in Dr. Lumsden Propert's collection. It now belongs 
to a collector at Hamburg. The two miniatures assigned to Peter Oliver 
belonged respectively to Mr. Jefifery Whitehead and Sir Francis Cook, 
Bt. ' (Cf. Catalogue 6f' Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures at the Burling- 
ton Fine Arts Club, London, 1889; pp. 32, 71, 100.) In all the best 
preserved of these portraits the eyes are blue and the hair a dark shade 
of auburn. Among the middle-Ufe portraits Southampton appears to 
best advantage in tiie one now; the property of Mrs. Holman Hunt. 

^ I describe these pictures from a personal inspection of them which 
the Duke kindly permitted me to make. 

dTlenru^ Cl/riO'L 

aa a uouag, miLft, 


iroTTL in.e crriglriaC nictare at ^TV-eJJM&k- 


young man resplendently attired. His doublet is of 
white satin ; a broad collar, edged with lace, half covers 
a pointed gorget of red leather, embroidered with silver 
thread; the white trunks and knee-breeches are laced 
with gold ; the sword-belt, embroidered in red and gold, 
is decorated at intervals with white silk bows; the 
hilt of the rapier is overlaid with gold ; purple garters, 
embroidered in silver thread, fasten the white stockings 
below the knee. Light body armour, richly dama- 
scened, lies on the ground to the right of the figure; 
and a white-plumed helmet stands to the left on a table 
covered with a cloth of purple velvet embroidered in 
gold. Such gorgeous raiment suggests that its wearer 
bestowed much attention on his personal equipment. 
But the head is more interesting than the body. The 
eyes are blue, the cheeks pink, the complexion clear, 
and the expression sedate ; rings are in the ears ; beard 
and moustache are at an incipient stage, and are of the 
same bright auburn hue as the hair in a picture of 
Southampton's mother that is also at Welbeck.^ But, 
however scanty is the down on the youth's cheek, the 
hair on his head is luxuriant. It is worn very long, and 
falls over and below the shoulder. The colour is now of 
walnut, but was originally of lighter tint. 

The portrait depicting Southampton five or six years 
later shows him in prison, to which he was committed 
after his secret marriage in 1598. A cat and a book in a 
jewelled binding are on a desk at his right hand. Here 
the hair falls over both his shoulders in even greater 
profusion, and is distinctly blonde. The beard and thin 
upturned moustache are of brighter auburn and are fuller 
than before, although still slight. The blue eyes and 
colouring of the cheeks show signs of ill health, but differ 
little from those features in the earlier portrait. 

From either of the two Welbeck portraits of South- 

' Cf. Shakespeare's Sonnet iii. : 

Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee 
Calls back the lovely AprU of her prime. 


ampton might Shakespeare have drawn his picture of 
the youth in the 'Sonnets.' Many times does he tell us 
that the youth is 'fair' in complexion, and that his eyes 
are 'fair.' In Sonnet Ixviii., when he points to the 
youth's face as a map of what beauty was 'without all 
ornament, itself and true' — before fashion sanctioned 
the use of artificial 'golden tresses' — ^ there can be 
little doubt that he had in mind the wealth of locks that 
fell about Southampton's neck.^ 

A few only of the sonnets that Shakespeare addressed 
to the youth can be allotted to a date which is very dis- 
tant from 1594; only two bear unmistakable 
cvSrthe signs of much later composition. In Sonnet 
last of the j^^. the poet no longer credits his hero with 


juvenile wantonness, but with a 'pure, un- 
stained prime,' which has 'passed by the ambush of 
young days.' Sonnet cvii., apparently the last of the 
series, was penned long after the mass of its companions, 
for it makes references that cannot be ignored to three 
events that took place in 1603 — to Queen Elizabeth's 
death, to the accession of James I, and to the release of 
the Earl of Southampton, who was convicted in 1601 of 
compHcity in the rebelUon of the Earl of Essex and had 
since that year been in prison in the Tower of London. 
The first two events are thus described : 

The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured 
And the sad augurs mode their own presage ; 
Incertainties now crown themselves assured 
And peace proclaims olives of endless age. 

It is in almost identical phrase' that every pen in the 
spring of 1603 was fehcitatingthe nation on the unexpected 

^ Southampton's singularly long hair procured him at times unwelcome 
attentions. When, in January 1598, he struck Ambrose Willoughby, 
an esquire of the body, for asking him to break oflE, owing ^o the late- 
ness of the hour, a game of primero that he was playing in the royal 
chamber at Whitehall, the esquire Willoughby is stated to have retaliated 
by 'pulling off some of the Earl's locks.' On the incident being reported 
to the Queen, she 'gave Willoughby thanks for what he did, in the 
presence' (Sydney Papers, ii. 83). 


turn of events, by which Elizabeth's crown had passed, 
without civil war, to the Scottish King, and thus the 
revolution that had been foretold as the inevi- ,„ . , 

, , ' 1 -1 , . Allusion to 

table consequence of Elizabeth s demise was Elizabeth's 
happily averted. Cynthia (i.e. the moon) was '^^^*' 
the Queen's recognised poetic appellation. It is thus 
that she figures in the verse of Barnfield, Spenser, FuLke 
Greyille, and Ralegh, and her elegists involuntarily fol- 
lowed the same fashion. 'Fair Cynthia's dead' sang 

Luna's extinct; and now beholde the sunne 
Whose beames soake up the moysture of all teares, 

wrote Henry Petowe in his 'A Fewe Aprill Drops Show- 
ered on the Hearse of Dead Eliza,' 1603. There was 
hardly a verse-writer who mourned her loss that did 
not typify it, moreover, as the eclipse of a heavenly body. 
One poet asserted that death ' veiled her glory in a cloud 
of night.' ■ Another argued: 'Naught can eclipse her 
light, but that her star will shine in darkest night.' 
A third varied the formula thus : 

When winter had cast oflE her weed 

Our sun eclipsed did set. Oh ! Ught most fair.* 

At the same time James was constantly said to have 
entered on his inheritance 'not with an olive branch in 
his hand, but with a whole forest of oUves round about 
him, for he brought not peace to this kingdom alone' 
but to all Europe.^ 

'The drops of this most balmy time,' in this same 
Sonnet cvii., is an echo of another current strain of fancy. 
James came to England in a springtide of Allusions to 
rarely rivalled clemency, which was reckoned Southamp- 
of the happiest augury. 'AH things look 1^56 from 
fresh,' one poet sang, 'to greet his excellence.' prison- 
'The air, the seasons, and the earth' were represented 

* These quotations are from Sorrowes Joy, a collection of elegies on 
Queen Elizabeth by Cambridge writers (Cambridge, 1603), and from 
Chettle's England's Mourning Garment (London, 1603). 

' Gervase Markham's Honour in her Perfection, 1624. 


as in sympathy with the general joy in ' this sweetest of 
all sweet springs.' One source of grief alone was acknow- 
ledged : Southampton was still a prisoner in the Tower, 
' supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.' AU men, wrote 
Manningham, the diarist, on the day following the 
Queen's death, wished him at liberty."- The wish was 
fulfilled quickly. On April lo, 1603, his prison gates 
were opened by ' a warrant from the King.' So bountiful 
a beginning of the new era, wrote John Chamberlain to 
Dudley Carleton two days later, 'raised all men's spir- 
its .. . and the very poets with their idle pamphlets 
promised themselves great things.^ Samuel Daniel and 
John Davies celebrated Southampton's release in buoy- 
ant verse.' It is improbable that Shakespeare remained 
silent. 'My love looks fresh,' he wrote in the concluding 
Unes of sonnet cvii. and he repeated the conventional 
promise that he had so often made before, that his friend 
should live in his 'poor rhyme,' 'when tyrants' crests 
and tombs of brass are spent.' It is impossible to resist 
the inference that Shakespeare thus saluted his patron 
on the close of his days of tribulation. Shakespeare's 
genius had then won for him a pubHc reputation that 
rendered him independent of any private patron's favour, 
and he made no further reference in his writings to the 
patronage that Southampton had extended to him in 
earher years. But the terms in which he greeted his 
former protector for the last time in verse justify the 
behef that, during his remaining thirteen years of life, 
the poet cultivated friendly relations with the Earl of 
Southampton,, and was mindful to the last of the en- 
couragement that the young peer offered him while he 
was still on the threshold of the temple of fame. 

The processes of construction which are discernible 
in Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' are thus seen to be identical 
with those that are apparent in the rest of his literary 
work. They present one more proof of his punctilious 

1 Manningham's Diary, Camden Soc, p. 148. 

' Court and Times of James I, i. i. 7. ' See Appendix rv. 


regard for the demands of public taste, and of his mar- 
vellous genius and skill in adapting and transmuting 
for his own purposes the hints of other workers g^^^^^ 
in the field which for the moment engaged of con- 
Ms attention. Most of Shakespeare's 'Son- f^^^l,^ 
nets' were produced under the incitement of the 
that freakish rage for sonnetteering which, ^°™®'*- 
taking its rise in Italy and sweeping over France on its 
way to England, absorbed for some half-dozen years in 
this country a greater volume of hterary energy than has 
been apphed to sonnetteering within the same space of 
time here or elsewhere before or since. The thousands 
of sonnets that were circulated in England between 1591 
and 1597 were of every literary quaUty, from sublimity 
to inanity, and they illustrated in form and topic every 
known phase of sonnetteering activity. Shakespeare's 
collection, which was put together at haphazard and 
published surreptitiously many years after the poems 
were written, was a medley, at times reaching heights 
of Uterary excellence that none other scaled, but as a 
whole reflecting the varied features of the sonnetteering 
vogue. Apostrophes to metaphysical abstractions, vivid 
picturings of the beauties of nature, idealisation of a 
protege's regard for a nobleman in the figurative language 
of amorous passion, vivacious compliments on a woman's 
hair or her touch on the virginals, and vehement de- 
nunciation of the falseness and frailty of womankind — 
all appear as frequently in contemporary collections of 
sonnets as in Shakespeare's. He borrows very many 
of his competitors' words and thoughts, but he so fused 
them with his fancy as often to transfigure them. Gen- 
uine emotion or the writer's personal experience inspired 
few EUzabethan sonnets, and no literary historian can 
accept the claim which has been preferred in behalf of 
Shakespeare''s 'Sonnets' to be at all points a self-evident 
exception to the general rule. A personal note may 
have escaped the poet involuntarily in the sonnets in 
which he gives voice to a sense of melancholy and re- 


morse, but his dramatic instinct never slept, and there is 
no proof that he is doing more there than produce dra- 
matically the illusion of a personal confession. In a 
scattered series of some twelve sonnets he introduced a 
detached topic — a lover's supersession by his friend in 
his mistress's graces : but there again he shows little 
independence of his comrades. He treated a theme 
which was wrought into the web of Renaissance romance, 
and if he sought some added sustenance from an incident 
of his own Ufe, he was inspired, according to collateral 
testimony, by a passing adventure, which deserved a 
smile better than a tear. .The sole biographical infer- 
ence which is deducible with full confidence from the 
'Sonnets' is that at one time in his career Shakespeare, 
Uke the majority of his craft, disdained few weapons of 
flattery in an endeavour to monopoUse the bountiful 
patronage of a young man of rank. External evidence 
agrees with internal evidence in identif3dng the belauded 
patron with the Earl of Southampton, and the real value 
to a biographer of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' is the cor- 
roboration they offer of the ancient tradition that the 
Earl of Southampton, to whom his two narrative poems 
were openly dedicated, gave Shakespeare at an early 
period of his Uterary career help and encouragement, 
which entitles the nobleman to a place in the poet's 
biography resembling that fiUed by the Duke of Ferrara 
in the early biography of Tasso. 



All the while that Shakespeare was fancifully assuring 
his patron 

"^ [How] to no other pass my verses tend 

Than of your graces and your gifts to tell, 

his dramatic work was steadily advancing. While he 
never ceased to garner hints from the labours of others, 
he was during the last years of Queen Elizabeth's long 
reign very surely widening the interval between his own 
dramatic achievement and that of all contemporaries. 

To the winter season of 1595 probably belongs 'Mid- 
summer Night's Dream.' ^ The comedy may well have 
been written to celebrate a marriage in high society — 
perhaps the marriage of the universal patroness of poets, 

_ ' No edition appeared before 1600. On October 8, 1600, Thomas 
Fisher, formerly a draper, who had only become &. freeman of the Sta- 
tioners' Company in the previous June, and remained for a very few 
years a bookseller and publisher (never possessing a, printing press), 
obtained a license for the publication of the Dream (Arber, ii. 174). 
The name of Fisher, the publisher, figured alone on the title-page of the 
first quarto of 1600; no printer was mentioned, but the book probably 
came from the press of James Roberts, the printer and publisher of ' the 
players' bills.' The title-page runs: 'A Midsommer Nights Dreame. 
As it hath beene sundry times publikely acted, by the Right Honourable, 
the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. 
Imprinted at London for Thomas Fisher, and are to be soulde at his 
shoppe at the signe of the White Hart in Fleete Streete 1600.' A second 
quarto, which corrects some misprints in the first version, and was re- 
printed in the First Folio, bears a different printer's device and has the 
brief imprint 'Printed by James Roberts, 1600.' It is ingeniously sug- 
gested that this imprint is a misrepresentation and that the second quarto 
of the Dream was not published before 1619, when it was printed by 
William Jaggard, the successor to Roberts's press, for Thomas Pavier, a 
stationer of doubtful repute. (Pollard's Shakespeare Folios and Quartos, 
igcg, pp. 81 seq.) 



Lucy Harington, to Edward Russell, third Earl of Bed- 
ford, on December 12, 1594; or that at Greenwich on 
January 24, 1594-5, of William Stanley, sixth 
sSSmer Earl of Derby, brother of a former patron of 
Night's^ Shakespeare's company of actors and himself an 

^™' amateur dramatist,^ with Elizabeth, daughter 
of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, a wild- 
living nobleman of literary procUvities. The elaborate 
compliment to the Queen, 'a fair vestal throned by 
the west' (11. i. 157 seq.), was at once an acknowledg- 
ment of past marks of royal favour and an invitation for 
their extension to the future. Oberon's fanciful descrip- 
tion (irr© 148-68) of the home of the Uttle magical 
flower called 'Love-in-idleness' that he bids Puck fetch 
for him, seems Hterally to report one of the scenic 
pageants with which the Earl of Leicester entertained 
Queen EUzabeth on her visit to Kenilworth in 1575.'' 

Although the whole play is in the airiest and most 
graceful vein of comedy, it furnishes fresh proof of 
The Shakespeare's studious versatility. The plot 

sources. ingeniously weaves together four independent 
and apparently conflicting threads of incident, for which 
Shakespeare found suggestion in various places. The 
Athenian background, which is dominated by the 
nuptials of Theseus, Duke of Athens, with Hippolyta, 
queen of the Amazons, owes much to tlie setting of 
Chaucer's ' Knight's Tale.' There Chaucer was himself 
under obhgation to Boccaccio's 'Teseide,' a medieval 
rendering of classical myth, where the cla'ssical vision is 
blurred by a mediaeval haze. For his Greek topic 
Shakespeare may have sought supplementary aid in the 
'Life of Theseus' in Plutarch's storehouse of biography, 
with which his later work shows much familiarity. The 

s ^ On June 30, 1599, the sixth Earl of Derby was reported to be 'busyed 
only in penning conunodyes for the commoun players' {State Papers 
Dom. Eliz., vol. 271, Nos. 34 and 35) ; see p. 52 supra. 

* See Oberon's Vision, by the Rev. W. J. Halpin (Shakespeare Sodety), 
1843. Two accounts of the Keliil worth fUes, by George Gascoigne and 
Robert Laneham respectively, were published in 1576. 


story of the tragicomedy of 'Pyxamus and Thisbe,' 
which Bottom and his mates burlesque, is an offspring 
of the dramatist's researches in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses,' 
and direct from the Latin text of the same poem he drew 
the beautiful name of his fairy queen Titania. Oberon 
the king of the fairy world and his ethereal company 
come from 'Huon of Bordeaux,' the French mediaeval 
romance of which a translation by Lord Berners was 
first printed in 1534. The Athenian lovers' quarrels 
sound a more modern note and there is no need for sug- 
gesting a Uterary origin. Yet the influence of Shake- 
speare's predecessor in comedy, John Lyly, is perceptible 
in the raillery in which both Shakespeare's mortals and 
immortals indulge, and the intermeddling of fairies in 
human affairs is a contrivance in which Lyly made an 
earlier experiment. The humours which mark the pres- 
entation of the play of 'Pyramus and Thisbe' improve 
upon a device which Shakespeare had already employed 
in 'Love's Labour's Lost.' The 'rude mechanicals' who 
produce the piece are credited, like the rest of the dram- 
atis personae, with Athenian citizenship; yet they 
most faithfully reflect the temper of the Elizabethan 
artisan, and iJieir crude mingling of tragic tribulation 
with comic horseplay travesties much extravagance in 
contemporary drama. When all Shakespeare's literary 
debts are taken into account, the final scheme of the 
'Midsummer Night's Dream' remains an example of the 
author's freshest invention. The dramatist endows the 
phantoms of the fairy world with a genuine and a sus- 
tained dramatic interest, which was beyond the reach 
of Lyly or any forerunner. Shakespeare may indeed be 
said to have conquered in this fairy comedy a new realm 
for art. 

More sombre topics engaged him in the comedy of 
'All's Well that Ends Well' of which the original draft 
may be tentatively allotted to 1595. The 'All's 
general treatment illustrates the writer's tight- ^eii.' ^ 
ening grip on the subtleties of romance. Meres, writing 


in 1598, attributed to Shakespeare a piece called 'Love's 
Labour's Won.' This title, which is not otherwise known, 
may well be applied to 'AH's Well.' _ 'The Taming of 
the Shrew,' which has also been identified with 'Love's 
Labour's Won,' has sHghter claim to the designation. 
The main story of 'All's Well' is of Itahan origin. Al- 
though it was accessible, Hke the plot of 'Romeo and 
JuHet,' in Painter's 'Palace of Pleasure' (No. xxxviii.), 
the original source is Boccaccio's 'Decamerone' (Day 
iii. Novel 9). On the old touching story of Helena's 
love for her social superior, the unworthy Bertram, 
Shakespeare, after his wont, grafted the three comic 
characters of the braggart Parolles, whose name is French 
for 'words,' the pompous Lafeu, and a clown (Lavache) 
less witty than his compeers ; all are of the dramatist's 
own devising. Another original creation, Bertram's 
mother. Countess of Roussillon, is a charming portrait 
of old age. 

In spite of the effective relief which is furnished by 
the humours of the boastful coward Parolles, the pathetic 
j^^ elenient predominates in 'All's Well.' The 

heroine heroine Helena, whose 'pangs of despised love' 
^^°*' are expressed with touching tenderness, ranks, 
in spite of her ultimate defiance of modern standards of 
maidenly modesty, with the greatest of Shakespeare's 
female creations. Shakespeare failed to eUminate from 
his Italian plot all the fraiikness of Renaissance manners. 
None the less he finally succeeded in enforcing an ideal 
of essential purity and refinement. 

The style of 'All's Well,' in regard both to language 
and to metre, presents a puzzhng problem. Early and 
.pjjg late features of Shakespeare's work are per- 

puzzie of plexingly combined. The proportion of rhyme 
t e sty e. ^^ blank vcrsc is high, and the rhymed verse 
in which epistles are penned by two of the characters 
(in place of prose) is a clear sign of youthful artifice; 
one letter indeed takes the lyric form of a sonnet. On 
the other hand, nearly half the play is in prose, and the 


metrical irregularities of the blank verse and its elliptical 
tenour are characteristic of the author's ripest efforts. 
No earlier version of the play than that which appears 
in the First FoUo is extant, and the discrepancy of style 
suggests that the Folio text presents a late revision of an 
early draft. 

'The Taming of the Shrew' — which, like 'All's 
Well,' was first printed in the Folio — was probably com- 
posed soon after the first planning of that solemn -Taming 
comedy. It is a revision of an old play on of the 
lines somewhat differing from those which ^^™-' 
Shakespeare had followed previously. A comedy called 
'The Taming of A Shrew' was produced as an old piece 
at Newington Butts by the conjoined companies of the 
Lord Admiral and the Lord Chamberlain on June 11, 
1594, and was first published in the same year.^ From 
that source Shakespeare drew the Induction (an outer 
dramatic framework) ^ as well as the energetic scenes in 
which the hero Petruchio conquers Katharine the Shrew. 
The dramatist accepted the scheme of the old- piece, but 
he first endowed the incident with the vital spirit of 
comedy. While following the old play in its general 
outlines, Shakespeare's revised version added, moreover, 
an entirely new underplot, the intrigue of the shrew's 
younger sister, Bianca, with three rival lovers. That 

* Cf. Henslowe's Diary, ii. 164. The published quarto described the 
old play as acted by the Earl of Pembroke's company, for whom it was 
originally written. It was reprinted by the Shakespeare Society in 
1844, and was re-edited by Prof. F. S. Boas in 1908. 

^ Although comparatively rare, there are many examples in Eliza- 
bethan drama of- the device of an Induction or outer framework in which 
a set of characters are presented at the outset as arranging for the pro- 
duction of the substantive piece, and remain on the stage as more or 
less critical spectators of the play through the course of its performance. 
Besides the old play of The Taming of A Shrew Shakespeare may well 
have known George Peek's Old Wives' Tale (1595), Robert Greene's 
King James IV af Scotland (1598), and Anthony Munday's Downfall of 
Robert Earl of Huntingdon (i6ox), all of which are furnished with an 'in- 
duction' of the accepted sort. A more critical kind of 'induction' figures 
in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour (1600) and Cynthia's 
Revels (1601), Marston's Malcontent (1604), and Beaumont and Fletcher's 
Knight of the Burning Pestle (1613). < 


subsidiary woof of fable which is ingeniously interwoven 
with the main web, owes much to the 'Supposes/ an 
The Ehzabethan comedy which George Gascoigne 

underplot, adapted from Ariosto's Italian comedy 'I Sup- 
positi.' The association has historic interest, for Gas- 
coigne's 'Supposes' made known to Englishmen for the 
first time the modern conception of romantic comedy 
which Italy developed for all Europe out of the classical 
model. Yet evidence of style — the hberal introduction 
of tags of Latin and the beat of the doggerel — makes 
it difficult to allot the Bianca scenes of the 'Taming of 
the Shrew' to Shakespeare; those scenes were probably 
due to a coadjutor. 

The Induction to the 'Taming of the Shrew' has 
a direct bearing on Shakespeare's biography, for the poet 

admits into it a number of Uteral references to 
aUurfon^s Stratford and his native county. Such per- 
^^^\- sonahties are rare in Shakespeare's plays, and 

can only be paralleled in two of slightly later 
date — the 'Second Part of Henry IV' and the 'Merry 
Wives of Windsor.' All these local allusions may well 
be due to such a renewal of Shakespeare's personal re- 
lations with the town, as is indicated by facts in his 
private history of the same period.^ In the Induction 
the tinker, Christopher Sly, describes himself as 'Old 
Sly's son of Burton Heath.' Burton Heath is Barton- 
on-the-Heath, the home of Shakespeare's aunt, Edmund 
Lambert's wife, and of her sons. The Lamberts were 
relatives whom Shakespeare had no reason to regard 
with much favour. The stern hold which Edmund 
Lambert and his son John kept on Asbies, the estate of 
the dramatist's mother, caused his parents continued 
anxiety through his early manhood. The tinker Sly in 
Hke local vein confesses that he has run up a score with 
Marian Hacket, the fat alewife of Wincot.^ The refer- 

' See p. 280—1 infra. 

^ All these details are of Shakespeare's invention, and do not figure 
in the old play. But in the crude induction there the nondescript 


ences to Wincot and the Hackets are singularly precise. 
The name of the maid of the inn is given as Cicely Racket, 
and the alehouse is described in the stage direction as 
' on a heath.' 

Wincot was the familiar designation of three small 
Warwickshire villages, and a good claim has been set up 
on behalf of each to be the scene of Sly's 
drunken exploits. There is a very small hamlet ^""^°'- 
named Wincot within four miles of Stratford now con- 
sisting of a single farmhouse which was once an Eliza- 
bethan mansion; it is situated on what was doubtless 
in Shakespeare's day, before the land there was enclosed, 
an open heath. This Wincot forms part of the parish 
of Quinton, where, according to the parochial registers, 
a Hacket family resided in Shakespeare's day. On 
November 21, 1591, 'Sara Hacket, the daughter of 
Robert Racket,' was baptised in Quinton church.^ Yet 
by Warwickshire contemporaries the Wincot of the 
"Taming of the Shrew' was unhesitatingly identified 
with Wilnecote, near Tamworth, on the Staffordshire 
border of Warwickshire, at some distance from Strat- 
ford. That village, whose name was pronounced 'Win- 
cot,' was celebrated for its ale in the seventeenth century, 
a distinction which is not shown by contemporary 
evidence to have belonged to any place of like name. 
The Warwickshire poet. Sir Aston Cokain, within half 
a century of the production of Shakespeare's 'Taming of 
the Shrew,' addressed to 'Mr. Clement Fisher of Win- 
cott' (a well-known resident at Wilnecote) verses which 

drunkard is named without prefix 'Slie.' That surname, although it 
was very common at Stratford and in the neighbourhood, was borne by 
residents in many other parts of the country, and its appearance in the 
old play is not in itself, as has been suggested, sufficient to prove that 
that piece was written by a Warwickshire man. There are no other 
names or references in the old play which can be associated with War- 

' Mr. Richard Savage, formerly secretary and librarian of the Birth- 
place Trustees at Stratford, generously placed at my disposal this in- 
teresting fact, which he discovered. 


Shakespeare your Wincot ale hath much renowned, 
That fox'd a Beggar so (by chance was found 
Sleeping) that there needed not many a word 
To make him to believe he was a Lord. 

In the succeeding lines the writer promises to visit 'Win- 
cot' (i.e. Wihiecote) to drink 

Such ale as Shakespeare fancies 
Did put Kit Sly into such lordly trances.^ 

It is therefore probable that Shakespeare consciously 
invested the home of Kit Sly and of Kit's hostess wi'th 
characteristics of Wilnecote as well as of the hamlet near 

Wilmcote, the native place of Shakespeare's mother, 
is also said to have been popularly pronounced 'Wincot.' 
A tradition which was first recorded by Capell as late as 
1780 in his notes to the 'Taming of the Shrew' (p. 26) 
is to the effeQt that Shakespeare often visited an inn at 
'Wincot' to enjoy the society of a 'fool who belonged 
to a neighbouring mill,' and the Wincot of this story is, 
we are told, locally associated with the village of Wilm- 
cote. But the links that connect Shakespeare's tinker 
with Wihncote are far slighter than those which connect 
him with Wincot and Wilnecote. 

The mention of Kit Sly's tavern comrades — 

Stephen Sly and old John Naps of Greece, 
And Peter Turf and Henry Pimpernell — 

was in aU HkeUhood a reminiscence of contemporary 
Warwickshire life as hteral as the name of the hamlet 
where the drunkard dwelt. There was a genuine Stephen 
Sly who was in the dramatist's day a self-assertive citizen 
of Stratford; and 'Greece,' whence 'old John Naps' 
derived his cognomen, is an obvious misreading of Greet, 
a hamlet by Winchcomb in Gloucestershire, not far 
removed from Shakespeare's native town.^ 

' Small Poems of Divers Sorts, 1658, p. 224 (mispaged 124). 
^ According to local tradition Shaiespeare was acquainted with Greet, 
Winchcomb, and all the villages in the immediate neighbourhood. He 


^^ 1597 Shakespeare turned once more to English 
history. He studied anew Holinshed's 'Chronicle.' At 
the same time he carefully examined a value- 'Henry 
less but very popular piece, 'The Famous ^v.' 
Victories of Henry V, containing the Honourable battle 
of Agincourt,' which was repeatedly acted by the Queen's 
company of players between 1588 and 1595.^ The 
'Famous Victories' opens with a perfunctory sketch of 
Henry IV's last years; in the crudest spirit of farce 
Prince Hal, while heir apparent, engages in roistering 
horseplay with disreputable associates ; the later scenes 
present the most stirring events of his reign. From 
Holinshed and the old piece Shakespeare worked up with 
splendid energy two plays on the reign of Henry IV, 
with an independent sequel on the reign of Henry V — 
the three plays forming together the supreme trilogy in 
the range of history drama. 

Shakespeare's two plays concerning Henry IV are 
continuous in subject matter ; they are known respectively 
as Parts I. and II. of 'Henry IV.' The First ^he 
Part carries the historic episode from the close historical 
of the play of 'Richard II' down to the battle ^'^^''^■ 
of Shrewsbury on July 21, 1403, when Henry IV, Richard 
II's successor on the throne, triumphed over the rebellion 
of his new subjects. The Second Part treats more 
cursorily of the remaining ten years of Henry IV's reign 
and ends with that monarch's collapse under the strain 
of kingly cares and with the coronation of his son Henry 

is still credited with the authorship of the local jingle which enumerates 
the chief hamlets and points of interest in the district. The lines run : 

Dirty Gretton, dingy Greet, 
Beggarly Winchcomb, Sudely sweet; 
Hartshorn and Wittington Bell, 
Andoversford and Merry Frog Mill. 

' It was licensed for publication in 1594, and published in ijgS as 
acted by the Queen's company. A re-issue of 1617 credits the King's 
company (i.e. Shakespeare's company) with its production — a fraudu- 
lent device of the publisher to identify it with Shakespeare's work. 


V. The main theme of the two pieces is serious in the 
extreme. Henry IV is a figure of gloom, and a cause of 
gloom in his environment. But Shakespeare, boldly 
improving on the example of the primitive old play of 
'The Famous Victories' and of much other historical 
drama, linked to the tragic scheme his most convincing 
portrayal of broad and comprehensive humour. 

The 'Second Part of Henry IV' is almost as rich as 
the Induction to 'The Taming of the Shrew' in direct 
jj^j.^ references to persons and districts familiar 

Stratford to Shakespeare. Two amusing scenes pass 
memories. ^^ ^j^^ j^^^gg ^f Justice Shallow in Gloucester- 
shire, a county which touched the boundaries of Stratford 
(ill. ii. and v. i.). Justice Shallow, as we have seen, 
boldly caricatures Sir Thomas Lucy, a bugbear of Shake- 
speare's youth at Stratford, the owner of the neighbouring 
estate of Charlecote,^ When, in the play, the justice's 
factotum, Davy, asked his master 'to countenance Wil- 
ham Visor of Woncot ^ against Clement Perkes of the 
Hill,' the allusions are unmistakable to persons and 
places within the dramatist's personal cognisance. The 
Gloucestershire village of Woodmancote, where the fam- 
ily of Visor or Vizard has flourished since the sixteenth 
century, is still pronounced Woncot. The adjoining 
Stinchcombe Hill (still famiharly known to natives as 
'The HiU') was in the sixteenth century the home of the 
family of Perkes. Very precise too are the allusions to 
the region of the Cotswold Hills, which were easily 
accessible from Stratford. 'Will Squele, a Cotswold 
man,' is noticed as one of Shallow's friends in youtH 
(in. ii. 23) ; and when Shallow's servant Davy receives 
his master's instructions to sow 'the headland' 'with 
red wheat' in the early autumn, there is an obvious 
reference to the custom almost peculiar to the Cotswolds 

' See pp. 35-6 supra. 

''The quarto of 1600 reads Woncote: all the folios read Woncot. 
Yet Malone in the Variorum of 1803 introduced the new and unwarranted 
reading of Wincot, which has been unwisely adopted by succeeding 


of sowing 'red lammas' wheat at an unusually early 
season of the agricultural year.^ 

The kingly hero of the two plays of 'Henry IV' had 
figured under his princely name of Henry BoUngbroke 
as a spirited young man in ' Richard II ' ; he ■ . 
was now represented as weighed down by care Hen?y iv 
and age. With him are contrasted (in Part I.) ^^^^ 
Ms impetuous and ambitious subject Hotspur 
and (in both Parts) his son and heir Prince Hal, whose 
boisterous and restless disposition drives him from Court 
to seek adventures among the haunters of taverns. Hot- 
spur is a vivid and fascinating portrait of a hot-headed 
soldier, courageous to the point of rashness, and sacri- 
ficing his hfe to his impetuous sense of honour. Prince 
Hal, despite his riotous vagaries, is endowed by the 
dramatist with far more self-control and common sense. 

On the first, as on every subsequent, production of 
'Henry IV' the main public interest was concentrated 
neither on the King nor on his son, nor on Hot- 
spur, but on the chief of Prince Hal's riotous 
companions. In the old play of 'The Famous Victories' 
the Prince at the head of a crew of needy ruffians robs 
the royal tax-collectors on Gadshill or drinks and riots in 
a tavern in Eastcheap, while a clown of the traditional 
stamp who is finally impressed for the war adds to the 
merriment by gulling a number of simple tradesmen and 
artisans. Shakespeare was not blind to the hints of the 
old drama, but he touched its comic scenes with a magic 
of his own and summoned out of its dust and ashes the 
radiance of his inimitable Falstaff. 

At the outset the propriety of that great creation was 
questioned on a poHtical or historical ground of doubt- 
ful relevance. Shakespeare in both parts of xhe first 
'Henry IV' originally named the chief of the protest. 
Prince's associates after a serious Lollard leader. Sir 

* These references are convincingly explained by Mr. Justice Madden 
in his Diary of Master Silence, pp. 87 seq., 372-4. Cf. Blunt's Dursley 
and its Ndghhourhood, Huntley's Glossary of the Cotswold Dialect, and 
Marshall's Rural Economy of Cotswold (1796). 


John Oldcastle, a very subordinate and shadowy char- 
acter in the old play. But influential objection was 
taken by Henry Brooke, eighth Lord Cobham, who suc- 
ceeded to the title on March s, 1596-7, and claimed 
descent in the female line from the historical Sir John 
Oldcastle, the LoUard leader, who had sat in the House 
of Lords as Lord Cobham. The new Lord Cobham's 
father, Wilham Brooke, the seventh lord, had filled the 
ofi&ce of Lord Chamberlain for some seven months before 
his death (August 8, iS96-March 5, 1597) and had betrayed 
Puritanic prejudices in his attitude to the acting pro- 
fession. The new Lord Cobham showed himself a loyal 
son in protesting against the misuse on the stage of his 
Lollard ancestor's appellation. Shakespeare met the 
objection by bestowing on Prince Hal's tunbeUied fol- 
lower the new and deathless name of Falstaff. When 
the First Part of Shakespeare's 'Henry IV' was Ucensed 
for pubHcation on February 25, 1597-8,^ the name of 

' Andrew Wise, the publisher in 1597 of Richard II and Richard III, 
obtained on February 25, 1597-8, a license for the publication of the his- 
iorye of Henry iiij"' with his battaile of Shrewsburye against Henry Hot- 
spurre of the Northe with the conceipted mirthe of Sir John Falstaf (Arber, 
iii. 105). This quarto, which, although it bore no author's name, pre- 
sented a satisfactory version of Shakespeare's text, was printed for Wise 
by Peter Short at the Star on Bread Street HiU. A second edition 
'newly corrected by W. Shake-speare' was printed for Wise by a different 
printer, Simon Stafford of Adling Hill, near Carter Lane, in 1599. 
Wise made over his interest in this First Part of Henry IV on June 25, 
1603, to Matthew Lawe of St. Paul's Churchyard, who produced new 
editions in 1604, 1608, 1613, and 1622. The First FoUo text gives with 
some correction the Quarto of 1613. Meanwhile Wise had entered into 
partnership with another bookseller, William Aspley, of the Parrot in 
St. Paul's Churchyard in 1600, and Wise and Aspley jointly obtained on 
August 23, 1600, a license to publish both Much Ado about Nothing and 
the Second Parte of the history of Kinge Henry the iiij"' with the humours 
of Sir John Fallstajf, wrytten by Master Shakespere (Arber, iii. 170-1). 
This is the earUest mention of Shakespeare's name in the Stationers' 
Register. In previous entries of his plays no author's name was given. 
The original edition of the Second Part of Henry IV was printed for Wise 
by Valentine Simmes (or Sims) in 1600 : it followed an abbreviated acting 
version ; most exemplars omit Act III Sc. i., which only appears in a few 
copies on two inserted leaves. A second edition was reached before the 
close of the year. There was no reissue of the Quarto. The First Folio 
of 1623 adopted a different and a rather fuller version of Shakespeare's 
text of 2 Henry IV. 


Falstaff was already substituted for that of Oldcastle 
in the title. Yet the text preserved a relic of the earUer 
name in Prince Hal's apostrophe of Falstaff as 'my old 
lad of the Castle' (i. ii. 40). A less trustworthy edition 
of the Second Part of 'Henry IV' also appeared with 
Falstaff's name in the place of that of Oldcastle in 1600. 
There the epilogue ironically denied that Falstaff had any 
characteristic in common with the martyr Oldcastle : 
' Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.' Again, 
however, the text retained tell-tale marks ; the abbrevia- 
tion 'Old.' stood before one of Falstaff's speeches (i. ii. 
114), and Falstaff was credited like the genuine Oldcastle 
with serving in boyhood as 'page to Thomas Mowbray, 
Duke of Norfolk' (in. ii. 24-5). Nor did the employ- 
ment of the name 'Falstaff' silence all cavilling. The 
new name hazily recalled Sir John Fastolf, an historical 
warrior of repute and wealth of the fifteenth century who 
had aheady figured in the First Part of 'Henry VI,' and 
was owner at one time of the Boar's Head Tavern in 
Southwark.^ An Oxford scholar, Dr. Richard James, 
writing about 1625, protested that Shakespeare, after 
offending Sir John Oldcastle's descendants by giving his 
'buffoon' the name of that resolute martyr, 'was put 
to make an ignorant shift of abusing Sir John Fastolf, 
a man not inferior in vertue, though not so famous in 
piety as the other.' ^ George Daniel of Beswick, the 
Cavalier poet, similarly complained in 1647 of the ill 
use to which Shakespeare had put Fastolf 's name in 
order to escape the imputation of vilifying the Lollard 
leader.' Furthermore Fuller, in his 'Worthies,' first 
published in 1662, while expressing satisfaction that 

' According to traditional stage directions, first adopted by Theobald 
in 1733, the Prince and his companions in Henry IV frequent the Boar's 
Head in Eastcheap, a popular tavern where plays were occasionally 
performed. Eastcheap is several times mentioned in Shakespeare's text 
as the scene of FalstafiE's revels, but the tavern is not described more 
spec^cally than as 'the old place' {2 Henry IV, 11. ii. 161). 

ii James MS. 34, Bodleian Library, Oxford; cf. Halliwell, On the 
Character of Sir John Falstaf, 1841, pp. 19, 20. 

' George Daniel's Poems, ed. Grosart, 1878, pp, 112-13. 


Shakespeare had 'put out' of the play' Sir John Old- 
castle, was eloquent in his avowal of regret that 'Sir 
John Fastolf ' was 'put in,' on the ground that it was 
making overbold with a great warrior's memory to 
make him a 'Thrasonical puff and emblem of mock 

The offending' introduction and withdrawal of Old- 
castle's name left a curious mark on hterary history. 
Faistaff -^^ many as four humbler men of letters (An-- 
and thony Munday, Robert Wilson, Midiael 

oidcastie. j^j-ayton, and Richard Hathaway), seeking to 
profit by the attention drawn by Shakespeare to the his- 
torical Oidcastie, combined to produce a poor dramatic 
version of that worthy genuine history. They pretended 
to vindicate the Lollard's memory from the slur that 
Shakespeare's identification of him with his fat knight 
had cast upon it.^ This unimpressive counterstroke was 
produced by the Lord Admiral's company in the autumn 
of 1599 and was received with favour. It was, like Shake- 
speare's 'Henry IV,' in two parts, and when the second 
part was revived in the autumn of 1602 Thomas Dekker,, 
the well-known writer, whose versatile capacity gave him 
an uncertain livelihood and left him open to the tempta- 
tion of a bribe, was employed to make additions to the 
original draft. Shakespeare was obviously innocent of 
any share in this many-handed piece of hack-work, two 
of whose contrivers, Drayton and Dekker, were capable 
of more dignified occupation. Nevertheless of two early 
editions of the first part of ' Sir John Oidcastie ' bearing 
the date 1600,, one 'printed for T[homas] P[avier]' was 
impudently described on the title-page as by Shakespeare, 
and the false description misled innocent editors of 
Shakespeare's collective works in the second half of the 

^ In the prologue to the play of Oidcastie (1600) appear the lines: 

It is no pampered glutton we present, 
Nor aged councellor to youthful sinne ; 
But one whose vertue shone above the rest, 
A valiant martyr and a vertuous Peere. 


seventeenth century into including the feeble' dramatic 
reply to Shakespeare's work among his own writings.^ 
The second part of 'Sir John Oldcastle' has vanished. 
Non-dramatic literature was also enlisted in the con- 
troversy over Shakespeare's alleged defamation of the 
historic Oldcastle's character. John Weever, an anti- 
quarian poet, pursued the dramatists' path of rehabih- 
tation. In 1601 he issued a narrative poem entitled 
'The Mirror of Martyrs or the Life and Death of that 
thrice valiant capitaine and most godly martyr Sir 
John Oldcastle Knight — Lord Cobham. Printed by 
V[alentine] S[immes] for William Wood.' Weever calls 
his 'mirror' 'the true Oldcastle' and cites incidentally 
phrases from the Second Part of 'Henry IV' which by 
covert impUcation convict Shakespeare of fathering ' the 
false Oldcastle.' 

But none of the historical traditions which are con- 
nected with Falstaff helped him to his fame. His peren- 
nial attraction is fruit of the personality owing pajgtaff's 
nothing to history with which Shakespeare's personal- 
imaginative power clothed him. The knight's '^^' 
unfettered indulgence in sensual pleasures, his exuberant 
mendacity, and his love of his own ease are purged of 
offence by his colossal wit and jollity, while the contrast 
between his old age and his unreverend way of life sup-^ 

' The early edition of The First Pari of Sir John Oldcastle, with, Shake- 
speare's name on the title-page and bearing the date 1600, is believed 
to have been deliberately antedated by the publisher Pavier, and to have 
been actually published by him some years later — in 1619 — at the 
press of WilUam Jaggard. It is not easy to reconcile with the facts of 
the situation the report of the gossiping letterwriter Roland Whyte 
[Sydney, Papers, ii. 175) to the effect that the Lord Chamberlain's [i.e. 
Shakespeare's] company acted 'Sir John Oldcastle with good contentnient ' 
3n March 6, 1599-1600 at Lord Hunsdon's private house, after a dinner 
jiven in honour of a Flemish envoy to the English court. It is highly 
mprobable that the Lord Chamberlain's players would have performed 
he piece of ' Sir John Oldcastle,' which was written for the Lord Admiral's 
»inpany, in opposition to Shakespeare's i Henry IV. The reporter 
ras doubtless referring hastily to Shakespeare's i Henry IV and gave it 
he name of Sir John Oldcastle which the character of F?ilstafi originally 
rare. ' ~ 


plies that tinge of melancholy which is inseparable from 
the highest manifestations of humour. His talk is always 
in prose of a rarely matched pith. The Elizabethan 
pubUc, despite the protests of historical critics, recog- 
nised the triumphant success of the effort, and many of 
Falstaff's telling phrases, with the names of his foils, 
Justices Shallow and Silence, at once took root in popular 
speech. Shakespeare's purely comic power culminated 
in Falstaff ; he may be claimed as the most humorous 
figure in literature. 

In all probability 'The Merry Wives of Windsor,' 
a domestic comedy incKning to farce, followed close upon 
'Mer 'Henry IV.' The piece is unquahfied by any 

Wives of _ pathetic interest. The low-pitched sentiment 
Windsor." j^ couched in a colloquial vein. The high ratio 
of prose to verse finds no parallel elsewhere in Shake- 
speare's work. Of the 3000 Hnes of the 'Merry Wives' 
only one tenth is in metre. 

In the epilogue to the 'Second Part of Henry IV' 
Shakespeare had written : ' If you be not too much cloyed 
Falstaff ^^^^ ^^^ meat, our humble author will continue 
and Queen the story with Sir John in it . . . where for 
Elizabeth, anything I know Falstaff shall die of a sweat, 
unless already a' be killed with your hard opinions.' 
Falstaff was not destined to the fate which the dramatist 
airily foreshadowed. External influence gave an un- 
expected turn to Sir John's career. Rowe asserts that 
Queen Elizabeth ' was so well 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.' John Dennis, the literary 
critic of Queen Anne's era, in the dedication of a tasteless 
adaptation of the 'Merry Wives' which he called 'The 
Comical Gallant' (1702), noted that the 'Merry Wives' 
was written at Queen Elizabeth'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' ^ Dennis reduces the 
period of composition to ten days — 'a prodigious thing,' 
added Gildon,* where all is so well contrived and carried 
on without the least confusion.' The localisation of the 
scene at Windsor, and the compHmentary references to 
Windsor Castle, corroborate the tradition tjiat the comedy 
was prepared to meet a royal command. The tradition 
is very plausible. But the royal suggestion failed to 
preserve the vital interest of the comedy from an ' alacrity 
in sinking.' Although FalstafI is the central figure, he 
is a mere caricature of his former self. His power of 
retort has decayed, and the laugh invariably turns 
against him. In name only is he identical with the po- 
tent humourist of 'Henry IV.' 

The matrimonial adventures out of which the plot of 
the 'Merry Wives' is woven formed a frequent and a 
characteristic feature of ItaUan fiction. The 
Italian novelist delighted in presenting the * ^ ° ' 
amorous intrigues of matrons who by farcical tricks lulled 
their jealous husbands' suspicions, and they were at the 
same time expert devisers of innocent deceits which 
faithful wives might practise on foolish amorists. Much 
Italian fiction of the kind would seem to have been ac- 
cessible to Shakespeare. A tale from Straparola's 
'Notti' (iv. 4), of which an adaptation figured in the 
miscellany of novels called Tarleton's 'Newes out of 
Purgatorie' (1590), another Italian tale from the 'Peco- 
rone' of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino (i. 2), and a third ro- 
mance, the Fishwife's tale of Brainford in the collection 
of stories, drawn from Italian sources, called 'Westward 
for Smelts,' * aU supply incidents of matrimonial strategy 

' In the prologue to his adaptation Dennis repeated the story : 

But Shakespeare's Play in fourteen days was writ, 

And in that space to make all just and fit, 

Was an attempt surpassing human Wit. 

Yet our great Shakespeare's matchless Muse was such. 

None e'er in so small time perform'd so much. 

" 1721, p. 232. ' Remarks, p. 291. 

* This collection of stories is said by both Malone and Steevens to 


against dissolute gallantry and marital jealousy which 
resemble episodes in Shakespeare's comedy. Yet in 
spit.e of the Italian aflSnities of the fable and of Falstaff's 
rather cosmopolitan degeneracy, Shakespeare has no- 
where so vividly reflected the blufiE temper of average 
EngUsh men and women in contemporary middle-class 
society. The presentation of the buoyant domestic life 
of an Elizabethan country town bears, too, distinctive 
marks of Shakespeare's own experience. Again, there 
are literal references to the neighbourhood of Stratford. 
Justice Shallow reappears, and his coat-of-arms, which 
is described as consisting of 'luces,' openly identifies 
him with Shakespeare's early foe. Sir Thomas Lucy of 
Charlecote.^ When Shakespeare makes Master Slender 
repeat the report that Master Page's fallow greyhound 
was 'outrun on CotsaU' (i. i. 93), he testifies to his 
interest in the coursing matches for which the Cotswold 
district was famed at the period. A topical allusion of a 
different kind and one rare in Shakespearean drama is 
made in some detail at the end of the play. One of the 
characters, the Host of the Garter Inn at Windsor, re- 
calls bitterly and with literal frankness the losses which 
tavernkeepers of Reading, Maidenhead, and Colebrook 
actually incurred some years before at the hands of a 
German tourist, one Frederick Duke of Wirtemberg, 
who, while travelling incognito as Count Mompelgard, 
had been granted by Queen Elizabeth's government the 
right to requisition posthorses free of charge. The 
'Duke de Jamany' made liberal use of his privilege 
and the absence of ofi&cial compensation is the griev- 
ance to which Shakespeare's candid 'Host' gives loud 
The imperfections of the surviving text of the 'Merry 

have been published in ,1603, although no edition earlier than 1620 is 
now known. The 1620 edition of Westward for Smelts, written by Kinie 
Kit of Kingston, was reprinted by the Percy Society in 1848. Cf. Shahi- 
speare's Library, ed. Hazlitt, i. ii. 1-80. 
' See p. 35-6 supra. 


Wives' graphically illustrate the risks of injury to which 
the publishing methods of his day exposed Shakespeare's 
work. A license for the publication of the ^^^ ^^^^ ^^ 
play was granted by the Stationers' Company 'The Merry 
to the stationer John Busby of the Crane in ^^''^^■' 
St. Paul's Churchyard, on January 18, 1601-2.^ A very 
imperfect draft was printed in 1602 by Thomas Creede, 
the well-known printer of Thames Street, and was pub- 
lished at the 'Fleur de Luce' in St. Paul's Churchyard by 
Arthur Johnson, who took the venture over from Busby 
on the same day as the latter procured his license. The 
inflated title-page ran: 'A most pleasaunt and excellent 
conceited comedie, of Syr lohn Falstaffe, and the merrie 
Wiues of Windsor. Entermixed with sundrie variable 
and pleasing humors, of Syr Hugh the Welch Knight, 
Justice Shallow, and his wise Cousin M. Slender. With 
the swaggering vaine of Auncient PistoU and Corporall 
Nym. By William Shakespeare. As it hath bene diuers 
times Acted by the right Honorable my Lord Chamber- 
laines seruants. Both before her Males tie, and elsewhere.' 
The incoherences of this edition show that it was pre- 
pared either from a transcript of ignorant shorthand 
notes taken in the theatre or, less probably, from a report 
of the play made in longhand from memory. In any 
case the version of the play at the printers' disposal was 
based on a drastic abbreviation of the author's draft. 
This crude edition was reissued without change in 1619, 
by Arthur Johnson, the former pubUsher. A far better 
and far fuller text happily figured in the First Folio of 
1623 . Several speeches of the First Quarto were omitted, 
but many passages of importance were printed for the 
first time. The First Folio editors clearly had access to 
a version of the piece which widely differed from that of 
the original quarto. But the Folio manuscript also 
bears traces of mutilation for stage purposes, and though 
a joint recension of the Quarto and the Foho texts 
presents an intelligible whole, we cannot confidently 
* Arber, iii. 199 ; Pollard, 45 seq. 



claim to know from the existing evidence the precise 
shape in which the play left Shakespeare's hand.^ 

The spirited character of Prince Hal (in' Henry IV') 
was pecuharly congenial to its creator, and in the play of 

'Henry V Shakespeare, during 1598, brought 
'Henry V.' j^j^ career to its zenith. The piece was per- 
formed early in 1599, probably in the newly built Globe 
theatre — ' this wooden 0' of the opening chorus. 
Again printers and pubUshers combined to issue to the 
reading pubhc a reckless perversion of Shakespeare's 
manuscript. A piratical and incompetent shorthand 

reporter was responsible for the text of the 
The text, g^g^ edition which appeared in quarto in 1600. 
Half of the play was ignored. There were no choruses, 
and much of the prose, in which a great part of the play 
was written, was printed in separate Unes of unequal 
lengths as if it had been intended to be verse. A note 
in the register of the Stationers' Company dated August 
4, 1600, runs: 'Henry the flBift, a booke, to be staied.' 
Yet in spite of the order of a stay of publication, the book 
was pubUshed in the same year. The pubUshers were 
jointly Thomas MilUngton of Cornhill and John Busby 
of St. Paul's Churchyard.^ The printer was Thomas 

1 The First Quarto was reprinted as 'The first sketch of The Merry 
Wives ' in 1842, ed. by J. O. HaUiwell for the Shakespeare Society. A 
photolithographic facsimile appeared in 1881 with a valuable introduc- 
tion by P. A. Daniel. A typed facsimile was very fully edited by Mr. 
W. W. Greg for the Clarendon Press in 1910. 

2 MilUngton had published the first edition of 'Titus' (1594) with 
Edward White, and was responsible for two editions of both The Contm- 
Hon (1594 and 1600) and True Tragedie (1595 and 1600) — the first 
drafts respectively of Shakespeare's second and third parts of Henry VI. 
Busby, MDlington's partner in Henry V, acquired on January 18, 1601-2 
a license for the Merry Wives only to part with it immediately to Arthur 
Johnson. In like fashion Busby and Millington made over their in- 
terest in Henry V before August r4, 1600, to Thomas Pavier of Cornhill, 
an irresponsible pirate, who undertook the disreputable reissue of 1602 
(Arber, iii. i6g). It was Pavier who published the plays of 5»> John 
Oldcastle (doubtfully dated 1600) and the Yorkshire Tragedy (1608) under 
the fraudulent pretence that Shakespeare was their auflior. A third 
uncorrected reprint of Henry V — 'Printed for T. P. 1608' — seems 
to be deliberately misdated and to have been first issued by Pavier in 
1619 at the press of William Jaggard. (See Pollard, Shakespeare Polks 
and Quartos, 1909, pp. 81 seq.) 


Creede of Thames Street, who had just proved his 
recklessness in his treatment of the First Quarto of the 
'Merry Wives.' There were two reprints of this dis- 
reputable volume — ostensibly dated in 1602 and 1608 
— before an adequate presentation of the piece appeared 
for the first time in the First Folio of 1623. There the 
1623 lines of the piratical quarto gave way to an im- 
proved text of more than twice the length. 

The dramatic interest of 'Henry V is slender. In 
construction the play resembles a military pageant. The 
events, which mainly concern Henry V's wars popularity 
in France, bring the reign as far as the treaty of the 
of peace and the King's engagement to the '°^"^' 
French princess. The climax is reached earlier, in 
the brilliant victory of the EngUsh at Agincourt, which 
powerfully appealed to patriotic sentiment. HoKnshed's 
' Chronicle' and the crude drama of the 'Famous Victories 
of Henry the Fift' are both laid under generous contri- 
bution. The argument indeed enjoyed already an ex- 
ceptionally wide popularity. Another piece ('Harry 
the V) which the Admiral's conipany produced under 
Henslowe's managership for the first time on November 
28,- 1595, was repeated thirteen times within the follow- 
ing eight months. That piece, which has disappeared, 
may have stimulated Shakespeare's interest in the 
theme if it did not offer him supplementary hints for its 

In 'Henry V Shakespeare incidentally manipulated 
on somewhat original lines a dramatic device of classical 
descent. At the opening of each act he intro- The 
duces a character in the part of prologue or choruses, 
'chorus' or interpreter of the coming scene. 'Henry 
V is the only play of Shakespeare in which every fresh 
act is heralded thus. Elsewhere two of the five acts, 
as in 'Romeo and Juliet,' or only one of the acts, as in the 
Second Part of 'Henry IV,' is similarly introduced. 
Nowhere, too, is such real service rendered to the progress 
^ Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 177. 


of the story by the 'chorus' as in 'Henry V,' nor are the 
speeches so long or so memorable. The choric prologues 
of 'Henry V are characterised by exceptional solemnity 
and sublimity of phrase, by a IjTic fervour and philo- 
sophical temper which sqts them among the greatest 
of Shakespeare's monologues. Through the first, and 
the last, runs an almost passionate appeal to the spec- 
tators to bring their highest powers of imagination to 
the realisation of the dramatist's theme. 

As in the ' Famous Victories ' and in the two parts of 
'Henry IV,' there is abimdance of comic element in 
rj.^^ 'Henry V,' but death has removed Falstaff, 

soldiers in whose last moments are described with the 
the cast. gimpie pathos that comes of a matchless 
art, and, though Falstaff's companions survive, they are 
thin shadows of his substantial figure. New comic 
characters are introduced in the persons of three soldiers 
respectively of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish nationality, 
whose racial traits are contrasted with effect. The 
irascible Irishman, Captain MacMorris, is the only 
representative of his nation who figures in the long list 
of Shakespeare's dramatis persona. The Scot James is 
stolid and undemonstrative. The scene in which the 
pedantic but patriotic Welsh captain, FlueUen, avenges 
the sneers of the braggart Pistol at his nation's emblem, 
by forcing him to eat the leek, overflows in vivacious 
humour. There are also original and Kfelike sketches 
of two English private soldiers, Williams and Bates. On 
the royal hero's manhness, whether as soldier, ruler, or 
lover, Shakespeare loses no opportunity of laying empha- 
sis. In no other play has he cast a man so entirely in 
the heroic mould. Alone in Shakespeare's gallery of 
English monarchs does Henry's portrait evoke at once a 
joyous sense of satisfaction in the high potentiahties of 
human character and a f eehng of pride among English- 
men that one of his mettle is of Enghsh race. 'Henry 
V may be regarded as Shakespeare's final experiment in 
the dramatisation of English history, and it artistically 


and patriotically rounds off the series of his 'histories' 
which form collectively a kind of national epic. For 
'Henry VIII,' which was produced very late in his 
career, Shakespeare was only in part responsible, and that 
'history' consequently belongs to a different category. 

A glimpse of autobiography may be discerned in the 
direct mention by Shakespeare in 'Henry V of an excit- 
ing episode in current history. At the time of 
the composition of 'Henry V public attention speareand 
was riveted on the exploits of the impetuous ^^^^^l 
Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, whose 
virtues and defects had the faculty of evoking immense 
popularity. Early in 1599, he had tempted fate by ac- 
cepting the appointment of lord deputy of Ireland where 
the native Irish were rebelling against EngUsh rule. He 
left London for Dublin on March 27, 1599, and he rode 
forth from the English capital amid the deafening plaudits 
of the populace.^ Very confident was the general hope 
that he would gloriously pacify the distracted province. 
The Earl's close friend Southampton, Shakespeare's 
patron, bore him company and the dramatist shared in 
the general expectation of an early triumphant home- 

In the prologue or 'chorus' to the last act of 'Henry 
V Shakespeare foretold for the Earl of Essex E^sexand 
an enthusiastic reception by the people of t^ifonof 
London when he should return after 'broach- 1601. 
ing ' rebellion in Ireland. 

Were now the general of our gracious empress, 
As in good time he may, from Ireland coming, 
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword, 
How many would the peaceful city quit 
To welcome him ! (Act v. Chorus, 11. 30-4.) 

' Cf. Stow's Annals, ed. Howes, 1631, p. 788 : 'The twentie seuen 
of March, 1599, about two a clocke in the afternoone, Robert Earle of 
Essex, Vicegerent of Ireland, &c., tooke horse in Seeding Lane, and from 
thence beeing accompanied with diuers Noblemen, and many others, 
himselfe very plainely attired, roade through Grace-streete, Comehill, 
Cheapeside, and other high streetes, in all which places, and in the fieldes, 
the people pressed exceedingly to behold him, especially in the highwayes 


But Shakespeare's prognostication was woefully belied. 
Essex's Irish policy failed. He proved unequal to the 
task which was set him. Instead of a glorious fulfilment 
of his Irish charge he, soon after 'Henry V was produced, 
crept back hurriedly to London, with his work undone, 
and under orders to stand his trial for disobedience to 
royal directions and for neglect of duty. Dismissed after 
tedious litigation from all offices of state (on August 26, 
1600), Essex saw his hopes fatally bhghted. With a 
view to recovering his position, he thereupon formed the 
desperate resolve of forcibly removing from the Queen's 
councils those to whom he attributed his niin. South- 
ampton and other young men of social positioa joined 
in the reckless plot. They vainly counted on the good- 
will of the citizens of London. When the year 1601 
opened, the conspirators were completing their plans, 
and Shakespeare's sympathetic reference to Essex's 
popularity with Londoners bore fruit of some peril to 
his theatrical colleagues, if not to himself. 

On the eve of the projected rising, a few of the rebel 
leaders, doubtless at Southampton's suggestion, sought 
The Globe ^^^ dramatist's countenance. They paid 4.0s. 
and Essex's to Augustine PhiUips, a leading member of 
on. Shakespeare's company and a close friend of 
the dramatist, to induce him to revive at the Globe 
theatre 'the play of the deposing and murder of King 
Richard the Second' (beyond doubt Shakespeare's play), 
in the hope that its scenes of the deposition and killing of 
a king might encourage a popular outbreak. Phillips 
prudently told the conspirators who bespoke the piece 
that ' that play of Kyng Richard' was ' so old and so long 
out of use as that they should have small or no company 
at it.' None the less the performance took place on 
Saturday, February 7, 1600-1, the day preceding the 
one fixed by Essex for his rising in the streets of London. 

for more then four myles space, crying and saying, God blesse your 
Lordship, God preserue your honour, &c., and some followed him untill 
the evening, onely to behold him.' 


The Queen, in a later conversation (on August 4, 1601) 
with William Lambarde, a well-known antiquary, com- 
plained rather wildly that 'this tragedie' of 'Richard 
II,' which she had always viewed with suspicion, was 
played at the period with seditious intent 'forty times 
in open streets and houses.' ^ At any rate the players' 
appeal failed to provoke the response which the conspir- 
ators anticipated. On Sunday, February 8, Essex, with 
Southampton and others, fully armed, vainly appealed 
to the people of London to march on the Court. They 
addressed themselves to deaf ears, and being arrested, by 
the Queen's troops were charged with high treason. At 
the joint trial of Essex and Southampton, the actor 
Phillips gave evidence of the circumstances in which the 
tragedy of ' Richard II ' was revived at the Globe theatre. 
Both Essex and Southampton were found guilty and 
sentenced to death. Essex was duly executed on Feb- 
ruary 25 within the precincts of the Tower of London; 
but Southampton was reprieved on the ground that his 
offence was due to his 'love' of Essex. He was impris- 
oned in the Tower of London until the Queen's death, 
more than two years later. No proceedings were taken 
against the players for their implied support of the 
traitors,^ but Shakespeare wisely abstained, for the 
time, from any public refetence to the fate either of 
Essex or of his patron Southampton. 

Such incidents served to accentuate rather than injure 
Shakespeare's growing reputation. For several years 
his genius as dramatist and poet had been ac- shake- 
knowledged by critics and playgoers alike, and pPp^^^'^j^y 
his social and professional position had become and 
considerable. Inside the theatre his influence i"fl"™ce. 
was supreme. When, in 1598, the manager of the 
company rejected Ben Jonson's first comedy — his 
'Every Man in his Humour' — Shakespeare intervened, 

' Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth, iii. SS^- , „^ 

2Cf Domestic MSS. (Elizabeth) in Public Record Office, vol. 

cclxxviii. Nos. 78 and 85; and Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 

1598-1601, pp. S7S-8. 


according to a credible tradition (reported by Rowe but 
denounced by Gifford), and procured a reversal of the 
decision in the interest of the unknown dramatist, who 
was his junior by nine years. Shakespeare took a part 
when the piece was performed. On September 22, 1598, 
after the production of the comedy, ' Jonson unluckily 
killed a fellow actor, Gabriel Spenser, in a duel in Moor- 
fields, and being convicted of murder escaped punish- 
ment by benefit of clergy. According to a story published 
at the time, he owed his release from 'purgatory' to a 
player, 'a charitable copperlaced Christian,' and his 
benefactor has been identified with Shakespeare.^ What- 
ever may have been Shakespeare's specific acts of benevo- 
lence, Jonson was of a difficult and jealous temper, and 
subsequently he gave vent to an occasional expression 
of scorn at Shakespeare's expense. But, despite passing 
manifestations of his unconquerable surliness, the proofs 
are complete that Jonson cherished genuine esteem and 
affection for Shakespeare till death.^ Within a very 
few years of Shakespeare's death Sir Nicholas L'Es- 
trange, an industrious collector of anecdotes, put into 
writing an anecdote for which he made John Donne, the 
poetic Dean of St. Paul's, responsible, attesting the 
anaicable social relations that commonly subsisted be- 
tween Shakespeare and Jonson. 'Shakespeare,' ran 
the story, 'was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children, 
and after the christening, being in a deep study, Jonson 
came to cheer him up and asked him why he was so 
melancholy. "No, faith, Ben," says he, "not I, but I 
have been considering a great while what should be the 

i See Dekker's SaiiromasHx, which was produced by Shakespeare's 
company in the autumn of 1601, where Horace, a caricature portrait of 
Ben Jonson, is thus addressed: 'Thou art the true arraign'd Poet, and 
shouldst have been hang'd, but for one of these part-takers, these chari- 
table Copper-lac'd Christians that fetcht thee out of Purgatory, Players 
I meane, Theaterians, pouchmouth stage- walkers' (act iv. sc. iii. 252 

* Cf . Gilchrist, Examination of the charges . . . of Jonson's Enmity 
towards Shakespeare, 1808. See Ben Jonson's elegy in the First Folio 
and his other references to Shakespeare's writings at p. 587 infra. 


fittest gift for me to bestow upon my godchild, and I 
have resolv'd at last." "I pr'ythee, what?" sayes he. 
"I' faith, Ben, I'll e'en give him a dozen good Lattin 
spoons, and thou shalt translate them."' "■ The friendly 
irony is in the gentle vein with which Shakespeare was 
traditionally credited. Very mildly is Ben Jonson re- 
buked for his vainglorious assertion of classical learning, 
the comparative lack of which in Shakespeare was a 
frequent theme of Jonson's taunts. 

The creator of Falstaff could have been no stranger 
to tavern Hfe, and he doubtless took part with zest in the 
convivialities of men of letters. Supper parties ^j^^ 
at City inns were a welcome experience of all Mermaid 
poets and dramatists of the time. The bright "'^^''"s^- 
wit flashed freely amid the substantial fare of meat, 
game, pastry, cheese and fruit, with condiments of olives, 
capers and lemons, and flowing cups of 'rich Canary 
wine.' ^ The veteran ' Mermaid ' in Bread Street, Cheap- 
side, and the 'Devil' at Temple Bar, were celebrated 
early in the seventeenth century for their literary asso- 
ciations,* while other taverns about the City, named 
respectively the 'Sun,' the 'Dog,' and the 'Triple 
Tun,' long boasted of their lettered patrons. The most 
famous of the literary hostelries in Shakespeare's era 
was the 'Mermaid,' where Sir Walter Raleigh was held 
to have inaugurated the poetic feasts. Through Shake- 
speare's middle years Ben Jonson exercised supreme 
control over the convivial Hfe of literary London, and a 
reasonable tradition reports that Shakespeare was a 
frequent visitor to the 'Mermaid' tavern at the period 

' ' Latten' is a mixed metal resembling brass. Pistol in Merry Wives 
of Windsor [l. i. 165] likens Slender to a 'latten bilbo,' that is, a sword 
made of the mixed metal. Cf. Anecdotes and Traditions, edited from 
L'Estrange's MSS. by W. J. Thoms for the Camden Society, p. i. 
2 Cf. Ben Jonson's Epigrams, No. ci. 'Inviting a Friend to Supper,' 
' Cf. Herrick's Poems (Muses' Library, ii. no) where in his 'ode for' 
Ben Jonson, Herrick mentions : 

those lyric feasts 
Made at the Sun, 
The Dog, the Triple Tun. 


when Ben Jonson presided over its parliament of wit. 
Of the intellectual brilliance of those 'merry' meetings 
the dramatist Francis Beaumont wrote glowingly in 
his poetical letter to the presiding genius : 

What things have we seen 
Done at the Mermaid ? heard words that have been 
So nimble, and so full of subtle flame, 
As if that every one from whence they came 
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest, 
And had resolved to live a fool the rest 
Of his dull Ufe.i 

'Many were the wit-combats,' wrote Fuller of Shake- 
speare in his 'Worthies' (1662), 'betwixt him and Ben 
Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon 
and an English man of war; Master Jonson (lik§ the 
former) was built far higher in learning, soHd but slow in 
his performances. Shakespear, with the Englishman of 
war, lesser in bulk, but hghter in sailing, could turn with 
all tides, tack about, and take advantage of aU winds by 
the quickness of his wit and invention.' 

Of the many testimonies paid to Shakespeare's reputa- 
tion as both poet and dramatist at this period of his 
Meres's Career, the most striking was that of Francis 
eulogy, Meres. Meres was a learned graduate of 
'^'*' Cambridge University, a divine and school- 

master, who brought out in 1598 a collection of apoph- 
thegms on morals, rehgion, and literature which he 
entitled 'Palladis Tamia' or 'Wits Treasury.' In the 
volume he interpolated 'A comparative discourse of 
our English poets with the Greek, Latin, and Italian 
poets,' and there exhaustively surveyed contemporary 
literary effort in England. Shakespeare figured in 
Meres's pages as the greatest man of letters of the day. 
'The Muses would speak Shakespeare's fine filed phrase,' 
Meres asserted, 'if they could speak English.' 'Among 
the English,' he declared, 'he is the most excellent in 

' Francis Beaumont's Poems in Old Dramatists (Beaumont and 
Fletcher), ii. 708. 


both kinds for the stage' (i.e. tragedy and comedy), 
rivalling the fame of Seneca in the one kind, and of 
Plautus in the other. There follow the titles of six 
comedies: 'Two Gentlemen of Verona,' 'Errors,' 
'Love's Labour's Lost,' 'Love's Labour's Won' {i.e. 
'All's Well'), 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' and 'Mer- 
chant of Venice,' and of six tragedies, 'Richard II,' 
'Richard III,' 'Henry IV,' 'King John,' 'Titus,' and 
'Romeo and Juliet.' Mention was also made of Shake- 
speare's 'Venus and Adonis,' his 'Lucrece,' and his 
'sugred ^ sonnets among his private friends.' 

Shakespeare's poems 'Venus and Adonis' and 'Lu- 
crece' received in contemporary literature of the closing 
years of Queen Elizabeth's reign more fre- 
quent commendation than his plays. Yet in/'wor^ 
'Romeo and Juliet,' 'Love's Labour's Lost,' 1^^^^°* 
and ' Richard III ' all received some approving speare as 
notice at critical hands ; and familiar references <^'^^™^tist. 
to Justice Silence, Justice Shallow, and Sir John Falstaff , 
with echoes of Shakespearean phraseology, either in 
printed plays or in contemporary private correspondence, 
attest the spreading range of Shakespeare's conquests.^ 
At the turn of the century the ' Pilgrimage to Parnassus, 
and the two parts of the 'Returne from Parnassus,' a tri- 

* This, or some synonym, is the conventional epithet applied at the 
date to Shakespeare and his work. Weever credited such characters 
of Shakespeare as Adonis, Venus, Tarquin, Romeo, and Richard III 
with 'sugred tongues' in his Epigrams of iS99- In the Return from Par- 
nassus (1601?) Shakespeare is apostrophised as 'sweet Master Shake- 
speare.' Milton did homage to the tradition by writing of 'sweetest 
Shakespeare' in L' Allegro. 

' See Centurie of Praise, under the years 1600 and 1601. In Ben Jon- 
son's Every Man Out of His Humour (1600) one character is described 
as 'a kinsman of Justice Silence,' and of another it is foretold that he 
might become 'as fat as Sir John Falstaff.' A country gentleman, Sir 
Charles Percy, writing to a friend in London from his country seat in 
Gloucestershire, said : 'If I stay heere long in this fashion, at my return 
I think you will find mee so dull that I shall bee taken for Justice Silence 
or Justice Shallow . . . Perhaps thee will not exempt mee from the 
opinion of a Justice Shallow at London, yet I will assure you, thee will 
make mee passe for a very sufficient gentleman in Gloucestershire' (MS. 
letter in Public Record Office, Domestic State Papers, vol. 275, No. 146). 


logy of plays by wits of Cambridge University, introduce 
a student who constantly quotes ' pure Shakespeare and 
shreds of poetry that he hath gathered at the theatres.' 
The admirer asserts that he will hang a picture of 'sweet 
Mr. Shakespeare' in his study, and denounces as 'dunci- 
fied' the world which sets Spenser and Chaucer above 
his idol. 

Shakespeare's assured reputation is convincingly cor- 
roborated by the value which unprincipled pubhshers 

.. , attached to his name and by the zeal with 
unprin- which they sought to palm off on their cus- 
of^'shake-^ totners the productions of inferior pens as his 
speare's work. The practice began in 1594 and con- 
"^"'^' tinned not only through' the rest of Shake- 

speare's career, but for some half-century after his 
death. The crude deception was not wholly unsuccess- 
ful. Six valueless pieces which publishers put to his 
credit in his lifetime found for a time unimpeded ad- 
mission to his collected works. 

As early as July 20, 1594, Thomas Creede, the printer 
of the surreptitious editions of ' Henry V ' and the ' Merry 
Wives' as well as of the more or less authentic 
ascr^tions versions of 'Richard III' (1598) and 'Romeo 
lifetime ^^'^ Juliet' (1599) obtained a license for the 
issue of the crude 'Tragedie of Locrine' which 
he published during 1595 as 'newly set foorth overseene 
and corrected. By W. S.' 'Locrine,' which lamely 
dramatises a Brito-Trojan legend from Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth's history, appropriated many passages from an 
blder piece called 'Selimus,' which was also printed and 
pubUshed by Thomas Creede in 1594. 'Selimus' was 
no doubt from the pen of Robert Greene, and came into 
being long before Shakespeare was out of his apprentice- 
ship. Scenes of dumb show which preface each act of 
'Locrine' indicate the obsolete mould in which the piece 
was cast. The same initials — 'W. S.' ^ — figured on 

' A hack-writer, Wentworth Smith, took a hand in producing for the 
theatrical manager Philip Henslowe, between 1601 and 1603, thirteen 


the title-page of 'The True Chronicle Historie of Thomas, 
Lord Cromwell . . . Written by W. S.,' which was 
licensed on August 11, 1602, was printed for WiUiam 
Jones in that year, and was reprinted verbatim by 
Thomas Snodham in 1613. The piece is described as 
having been acted by Shakespeare's company, both 
when under the patronage of the Lord Chamberlain 
and under that of King James. 'Lord Cromwell' is a 
helpless collection of disjointed scenes from the 
biography of King Henry VIII's ministers ; it is quite 
destitute of literary quahty. On the title-page of a 
comedy entitled "The Puritaine, or the Widdow of 
Watling Streete,' which George Eld printed in 1607, 
'W. S.' was for a third time stated to be the author. 
'The Puritaine . . . Written by W. S.' is a brisk farce 
portraying the coarseness of bourgeois London life in a 
manner which Ben Jonson essayed later in his 'Bai-tholo- 
mew Fair.' According to the title-page, the piece was 
'acted by the children of Paules' who never interpreted 
any of Shakespeare's works. 

Through the same period Shakespeare's full name 
appeared on the title-pages of three other pieces which 
are equally destitute of any touch of Shakespeare's 
hand, viz. : ' The First Part of the Life of Sir John 
Oldcastle' in 1600 (printed for T[homas] P[avier]), 
'The London Prodigall' in 1605 (printed by T[homas] 
C[reede] for Nathaniel Butter), and 'A Yorkshire 
Tragedy' in 1608 (by R. B. for Thomas Pavier). 
The first part of the 'Life of Sir John Oldcastle' 
was the piece designed by other pens in 1599 to re- 
lieve the hero's character of the imputations which 

plays, none of which are extant. The Hector of Germanie, an extant 
play 'made by W. Smith' and published 'with new additions' in 1615, 
was doubtless by Wentworth Smith, and is the only dramatic work by 
him that has survived. Neither internal nor external evidence confirms 
the theory that the above-mentioned six plays, which have been wrongly 
claimed for Shakespeare, were really by Wentworth Smith. The use 
of the initials 'W. S.' was not due to the publishers' belief that Went- 
worth Smith was the author, but to their endeavour to delude their 
customers into a belief that the plays were by Shakespeare. 


Shakespeare was supposed to cast upon it in his first 
sketch of Falstaff's portrait.^ 'The London Pro-digall,' 
which was acted by Shakespeare's company, humorously 
delineates middle-class society after the maimer of 
.^ 'The Puritaine.' 'A Yorkshire Tragedy,' 

Yorkshire which was actcd by his Majesty's players 
Tragedy.' ^^ ^j^^ Globc, was assigucd to Shakespeare 
not only on the title-page of the published book, but 
on the Hcense granted to Thomas Pavier, the pirate 
publisher, by the Stationers' Company (May 2, 1608).^ 
The title-page describes the piece, which was unusually 
short, as 'not so new as lamentable and true'; it dra- 
matises current reports of the sensational murder in 
1605 by a Yorkshire squire of his children and of the 
attempted murder of his wife.^ 

None of the six plays just enumerated, which passed 
in ' Shakespeare's Hfetime under either his name or his 
initials, has any reasonable' pretension to Shakespeare's 
authorship ; nevertheless all were uncritically included in 
the Third FoUo of his collected works (1664), and they 
reappeared in the Fourth Foho of 1685. Save in the 
case of 'A Yorkshire Tragedy,' criticism is unanimous in 
decreeing their exclusion from the Shakespearean canon. 
Nor does serious value attach to the grounds which led 
Schlegel and a few critics of repute to detect signs of 
Shakespeare's hand in ' A Yorkshire Tragedy. ' However 
superior that drama is to its companions in passionate and 
lurid force, it is no more than ' a coarse, crude, and vigor- 
ous impromptu ' which is as clearly as the rest by a far 
less experienced pen than Shakespeare's. 

The fraudulent practice of crediting Shakespeare 
with valueless plays from the pens of comparatively dull- 
vntted contemporaries extended far beyond the six 
pieces which he saw circulating under lus name, and 

^ See p. 244 n. supra. 

' Arber's Stationers' Reg. iii. 377. 

' The piece was designed as one of a set of four plays, and it has the 
alternative title : ' All's one or One of the four plaies in one.' A second 
edition of 1619 repeats the attribution to Shakespeare. 


which the later Folios accepted as his. The worthless 
old play on the subject of King John was attributed to 
Shakespeare in the reissues of 161 1 and 1622, 
and enterprising traders continued to add to ascriptions 
the illegitimate record through the next gen- j^**!*"^ 
eration. Hiunphrey Moseley, a London pub- 
lisher of hterary proclivities, who, between 1630 and 
his death early in 1661, issued much poetic literature, 
including the first collection of Milton's Minor Poems in 
1645, claimed for Shakespeare the av^thorship in whole 
or in part of as many as seven additional plays. On 
September 9, 1653, he obtained from the Stationers' 
Company license to publish no less than forty-one 
'severall Playes.' The list includes 'The Merry Devill 
of Edmonton' which the publisher assigned wholly to 
Shakespeare ; ' The History of Carden[n]io,' which was 
said to be a joint work of Shakespeare and Fletcher; 
and two pieces called 'Henry I' and 'Henry II,' respon- 
sibility for which was divided between Shakespeare and 
a minor dramatist called Robert Davenport. On June 
29, 1660, Moseley repeated his bold exploit,^ and ob- 
tained a second license to publish twenty-eight further 
plays, three of which he again put without any warrant 
to Shakespeare's credit. The titles of this trio ran: 
'The History of King Stephen,' 'Duke Humphrey, a 
tragedy,' and 'Iphis and lantha, or a marriage without 
a man, a comedy.' Of the seven reputed Shakespearean 
dramas which appear on Moseley's hsts, only one, 'The 
Merry DeviU of Edmonton,' is extant. Pieces called 
the 'History of Cardenio' ^ and 'Henry the First' were 
acted by Shakespeare's company. Manuscripts of three 
other of Moseley's alleged Shakespearean plays ('Henry 
the First,' 'Dtike Humphrey,' and 'The History of 
King Stephen') would seem to have belonged in the 

' Moseley's lists are carefully printed from the Stationers' Company's 
Registers in Mr. W. W. Greg's article 'The Bakings of Betsy' in The 
Library, July 191 1, pp. 237 seq. 

' See p. 438 infra. 


early part of the eighteenth century to the antiquary 
and herald John Warburton, whose cook, traditionally 
christened Betsy Baker, through his 'carelessness' and 
her 'ignorance' committed them and many papers of a 
like kind to the kitchen flames.^ ' The Merry Devill of 
Edmonton,' the sole survival of Moseley's alleged 
'The Shakespearean discoveries, was produced on the V 

Merry sta^ggjjefore the-close^of-lha-s ixteenth ce ntury ; u 
Edmoa°^ it was entered on the 'Stationers' Register' ', 
ton.' on OctqjDer 22, 1607, was first published 

anonymously in 1608, 'as it hath beene sundry times 
Acted, by his Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe on the 
bankside,' and was revived before the Court at White- 
hall in May 1613. There was a sixth quarto edition m 
1655. None of the early impressions bore an author's 
name. Francis Kirkman, another prominent London 
bookseller of Moseley's temper, assigned it to Shake- 
speare in his catalogue of 1661 ; a copy of it was bound 
up in Charles II's library with two other EHzabethan 
plays — ' Faire Em ' and ' Mucedorus ' — and the volume 
was labelled by the binders 'Shakespeare, volume i.'^ 
'The Merry Devill' is a deUghtful comedy, abounding" 
in both humour and romantic sentiment; at times it 
recalls scenes of the ' Merry Wives of Windsor.' Superior 
as it is at all points to any other of Shakespeare's falsely 

^ Warburton's list of some fifty-six plays, all but three or four of 
which he charges his servant with destroying, is in the British Museum, 
Lansdowne MS. vol. 807, a volume which also contains the MS. of three 
pieces and the fragment of a fourth, the sole relics of the servant's holo- 
caust. The list is printed in Malone's Variorum Shakespeare, ii. 468- 
470, and more carefully by Mr. Greg in The Library, July 1911, pp. 230-2. 
Among the pieces named are Henry I by Will. Shakespear and Robert 
Davenport; Duke Humphrey, by Will. Shakespear; and A Play by 
Will. Shakespeare vaguely identified with 'The History of King Stephen.' 
Sir Henry Herbert licensed The History of Henry the First to the King's 
company on April 10, 1624, attributing it to Davenport alone (Malone, 
iii. 229). Nothing else is known of Warburton's two other alleged 
Shakespearean pieces. 

^ This volume, which was at one time in the library of the actor- 
Garrick, passed to the British Museum. Its contents are now bound up 
separately, the old label being long since discarded. (Cf. Malone's 
Variorum, 1821, ii. 682; Simpson's School of Shakspere, ii. 337.) 


reputed plays, it gives no sign of Shakespeare's workman- 
ship.^ The bookseller, Francis Kirkman, showed greater 
rashness in issuing in 1662 a hitherto unprinted piece 
called 'The Birth of Merlin,' an extravagant romance 
which he described on the title-page as 'written by 
William Shakespeare and William Rowley.' A few 
snatches of poetry fail to hft this piece above the crude 
level of Rowley's unaided work. It cannot be safely 
dated earlier than 1622, six years after Shakespeare's 

Bold speculators have occasionally sought to justify 
the rashness of Charles II's bookbinder in labelling as 
Shakespeare's work the two pieces ' Mucedorus ' and 
'Faire Em' along with the 'Merry Devill.' The book- 
seller Kirkman accepted the attribution in his ' Catalogue 
of Plays' of 1 67 1, and his fallacious guidance was followed 
by William Winstanley (1687) and Gerard Langbaine 
(1691) in their notices of Shakespeare in their respective 
'Lives of English Poets.' ^ 

'Mucedorus' is an elementary effort in romantic 
comedy somewhat in Greene's vein. It is interspersed 
with clownish horseplay and dates from the 'Muce- 
early years of Elizabeth's reign; it was first dorus.' 
published in 1598 after having been 'sundrie times plaid 
in the honorable Cittie of London.' Its prolonged 
popularity is attested by the unparalleled number of 
sixteen quarto editions through which it passed in the 

' The authorship cannot be positively determined. Coxeter, an 
eighteenth-century antiquary, assigned it to Michael Drayton. Charles 
Lamb and others, more probably, put it to Thomas Heywood's credit. 

^A useful edition of fourteen 'doubtful' plays, csmpetently edited 
by Mr. C. F. Tucker Brooke under the general title of 'The Shakespeare 
Apocrypha,' was pubUshed by the Clarendon Press in IQ08. Mr. A. F. 
Hopkinson edited in three volumes (189 1-4) twelve doubtful plays and 
pubhshed a useful series of Essays on Shakespeare's doubtful plays (1900). 
Five of the apocryphal pieces, Paire Em, Merry Devill, Edward III, Mer- 
lin, Arden of Fever sham, were edited by Karl Warnke and Ludwig 
Proescholdt (Halle, 1883-8). 

'Kirkman also put to Shakespeare's credit in his Catalogue of 167 1, 
Peele's Arraignment of Paris, another foolish blunder which Winstanley 
and Langbaine adopt. 


seventeenth century. According to the title-page of the 
third quarto of 1.6 lo, the piece was acted at Court on 
Shrove Sunday night by Shakespeare's company, 'His 
highnes servants usually playing at the Globe,' and the 
text was then 'amplified with new additions.' These 
' additions ' exhibit a dramatic abiUty above that of the 
dull level of the rest, and were presumably made after 
the comedy had come under the control of Shakespeare's 
associates. The new passages have deluded one modern 
critic into a justification of the seventeenth-century 
association of Shakespeare's name with the piece. Mr. 
Payne Collier, who included ' Mucedorus ' in his privately 
printed edition of Shakespeare in 1878, was confident 
that one of the scenes (iv. i.) interpolated in the 1610 
version — that in which the King of Valentia laments 
the supposed loss of his son — displayed genius which 
Shakespeare alone could compass. However readily 
critics may admit the superiority in literary value of 
the additional scene to anything else in the piece, none 
can seriously accept Mr. Colher's extravagant estimate. 
The scene was probably from the pen of an admiring 
but faltering imitator of Shakespeare.^ 

'Faire Em,' although it was first printed at an un- 
certain date early in the seventeenth century and again 
■Faire in 1 63 1, was, according to the title-page of 
^™' both editions, acted by Shakespeare's com- 

pany while Lord Strange was its patron (1589-93). 
Two lines from the piece (v. 121 and 157) are, how- 
ever, quoted and turned to ridicule by Shakespeare's foe, 
Robert Greene, in his 'Farewell to Folly,' a mawkish 
penitential triact, with an appendix of short stories, 
which was licensed for pubhcation in 158,7, although no 
edition is known of eariier date than 1591. 'Faire Em' 
must therefore have been in circulation before Shake- 
speare's career as dramatist opened. It is a very rudi- 
mentary endeavour in romantic comedy, in which two 

' Tucker Brooke, The Shakespeare Apocrypha, 1908, pp. vii, xxiii seq., 
103 seq. ; Dodsley's Old Plays, ed. W. C. Hazlitt, 1874, vii. 236-8. 


complicated tales of amorous adventure run independent 
courses ; the one tale has for its hero William the Con- 
queror, and the other has for heroine the fictitious Faire 
Em, daughter of one Sir Thomas Goddard who dis- 
guises himself for purposes of intrigue as a miller of 
Manchester. The piece has not even the pretension 
of 'Mucedorus' to one short scene of conspicuous liter- 
ary merit.i 

Poems no less than plays, in which Shakespeare had 
no hand, were deceptively placed to his credit as soon 
as his fame was established. In 1599 William ,^^ 
Jaggard, a none too scrupulous pubHsher, Passionate 
issued a small poetic anthology which he en- ^''^nm.' 
titled 'The Passionate Pilgrim, by W. Shakespeare.' 
The volume, of which only two copies are known to be 
extant, consists of twenty lyrical pieces, the last six of 
which are introduced by the separate title-page : ' Son- 
nets to sundry notes of Musicke.' ^ Only five of the 
twenty poems can be placed to Shakespeare's credit. 
Jaggard's volume opened with two sonnets by Shake- 
speare which were not previously in print (Nos. cxxxviii. 
and cxliv. in the Sonnets of 1609), and there were 
scattered through the remaining pages three poems 
drawn from the already published play of 'Love's 
Labour's Lost.' The rest of the fifteen pieces were by 
Richard Barnfield, Bartholomew Grif&n, and even less 
prominent versifiers, not all of whom can be identified.^ 

' Richard Simpson, in liis School of Shakspere (1878, iii. 339 seq.), 
fantastically argues that the piece is by Shakespeare, and that it presents 
the leading authors and actors under false names, the main object being 
to satirise Robert Greene. Fleay thinks Robert Wilson, who was both 
actor and dramatist, was the author. 

*The word 'sonnet' is here used in the sense of 'song.' No 'quator- 
zain' is included in the last part of the Passionate Pilgrim. No notes of 
music were supplied to the volume; but in the case of the poems 'Live 
with me and be my love' and 'My flocks feed not' contemporary airs are 
found elsewhere. 

' The five pieces by Shakespeare are placed in the order i. ii. iii. v. 
xvi. Of the remainder, two — ' If music and sweet poetry agree ' (No. 
viii.) and ' As it fell upon a day ' (No. xx.) — were borrowed from Barn- 
fidd's Poems in diuers humors (1598). Four sonnets on the theme of 


According to custom, many of the pieces were circulat- 
ing in dSpersed manuscripts. The pubUsher had evil 
precedent for bringing together in a single volume de- 
tached poems by various pens and for attributing them 
all on the title-page to a an^e author who was responsi- 
ble for a very small number of them."^ 

Jaggard issued a second edition of "The Passionate 
Pilgrim ' in 1606, but no copy siu-vives. A third edition 
The third appeared in 1612 with an expanded title-page : 
edition. 'The Passiouate Pilgrime, or Certaine Amorous 
Sonnets betweene Venus and Adonis, newly corrected 
and augmented. By W. Shakespere. The third edi- 
tion. Whereunto is newly added two Loue-Epistles, 
the first from Paris to HeUen, and Hellens answere back 
againe to Paris. Printed by W. Jaggard. 1612.' The 
old text reappeared without diange; the words 'certain 
amorous sonnets between Venus and Adonis' aiq)ro- 
priately describe four non-Shakespearean poems in the 
original edition, and the fresh emphasis laid on them in 

Venus and Adonis (Nos. and sL) aie probaUy by Bartfado- 
mew Griffin, from whose Fidessa (1596) No. xL is dicecttf adapted. 
'My flocks feed not' '(No. xviL) comes from Thomas We^es's Mai- 
rigals (1597), but Bamfield is again pretty certainly the author. 
'live with me and be my love' (No. xix.) is by Marlowe, and four lines 
are quoted by Sir Hugh Evans in Shake^)eare's Merry Wims (m. i. 17 
seq.). The appended stanza to Marlowe's lyiic entitled 'Love's Answer' 
is by Sir Walter Ralegh 'Crabbed age and youth cannot live together' 
(No. xii.) is a popular song often quoted 1^ Elizabethan dramatists. 
'It was a Lording's daughter' CNo. xv.) is a ballad possibly bjr ThtHnas 
Deloney. Nos. vii. x. xiii. xiv. and xviiL are commoaqdaGe love poems 
in six-line stanzas of no individuality, the authoi^iip of whidi is un- 
known. See for full discusdon of the various questions arigmg oat of 
Jaggard's volume the introduction to the f!ir«aiiiilf of the 1399 editJOB 
(Oxford, 1905, 4to). 

^ See Bryton's Boiore of Deli^Os, 1591, and Arbor of Amirrous Deaices 
. . ., by N. B. Gent, 1594 — two vohunes of miscellaneoas poems, itt 
of whidi the publisher Richard Jones as^ned to the poet Nidiidas 
Breton, though the majority of tiiem were by other wiitrasw BretcB 
plaintively protested that the earlier volume 'was done altogetl^ with- 
out my consent or knowledge, and many thing s of other men minted 
with a few of mine; for except Amoris LackrinuE, an epitaidi upon Sr 
Philip Sidney, and one or two other toys, wh&ji I know not how he (ix 
the publisher) unhappily came by, I have no part of any of thenu' (Pirf- 
atory note to Breton's Pilgrimage to Paradiu, 1592.) 


the new title-page had the intention of suggesting a con- 
nection with Shakespeare's first narrative poem. But 
the unabashed Jaggard added to the third edition of his 
pretended Shakespearean anthology, two new non- 
Shakespearean poems which he silently filched from 
Thomas Heywood's 'Troia Britannica.' That work was 
a collection of poetry which Jaggard had published for 
Heywood in 1609. Heywood called attention to his 
personal grievance in the dedicatory epistle before his 
'Apology for Actors' (1612) which was addressed to a 
rival publisher Nicolas Okes, and he added the important 
information that Shakespeare resented the more sub- 
stantial injury which the publisher had done him. Hey- 
wood's words run : ' Here, hkewise, I must necessarily 
insert a manifest injury done me in that work [i.e. 
'Troia Britannica' of 1609] by taking the two epistles 
or Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, and printing them 
in a less volume [i.e. 'The Passionate Pilgrim' of 161 2] 
under the name of another [i.e. Shakespeare], which may 
put the world in opinion I might steal them from him, 
and he to do himself right, hath since published them in 
his own name : but as I must acknowledge my .pjj^^^j 
lines not worth his [i.e. Shakespeare's] patronage Heywood's 
under whom he [i.e. Jaggard] hath pubhshed shake-'" 
them, so the author, I know, much Offended speare's 
with M. Jaggard that altogether unknown to °^™*' 
him presumed to make so bold with his name.' In the 
result the publisher seems to have removed Shake- 
speare's name from the title-page of a few copies."^ 
Heywood's words form the sole recorded protest on 
Shakespeare's part against the many injuries which he 
suffered at the hands of contemporary publishers. 
In 1601 Shakespeare's full name was attached to 'a 

' Only two copies of the third edition of the Passionate Pilgrim are 
extant ; one formerly belonging to Mr. J. E. T. Loveday of Williamscote 
near Banbury, was sold by him to an American collection in 1906 ; the 
other is in the Malone collection at the Bodleian. The Malone copy 
has two title-pages, from one of which Shakespeare's name is omitted. 
The Loveday copy has the title-page bearing Shakespeare's name. 


poetical essaie on the Phoenix and the Turtle,' which was 
published by Edward Blount, a prosperous 
Phoenix London stationer of literary tastes, as part of a 
i\irtie^ supplement or appendix to a volume of verse 
by one Robert Chester. Chester's work bore 
the title : ' Love's Martyr, or RosaUn's complaint, alle- 
gorically shadowing the Truth of Love in the Constant 
Fate of the Phoenix and Turtle . . . [with] some new 
compositions of seueral moderne Writers whose names 
are subscribed to their seuerall workies.' Neither the 
drift of Chester's crabbed verse, nor the occasion of its 
composition is clear, nor can the praise of perspicuity be 
allowed to the supplement, to which Shakespeare con- 
tributed. His colleagues there are the dramatic poets, 
John Marston, George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and two 
writers signing themselves respectively 'Vatum Chorus' 
and 'Ignoto.' The supplement is introduced by an 
independent title-page running thus : ' Hereafter follow 
diverse poeticall Essaies on the former subject, viz. : 
the Turtle and Phoenix. Done by the best and chiefest 
of our modern writers, with their names subscribed to 
their particular workes : never before extant ; and (now 
first) consecreated by them all generally to the love and 
merite of the true-noble knight. Sir John Salisburie.' 
Sir John Salisbury was also the patron to whom Robert 
Chester, the author of the main work, modestly dedi- 
cated his labours. 

Sir John Sahsbury, a Welsh country gentleman of 
Lleweiii, Denbighshire, who was by two years Shake- 
s' t hn speare's junior, married in early Ufe Ursula 
Salisbury's Stanley, an illegitimate daughter of the fourth 
of poets^^ Earl of Derby, who was at one time patron of 
Shakespeare's theatrical company.^ Sir John 
was appointed an esquire of the body to Queen Elizabeth 
in 1595, and spent much time in London during the 

' Sir John's surname is usually spelt SalMsbury. Dr. Johnson's friend, 
Mrs. Thrale (afterwards Mrs. Piozzi), whose maiden name was Salus- 
bury, was a direct descendant. 


rest of the reign, being knighted in 1601. A man of 
literary culture, he could turn a stanza with some deft- 
ness, and was a generous patron of many Welsh and 
English bards who wrote much in honour of himself 
and his family. Robert Chester was clearly a con- 
fidential protige closely associated with the knight's 
Welsh home. But it is clear that Sit John was 
acquainted with Ben Jonson and other men of letters 
in the capital and that Shakespeare and the rest good- 
naturedly contributed to Chester's volume by way of 
showing regard for a minor Maecenas of the day. 

Chester's own work is a confused collection of grotesque 
allegorical fancies which is interrupted by an elaborate 
metrical biography of King Arthur.^ The Robert 
writer would seem to celebrate in obscure and Chester's 
figurative phraseology the passionate love of ^°'^''' 
Sir John for his wife and its mystical reinforcement on 
the occasion of the birth of their first child. 

Some years appear to have elapsed between the com- 
position of Chester's verses and their publication, and the 
friendly pens who were responsible for the supplement 
embroidered on Chester's fantasy fresh conceits, which, 
while they were of vague relevance to his symbolic inten- 
tion, were designed to conciliate his master's favour. 
The contributor who conceals his identity under the 
pseudonjmi 'Vatum Chorus,' and signs the opening lines 
of the supplement, greeted ' the worthily honoured knight, 
Sir John Salusbury,' as 'an honourable friend,' whose 
merits were 'parents to our several rhymes.' All the 
contributors play enigmatic voluntaries on the familiar 
mythology of the phoenix, the unique bird of Arabia, and 
the turtle-dove, the sjonbol of loving constancy, whose 

' By way of enhancing the mystification, the title-page describes the 
main work as 'now first translated [by Robert Chester] out of the Vener- 
able Italian Torquato Coeliano.' No Italian poet of this name is known, 
the designation seems a fantastic amalgam of the Christian name (Tor- 
quato) of Tasso and the surname of a contemporary Italian poetaster, 
Livio Celiano. Chester described his interpolated ' true legend of famous 
King Arthur' as 'the first essay of a new Brytish Poet collected out of 
diverse Authentical Records,' 


mystical union was Chester's recondite theme. Like 
Chester they make the phoenix feminine and the turtle- 
dove masculine, and their general aim is the glorification 
of a perfect example of spiritual love. Shakespeare's 
'poetical essaie' consists of thirteen four-Hned stanzas 
in trochaics, each line being of seven syllables, with the 
rhymes disposed as in Tennyson's 'In Memoriam.' The 
concluding 'threnos' is in five three-hned stanzas, also 
in trochaics, each stanza having a single, rhyme.^ Both 
in tone and metre Shakespeare's verses differ from their 
companions. They strike unmistakably an elegiac or 
funereal note which is out of keeping with their environ- 
ment. The dramatist cryptically describes the obse- 
quies, which other birds attended, of the phoenix and 
the turtle-dove, after they had been knit together in 
hfe by spiritual ties and left' no offspring. Chaucer's 
'ParUament of Foules' and the abstruse symbolism of 
sixteenth-century emblem books are thought to be 
echoed in Shakespeare's lines ; but their closest affinity 
seems to He with the imagery of Matthew Roydon's 
elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, where the turtle-dove and 
phoenix meet the swan and eagle at the dead hero's 
funeral, and there play roles somewhat similar to those 
which Shakespeare assigns the birds in his 'poeticall 
essaie.' ^ The internal evidence scarcely justifies the 
conclusion that Shakespeare's poem, which is an exer- 
cise in allegorical elegy in untried nietre, was penned 
Shake- for Chester's book. It must have been either 
speareand devised in an idle hour with merely abstract 

his fellow • , ,• .. , , , . I 

contribu- mtention, or it was suggested by the death 
tors. within the poet's own circle of a pair of 

devoted lovers. The resemblances with the verses 
of Chester and his other coadjutors are specious 
and superficial and Shakespeare's piece would seem 

' Shakespeare's concluding 'Threnos' is imitated in metre and phrase- 
ology by Fletcher in his Mad Lover in the song 'The Lover's Legacy to his 
Cruel Mistress.' 

' See Spenser's Colin Clout's Come Home Again (1595), ad fin. 


to have been admitted to the miscellany at the soKcita- 
tion of friends who were bent on paying as comprehen- 
sive a compliment as possible to Sir John Salisbury. 
The poem's publication in its curious setting is chiefly 
memorable for the evidence it offers of Shakespeare's 
amiable acquiescence in a fantastic scheme of profes- 
sional homage on the part of contemporary poets to a 
patron of promising repute.^ 

' A unique copy of Chester's Love's Martyr is in Mr..Cliristie-Miller's 
library at BritweU. Of a reissue of the original edition in 1611 with a 
new title, The Annals of Great Brittaine, a copy (also unique) is in the 
British Museum. A reprint of the original edition was prepared for 
private circulation by Dr. Grosart in 1878, in his series of 'Occasional 
Issues.' It was also printed in the same year as one of the publications 
of the New Shakspere Society. Dr. A. H. R. FairchUd, in 'The Phoenix 
and Turtle: a critical and historical interpretation' (Englische Studien, 
1904, vol. xxxiii. pp. 337 seq.), examines the poem in the light of mediaeval 
conceptions of love and of the fantastic allegorical imagery of the em- 
blematists. A more direct light is thrown on the history of Chester's 
volume and incidentally of Shakespeare's contribution to it in Mr. Carle- 
ton Brown's 'Poems by Sir John Salusbury and Robert Chester' {Bryn 
Mawr College Monographs, vol. xiv. 1913). Mr. Brown prints many 
poems by Sir John, by Robert Chester, and by other of Sir John's pro- 
tigis, from MSS. at Christ Church, Oxford (formerly the property of 
Sir John Salisbury). These MSS. include an autograph poem of Ben 
Jonson. Mr. Brown has also laid under contribution a very rare pub- 
lished volume, Robert Parry's Sinetes (iS97), which was dedicated to Sir 
John, and contains much verse by the patron as well as by the poet. 
Furthermore Mr. Brown supplies from original sources an exhaustive 
biography of Sir John and confutes Dr. Grosart's erroneous identifica- 
tion of the poet Robert Chester, whose Welsh connections are plainly 
indicated in his verse, with a country gentleman (of the same names) of 
Royston, Hertfordshire. No student of Chester's volume can afford to 
overlook Mr. Brown's valuable researches. 



In London Shakespeare resided as a rule near the play- 
houses. Soon after his arrival he found a home in the 
parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, within 
spe\r?a easy reach of 'The Theatre' in Shoreditch. 
residences There he remained until i ';q6. In the autumn 

in London. . ^^ i mi 

of that year he migrated across the rhames 
to the Liberty of the Clink in Southwark, where actors, 
dramatic authors, and public entertainers generally were 
already congregating.^ 

Meanwhile Shakespeare's name was placed on the roll 
of 'subsidy men' or taxpayers for St. Helen's parish, 
His fiscal and his personal property there was valued 
obligation. fQj. fiscal purposcs at 5/. In 1593 Parliament 
had voted to the Crown three subsidies, and each sub- 
sidy involved a payment of 2s. Sci.'in the pound on 
the personal assessment. Shakespeare thus became 
liable for an aggregate sum of il. — 13s. i^d. for each of 
the three subsidies. But the collectors of taxes in the 
city of London worked sluggishly. For three years they 
put no pressure on the dramatist, and Shakespeare left 
Bishopsgate without dischar^ng the debt. Soon after- 
wards, however, the Bishopsgate officials traced him 
to his new Southwark lodging. The Liberty of the 
Clink within which his new abode lay was an estate of 

1 A missing memorandum by Alleyn (quoted by Malone), the general 
trustworthiness of which is attested by the fiscal records cited i»/ro, 
locates Shakespeare's Southwark residence in 1596 'near the Bear 
Garden.' The Bear Garden was a popular place of entertainment which 
was chiefly devoted to the rough sports of bear- and bull-baiting. Near 
at hand in isg6 were the Rose and the Swan theatres — the earliest 
playhouses to be erected on the south side of the Thames. 



the Bishop of Winchester, and was under the Bishop's 
exclusive jurisdiction. In October 1596 the revenue 
officer of St. Helen's obtained the permission of the 
Bishop's steward to claim the overdue tax of Shake- 
speare across the river. Next year the poet paid on 
account of the St. Helen's assessment a first instalment 
of 55. A second instalment of 135. 4^. followed next year.^ 

There is little reason to doubt that Southwark, which 
formed the chief theatrical quarter through the later 
years of Shakespeare's life, remained a in south- 
customary place of residence so long as his w^'^''- 
work required his presence in the metropolis. From 
1599 onwards he was thoroughly identified with the 
fortunes of the Globe Theatre on the Bankside in South- 
wark, the leading playhouse of the epoch, and in adja- 
cent streets lodged Augustine PhilUps, Thomas Pope, 
and many other actors, with whom his social relations 
were very close. His youngest brother, Edmund, who 
became a 'player,' was buried in St. Saviour's Church 
in Southwark on December 31, 1607, a proof that he 
at any rate was a resident in that parish. Shakespeare 
had close professional relations too with the contem- 
porary dramatist, John Fletcher, who, according to 
Aubrey, lived with his literary partner Francis Beau- 
mont, 'on the Banke-side (in Southwark) not far from 
the playhouse {i.e. the Globe).' 

But Shakespeare's association with South London 
during his busiest years did not altogether withdraw him 
from other parts of the city. Some of his colleagues at 
the Globe Theatre preferred a residence at some dis- 

' Cf. Exchequer Lay Subsidies, City of London, 146/369, Public Record 
Office; Prof. J. W. Hales in Alhenaum, March 26, 1904. No docu- 
mentaiy evidence has yet been discovered of any other contribution by 
Shakespeare to the national taxes during any part of his career, either 
in Stratford or London. The surviving fiscal archives of the period 
have not yet been quite exhaustively searched. But it is clear that taxa- 
tion was levied at the period partially and irregularly, and that numer- 
ous persons of substance escaped the collectors' notice. See the present 
writer's 'Shakespeare and Public Affairs' in Fortnightly Review, Sept. 


tance from their place of work.'- The greatest actor of 
Shakespeare's company, Richard Burbage, would seem 
to have remained through life a resident in Shoreditch, 
where he served at 'The Theatre' his histrionic ap- 
prenticeship.^ Two other professional friends, John 
Heminges and Henry Condell, were for many years 
highly respected parishioners of St. Mary Aldermanbury 
near Cripplegate when Heminges served as churchwarden 
in 1608 and Condell ten years later. Visits to friendjs' 
houses from time to time called the dramatist from Souti- 
wark, and he made an occasional stay in the central dis- 
trict of the City where Heminges and Condell had their 

In the year 1604 Shakespeare 'laye in the house' 
of Christopher Montjoy, a Huguenot refugee, who carried 
A lodger in on the business of a ' tiremaker ' (i.e. maker 
Street ^^ ladies' headdresses) in Silver Street, near 
1604. ' Wood Street, Cheapside.^ It is clear that for 

^ See the wills and other documents in Collier's Lives of the Actors. 

2 A theory that Shakespeare was, like the Burbages, remembered as 
a Shoreditch resident, rests on a shadowy foundation. Aubrey's bio- 
graphical jottings which are preserved in his confused autograph at the 
, Bodleian contain some enigmatic words which seem to have been in- 
tended by the writer to apply to one of three persons — either to Shake- 
speare, to John Fletcher or to John Ogilby, a well-known dancing master 
of Aubrey's day. The incoherent arrangement of the page renders it 
impossible to determine the individual reference. The disjointed pas- 
sage runs : 'The more to be admired q. {i.e. quod or quia] he [i.e. Shake- 
speare, Fletcher, or Ogilby] was not a company keeper, lived in Share- 
ditch, would not be debauched & if invited to writ; he was in paine.' 
The next line is blank save for 'W. Shakespeare' in the centre. The 
succeeding note states that one Mr. William Beeston possessed informa- 
tion about Shakespeare which he derived from the actor Mr. Lacy. Sir 
G. F. Warner inclines to the opinion that Shakespeare was intended in 
the obscure passage; Mr. Falconer Madan thinks Fletcher. If Shake- 
speare were intended the words would mean that he avoided social dis- 
sipation, that he resided in Shoreditch, and that the practice of writing 
caused him pain. None of these assertions have any coherence with 
better attested information. See E. IC. Chambers, A Jotting by John 
Aubrey, in Malone Soc. Collections (igii), vol. i. pp. 324 se^. Mr. 
Andrew Clark in his edition of Aubrey's Brief Lives, 1898, vol. i. p. 97i 
wrongly makes the entry refer to the actor William Beeston. 

' Cf. Jonson's Silent Woman, iv. ii. 94-5 (Captain Otter of Mrs. 
Otter) : 'AH her teeth were made i' the Black-Friers, both her eyebrowes 
i' the Stfand, and her haire in Sihier-street.' 


some time before and after 1604 the dramatist was 
on familiar terms with the 'tiremaker' and with his 
family, and that he interested himself benevolently in 
their domestic affairs. One of Montjoy's near neighbours 
was Shakespeare's early Stratford friend Richard Field, 
the prosperous stationer, who after 1600 removed from 
Ludgate Hill, Blackfriars, to the sign of the Splayed 
Eagle in Wood Street. Field's wife was a Huguenot 
and the widow of a prominent member of the Huguenot 
community in London. Shakespeare may have owed 
a passing acquaintance with the Huguenot ' tiremaker ' 
to his fellow-townsman Field, and to Field's Huguenot 
connections.^ The sojourn under Montjoy's roof was 

' The knowledge of Shakespeare's relations with Silver Street and 
with the Montjoy family is due to Dr. C. W. Wallace's recent researches 
at the Public Record Office. In Harper's Magazine, March 1910, Dr. 
Wallace first cited or described a long series of legal documents connected 
with a lawsuit of 16 1 2 in the Court of Requests — Bellott v. Montjoy — in 
which Montjoy was the defendant and 'William Shakespeare of Strat- 
ford-on-Avon in the County of Warwick, gentleman, of the age of xlvii 
yeares or thereabouts' was a witness for file plaintiff, Stephen BeUott, 
Montjoy's son-in-law. The litigation arose out of the conditions of the 
marriage which took place on Nov. 19, i6o4, between Mary Montjoy, 
daughter of Shakespeare's host in Silver Street, and Bellott, then her 
father's apprentice. Bellott's apprenticeship to Montjoy ran from 1598 
to 1604. To a witness, Mrs. Joan Johnson, formerly a female servant 
in Montjoy's employ, we owe the statement that 'one, Mr. Shakespeare, 
that laye in the house ' had helped at the instance of the girl's mother to 
persuade the apprentice — a reluctant wooer — to marry his master's 
daughter. Other witnesses state, partly on the authority of Shake- 
speare's communications to them, that Bellott consented to the marriage 
on condition that he received sol. together with 'certain household stuff' 
and the promise of a further sum of 200/. on Montjoy's death. It was 
to confirm this alleged contract which Montjoy repudiated that Bellott 
brought his action in 161 2. In the deposition which Shakespeare signed 
on May 11, 1612, he supports Bellott's allegations, adding that he knew 
the apprentice 'duringe the tyme' of his service with Montjoy; that 
it appeared to him that Montjoy did 'all the time' of Bellott's service 
'bear and show great good will and affection towards' him, and that he 
heard the defendant and his wife speak well of their apprentice at ' divers 
and sundry tymes.' The Court remitted the case to the Consistory of 
the French Huguenot Church in London, which decided in Bellott's 
favour. The numerous records in the case, which throw no precise light 
on the length or reasons of Shakespeare's stay in Silver Street, have been 
printed in extenso by Dr. Wallace in University Studies, Nebraska, U.S.A. 
The autograph signature which Shakespeare appended to his deposition 
is reproduced on p. ^5 19 infra. 


unlikely in any case to have been more than a passing 
interlude in the dramatist's Southwark life. 

Shakespeare, in middle life, brought to practical 
affairs a singularly sane and sober temperament. In 
Shake- 'Ratseis Ghost' (1605), an anecdotal biography 
speare's of Gamaliel Ratsey, a notorious highwayman, 
tempera- who was hanged at Bedford on March 26, 1605, 
ment. ^jig highwayman is represented as compelling 
a troop of actors whom he met by chance on the road 
to perform in his presence. According to the memoir 
Ratsey rewarded the company with a gift of forty 
shilhngs, of which he robbed them next day. Before 
dismissing his victims Ratsey addressed himself to a 
leader of the company in somewhat mystifjdng terms. 
He would dare wager that if his auditor went to London 
and played 'Hamlet' there, he would outstrip the fainous 
player, who was making his fame in that part. It was 
needful to practise the utmost frugality in the capital. 
'When thou feelest thy purse well Hned (the counsellor 
proceeded, less ambiguously), buy thee some place or 
lordship in the country that, growing weary of playing, 
thy money may there bring thee to dignity and reputa- 
tion.' To this speech the player repUed: 'Sir, I thanke. 
you for this good counsell ; I promise you I will make use. 
of it, for I have heard, indeede, of some that have gone to • 
London very meanly, and have come in time to be ex- 
ceeding wealthy.' Finally the whimsical outlaw directed 
the player to kneel down and mockingly conferred on 
him the title of 'Sir Simon Two Shares and a Haifa.' 
Whether or no Ratsey's biographer consciously identified 
the highwayman's auditor with Shakespeare, it was the 
prosaic course of conduct which Ratsey recommended to 
his actor that Shakespeare literally followed. As soon 
as his position in his profession was assured, he de- 
voted his energies to re-estabhshing the fallen fortunes 
of his family in his native place and to acquiring for 
himself and his successors the status of gentlefolk. No 
sooner was Shakespeare's purse 'well Uned,' than he 


bought 'some place or lordship in the country' which 
assured him 'dignity and reputation.' ^ 

His father's pecuniary embarrassments had steadily 
increased since his son's departure. Creditors harassed 
the elder Shakespeare unceasingly. In 1587 jjj^ 
one Nicholas Lane pursued him for a debt wluch father's 
he owed as surety for his impecunious brother <^i®'="ities. 
Henry, who was still farming their father's lands at 
Snitterfield. Through 1588 and 1589 John Shakespeare 
retaliated with pertinacity on a debtor named John 
Tompson. But in 1591 a substantial creditor, Adrian 
Quiney, a ' mercer ' of repute, with whom and with whose 
family the dramatist was soon on intimate terms, ob- 
tained a writ of distraint against his father. Happily 
the elder Shakespeare never forfeited his neighbours' 
faith in his integrity. In 1592 he attested inventories 
taken on the death of two neighbours, of Ralph Shaw, a 
wooldriver, with whose prosperous son, Juhus, Shake- 
speare was later in much personal intercourse, and of 
Henry Field, father of the London printer. None the 
less the dramatist's father was on December 25 of the 
same year 'presented' as a recusant for absenting him- 
self from church. The commissioners reported that his 
absence was probably due to 'fear of process for debt.' 
He figures for the last time the proceedings of the local 
court, in his customary r6le of defendant, on March 9, 
1594-5. He was then joined with two fellow traders — 
Philip Green, a chandler, and Henry Rogers, a butcher 
— as defendant in a suit again brought by Adrian 

' The only copy known of Ratseis Ghost (1605) is in the John Rylands 
Library, Manchester. The author doubtless had his eye on Burbage 
as well as on Shakespeare. 'Two and a half shares' formed at the out- 
set Burbage's precise holding in the first Globe Theatre, and would en- 
title him better than Shakespeare to be called 'Sir Simon Two Shares 
and a Half.' Ratsey's hearer is warned moreover that when he has 
made his fortune he need not care ' for them that before made thee 
proud with speaking their words upon the stage '^phraseology which 
suggests that Ratsey was taking into account the actor's rather than 
the author's fortunes. On the other hand, Burbage is not known to 
have acquired, like Shakespeare, a 'place or lordship in the country.' 


Quiney, but now in conjunction with one Thomas Barker, 
for the recovery of the large sum of five pounds. Unlike 
his partners in the litigation, the elder Shakespeare's 
name is not followed in the record by a mention of Ms 
calhng, and when the suit reached a later stage his name 
was omitted altogether. These may be viewed as 
indications that in the course of the proceedings he 
finally retired from trade, which had been of late prolific 
in disasters for him. In January 1596-7 he conveyed 
a sUp of land attached to his dwelling in Henley Street 
to one George Badger, a Stratford draper. ^ 

There is a likehhood that the poet's wife fared, in 
the poet's absence, no better than his father. The 
His wife's Only Contemporary mention made of her be- 
•iebt. tween her marriage in 1582 and the execution 

of her husband's will in the spring of 1616 is as the 
borrower at an unascertained date (evidently before 
159s) of forty shiUings 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.^ 

It was probably in 1596 that Shakespeare returned, 
after nearly eleven years' absence, to his native town, 
and very quickly did he work a revolution in the affairs of 
his family. The prosecutions of his father in the local 

' Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, ii. 13. 

'i Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 186; J. W. Gray's Shakespeare's Marriage, 
1905, pp. 28-29. The pertinent clause in shepherd Whittington's mil 
directs payment to be made 'unto the poor people of Stratford [of the 
sum of] xl^ that is in the hand of Anne Shaxspere wyffe unto Mr. Wyllyam 
Shaxspere, and is due debt to me. The sum is to be paid to mine exec- 
utor by the said Willyam Shaxspere or his assigns according to the true 
meanying of this my wUl.' Whittington's estate was valued at 50^. is. 
lid. The testator's debtors included, in addition to Mrs. Anne Shake- 
speare, John and William Hathaway, her brothers, who owed him an 
aggregate sum of 61. 2s. iid. Of this sum 3^. was an unpaid bequest 
made to him by Mrs. Joan Hathaway, Mrs. Shakespeare's mother, who 
having lately died had appointed her sons, John and William Hathaway, 
her executors. On the other side of the account, Whittington admitted 
that 'a quarter of a year's board' was due from him to the two brothers 


court, ceased. The poet's relations with Stratford were 
thenceforth uninterrupted. He still resided in London 
for most of the year ; but until the close of his r> *u < 

r • 1 ■! -11 , Death of 

professional career he paid the town at least his only 
one annual visit, and he was always formally ™"' ^^^' 
described there and elsewhere as 'of Stratford-on-Avon, 
gentleman.' He was no doubt at Stratford on August 
II, 1596, when his only son, Hamnet, was buried in the 
parish church ; the boy was eleven and a half years old. 
Two daughters were now Shakespeare's only children — ■ 
Hamnet's twin-sister Judith and the elder daughter 
Susanna, now a girl of tiiirteen. 

At the same date the poet's father, despite his pecuniary 
embarrassments, took a step, by way of regaining his 
prestige, which must be assigned to the poet's shake- 
intervention.'^ He made application to the speareand 
College of Heralds for a coat-of-arms.^ Heral- Heralds' 
die ambitions were widespread among the College, 
middle classes of the day, and many EUzabethan actors 
besides Shakespeare sought heraldic distinction. The 
loose organisation of the Heralds' College favoured the 
popular predilection. Rumour ran that the College was 
ready to grant heraldic honours without strict inquiry 
to any applicant who could afford a substantial fee. In 
numerous cases the heralds clearly credited an appH- 
cant's family with a fictitious antiquity. Rarely can 
much reHance therefore be placed on the biographical or 
genealogical statements alleged in Elizabethan grants 
of arms. The poet's father, or the poet himself, when 

' There is an admirable discussion of the question involved in the 
poet's heraldry in Herald and Genealogist, i. 510. Facsimiles of all the 
documents preserved in- the College of Arms are given in Miscellanea 
Genealogica et Heraldica, 2nd ser. 1886, i. 109. Halliwell-Phillipps prints 
imperfectly one of the 1596 draft-grants, and that of 1599 (.Outlines, ii. 
56, 60), but does not distinguish the character of the negotiation of the 
earlier year from that of the negotiation of the later year. 

' It is still customary at the College of Arms to inform an applicant 
for a coat-of-arms who has a father alive that the application should be 
made in the father's name, and the transaction conducted as if the 
father were the principal. It was doubtless on advice of this kind that 
Shakespeare was acting in the negotiations that are described below. 


first applying to the College stated that John Shake- 
speare, in 1568, while he was bailiff of Stratford, and 
while he was by virtue of that office a justice of the 
peace, had obtained from Robert Cook, then Clarenceux 
herald, a 'pattern' or sketch of an armorial coat. This 
allegation is not confirmed by the records of the College, 
and may be an invention designed by John Shakespeare 
and his son to recommend theif claim to the notice of the 
easy-going heralds in 1596. The negotiations of 1568, 
if they were not apocryphal, were certainly abortive; 
otherwise there would have been no necessity for the 
further action of the later years. In any case, on October 
20, 1596, a draft, which remains in the College of Arms,, 
was prepared under the direction of William Dethick, 
Garter King-of-Arms, granting John's request for a coat- 
The draft of-arms. Garter stated, with characteristic 
'Coat' of vagueness, that he had been 'by credible re- 
^^'*' port' informed that the applicant's 'parentes 

and late antecessors were for theire valeant and faith- 
full service advanced and rewarded by the most prudent 
prince King Henry the Seventh of famous memorie, 
sythence whiche tyme they have continewed at those 
partes [i.e. Warwickshire] in good reputation and credit'; 
and that ' the said John [had] maryed Mary, daughter 
and one of the heyres of Robert Arden, of Wilmcote, 
gent.' In consideration of these titles to honour, 
Garter declared that he assigned to Shakespeare this 
shield, viz. : 'Gold on a bend sable, 'a spear of the first, 
the point steeled proper, and for his crest or cognizance 
a falcon, his wings displayed argent, standing on a 
wreath of his colours, supporting a spear gold steeled 
as aforesaid.' In the margin of this draft-grant there is 
a pen sketch of the arms and crest, and above them is 
written the motto, 'Non Sans Droict.' ^ A second copy 
of the draft, also dated in 1596, is extant at the College. 

' In a manuscript in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 6140, f. 4S) p 
a copy of the tricking of the arms of William 'Shakspere,' whiM is 
described 'as a pattentt per Will'm Dethike Garter, Principall King of 
Armes'; this is figured in French's Shakespeareana Genealogica, p. SH- 


The only alterations are the substitution of the word 
'grandfather' for 'antecessors' in the account of John 
Shakespeare'* ancestry, and the substitution of the word 
'esquire' for 'gent' in the description of his wife's father, 
Robert Arden. At the foot of this draft, however, ap- 
peared some disconnected and unveriiiable memoranda 
which had been supplied to the heralds, to the effect 
that John had been bailiff of Stratford, had received a 
'pattern' of a shield from Cook, the Clarenceux herald, 
was a man of substance, and had married into a wor- 
shipful family.^ 

Neither of these drafts was fully executed. It may 
have been that the unduly favourable representations 
made to the College respecting John Shake- xheexem- 
speare's social and pecuniary position excited pUfication 
suspicion even in the credulous and corruptly ° ^^^^' 
interested minds of the heralds. At any rate, Shake- 
speare and his father allowed three years to elapse before 
(as far as extant documents show) they made a further 
endeavour to secure the coveted distinction. In 1599 
their efforts were crowned with success. Changes in 
the interval among the ofl&dals at the College may have 
facilitated the proceedings. In 1597 the Earl of Essex 
had become Earl Marshal and chief of the Heralds' 
College (the office had been in commission in 1596) ; 
while the great scholar and antiquary, William Camden, 
had joined the College, also in 1597, as Clarenceux 
King-of-Arms. The poet was favouralily known both 
to Camden, the admiring preceptor and friend of Ben 
Jonson,^ and to the Earl of Essex, the close friend of the 

' These memoranda ran (with interlineations in brackets) : — 

[This John shoeth] A patieme therof under Clarent Cookes hand m paper 3cx. 
years past. [The Q. officer and cheffe of the towne] 

[A Justice of peace] And was a Baylife of Stratford uppo Avon xv. or xvj. years 

That he hathe lands and tenements of good weahh and substance. [500 U.] 

That he mar[ried a daughter and heyre of Arden, a gent, of worship]. 

2 Camden was in the near neighbourhood of Stratford-on-Avon on 
Aug. 7, 1600, when he organised the elaborate heraldic funeral of old Sir 
Thomas Lucy at Charlecote, and bore the dead knight's 'cote of armes' 
at the interment in Charlecote Church (Variorum Shakespeare, ii. ss6). 


Earl of Southampton. His father's application now 
took a new form. No grant of arms was asked for. It 
was asserted without quaHfication that the coat, as 
set out in the draft-grants of 1596, had been assigned 
to John Shakespeare while he was baihfE, and the heralds 
were merely invited to give him a 'recognition' or 'ex- 
emplification' of it.^ At the same time he asked per- 
mission for himself to impale, and his eldest son and 
other children to quarter, on 'his ancient coat-of-arms' 
that of the Ardens of Wilmcote, his wife's family. The 
College officers were characteristically complacent. A 
draft was prepared under the hands of Dethick, the 
Garter King, and of Camden, the Clarenceux King, 
granting the required ' exempHfication ' and authorising 
the required impalement and quartering. On one 
point only did Dethick and Camden betray conscien- 
tious scruples. Shakespeare and his father obviously de- 
sired the heralds to recognise the title of Mary Shake- 
speare (the poet's mother) to bear the arms of the great 
Warwickshire family of Arden, then seated at Park Hall. 
But the relationship, if it existed, was undetermined; 
the Warwickshire Ardens were gentry of influence in 
the county, and were certain to protest against any 
hasty assumption of identity between their line and that 
of the humble farmer of Wilmcote. After tricking the 
Warwickshire Arden coat in the margin of the draft- 
grant for the purpose of indicating the manner of its 
impalement, the heralds on second thoughts erased it. 
They substituted in their sketch the arms of an Arden 
family Hving at Alvanley in the distant county of 
Cheshire. With that stock there was no pretence that 
Robert Arden of Wilmcote was lineally connected; but 
the bearers of the Alvanley coat were unlikely to learn 
of its suggested impalement with the Shakespeare 

'An 'exemplification' was invariably secured more easily than a 
new grant of arms. The heralds might, if they chose, tacitly accept, 
without examination, the applicant's statement that his family had borne 
arms long ago, and they thereby regarded themselves as relieved of the 
obligation of close, inquiry into his present status. 


shield, and the heralds were less liable to the risk of 
complaint or litigation. But the Shakespeares wisely- 
relieved the College of all anxiety by omitting to assume 
the Arden coat. The Shakespeare arms alone are dis- 
played with full heraldic elaboration on the monument 
above the poet's grave in Stratford Church ; they alone 
appear on the seal and on the tombstone of his elder 
daughter, Mrs. Susanna Hall, impaled with the arms of 
her husband ^ ; and they alone were quartered by Thomas 
Nash, the first husband of the poet's granddaughter, 
Elizabeth Hall.^ 

Shakespeare's victorious quest of a coat-of-arms was 
one of the many experiences which he shared with pro- 
fessional associates. Two or three officers other 
of the Heralds' College, who disapproved of actors' 
the easy methods of their colleagues, indeed pre- 
protested against the bestowal on actors of tensions, 
heraldic honours. Special censure was levelled at two 
of Shakespeare's closest professional allies, Augustine 
Phillips and Thomas Pope, comedians of repute and fel- 
low shareholders in the Globe theatre, whose names 
figure in the prefatory list of the 'principal actors' in 
the First Folio. At the opening of King James's reign 
William Smith, who held the post of Rouge Dragon 
pursuivant at the Heralds' College and disapproved of 
his colleagues' lenience, poured scorn on the two actors' 
false heraldic pretensions.' The critic wrote thus: 
'Phillipps the player had graven in a gold ring the armes 
of S' W" Phillipp, Lord Bardolph, with the said L. 

* On the gravestone of John Hall, Shakespeare's elder son-in-law, the 
Shakespeare arms are similarly impaled with those of Hall. 

* French, Genealogica Shakespeareana, p. 413. 

' Smith's censure figures in an elaborate exposure of recent heraldic 
scandals, which he dedicated to Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, 
K.G,, a commissioner for the oflice of Earl Marshal from 1604, and 
thereby a chief controller of the College of Arms. The indictment, which 
is in Smith's autograph, bears the title : 'A brieff Discourse of ye causes 
of Discord amongst ye OflScers of arms and of the great abuses and ab- 
surdities c6m[m]ited by [heraldic] painters to the great prejudice and 
hindrance of the same ofl&ce.' The MS. was kindly lent to the present 
writer by Messrs. Pearson & Co., Pall Mall Place. 


Bardolph's cote quartred, which I shewed to M' York 
[i.e. Ralph Brooke, another rigorous champion of heraldic 
orthodoxy], at a small graver's shopp in Foster Lane' 
(leaf 8a). Philhps's irresponsibly adopted ancestor, 
'Sir William Phillipp, Lord Bardolph,' won renown at 
Agincourt in 1415, and the old warrior's title of Lord 
Bardolf or Bardolph received satiric commemoration at 
Shakespeare's hands when the dramatist bestowed on 
Falstaff's red-nosed companion the name of his actor- 
< friend's imaginary progenitor. Smith's charge against 
Thomas Pope was to similar effect: 'Pope the player 
would have no other armes but the armes of S' Tho. 
Pope, Chancelor of ye Augmentations.' Player Pope's 
alleged sponsor in heraldry, Sir Thomas Pope, was the 
Privy Councillor, who died without issue in the first year 
of Queen Elizabeth's reign, after founding Trinity Col- 
lege, Oxford. Shakespeare's claim in his own heraldic 
application to descent from unspecified persons who 
did 'valiant and faithful service' in Henry the Seventh's 
time was comparatively modest. But his heraldic 
adventure had good precedent in the contemporary 
ambition of the theatrical profession. 

Rouge Dragon Smith omitted specific mention of 
Shakespeare; but his equally censorious colleague, 
Contempo- ^^k>^ Brooke, York Herald, was less reticent, 
rarycriti- Independently of Smith, Brooke drew up a 
sSe- list of twenty-three persons whom he charged 
speare's with obtaining coats-of-arms on more or less 
fraudulent representations. Fourth on his 
list stands the surname Shakespeare, and eight places 
below appears that of Cowley, who may be identified 
with Shakespeare's actor friend, Richard Cowley, the 
creator of Verges, in 'Much Ado about Nothing.' In 
thirteen cases Brooke particularises with sarcastic heat 
the imposture which he claims to expose.^ But Shake- 

^ This heraldic manuscript, which was also lent me by Messrs. Pear- 
son, IS a paper book of seventeen leaves, without title, containing des- 
ultory notes on grants of arms which (it was urged) had been errone- 


speare's name is merely mentioned in Brooke's long 
indictment without aimotation. Elsewhere the critic 
took the less serious objection that the arms 'exemplified' 
to Shakespeare usurped the coat of Lord Mauley, on 
whose shield 'a bend sable' also figured. Dethick and 
Camden, the official guardians of heraldic etiquette, 
deemed it fitting to reply on this minor technical issue. 
They pointed out that lie Shakespeare shield bore no 
greater resemblance to the Mauley coat than it did to 
that of the Harley and the Ferrers families, both of 
which also bore ' a bend sable,' but that in point of fact 
it differed conspicuously from all three by the presence 
of a spear on the 'bend.' Dethick and Camden added, 
with customary want of precision, that the person to 
whom the grant was made had 'borne magistracy and 
was justice of peace at Stratford-on-Avon ; he maried 
the daughter and heire of Arderne, and was able to 
maintain that Estate.' ^ 

While the negotiation with the College of Arms was in 
progress in the elder Shakespeare's name, the poet had 
taken openly in his own person a more effective purchase 
step towards rehabilitating himself and his of New 
faroily in the eyes of his fellow-townsmen at ^'^^' 
Stratford. On May 4, 1597, he purchased the largest 

ously made by Sir William Dethick, Garter King, at the end of Queen 
Elizabeth's reign. Two handwritings figure in these pages, one of which 
is the autograph of Ralph Brooke, York Herald, and the other, which is 
not identified, may be that of Brooke's clerk. Brooke's detailed charges 
include statements that an embroiderer, calling himself Parr, who failed 
to give proof of his right to that surname and was unquestionably the 
son of a pedlar, received permission to use the crest and coat of Sir 
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton, who died in 1571 'the last male 
of his house.' Three other men, who bought honourable pedigrees of 
the college, are credited with the occupations respectively of a seller of 
stockings, a haberdasher, and a stationer or printer, while a fourth 
offender was stated to be an ahen. In some cases Garter was charged 
with pocketing his fee, and then with prudently postponing the formal 
issue of the promised grant of arms until the applicant was dead. 

'The details of Brooke's second accusation are deduced from the 
answer of Garter and Clarenceux to his complaint. Two copies of the 
answer are accessible : one is in the vol. W-Z at the Heralds' College, f . 
276; and the other, slightly differing, is in Ashmole MS. 846, ix. f. 50. 
Both are printed in the Herald and Genealogist, i. 514. 


house but one in the town. The edifice, which was known 
as New Place, had been built by Sir Hugh Clopton 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 6ol. A curious incident postponed legal posses- 
sion. The vendor of the Stratford 'manor-house,' 
William Underhill, died suddenly of poison at another 
residence in the county, Fillongley near Coventry, 
and the legal transfer of New Place to the dramatist was 
left at the time incomplete. Underhill's eldest son Fulk 
died a minor at Warwick next year, and after his death 
he was proved to have murdered his father. The family 
estates were thus in jeopardy of forfeiture, but they were 
suffered to pass to 'the felon's' next brother Hercules, 
who on coming of age in May 1602 completed in a new 
deed the transfer of New Place to Shakespeare.^ There 
was only one larger house in the town — the College, 
which had before the Reformation been the official home 
of the clergy of the parish church, and was subsequently 
confiscated by the Crown. In 1596 that imposing resi- 
dence was acquired by a rich native of Stratford, 
Thomas Combe, whose social relations with Shakespeare 
were soon close.^ In 1598, a year after his purchase of 
New Place, the dramatist procured stone for the repair 
of the house, and before 1602 he had set a fruit orchard 
in the land adjoining it. He is traditionally said to have 
interested himself in the spacious garden, and to have 
planted with his own hands a mulberry-tree, which was 
long a prominent feature of it. When this tree was cut 
down in 1758, numerous relics, which were made from the 
wood, were treated with an almost superstitious venera- 

^ Mrs. Stopes, Shakespeare's Warwickshire Contemporaries, p. 232. 
HalliweU's History of New Place, 1863, folio, collects a mass of pertinent 
information on the fortunes of Shakespeare's mansion. 

" See p. 467 infra. 

' The tradition that Shakespeare planted the mulberry-tree was not 
put on record tiU it was cut down in 1758 (see p. 514 infra). In 1760 


Shakespeare does not appear to have permanently 
settled at New Place till 161 1. In 1609 the house, or 
part of it, was occupied by Thomas Greene, ' alias Shake- 
speare,' a lawyer, who claimed to be the poet's cousin. 
Greene's mother or grandmother seems to have been a 
Shakespeare. He was for a time town-clerk of the 
town, and acted occasionally as the poet's legal 

It was doubtless under their son's guidance that 
Shakespeare's father and mother set on foot in November 
1597 — six months after his acquisition of New Place 
— a fresh lawsuit against John Lambert, his mother's 
nephew, for the recovery of her mortgaged estate of 
Asbies in Wilmcote.^ The litigation dragged on till near 
the end of the century with some appearance of favour- 
mention is made of it in a letter of thanks in the corporation's archives 
from the Steward of the Court of Record to the corporation of Stratford 
for presenting him with a standish made from the wood. But, according 
to ike testimony of old inhabitants confided to Malone (cf. his Life of 
Shakespeare, 1790, p. 118), the legend had been orally current in Strat- 
ford since •Shakespeare's lifetime. The tree was perhaps planted in 
i6og, when a Frenchman named Veron distributed a number of young 
mulberry-trees through the midland counties by order of James I., who 
desired to encourage the culture of silkworms (cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 
134, 411-16). Thomas Sharp, a woo'd-carver of Stratford-on-Avon, was 
chiefly responsible for the eighteenth century mementos of the tree — 
goblets or fancy boxes or inkstands. But far more objects than could 
possibly be genuine have been represented by dealers as being manu- 
factured from Shakespeare's mulberry-tree.-- From a slip of the original 
tree is derived the mulberry-tree which stiU flourishes on the central 
lawn of New Place garden. Another slip of the original tree was ac- 
quired by Edward Capell, the Shakespearean commentator, and was 
planted by him in the garden of his residence, Troston Hall, near Bury 
St. Edmunds. That tree lived for more than a century, and many cut- 
tings taken from it stUl survive. One scion was presented by the owner 
of Troston Hall to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in October 1896, 
and flourishes there, being labelled ' Shakespeare's mulberry.' The Direc- 
tor of Kew Gardens, Lieut.-Col. Sir David Prain, writes to me (March 
23. 1915) confirming the authenticity of 'our tree's descent.' Sir David 
adds, 'We have propagated from it rather freely, have planted various 
offshoots from it in various parts of the garden, and have sent plants to 
places where there are memorials' of Shakespeare and to people interested 
in matters relating to him.' 

' See pp. 473-4 infra. 

' HalUwell-Phillipps, ii. 13-17; cf. Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's En- 
vironment, 45-47. See also p. 14 supra. 


ing the dramatist's parents, but, in the result, the estate 
remained in Lambert's hands. 

The purchase of New Place is a signal proof of Shake- 
speare's growing prosperity, and the transaction made 
Shake- ^ ^^^P impression on his fellow-townsmen. 
speareand Letters written during 1598 by leading men 
townlmrn at Stratford, which are extant among the' 
in 1598. archives of the Corporation and of the Birth- 
place Trustees, leave no doubt of the reputation for 
wealth and influence which he straightway acquired in 
his native place. His Stratford neighbours stood in 
urgent need of his help. In the summer of 1594 a severe 
fire did much damage in the town, and a second out- 
break 'on the same day' twelve months later intensified 
the suffering. The two fires destroyed 120 dwelling- 
houses, estimated to be worth 12,000/., and 400 persons 
were rendered homeless and destitute. Both confla- 
grations started on the Lord's Day, and Puritan preach- 
ers through the country suggested that the double dis- 
aster was a divine judgment on the townsfolk* ' chiefly 
for prophaning the Lords Sabbaths, and for contemning 
his word in the mouth of his faithfull Ministers.' ^ In 
accordance with precedent, the Town Council obtained 
permission from the quarter sessions of the county to 
appeal for help to the country at large, and the leading 
townsmen were despatched to various parts of the 
kingdom to make collections. The Stratford collectors 
began their first tour in the autumn of 1594, and their 
second in the autumn of the following year. Shake- 
speare's friends. Alderman Richard Quiney the elder, 
and John Sadler, were especially active on these expe- 
ditions, and the returns were sadsfactory, though the 
collectors' personal expenses ran high.^ But new troubles 

' Lewis Bayly, The Practice of Piety, 1613 ed., p. 551. Bayly's alle- 
gation is repeated in Thomas Beard's Theatre of God's Judgements, 1631, 
P- 555- 

' Full details of the collections of 1594 appear in Stratford Council 
Book B, under dates September 24 and October 23. Richard Quiney 
obtained from some of the Colleges at Oxford the sum of yl. os. ud. 


followed to depress the fortunes of the town. The har- 
vests of 1594 and the three following years yielded badly. 
The prices of grain rapidly Tose. The consequent dis- 
tress was acute and recovery was slow. The town suf- 
fered additional hardships owing to a royal proclama- 
tion of 1597, which forbade all but farmers who grew 
barley to brew malt between Lady Day and Michaelmas, 
and restrictions were placed on ' the excessive buying of 
barley for that use and purpose.' ^ Every householder 
of Stratford had long been in the habit of making malt ; 
'servants were hired only to that purpose.' Urban em- 
plojTnent was thus diminished; while the domestic 
brewing of beer was seriously hindered in the interest of 
the farmer-maltsters to the grievous injury of the hum- 
bler townsfolk. Early in 1598 the 'dearness of corn' at 
Stratford was reported to be ' beyond all other counties,' 
and riots threatened among the labouring people. The 
town council sought to meet the difl&culty by ordering 
an inventory of the corn and malt in the borough. 
Shakespeare, who was described as a householder in 
Chapel Street, in which New Place stood, was reported 
to own the very substantial quantity of ten quarters or 
eighty bushels of corn and malt. Only two inhabitants 
were credited with larger holdings.^ 

and he and Sadler with two others obtained from Northampton as much 
as 26I. los. 3d. Documents describing the collections for both years 
1594 and IS9S are in the Wheler Papers, vol. i. flf. 43-4- In the latter 
year Quiney and Sadler begged with success through the chief towns 
of Norfolk and Suffolk and afterwards visited Lincoln and London; but 
of the 75?. 6s. which was received Quiney disbursed as much as 54I. gs. 
4d. on expenses of travel. The journey lasted from October 18, iS9S> 
to January 26, 1595-6, and horse-hire cost a shilling a day. In 1595 
the corporation of Leicester gave to 'collectors of the town of Stratforde- 
upon-Haven 13^. 4^. in regard of their loss by fire.' (W. Kelly, Notices 
iUusWaiive of the drama at Leicester, 1865, p. 224; Records of the Borough 
of Leicester, ed. Bateson, 1905, iii. 320.) 

' Acts of the Privy Council, 1597-9, pp. 314 seq. 

* The return, dated February 4, 1597-8, is printed from the corpora- 
tion records by Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 58. The respective amounts of 
com and malt are not distinguished save in the case of Thomas Badsey, 
who is credited with 'vj. quarters, bareley j. quarter.' The two neigh- 
bours of Shakespeare who possessed a larger store of corn and malt were 


While Stratford was in the grip of such disasters 
Parliament met at Westminster in 1597 and imposed on 
the country fresh and formidable taxation.^ The ma- 
chinery of collection was soon set in motion and the 
impoverished community of Stratford saw all hope 
shattered of recovering its solvency. Thereupon in 
January 1598 the Council sent a delegate to London to 
represent to the Government the critical state of its 

affairs. The choice fell on Shakespeare's friend, 
Quine/s Alderman Richard Quiney, a draper of the 
mission to town who had served the office of bailiff in 1592, 

and was re-elected in 1601, dying during his 
second term of office. Quiney and his family stood high 
in local esteem. His father Adrian Qtdney, commonly 
described as 'a mercer,' was still living; he had been 
baiUff in 1571, the year preceding John Shakespeare's 
election. Quiney's mission detained him in London for 
the greater part of twelve months. He lodged at the Bell 
Inn in Carter Lane. Friends at Stratford constantly im- 
portuned Quiney by letter to enlist the influence of great 
men in the endeavour to obtain relief for the townsmen, 
but it was on Shakespeare that he was counselled to place 
his chief reliance. During his sojourn in the capital, 
Quiney 'was therefore in frequent intercourse with the 
dramatist. Besides securing an 'ease and discharge of 
such taxes and subsidies wherewith our town is likely to 
be charged,' he hoped to obtain from the Court of Ejt- 
chequer relief for the local maltsters, and to raise a loan 
of money wherewith to meet the Corporation's current 
needs. A further aim was to borrow money for the 
commercial enterprises of himself and his family. In 
fulfilhng all these purposes Quiney and his friends at 
Stratford were sanguine of benefiting by Shakespeare's 
influence and prosperity. 

'Mr. Thomas Dyxon, xvij quarters,' and 'Mr. Aspinall, aboutes xj 
quarters.' Shakespeare's friend Julius Shaw owned 'vij. quarters.' 

'■ Three lay subsidies, six fifteenths, and three clerical subsidies were 


Quiney's most energetic local correspondent was his 
wife's brother, Abraham Sturley, an enterprising trades- 
man, who was bailiff of Stratford in 1596. He had gained 
at the Stratford grammar school a command of colloquial 
Latin and was prone to season his correspondence with 
Latin phrases. Sturley gave constant proof of his faith 
in Shakespeare's present and future fortune. On January 
24, 1597-8, he wrote to Quiney from Stratford, of his 
'great fear and doubt' that the burgesses were 'by no 
means able to pay' any of the taxes. He added a signifi- 
cant message in regard to Shakespeare's fiscal affairs : 
'This is one special remembrance from [Adrian Quiney] 
our father's motion. It seemeth by him that our coun- 
tryman, Mr. Shaksper, is wilhng 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 not impossible to hit. It obtained would ad- 
vance him indeed, and would do us much good.' After 
his manner Sturley reinforced the exhortation by a 
Latin rendering: 'Hoc movere, et quantum in te est 
permovere, ne necligas, hoc enim et sibi et nobis maximi 
erit momenti. Hie labor, hie opus esset eximie et gloriae 
et laudis sibi.' ^ As far as Shottery, the native hamlet of 
Shakespeare's wife, was concerned, the suggestion was 
without effect; but in the matter of the tithes Shake- 
speare soon took very practical steps.' 

Some months later, on November 4, 1598, Sturley 
was still pursuing the campaign wilJi undiminished 
vigour. He now expressed anxiety to hear 'that our 

^A yardland was the technical name of a plot averaging between 
thirty and forty acres. 

' 'To urge this, and as far as in you lies to persist herein, neglect not ; 
for this will be of the greatest importance both to him and to us. Here 
pre-eminently would be a task, here would be a work of glory and praise 
for him.' 

• See p. 3r9 infra. 


countryman, Mr. Wm. Shak., would procure us money, 
Local which I will like of, as I shall hear when, 

appeals and whcre, and how, and I pray let not go 
for aid. jjjg^^ occasion if it may sort to any indifferent 
[i.e. reasonable] conditions.' 

Neither the writer nor Richard Quiney, his brother-in- 
law, whom he was addressing, disguised their hope of 
Richard personal advantage from the dramatist's afflu- 
Quiney's encc. Amid his public activities in London, 
shak^e-° Quiucy appealed to Shakespeare for a loan of 
speare. money wherewith to discharge pressing private 
debts. The letter, which is interspersed with references 
to Quipey's municipal mission, ran thus : 'Loveinge 
contrejonan, I am bolde of yow, as of a ffrende, craveinge 
yowr helpe with xxx/j vppon Mr. Bushells and my 
securytee, or Mr. Myttons with me. Mr. Rosswell is 
nott come to London as yeate, and I have especiall 
cawse. Yow shall ffrende me muche in helpeing me out 
of all the debettes I owe in London, I thancke God, 
& muche quiet my mynde, which wolde nott be in- 
debeted. [I am nowe towardes the Courte, in hope of 
answer for the dispatche of my buysenes.] Yow shal 
nether loase creddytt nor monney by me, the Lorde 
wyllinge; & nowe butt perswade yowrselfe soe, as I 
hope, & yow shall nott need to feare, butt, with all 
hartie thanckefuUenes, I wyU holde my t5ane, & content 
yowr ffrende, & yf we bargaine farther, yow shal be 
the paie-master yowrselfe. My tyme biddes me hastene 
to an ende, & soe I committ thys [to] yowr care & hope 
of yowr helpe. [I feare I shall nott be backe thys night 
ffrom the Cowrte.] Haste. The Lorde be with yow & 
with vs all. Amen ! ffrom the Bell in Carter Lane, the 
25 October, 1598. Yowrs in all kyndenes, Ryc. Qire- 
NEY.' Outside the letter was the superscription in 
Quiney's hand: 'To my loveinge good ffrend and con- 
tre3miann Mr. Wm. Shackespere deliver thees.' 

This document is preserved at Shakespeare's Birth- 
place and enjoys the distinction of being the only sur- 


viving letter which was delivered into Shakespeare's 
hand. Quiney, Shakespeare's would-be debtor, informed 
his family at Stratford of his apphcation for money, and 
he soon received the sanguine message from his father 
Adrian: 'If you bargain with William Shakespeare, or 
receive money therefor, bring your money home that 
[i.e. as] you may.' 1 It may justly be inferred that 
Shakespeare did not belie the coridence which his fellow- 
townsmen reposed both in his good will towards them 
and in his powers of assistance. In due time Quiney's 
long-drawn mission was crowned on the leading issue 
with success. On January 27, 1598-9, a warrant was 
signed at Westminster by the Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer releasing 'the ancient borough' from the pay- 
ment of the pending taxes on the 'reasonable and con- 
scionable' grounds of the recent fires. 

* This letter, which is undated, may be assigned to November or 
December 1598, and in the course of it Adrian Quiney urged his son to 
lay in a generous supply of knitted stockings for which a large demand 
was reported in the neighbourhood of Stratford. Much of Abraham 
Sturley's and Richard Quiney's correspondence remains, with other 
notes respecting the town's claims for relief from the subsidy of 1598, 
among the archives at the Birthplace at Stratford. (Cf. Catalogue of 
Shakespeare's Birthplace, 1910, pp. 112-3.) In the Variorum Shake- 
speare, 1821, vol. ii. pp. 561 seq., Malone first printed four of Sturley's 
letters, of which one is wholly in Latin. Halliwell-Phillipps reprinted 
in his Outlines, ii. 57 seq., two of these letters dated respectively January 
24, 1597-8, and November 4, 1598, from which citation is made above, 
together with the undated letter of Adrian Quiney to his son Richard. 



The financial prosperity to which the correspondence 
just cited and the transactions immediately preceding 
Financial ^* point has been treated as one of the chief 
position be- mystcrics of Shakespeare's career, but the 
fore 1599. difl&culties are gratuitous. A close study of 
the available information leaves practically nothing in 
Shakespeare's financial position which the contemporary 
conditions of theatrical Kfe fail to explain. It was not 
until 1599, when Shakespeare co-operated in the erection 
of the Globe theatre, 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, although at a later period their dimensions 
greatly expanded. 

Shakespeare's gains in the capacity of dramatist 
formed through the first half of his professional career a 
Drama- Smaller source of income than his wages as an 
tists' fees actor. The highest price known to have been 
until IS99. p^j(j before 1599 to an author for a play by the 
manager of an acting company was iil.; 61. was the 
lowest rate.^ A small additional gratuity — rarely ex- 
ceeding ten shilHngs — was bestowed on a dramatist 
whose piece on its first production was especially well 

^ The purchasing power of a pound during Shakespeare's prime may 
be generally defined in regard to both necessaries and luxuries as equiva- 
lent to that of five pounds of the present currency. The money value of 
corn then and now is nearly identical; but other necessaries of life— 
meat, milk, eggs, wool, building materials, and the like — were much 
cheaper in Shakespeare's day. In 1586 a leg of veal and a shoulder of 
mutton at Stratford each sold for tenpence, a loin of veal for a shilling, 
and a quarter of lamb for twopence more (Halliwell, Col. Stratford Records, 
p. 334). Threepence was the statutory price of a gallon of beer. 



received; and the author was by custom allotted, by- 
way of 'benefit,' a certain proportion of the receipts of the 
theatre on the production of a play for the second time.^ 
Other sums, amounting at times to as much as 4I., were 
bestowed on the author for revising and altering an old 
play for a revival. The nineteen plays which may be 
set to Shakespeare's credit between 1591 and 1599, 
combined with such revising work as fell to his lot 
during those nine years, cannot consequently have 
brought him less than 200I., or some 20I. a year. Eight 
or nine of these plays were published during the period, 
but the publishers operated independently of the author, 
taking all the risks and, at the same time, all the receipts. 
The company usually forbade under heavy penalties 
the author's sale to a publisher of a play which had been 
acted. The publication of Shakespeare's plays in no 
way affected his monetary resources. But his friendly 
relations with the printer Field doubtless secured him, 
despite the absence of any copyright law, some part of 
the profits in the large and continuous sale of his narrative 
poems. At the same time the dedications of the poems, 
in accordance with contemporary custom, brought him a 
tangible reward. The pecuniary recognition which patrons 
accorded to dedicatory epistles varied greatly, and ranged 
from a fee of two or three pounds to a substantial pen- 
sion. Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton, 
was conspicuous for his generous gifts to men of letters 
who sought his good graces.^ 

' Cf. Henslowe's Diary, ed. Collier, pp. xxviii seq., and ed. Greg. ii. 
no seq. 'Beneficial second days' were reckoned among dramatists' 
sources of income until the Civil War. (Cf. 'Actors' Remonstrance,' 
1643, in Hazlitt's English Drama and Stage, 1869, p. 264.) After the 
Restoration the receipts of the third performance were given for the 
author's 'benefit.' 

^ Cf. Malone's Variorum, iii. 164, and p. 197 supra. The ninth Earl 
of Northumberland gave to George Peele 3Z. in June 1593 on the presen- 
tation of a congratulatory poem {Hist. MSS. Comm. vi. App. p. 227), 
while to two Mterary mafliematicians, Walter Warner and Thomas 
Harriot, he gave pensions of 40/. and 120/. a year respectively (Aubrey's 
Lives, ed. Clark, ii. 16). See Phoebe Sheavyn, The Literary Profession 
in the Elizabethan Age, 1909, pp. 26, 32. 


But it was as an actor that at an early date Shakespeare 
acquired a genuinely substantial and secure income. 
Affluence There is abundance of contemporary^ evidence 
of actors, to show that the stage was for an efl&cient actor 
an assured avenue to comparative wealth. In 1590 
Robert Greene describes in his tract entitled ' Never too 
Late' a meeting with a player whom he took by his 
'outward habit' to be 'a gentleman of great living ' and 
a 'substantial man.' The player informed Greene that 
he had at the beginning of his career travelled on foot, 
bearing his theatrical properties on his back, but he 
prospered so rapidly that at the time of speaking 'his 
very share in pla5dng apparel would not be sold for 200/.' 
Among his neighbours 'where he dwelt' he was reputed 
able 'at his proper cost to build a windmill.' In the 
university play, 'The Return from Parnassus' (1601?), 
a poor student enviously complains of the wealth and 
position which a successful actor derived from his calling : 

England affords those glorious vagabonds, 

That carried erst their fardles on their backs, 

Coursers to ride on through the gazing streets. 

Sweeping it in their glaring satin suits, 

And pages to attend their masterships ; 

With mouthing words that better wits had framed, 

They purchase lands and now esquires are made.' 

The travelhng actors, who gave a performance at the 
bidding of the highwayman, GamaHel Ratsey, in 1605, 
received from him no higher gratuity than forty shil- 

' Return from Parnassus, v. i. 10-16. Cf. H[enry] P[arrot]'s Laqtiei 
Ridiculosi or Springes for Woodcocks, 1613, Epigram No. 131, headed 
'Theatrum Licencia' : 

Cotta's become a player most men know, 
And will no longer take such toyling paines ; 

For here's the spring (saith he) whence pleasures flow 
And brings them damnable excessive games 

That now are cedars growne from shrubs and sprigs, 
Since Greene's Tu Quoque and those Garlicke Jigs. 

Greene's Tu Quoque was a popular comedy that had once been performed 
at Court by the Queen's players, and 'Garlicke Jigs' alluded derisively 
to drolling entertainments, interspersed with dances, which won much 
esteem from patrons of the smaller playhouses. 


lings to be divided among them ; but the company was 
credited with a confident anticipation of far more generous 
remuneration in London. According to the author of 
'The Pilgrinaage to Parnassus' (1601?), Shakespeare's 
colleague Will Kemp assured undergraduate aspirants 
to the stage: 'You haue happened vpon the most 
excellent vocation in the world for money : they come 
north and south to bring it to our playhouse, and for 
honours, who of more report, then Dick Burbage and Will 
Kempe?' (iv. iii. 1826-32). The scale of the London 
actors' salaries rose rapidly during Shakespeare's career, 
and was graduated according to capacity and experience. 
A novice who received ten shillings a week in a London 
theatre in 1597 could count on twice that sum thirty 
years later, although the rates were always reduced by 
half when the company was touring the provinces. A 
player of the highest rank enjoyed in London in the 
generation following Shakespeare's death an annual 
stipend of 180/.^ Shakespeare's emoluments as an actor, 
whether in London or the provinces, are not fees for 
likely to have fallen before 1599 below looZ. Court per- 
Very substantial remuneration was also de- *°™^°<=^^- 
rived by his company from performances at Court or 
in noblemen's houses, and from that source his yearly 
revenues would receive an addition of something ap- 
proaching 10/.^ 

' Cf. Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 291 ; documents of 1635 cited 
by Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 310 seq. 

2 Each piece acted before Queen Elizabeth at Court was awarded 
10/., which was composed of a fixed official fee of 61. i^s. /\d. and of a 
special royal gratuity of 3^. 6^. M. The number of actors among whom 
lie money was divided was commonly few. In 1594 a sum of 2oi. in 
pa3Tnent of two plays was divided by Shakespeare and his two acting 
coUeagues, Burbage and Kemp, each receiving tl. 13^. /\i. apiece (see 
p. 87). Shakespeare's company performed six plays at Court during 
the Christmas festivities of 1596, and four each of those of 1597-8 and 
i6oi-z. The fees for performances at private houses varied but were 
usually smaller than those at the royal palaces. In the play of ' Sir 
Thomas More' probably written about 1598, a professional company of 
players received ten angels (i.e. s^.) for a performance in a private man- 
sion. [^Shakespeare Apocrypha, ed. Tucker Brooke, p. 407.) 


Thus a sum approaching 150/. (equal to 750^. of to-day) 

would be Shakespeare's average annual revenue before 

1599. Such a sum would be regarded as a very 

spelt's large income in a country town. According to 

average ^.j^g author of ' Ratseis Ghost,' the actor practised 

income , _ , . c t mi 

before m Loudon a strict frugahty. There seems no 
^^''" reason why Shakespeare should not have been 

able in 1597 to draw from his savings 60I. wherewith to 
buy New Place. His resources might well justify his 
fellow- townsmen's high opinion of his wealth in 1598, 
and sufl&ce between 1597 and 1599 to meet his expenses, 
in rebuilding the house, stocking the barns with grain, and 
conducting various legal proceedings. But, according to 
an early and well-attested tradition, he had in the Earl 
of Southampton, to whom his two narrative poems were 
dedicated, a wealthy and exceptionally generous patron, 
who on one occasion gave him as much as one thousand 
pounds to enable 'him to go through with' a purchase to 
which he had a mind. A munificent gift, added to 
professional gains, leaves nothing unaccounted for in 
Shakespeare's financial position before 1599. 

From 1599 onwards Shakespeare's relations with 
theatrical enterprise assumed a different phase and his 
Shake pecuniary resources grew materially. When 
speare's in 1 598 the actor Richard Burbage and his 
thefflobe brother Cuthbert, who owned 'The Theatre' 
theatre in Shorcditch, resolved to transfer the fabric to 
romisgg. ^ ^^^ ^j^^ .^^ Southwark, they enlisted the 
personal co-operation and the financial support of Shake- 
speare and of four other prosperous acting colleagues, 
Thomas Pope, Augustine PhilUps, William Kemp, and 
John Heminges. For a term of thirty-one years running 
from Christmas 1598 a large plot of land on the Bankside 
was leased by the Burbages, in aUiance with Shakespeare 
and the four other actors. The Burbage brothers made 
themselves responsible for one half of the liability and the 
remaining five accepted joint responsibility for the other 
half. The deed was finally executed by the seven lessees 


on February 21, 1598-9. The annual rental of the 
Bankside site was 14/. 105., and on it Shakespeare and 
his partners straightway erected, at an outlay of some 
500/. which was variously distributed among them, the 
new Globe theatre. Much timiber from the dismantled 
Shoreditch theatre was incorporated in the new build- 
ing, which was ready for opening in May. 

There is conclusive evidence tJiat Shakespeare played 
a foremost part in both the initiation and the develop- 
ment of the new playhouse. On May 16, 1599, as a lessee 
the Globe property was described, in a formal °^ *■»* site, 
inventory of the estate of which it formed part, as in the 
occupation of William Shakespeare and others.' ^ The 
dramatist's name was alone specified — a proof that 
his reputation excelled that of any of his six partners. 
Some two years later the demise on October 12, 1601, of 
Nicholas Brend, then the ground landlord, who left an 
infant heir Matthew, compelled a resettlement of the 
estate, and the many inevitable legal documents de- 
scribed the tenants of the playhouse as ' Richard Burbage 
and William Shackespeare, Gent ' ; the greatest of his 
actor allies was thus joined with the dramatist. This 
description of the Globe tenancy was frequently repeated 
in legal instruments affecting the Brend property in 
later years. Although the formula ultiinately received 
the addition of two other partners, Cuthbert Burbage 
and John Heminges, Shakespeare's name so long as the 
Globe survived was retained as one of the tenants in 
documents defining the tenancy. The estate records of 
Southwark thereby kept alive the memory of the dram- 
atist in his capacity of theatrical shareholder,^ after he 
was laid in his grave. 

'This description appears in the 'inquisitio post mortem' (dated" 
May 12, 1599) of the property of the lately deceased Thomas Brend, who 
had owned the Bankside site and had left it to his son, Nicholas Brend. 

' The Globe theatre was demolished in 1644, twenty-eight years after 
the dramatist's death. See the newly discovered, documents in the 
Public Record Office cited by Dr. C. W. Wallace in 'New Light on 
Shakespeare' in The Times, April 30 and May 1, 1914. 


On the foundation of the Globe theatre the proprietor- 
ship was divided among the seven owners in ten shares. 

The fixed moiety which the two Burbages ac- 
actOT- quired at the outset they or their representa- 
hoider ^^^^^ ^^^'^ nearly as long as the playhouse lasted. 

The other moiety was originally divided equally 
among Shakespeare and his four colleagues. There was 
at no point anything unusual in such an appUcation of 
shareholding principles.^ It was quite customary for 
leading members of an acting company to acquire in- 
dividually at the meridian of their careers a proprietary 
interest in the theatre which their company occupied. 
Hamlet claims, in the play scene (in. ii. 293), that the 
success of his improvised tragedy deserved to 'get him 
a fellowship in a cry of players ' — evidence that a success- 
ful dramatist no less than a successfid actor expected 
such a reward for a conspicuous effort.^ Shakespeare 

' James Burbage had in 1576 allotted shares in the receipts of The 
Theatre to those who had advanced him capital; but these investors 
were commercial men and their relations with the managerial owner 
differed from those subsisting between his sons and the actors who held 
shares with them in the Bankside playhouse. The Curtain theatre was 
also a shareholding concern, and actors in course of time figured among 
the proprietors ; shares in the Curtain were devised by will by the actors 
Thomas Pope (in 1603) and John Underwood (in 1624). (Cf. Collier's 
Lives of the Actors.) The property of the Whitefriars theatre (in 1608) 
was divided, like that of the Globe, into fixed moieties, each of which 
was distributed independently among a differing number of sharers 
{New Shakspere Soc. Trans. 1887-92, pp. 271 seq.). Heminges produced 
evidence in the suit Keysar v. Heminges, Condell and others in the Court 
of Requests in 1608 (see pp. 309-312 irifra) to show that the moiety of 
the Globe which Shakespeare and he shared was converted at the outset 
into 'a joint tenancy' which deprived the individual shareholder of any 
right to his share on his death or on his withdrawal from the company, 
and left it to be shared in that event by surviving shareholders, the last 
survivor thus obtaining the whole. But this legal device, if not re- 
voked, was ignored, for the two sharing colleagues of Shakespeare who 
died earliest, Thomas Pope (in 1603) and Augustine Phillips (in 1605), 
both bequeathed their shares to their heirs. 

* Later litigation suggests that a successful actor often claimed as a 
right at one or other period of his career the apportionment of a share 
in the theatrical estate. Sometimes the share was accepted in Ueu of 
wages. After Paris Garden on the Bankside was rebuilt as a theatre in 
1613, the owners Philip Henslowe and Jacob Meade, engaged for the 
Lady Elizabeth's company which was then occupying the stage an actor 


as both actor and playwright of his company had an 
exceptionally strong claim to a proprietary interest, but 
contemporaries who were authors only are known to 
have enjoyed the same experience. John Marston, the 
well-known dramatist, owned before 1608 a share in the 
Blackfriars theatre. Through the same period Michael 
Drayton, whose fame as a poet was greater than that 
as a dramatist, was, with hack play-wrights like Lodo- 
wick (or Lording) Barry and John Mason, a shareholder 
in the Whitefriars theatre.^ The shareholders, whether 
they were actors or dramatists, or merely organising 
auxiUaries of the profession, were soon technically known 
as the 'housekeepers.' Actors of the company who held 
no shares were distinguished by the title of 'the hired 
actors' or 'hirehngs' or 'journeymen,' and they usually 
bound themselves to serve the 'housekeepers' for a term 
of years under heavy penalties for breach of their en- 

named Robert Dawes for three years '/<"■ &* "^^ '^^ ''<^'« "/ one whole share, 
according to the custom of players.' [Benslowe Papers, ed. Greg, 124; 
cf. Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg. ii. 139.) In other cases the share was 
paid for by the actor, who received a salary, in addition to his dividend. 
The greedy eyes which aspiring actors cast on theatrical shares is prob- 
ably satirised in Troilus and Cressida, 11. iii. 214, where Ulysses addresses 
to Ajax in his sullen pride the taunt "A would have ten shares.' In 
Dekker and Webster's play of Northward Ho, 1607, Act iv. sc. i. (Dekker's 
Works, iii. p. 45), 'a player' who is also 'a sharer' is referred to as a per- 
son of great importance. In 1635 three junior members of Shakespeare's 
old company, Robert Benfield, Hilliard Swanston, and Thomas Pollard, 
jointly petitioned the Lord Chamberlain of the day (the Earl of Pem- 
broke and Montgomery) for compulsory authority to purchase of John 
Shanks, a fellow actor who had accumulated shares on a liberal scale, 
three shares in the Globe and two in the Blackfriars. Their petition 
was granted, John Shanks had bought his five shares of Heminges's son, 
William, in 1633, for a total outlay of 506?. (See documents in extenso 
in Halliwell-PlnlJipps's Outlines, i. 31 1-4.) 

' See documents from Public Record OfiSce relating to a suit brought 
against the shareholders in the Whitefriars theatre in 1609 in New Shak. 
Soc. Trans. 1889-92, pp. 269 seq. 

'In Dekker's tract, A Knight's Conjuring, 1607 (Percy Soc. p. 65), a , 
company of 'country players' is said to consist of 'one sharer and the 
rest journeymen.' In the satiric play Histriomastix, 1610, 'hired men' 
among the actors are sharply contrasted with 'sharers' and 'master- 


Thus when the Globe theatre opened the actor and 
dramatist Shakespeare was a 'housekeeper' owning a 
, . tenth part of the estate. The share entitled 
toryof him to a tenth part of the profits, but also 
speM-?s made him responsible for a tenth part of the 
shares, ground-rent and of the working expenses. Till 
1599-1616. jjg death — for some fifteen or sixteen years — 
he probably drew a substantial profit-income from the 
Globe venture. But the moiety of the property to which 
his holding belonged experienced some redivisions which 
modified from time to time the proportion of his receipts 
and liabilities. Within six months of the inauguration 
of the Globe, William Kemp, the great comic actor, who 
had just created the part of Dogberry in Shakespeare's 
'Much Ado,' abandoned his single share, which was 
equivalent to a tenth part of the whole. Kemp resented, 
it has been alleged, a reproof from his colleagues for his 
practice of inventing comic ' gag. ' However that may be, 
his holding was distributed in four equal parts among 
his former partners in the second moiety. For some 
years therefore Shakespeare owned a share and a quarter, 
or an eighth instead of a tenth part of the collective 
estate. The actor-shareholder Pope died in 1603 and 
Phillips two years later, and their interest was devised 
by them by will to their respective heirs who were not 
members of the profession. Subsequently fresh actors 
of note were, according to the recognised custom, suf- 
fered to participate anew in the second moiety, and 
Shakespeare's proportionate interest experienced modi- 
fication accordingly. In 1610 Henry Condell, a prom- 
inent acting colleague, with whom Shakespeare's rela- 
tions were soon as close as with Burbage and Heminges, 
was allotted a sixth part of the second moiety or a twelfth 
part of the whole property. Each of the four original 
holders consequently surrendered a corresponding frac- 
tion (one twenty-fourth) of his existing proprietary 
right. A further proportionate decrease in Shakespeare's 
holding was effected on February 21, 1611-2, when a 


second actor of repute, William Ostler, the son-in-law 
of the actor and original sharer John Heminges, acquired 
a seventh part of the moiety, or a fourteenth part of the 
whole estate. Another new condition arose some six- 
teen months later. On June 29, 1613, the original 
Globe playhouse was burnt down, and a new building 
was erected on the same site at a cost of 1400^. To this 
outlay the shareholders were required to contribute in 
proportion to their holdings. But one of the proprietors, 
a man named John Witter, who had inherited the original 
interest of his dead father-in-law, the actor Phillips, was 
unable or declined to meet this liability, and Heminges, 
then the company's business manager, seized the for- 
feited share. Heminges's holding thus became twice 
that of Shakespeare. No further reapportionment of 
the shares took place in Shakespeare's lifetime, so that 
his final interest in the Globe exceeded by very little a 
fourteenth part of the whole property.^ 

' Shakespeare would appear to have retained to the end in addition 
to his original share his quarter of Kemp's original allotment, but the 
successive partitions reduced both portions of his early allotment in 
the same degree. The subsequent history of Shakespeare's and his 
partners' shares in the Globe are clearly traceable from documentary 
evidence. Nathan Field, the actor dramatist, has been wrongly claimed 
as a shareholder of the Globe after Shakespeare's death. He was clearly 
a 'hired' member of the company for a few years, but probably retired 
in i6ig, when, on Richard Burbage's death, Joseph Taylor, who succeeded 
to Burbage's chief rdles, was admitted also in a hired capacity in spite 
of earlier litigation with Heminges, the manager. Field had certainly 
withdrawn by 1621 (E. K. Chambers, in Mod. Language Rev. iv. 395). 
Neither Field at any time, nor Taylor at this period, was a 'housekeeper' 
or shareholder. But such a dignity was bestowed within a, short period 
of Shakespeare's death on John Underwood, a young actor of promise, 
who received an eighth part of the subsidiary moiety. This share, along 
with an eighth share at the Blackfriars, Underwood bequeathed to his 
children by will dated October 4, 1624 (Malone, iii. 214; ColUer, p. 230; 
cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 313). After Underwood's admission the Globe 
property was described as consisting of sixteen shares, eight remaining 
m the Burbages' hands. The whole of the second moiety was soon 
acquired by Heminges and CondeU. The latter died in 1627 and the 
former in 1630. Their two heirs, Heminges's son and Condell's widow, 
were credited in 1630 with owning respectively four shares apiece. (See 
documents printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 311.) There is reason to 
believe that it was to Heminges, the business man of the company and 
the last survivor of the origiiMil owners of the second moiety, that Shaken 



Shakespeare's pecuniary interest in the Blackfriars 
theatre was only created at a late period of his life, when 
his active career was nearing its close, and his 
speare's full enjoyment of its benefit extended over 
theBiack- little more than five years (1610-6). The 
friars from Blackfriars playhouse became in 1597 the sole 
'*°*' property of Richard Burbage, by inheritance 
from his father. Until 1608 the house was leased by 
Burbage to Henry Evans, the manager of the beys' com- 
pany which was known in Queen Elizabeth's reign as 
' Children of the Chapel Royal ' and in the beginning of 
King James's reign as ' Children of the Queen's Revels, 
In the early autumn of 1608 Burbage recovered pos- 
session of the Blackfriars theatre owing to Evans's non- 
payment of rent under his lease. On August 9 of that 
year the great actor-owner divided this playhouse into 
seven shares, retaining one for himself, and allotting one 
each to Shakespeare, to his brother Cuthbert, to Hem- 
inges, Condell, and William Sly, his acting colleagues, 
while the seventh and last share was bestowed on Henry 
Evans, the dispossessed lessee. . Until the close of the 
following year (1609) Evans's company of boy actors 
continued to occupy the Blackfriars stage intermittently, 
and Shakespeare and his six partners took no part in 
the management. It was only in January 1610 that 

speare's holding, like that of Phillips, Ostler, and others, ultimately came. 
After Heminges's death in 1630 his four shares were disposed of by his 
son and heir, William Heminges; one was then divided between the 
actors, Taylor and Lowin, who acquired a second share from the Burbage 
moiety, which was then first encroached upon ; the remaining three of 
Heminges's four shares passed to a third actor, John Shanks, who soon 
made them over under compulsion to three junior actors, Benfield, 
Swanston, and Pollard. About the same time Condell's widow parted 
with two of her four shares to Taylor and Lowin, who thus came to hold 
four shares between them. Richard Burbage had died in 1619 and 
Cuthbert Burbage in 1636. Their legatees — Richard's widow and the 
daughters of Cuthbert — retained between them, till the company dis- 
solved, seven shares, and Condell's widow two shares. The five actor- 
shareholders, Taylor, Lowin, Benfield, Swanston, and Pollard, outlived 
the demohtion of the Globe in 1644 and were, together with the private 
persons who were legatees of the Burbages and of Condell, the kst suc- 
cessors of Shakespeare and of the other original owners of the playhouse. 


full control of the Blackfriars theatre was assumed by 
Shakespeare, Burbage, and their five colleagues. Thence- 
forth the company of the Globe regularly appeared there 
during the winter seasons, and occasionally at other 
times. Shakespeare's seventh share in the Blackfriars 
now entitled him to a seventh part of the receipts, but 
imposed as at the Globe a proportionate habiUty for the 
working expenses.^ During the last few years of his hfe 
Shakespeare thus enjoyed, in addition to his revenues as 
actor and dramatic author, an income as 'housekeeper' or 
part proprietor of the two leading playhouses ^f the day. 
The first Globe theatre, a large and popular playhouse, 
accommodated some 1600 spectators, whose places cost 
them sums varying from a penny or twopence 
to half-a-crown. The higher priced seats were ings at the 
comparatively few, and the theatre was prob- Globe 
ably closed on the average some 100 days a ' ^^^ '^' 
year, while the company was resting, whether voluntarily 
or compulsorily, or wlule it was touring the provinces. 
During the first years of the Globe's hfe the daily takings 
were not likely on a reasonable system of accountancy 
to exceed 15I., nor the receipts in gross to reach more 
than 3000^. a year.^ The working expenses, including 

^ There was no re-partition of the Blackfriars during Shakespeare's 
lifetime. But on Sly's early death (Aug. 13, 1608) his widow made over 
her husband's share to Burbage and he transferred it to the actor Wil- 
liam Ostler on his marriage to Heminges's daughter (May 20, 161 1). 
After Shakespeare's death John Underwood, a new actor, of youthful 
promise, was admitted (before 1624) as an eighth partner, and the pro- 
portional receipts and liabilities of each old proprietor were readjusted 
accordingly. Heminges, who Uved till 1630, seems to have ultimately 
acquired four shares or half the whole, while the two Burbages and Con- 
deU's and Underwood's heirs retain^ one each. Of Heminges's four 
shares, two were after his death sold by his son William to flie actors 
Taylor and Lowin respectively, and two to a third actor of a junior 
generation, John Shanks, who soon parted with them to the three players 
Benfield, Swanston, and Pollard. When the Blackfriars company was 
finally dissolved in the Civil Wars, Taylor and Lowin and these three 
actors held one moiety and the other moiety was equally shared by 
legatees of the two Burbages, of CondeU, and of Underwood. 

'When at the end of the sixteenth century Philip Henslowe was 
managing the Rose and Newington theatres, both small houses, and was 
probably entitled to less than a half of the takings, he often received 


ground-rent, cost of properties, dramatists' and licen- 
sers' fees, actors' salaries, maintenance of the fabric, 
and the wages of attendants, might well absorb half the 
total receipts. On that supposition the residue to be 
divided among the shareholders would be no more than 
1500Z. a year. When Shakespeare was in receipt of a 
tenth share of the profits he could hardly count on more 
than 150/. annually from that source. Later his share 
decreased to near a fourteenth, in conformity with the 
practice of extending the number of actor-housekeepers, 
but the increased prosperity of the playhouse would 
insure him against a diminution of profit and might 
lead to some increase. When the theatre was burnt 
down in 1613, Shakespeare's career was well-nigh ended. 
His contribution to the fund which the shareholders 

as his individual share some 3I. to 4I. a perfprinance at each house. On 
one occasion he pocketed as much as 61. ys. 8d. (Collier's Hist, iii.; cf. 
Dr. Wallace in Englische Studien, xliii. pp. 360 seq.). The average 
takings at the Fortune theatre, which was of the same size as the Globe 
but enjoyed less popularity, have been estimated at 12Z. a day (Hens^ 
lowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 135). It should, however, be pointed out that 
Henslowe's extant accounts which are at Dulwich are incomplete, and 
there is lack of agreement as to their interpretation (ibid. ii. pp. no seq^_ 
Dr. Wallace in Englische Studien, xliii. pp. 357 seq., and E. K. Chambers' 
in Mod. Lang. Rev. iv. 489 seq.). Malone reckoned the receipts at both 
the Globe and the Blackfriars early in the seventeenth century at no 
more than gl. a day ; but his calculation was based on a somewhat special 
set of accounts rendered for some five years (1628-34) subsequent to 
Shakespeare's death to Sir Henry Herbert, the licenser of plays, who was 
allowed an annual 'benefit' at each theatre (Malone's Variorum, iii. 17S 
seq.). Herbert reckoned his ten 'benefits' during the five years in ques- 
tion at sums varjdng between 17Z. 10.J. and il. $5., but Herbert's 'bene- 
fits' involved conditions which were never quite normal. In Actors' 
Remonstrance (1643) the author, who clearly drew upon a long experience, 
vaguely estimated the yield of a share of each theatrical 'housekeeper' 
who 'grew wealthy by actors' endeavours' at from 'ten to thirty shil- 
lings' for each performance, or from some 100/. to 300/. a year. (See 
Hazlitt's English Drama and Stage, 1869, p. 262.) It would seem that 
shareholders enjoyed some minor perquisites at the theatre. Profits, 
which were sometimes made in the playhouse on wine, beer, ale, or 
tobacco, were reckoned among the assets of the 'housekeepers' {New 
Shakspere Society Transactions, 1887-92, p. 271). The costumes, which 
at the chief Elizabethan theatres involved a heavy expense, were sold 
from time to time to smaller houses and often fetched as secondhand 
apparel substantial sums. (See Shakespeare Jahrhuch, 1910, xlvi. 239- 


raised to defray the cost of rebuilding apparently ex- 
ceeded loo^ The profits of the new playhouse some- 
what exceeded those of the old, but Shakespeare hved 
little more than a year after the new playhouse opened 
and there was barely time for him to benefit conspicu- 
ously by the improved conditions. His net income from 
the Globe during his last year was probably not greatly 
in excess of former days. 

The rates of admission for the audience at the Black- 
friars were rather higher than at the Globe, but the hotise 
held only half the number of spectators. The 
dividend which Shakespeare's seventh share ingsatthe 
earned there was consequently no larger than BiackWars 
that which a fourteenth share earned at the 
Globe. Thus a second sum of 150/. probably reached 
him from the younger theatre. On such an assumption 
Shakespeare, as 'housekeeper' or part proprietor of both 
playhouses, received, while the two were in active work, 
an aggregate yearly sum of some 300/., equivalent to 
1500Z. in modern currency. In the play of 'Hamlet' 
both 'a share' and 'a half share' of 'a fellowship in a cry 
^ players' are described as assets of enviable value 
(lit. ii. 294-6). |In view of the affluence popularly im- 
puted to shareowning actors and the wealth known from 
their extant wills to have been left by them at death,^ 
Hamlet's description would hardly justify a lower valu- 
ation of Shakespeare's holdings than the one which is 
here suggested. 

No means is at hand to determine more positively the 
precise pecuniary returns which Shakespeare's The pecu- 
theatrical shares yielded. Litigation among profits of 
shareholders was frequent and estimates of the shake- 
value of their shares have come to light in the theatrical 
archives of legal controversy, but the figures are shares. 
too speculative and too conflicting to be very serviceable.^ 

' See p. 493 infra. 

'Very numerous depositions and other documents connected with 
theatrical litigation in Shakespeare's epoch are in the Public Record 



The circumstances in which a share in the Globe (of 
the same dimensions as Shakespeare's) which was 
Share- Originally owned by Augustine Phillips, was ac- 
hoiders' quired in 1614 by Heminges led to a belated suit 
law-suits, jj^ jgj^ £qj. j|.g recovery by Philhps's son-in-law, 
John Witter. Witter, whose smt was dismissed as 
frivolous and whose testimony carried no weight with the 
Court, reckoned that before the fire of 1613 the share's 
annual income brought a modest return of between 30/,' 

Ofi&ce. Such as have been examined throw more or less light on the 
financial side of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical enterprise. The 
earliest known records of theatrical litigation — in which James Burbage 
was involved at The Theatre late in the sixteenth century — were first 
published by J. P. Collier in Lives of Actors, 1846 ; and Collier's docu- 
ments were re-edited by Halliwell-Phillipps and again edited and supple- 
mented by Mrs. Stopes in her Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage and by Dr. 
Wallace in his First London Theatre. But it is only theatrical litigation 
of a somewhat late date which is strictly relevant to a discussion of 
Shakespeare's theatrical earnings. Investigation in this direction has 
been active very recently, but its results are scattered and not easily 
accessible. It may be convenient here to tabulate bibUographically the 
recent publications (within my knowledge) of the legal records of the- 
atrical litigation which bear in any degree on Shakespeare's financial 
experience : 

I.-III. Three lawsuits among persons claiming financial interests in 
the Blackfriars Theatre just before Shakespeare's association with it, 
discovered by James Greenstreet in the Public Record Office, and printed 
in full in Fleay's History of the Stage, 1887. I. Clifton v. Robinson, 
Evans and others in the Star Chamber, 1601 (Fleay, pp. 127-33). ^■ 
Evans v. Kirkham and III. Kirkham v. Painton in the Court of Chancery, 
1612 {ib. 208-251). 

IV.-VII. Four interesting cases to which Shakespeare's fellow- 
shareholders were parties in the early years of the seventeenth century 
discovered by Dr. C. W. Wallace ; they supply various ex parte estimates 
of the pecuniary value of theatrical shares practically identical with 
Shakespeare's. IV. Robert Keyzar v. John Heminges, Henry Condd, 
and others in the Court of Requests, 1608, described by Dr. Wallace in 
the Century Magazine foir September 1910; all the documents printed 
in Nebraska University Studies for that year. V. Mrs. Thomasina Ostkr 
v. John Heminges (her father) in the Court of King's Bench, 1614-5, 
described by Dr. Wallace in The Times (London) for Oct. 2 and Oct. 4, 
1909 ; the only document found here, the plaintifi's long plea, prmted 
by Dr. Wallace in extenso in the original Latin in a privately-circulated 
pamphlet. VI. John Witter v. John Heminges and Henry Conddl, in the 
Court of Requests, 1619, described in the Century Magazine for August 
1910, of special interest owing to the many documents concerning the 
early financial organisation of the Globe theatre which were exhibited 
by John Heminges, who was both manager of the theatre and the cus: 


and 40I. a year ; he vaguely admitted that after the fire 
the revenue had vastly increased. Meanwhile in October 
1614 a different litigant, who claimed a year's profits on 
another and a somewhat smaller share in the Globe, 
valued the alleged debt after the fire at 300/. The 
claimant, Heminges's daughter, was widow of the 
actor-shareholder William Ostler, whose dividend, she 
alleged, was wrongly detained by her father.^ Mrs. 
Ostler's suit also throws a flicker of Ught on the profits 
of the Blackfriars house at a time when Shakespeare was 
a part proprietor. She claimed of her father a second 
sum of 300Z., being her estimate of the previous year's 
dividend on her husband's seventh share at the Black- 
friars. Shakespeare's proportionate interest in the two 
theatres was very little larger than Ostler's, so that if 

todian of its archives. VII. John Heminges v. Joseph Taylor in 1610 
for the recovery of iil. for theatrical costume, sold by Heminges to the 
Duke of York's company of which Taylor the defendant was a member 
{^Shakespeare Jahrbuck, 1910, xlvi. 239-40). 

Vni. A financial sharing dispute before the Lord Chamberlain in 
1635 among Shakespeare's actor-successors at the Globe and Blackfriars 
which is of great importance; printed from the Lord Chamberlain's 
archives by HaUiwell-Phillipps first in his Illustrations, 1873, and again 
in his OuMnes, i. 312-9. 

IX.-XII. Four theatrical lawsuits touching the affairs of theatres 
of Shakespeare's time other than the Globe or Blackfriars, and furnish- 
ing collateral information. DC. Robert Shaw and four other actors v. 
Francis Langley, owner of the Swan theatre, in the Court of Requests, 
1597-8 (documents summarised by Mrs. Stopes in The Stage, Jan. 6, 
1910, and printed in full in her Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage, 1913, 
pp. 177-83 ; also printed with much conuuent by Dr. Wallace in Eng- 
lische iSludien, 1910-1, xliii. 340-95). X. George Androwes v. Martin 
Slater and other persons interested in the Whitef riars theatre, in the Court 
of Chancery, 1609 (documents printed by James Greenstreet in New 
Shakspere Society's Transactions, 1887-92, pp. 269-84). XI. Woodford 
V. Holland, concerning the ownership of a share in the Red Bull theatre, 
in the Court of Requests in 161 3 (documents discovered by James Green- 
street and printed in Fleay's History of the Stage, pp. 194-9). XII. A 
suit in the Court of Chancery, 1623-6, to which actors of the Queen's 
company at the Cockpit in Drury Lane were parties among thernselves, 
a main issue being the company's pecuniary obligations to the widow of 
a prominent member, Thomas Greene, who died in 1612 (the documents 
discovered by James Greenstreet and printed in fuU in Fleay's History 
of the Stage, pp. 270-297). 

' Ostler, who died in 1614, had been granted both a fourteenth share 
of the Globe and a seventh share of the Blackfriars. 



Mrs. Ostler's' estimates were accurate, Shakespeare's in- 
come from the playhouses in 1614 would have slightly 
exceeded 600/. But Mrs. Ostler's claim was probably 
as much in excess of the truth as Witter's random valu- 
ation fell below it.^ 

Meanwhile, in 1610, a third litigant, a goldsmith of the 
City of London, Robert Keysar, who engaged from 1606 
onwards in theatrical management,^ -propounded another 
estimate of the value of a share in the Blackfriars while 
Shakespeare was one of the owners. Keysar in February 
1610 brought an action for 1000/. damages against Shake- 
speare's company on the ground that that corporation 
had unjustly seized a sixth share in the Blackfriars 
theatre which he had purchased for 100^. about 1606, 
when Henry Evans was the lessee and before Burbage 
and his friends had taken possession. Keysar generously 
estimated the profit which Shakespeare and his partners 
divided at the Blackfriars at 1500Z. for half a year or 
over 200/. on each share.^ 

' Mrs. Ostler, of whose suit only her ex parte plea has come to light, 
seemed in her evidence to treat the capital value of her husband's shares 
as worth no more than a single year's dividends. Such a valuation of 
theatrical property would appear to be generally accepted at the time. 
In 1608 an investor in a share at the Whitefriars theatre who anticipated 
an annual return of loo/. was offered the share at gol. and finally bought 
it for •jci. {New Shak. Soc. Trans. 1887-92, p. 299). A second share in 
the same theatre changed hands at the like period for lool. At a later 
date, in 1633, three actors bought three shares in the Globe and two in 
the Blackfriars for a total sum of 506^. The capital value of shares was 
doubtless influenced in part by the number of years which the lease of 
the site of the theatre concerned had yet to run when the shares were 
sold. The Whitefriars lease was short, and had in 1608 only five years 
to run, and the Globe lease in 1633, although the original term had been 
extended, was approaching extinction. 

^ To Keysar the publisher of Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the 
Burning Pestle dedicated the play in 1613. (See E. K. Chambers, in 
Mod. Lang. Rev. 1909, iv. 160 seq.) 

' Keysar maintained not only that he had paid John Marston, pre- 
sumably the dramatist, lool. for a sixth share in 1606, but that he had 
advanced between that year and 1608 sooZ. for the training of the boy 
actors who were located at the time at the Blackfriars. His further 
declaration that the new management, which consisted of Shakespeare and 
six other actors, had in 1608 offered him 400/. for his holding was warmly 
denied by them. The result of Keysar's claim has not yet come to light. 


There is no wide discrepancy between Keysar's and 
Mrs. Ostler's independent reckonings of the profits at the 
Blackfriars. Yet the evidence of both Utigants is dis- 
credited by a number of facts which are accessible outside 
the records of the law courts. The problem must seek its 
solution in a more comprehensive and less interested sur- 
vey of theatrical enterprise than that which ex parte state- 
ments in legal disputes are likely to furnish. It is only safe 
to rely on the dispassionate evidence of dramatic history. 

Shakespeare's professional income was never derived 
exclusively from his shares in the Globe and Blackfriars 
theatres after 1599. EarUer sources of revenue increased 
remained open to him and yielded richer returns fees from 
than before. Performances of his company at under" 
Court proved increasingly profitable. The James i. 
dramatist and his colleagues had become on James I's 
succession 'the servants of the King,' and their services 
were each year enhsted by the sovereign at least three 
times as often as iri the old reign. Actors in the royal 
presence at the palaces in or near London still received 
as a rule 10/. for each play in agreement with Queen 
Elizabeth's tariff ; but Prince Henry and the royal chil- 
dren made additional and independent calls on the 
players' activities, and while the princes' fee was a third 
less than the King's, the company's total receipts from 
the royal patronage thereby rose. In 1603 a special 
performance of the company before James I while the 
King was the Earl of Pembroke's guest out of London — 
at Wilton — brought the enhanced remuneration of 
30/. For Court performances in London alone Shake- 
speare and his colleagues received for the six years 
(from 1608-9 to 1613-4) a total sum of 912^. 12s. 8d. or 
over 160/. a year. Shakespeare's proportional share in 
these receipts may be reckoned as adding to his income 
an average sum of at least 15/. a year. It is to be remem- 
bered, too, that Shakespeare and his acting colleagues 
came on the accession of James I under the direct patron- 
age of the King, and were thenceforth, in accordance with 


a precedent set by Queen Elizabeth, reckoned among 
officers of the royal household ('grooms of the chamber'). 
The rank entitled them individually, and irrespectively 
of professional fees for acting services, to a regular stipend 
of between 2I. and 3^. a year, with various perquisites 
and gratuities, which were at times substantial.^ 

Shakespeare's remuneration as both actor and dram- 
matist between 1599 and 161 1 was also on the upward 
Salary grade. . The sharers or housekeepers were wont 
as actor. ^q (jraw for regular histrionic service a fixed 
salary, which was at this epoch reaching its maximum of 
180/. a year. Actor-shareholders were also allowed to 
take apprentices or pupils with whom they received 
premiums. Among Shakespeare's colleagues Richard 
Burbage and Augustine Philhps are both known to have 
had articled pupils.^ 

The fees paid to dramatists for plays also rose rapidly 
in the early years of the seventeenth century, while the 
Later in- valuc of the author's 'benefits' grew con- 
come as spicuously with the growing vogue of the 
dramatist, ^j^gg^^j-g Additional pajTnents on an enhanced 
scale were made, too, for revisions of old dramas on their 
revival in the theatres. Playwrights of secondary rank 
came to receive a fixed yearly stipend from the company, 
but the leading dramatists apparently continued to draw 
remuneration piece by piece. The exceptional popularity 
of Shakespeare's work after 1599 gave him the full advan- 
tage of higher rates of pecuniary reward in all directions. 
The seventeen plays which were produced by him be- 
tween that year and the close of his professional career 
could not have brought him less on an average than 25/. 
each or some 400/. in all — nearly 40^. a year, while the 
'benefits' and other supplementary dues of authorship 
may be presumed to have added a further 2qI? 

Thus Shakespeare, during fourteen or fifteen years of 

' See p. 382 infra. ' Collier's History, iii. 434. 

' In 1613 Robert Dabome, a plajnwright of insignificant reputation, 
charged for a drama as much as 25^. {AUeyn Papers, ed. Collier, p. 65)' 
A little later (in 1635) a hackwriter, Richard Brome; one of Ben Jonson's 


the later period of his life, must have been earning at the 
theatre a sum well exceeding 700/. a year in 
money of the time. With so large a profes- speare's 
sional income he could easily, with good final in- 
management, have completed those purchases ™ ' 
of houses and land at Stratford on which he laid out, 
between 1599 and 1613, a total sum of 970/., or an 
annual average of ^ol. These properties, it must be 
remembered, represented investments, and he drew rent 
from most of them. Like the other well-to-do house- 
holders or landowners at Stratford, he traded, too, in 
agricultural produce. There is nothing inherently im- 
probable in the statement of John Ward, the seventeenth- 
century vicar of Stratford, that the dramatist, in his last 
years, ' spent at the rate of a thousand a year, as I have 
heard,' although we may reasonably make allowance for 
some exaggeration in the round figures. Shakespeare's 
comparative afHuence presents no feature which is un- 
matched in the current experience of the profession.^ 
Gifts from patrons may have continued occasionally to 
augment his resources, but his wealth can be satisfactorily 
assigned to better attested agencies. There is no ground 
for treating it as of mysterious origin. 

Between 1599 and 1611, while London remained 
Shakespeare's chief home and his financial jjoj^estic 
position was assured, he built up at Stratford incident, 
the large landed estate which his purchase of ' °'" ' 
New Place had inaugurated. Early in" the new century 

'servants' or disciples, contracted to write three plays a year for three 
years for the Salisbury Court theatre at 15^. a week together with 
author's 'benefits' on the production of each work. In 1638 Brome 
was offered, for a further term of seven years, an increased salary of 
20s. a week with 'benefits,' but a rival theatre,' the Cockpit, made a more 
generous proposal, which the dramatist accepted instead. A dramatist 
of Brome's slender repute may thus be credited with earning as a play- 
wright at his prime some 80/. a year. In the Actors' Remonstrance, 1643, 
'our ablest ordinarie poets' were credited with large incomes from their 
'annual stipends and beneficial second days' (Hazlitt's English Drama, 
1869, p. 264). 

* For a comparison of Shakespeare's estate at death with that of other 
actors and theatrical shareholders of the day, see p. 493. 


the death of his parents made some addition to his interest 
in house property. In 1601 his father died, being buried 
on September 8. In spite of the decay of his fortune the 
elder Shakespeare retained much local esteem. Within 
a few months of the end the Town Council accepted from 
him suggestions for its conduct of a lawsuit which the lord 
of the manor, Sir Edward Greville, was bringing against 
the bailiff and burgesses. Sir Edward made claim to a 
toll on wheat and barley entering the town.^ The old 
man apparently left no will, and the poet, as the eldest 
son, inherited, subject to the widow's dower, the houses in 
Henley Street, the only portion of the property of the 
elder Shakespeare or of his wife which had not been alien- 
ated to creditors. Shakespeare's mother continued to re- 
side in one of the Henley Street houses tiU her death. 
She survived her husband for just seven years. She 
was buried in Stratford churchyard on September 9, 
1608. The dramatist's presence in the town on the sad 
occasion of his mother's funeral enabled him to pay a 
valued compliment to the bailiff of the town, one Henry 
Walker, a mercer of High Street, to whom a son had just 
been born. The dramatist stood godfather to the boy, 
who was baptised at the parish church, in the name of 
William, on October 19, 1608.^ 

The Henley Street tenement where Shakespeare's 
mother died remained by his indulgence the home of 
his married sister, Mrs. Joan Hart, and of her family. 
Whether his sister paid him rent is uncertain. But through 
the last years of his life the dramatist enjoyed a modest 

' Stratford-on-Avon Corporation Records, Miscell. Documents, vol. v. 
No. 20. 

* See p. 460 infra. Henry Walker was very active in municipal 
affairs, being chamberlain in 1603 and becoming an alderman soon after. 
He is to be distinguished from the Henry Wa&er 'citizen and minstrel 
of London' of whom Shakespeare bought a house in Blackfriars in 1613. 
(See pp. 456-7 and 489 infra.) William Walker, son of the Stratford 
Henry Walker and Shakespeare's godson, proved, like his father, a useful 
citizen of Stratford, serving as chamberlain of the borough in 1644-5. 
WilUam Walker, 'gent.,' his wife Frances, and many children were resi- 
dent in the town in 1657. He was buried at Stratford in March 1679-80. 
(Cf. HalliweU, Cal. Stratford Records, 129, 442, 465.) 


return from a small part of the Henley Street property. 
A barn stood in the grounds behind the residence, and this 
Shakespeare leased to a substantial neighbour, Robert 
Johnson, keeper of the White Lion Inn. On the inn- 
keeper's death in 161 1 the unexpired lease of the build- 
ing was valued at 2ol} 

On May i, 1602, Shakespeare purchased for the sub- 
stantial sum of 320Z. a large plot of 107 acres (or 'four 
yard-lands') of arable land near the town, formation 
The transaction brought the dramatist into of the 
close relation with men of wealth and local Itratford, 
influence. The vendors were William Combe iSoi-"- 
and his nephew John Combe, members of a family which 
had settled at Stratford some sixty years before, and 
owned much land near the town and elsewhere. Wil- 
Ham Combe had entered the Middle Temple on October 
19, 1571,^ and long retained a set of chambers there; 
but his career was identified with the city of Warwick, 
where he acquired a large property, and was held in high 
esteem.' He also owned the important estate of Alve- 
church Park in Worcestershire. In the conveyance of 
the land to Shakespeare in 1602 he is described as 'of 
Warwick in the county of Warwick, esquire.' * His 
nephew John Combe of 'Old Stratford in the county 
aforesaid, gentleman,' the joint vendor of the property, 

'The inventory of Robert Johnson's goods is described from the 
Stratford records by Mr. Richard Savage in the Athemsum, August 29, 
1908.! _ ' 

'Middle Temple Records — Minutes of Parliament, i. 181, where 
William Combe is described as 'second son of John Combe late of Strat- 
ford upon Avon esquire, deceased.' 

' Black Book of Warwick, ed. Kemp, pp. 406-8. 

* William Combe of Warwick married after 1596 Jane widow of Sir 
John Puckering, lord keeper of the great seal (or lord chancellor), but 
left no issue. He was M.P. for the town of Warwick in 1592-3 and 
for the county in 1597, was Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1608 and died two 
years later. His will, which was signed on Sept. 29, 1610, was proved on 
June I, 161 1. The original is preserved at Somerset House (P.C.C. 52 
Wood). Most of his property was left to his widow, 'Lady Jane Pucker- 
ing.' His executors were his 'cosins John Combe and William Combe of 
Stratforde, esquires' [respectively his nephew and grand-nephew] but 
probate was only granted to William, son of his nephew Thomas. He 


was a wealthy Stratford resident, with whom Shakespeare 
was soon to enjoy much personal intercourse. The 
conveyance of the Combes' land was dehvered, in the 
poet's absence, to his brother Gilbert, 'to the use of the 
within named William Shakespeare,' in the presence of 
the poet's friends Anthony and John Nash and three 
other neighbours.! A less imposing purchase quickly 
followed. On September 28, 1602, at a court baron of 
the manor of Rowington, one Walter Getley transferred 
to the poet a cottage and a quarter of an acre of land 
which were situated at Chapel Lane (then called 
'Walkers Streete alias Dead Lane') adjoining the lower 
grounds of his residence of New Place. These properties 
were held practically in fee-simple at the annual rental 
of 2S. 6d. The Manor of Rowington, of which numerous 
other Shakespeares were tenants, had been granted by 
Queen Elizabeth to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, 
the Earl of Leicester's brother, who held it until his death 
in 1589. The Earl's widow and third wife, Anne Count- 
ess of Warwick, remained Lady of the Manor until her 
death on February 9, 1603-4, when the property fully 
reverted to the Crown. The Countess of Warwick was 
thus Lady of the Manor .when Shakespeare purchased 
the property in Chapel Lane. It appears from the 
manorial roll that Shakespeare did not attend the 
manorial court held at Rowington on the day fixed for 
the transfer of the property, and it was consequently 

left 10/. to the poor of Stratford, as well as 20I. to the poor of Warwick. 
The will of his nephew Thomas Combe, John Combe's brother (P;C.C. 
Dorset 13), establishes the relationship between William Combe of War- 
wick and John Combe of Stratford. Thomas Combe who predeceased 
his 'good uncle William Combe' in Jan. 1608-9, made him in the firSt 
draft of his will an executor along with his brother John and his son 
William. William Combe of Warwick is invariably confused witli his 
grand-nephew and Thomas Combe's son William, who, born at Stratford 
in 1586, was closely associated with Shakespeare after 1614. See p. 
472 infra. The dramatist was not brought into personal relation with 
the elder William Combe, save over the sales of land in 1602 and subse- 
quent years. 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 17-19. The original deed is at Shakespeare's 
Birthplace {Cat. No. 158). 


stipulated then that the estate should remain in the 
hands of the Lady of the Manor until the dramatist 
completed the purchase in person. At a later period he 
made the brief journey and was admitted to the copy- 
hold, settling the remainder on his two daughters in fee, 
although the manorial custom (as'it proved) only allowed 
the elder child to succeed to the property.^ Subsequently 
Shakespeare negotiated a further purchase from the two 
Combes of 20 acres of meadow or pasture land, to add 
to the 107 of arable land which he had acquired of the 
same owners in 1602. In April 1610 he paid to the 
vendors, the uncle and nephew William and John Combe, 
a fine of 100/. in respect of the two purchases.^ 

Shakespeare had thus become a substantial landowner 
in his native place. A yet larger investment was mean- 
while in contemplation. As early as 1598 .pj^g 
Abraham Sturley, the Stratford citizen who Stratford 
deeply interested himself in Shakespeare's ''' ^' 
material fortunes, had suggested that the dramatist 
should purchase the tithes of Stratford. The advice 
was taken after an interval of seven years. On July 24, 
1605, Shakespeare bought for 440Z. of Ralph Huband, 
owner of the well-known Warwickshire manor of Ipsley, 
a lease of a 'moiety' of 'the tithes' of Stratford, Old 
Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe. Although loosely 
called a 'moiety,' Shakespeare's share of 'the tithes' 
— a miscellaneous property including houses, cottages, 
and fieilds, — scarcely amounted to a quarter. The 
whole had formed part of the forfeited ecclesiastical 
estate of The College, and had been leased by the officers 
i of that institution in 1544 for a term of ninety-two years 
to one William Barker, of Sonning, Berkshire. On the 
dissolution of The College by act of pariiament in 1553, 

■. ' See p. 488 infra. Cf. Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 19 ; Dr. C. W. Wallace 
"in The Times, May 8, 1915, and Mrs. Slopes in The Athenceum, June s, 

''Halliwell-Phaiipps, ii. 25 (from P.R.O. Feet of Fines, Warwick Tnn. 
; 8 Jac.I, 1610, Skin 15). 


the property was devised to the Stratford Corporation 
on the expiration of the lease. Barker soon sub-leased 
the tithe estate, and when Shakespeare acquired his 
'moiety' the property was divided among over thirty 
local owners in allotments of various dimensions. Shake- 
speare's holding, of which the ninety-two years' lease 
had thirty-one years to run, had come into the hands of 
the vendor Ralph Huband on the recent death of his 
brother Sir John Huband, who had acquired it of Barker. 
It far exceeded in value all the other shares save one, and 
it was estimated to 3deld 5o/. a year. But all the shares 
were heavily encumbered. Shakespeare's 'moiety' was 
subject to a rent of 17/. to the corporation, who were the 
reversionary owners of the tithe-estate, while John 
Barker, heir of the first lessee, claimed dues of 5/. a year, 
According to the harsh terms of the sub-leases, any 
failure on the part of any of the sub-lessees to pay Barker 
a prescribed contribution forfeited to him the entire 
property. The investment thus brought Shakespeare, 
under the most favourable circumstances, no higher 
income than 38/., and the refusal of his fellow-share- 
holders to acknowledge the full extent of their liability 
to Barker, constantly imperilled aU the poet's rights. 
If he wished to retain his interest in the event of the 
others' default, he was required to pay their debts. 
After 1609 Shakespeare entered a suit in the Court 
of Chancery to determine the exact responsibilities of 
all the tithe-owners. With him were joined Richard 
Lane, of Alveston on the Avon near Stratford, Thomas 
Greene, the lawyer who was town clerk of Stratford 
from 1610 to 1617 and claimed to be the dramatist's 
cousin,'- and the rest of the more responsible sharers. 
In 161 2 Shakespeare and his friends presented a bill of 
complaint to' Lord-Chancellor Ellesmere. The judg- 
ment has not come to light, but an accommodation, 
whereby the poet was fully secured in his holding, 
was clearly reached. His investment in the tithes 
' See pp. 473-4 infra. 


proved fruitful of legal embarrassments, but the property 
descended to his heirs. ^ 

Shakespeare inherited his father's love of litigation, 
and stood rigorously by his rights in all his business 
relations. In March 1 600 ' William Shackspere ' Recover 
sued John Clayton 'Yeoman' of WeUington in of small 
Bedfordshire, in the Court of Queen's Bench, for '*^'''^' 
the repayment of a debt of ^l? The plaintiff's attorney 
was Thomas Awdley, and on the failure of' the defendant 
to put in an appearance, judgment was given for the 
plaintiff with 205. costs. There is nothing to identify 
John Clayton's creditor with the dramatist, nor is it easy 
to explain why he should have lent money to a Bed- 
fordshire yeoman.^ It is beyond question however that 
at Stratford Shakespeare, like many of his feUow-towns- 
men, was a frequent suitor in the local court of record. 
While he was not averse from advancing money to im- 
pecunious neighbours, he was punctual and pertinacious 
in demands for repayment. In July 1604 he sued for 
debt in the local court Phihp Rogers, the apothecary of 
the town. Like most of the larger householders at Strat- 
ford, Shakespeare found means of evading the restrictions 
on the domestic manufacture of malt which proved 
ef&cadous in the case of the humbler townsfolk. Afflu- 
ent residents indeed often rendered their poorer neigh- 
bours the service of seUing to them their superfluities. 
In such conditions Shakespeare's servants delivered to 
the apothecary Rogers at fortnightly intervals between 
March 27 and May 30, 1604, twenty pecks or five bushels 
of malt in varying small quantities for domestic use. 
The supply was valued at il. igs. lod. On June 25 the 

' Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 19 seq. ; Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's Environ^ 
fnmt, 82-4. 

' The record is in the Public Record Office (Coram Rege Roll, Easter 
42 Eliz. No. J361, Mem. 293). Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 185, mentions the 
litigation without giving any authority. I owe the clue to the kindness 
of Mrs. Stopes. 

' Shakespeare's granddaughter, Lady Bernard, in her will claimed 
as her 'cousin' a Bedfordshire 'gent.,' 'Thomas Welles, of Carleton' 
in that county, but there is no due to the kinship; see p. 513. 


apothecary, who was usually in pecuniary difficulties, 
borrowed 2S. of Shakespeare's household. Later in the 
summer he repaid 6s. and in Michaelmas term the 
dramatist sued him for the balance of the account i/, 
155. lod} During 1608 and 1609 he was at law with 
another fellow-townsman, John Addenbroke. On Feb- 
ruary 15, 1609, the dramatist, who appears to have been 
legally represented on this occasion by his kinsman, 
Thomas Greene,^ obtained judgment from a jury against 
Addenbroke for the pa}anent of 61., with zl. 5s. costs, 
but Addenbroke left the town, and the triimiph proved 
barren. Shakespeare avenged himself by proceeding 
against Thomas Horneby, who had acted as the abscond- 
ing debtor's bail.^ Horneby had succeeded his father 
Richard Horneby on his death in 1606 as a master black- 
smith in Henley Street, and was one of the smaller sharers 
in the tithes. The family forge lay near Shakespeare's 
Birthplace. Plaintiff and defendant in this last prose- 
cution had been playmates in childhood and they had 
some common interests in adult Hfe. But Ktigation 
among the residents of Stratford showed scant regard 
for social ties, and -in his handhng of practical affairs 
Shakespeare caught the prevaihng spirit of rigour. 

1 The Latin statement of claim — 'Shexpere versus Rogers' — which 
was filed by Shakespeare's attorney William Tetherton, is exhibited in 
Shakespeare's Birthplace. (See Catalogue, No. 114.) There is no due 
to any later stage of the suit, at the hearing of which Shakespeare was 
disabled by contemporary procedure from giving evidence on his own 
behalf. Similar actions were taken against local purchasers of small 
quantities of malt during the period by Shakespeare's wealthy local 
friends, Mr. John Combe, Mr. John Sadler, Mr. Anthony Nash and 
others. The grounds on which Shakespeare's identification with Rogers's 
creditor has been questioned are fallacious. (See Mrs. Stopes's Shaker 
speare's Family, p. 121; The Times, May 15, 1915; and The Times _ 
Literary Supplement, May 27, 1915.) Philip Rogers, the apothecary, 
was something of a professional student. In the same year as Shake- 
speare sued him, he sued a fellow-townsman, Valentine Palmes, or 
Palmer, for detaining a copy of Gale's Certain Workes of Chiruriery, 
which Rogers valued at los. 6d. Cf. HalUwell's Cal. Stratford Records, 
237) 316; 36s; Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's Environment, 57. 

2 See pp. 473-4 and n. 

^ Halliwell-PhiUipps, ii. 77-80, where all the extant documents in 
the archives of the Stratford Court bearing on the suits against both 
Rogers and Addenbroke are printed in fuU. 



With an inconsistency that is more apparent than real, 
the astute business transactions of these years (1597- 
161 1) synchronise with the production of Litg^ary 
Shakespeare's noblest Hterary work — of his "work in 
most sustained and serious efforts in comedy, ^^^'' 
tragedy, and romance. In 1599, after abandoning Eng- 
lish history with 'Henry V,' he addressed himself to the 
composition of his three most perfect essays in romantic 
comedy — ' Much Ado about Nothing,' 'As You Like It,' 
and 'Twelfth Night.' There is every likelihood that 
all three were quickly drafted within the year. The 
component parts of the trilogy are closely Unked one 
to another in manner of construction. In each play 
Shakespeare works over a more or less serious poetic 
romance by another hand and with the romantic theme 
he interweaves original episodes of genial irony or broad 
comedy which are convincingly interpreted by characters 
wholly of his own invention. Much penetrating reflec- 
tion on grave ethical issues is fused with the spirited 
portrayal of varied comic phases of humanity. In all 
three comedies, moreover, the dramatist presents youth- 
ful womanhood in the fascinating guise which is instinct 
at once with gaiety and tenderness ; while the plays are 
interspersed with melodious songs which enrich the 
dominant note of harmony. To this versatile trilogy 
there attaches an equable charm which is scarcely rivalled 
elsewhere in Shakespearean drama. The christening of 
each piece — 'Much Ado about Nothing,' 'As You 
Like It,' 'Twelfth Night' — seems to exhibit the author 



ill' a pecuKarly buoyant vein. Although proverbial and 
disjointed phrases often served at the time as titles of 
drama, it is not easy to parallel the lack of obvioiis 
relevance in the name of 'Twelfth Night' or the merely 
ironic pertinence of 'Much Ado about Nothing' or the 
careless insolence of the phrase 'As You Like It,' which 
is re-echoed in 'What You WUl,' the alternative desig- 
nation of 'Twelfth Night.' 

'Much Ado' was probably the earhest of the three 
pieces and may well have been written in the early sum- 
'Much Ado ^^'^ ^^ 1 599- The sombre romance of Hero and 
about ^ Claudio, which is the main theme, was of 
Not ing. Italian origin. The story, before Shakespeare 
handled it, had passed from foreign into Enghsh liter- 
ature, and had been turned to theatrical uses in England. 
Bandello, to whose work Shakespeare and contem- 
porary dramatists made very frequent recourse, first 
narrated at length in his 'Novelle' (No. xxii.) the sad 
experiences of the slandered heroine, whom he christened 
Fenicia, and Bandello's story was translated into Freiich 
rpijg in Belief orest's 'Histoires Tragiques.' Mean- 

itaiian while Ariosto grafted the tale on his epic of 
source. 'Qrlando Furioso' (canto v), christening the 
injured bride Ginevra and her affianced lover Ariodante. 
While Shakespeare was still a youth at Stratford-on- 
Avon, Ariosto's version was dramatised in Enghsh. Ac- 
cording to the accounts of the Court revels, 'A Historie 
of Ariodante and Ginevra' was shown 'before her Majestie 
on Shrove Tuesdaie [Feb. 12] at night' in 1583, the actors 
being boy-scholars of Merchant Taylors' School, under 
the direction of their capable headmaster, Richard 
Mulcaster.^ In' 1 591, moreover, Ariosto's account was 
anghcised by Sir John Harington in his spirited trans- 
lation of 'Orlando Furioso,' and Spenser wrought a 

' This dramatised 'Historie' has not survived in print or manuscript. 
Cf. Wallace, Evolution of the English Drama, p. 209 ; Cunningham's 
Revds (Shakespeare Society), p. 177; Malone's Variorum Shakespisaft, 
1821, iii. 406. 


variation of Ariosto's rendering of the tale into his 
'Faerie Queene,' renaming the heroine Claribell (Bk. II. 
canto iv.). To one or other of the many English adap- 
tations of Ariosto Shakespeare may have owed some 
stimulus, but he drew substantial aid alone from Bandello 
or from his French translator. All the serious episodes 
of the play come from the ItaHan novel. 

Yet it was not the wrongs of the Italian heroine nor 
the villainy of her enemies which gave Shakespeare's 
genius in 'Much Ado' its chief opportunity. 
The drama owes its life to his creation of two speMe-s 
subsidiary threads of comic interest' — the bril- embeiiish- 
liant encounters of Benedick and Beatrice, and 
the blunders of the watchmen Dogberry and Verges, who 
are very plausible caricatures of Ehzabethan constables. 
All these characters won from the first triumphant 
success on the stage. The popular comic actor William 
Kemp created the role of Dogberry before he left the 
newly opened Globe theatre, while Richard Cowley, a 
comedian of repute, appeared as Verges. In the early 
editions — in both the Quarto of 1600 and the Folio of 
1623 — • these actors' names are prefixed by a copjdst's 
error to some of the speeches allotted to the two char- 
acters (act IV. scene ii.). 

'As You Like It,' which quickly followed 'Much Ado' 
intheautumndf i599,is a dramatic adaptation of Thomas 
Lodge's pastoral romance 'Rosalynde, Euphues 'As You 
Golden Legacie' (1590), which, although of Like it." 
English authorship, has many Italian affinities. None 
of Shakespeare's comedies breathes a more placid temper 
or catches more faithfully the spirit of the pastoral 
type of drama which Tasso in 'Aminta,' and Guarini 
in 'Pastor Fidb,' had lately created not for Italy alone 
but for France and England as well. The dramatist 
follows without serious modifitation the novehst's guid- 
ance in his treatment of the story. But he significantly 
rejects Lodge's amorphous name of Rosader for his hero 
and substitutes that of Orlando after the hero of Ariosto's 


Italian epic.^ While the main conventions of Lodge's 
pastoral setting are loyally accepted, the action is 
touched by Shakespeare with a fresh and graphic vitality, 
Lodge's forest of Ardennes, which is the chief scene of his 
story, belonged to Flanders, but Shakespeare added to 
Lodge's Flemish background some features suggestive 
of the Warwickshire woodland of Arden which lay near 
Stratford-on-Avon. Another source than Lodge's pas- 
toral tale, too, gave Shakespeare hvely liints for the 
scene of Orlando's fight with Charles the Wrestler, and 
for Touchstone's fantastic description of the diverse 
shapes of a lie which prompted duelling. Both these 
passages were largely inspired by a book called ' Saviolo's 
Practise,' a manual of the art of self-defence, which ap- 
peared in 1 595 from the pen of Vincentio Saviolo, an 
Itahan fencing-master in the service of the Earl of Essex. 
In more effective fashion Shakespeare strengthened the 
human fibre of Lodge's narrative by original additions 
to the dramatis persona. Very significant is his intro- 
duction of three new characters, two of whom, Jaques 
rp^g and Touchstone, are Incisive critics of life, 

original each from his own point of view, while the 
c aracters. ^j^jj-^j^ Audrey, supplies broadly comic relief 
to the play's comprehensive study of the feminine tem- 
perament. Jaques is a finished study of the meditative 
cynic who has enjoyed much worldly experience and 
dissipation. Touchstone is the most carefully elaborated 
of all Shakespeare's professional wits.' The hoyden 
Audrey adds zest to the brilliant and humorous portrayal 

' Shakespeare directly borrowed his hero's name from The Historie 
of Orlando Furioso (written about 1591 and published in 1594), a crude, 
dramatic version of Ariosto's epic by Robert Greene, Shakespeare's 
early foe. In Greene's play, as in Ariosto's poem (canto xxiii.) much 
space is devoted to the love poetry inscribed on 'the barks of divers 
trees' by the hero's rival in the affections of Angelica, or by the lady 
herself. It is the sight of these amorous inscriptions, which in boti 
Greene's play and the Italian poem unseats Orlando's reason, and thus 
introduces the main motive. Lodge makes much in his novel of Rosa- 
lynde of his lover Rosader's 'writmg on trees.' The change of name 
to Orlando in As You Like It is thus easUy accounted for. 


of Rosalind, Celia, and Phoebe, varied types of youthful 
womanhood which Shakespeare perfected from Lodge's 

A new play was commonly produced at Queen Eliza- 
beth's Court each Twelfth Night. On the title-pages 
of the first editions of two of Lyly's comedies, 'Twelfth 
'Campaspe' (1584) and 'Midas' (1591), promi- Night.- 
nance was given to the fact that each was performed 
before Queen EKzabeth on 'twelfe day at night.' The 
main title of Shakespeare's piece has no reference to the 
plot, and doubtless conamemorates the fact that it was 
designed for the Twelfth Night of 15 59-1 600, when 
Shakespeare's company is known to have entertained the 
Sovereign with a play.^ The alternative title of 'What 
You Will' repeats the easy levity of 'As You Like It.' * 
Several passages in the text support the conjecture that 
the play was ready for production at the turn of the 
year 1599-1600. 'The new map with the augmentation 
of the Indies,' spoken of by Maria (iii. ii. 86), was a 
respectful reference to the great map of the world or 
'hydrographical description' which seems to have been 
engraved in 1599, and first disclosed the full extent of 
recent explorations of the East and West Indies — -in 
the New World and the Old.' The tune of the beautiful 
lyric '0 mistress mine, where are you roaming' was pub- 
lished also in 1599 in a popular music book — Thomas 

' Shakespeare's company also performed at Court on Twelfth Night, 
[S95-6r 1596-7, 1597-8, and 1600-1, but the collateral evidence; points 
;o Twelfth Night of the year 1599-1600 as the date of the production 
)f Shakespeare's piece (Cunningham's Revels, xxxii-iii; Mod. Lang. Rev. 
i. 9 seq.). 

2 The dramatist Marston paid Shakespeare the flattery of imitation 
jy also naming a comedy 'What You Will' which was acted in 1601, 
ilthough it was first published in 1607. 

' The map is very occasionally found in copies of the second edition 
)f Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, 1598-1600. It has been repro- 
iuced in The Voyages and Workes of John Davis the Navigator, ed. Cap- 
ain A. H. Markham, Hakluyt Soc. 1880. (See Mr. Coote's note on 
ie New Map, Ixxxv.-xcv.), and again in Hakluyt's Principal Navt- 
laHons (Glasgow, 1903, vol. i. ad fin^. ' A paper on Shakespeare's men- 
ion of the map, by Mr. Coote, appears in New Shakspere Society s 
Transactiorts, 1877-9, P*- i- PP- 8&-100. 


Morley's 'First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by 
divers exquisite authors.' There is no reason to deprive 
Shakespeare of the authorship of the words ; but it is 
plain that they were accessible to the musical composer 
before the year 1599 closed.^ Like the 'Comedy of 
Errors,' 'Twelfth Night' enjoyed early in its career the 
experience of production at an Inn of Court. . On 
February 2, 1601-2, it was acted by Shake- 
fomance speare's company at Middle Temple Hall, and 
Temple""* John Manningham, a student of the Middle 
Hall, Feb. Temple, who was present, described the per- 
2, 1602. formance in his diary which forms an enter- 
taining medley of current experiences.^ Manningham 
wrote that the piece 'called Twelfe Night or what you 
will' which he witnessed in the Hall of his Inn was 'much 
Uke the " Comedy of Errors" or "Menechmi" in Plautus, 
but most Uke and neere to that in Italian called "In- 
ganni."' The diarist especially commends the tricks 
played on Malvolio and. was much diverted by the 
steward's 'gesture in smiling.' 

The Middle Temple diarist was justified in crediting 
the main plot of 'Twelfth Night' with Italian affinities. 
-Pjjg Mistakes due to the strong resemblance between 

Italian a young man and his sister, whom circum- 
^ °'" stance has led to assume the disguise of a boy, 

was a common theme of Italian drama and romance, 
and several Italian authors had made the disguised girl 
the embarrassed centre of complex love-adventures. 
But the Middle Temple student does inadequate justice 
to the pre-Shakespearean treatment of Viola's fortunes 
either in Itahan Uterature or on the Italian stage. No 

'■ Robert Jones included in The first booke of Songes and Ayres (1600) 
the words and music of a feeble song 'Farewell, dear love, since I must 
needs be gone,' of which Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night (n. iii.) sings 
snatches of the first stanza. Robert Jones was collecting popular 
'ditties' 'by divers gentlemen.' Sir Toby Belch borrows in the play 
several specimens of the same kind, which were already of old standing. 

' Diary (Camden Soc. p. 18) ed. by John Bruce from Brit. Mus. Harl. 
MS. 5353. The Elizabethan Stage Society repeated the play of Twelfth 
Night in Middle Temple Hall on February 10, 11, and 12, 1897. 



less than three Italian comedies of the sixteenth century- 
adumbrate the experience of Shakespeare's heroine. 
Two of these Italian plays are called 'GH Inganni' (The 
Deceits), a title which Manningham cites ; but both these 
pieces owe much to an earlier and more famous Italian 
play entitled 'Gh Ingannati' (The Deceived)/ which 
anticipates Shakespeare's serious plot in 'Twelfth Night' 
more closely than any successor. 'Gh Ingannati' was 
both acted and pubHshed at Siena as early as .Giiin- 
153 1 and it subsequently enjoyed a world-wide gannati' 
vogue, which neither of the two 'Gh Inganni' °*^^™^- 
shared.^ ' GH Ingannati ' alone was repeatedly reprinted, 
adapted, or translated, not merely in Italy,' but in France, 
Spain, and England, long before Shakespeai;e set to work 
on 'Twelfth Night." 

There is no room for doubt that, whatever the points of 
similarity with either of the two ' Gh Inganni,' the Itahan 
comedy of 'GH Ingannati' is the ultimate BandeUo's 
source of the leading theme of Shakespeare's 'Nlcuoia.' 
'Twelfth Night.' But it is improbable that the poet 

^ Of the two pieces which are christened Gli Inganni, the earlier, 
by Nicolo Secchi, was 'recitata in Milano I'anno 1547' and seems to 
Imve been first printed in Florence in 1562. There a girl Genevra in 
the disguise of a boy Ruberto provokes the love of a lady called Portia, 
and herself falls in love with her master Gostanzo; Portia in the end 
voluntarily transfers her affections to Genevra's twin brother Fortunato, 
who is indistinguishable from his sister in appearance. The second Gli 
Inganni is by one Curzio Gonzaga and was printed at Venice in 1592. 
This piece closely follows the lines of its predecessor; but the disguised 
heroine assumes the masculine name of Cesare, which is significantly 
like that of Cesario, Viola's adopted name in Twelfth Night. 

' Secchi's Gli Inganni was known in France where Pierre de Larivey, 
the well-known writer of comedies, converted it into Les Tromperies, but 
Gli Ingannati alone had an European repute. 

' A French version of Gli Ingannati by Charles Etienne called at first 
Le Sacrifice and afterwards Les Abusez went through more than one 
edition (1543, 1549, ISS^)- A. Spanish version — Comedia de los Engana- 
dos — by Lope de Rueda appeared at Valencia in 1567. On Etienne's 
French version of the piece an English scholar at the end of the sixteenth 
century based a Latin play entitled Laelia (after the character adumbrat- 
ing Shakespeare's Viola). This piece was performed at Queens' College, 
Cambridge, before the Earl of Essex and other distinguished visitors, on 
March i, 1595. The MS. of Lcelia is at Lambeth, and was first edited 
by Prof. G. C. Moore Smith in 1910. 


depended on the original text of the drama. He may 
have gathered an occasional hint from subsequent dra- 
matic adaptations in Italian, French, or Latin. Yet 
it is difficult to question that he mainly relied for the 
plot of 'Twelfth Night' on one of the prose tales which 
were directly based upon the primal Italian play. Ban- 
dello's ItaHan romance of 'Nicuola,' which first appeared 
in his 'Novelle' (ii. 36) in 1554, is a very literal rendering 
of the fable of 'GH Ingannati,' and this novel was acces- 
sible to the Elizabethans not only in the original Italian, 
but in the popular French translation of Bandello's 
work, 'Les Histoires Tragiques,' by Frangois de Belle- 
forest (Paris, 1580, No. 63). Cinthio, another Italian 
novelist of the sixteenth century, also narrated the 
dramatic fable in his collection of stories called 'Heca- 
tommithi' (v. 8) which appeared in 1565. It was from 
Cinthio, with some help from Bandello, that Barnabe 
Riche the EKzabethan author drew his English tale of 
'Apolonius and Silla' (1581).^ Either the Frenchman 
BeUeforest or the Englishman Riche furnished Shake- 
speare with his first knowledge of the history of Orsino, 
Viola, Sebastian and OHvia, although the dramatist gave 
these characters names which they had not borne before. 
In any case the Enghsh playwright was handling one of 
the most famihar tales in the range of sixteenth-century 
fiction, and was thereby identifying himself beyond risk 
of misconception with the European spirit of contem- 
porary romance. 

Shakespeare invests the romantic pathos of Viola's and 
The new ^^^ Companions' amorous experiences, which 
dramatis the geiiius of Italy created, with his own poetic 
personm. glamour, and as in 'Much Ado' and 'As You 
Like It,' he quahfies the languorous tones of the well- 

' In Riche's tale the adventures of Apolonius, Silla, Julina, and 
Silvio anticipate respectively those of Shakespeare's Orsino, Viola, 
Olivia and Sebastian. Riche makes Julina (Olivia) a rich widow, and 
Manningham speaks of Olivia as a widow, a possible indication that 
Shakespeare, who presents her as a spinster in the extant comedy, gave 
her in a first draft the status with which Riche credited her. 


worn tale by grafting on his scene an entirely new group 
of characters whose idiosyncrasies give his brisk humor- 
ous faculty varied play. The steward Malvoho, whose 
ludicrous gravity and vanity take almost a tragic hue as 
the comedy advances, owes nothing to outside suggestion, 
while the mirthful portrayals of Sir Toby Belch, Sir 
Andrew Aguecheek, Fabian, the clown Feste, and Maria 
the witty serving-maid, aU bear signal witness to the 
originahty and fertility of Shakespeare's comic powers 
in the energetic era of his maturity. 

No attempt was made at the time of composition to 
print ' Twelfth Night,' which may justly be reckoned the 
flower of Shakespeare's efforts in romantic 
comedy. The play was first published in the ucation 
First Folio of 1623. But publishers made an °^}^^ 
endeavour to issue its two associates 'Much 
Ado' and 'As You Like It,' while the pieces were wirming 
their first commendations on the stage. The acting 
company who owned the plays would seem to have 
placed obstacles in the way of both publications and in 
the case of 'As You Like It' the protest took practical 

In the early autmnn of 1600 application was made to 
the Stationers' Company to Ucense both 'Much Ado' and 
'As You Like It 'with two other plays which Shakespeare's 
company had lately produced, his own 'Henry V' and 
Ben Jonson's 'Every Man in his Humour.' But on 
August 4 the Stationers' Company ordered the issue of 
the four plays ' to be staled.' ^ Twenty days passed and 
on August 24 'Much Ado' was again entered in the 
Stationers' Register by the publishers Andrew Wise and 
William Aspley, together with another Shakespearean 
piece, 'The Second Part of Henry IV.' ^ The comedy 
was then duly printed and published. There are clear 
indications that the first printers of 'Much Ado' had 
access through the good ofl&ces of an indulgent actor to 
an authentic playhouse copy. The original quarto was 

' Stationers' Company's Re^sters, ed. Arber, iii. 37. " Ibid., 170. 


reproduced in the First Folio with a few additional cor- 
rections which had been made for stage purposes. Of the 
four plays which were 'staled' on August 4, 1600, only 
'As You Like It' failed to surmount Qie barriers whidi 
were then placed in the way of its publication. There 
is no issue of 'As You Like It' earlier than that in the 
First Foho. 

Shakespeare's activity knew no pause and a Uttle later 
in the year (1600) which saw the production of 'Twelfth 
'Julius Night' he made an experiment in a path of 
Caesar,' drama which he had previously neglected, 
^^°°" although it had been already weil,-trodden by 

others. Shakespeare now drew for the first time the plot 
of a tragedy from Plutarch's 'Lives.' On Plutarch's 
Life of Julius Caesar, supplemented by the memoirs of 
Brutus and of Mark Antony, he based his next drafaatic 
venture, his tragedy of 'JuHus Caesar.' This was the 
earhest of his Roman plays and it preceded by many 
years his two other Roman tragedies — ^ 'Antony and 
Cleopatra' and 'Coriolanus.' ^ The piece was first 
published in the Foho of 1623. Internal evidence alone 
determines the date of composition. The character- 
isation is signally virile; the metrical features hover 
between early regularity and late irregularity, and the 
dehberate employment of prose, notably in the studied 
oratory of Brutus in the great scene of the Forum, would 
seem to anticipate at no long interval the hke artistic 
usage of 'Hamlet.' All these traits suggest a date of 
composition at the midmost point of the dramatist's 
career, and the autumn of 1600 satisfactorily answers 
the conditions of the problem.^ 

• Although Titus Andronicus professes to present incident of late 
Roman history, the plot lacks all historical foundation. In any case 
Shakespeare had small responsibility for that piece. His second narra- 
tive poem, Lucrece, is securely based, however, on a legend of early 
Roman history and attests Shakespeare's youthful interest in the subject 

' John Weever's mention in his Mirror of Martyrs (1601) of the 
speeches of Brutus and Caesar in the Forum and of their effects on 'the 
many-headed multitude' is commonly held to echo Shakespeare's play. 
But Weever's slender reference to the topic may as well have: been 


In his choice alike of theme and of authority Shake- 
speare adds in 'Julius Caesar' one more striking proof of 
his eager readiness to follow in the wake of popularity 
workers in drama abroad as well as at home, of the 
Plutarch's biographies furnished the dramatists *''^*' 
of Italy, France, and England with much tragic material 
from dbie middle years of the sixteenth century, and the 
fortunes of Julius Caesar in the Greek biographer's 
pages had chiefly attracted their energy.^ 

At times Shakespeare's predecessors sought additional 
information about the Dictator in the ' Roman histories ' 
of the Alexandrine Greek Appian, and there are ^j^^ jgj,^ 
signs that Shakespeare, too, may have had occa- to 
sional recourse to that work, which was readily "'^"^"^ ' 
accessible in an English version published as early as 
1578. But Plutarch, whose 'Lives' first raised biography 
to the level of a literary art, was Shakespeare's main 

drawn from Plutarch or Appian, and may have been framed without 
knowledge of Shakespeare's spirited eloquence. Nothing more definite 
can be deduced from Drayton's introduction into his Barons' Wars 
(1603) of lines depicting the character of his hero Mortimer, which are 
held to reflect Antony's elegy on Brutus (Jul. Ctzs. v. v. 73-6). Both 
passages attribute perfection in man to a mixture of the elements in due 
proportion — a reflection which was a commonplace of contemporary 

"■ Marc-Antoine Muret, professor of the college of Guienne at Bor- 
deaux, based on Plutarch's life of Csesar a Latin tragedy, which was 
acted by his students (the essayist Montaigne among them) in 1544. 
Sixteen years later Jacques Gr6vin, then a pupU at the College of Beau- 
vais, wrote for presentation by his fellow-collegians a tragedy on the 
same topic cast in Senecan inould in rhyming French verse. Grfivin's 
tragedy acquired a wide reputation and inaugurated some traditions in 
the dramatic treatment of Caesar's death, which Shakespeare consciously 
or unconsciously developed. Gr6vin sought his material in Appian's 
RomatuE HistoricB as well as in Plutarch. Robert Gamier, the chief 
French writer of tragedy at the end of the sixteenth century, introduced 
Cffisar, Mark Antony, Cassius, and other of Shakespeare's characters, 
into his tragedy of Cornilie (Pompey's widow). Mark Antony is also 
the leading personage in Gamier's two other Roman tragedies, Porcie 
(Portia, Brutus's widow) and Marc Antoine. In 1594 an Italian drama- 
tist, Orlando Pescetti, published at Verona II Cesare Tragoedia (2nd 
ed. 1604) which like Grgvin's work is based on both Plutarch and Appian 
and anticipates at many points, probably by accident, Shakespeare's 
treatment. See Dr. Alexander Boecker's A Probable Italian Source of 
Shakespeare's Jidius Cmsar (New York, 1913). 


guide. The Greek biographies were at his hand in an 
English garb, which was worthy of the original language. 
Sir Thomas North's noble translation was first printed in 
London by the Huguenot stationer, VautroUier, in 1579, 
and was reissued by Shakespeare's fellow-townsman and 
VautrolHer's successor Richard Field in isgs-^ Shake- 
speare's character of Theseus in 'Midsummer Night's 
Dream' may owe something to Plutarch's account of 
that hero. But there is no proof of any thorough study 
of Plutarch on Shakespeare's part before he planned 
his drama of 'JuHus Caesar.' There he followed the 
details of Plutarch's story in North's rendering with an 
even closer fidehty than when Holinshed's Chronicle 
guided him in his English history plays. But Shake- 
speare is never a slavish disciple. With characteristic 
originaHty he interweaves Plutarch's biographies of 
Brutus and Antony with his hfe of Cffisar. Brutus's fate 
rather than Caesar's is his leading concern. Under the 
vivifying force of Shakespeare's genius Plutarch's person- 
ages and facts finally acquire a glow of dramatic fire 
which is all the dramatist's own gift. 

Shakespeare plainly hints at the wide dissemination 
of Caesar's tragic story through dramatic literature when 
Shake- he makes Cassius prophesy, in presence of 
MdTther the dictator's bleeding corpse (ni. 111-114), 

plays about 

Cajsar. How many ages hence 

ShaU this our lofty scene be acted o'er 

In states unborn and accents yet unknown ! 

— a speech to which Brutus adds the comment 

'How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport !' 

In 'Hamlet' (in. ii. 108 seq.) Shakespeare makes Polonius 
recall how he played the part of Julius Casar 'at the 

] North followed the French version of Jacques Amyot (Paris, 1550), 
which made Plutarch's Lives a standard French work. Montaigne, 
who was an enthusiastic admirer of Plutarch, caUed Amyot's rendering 
our breviary.' 


University' and how he was killed by Brutus in the 
Capitol. Yet, in spite of his recognition of pre-existing 
dramatic Hterature on the subject, no clear trace is found 
in Shakespeare's tragedy of indebtedness to any of his 
dramatic forerunners. In England Caesar's struggle 
with Pompey had been pressed into the earlier service of 
drama quite as frequently as his overthrow, and that 
episode in Caesar's life Shakespeare well-nigh ignored.^ 

Shakespeare's piece is a penetrating study of political 
life. Brutus, whose family traditions compel in him de- 
votion to the cause of political liberty, allows 
himseK to be persuaded to head a revolution ; fp^^l-s 
but his gentle and philosophic temper engenders political 
scruples of conscience which spell failure in the '"^"^ 
stormy crisis. In Cassius, the man of action, an honest 
abhorrence of political tyranny is freed from any punctili- 
ous sense of honour. Casca, the third conspirator, is an 
aristocratic liberal poHtician with a breezy contempt for 
the mob. Mark Antony, the pleasure-seeker, is meta- 
morphosed into a statesman — decisive and eloquent — 
by the shock of the murder of Cssar, his uncle and 
benefactor. The death and funeral of Caesar form the 
central episode of the tragedy, and no previous dramatist 
pursued the story beyond the outcry of the Roman popu- 
lace against Caesar's assassins. Shakespeare alone among 
playwrights carries on the historic episode to the defeat 
and suicide of the leading conspirators at the battle of 
Philippi. " 

' Most of the early English plays on Caesar's history are lost. Such 
was the fate of a play called Julius Ccssar acted before Queen Elizabeth 
in February 1562 (Machyn's Diary) ; of The History of CcBsar and Pom- 
pey which was popular in London about 1580 (Gosson's Plays Confuted, 
1581); of a Latin drama called Casar Interfectus by Richard Eades, 
which was acted at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1582, and may be the 
university piece cited by Polonius; of Cesar and Pompey ('Seser and 
Pompie') which was produced by Henslowe and the Admiral's com- 
pany on November 8, 1594, and of the second part of Ccesar {the 2 pte 
of Sesore) which was similarly produced on June 18, 1595. Surviving 
plays of the epoch in which Cffisq,r figures were produced after Shake- 
speare's tragedy, e.g. William Alexander, Earl of Stirling's Julius Cesar 
(1604) and George Chapman's Cesar and Pompey (1614?). 


The peril of dramatic anticlimax in relegating Cfesaf's 
assassination to the middle distance is subtly averted in 
His con- Shakespeare's play by the double and some- 
ception of what ironical process of belittHng, on the one 
^^^^- hand, Caesar's stature in his last days of life, 
and of magnifying, on the other hand, the spiritual in- 
fluence of his name after death. The dramatist divests 
Caesar of most of his heroic attributes; his dominant 
personality is seen to be sinking from the outset under 
the burden of physical and moral weakness. Yet his 
exalted posthumous fame supplies an efl&cient motive for 
the scenes which succeed his death. 'Thou art mighty 
yet, thy spirit walks abroad,' the words which spring to 
the lips of the dying Brutus, supply the key to the 
dramatic equipoise, which Shakespeare maintains to the 
end. The fifth act, which presents the battle of Philippi 
in progress, proves ineffective on the stage, but the 
reader never relaxes his interest in the fortunes of the 
vanquished Brutus, whose death is the catastrophe. 

The pronounced success of 'Julius Cassar ' in the theatre 
is strongly corroborated by an attempt on the part of a 
A rival rival manager to supplant it in pubhc favour 
piece. ^,y another piece on the same popular theme. 
In 1602 Henslowe brought together a band of distin- 
guished authors, Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, 
John Webster, Thomas Middleton, and others, and com- 
missioned them to produce 'a book called "Caesar's 
Fall."' The manager advanced to the syndicate the 
sum of 5/. on May 22, 1602. Nothing else is known of 
the design. 

The theatrical world was meantime gravely disturbed 
by critical incidents which only remotely involved literary 
The Lord ^^^^^^- While 'JuKus Caesar' was winning its 
Mayor first laurels on the stage, the fortunes of the 
&LtiL London theatres were menaced by two mani- 
festations of unreasoning prejudice on the part 
of the public. The earher manifestation, although 
speciously serious, was in effect innocuous. The Puri- 


tans oi the City had long agitated for the suppression 
of all theatrical performances, whether in London 
or its environs. But the Privy Council stood by the 
players and declined to sanction the restrictive by- 
laws for which the Corporation from time to time 
pressed. The flames of the municipal agitation had 
burnt briskly, if without genuine effect, on the eve of 
Shakespeare's arrival in London. The outcry gradu- 
ally subsided, although the puritan suspicions were not 
dead. After some years of comparative inaction the 
civic authorities inaugurated at the end of 1596 a fresh 
and embittered campaign against the players. The 
puritanic Lord Cobham then entered on his short tenure 
of office as Lord Chamberlain. His predecessor Lord 
Hunsdon was a warm friend of the actors, and until 
his death the staunch patron of Shakespeare's company. 
In the autumn of 1596 Thomas Nashe, the dramatist 
and satirist, sadly wrote to a friend: 'The players are 
piteously persecuted by the lord mayor and aldermen, 
and however in their old Lord's [the late Lord Huns- 
don's] time they thought their state settled, 'tis now so 
uncertain they cannot build upon it.' The melancholy 
prophecy soon seemed on perilous point of fulfilment. 
On July 28, 1597, the Privy Council, contrary to its 
wonted policy, ordered, at the Lord Mayor's invitation, 
all playhouses within a radius of three miles to be pulled 
down. Happily the Council was in no earnest mood. 
It suffered its drastic order to remain a dead letter, and 
soon bestowed on the profession fresh marks of favour. 
Next year (February 19, 1597-8) the Council specifically 
acknowledged the rights and privileges of the Lord Ad- 
miral's and the Lord Chamberlain's companies,^ and when 
on July 19, 1598, the vestry of St. Saviour's parish, 
Southwark, repeated the City Corporation's protest 

' Acts of the Privy Council, 1597-8, p. 327- The two companies were 
described as alone entitled to perform at Court, and 'athird company' 
(which was not more distinctly named) was warned against encroaching 
on their rights. 


and urged the Council to suppress the playhouses on the' 
Bankside, a deaf ear was turned officially to the appeal. 
The Master of the Revels merely joined with two prom- 
inent members of the Council, the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury and the Bishop of London, in an endeavour to 
soften the vestry's heart, not by attacking the offending 
theatres, but by arranging with the Southwark players 
to contribute to the support of the poor of the parish. 
The Council appeared to be deliberately treading paths 
of conciliation or mediation in the best interest of the 
players. None the less the renewed agitation of the 
Lord Mayor and his colleagues failed to abate, and in 
the summer of 1600 the Privy Council seemed to threaten 
under pressure a reversal of its complacent policy. On 
June 22, 1600, the Council issued to the officers of the 
Corporation of London and to the justices of the peace 
The Privy of Middlesex and Surrey an order restraining 
Council 'the immoderate use and company of play- 
jiLr^, houses and players.' Two acting companies 
1600. — tf^g Lord Admiral's and the Lord Chamber- 

lain's — were alone to be suffered to perform in London, 
and only two playhouses were to be allowed to continue 
work — ■ one in Middlesex (the ' Fortune ' in Cripplegate, 
AUeyn's new playhouse then in course of building), and 
the other in Surrey (the 'Globe' on the Bankside). 
The 'Curtain' was to be pulled down. All stage plays 
were to be forbidden 'in any common irm for public 
assembly in or near about the city' and the prohibition 
was interpreted to extend to the 'private' playhouses 
of the Blackfriars and St. Paul's, which were occupied 
by boy actors. The two privileged companies were, 
moreover, only to perform twice a week, and their 
theatres were to be closed on the Sabbath day, during- 
Lent, and in times of 'extraordinary sickness' in or 
about the City.^ The contemplated restrictions were 
likely, if carried out, to deprive a large number of actors 
of employment, to drive others into the provinces where 
' dels of the Privy Council, 1599-1600, pp. 395-8, 


their livelihood was always precarious, and seriously to 
fetter the activities of the few actors who were specially 
excepted from the bulk of the new regulations. The 
decree promised Shakespeare's company a certain relief 
from competition, but the price was high. Not only 
was their regular employment to-be arbitrarily dimin- 
ished, but they were to make a humiliating submission to 
the vexatious prejudices of a narrow clique. 

Genuine alarm was created in the profession by the 
Privy Coimcil's action; but fortunately the sound and 
fury came to Httle. What was the intention of the 
Council must remain matter for conjecture. It is cer- 
tain that neither the municipal authorities nor the 
magistrates of Surrey and Middlesex, to all of whom the 
Privy Council addressed itself, made any attempt to 
put the stringent decree into operation, and the Privy 
Council was quite ready to let it sleep. All the London 
theatres that were already in existence went on their way 
unchecked. The innyards continued to be applied to 
^ theatrical uses. The London companies saw no decrease 
in their numbers, and performances followed one another 
day after day without interruption. But so solemn a 
threat of legal interference bred for a time anxiety in 
the profession, and the year 1601 was a period of sus- 
pense among men of Shakespeare's calUng.^ 

More calamitous was a temporary reverse of fortune 
which Shakespeare's company, in common with some 
other companies of adult actors, suffered, as the new 

* On December 31, 1601, the Lords of the Council sent letters to the 
Lord Mayor of London and to the magistrates of Surrey and Middle;sex 
, expressing their surprise that no steps had yet been taken to limit the 
f number of playhouses in accordance with 'our order set down and 
prescribed about a year and a half since.' But nothing followed during 
Shakespeare's lifetime, and no more was heard officially of the Council's 
order until 1619, when the Corporation of London called attention to 
its practical abrogation at the same time as they directed the suppres- 
sion (which was not carried out) of the Blackfriars theatre. All_ the 
documents on this subject are printed from the Privy Council Register 
by Halliwell-Phillipps, i. 307-9. They are well digested in Dr. V. C. 
Gildersleeve's Government Regulation of the Elizabethan Drama (New 
York, 1908, pp. 178 seq.). 


century dawned, at the hands, not of fanatical enemies 
of the drama, but of play-goers who were 
bitwfen'^ its avowed supporters. The coinpany of boy 
adult and actors, recruitcd from the choristers of tlie 
oy actors, ^-.j^^p^j Royal, and known as ' the Children of 
the Chapel,' was in the autumn of 1600 firmly installed at 
the new theatre in Blackfriars, and near the same date a 
second company of boy actors, which was formed of the 
choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral, re-opened, after a 
five years' interval, its private playhouse within the 
cathedral precincts. Through the winter season of 
1600-1 the fortunes of the veterans, who occupied the 
public or 'common' stages of London, were put in 
jeopardy by the extravagant outburst of public favour 
evoked by the performances of the two companies of 
boys. Dramatists of the first rank placed their services 
at the boys' disposal. Ben Jonson and George Chap- 
man, whose dramatic work was rich in comic strength, 
were active in the service of the Children of the 
Chapel at the Blackfriars theatre, while John Marston, 
a playTvright who promised to excel in romantic tragedy, 
allowed his earliest and best plays to be interpreted for 
the first time by the 'Children of Paules.' The boy 
actors included in their ranks at the time performers of 
exceptional promise. Three of the Chapel Children, 
Nathaniel Field, WiUiam Ostler, and John Underwood, 
who won their first laurels during the memorable season 
of 1600-1, joined in manhood Shakespeare's company, 
while a fourth child actor of the period, SalatHiel Pavy, 
who died prematurely, still fives in Ben Jonson's pathetic 
, elegy, where the poet plays with the fancy that the boy 
rendered old men's parts so perfectly as to give Death a 
wrong impression of his true age. 

Many references in plays of the period bear witness 
to the loss of popular favour and of pecuniary profit 
which the boys' triumphs cost their professional seniors. 
Ben Jonson, in his 'Poetaster,' puts in the mouth of one 
of his characters 'Histrio, the actor,' the statement that 


the winter of 1600-1 'hath made us all poorer than so 
many starved snakes.' 'Nobody,' the discon- shake- 
solate player adds, ' comes at us, not a gentle- speare on 

man nor a . ' ^ The most graphic account of seLon"'^"^ 

the actors' misfortunes figures in Shakespeare's ^^°°-^- 
tragedy of 'Hamlet,' which was first sent to press in an 
imperfect draft in the year 1602.^ 'The tragedians of 
the city,' in whom Hamlet was 'wont to take such 
deUght,' are represented as visiting Elsinore on a pro- 
vincial tour. Hamlet expresses surprise that they 
should travel,' seeing that the town brought actors 
greater 'reputation and profit' than the country. But 
the explanation is offered : 

; y faith, my lord, noveltie carries it away, 
For the principal publike audience that 
Came to them [i.e. the old actors] are turned to private playes 
And to the humours of children.' 

The public no longer (Hamlet learns) held the actors in 
'the same estimation' as in former years. There was 
no falling off in their efficiency, but they were out- 
matched by ' an aery [i.e. nest] of children, httle eyases 
[i.e. yoimg hawks],' who dominated the theatrical world, 
and monopoUsed public applause. ' These are now the 

' Poetasler, ed. Mallory, rv. iii. 345-7. 

' Only the First Folio Version of 1623 supplies Shakespeare's full 
comment on the subject : see act n. sc. ii. 348-394. Both the First and 
the Second Quarto notice the misfortunes of the 'tragedians of the 
city' very briefly. To the ten lines which the quartos furnish the First 
Folio adds twenty. 

' These Unas are peculiar to the First Quarto. In the Second Quarto 
and in the First FoUo they are replaced by the sentence 'I think their 
[i.e. the old actors'] inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.' 
Many commentators follow Steevens in interpreting the 'late innova- 
tion' of the later Hamlet texts as the order of the Privy Council of June 
1600, restricting the number of the London playhouses to two and otherr 
wise prejudicing the actors' freedom ; but that order was never put in 
force, and in no way affected the actors' fortunes. The First Quarto 
text makes it clear that 'the late innovation' to which the players' mis- 
fortunes were assigned in the later texts was the 'iiovdtie' of the boys' 
performances. 'Private plays' were plays at private theatres —the 
^class of playhouse to which both the Blackfriars and Paul's theatres 
belonged (see p. 67). 


fashion,' the dramatist lamented, and he made the com- 
mon players' forfeiture of popularity the text of a re- 
flection on the fickleness of pubhc taste : 

Hamlet. Do the boys carry it away? 

RosENCRANTZ. Ay, that they do, my lord, Hercules and his load too. 

Hamlet. It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, 
and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give 
twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred dudats apiece for his picture in little.' 

The difficulties of the actors in the pubhc theatres 
were greatly accentuated by a heated controversy which 

burnt very briskly in 1601 among the drama- 
sh^reia°'^^ tists, and involved Shakespeare's company 
jonson's and to some extent Shakespeare himself. The 
control boys' notoriety and success were signally 
^^'a^^'fi increased by personal dissensions among the 

pla3rwrights. As early as 1598 John Marston 
made a sharp attack on Ben Jonson's hterary style, 
opening the campaign in His satire entitled ' The Scourge 
of Villanie,' and quickly developing it in his play of 
'Histriomastix.' Jonson soon retahated by lampoon- 
ing Marston and his friends on the stage. Each pro- 
tagonist was at the time a newcomer in the Hterary field, 
and the charges which they brought against each other 
were no more heinous than that of penning 'fustian' 
or of inventing awkward neologisms. Yet they quickly 
managed to divide the plajrwrights of the day into two hos- 
tile camps, and pubHc interest fastened on their recrimina- 
tions. Ben Jonson's range of attack came to cover 
dramatists, actors, courtiers, or citizens who either failed 
to declare themselves on his side or professed indifference 
to the quarrel. This war of personaHties raged confusedly 
for three years, reaching its cHmax in 1601. Shake- 
speare's company and both the companies of the boys 
were pressed by one or the other party into the strife, 
and the intervention of the Children of the Chapel gave 
them an immense advantage over the occupants of 
rival stages. 

' Hamlet, n. ii. 349-64, 


In the initial phases of the campaign Shakespeare's 
company lent Jonson its countenance. The assault on 
Jonson which Marston inaugurated in his book .jjistrio 
of satires, he continued with the aid of friends mastix,' 
in the play involving varied personal issues '^**' 
called 'Histriomastix or the Player Whipt.' ^ The St. 
Paul's boys, who were producing Marston's serious 
dramatic work at the time, were apparently responsible 
for the early performances of this lumbering piece of 
irony. Jonson weightily retorted in 1599 in his com- 
prehensive social satire of 'Every Man out of 'Every 
his Humour,' and Shakespeare's company so Man out 
far identified themselves with the sensitive Humour,' 
dramatist's cause as to stage that comedy at the ^sqq- 
Globe theatre. 'Every Man out of his Humour' proved 
the first of four pieces of artillery which Jonson brought 
into the field. But Shakespeare's company was re- 
luctant to be dragged further at Jonsoh's heel, and it 
was the boys at Blackfriars who interpreted the rest 
of his controversial dramas to the huge delight of play- 
goers who welcomed the paradox of hearing Ben Jonson's 
acrid humour on childish tongues. In his more or less 
conventional comedy of intrigue called 'The Case is 
Altered,' which the boys brought out in 1599, four 
subsidiary characters, Antonio Balladino ^ the pageant 

^ This rambling review of the vices of contemporary society derided 
not only Ben Jonson's arrogance (in the character of Chrisoganus) but 
also adult actors generally with their patrons and their authors. Some 
of the shafts were calculated to disparage Shakespeare's company, the 
best organised troop on the stage. The earliest extant edition of His- 
triomastix is dated 1610. But internal evidence and a reference which 
Jonson made to it in his Every Man out of his Humour, 1599 (Act m. 
sc. i.), show it to have been written in 1598. It is reprinted in Simpson's 
School of Shakspere, ii. i seq. 

" Antonio Balladino is a plain caricature of Anthony Munday, the 
industrious play-wright, and,- although Marston's features are not recog- 
nised with certainty in any of the other ludicrous dramatis personce, The 
Case is Altered was held to score heavily in Jonson's favour in his fight 
with Marston. According to the title-page of the first edition (1609) 
the piece was 'sundry times acted by the Children of the Blackfriers.' 
It seems to have beeli the earliest piece of the kind which was entrusted 
to the Chapel boys' tender mercies. 


poet, Jumper a cobbler, Peter Onion groom of the hall, 
and Pacue a French page, were justly suspected of trav- 
estying identifiable men of letters. A year later, 
in 1600, Jonson won a more pronounced success when 
'Cynthia's he caused the Children of the Chapel to pro- 
Revels.' (juce at Blackfriars his 'Cynthia's Revels,' 
an encyclopaedic satire on Hterary fashions and on the 
public taste of the day. There, under the Greek names 
of Amorphus, Asotus, Hedon, and Anaides, various 
Hterary foes were paraded as laughing-stocks. An 
'Induction' to the play takes the shape of a pretended 
quarrel amongst three of the actor-children as to who 
shall speak the prologue. 'By this Ught,' the third 
child remarks with mocking self-depreciation, ' I wonder 
that any man is so mad to come and see these rascally 
tits play here ' ^ ; but it is certain that the sting of 
Jonson's taunts lost nothing on the boys' precocious lips. 
There is some ground for assuming that the Children 
'Jack of Paul's replied without delay to 'Cynthia's 

Drum's Revels' in an anonymous piece called 'Jack 
men"'*™" Drum's Entertainment, or the Comedie of 
1601. Pasquil,' where a story of intrigue is interwoven 

with mordant parodies of Jonson's foibles.^ Meanwhile 

^ The author, in the person of Crites, one of the characters, shrewdly 
argues that fantastic vanity and futile self-conceit are the springs '.of 
all fashionable drama and poetry. Incidental compliments to Queen 
Elizabeth, who was represented as presiding over the literary revels 
in her familiar poetic name of Cynthia, increased the play's vogue. 

' In 'The Introduction' of Jack Drum's Entertainment, one of the 
children, parodjdng Jonson's manner, promises the audience not to 

torment ,. ^ . 

your listenmg eares 
With mouldie fopperies of stale Poetrie, 
XJnpossible drie mustie fictions. 

Elsewhere in the piece emphasis is laid on the gentility and refined 
manners of the audience for which the St. Paul's boys catered, as com- 
pared with the roughness and boorishness of the frequenters of the 
adult actors' theatres. The success of the 'children' is assigned to 
that advantage rather than to their histrionic superiority over the men. 
Jack Drum's Entertainment, which was published in 1601, would seem 
to be the work of a criticsil onlooker of the pending controversy who 
detectfed_ faults on both sides, but deemed Jonson the chief offender. 
See reprint in Simpson's School 0} Shakspere, ii. igp et passim. 


the rumour spread that Marston and Dekker, who 
deemed themselves specially maligned by 'Cynthia's 
Revels,' were planning a bolder revenge at the Globe 
theatre. Jonson forestalled the blow by completing 
within fifteen weeks a fourth 'comical satire' which he 
called 'Poetaster, or his arraignment.' This 'Poetas- 
new attack, which the boys dfelivered at Black- *^'''' ^*°^- 
friars early in 1601, was framed in a classical mould.^ 
The main theme ^ caustically presents the poet Horace 
as pestered by the importunities of the poetaster Cris- 
pinus and his friend Demetrius. Horace finally ar- 
raigned his two tormentors before Csesar on a charge of 
defamation, in that they had 'taxed' him falsely of 'self- 
love, arrogancy, impudence, railing, and filching by 
translation.' Virgil was summoned by Caesar to sit 
with other Latin poets in judgment on these accusations. 
A triumphant acquittal of Horace follows, and the 
respondents are convicted of malicious libel. Demetrius 
admits the offence, while Crispinus, who is sentenced 
to drink a dose of hellebore, vomits with Rabelaisian 
realism a multitude of cacophonous words to which he 
has given literary currency. Although the identifica- 
tion of many of .the personages of the 'Poetaster' is open 
to question, Jonson himself, Marston, and Dekker stand 
confessed beneath the names respectively of Horace, 
Crispinus, and Demetrius. In subsidiary scenes Histrio, 
an adult actor, was held up to scornful ridicule and else- 
where lawyers were roughly handled. Ben Jonson put 
httle restraint on his temper, and the boys once again 
proved equal to their interpretative functions. 

' In the words of the prologue, Jonson 

chose Augustus Cassar's times 
When wit and arts were at their height in Rome; 
To show that Virgjl, Horace, and the rest 
Of those great master-spirits did not want 
Detractors then or practisers against them. 

"A subsidiary thread of interest was innocuously wrought out of 
the familiar tale of the poet Ovid's amours and exile, while brisk sketches 
were furnished of Ovid's literary contemporaries, TibuUus, Propertius, 
and other well-known Roman writers. 


Clumsy yet effective retaliation was provided without 
delay by the players of Shakespeare's company. They, 

' answered ' Jonson and his ' company of horrible' 
'Satire-^ blackfryers' 'at their own weapons,' by pro- 
mastix,' ducing after a brief interval a violent piece 

of 'detraction' by Dekker called ' Satirotnastix, 
or the Un trussing of the Humourous Poet.' ^ Amid an 
irrelevant story of romantic, intrigue all the polemical 
extravagances of the 'Poetaster' were here parodied at 
Jonson's expense with brutal coarseness. Jonson's per- 
sonal appearance and habits were offensively analysed, 
and he was ultimately crowned with a garland of sting- 
ing nettles. ' The Children of Paul's ' — who were the 
persistent rivals of the Chapel Children — eagerly aided 
the men actors in this strenuous endeavour to bring 
Jonson to book. ' Satiromastix ' was produced in the 
private playhouse of Paul's soon after it appeared at the 
Globe.^ The issue of this wide publicity was happier 
than might have been expected. The fooUsh and freak- 
ish controversy received its deathblow. Jonson peace- 
The end ^^^^^ accepted a warning from the authorities 
of the to refrain from further hostilities, and his op- 
fg'^^l^^''^'^' ponents readily came to terms with him. He 

was soon writing for Shakespeare's company a 
new tragedy, 'Sejanus' (1603), in which Shakespeare 
played a part. Marston, in dignified Latin prose, 
dedicated to him his next play, 'The Malcontent' (1604), 
and the two gladiators thereupon joined forces with 
Chapman in the composition of a third piece, 'Eastward 
Ho' (1605). 3 

* This piece was licensed for the press on November 11, 1601, which 
was probably near the date of its first performance. The epilogue 
makes a reference to 'this cold weather.' 

' On the title-page of the first edition (1602) Satiromastix is stated 
to have 'bin presented publikely by the Right Honorable, the Lord 
Chamberlaine his Seruants and priuately by the children of Paulas.' 

' Much ingenuity has been expended on the interpretation of the 
many personal allusions scattered broadcast through the various plays 
in which the dramatic poets fought out their battle. Save in the few 
mstances which are cited above, the application of the personal gibes 


The most material effect of 'that terrible poeto- 
machia' (to use Dekker's language) was to stimulate the 
vogue of the children. Playgoers took sides in gj^^tg. 
the struggle, and their attention was for the speare 
season of 1600-1 riveted, to the exclusion of ^poeto-^ 
topics more germane to their province, on the machia.' 
actors' and dramatists' boisterous war of personalities.^ 

It is not easy to trace Shakespeare's personal course 
of action through this ' war of high words ' — which he 
stigmatised in 'Hamlet' as a 'throwing about of brains.' 
It is only on collateral incidents of the petty strife that 

is rarely quite certain. Ben Jonson would seem at times to have inten- 
tionally disguised his aim by crediting one or other subsidiary character 
in his plays with traits belonging to more persons than one. Nor did 
he confine his attack to dramatists. He hit out freely at men who had 
offended him in all ranks and professions. The meaning of the con- 
troversial sallies has been very thoroughly discussed in Mr. Josiah H. 
Penniman's The War of the Theatres (Series in Philology, Literature and 
Archseology, Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1897, iv. 3) and in his introduction 
to Ben Jonson's Poetaster and Dekker's Satiromastix in Belles-Lettres 
Series (1912), as well as by H. C. Hart in Notes and Queries, Series IX. 
vols. II and 12 passim, and in Roscoe A. Small's 'The Stage Quarrel 
between Ben Jonson and the so-called Poetasters' in Forschungen zur 
EngUschen Sprache und Litteratur, iSgg. Useful reprints of the rare 
plays Histriomastix (iSq8) and Jack Drum's Entertainment (1601) figure 
in Simpson's School of Shakspere, but the conclusion regarding the poets' 
warfare reached in the prefatory comments there is not very convincing. 
^ Throughout the year 1601 offensive personalities seem to have in- 
fected all the London theatres. On May 10, 1601, the Privy Council 
called the attention of the Middlesex magistrates to the abuse covertly 
levelled by the actors of the 'Curtain' at gentlemen 'of good desert and 
quaUty, and directed the magistrates to examine all plays before they 
were produced' {Privy Council Register). Jonson subsequently issued 
an 'apologetical dialogue' (appended to printed copies o^ the Poetaster), 
in wHch he somewhat truculently qualified his hostility to the players 
of the common stages : 

Now for the players 'tis true I tax'd them 

And yet but some, and those so sparingly 

As all the rest might have sat still unquestioned, 

Had they but had the wit or conscience 

To think well of themselves. But unpotent they 

Thought each man's vice belonged to their whole tribe ; _ 

And much good do it them. What they have done against me 

I am not moved with, if it gave them meat 

Or got them cjothes, 'tis weU; that was their end, 

Only amongst them I am sorry for 

Some better natures by the rest so drawn 

To run in that vile line. 


he has left any clearly expressed view, but he obviously 
Shake- resented the enlistment of the children in the 
speare's campaign of virulence. In his play of ' Ham- 
to thT*^^^ let' he protested vigorously against the abu- 
struggie. gjvg speech which Jonson and his satellites 
contrived that the children's mouths should level at the 
men actors of 'the common stages,' or public theatres. 
Rosencrantz declared that the children 'so berattle [i.e. 
assail] the common stages — so they call them — that 
many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quiUs, and 
dare scarce come thither [i.e. to the public tiieatres].' ^ 
Pursuing the theme, Hamlet pointed out that the writers 
who encouraged the precocious insolence of the 'child 
actors' did them a poor service, because when the boys 
should reach men's estate they would run the risk, if 
they continued on the stage, of the same insults and 
neglect with which they now threatened their seniors. 

Hamlet. What, are they children? who maintains 'em? how are 
they escoted? [i.e. paid]. Will they pursue the quality [i.e. the actor's 
profession] no longer than they can sing? will they not say afterwards, 
if they should grow themselves to common players — as it is most like, 
if their means are no better — their writers do them wrong, to make 
them exclaim against their own succession? 

Rosencrantz. Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; 
and the nation holds it no sin to tarre [i.e. incite] them to controversy : 
there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and 
the player went to cuffs in the question. 

Hamlet. Is it possible? 

GtriLDENSTEEN. O, there has been much throwing about of brains ! 

Shakespeare was not alone among the dramatists in his 
Thomas emphatic expression of regret that the boys 
Haywood should have been pressed into the futile warfare. 
ShSfe- Thomas Heywood, the actor-pla3rwright who 
speare's shared Shakespeare's professional sentiments 
^'° ^^ ■ as well as his professional experiences, echoed 
Hamlet's shrewd' comments when he wrote : 'The liberty 

^ Jonson in Cynthia's Revels (Induction) applies the term 'common 
stages' to the public theatres. 'Goosequilian' is' the epithet applied 
to Posthast, an actor-dramatist who is a character in Hiskiomastix 
(seep. 343 supra). 


(vhich some arrogate to themselves, committing their 
Ditternesse, and liberall invectives against all estates, 
to the mouthes of children, supposing their juniority to 
3e a privilegde for any rayling, be it never so violent, I 
:ould advise all such to curb and limit this presumed 
Liberty within the bands of discretion and government.' ^ 

While Shakespeare thus sided on enUghtened grounds 
with the adult actors in their professional competition 
with the boys, he would seem to have watched shake- 
Ben Jonson's personal strife both with fellow speare's 
luthors and with actors in the serene spirit of a terested 
disinterested spectator and to have eschewed attitude, 
any partisan bias. In the prologue to 'Troilus and 
Cressida' which he penned in 1603, he warned his 
bearers, with obvious allusion to Ben Jonson's battles, 
that he hesitated to identify himself with either actor 
or poet. 

Jonson had in his 'Poetaster' put into the mouth of 
his Prologue the lines : 

If any muse why I salute the stage, 

An armed Prologue ; know, 'tis a dangerous age : 

Wherein, who writes, had need present his scenes 

Fortie fold-proofe against the conjuring meanes ' 

Of base detractors, and illiterate apes, 

That fill up roomes in faire and formall shapes. 

'Gainst these, have we put on this forc't defence. 

In 'Troilus and Cressida' Shakespeare's Prologue 
retorted : 

Hither am I come, 
A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence 
Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited 
In like conditions as our argument, 

which began 'in the middle' of the Graeco-Trojan 'broils.' 
Passages in Ben Jonson's 'Poetaster' suggest, more- 
over, that Shakespeare cultivated so assiduously an 
attitude of neutrality on the main issues that Jonson 
finally acknowledged him to be qualified for the rdle of 

'■ Heywood, Apology for Actors, 1612 (Sh. Soc), p. 61. 


peacemaker. The gentleness of disposition with which 
Shakespeare was invariably credited by his friends 
would have well fitted him for such an office. Jonson, 
vir ■] in ^^° figures in the 'Poetaster' under the name 
jonson's of Horace, joins his friends, TibuUus and Gallus, 
'Poetaster.' ^^ eulogising the work and genius of another 
character, Virgil, and the terms whch are employed so 
closely resemble those which were popularly applied to 
Shakespeare that the praises of Virgil may be regarded 
as intended to apply to the great dramatist (act v. sc. i.). 
Jonson points out that Virgil, by his penetrating intui- 
tion, 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 general ties 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. 

TibuUus gives Virgil equal credit for having in his writ- 
ings touched with telling truth upon every vicissitude 
of human existence. 

That which he hath writ 
Is with such judgment laboured and distilled 
Through all the needful uses of our lives 
That, could a man remember but his lines, 
He should not touch at any serious point 
But he might breathe his spirit out of him.^ 

Finally, in the play, Virgil, at Caesar's invitation, judges 
between Horace and his libellers, and it is he who ad- 

^ These expressions were at any rate accepted as applicable to Shake- 
speare by the writer of the preface to the dramatist's Troilus and Cressida 
(1609). The preface includes the sentences : 'this author's [i.e. Shake- 
speare's] comedies are so framed to the life, that they serve for the most 
common commentaries of all the actions of our lives, showing such a 
dexterity and power of wit.' 


vises the administration of purging hellebore to Marston 
(Crispinus), the chief offender.^ 

On the other hand, one contemporary witness has 
been held to testify that Shakespeare stemmed the tide 
of Jonson's embittered activity by no peace- 
making interposition, but by joining his foes, tum from 
and by administering to him, with their aid, Pamassus,' 
much the same course of medicine which in the 
'Poetaster' is meted out to his enemies. In the same 
year (1601) as the 'Poetaster' was produced, and before 
the hterary war had burnt itself out on the London 
stage, 'The Return from Parnassus' — the last piece in 
a trilogy of plays — ^was 'acted by the students in St. 
John's College, Cambridge.' It was an ironical review 
of the current Ufe and aspirations of London poets, actors, 
and dramatists. In this piece, as in its two predecessors, 
Shakespeare received, both as a pla3rwright and a poet, 
much commendation in his own name. His poems, even 
if one character held that they reflected somewhat too 
largely 'love's lazy fooHsh languishment,' were hailed 
by others as the perfect expression of amorous sentiment. 
The actor Burbage was introduced in his own name in- 
structing an aspirant to the actor's profession in the part 
of Richard the Third, and the familiar Unes from Shake- 
speare's play — 

Now is the winter of our discontent 

Made glorious summer by tliis sun of York — 

were recited by the pupU as part of his lesson. Subse- 
quently, in a prose dialogue between Shakespeare's fel- 
low-actors Burbage and Kemp, the latter generally dis- 
parages university dramatists who are wont to air their 
classical learning, and claims for Shakespeare, his theatri- 
cal colleague, a complete ascendancy over them. 'Why, 
here's our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down [Kemp 

1 The proposed identification of Virgil in the Poetaster with Chap- 
man has little to recommend it. Chapman's literary work did not 
justify the commendations which were bestowed on Virgil in the play. 


remarks] ; aye, and Ben Jonson, too. O ! that Ben 
Jonson 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: 'It's a shrewd fellow indeed.' This 
perplexing passage has been held to mean that Shake- 
speare took a decisive part against Jonson in the con- 
troversy with Marston, Dekker, and their friends. But 
such a conclusion is nowhere corroborated, and 
spe^are's seems to be confuted by the eulogies of Virgil 
aUeged^ jn tj^g 'Poetaster' and even by the general 
^"'^^' handling of the theme in 'Hamlet.' The 
words quoted from 'The Return from Parnassus' may 
well be incapable of, a Uteral interpretation. Probably 
the 'purge' that Shakespeare was alleged by the author 
of 'The Return from Parnassus' to have given Jonson 
meant no more than that Shakespeare had signally 
outstripped Jonson in popular esteem. As the author 
of 'Julius Caesar,' he had just proved his command of 
topics that were peculiarly suited to Jonson's classicised 
vein,i and had in fact outrun his churHsh comrade on his 

1 The most scornful criticism that Joifton is known to have passed 
on any composition by Shakespeare was aimed at- a passage in Jidim 
CcBsar, and as Jonson's attack is barely justifiable on literary grounds, 
it is fair to assume that the play was distasteful to him from other con- 
siderations. ' Many times,' Jonson wrote of Shakespeare in his Timber, 
'hee fell into those things [which] could not escape laughter: As wlien 
hee said in the person of Cmsar, one speaking to him [i.e. Cssar] ; Casar, 
thou dost me wrong. Hee [i.e. Caesar] replyed : Casar did never wroni, 
butt with just cause: and such like, which were ridiculous.' Jonson 
derisively quoted the same passage in the induction to The Staple oj 
News (1623) : ' Cry you mercy, you did not wrong but with just cause.' 
Possibly the words that were ascribed by Jonson to Shakespeare's char- 
acter of CcBsar appeared in the original version of the play, but owing 
perhaps to Jonson's captious criticism they do not figure in the Folio 
version, the sole version that has reached us. The only words there 
that correspond with Jonson's quotation are Csesar's remark : 

Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause 
Will he be satisfied 

(in. i. 47-8). The rhythm and sense seem to require the reinsertion 
after the word 'wrong' of the phrase 'but with just cause,' which Jon- 
son needlessly reprobated. Leonard Digges (1588-1635), one of Shake- 


3wn ground. Shakespeare was, too, on the point of 
dealing in a new play a crushing blow at the pretensions 
af all who reckoned themselves his masters. 

Soon after the production of 'Juhus Caesar' Shake- 
speare completed the first draft of a tragedy, which 
Snally left Jonson and all friends and foes 'Hamlet,' 
lagging far behind him in reputation. This ^^°^- 
aew exhibition of the force of his genius re-established, 
too, the ascendency of the adult actors who interpreted 
his work, and the boys' supremacy was Jeopardised. 
Early in the second year of the seventeenth century 
Shakespeare produced 'Hamlet,' ' that piece of his which 
most kindled EngUsh hearts.' 

As in the case of so many of Shakespeare's plots, the 
itory of his prince of Dermiark was in its main outlines of 
indent origin, was well known in contemporary r^j^^ 
France, and had been turned to dramatic pur- Danish 
pose in England before he applied his pen to it. '^^end. 
The rudimentary tale of a prince's vengeance on an 
uncle who has slain his royal father is a mediaeval tra- 
dition of pre-Christian Denmark. As early as the 
thirteenth century the Danish chronicler, Saxo Gram- 
maticus, embodied Hainlet's legendary history in his 
Historia Danica,' which was first printed in 15 14. 
Saxo's unsophisticated and barbaric narrative found in 
1570 a place in 'Les Histoires Tragiques,' a French mis- 
:ellany of translated legend or romance by Pierre de 
Belleforest.'' The French collection of tales, was fa- 
miliar to Shakespeare and to many other dramatists of 

ipeare's admiring critics, emphasises ' the superior popularity in the 
ieatre of Shakespeare's Julius Casar to Ben Jonson's Roman play of 
Zatiline, in his eulogistic lines on Shakespeare (published after Digges's 
leath in the 1640 edition of Shakespeare's Poems) ; see p. 589 n. 2 

^ Histoire No. cviii. Cf. Gericke und Max Moltke, Hamlet-QueUen, 
Leipzig, 1881. Saxo Grammaticus's Historia Danica, bks. i.-ix., ap- 
aeared in an English translation by Prof. Oliver Elton with an intro- 
iuction by Prof. York Powell in 1894 (Folklore Soc. vol. 33). Hamlet's 
itory was absorbed into Icelandic mythology; cf. Ambales Saga, ed. by 
Prof. Israel GoUancz, 1898. 



the day. No English translation of Belief ores t's Frend 
version of Hamlet's history seems to have been avail- 
able when Shakespeare attacked the theme.^ But a 
dramatic adaptation was already at his disposal in his 
own tongue. 

The primordial Danish version of the 'Hamlet' story, 
which the French rendering Hterally follows, is a relic of 
The bar- heathenish barbarism, and the dramatic pro- 
barism of ccsscs of purgation which Shakespeare perfected 
the legend. ^^^^ clearly bcgun by another hand. The pre- 
tence of madness on the part of the young prince who 
seeks to avenge his father's murder is a central feature 
of the fable in all its forms, but in the original version 
the motive develops without much purpose in a repulsive 
environment of unqualified brutahty. HorwendiU, King 
of Denmark, the father of the hero Amleth, was accord- 
ing to Saxo craftily slain in a riot by his brother Fengon, 
who thereupon seized the crown and married Geruth 
the hero's mother. In order to protect himself against 
the new King's malice, Amleth, an only child who has 
a foster brother Osric, dehberately feigns madness, 
without very perceptibly affecting the situation. The 
usurper suborns a beautiful maiden to tempt Amleth at 
the same time as she tests the genuineness of his malady. 
Subsequently his mother is induced by King Fengon to 
pacify Amleth's fears ; but in the interview the son brings 
home to Geruth a sense of her infamy, after he has slain 
in her presence the prying chamberlain of the court. 
Amleth gives evidence of a savagery, which harmonises 
with his surroundings, by dismembering the dead body, 
boiling the fragments and flinging them to the hogs to eat. 
Thereupon the uncle sends his nephew to England to 
be murdered ; but Amleth turns the tables on his guards, 
effects their death, marries the EngHsh King's daughter, 

^ The Hisiorie of EamUett, an English prose translation of Belleforest, 
appeared in 1608. It was doubtless one of many tributes to the interest 
in the topic which Shakespeare's drama stimulated among his fellow- 


and returns to the Danish Court to find his funeral in 
course of celebration. He succeeds in setting fire 'to the 
palace and he kills his uncle while he is seeking to escape 
the flames. Amleth finally becomes King of Denmark, 
only to encounter a fresh series of crude misadventures 
which issue in his violent death. 

Much reconstruction was obviously imperative before 
Hamlet's legendary experiences could be converted into 
tragedy of however rudimentary a t3^e. Shakespeare 
was spared the pains of applying the first spade to the 
unpromising soil. The first Elizabethan play which pre- 
sented Hamlet's tragic fortunes has not survived, save 
possibly in a few fragments, which are imbedded in a 
piratical and crudely printed first edition of Shakespeare's 
later play, as well as in a free German adaptation of 
somewhat mysterious origin.^ But external evidence 
proves that an old piece called 'Hamlet' was in existence 
in 1589 — soon after Shakespeare joined the theatrical 
profession. In that year the pamphleteer Tom The old 
Nashe credited a writer whom he called 'Eng- p'^^- 
lish Seneca' with the capacity of penning 'whole Ham- 
lets, I should say handfuls of tragical speeches.' Nashe's 
'English Seneca' may be safely identified with Thomas 
Kyd, a dramatist whose bombastic and melodramatic 
'Spanish Tragedie, containing the lamentable end of 
Don Horatio and Bel-Imperia, with the pittiful death of 
olde Hieronimo,' was written about 1586, and held the 

' See p. 362 infra. Der Bestrafte Brudermord, oder Prinz Hamlet aus 
Dannemark, the German piece, which seems to preserve fragments of 
the old Hamlet, was first printed in Berlin in 1781 from a MS. in the 
Dresden library, dated 1710. The drama originally belonged to the 
repertory of one of the English companies touring early in Germany. 
The crude German piece, while apparently based on the old Hamlet, 
bears many signs of awkward revision in the light of Shakespeare's sub- 
sequent version. Much ingenuity has been devoted to a discussion of 
the precise relations of Der Bestrafte Brudermord to the First Quarto and 
Second Quarto texts of Shakespeare's Hamlet, as well as to the old lost 
play. (See A. Cohn's Shakespeare in Germany, cv. seq. ; 237 seq. ; Gus- 
tav Tanger in the Shakespeare Jahrltich, xxiii. pp. 224 seq.; Wilhelm 
Creizenach in Modern Philology, Chicago, 1904-5, ii. 249-260; and 
M. Blakemore Evans, ibid. ii. 433-449). 


breathless attention of the average Elizabethan play- 
goer for at least a dozen years.^ Kyd's ' Spanish Trag- 
edie' anticipates with some skill the leading motive and 
an important part of the machinery of Shakespeare's 
play. Kyd's hero Hieronimo seeks to avenge the mur- 
der of his son Horatio in much the same spirit as Shake- 
speare's Prince Hamlet seeks to avenge his father's 
Kyd's death. Horatio, the friend of Shakespeare's 
authorship. Hamlet, is called after the victim of Kyd's 
tragedy. Hieronimo, moreover, by way of testing his 
suspicions of those whom he believes to be his son Ho- 
ratio's murderers, devises a play the performance of which 
is a crucial factor in the development of the plot. A 
ghost broods over the whole action in agreement with 
the common practice of the Latin tragedian Seneca. 
The most distinctive scenic devices qf Shakespeare's 
tragedy manifestly lay within the range of Kyd's dra- 
matic faculty and experience. The Danish legend 
knew nothing of' the ghost or the interpolated play. 
There is abundant external proof that in one scene of 
the lost play of 'Hamlet' the ghost of the hero's father 
exclaimed 'Hamlet, revenge.' Those words, indeed, 
deeply impressed the playgoing public in the last years 
of the sixteenth century and formed a popular catch- 
phrase in Elizabethan speech long before Shakespeare 
brought his genius to bear on the Danish tale. Kyd 
may justly be credited with the first invention of a play 
of 'Hamlet' on the tragic hues which Shakespeare's 
genius expanded and subtilised.^ 

^ According to Dekker's Satiromastix, Ben Jonson himself played 
the part of Hieronimo in the Spanish Tragedie on a provincial tour, 
when he first joined the profession. In 1602 Jonson made 'additions' 
to Kyd's popular pitece, and tJius tried to secure for it a fresh lease of 
life. (Kyd's Works, ed. Boas, kxxiv-v.) The superior triumph of 
Shakespeare's Hamlet in the same season may well have been regarded 
by Jonson's foes as another 'purging pill' for him. 

^ Shakespeare elsewhere shows acquaintance with Kyd's work. He 
places in the mouth of Kit Sly in the Taming of the Shrew the current 
catch-phrase 'Go by, Jeronimy,' which owed its currency to words in 
The Spanish Tragedie. Shakespeare, too, quotes verbatim a line from 


The old 'Hamlet' enjoyed in the London theatres 
almost as long a spell of favour as Kyd's 'Spanish 
Tragedie.' On June 9, 1594, it was revived at ^^^ , 
the Newington Butts theatre, when the Lord oA"roid 
Chamberlain's men, Shakespeare's company, 'h^"'«'-' 
were co-operating there with the Lord Admiral's men.^ 
A little later Thomas Lodge, in a pamphlet called 'Wits 
Miserie' (1596), mentioned 'the ghost which cried so 
miserably at the Theator hke an oister wife Hamlet 
revenge.' Lodge's words suggest a fresh revival of the 
original piece at the Shoreditch playhouse. In the 
'Satiromastix' of 1601 the blustering Captain Tucca 
mocks Horace (Ben Jonson) with the sentences :* 'My 
name's Hamlet Revenge; thou hast been at Parris Gar- 
den, hast not ? ' ^ This gibe implies yet another re- 
vival of the old tragedy in 1601 at a third playhouse — 
the Paris Garden theatre. 

There is little reason to doubt that Shakespeare's new 
interpretation of the popular fable was first xherecep- 
acted at the Globe theatre in the early winter tio" «£ 
of 1602, not long after the polemical 'Satiro- speare-s 
mastix' had run its course on the same boards.' tragedy. 
Burbage created the title r6le of the Prince of Denmark 

the same piece in Mtich Ado about Nothing (i. i. 271) : 'In time the 
savage bull doth bear the yoke'; but Kyd practically borrowed that 
line from Watson's Passionate Centurie (No. xlvii.), where Shakespeare 
may have met it first. 

'■ Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, ii. 164. 

' Horace [i.e. Jonson] replies that he has played 'Zulziman' at Paris 
Garden. , 'Soliman' is the name of a character in the interpolated play 
scene of the Spanish Tragedie and also of the hero of another of Kyd's 
tragedies — Soliman and Perseda. 

' Tucca's scornful mention of 'Hamlet' in Satiromastix was uttered 
on Shakespeare's stage by a fellow-actor in November 1601. Tucca's 
words presume that only the old play of Hamlet was then in existence, 
and that Shakespeare's own play on the subject had not yet seen the 
light. The drainatist's fellow players scored a very pronounced success 
with the production of Shakespeare's piece, and it was out of the ques- 
tioji that they shoiild make its hero's name a term of reproach after they 
had produced Shakespeare's tragedy. Some difficulty as to the date is 
suggested by the statement in all the printed versions of Shakespeare's 
Hamlet, beginning with the first quarto of 1603, that 'the tragedians 


with impressive effect ; but the dramatic triumph was as 
warmly acknowledged by readers of the piece as by the 
spectators in the playhouse. An early appreciation is 
extant in the handwriting of the critical scholar Gabriel 
Harvey. Soon after the play was made accessible to 
^readers, Harvey wrote of it thus: 'The younger sort 
Gabriel takcs much dehght in Shakespeares Venus & 
Harvey's Adonis : but his Lucrece, & his tragedie of 
comment, jj^mlet, Prfnce of Denmarke, haue it in them, 
to please the wiser sort.' "■ Many dramatists of repute 

of the city' had been lately forced to 'travel' in the country througli 
the menacing rivalry of the boy actors in London. No positive evidence 
is at hand to prove any unusual provincial activity on the part of Shake- 
speare's company or any other company of men actors during the seasons 
of 1600 or of 1601. Such partial research in municipal records as has 
yet been undertaken gives no specific indication that Shakespeare's 
company was out of London between 1597 and 1602, although three 
unspecified companies of actors are shown by the City Chamberlain's 
accounts to have visited Oxford in 1601. But the accessible knowledge 
of the men actors' provincial experience is too fragmentary to offer 
safe guidance as to their periods of absence from London. (See p. 83 
supra.) Examination of municipal records has shed much light on 
actors' country tours. But the research has not yet been exhaustive. 
The municipal archives ignore, moreover, the men's practice of per- 
forming at country fairs and at country houses, and few clues to such 
engagements survive. The absence of recorded testimony is not there- 
fore conclusive evidence of the failure of itinerant players to give pro- 
vincial performances during this or that season or in this or that place. 
Shakespeare's implication that the leading adult actors were much 
out of I^ondon in the course of the years 1600-1 is'in the circumstances 
worthier of acceptance than any inference from collateral negative 

' The precise date at which Gabriel Harvey penned these sentences 
is difficult to determine. They figure in a long and disjointed series 
of autograph comments on current literature which Harvey inserted 
in a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer published in 1598 (see Gabriel 
Harvey's Marginalia, ed. G. C. Moore Smith, pp. 232-3). Throughout 
the volume Harvey scattered many manuscript notes, and on the title- 
page and on the last page of the printed text he attached the date 1598 
to his own signature, sufficient proof that he acquired the book in the 
year of its publication. There is no ground for assuming that Harvey's 
mention of Hamlet was made in the same year. Francis Meres failed 
to include Hamlet in the full list of Shakespeare's successful plays which 
he supplied late in 1598 in his PaUadis Tamia; and Harvey, who was 
through life in the habit of scribbling in the margin of his books, clearly 
annotated his Speght's Chaucer at idle hours in the course of various 
years. Little which is of strict chronological pertinence is deducible 


were soon echoing lines from the successful piece, 
while familiar reference was made to 'mad Hamlet' 
by the pamphleteers. In the old play the ghost had 
excited popular enthusiasm; in Shakespeare's ^nthon 
tragedy the personaHty of the Prince of Den- Scoioker's 
mark riveted public attention. In 1604 one '^°^^'^^- 
Anthony Scoloker published a poetical rhapsody called 
'Daiphantus or the Passions of Loue.' In an eccentric 
appeal 'To the Reader' the writer commends in general 
terms the comprehensive attractions of 'friendly Shake- 
speare's tragedies ' ; as for the piece of writing on which 
he was engaged he disavows the hope that it should 
'please all like prince Hamlet,' adding somewhat am- 
biguously 'then it were to be feared [it] would run mad.' 
In the course of the poem which follows the 'Epistle,' 
Scoloker, describing the maddening effects of love, credits 
his lover with emulating Hamlet's behaviour. He 

Puts off his clothes ; his shirt he only wears 
Much like mad-Hamlet. 

from the dates of publication of the poetical works, which he strings 
together in the long note containing the reference to Hamlet. One sen- 
tence 'The Earle of Essex much commendes Albion's England' might 
suggest at a first glance that Harvey was writing at any rate before 
February 1601, when the Earl of Essex was executed. Yet much of 
the context makes it plain that Harvey uses the present tense in the 
historic fashion. In a later sentence he includes in a list of ' our flourish- 
ing metricians' the poet Watson, who was dead in 1592. He wrote of 
Watson in the present tense long after the poet ceased to live. A suc- 
ceeding laudatory mention of John Owen's New Epigrams which were 
first published in 1606 supports the inference that Harvey penned his 
note several years after Speght's Chaucer was acquired. No light is 
therefore thrown by Harvey on the precise date of the composition or 
of the first performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Harvey's copy_ of 
Speght's Chaucer (1598) was in the eighteenth century in the possession 
of Dr. Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore. George Steevens, in his 
edition of Shakespeare, 1773, cited the manuscript note respecting 
Hamlet while the book formed part of Bishop Percy's library, and Malone 
commented on Steevens's transcript in letters to Bishop Percy and in 
his Variorum edition, 1821, ii. 369 (cf. HalliweU-Phillipps, Memoranda 
on Hamlet, 1879, pp. 46-9). The volume, which was for a long time 
assumed to be destroyed, now belongs to Miss Meade, great-grand- 
daughter of Bishop Percy. The whole of Harvey's note is reproduced 
in facsimile and is fully annotated in Gabriel Harvey's Marginalia, ed. 
G. C. Moore Smith (Stratford-on-Avon, 1913). 


Parod3dng Hamlet's speech to the players, Scoloker's 
hero calls 'players fools' and threatens to 'learn them 
action.' ^ Thus as early as 1604 Shakespeare's recon- 
struction of the old play was receiving exphcit marks of 
popular esteem. 

The bibliography of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' offers a 
puzzUng problem. On July 26, 1602, 'A Book called the 

Revenge of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as it 
lenfofits was lately acted by the Lord Chamberlain his 
pubKca- Servants,' was entered on the Stationers' 

Company's Registers by the printer James 
Roberts, and it was pubhshed in quarto next year by 
Nicholas] L[ing] and John TrundeU.^ The title-page 
The First ^^^ '■ ' ^^^ Tragicall Historic of Hamlet Prince 
Quarto, of Denmarke. By William Shakespeare. As 
' °^' it hath beene diuerse times acted by his High- 

nesse Seruants in the Cittie of London as also in the 

^ Scoloker's work was reprinted by Dr. Grosart in 1880. 

' Although James Roberts obtained on July 26, 1602, the Stationers' 
Company's license for the publication of Hamlet, and although he printed 
the Second Quarto of 1604, he had no hand in the First Quarto of 1603, 
which was in all regards a piracy. Its chief promoter was Nicholas 
Ling, a bookseller and publisher, not a printer, who had taken up his 
freedom as a stationer in 1579, and was called into the livery in 1598. 
He was himself a man of letters, having designed a series of collected 
aphorisms in four volumes, of which the second was the well-known 
Palladis Tamia (1598) by Francis Meres. Ling compiled and pubhshed 
both the first volume of the series called Politeupheuia (iS97)) *iid the 
third called Wit's Theatre of the Little World (1599). In 1607 he tem- 
porarily acquired some interest in the publication of Shakespeare's 
Love's Labour's Lost and Romeo and Juliet (Arber, iii. 337, 365). With 
Ling there was associated in the unprincipled venture of the First Quarto 
of Hamlet, John Trundell, a stationer of small account. He took up 
his freedom as a stationer on October 29, 1597, but the Hamlet of 1603 
was the earliest volume on the title-page of which he figured. He had 
no other connection with Shakespeare's works. Ben Jonson derisively 
introduced Trundell's name as that of a notorious dealer in broadside 
ballads into Every Man in his Humour (i. ii. 63 folio edition, 1616). 
The printer of the First Quarto, who is unnamed on the title-page, has 
been identified with Valentine Simmes, who was often in difficulties for 
unlicensed and irregular printing. But Simmes had much experience 
in printing Shakespeare's plays ; from his press came the First Quartos 
of Richard III (iS97), Richard II (1597), 2 Henry IV (1600), and Much 
Ado (1600). (Cf. Pollard, Shakespeare Folios and Quartos, 1909, pp. 
73 seq. ; Mr. H. R. Plomer in Library, April 1906, pp. 153-5.) 


two Uniuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else- 
where.' The Lord Chamberlain's servants were not 
known as 'His Highnesse seruants' — the (designation 
bestowed on them on the title-page — before their for- 
rnal enrolment as King James's players on May 19, 
1603.^ It was therefore after that date that the First 
Quarto saw the light.^ 

The First Quarto of ' Hamlet ' was a surreptitious issue. 
The text is crude and imperfect, and there is Uttle doubt 
that it was prepared from shorthand notes xhe defects 
taken from the actor's lips during an early of the First 
performance at the theatre. But the dis- Q""'"- 
crepancies between its text and that of more authentic 
editions of a later date cannot all be assigned to the 
incompetency of the 'copy' from which the printer 
worked. The numerous divergences touch points of 
construction which are beyond the scope of a reporter 
or a cop3dst. The transcript followed, however lamely, 
a draft of the piece which was radically revised before 
'Hamlet' appeared in print again. 

The First Quarto furnishes 2143 lines — scarcely half 
as many as the Second Quarto, which gives the play 
substantially its accepted form. Several of the charac- 
ters appear in the First Quarto under unfamihar names ; 

' See p. 375 infra. 

2 The further statement on the title-page, that the piece was acted 
not only in the City of London but at the Universities of Oxford and 
Cambridge, is perplexing. At both Oxford and Cambridge the academic 
authorities did all they could, from 1589 onwards, to prevent perform- 
ances by the touring companies within the University precincts. The 
Vice-Chancellor made it a practice to bribe visiting actors with sums 
varying from ten to forty shillings to refrain from playing. The munici- 
pal officers did not, however,, share the prejudice of their academic 
neighbours, and according to the accounts of the City Chamberlain, 
as many as three companies, which the documents unluckily omit to 
specify individually by name, gave performances in the City of Oxford 
during the year 1600-1. It was only the towns of Oxford and Cambridge 
and not the universities themselves which could have given Shakespeare's 
Hamlet an early welcome. The misrepresentation on the title-page is in 
keeping with the general inaccuracy of the First Quarto text. (See 
F. S. Boas, 'Hamlet at the Universities' in Fortnightly Review, August 
1913, and his University Drama, 1914.) 


Polonius is called Corambis, Reynaldo Montano.' Some 
notable speeches — 'To be or not to be' for 
speM-e's example — appear at a different stage of the 
first rough action from that which was finally allotted 
them. One scene (11. 1247-82) has no counter- 
part in other editions ; there the Queen suffers herself to 
be convinced by Horatio of her second husband's in- 
famous character; in signal conflict with her attitude 
of mind in the subsequent version, she acknowledges 

treason in his [i.e. King Claudius's] lookes 
That seem'd to sugar or'e his viUanie. 

Through the last three acts the rhythm of the blank verse 
and the vocabulary are often reminiscent of Kyd's ac- 
knowledged work,^ and lack obvious aflSnity with Shake- 
speare's style. The collective evidence suggests that 
the First Quarto presents with much t5^ograpliical dis- 
figurement Shakespeare's first experiment with the 
theme. His design of a sweeping reconstruction of the 
old play was not fully worked out, and a few fragments of 
the original material were suffered for the time to remain.' 
A revised edition of Shakespeare's work, printed from 

1 Osric is only known as 'A Braggart Gentleman' and Francisco 
'A sentinel,' but here the shorthand notetaker may have failed to catch 
the specific names. 

2 Kyd's Works, ed. Boas, pp. xlv-liv— 'The Ur-HanJet'; c£. G. 
Sarrazin, 'Entstehung der Harnlet-tragodie ' in Anglia xii-iv. 

^ No other theory fits the conditions of the problem. Both omissions 
and interpolations make it clear that the transcriber of the First Quarto 
was not dependent on Shakespeare's final version, nor is there ground 
for crediting the transcriber with the abUity to foist by his own initiative 
reminiscences of the old piece on a defective shorthand report of Shake- 
speare's complete play. An internal discrepancy of construction which 
Shakespeare's later version failed to remove touches the death of Ophelia. 
According to the Queen's familiar speech (iv. vii. 167-84) the girl is the 
fatal victim of a pure accident. The bough of a willow tree, on which 
she rests while serenely gathering wild flowers, snaps and flings her into 
the brook where she is drowned. Yet in the scene of her burial all the 
references to her death assume that she committed suicide. It looks 
as if in the old play Ophelia took her own life, and that while Shake- 
speare altered her mode of death in act iv. sc. vii. he failed to reconcile 
with the change the comment on Ophelia's end in act v. sc. i. which 
echoed the original drama. 


a far more complete and accurate manuscript, was pub- 
lished in 1604. This quarto volume bore the title : ' The 
Tragicall Historic of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, by 
William Shakespeare. Newly imprinted and enlarged 
to almost as much againe as it was, according to the 
true and perfect coppie.' The printer was I[ames] 
R[oberts] and the publisher Npcholas] L[ing].^ The con- 
cluding words — -'according to the true and per- xhe Second 
feet coppie' — of the title-page of the Second Quarto, 
Quarto authoritatively stamped its predecessor ^^°*' 
as surreptitious and unauthentic. A second impression 
of the Second Quarto of 'Hamlet' bore the date 1605, 
but was otherwise unaltered. Ling, the pubhsher of the 
First Quarto, and not Roberts, the original licensee and 
printer of the Second Quarto, would seem to have been 
recognised as owner of copyright in the piece. On 
November 19, 1607, there was transferred, with other 
literary property, to a different pubhsher, John Smeth- 
wick, 'A booke called Hamlet . . . Whiche dyd be- 
longe to Nicholas 'Lyage.' ^ Smethwick published a 
Fourth Quarto of 'Hamlet' in 161 1 as well as a Fifth 
Quarto which was undated. Both follow the guidance 
of the Second Quarto. The Second Quarto is carelessly 
printed and awkwardly punctuated, and there are signs 
that the 'copy' had been curtailed for acting purposes. 
But the Second Quarto presents the fuUest of all extant 
versions of the play. It numbers nearly 4000 lines, and 
is by far the longest of Shakespeare's dramas.' 

' The printer of the Second Quarto, James Roberts, who_ held the 
Stationers' Company's license of July 26, 1602 for the publication of 
Hamlet, had clearly come to terms with Nicholas Ling, the piratical 
pubhsher of the First Quarto. Roberts, who was jjrinter and publisher 
of 'the players' biUs,' had been concerned in 1600 in the publication of 
Titus Andromicus (see p. 132), of the Merchant of Venice (see p. i37_«. 2), 
and of the Midsummer Night's Dream (see p. 231 n.) . He also obtained a 
license for the publication of Troilus and Cressida in 1603 (see pp. 365-6). 

' Stationers' Company's Registers, ed. Arber, iii. 365. 

' Hamlet is thus some three hundred lines longer than Richard III 
— the play by Shakespeare that approaches it most closely in numerical 
strengli of lines. 


A third version (long the textus receptus) figured in the 
Folio of 1623. Here some hundred lines which are want- 
The First "^§ ^^ ^^ quartos appear for the first time. 
FoUo The Folio's additions include the full account 

Version. q£ ^^ quarrel between the men actors and the 
boys, and some uncomplimentary references to Denmark 
in the same scene. Both these passages may well have 
been omitted from the Second Quarto of 1604 in defer- 
ence to James I's Queen Anne, who was a Danish prin- 
cess and an active patroness of the ' children-plaj^ers.' 
At the same time more than two hundred lines which 
figure in the Second Quarto are omitted from the Folio. 
Among the deleted passages is one of Hamlet's most 
characteristic soliloquies ('How all occasions do inform 
against me') with the preliminary observations which 
give him his cue (iv. iv. 9-66). The Folio text dearly 
followed an acting copy which had been abbreviated 
somewhat more drastically than the Second Quarto and 
in a different fashion.^ But the printers did their work 
more accurately than their predecessors. A collation of 
the First Folio with the Second Quarto is essential to the 
formation of a satisfactory text of the play. An en- 
deavour of the kind was first made on scholarly Knes by 
Lewis Theobald in his 'Shakespeare Restor'd' (1726). 
Theobald's text, with further embellishments by Sir 
Thomas Hanmer, Edward Capell, and the Cambridge 
editors of 1866, is now generally adopted. 

Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' has since its first production 
attracted more attention from actors, playgoers, and 
_ ^ readers of all capacities than any other of his 

Fennanent , t-, ^ , /■ ,. ■, 

popularity plays. tiom no piece of hterature have so 

•Hamlet.' ^^^Y phrases passed into colloquial speech. 

Its world-wide popularity from its author's day 

to our own, when it is as warmly welcomed in the theatres 

' Cf. Hamlel — parallel texts of the First and Second Quarto, and 
First Folio — ed. Wilhelm Vietor, Marburg, 1891; The Devonshire 
Bamlets, i860, parallel texts of the two quartos edited by Mr. Sam 


of France and Germany as in those of the British Empire 
and America, is the most striking of the many testi- 
monies to the eminence of Shakespeare's dramatic in- 
stinct . The old barbarous legend has been transfigured, 
and its coarse brutalities are sublimated in a new atmos- 
phere of subtle thought. At a tirst glance there seems 
little in the play to attract the uneducated or the unre- 
flecting, Shakespeare's ' Hamlet ' is mainly a psycliologi- 
cal etTort, a study of the rellective temperament in excess. 
T!\e action develops slowly ; at times there is no movement 
at all. The piece in its Ihial shape is not only the longest 
of Shakespeare's dramas, but the total length of Hamlet's 
speeches far exceeds that of those allotted by Shake- 
speare to any othe» of his characters. Humorous and 
quite original relief is etTectively supplied to the tragic 
theme by the garrulities of Polonius and the rustic 
grave-diggers. The controversial references to contem- 
porary theatrical history {n. ii. 350-89) could only count 
on a patient hearing from a sj^mpathetic Elizabethan 
audience, but the pungent censure of actors' perennial 
defects is calculated to catch tlie ear of the average 
playgoer of all ages. The minor characters are vividly 
elaborated. But it is not to these subsidiary features 
that the univers;ility of the play's vogue can be attrib- 
uted. It is the intensity of interest which Shakespeare 
contrives to e.Kcite in the cliaracter of tlie hero that 
explains the position of the phi}' in popular esteem. 
The play's uuri\alleil power of attraction lies in the 
pathetic fascination exerted on minds of almost every 
caHbre by the central figure — a high-born youtli of 
chivalric instincts and finely developed intellect, who, 
when stirred to axenge in action a desperate private 
wrong, is foikxl by introspective workings of tlie brain 
that paralyse the will. The pedigree of the conception 
flings a flood of light on the magical property of Shake- 
speare's individual genius. 

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 days 
of 1603. Four years before, in 1599, the dramatists 
'Troiius Dekker and Chettle were engaged by Philip 
and" "^ Henslowe to prepare a play of identical name for 
Cressida.' ^j^^ jg^^j.! ^f Nottingham's (formerly the Lord 
Admiral's) company — the chief rival of Shakespeare's 
company among the men actors. Of the pre-Shake- 
spearean drama of 'Troiius and Cressida,' only a frag- 
ment of the plot or scenario survives. There is small 
doubt that that piece suggested the topic to Shakespeare, 
although he did not follow it closely.^ On February 7, 
1602-3, James Roberts, the original licensee of Shake- 
speare's 'Hamlet,' obtained a hcense for 'the booke of 
"Troiius and Cresseda" as yt is acted by my Lord 
Chamberlens men {i.e. Shakespeare's company) ,2 to 
print when he has gotten sufficient authority for it.' 
Roberts's 'book' was probably Shakespeare's play. 
Roberts, who printed the Second Quarto of 'Hamlet' 
and others of Shakespeare's plays, failed in his effort to 
send 'Troiius' to press. The interposition of the players 
for the time defeated his effort to get ' sufl&cient author- 
ity for it.' But the metrical characteristics of Shake- 
speare's ' Troiius and Cressida ' — the regularity of the 
blank verse — powerfully confirm the date of composi- 
tion which Roberts's abortive license suggests. Six 
years later, however, on January 28, 1608-9, a- ^^^ license 
for the issue of 'a booke called the history of Troylus 
and Cressida' was granted to other publishers, Richard 
Bonian and Henry Walley,^ and these pubhshers, more for- 
tunate than Roberts, soon issued a quarto bearing on the 
title-page Shakespeare's full name as author and the date 

'■ The 'plot' of a play on the subject of Trailus and Cressida which 
may be attributed to Dekker and Chettle is preserved in the British 
Museum MSS. Addit. 10449 f. 5. This was first printed in Henslowe 
Papers, ed. Greg, p. 142. Eleven lines in the 1610 edition of Histrio- 
mastix (Act ill. 11. 269-79) parody a scene in Shakespeare's TroUus 
(v. ii.). Histriomastix was first produced in 1599. The passage in the 
edition of 1610 is clearly an interpolation of uncertain date and gives 
no clue to the year of composition or production of Shakespeare's piece. 

2 Stationers' Company's Registers, ed. Arber, iii. 226. ' Ibid., A°°- 


1609. The volume was printed by George Eld, but the 
t)rpography is not a good specimen of his customary skill. 
Exceptional obscurity attaches to the circumstances 
of the publication. Some copies of the book bear an 
ordinary type of title-page stating that 'The ^j^^ ^j^ 
Historie of Troylus and Cresseida ' was printed Ucation 
'as it was acted by the King's Majesties °^^^9- 
seruants at the Globe,' and that it was 'written by Wil- 
liam Shakespeare.' But in other copies, which differ 
in no way in regard either to the text of the play or to 
the publishers' imprint, there was substituted a more 
pretentious title-page running: 'The famous Historie 
of Troylus and Cresseid, excellently expressing the be- 
ginning of their loues with the conceited wooing of Pan- 
darus, prince of Licia, written by WilHam Shakespeare.' 
This pompous description was followed, for the first and 
only time in the case of a play by Shakespeare published 
in his lifetime, by an advertisement or preface super- 
scribed 'A never writer to an ever reader. News.' The 
anonymous pen supphes in the interest of the publishers 
a series of high-flown but well-deserved compliments 
to Shakespeare as a writer of comedies.^ 'Troilus and 
Cressida' was declared to be the equal of the best work 

' The tribute is worthy of note. The most eulogistic sentences 
run thus: 'Were but the vain names of comedies changed for titles 
of conmxodities or of plays for pleas, you should see all those grand 
censors that now style them such vanities flock to them for the main 
grace of their gravities; especially this author's comedies that are so 
framed to the life, that they serve for the most common commentaries 
of all the actions of our Uves, showing such a dexterity and power of 
wit, that the most displeased with plays are pleased with his comedies. 
And aU such dull and heavy witted worldlings as were never capable 
of the wit of a comedy, coming by report of them to his representations 
have found that wit that they never found in themselves, and have 
parted better witted than they came ; feeling an edge of wit set upon 
them more than ever they dreamed they had brain to grind it on. So 
much and such savoured salt of wit is in his comedies, that they seem 
(for their height of pleasure) to be born in that sea that brought forth 
Venus. Amongst all there is none more witty than this: and had I 
time I would comment upon it, though I know it needs not (for so much 
as will make you think your testern well bestowed) ; but for so much 
worth as even poor I know to be stuffed in it, deserves such a labour as 
well as the best comedy in Terence or Plautjis.' 


of Terence and Plautus, and there was defiant boasting 
that the 'grand possessors' — i.e. the theatrical owners— 
of the manuscript deprecated its publication. By way 
of enhancing the value of what were obviously stolen 
wares, it was falsely added that the piece was new and 
unacted, that it was 'a new play never staled with the 
stage, never clapperclawed with the palms of the vulgar.' 
The purchaser was adjured: 'Refuse not nor Uke this 
the less for not being sullied with the smoky breath of 
the multitude.' This address was possibly a brazen 
reply of the publishers to a more than usually emphatic 
protest on the part of players or dramatist against the 
printing of the piece. The 'copy' seemed to follow a 
The First Version of the play which had escaped theatrical 
Folio revision or curtailment, and may have reached 

version. ^^ press with the corrupt connivance of a 
scrivener in the authors' and managers' confidence. 
The editors of the First FoHo evinced distrust of the 
Quarto edition by printing their text from a different 
copy, but its deviations were not always for the better. 
The Folio 'copy,' however, suppUed Shakespeare's 
prologue to the play for the first time.^ 

The work, which in point of construction shows signs 
of haste, and in style is exceptionally unequal, is the 
Treatment ^^^.st attractive of the efforts of Shakespeare's 
of the middle fife. In matter and manner 'Troilus 
^^^' and Cressida' combines characteristic features 
of its author's early and late performances. His imagery 

^ A curious uncertainty as to the place wUch the piece should occupy 
in their volume was evinced by the First Folio editors. They began 
by printing it in their section of tragedies after Romeo and Juliet. With 
that tragedy of love Troilus and Cressida's cynical d^noliment awk- 
wardly contrasts, nor is the play, strictly speaking, a tragedy. Both 
hero and heroine leave the scene alive, and the death in the closing 
pages of Hector at Achilles' hand is no regular climax. Ultimately 
the piece was given a detached place without pagination between the 
close of the section of 'Histories' and the opening of the section of 
'Tragedies.' The editors' perplexities are reflected in their prdiminary 
table or catalogue of contents, in which Troilus and Cressida finds no 
mention at all. See First Folio Facsiroile, ed. Sidney Lee, Introduction, 


is sometimes as fantastic as in 'Romeo and Juliet'; 
elsewhere his intuition is as penetrating as in ' King Lear.' 
The problem resembles that which is presented by 'AU's 
Weir and may be solved by the assumption that the play 
was begun by Shakespeare in his early days, and was 
completed in the season of maturity. The treatment 
of the strange Trojan love story from which the piece 
takes its name savours of Shakespeare's youthful hand, 
while the complementary scenes, which the Greek leaders 
and soldiers dominate, bear trace of a more mature pen. 

The story is based not on the Homeric poem of Troy 
but on a romantic legend of the Trojan war, which 
a fertile mediaeval imagination quite irrespon- source of 
sibly wove round Homeric names. ' Both the plot. 
Troilus, the type of loyal love, and Cressida, the type 
of perjured love, were children of the twelfth century 
and of no classical era. The literature of the Middle 
Ages first gave them their general fame, which the ht- 
erature of the Renaissance steadily developed. 

Boccaccio first bestowed literary form on the tale of 
Troilus and his fickle mistress in his epic of ' Filostrato ' of 
1348, and on that foundation Chaucer built his touching 
poem of 'Troylus and Criseyde' — the longest of all his 
poetic narratives. To Chaucer the story owed its wide 
English vogue ^ and from him Shakespeare's love story 
in the play took its cue. No pair of lovers is more 
often cited than Troilus and his faithless mistress by 
Elizabethan poets, and Shakespeare, long before he 
finished Hs play, introduced their names in familiar 
allusion in 'The Merchant of Venice' (v. i. 4) and in 
'Twelfth Night' (in. i. 59). The mihtary and political 
episodes in the wars of Trojans and Greeks, with which 
Shakespeare encircles his romance, are traceable to two 

mediaeval books easily accessible to Elizabethans, which 


' Cressida's name in Benoit de Ste. More's Roman de Troyes, y?here 
her story was first told in the twelfth century, appears as Briseide, a 
derivative from the Homeric Briseis. Boccaccio converted, the name into 
Griseide and Chaucer into Criseyde, whence Cressida easily developed. 




both adapt in different ways the far famed Guido 
della Colonna's fantastic reconstruction or expansion of 
the Homeric myth in the thirteenth century ; the first 
of these authorities was Lydgate's 'Troy booke,' a 
long verse rendering of Coloima's 'Historia Trojana/ 
and the second was Caxton's 'Recuyell of the his- 
toryes of Troy,' a prose translation of a French epitome 
of Colonna. Shakespeare may have read the first in- 
stalment of Chapman's great translation of Homer's 
Iliad, of which two volumes appeared in 1598 

Shake- ' ^ . . i_ i /• ■ 

speare's — One coutaimng seven books (1. u. vu. vui. ix. 
acceptance ^i ) ^^^ ^j^g Other, Called 'Achilles' Shield,' 

01 a meal- ; , ,./ -i-» i i i 

aval contaming book xvm. But the drama owed 

tradition, nothing to Homcr's epic. Its picture of the 
Homeric world was a fruit of the mediaeval falsifications. 
At one point the dramatist diverges from his authorities 
with notable originahty. Cressida figures in his play as 
a heartless coquette; the poets who had previously 
treated her story — ^ Boccaccio, Chaucer, Lydgate, and 
Robert Henryson, the Scottish writer who echoed 
Chaucer — had imagined her as a tender-hearted, if 
frail, beauty, with claims on their pity rather than on 
their scorn. But Shakespeare's innovation is dramati- 
cally effective, and deprives fickleness in love of any false 
glamour. It is impossible to sustain the charge fre- 
quently brought against the dramatist that he gave proof 
of a new and original vein of cynicism, when, in 'Troilus 
and Cressida,' he disparaged the Greek heroes of classical 
antiquity by investing them with contemptible char- 
acteristics. Guido della Colonna and the authorities 
whom Shakespeare followed invariably condemn Homer's 
glorification of the Greeks and depreciate their characters 
and exploits. Shakespeare indeed does the Greek chief- 
tains Ulysses, Nestor, and Agamemnon a better justice 
than his guides, for whatever those veterans' moral 
defects he concentrated in their speeches a marvellous 
wealth of pithily expressed philosophy, much of which has 
fortunately obtained proverbial currency. Otherwise 


Shakespeare's conception of .the Greeks ran on the tradi- 
tional mediaeval Unes. His presentation of Achilles as a 
brutal coward is entirely loyal to the spirit of Guido della 
Colonna, whose veracity was unquestioned by Shake- 
speare or his tutors. Shakespeare's portrait interpreted 
the selfish, unreasoning, and exorbitant pride with which 
the warrior was credited by Homer's mediaeval expositors. 
Shakespeare's treatment of his theme cannot therefore 
be fairly construed, as some critics construe it, into a 
petty-minded protest against the honour paid to the 
ancient (Greeks and to the form and sentiment of their ht- 
ejrature by more learned dramatists of the day, Hke Ben 
Jonson and Chapman. Irony at the expense of classi- 
cal hero-worship was a common note of the Middle Ages. 
Shakespeare had already caught a touch of it when he por- 
trayed Julius Caesar, not in the fulness of the Dictator's 
powers, but in a pitiable condition of physical and men- 
tal decrepitude, and he was subsequently to show his 
tolerance of prescriptive habits of disparagement by con- 
tributing to the two pseudo-classical pieces of ' Pericles ' 
and 'Timon of Athens.' Shakespeare worked in 'Troilus 
and Cressida' over well-seasoned specimens of mediaeval 
romance, which were uninfluenced by the true classical 
spirit. Mediaeval romance adumbrated at all points 
Shakespeare's unheroic treatment of the Homeric heroes.^ 

1 Less satisfactory is the endeavour that has been made by F. G. 
Fleay and George Wyndham to treat Troilus and Cressida as Shake- 
speare's contribution to the embittered controversy of 1601-2, between 
Jonson on the one hand and Marston and Dekier and their actor- 
friends on the other hand, and to represent the play as a pronouncement 
against Jonson. According to this fanciful view, Shakespeare held up 
Jonson to savage ridicule in Ajax, while in Thersites he denounced with 
equal bitterness Marston, despite Marston's antagonism to Jonson, 
which entitled him to freedom from attack by Jonson's foes. The con- 
troversial interpretation of the play is in conflict with chronology (for 
Troilus cannot, on any showing, be assigned to the perigd of the war 
between Jonson, Dekker, and Marston, in 1601-2), and it seems con- 
futed by the facts and arguments already adduced in the discussion of the 
theatrical conflict (see pp. 342 seq. and especially pp. 349-50). Another 
untenable theory represents Troilus and Cressida as a splenetic attack 
on George Chapman, the translator of Homer and champion of classical 
literature (see Acheson's Shakespeare and the Rival Poet, 1903). 



Despite the suspicions of sympathy with the Earl of 
Essex's revolt which the players of Shakespeare's corn- 
Last per- pany incurred and despite their stubborn 
formances controversy with the Children of the Chapel 
Queen Royal, Shakespeare and his colleagues main- 
Elizabeth, tained their hold on the favour of the Court 
till the close of Queen Elizabeth's reign. No political 
anxiety was suffered to interrupt the regular succession 
of their appearances on the royal stage. On Boxing 
Day 1600 and on the succeeding Twelfth Night, Shake- 
speare's company was at Whitehall rendering as usual 
a comedy or interlude each night. Within httle more 
than a month Essex made his sorry attempt at rebellion 
in the City of London (on February 9, 1 600-1) and on 
Shrove Tuesday (February 24) Queen Elizabeth signed 
her favourite's death warrant. Yet on the evening of 
that most critical day — barely a dozen hours before the 
Earl's execution within the precincts of the Tower of 
London — Shakespeare's band of players produced at 
Whitehall one more play in the sovereign's presence. 
As the disturbed year ended, the guests beneath the 
royal roof were exceptionally few,^ but the acting com- 
pany's exertions were not relaxed at Court. During the 
next Christmas season Shakespeare's company revisited 

' Cf. Chlendar of State Papers, Domestic, vol. 283, no. 48 (Dudley 
Carleton to John Chamberlain, Dec. 29, 1601) : 'There has been such 
a small court this Christmas that the guard were not troubled to keep 
doors at the plays and pastimes.' Besides the plays at Court this Christ- 
mas the Queen witnessed one performedin her honour at Lord Hunsdon's 
hous^ in Blackfriars, presumably by Shakespeare's company of which 
Lord Hunsdon, then Lord Chamberlain, was the patron (ibid.). 



Whitehall no less than four times — on Boxing Day and 
St. John's Day (December 27, 1601) as well as oil New 
Year's Day and Shrove Sunday (February 14, 1601-2).^ 
Their services were requisitioned once again on Boxing 
Day, 1602, but Queen Elizabeth's days were then at 
length numbered. On Candlemas Day (February 2) 
1602-3, the company travelled to Richmond, Surrey, 
whither the Queen had removed in vain hope of recover- 
ing her failing health, and there for the last time Shake- 
speare and his friends offered her a dramatic entertain-r 
ment.^ She hved only seven weeks longer. On March 
24, 1602-3, she breathed her last at Richmond.' 

The literary ambitions of Henry Chettle, Shakespeare's 
early eulogist and Robert Greene's pubUsher, had long 
withdrawn him from the pubHshing trade. At shake- 
the end of the century he was making a penuri- speare and 
ous hvelihood by ministering with vast industry Queen's 
to the dramatic needs of the Lord Admiral's '^^^'^^■ 
company of players. 'The London Florentine,' the 
last piece (now lost) which was prepared for presentation 
by the Lord Admiral's men before Queen Elizabeth 
early in March 1602-3, was from the pen of Chettle in 
partnership with Thomas Hpywood, and for its render- 
ing at Court Chettle prepared a special prologue and 
epilogue.* It was not unfitting that the favoured author 
should interrupt his dramatic labour in order to com- 
memorate the Queen's death. His tribute was a pastoral 
elegy (of mingled verse and prose) .called 'England's 
Mourning Garment.' It appeared just after the Sover- 
eign's funeral in Westminster Abbey on April 28. Into 

' E. K. Chambers in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1907), vol. ii. p. 12. 

^ Murray, English Dramatic Companies, i. 105 seq. ; Cunningham, 
Revels, xxxii. seq. 

' After the last performance of Shakespeare's company at the Palace 
of Richmond and before the Queen's death, Edward Alleyn with the 
Lord Admiral's conapany twice acted before her there — once on Shrove 
Sunday (March 6), and again a day or two later on an unspecified date. 
See Tucker Murray, English Dramatic Companies, i. 138;. Henslowe's 
Diary, ed. Greg, i. 17 1-3; Cunningham, Revels, xxxiv. 

* Henslowe's Diary, ed. Greg, i. 173. 


his loyal panegyric the zealous elegist wove expressions 
of surprised regret that the best known poets of the day 
had withheld their pens from his own great theme. 
Under fanciful names in accordance with the pastoral 
convention, Chettle, who himself assumed Spenser's 
pastoral title of CoHn, appealed to Daniel, Drayton, 
Chapman, Ben Jonson, and others to make Elizabeth's 
royal name 'live in their lively verse.' Nor was Shake- 
speare, whose progress Chettle had watched with sjon- 
pathy, omitted from the Ust of neglectful singers. ' The 
silver-tongued Melicert' was the pastoral appellation 
under which Chettle Hghtly concealed the great dram- 
atist's identity. Deeply did he grieve that Shakespeare 
should forbear to 

Drop from his honied muse one sable teare, 
To mourne her death that graced his desert, 
And to his laies opened her royal eare. 

The apostrophe closed with the lines : 

Shepheard, remember our Elizabeth, 

And sing her Rape done by our Tarquin Death. 

The reference to Shakespeare's poem of 'Lucrece' left 
the reader in no doubt of the writer's meaning.^ But 
there were critics of the day who deemed Shakespeare 
better employed than on elegies of royalty. Testimonies 
to the worth of the late Queen flowed in abundance 
from the pens of ballad-mongers whose ineptitudes 
were held by many to profane 'great majesty.' A 
satiric wit heaped scorn on Chettle who 

calde to Shakespeare, Jonson, Greene 
To write of their dead noble Queene. 

Any who responded to the invitation, the satirist sug- 
gested, would deserve to suffer at the stake for poetical 

* England's Mourning Garment, 1603, sign. D. 3, reprinted in Shak- 
spere Allusion Books (New Shak. Soc. 1874), ed. C. M. Ingleby, p. 98. 

'^ 'Epigrams ... By I. C. Gent.,' London [1604?], No. 12; see 
Shakspere Allusion Books, pp. 121-2. The author I. C. is unidentified. 
His reference to 'Greene' is to Tbpmas Greene, the popular comedian. 


Save on grounds of patriotic sentiment, the Queen's 
death justified no liimenLalion on the part of Shakespeare. 
lie had no material reason for mourning, jamcsl'i 
On the withdrawal (jf one royal patron he and "ccenion, 
his friends at. once found another, who proved far more 
liberal and appreciative. Under the immediate auspices 
of the new Kin^' and Queen, dramatists and actors en- 
joyed a prosperity and a consideration which improved 
on every (irecedent. 

On May iq, 1603, James I, very soon after his acces- 
sion, extended to Shakespeare and other members of the 
hord Chamberliiin's company a very marked 
and valuable rec:o(,'nition. To them he j,'ranted mt'enuo 
under royal letters [)atent a license 'freely Shake- 
to use and exercise the arte and facultie of JSmpany, 
playinj^ comedies, tragedies, histories, enter- May ig, , 
ludes, moralls, fiastoralles, stage-pJaies, 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 i)leasure, when we shall 
thinkegood 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 or other convenient place in 
any country town. Nine actors were alone mentioned 
individually by name. Other members of the com- 
pany were merely described as 'the rest of their asso- 
ciates.' Lawrence I'letchcr stood first on the list; he 
had already performed before James in Scotland in 1599 
and 1601. Shakespeare came second and Burbage third. 
'I'here followed Augustine i'hillips, John Heminges, 
Henry (.'ondell, William Sly, RolK-Tt Armin, shake- 
and Richard Cowley. 'I'he company to which *ptana» 
Shakespeare and his colleagues belonged was of the 
thenceforth styled the King's company, its Chamber, 
members became 'the iting's Servants.' In accordance, 
moreover, with a precedent created liy Queen Elizabeth 
in 1583, they were numbered among the Grooms of the 


Chamber.! -phg like rank was conferred oh the mem- 
bers of the company which was taken at the same time 
into the patronage of James I's Queen-consort Anne of 
• Denmark, and among Queen Anne's new Grooms of the 
Chamber was the actor-dramatist Thomas Heywood, 
whose career was always running parallel with that of the 
great poet. Shakespeare's new status as a complemen- 
tary member of the royal household had material advan- 
tages. In that capacity he and his fellows received from 
time to time cloth wherewith to provide themselves 
liveries, and a small fixed salary of 525. ^d. a year. 
Gifts of varying amount were also made them at festive 
seasons by the controller of the royal purse at the Sov- 
ereign's pleasure and distinguished royal guests gave 
them presents. The household ' office of Groom of the 
Chamber was for the most part honorary,^ but occasionally 
the actors were required to perform the duties of Court 

1 The royal license of May 19, 1603, was first printed from the patent 
roll in Rymer's Fcedera (1715). xvi. 505, and has been very often re- 
printed (cf. Malone Soc. Coll. 191 1, vol. i. 264). At the same time the 
Earl of Worcester's company, of which Thomas Heywood, the actor- 
dramatist, was a prominent member, was taken into the Queen's patron- 
age, and its members became the Queen's servants, and likewise ' Grooms 
of the Chamber,' while the Lord Admiral's (or the Earl of Nottingham's) 
company were taken into the patronage of Henry Prince of Wales, and 
its members were known as the Prince's Servants until his death in 161 2, 
when they were admitted into the 'service' of his biother-in-law the 
Elector Palatine. The remnants of the ill-fated company of Queen 
Elizabeth's Servants seem to have passed at her death first to the patron- 
age of Lodovick Stuart, Duke of Lenox, and then to Prince Charles, Duke 
of York, afterwards Prince of Wales and King Charles I (Murray's 
English Dramatic Companies, i. 228 seq.). This extended patronage of 
actors by the royal family was noticed as especially honourable to the 
King by one of his contemporary panegyrists, Gilbert Dugdale, in his 
Time Triumphant, 1604, sig. B. 

^ See Dr. Mary Sullivan's Court Masques of James I (New York, 
1913), where many new details are given from the Lord Chamberlain's 
and Lord Steward's records in regard to the pecuniary rewards of actors 
who were Grooms of the Chamber. The Queen's company, which was 
formed in 1583, but soon lost its prestige in London, had been previously 
allotted the same status of 'Grooms of the Chamber' on its formation 
(see p. 50 supra). At the French Court at the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tury the leading actors were given the corresponding rank of 'valets de 
chambre' in the royal household. See French Renaissance in England, 
P- 439- 


ushers, and they were then allotted board wages or 
the pecuniary equivalent in addition to their other 
emoluments. From the date of Shakespeare's admis- 
sion to titular rank in the royal household his plays 
were repeatedly acted in the royal presence, and the 
dramatist grew more intimate than of old with the social 
procedure of the Court. There is a credible tradition 
that King James wrote to Shakespeare ' an amicable let- 
ter' in his own hand, which was long in the possession of 
Sir William D'Avenant.^ 

In the autimm and winter of 1603 an exceptionally 
virulent outbreak of the plague led to the closing of the 
theatres in London for fully six months. The ^^ watoh 
King's players were compelled to make a Dec. 2, 
prolonged tour in the provinces, and their ' °^' 
normal income seriously decreased. For two months 
from the third week in October, the Court was tem- 
porarily installed at Wilton, the residence of WiUiam 
Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke, a nobleman •whose 
literary tastes were worthy of a nephew of Sir Philip 
Sidney. Late in November Shakespeare's company was 
summoned thither by the royal officers to perform be- 
fore the new King. The actors travelled from Mort- 
lake to SaHsbury 'unto the Courte aforesaide,' and their 
performance took place at Wilton House on December 2. 
They received next day 'upon the Councells warrant' 
the large sum of 30^. 'by way of his majesties reward.' ^ 

' This circumstance was first set forth in print, on the testimony of 
'a credible person then living,' by Bernard Lintot the bookseller, in 
the preface of his edition of Shakespeare's poems in 1710. Oldys sug- 
gested Uiat the 'credible person' who saw the letter while in D'Avenant's 
possession was John ShrfSeld, Duke of Buckingham (i'648-i72i), who 
characteristically proved his regard for Shakespeare by adapting to the 
Restoration stage his Julius Casar. 

' The entry, which appears in the accounts of the Treasurer of the 
Chamber, was first printed in 1842 in Cunningham's Extracts from_ the 
Accounts of the Revels at Court, p. xxxiv. A comparison of Cunning- 
ham's transcript with the original in the Public Record Office {Audit 
Office — Declared A ccounts — Treasurer of the Chamber, RoU 41 , Bundle 
No. 388) shows that it is accurate. The Earl of Pembroke was in no way 
responsible for the performance at Wilton House. At the time, the 


A few weeks later the King gave a further emphatic 
sign of his approbation. The plague failed to abate and 
the Court feared to come nearer the capital 
tonC^rt, than Hampton Court. There the Christmas 
Christmas, jioHdays were spent, and Shakespeare's company 
were summoned to that palace to provide again 
entertainment for the King and his family. During the 
festive season between St. Stephen's Day, December 26, 
1603, and New Year's Day, January i, 1604, the King's 
players rendered six plays — four before the King and 
two before Prince Henry. The programme included 'a 
play of Robin Goodfellow,' which has been rashly identi- 
fied with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' The royal 
reward amounted to the generous sum of 53/.^ In view 
of the fatal persistence of the epidemic Shakespeare's 
company, when the new year opened, were condemned 
to idleness, for the Privy Council maintained its prohi- 
bition of public performances 'in or neare London by 
reason* of greate perill that might growe through the 
extraordinarie concourse and assemblie of people.' 
The King proved afresh his benevolent interest in his 
players' welfare by directing the payment, on February 8, 
1603-4, of 30/. to Richard Burbage 'for the mayntenance 
and rehefe of himself e and the reste of his companie.'^ 

The royal favour flowed indeed in an uninterrupted 
stream. The new King's state procession through the 
City of London, from the Tower to Whitehall, was orig- 
inally designed as part of the coronation festivities for 
the summer of 1603. But a fear of the coming plague 
confined the celebrations then to the ceremony of the 
crowning in Westminster Abbey on July 25, and the pro- 
Court was formally installed in his house (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 
1603-10, pp. 47-59), and the Court officers commissioned the players 
to perform there, and paid all their expenses. The alleged tradition, 
recently promulgated for the first time by the owners of Wilton, that 
As You Like It was performed on the occasion, is unsupported by con- 
temporary evidence. 

' See Cunningham's Extracts from the Rends, p. jcxxv, and Ernest 
Law's History of Hampton Court Palace, ii. 13. 

2 Cunningham, ibid. 


cession was postponed till the spring of the following 
year. When the course of the sickness was at length 
stayed, the royal progress through the capital ^j^^^ , 
was fixed for March 15, 1603-4, and the page- progress 
antry was planned on an elaborate scale. London 
Triumphal arches of exceptional artistic charm March is. 
spanned the streets, and the beautiful designs ^^'*" 
were reproduced in finished copper-plate engravings.^ 
Just before the appointed day Shakespeare arid eight other 
members of lais acting company each received as a mem- 
ber of the royal household from Sir George Home, master 
of the great wardrobe, four and a half yards of scarlet 
cloth wherewith to make themselves suits of royal red. 
In the document authorising the grant, Shakespeare's 
name stands first on the Hst ; it is immediately followed 
by that of Augustine PhiUips, Lawrence Fletcher, John 
Heminges, and Richard Burbage.^ There is small like-" 
lihood that Shakespeare and his colleagues joined the 
royal cavalcade in tlieir gay apparel. For the Herald's 
official order of precedence allots the actors no place, 
nor is their presence noticed by Shakespeare's friends, 
Drayton and Ben Jonson, or by the dramatist Dekker, 
all of whom published descriptions of the elaborate 
ceremonial in verse or prose.' But twenty days after 
the royal passage through London — on April 9, 1604 — 
the Kong added to his proofs of friendly regard for the 
fortunes of his actors. He caused the Privy Council to 
send an official letter to the Lord Mayor of London and 

' See The Arclies of Triumph . . . invented and pMislied by Stephen 
Hturrison, Joyner and ArMttct and graven by William Kip, London, 1604. 

' The grant which is in the Lord Chamberlain's books ix. 4 (5) in the 
Public Record Office was printed in the New Shakspere Society's Trans- 
actions 1877-9, Appendix II. The main portion is reproduced in fac- 
simile in jNIr. Ernest Law's SImkespeare as a Groont of the Chamber, 1910, 
p. 8. A blank space in the list separates the first five names (given 
above) from the last four, viz. William Sly, Robert Annin, Henry Con- 
dell, and Richard Cowley. 

' The King's players on the other hand were allotted a place in the 
funeral procession of James I in 1623, while a like honour was accorded 
the Queen's players in her funeral procession in 1618 (Law's Shake- 
speare as a Groom of the Chamber, 12-13). 


the Justices of the Peace for Middlesex and Surrey, bid- 
ding them 'permit and suffer' the King's players to 
'exercise their playes' at their 'usual house/ the Globe.' 
The plague had disappeared, and the Corporation of Lon- 
don was plainly warned against indulging their veteran 
grudge against Shakespeare's profession. 

Nor in the ceremonial conduct of current diplomatic 
affairs did the Court forgo the personal assistance of the 
The actors actors. Early in August _ 1 604 there reached 
atsomer- London, on a diplomatic mission of high 
Aug^^fs, national interest, a Spanish ambassador- 
i6°4- ' extraordinary, Juan Fernandez de Velasco, 
Duke de Frias, Constable of Castile, and Great Cham- 
berlain to King Philip III of Spain. His ■ companions 
were two other Spanish statesmen and three representa- 
tives of Archduke Albert of Austria, the governor of the 
Spanish province of the Netherlands. The purpose of 
the mission was to ratify a treaty of peace between Spain 
and England.^ Through nearly the whole of Queen 
EHzabeth's reign — from the , days of Shakespeare's 
youth — the two countries had engaged in a furious 
duel by sea and land in both the hemispheres. The 
defeat of the Armada in 1588 was for England a glorious 
incident in the struggle, but it brought no early settle- 
ment in its train. Sixteen years passed without termi- 
nating the quarrel, and though in the autumn of 1604 

' A contemporary copy of this letter, which declared the Queen's 
players acting at the Fortune and the Prince's players at the Curtain 
to be entitled to the same privileges as the King's players at the Globe, 
is at Dulwich College (cf. G. F. Warner's Cat. Dtdwich MSS. pp. 26-7). 
Collier printed it in his New Facts with fraudulent additions, in which 
the names of Shakespeare and other actors figured. 

2 There is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, a painting by 
Marc Gheeraedts, representing the six foreign envoys in consultation 
over the treaty at Somerset House in August 1604 with the five English 
commissioners, viz., Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset (co-author in 
early life of the first English tragedy of Gorboduc) ; Charles Howard, 
Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral (patron of the well-known 
company of players) ; Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire (Essex's 
successor as Lord Deputy of Ireland) ; Henry Howard, Earl of North- 
ampton, and Sir Robert Cecil, the King's Secretary (afterwards Lord 
Cranborne and Earl of Salisbury). 


many Englishmen still agitated for a continuance of 
the warfare, James I and his Government were resolutely 
bent on ending the long epoch of international strife. 
The EngUsh Court prepared a magnificent reception for 
the distinguished envoys. The ambassador was lodged, 
with his two companions from Spain, at the royal residence 
of Somerset House in the Strand, and there the twelve 
chief members of Shakespeare's company were ordered 
in their capacity of Grooms of the Chamber to attend the 
Spanish guests for the whole eighteen days of their stay. 
The three Flemish envoys were entertained at another 
house in the Strand, at Durham House, and there Queen 
Anne's company of actors, of which Thomas Heywood 
was a member, provided the household service. On 
August 9 Shakespeare and his colleagues went into resi- 
dence at Somerset House 'on his Majesty's service,' 
in order to 'wait and attend' on the Constable of Castile, 
who headed the special embassy, and they remained 
there till August 28. Professional work was not re- 
quired of the players. Cruder sport than the drama 
was alone admitted to the official programme of amuse- 
ments. The festivities in the Spaniards' honour cul- 
minated in a splendid banquet at Whitehall on Sunday 
August 28 (new style) — the day on which the treaty 
was signed. In the morning the twelve actors with the 
other members of the royal household accompanied the 
Constable in formal procession from Somerset House to 
James I's palace. At the banquet, Shakespeare's patron, 
the Earl of Southampton, and the Earl of Pembroke 
acted as stewards. There followed a ball, and the 
eventful day was brought to a close with exhibitions of 
bear-baiting, bull-baiting, rope-dancing, and feats of 
horsemanship.^ Subsequently Sir John Stanhope (after- 

' Cf. Stow's Chronicle 1631, pp. 845-6, and a Spanish pamphlet, 
Relation de la Jornada del exi""' Condestabile de CasUlla, etc., Antwerp, 
1604, 4to, which was summarised in Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd series, 
vol. iii. pp. 207-215, and was partly translated in Mr. W. B. Rye's 
England as seen by Foreigners, pp. 117-124. In the unprinted accounts 
of Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels for the year October 1603 to 


wards Lord Stanhope of Harrington), who was Treasurer 
of the chamber, received order of the Lord Chamber- 
lain to pay Shakespeare and his friends for their services 
the sum of 21^. 125.'- The Spanish Constable also 
bestowed a Uberal personal gift on every English oflScial 
who attended on him during his eighteen days' sojourn 
in London. 

At normal times throughout his reign James I relied 
to an ever-increasing extent on the activity of Shake- 
speare's company for the entertainment of the 
'iS've's °* Court, and royal appreciation of Shakespeare's 
/Labour's dramatic work is well attested year by year. 
In the course of 1604 Queen Anne expressed a 
wish to witness a play under a private roof, and the 
Earl of Southampton's mansion in the Strand was 
chosen for the purpose. A prominent officer of the Court, 
Sir Walter Cope, in whose hands the arrangements 

October 1604, charge is made for his three days' attendance with four 
men to direct the non-dramatic entertainments 'at the receaving of 
the Constable of Spayne' (Public Record Office, Declared Accounts, 
Pipe Office Roll 2805). 

1 The formal record of the service of the King's players and of their 
payments is in the Pubhc Record Office among the Audit Office Declared 
Accounts of the Treasurer of the Kynges Majesties Chamber Roll 41, 
Bundle No. 388. The same information is repeated in the Pipe Office 
Parchment Bundle, No. 543. The warrant for payment was granted 
' to Augustine Phillipps and John Hemynges for the allowance of them- 
selves and tenne of their feUowes.' Shakespeare, the very close associate 
of Phillips and Heminges, was one of the 'tenne.' The remaining nine 
certainly included Burbage, Lawrence Fletcher, CondeU, Sly, Armin, 
and Cowley. Halliwell-Phillipps, in iis Outlines (i. 213), vaguely noted 
the effect of the record without giving any reference. Mr. Ernest Law 
has given a facsimile of the pay warrant in his Shakespeare as a Groom of 
the Chamber, 1910, pp. 19 seq. The popular comedian Thomas Greene, 
and ten other members of the Queen's company (including Heywood) 
who were in 'waiting as Grooms of the Chamber' on the Spanish envoy's 
companions — the three diplomatists from the Low Countries — at 
Durham House, for the eighteen days of their sojourn there received a 
fee of igZ. 16s. — a rather smaller sum than Shakespeare's compajiy 
(Mary Sullivan, Court Masquss of James I, 1913, p. 141). The Flemish 
embassy was headed by the Count d'Aremberg, and one of his two com- 
panions was Louis Verreiken, whom, on a previous visit to London, in 
March 1599-1600, Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, had enter- 
tained at Hunsdon House when Shakespeare's company performed a 
play there for his amusement (see p. 65 n. 2 and 244 n. supra). 


were left, sent for Burbage, Shakespeare's friend and 
colleague. Burbage informed Sir Walter that there 
was 'no new play that the Queen had not seen' ; but his 
company had 'just revived an old one called "Love's 
Labour's Lost," which for wit and mirth' (he said) 
would 'please her Majesty exceedingly.' Cope readily 
accepted the suggestion, and the earliest of Shakespeare's 
comedies which had won Queen Elizabeth's special 
approbation was submitted to the new Queen's judg- 

At holiday seasons Shakespeare and his friends were 
invariably visitors at the royal palaces. Between All 
Saints' Day (November i), 1604, and the ensu- shake- 
ing Shrove Tuesday (February 12, 1604-5), they speare's 
gave no less than eleven performances at White- courtf' 
hall.^ As many as seven of the chosen plays i6°4-s. 
during this season were from Shakespeare's pen. 
'Othello,' the 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' 'Measure for 
Measure,' 'The Comedy of Errors,' 'Love's Labour's 
Lost,' 'Henry V,' were each rendered once, while of 'The 
Merchant of Venice' two performances were given, the 
second being specially ' com[m]aunded by the Kings 
M[ajes]tie.^ The King clearly took a personal pride in 
the repute of the company which bore his name, and he 
lost no opportunity of making their proficiency known 

^ Cope gave the actor a written message to that effect for him to 
carry to Sir Robert Cecil, Lord Cranbome, the King's secretary. Cope, 
inquired in his letter whether Lord Cranborne would prefer that his 
own house should take the place of Lord Southampton's for the purpose 
of the performance (Calendar of MSS. of the Marquis of Salisbury, 
in Hist. MSS. Comm. Third Rep. p. 148). 

^ At the Bodleian Library (MS. Rawlinson, A 204) are the original 
accounts of Lord Stanhope of Harrington, Treasurer of the Chamber 
for various (detached) years in the early part of James I's reign. These 
documents show that Shakespeare's company acted at Court on Novem- 
ber I and 4, December 26 and 28, 1604, and on January 7 and 8, February 
2 and 3, and the evenings of the following Shrove Sunday, Shrove Mon- 
day, and Shrove Tuesday, 1604-5. 

' Cf. Ernest Law's Some Supposed Shakespeare Forgeries, rpii, pp. 
xvi seq. with facsimile extract from The Revells Booke An" 1605 in the 
Public Record Office. 


to distinguished foreign visitors. When the Queen's 
brother, Frederick, King of Denmark, was her husband's 
guest in the summer of 1606, the King's players were 
specially summoned to perform three plays before the 
two monarchs — two at Greenwich and one at Hampton 
Court. The celebration of the marriage of the King's 
daughter Princess Elizabeth with the Elector Palatine 
in February 1613 was enlivened by an exceptionally 
lavish dramatic entertainment which was again fur- 
nished by the actors of the Blackfriars and Globe 
theatres. During the first twelve years (1603-1614) 
of King James's reign, Shakespeare's company, accord- 
ing to extant records of royal expenses, received fees for 
no less than 150 performances at Court.-' 

' Cunningham, Revels, p. xxxiv; Murray, English Dramatic Com- 
panies, i. 173 seq. 



Under the incentive of such exalted patronage, Shake- 
speare's activity redoubled, but his work shows none of 
the conventional marks of literature that is ,„ , ,, , 
produced in the blaze of Court favour. The and'Mea- 
first six years of the new reien saw him absorbed l^^ ^"^ , 
in the highest themes of tragedy; and an un- 
paralleled intensity and energy, which had small affinity 
with the atmosphere of a Court, thenceforth illumined 
almost every scene that he contrived. 

To 1604, when Shakespeare's fortieth year was clos- 
ing, the composition of two plays of immense grasp can be 
confidently assigned. One of these — ' Othello ' — ranks 
with Shakespeare's greatest achievements; while the 
other — 'Measure for Measure' — although as a whole 
far inferior to 'Othello' or to any other example of 
Shakespeare's supreme power — contains one of the 
finest scenes (between Angelo and Isabella, 11. ii. 43 seq.) 
and one of the greatest speeches (Claudio on the fear of 
death, in. i. 116-30) in the range of Shakespearean 

'Othello' was doubtless the first new piece by Shake- 
speare that was acted before James. It was produced on 
November i, 1604, in the old Banqueting House gj^ ^^^^ 
at Whitehall, which had been often put by perfonn- 
Queen Ehzabeth to like uses, although the build- ^'^' 
ing was now deemed to be ' old, rotten, and sHght builded ' 
and in 1607 a far more ornate structure took its place.^ 

' Cf. Stow's Annals, ed. Howes, p. 891, col. i. James I's banqueting 
house at Whitehall was destroyed by fire after a dozen years' usage on 

2 c 38s 


'Measure for Measure' followed 'Othello' at Whitehall 
on December 26, 1604, and that piece was enacted in a 
different room of the palace, 'the great haU.' ^ Neither 
piece was printed in Shakespeare's Ufetime. 'Measure 
for Measure ' figured for the first time in the First Folio 
of 1623. 'Othello,' which held the stage continuously,^ 

January 12, 1618-9, and was then rebuilt from the designs of Inigo Jones. 
The new edifice was completed on March 31, 1622. Inigo Jones's ban- 
queting house, now part of the United Service Institution in Parliament 
Street, is all that survives of Whitehall Palace. 

'■ These dates and details are drawn from 'The ReueUs Booke, An" 
160S,' a slender manuscript pamphlet among the Audit Office archives 
formerly at Somerset House, and now in the Public Record Office. 
The 'booke' covers the year November 1604-October 1605. It was 
first printed in 1842 by Peter Cunningham, a well-known Shakespearean- 
student and a clerk in the Audit Office, in his Extracts from the Accounts 
of the Revels at Court (Shakespeare Soc. 1842, pp. 203 seq.). When 
Cunningham left the Audit Office in 1858 he retained in his possession 
this 'ReueUs Booke' of 1605 as well as one for 161 1-2 and some Audit 
Office accounts of 1636-7. These documents were missing when the 
Audit Office papers were transferred from Somerset House to the Public 
Record Office in 1859, but they were recovered from Cuimingham by 
the latter institution in 1868. It was then hastily suspected tiat boli 
the 'Booke' of 1605 and that of 1611-2 which also contained Shake- 
spearean information, had been tampered with, and that the Shake- 
spearean references were modem forgeries. The authenticity of the 
Shakespearean entries of 1604-5 was, however, confirmed by manuscript 
notes to identical effect which had been made by Malone from the Audit 
Office archives at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and are pre- 
served in the Bodleian Library among the Malone papers (MS. Malone 
29). A very thorough investigation carried out by Mr. Ernest Law 
has recently cleared the 'ReueUs Booke An" 1605' as weU as that of 
1611-2, and the papers of 1636-7 of aU suspicion. See Ernest Law's 
Some Supposed Shakespeare Forgeries, 191 1, and More about Shakespeare 
'Forgeries' 1913; see Appendix I, p. 650 infra. Collier's assertion in 
his New Particulars, p. 57, that Othello was first acted at Sir Thomas 
Egerton's residence at Harefield, near Uxbridge, on August 6, 1602, was 
based solely on a document among the Earl of EUesmere's MSS. at. 
Bridgwater House, which purported to be a contemporary account by 
the clerk, Sir Arthur Maynwaring, of Sir Thomas Egerton's household 
expenses. This document, which CoUier reprinted in his Egerton Papers 
(Camden Soc), p. 343, was authoritatively pronounced by experts in 
i860 to be 'a shameful forgery' (cf. Ingleby's Complete View of the Skak- 
spere_ Controversy, 1861, pp. 261-5), and there is no possibility of this 
verdict being reversed. 

' The piece was witnessed at the Globe theatre on April 30, 1610, 
by a German visitor to London, Prince Lewis Frederick of Wiirtembetg 
(Rye's England as seen by Foreigners, pp. cxviii-ix, 61), and it was re- 
peated at Court early in 1613 {Sh. Soc. Papers, ii. 124). 


first appeared in a belated Quarto in 1622, six years after 
Shakespeare's death. The publisher, Thomas Walkley, 
had obtained a theatre copy which had been p^j^jj 
abbreviated and was none too carefully tran- tionof 
scribed. He secured a license from the Sta- '°^^^^°-' 
tioners' Company on October 6, 1621, and next year the 
volume issued from the competent press of Nicholas 
Okes, ' as it hath beene diuerse times acted at the Globe, 
and at the Black Friers, by his Maiesties Seruants.' In 
an 'address to the reader' Walkley claimed sole responsi- 
bility (' the author being dead ') for the undertaking. He 
forbore to praise the play; 'for that which is good I 
hope every man will commend without entreaty ; and I 
am the bolder because the author's name is sufficient to 
vent his work.' The editors of the First FoUo ignored 
Walkley's venture and presented an independent and a 
better text. 

The plots of both 'Othello' and 'Measure for Measure' 
come from the same Itahan source — from a collection 
of Italian novels known as 'Hecatommithi,' cintWo's 
which was penned by Giraldi Cinthio of Ferrara, novels, 
a sixteenth-century disciple of Boccaccio. Cinthio's 
volume was first published in 1565. But while Shake- 
speare based each of the two plays on Cinthio's romantic 
work, he remoulded the course of each story at its 
critical point. The spirit of melodrama was exorcised. 
Varied phases of passion were interpreted with magical 
subtlety, and the language was charged with a poetic 
intensity, which seldom countenanced mere rhetoric or 

Cinthio's painful story of 'Un Capitano Moro,' or 'The 
Moor of Venice' (decad. iii. Nov. vii.), is not known to 
have been translated into English before Shake- Shake- 
speare dramatised it in the play on which he jg^^j^^g"^ 
bestowed the title of 'Othello.' He frankly tafeof'^'' 
accepted the main episodes and characters of otheUo. 
the Italian romance. At the same time he gave all the 
personages excepting Desdemona names of his own 


devising, and he invested every one of them with a new 
and graphic significance.^ Roderigo, the foolish dupe of 
lago, is Shakespeare's own creation, and he adds some 
minor characters, hke Desdemona's father and uncle. 
The only character in the Itahan novel with whom 
Shakespeare dispensed is lago's little child. The hero 
and heroine (Othello and Desdemona) are by no means 
featureless in the Itahan novel'; but the passion, pathos, 
and poetry with which Shakespeare endows their speech 
are all his own. lago, who lacks in Cinthio's pages any 
trait to distinguish him from the conventional criminal 
of Itahan fiction, became in Shakespeare's hands the 
subtlest of all studies of intellectual villainy and hy- 
pocrisy. The Heutenant Cassio and lago's wife Emilia 
are in the Italian, tale lay figures. But Shakespeare's 
genius declared itself most signally in his masterly recon- 
struction of the catastrophe. He lent Desdemona's 
tragic fate a wholly new and fearful intensity by making 
lago's cruel treachery known to Othello at the last— just 
after lago's perfidy had impelled the noble-hearted Moor, 
in groundless jealousy, to murder his gentle and innocent 

The whole tragedy displays to magnificent advantage 
the dramatist's mature powers. An unfaltering equilib- 

' In Cinthio's story none of the characters, save Desdemona, have 
proper names; they are known only by their office; thus Othello is 
'il capitano moro' or 'il moro.' lago is '1' alfiero' (i.e. the ensign or 
'ancient') and Cassio is 'il capo di squadrone.' 

' In Cinthio's melodramatic dfeoflment 'the ensign' (lago) and 'the 
Moor' (Othello) plot together the deaths of 'the captain' (Cassio) and 
Desdemona. Cassio escapes unhurt, but lago in Othello's sight kills 
Desdemona with three strokes of a stocking filled with sand ; whereupon 
Othello helps the murderer to throw down the ceiling of the room on his 
wife's dead body so that the death might appear to be accidental. Though 
ignorant of Desdemona's innocence, Othello soon quarrels with lago, 
who in revenge contrives the recall of the Moor to Venice, the^e to stand 
his trial for Desdemona's murder. The Moor, after being tortured with- 
out avail, is released and is ultimately slain by Desdemona's kinsfolk 
without being disillusioned. lago is charged with some independent 
offence and dies under torture. Cinthio represents that the story was 
true, and that he owes his knowledge of it to lago's widow, Shakespeare's 


rium is maintained in the treatment of plot and char- . 
acters alike. The first act passes in Venice; the rest 
of the play has its scene in Cyprus. Dr. John- 
son, a champion of the classical drama, argued um'ty of 
that had Shakespeare confined the action of *« . 
the play to Cyprus alone he would have satis- ^^^ ■*'' 
fied all the canons of classical unity. It might well 
be argued that, despite the single change of scene, Shake- . 
speare reahses in 'Othello' the dramatic ideal of unity 
more effectively than a rigic adherence to the letter of 
the classical law would allow. The absence of genuine 
comic relief emphasises the classical aflSnity, and differ- 
entiates 'OtheUo' from its chief forerunner 'Hamlet.'^ 
France seems to have first adapted to hterary pur- 
poses the central theme of 'Measure for Measure' ; early 
in the sixteenth century French drama and 
fiction both portrayed the agonies of a virtuous of 'Mea™^ 
woman, who, when her near kinsman Hes under j^^^^g . 
lawful sentence of death, is promised his par- 
don by the governor of the State at the price of her 
chastity.^ The repulsive tale impressed the imagination 
,of all Europe; but in Shakespeare's lifetime it chiefly 
circulated in the form which it took at the hand of the 
Italian novelist Cinthio in the later half of the century. 
Cinthio made the perilous story the subject not cintUo's 
only of a romance but of a tragedy called ' Epi- '^'«- 
tia,' and his romance found entry into EngKsh Uterature, 
before Shakespeare wrote his play. Direct recourse to 
the ItaUan text was not obligatory as in the case of 
Cinthio's story of ' OtheUo. ' Cinthio's novel of ' Measure 
for Measure' had been twice rendered into Enghsh by 
George Whetstone, an industrious author, who was the 
friend of the Elizabethan literary pioneer, George 
Gascoigne. Whetstone not only gave a somewhat 

' lago's cynical and shameless mirth does not belong to the category 
of comic relief, and the clown in Othello's service, whose wit is unim- 
pressive, plays a small and negligible part. 

' Cf . Boas, University Drama, p. 19 ; Lee, French Renaissance in 
England, p. 408. 


altered version of the Italian romance in his unwieldy' 
play of 'Promos and Cassandra' (in two parts of five 
acts each, 1578), but he also freely translated it in his 
collection of prose tales, called 'Heptameron of Ciuill 
Discourses' (1582). 'Measure for Measure' owes its 
episodes to Whetstone's work, although Shakespeare 
borrows Httle of his language. Whetstone changes 
Cinthio's nomenclature, and Shakespeare again gives all. 
the personages new appellations. Cinthio's Juriste and 
Epitia, who are respectively rechristened by Whetstone 
Promos and Cassandra, become in Shakespeare's pages 
Angelo and Isabella.'- There is a bare likehhood that 
Shakespeare also knew Cinthio's Italian play, which was 
untranslated ; there, as in the ItaHan novel, the leading 
character, who is by Shakespeare christened Angelo, was 
known as Juriste, but CintHo in his play (and not in his 
novel) gives the character a sister named Angela, which 
may have suggested Shakespeare's designation.^ 

In the hands of Shakespeare's predecessors the popular 
tale is a sordid record of lust and cruelty. But Shake- 
shake- speare prudently showed scant respect for their 
speare's handhng of the narrative. By diverting the 
variations. (, q{ ^j^g pj^^ g^j. ^ critical point he not 

merely proved his artistic ingenuity, but gave dramatic 
dignity and moral elevation to a degraded and repellent 
theme. In the old versions Isabella jdelds her virtue as 
the price of her brother's Hfe. The central fact of Shake- 
speare's play is Isabella's inflexible and unconditional 
chastity. Other of Shakespeare's alterations, Hke the 
Duke's abrupt proposal to marry Isabella, seem hastily 
conceived. But his creation of the pathetic character of 

^ Whetstone states, however, that his 'rare historie of Promos and 
Cassandra' was 'reported' to him by 'Madam Isabella,' who is not 
otherwise identified. 

^ Richard Garnett's Italian Literature, 1898, p. 227. Angelo, how- 
ever, is a name which figures not infrequently in lists of dramatis persona 
of other English plays in the opening years of the seventeenth century. 
Subordinate characters are so christened in Ben Jonson's The Case is 
Altered, and in Chapman's May Day, both of which were written before 
1602, though they were first printed in 1609 and 1611 respectively. 


Mariana 'of the moated grange' — the legally affianced 
bride of Angelo, Isabella's would-be seducer — skilfully 
excludes the possibility of a settlement (as in the old 
stories) between Isabella and Angelo op. terms of mar- 
riage. Shakespeare's argument is throughout philosophi- 
cally subtle. The poetic eloquence in which Isabella and 
the Duke pay homage to the virtue of chastity, and the 
many expositions of the corruption with which unchecked 
sexual passion threatens society, alternate with coarsely 
comic interludes which suggest the vanity of seeking to 
efface natural instincts by the coercion of law. There is 
little in the play that seems designed to recommend it to 
the Court before which it was performed. But the two 
emphatic references to a ruler's dislike of mobs, despite 
his love of his people, were perhaps penned in defer- 
ential allusion to James I, whose horror of crowds was 
notorious. In act i. sc. i. 67-72 the Duke remarks : 

I love the people, 
But do not like to stage me to their eyes. 
Though it do well, I do not relish well 
Their loud applause and aves vehement. 
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion 
That does aflfect it. 

Of like tenor is the succeeding speech of Angelo (act n. 
sc. iv. 27-30) : 

The general [i.e. the public], subject to a weU-wish'd king, . . . 
Crowd to his presence, where their imtaught love 
Must needs appear offence.^ 

In 'Macbeth,' the 'great epic drama,' which he began 
in 1605 and completed next year, Shakespeare employed 

' When James I made his great progress from Edinburgh to Loijdon 
on his accession to the English throne, the loyal author of 'The true 
narration of the entertainment of his Royal Majesty' (1603) on the long 
journey, noted that 'though the King greatly tendered' his people's 
'love,' yet he deemed their 'multitudes' oppressive, and pubUshed 'an 
inhibition against the inordinate and daily access of people's coming' 
(of. Nichols's Progresses of King James I, i. 76). At a later date King 
James was credited with 'a hasty and passionate custom which often 
in his sudden distemper would bid a pox or plague on such as flocked 
to see him' (Life of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, i. 170). 


a setting wholly in harmony with the accession of a 
Scottish king. The story was drawn from Holinshed's 
, ' Chronicle of Scottish History,' with occasional 
'Macbeth.' jgfgj-gjjpg^ perhaps, to earher Scottish sources. 
But the chronicler's bald record supplies Shakespeare 
with the merest scaffolding. Duncan appears in the 
rpj^g ' Chronicle ' as an incapable ruler whose removal 

legend in commends itself to his subjects, while Macbeth, 
HoUnshed. j^^ gpjte of the crime to which he owes his throne, 
proves a satisfactory sovereign through the greater part 
of his seventeen years' reign. Only towards the close 
does his tyranny provoke the popular rebelHon which 
proves fatal to him. Hohnshed's notice of Duncan's 
murder by Macbeth is bare of detail. Shakespeare in his 
treatment of that episode adapted Hohnshed's more 
precise account of another royal murder — that of King 
Duff, an earher Scottish King who was slain by the chief 
Donwald, while he was on a visit to the chief's castle. 
The vaguest hint was offered by the chronicler of Lady 
Macbeth's influence over her husband. In subsidiary 
incident Shakespeare borrowed a few passages almost 
verbatim from Hohnshed's text ; but every scene which 
has supreme dramatic value is Shakespeare's own inven- 
tion. Although the chronicler briefly notices Macbeth's 
meeting with the witches, Shakespeare was under no debt 
to any predecessor for the dagger scene, for the thrilling 
colloquies of husband and wife concerning Duncan's 
murder, for Banquo's apparition at the feast or for 
Lady Macbeth's walking in her sleep.. 

The play gives a plainer indication than any other of 
Shakespeare's works of the dramatist's desire to condli- 
The appeal ate the Scottish King's idiosyncrasies. The 
to James I. supernatural machinery of the three witches 
which Holinshed suggested accorded with the King's 
superstitious faith in demonology. The dramatist was 
lavish in sympathy with Banquo, James's reputed 
ancestor and founder of the Stuart dynasty; while 
Macbeth's vision of kings who carry ' twofold balls and 


treble sceptres* (iv. i. 20) loyally referred to the union 
of Scotland with England and Ireland under James's 
sway. The two 'balls' or globes were royal insignia 
which King James bore in right of his double kingship of 
England and Scotland, and the three sceptres were those 
of his three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ire- 
land. No monarch before James I held these emblems 
conjointly. The irrelevant 'description in the play of 
the English King's practice of touching for the King's 
evil (iv. iii. 149 seq.) was doubtless designed as a further 
personal compliment to King James, whose confidence 
in the superstition was profound. The allusion by the 
porter (11. iii. 9) to the ' equivocator . . . who committed 
treason' was perhaps suggested by the insolent defence 
of the doctrine of equivocation made by the Jesuit Henry 
Garnett, who was executed early in 1606 for his share in 
the ' Gunpowder Plot.' 

The piece, which was not printed until 1623, is in its 
existing shape by far the shortest of all Shakespeare's 
tragedies ('Hamlet' is nearly twice as long), xhe scenic 
and it is possible that it survives only in eiabora- 
an abbreviated acting version. Much scenic '°"' 
elaboration characterised the production. Dr. Simon 
Forman, a playgoing astrologer, witnessed a performance 
of the tragedy at the Globe on April 20, 1610, and noted 
that Macbeth and Banquo entered the stage on horse- 
back, and that Banquo's ghost was materially represented 
(m. iv. 40 seq.).^ 

'Macbeth'' ranks with 'Othello' among the noblest 
tragedies either of the modern or the ancient world. Yet 

1 In his Boohe of Plates (among Ashmole's MSS. at the Bodleian) 
Forman's note on Macbeth begins thus : 'In Mackbeth at the Globe 16 10, 
the 20 of Aprill Saturday, there was to be observed, firste howe Mackbeth 
and Banko, two noble men of Scotland, ridinge thorow 'a wod, ther stode 
before them three women fairies or nimphs . . .' Of the feasting scene 
Forman wrote : 'The ghoste of Banco came and sate down in his [i.e. ' 
Macbeth's] cheier be-hind him. And he tuminge about to sit down again 
sawe the goste of Banco which fronted him so.' (Halliwell-Phillipps, ii. 
86.) See for Forman's other theatrical experiences p. 126 supra and 
p. 420 infra. 



the bounds of sensational melodrama are approached 
by it more nearly than by any other of Shakespeare's 
The chief plays. The melodramatic effect is heightened 
characters, ^y the physical darkness which envelopes the 
main episodes. It is the poetic fertility of the language, 
the magical simphcity of speech in the critical turns of 
the action, the dramatic irony accentuating the myste- 
rious issues, the fascinating complexity of the two leading 
characters which lift the piece into the first rank._ The 
characters of hero and heroine — Macbeth and his wife 
— are depicted with the utmost subtlety and insight. 
Their worldly ambition involves them in hateful crime. 
Yet Macbeth is a brave soldier who is endowed with 
poetic imagination and values a good name. Though 
Lady Macbeth lacks the moral sense, she has no small 
share of womanly tact, of womanly affections, and above 
all of womanly nerves. 

In three points 'Macbeth' differs somewhat from other 
of Shakespeare's productions in the great class of liter- 
Excep- ature to which it belongs. The interweaving 
tionai with the tragic story of supernatural interludes 
features. ^^ -which Fate is weirdly personified is not exactly 
matched in any other of Shakespeare's tragedies. In 
the second place, the action proceeds with a rapidity 
that is wholly without parallel in the rest of Shake- 
speare's plays ; the critical scenes are unusually short ; 
the great sleepwalking scene is only seventy fines long, 
of which scarcely twenty, the acme of dramatic brevity, 
are put in Lady Macbeth's mouth. The swift move- 
ment only slackens when Shakespeare is content to take 
his cue from HoUnshed, as in the somewhat tedious epi- 
sode of Macduff's negotiation in England with Malcolm, 
Duncan's son and heir (act iv. sc. iii.). Nowhere, in 
the third place, has Shakespeare introduced comic relief 
into a tragedy with bolder effect than in the porters 
speech after the murder of Duncan (ii. iii. i seq.). The 
theory that this passage was from another hand does 
not merit acceptance. 


Yet elsewhere there are signs that the play as it 
stands incorporates occasional passages by a second pen. 
Duncan's interview with the ' bleeding sergeant ' signs of 
(act I. sc. ii.) falls so far below the style of the °'^«'^ p«"=- 
rest of the play as to suggest an interpolation by a hack 
of tl;ie theatre. So, too, it is diflEicult to credit Shake- 
speare with the superfluous interposition (act 11. sc. v.) 
of Hecate, a classical goddess of the infernal world, who 
appears unheralded to complain that the witches lay 
their spells on Macbeth without asking her leave. The 
resemblances between Thomas Middleton's later play of 
'The Witch' (1610) 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 during the representation of ' Macbeth,' 
'Come away, come away' (iii. v.) and 'Black spirits 
&c.' (iv. i.), only the first words are noted there, but 
songs beginning with the same words 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' after its original production. 

'King Lear,' in which Shakespeare's tragic genius 
moved without any faltering on Titanic heights, was 
written during 1606, and was produced before 'King 
the Court at Whitehall on the night of Decern- ^*"' 
ber 26 of that year.^ Eleven months later, on November 
26, 1607, two undistinguished stationers, John Busby 
and Nathaniel Butter, obtained a license for the publi- 
cation of the great tragedy ' under the hands of ' Sir 
George Buc, the Master of the Revels, and of the wardens 
of the company.^ Nathaniel Butter published a quarto 

' This fact is stated in the Stationers' Company's license of Nov. 26, 
1607, and is repeated a little confusedly on the title-page of the Quarto 
of 1608. 

* John Busby, whose connection with the transaction does not ex- 
tend beyond the mention of his name in the entry iii the Stationers' 
Register, was five years before as elusively and as mysteriously associated 
widi the first edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602). Butter, 
who was alone the effective promoter of the publication of King Lear, 
became a freeman of the Stationers' Company early in 1604, and he 


edition in the following year (1608). The verbose title, 
which is from the pen of a bookseller's hack, ran 
The Quarto thus : 'M. WilUam Shak-speare: his true 
of 1608. chronicle historie of the life and death of King 
Lear and his three daughters. With the unfortunate life 
of Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and 
his sullen and assumed humor of Tom of Bedlam. As it 
was played before the King's Maiestie at Whitehall 
upon S. Stephans night in Christmas Hollidayes. By his 
Maiesties seruants pla3dng usually at the Gloabe on the 
Banke-side.' In the imprint the pubUsher mentions 
' his shop in Pauls Churchyard at the signe of the Pide 
Bull near St. Austin's Gate.' The printer of the volume, 
who is unnamed, was probably Nicholas Okes, a young 
friend of Richard Field, who had stood surety for him in 
1603 when he was made free of the Stationers' Company, 
and who fourteen years later printed the first quarto of 
'Othello.' Butter's edition of 'King Lear' followed a 
badly transcribed playhouse copy, and it abounds in 
gross typographical errors.^ Another edition, also bear- 
ing the date 1608, is a later reprint of a copy of Butter's 
original issue and repeats its typographical confusions.^ 

lived on to 1664, acquiring some fame in Charles I's reign as a purveyor 
of news-sheets or rudimentary journals. His experience of tiie trade 
was very limited before he obtained the license to pubUsh Shakespeare's 
King Lear in 1607. 

^ There was no systematic correction of the press ; but after some 
sheets were printed oflE, the type was haphazardly corrected here and 
there, and further sheets were printed off. The uncorrected sheets 
were not destroyed and the corrected and uncorrected sheets were care- 
lessly bound together in proportions which vary in extant copies. In 
the result, accessible examples of the edition present many typographical , 
discrepancies one from another. 

2 The Second Quarto has a title-page which differs from that of the 
first in spelling the dramatist's surname 'Shakespeare' instead of 'Shak- 
speare' and in giving the imprint the curt form 'Printed for Nathaniel 
Butter, 1608.' There seems reason to believe that the dated imprint 
of the second quarto is a falsification, and that the volume was actually 
published by Thomas Pavier at the press of William Jaggard as late as 
1619 (see Pollard's Shakespeare Folios and QiMrtos, 1909). The Second 
Quarto is, like the First, unmethodically made up of corrected and un- 
corrected sheets, but in all known copies of the Second Quarto two of 
the sheets (E and K) always appear in their corrected shape. 


The First Folio furnished a greatly improved text. 
Fewer verbal errors appear there^ and some 1 10 lines are 
new. At the same time the Folio omits 300 lines of the 
Quarto text, including the whole of act iv. sc. iii. (with 
the beautiful description of Cordelia's reception of the 
news of her sisters' maltreatment of their father), and 
some other passages which are as unquestionably Shake- 
spearean. The editor of the Folio clearly had access to a 
manuscript which was quite independent of that of the 
Quarto, but had undergone abbreviation at different 
points. The FoUo 'copy,' as far as it went, was more 
carefully transcribed than the Quarto 'copy.' Yet 
neither the Quarto nor the FoHo Version of 'King Lear' 
reproduced the author's autograph; each was derived 
from its own playhouse transcript. 

As in the case of its immediate predecessor 'Macbeth,' 
Shakespeare's tragedy of 'King Lear' was based on a 
story with which Holinshed's ' Chronicle ' had „ ,. , , 
long famiharised Elizabethans; and other and the 
writers who had anticipated Shakespeare in f^°l^°^ 
adapting HoUnshed's tale to literary purposes 
gave the dramatist help. The theme is part of the 
legendary lore of pre-Roman Britain which the Eliza- 
bethan chronicler and his readers accepted without 
question as authentic history. Hohnshed had followed 
the guidance of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who in the 
twelfth century first undertook a history of British Kings. 
Geoffrey recorded the exploits of a Celtic dynasty which 
traced its, origin to a Trojan refugee Brute or Brutus, 
who was reputed to be the grandson of Aeneas of Troy. 
Elizabethan poets and dramatists aUke welcomed material 
from Geoffrey's fables of Brute and his line in HoUn- 
shed's version. Brute's son Locrine was . the Brito- 
Trojan hero of the pseudo-Shakespearean tragedy of 
the name, which had appeared in print in 1595. 'King 
Lear' was one of many later occupants of Locrine's 
throne, who figured on the Elizabethan stage. 

Nor was Shakespeare the first playwright to give 


theatrical vogue to King Lear's mythical fortunes. On 
April 6, 1594, a piece called 'Kinge Leare' was acted 
The old at the Rose theatre 'by the Queene's men 
P'^y- and my lord of Susexe together.' On May 14, 

15914., a license was granted for the printing of this piece 
under the title : ' The moste famous chronicle historye 
of Leire Kinge of England and his three daughters.' 
But the permission did not take effect, and some eleven 
years passed before the actual pubhcation in 1605 of the 
pre-Shakespearean play. The piece was then entitled: 
'The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his three 
daughters, Gonorill, Ragan and Cordelia, as it hath bene 
divers and sundry times lately acted.' The author, 
whose name is unknown, based his work on Holinshed's 
'Chronicle,' but he sought occasional help in the three 
derivative poetic narratives of King Lear's fabulous 
career, which figure respectively in William Warner's 
'Albion's England' (1586, bk. iii. ch. 14), in 'The Mirror 
for Magistrates' (1587), and in Edmund Spenser's 
'Faerie Queene' (1590, bk. ii. canto x. stanzas 27-32). 
At the same time the old dramatist embelUshed his 
borrowed cues by devices of his own invention. He gave 
his ill-starred monarch a companion who proved a pattern 
of fidelity and became one of the pillars of the dramatic 
action. The King of France's hasty courtship of King 
Lear's banished daughter Cordelia follows original lines. 
Lear's sufferings in a thunderstorm during his wander- 
ings owe nothing to earlier Hterature. But the resto- 
ration of Lear to his throne at the close of the old piece 
agrees with all earlier versions of the fable.^ 

Shakespeare drew many hints from the old play as well 
as from a direct study of Holinshed. But he refashioned 
Shake- ^"^ Strengthened the great issues of the plot 
speare'sin- by methods which lay outside the capacity of 
nova ions. gj(.]^gj. ^^d dramatist or chronicler. There is 
no trace of Lear's Fool in any previous version. Shake- 

_^ Cf. The Chronicle History of King Leir: the original of Shakespeare's 
King Lear, ed. by Sidney Lee, igog. 


speare too sought an entirely new complication for the 
story by grafting on it the complementary by-plot of the 
Earl of Gloucester and his sons Edgar and Edmund, 
which he drew from, an untried source, Sir PhiUp Sidney's 
'Arcadia.' ^ Hints for the speeches of Edgar when 
feigning madness were found in Harsnet's 'Declaration of 
Popish Impostures,' 1603. Above all, Shakespeare ig- 
nored the catastrophe of the chronicles which contented 
the earher dramatist and preceding poets. They re- 
stored Lear to his forsaken throne at the triumphant 
hands of Cordelia and her husband the French King. 
Shakespeare invented the defeat and death of King Lear 
and of his daughter CordeUa. Thus Shakespeare first 
converted the story into inexorable tragedy. 

In every act of 'Lear' the pity and terror of which 
tragedy is capable reach their climax. Only one who 
has something of the Shakespearean gift oi.rj^^ ^_ 
language could adequately characterise the nessof 
scenes of agony — ' the Uving martyrdom ' — to °^ ^^'' 
which the fiendish ingratitude of his daughters condemns 
in Shakespeare's play the abdicated king — ' a very fool- 
ish, fond old man, fourscore and upward.' The elemen- 
tal passions burst forth in his utterances with all the 
vehemence of the volcanic tempest which beats about 
his defenceless head in the scene on the heath. The 
brutal blinding of the Earl of Gloucester by the Duke 
of Cornwall exceeds in horror any other situation that 
Shakespeare created, if we assume that he was not 
responsible for similar scenes of mutilation in 'Titus 
Andronicus.' At no point in 'Lear' is there any loosen- 
ing of the tragic tension. The faithful half-witted lad 
who serves the king as his fool plays the jesting chorus 
on his master's fortunes in penetrating earnest and 
deepens the desolating pathos. The metre of 'King 

> Sidney tells the story in a chapter entitled 'The pitiful state and 
Story of the Paphlagonian unkind king and his kind son ; first related 
by the son, then by the blind father' (bk. ii. chap. 10, ed. 1590, 4to. 
pp. 132-3, ed. 1674, fol.). 


Lear' is less regular than in any earlier play, and the 
language is more elliptical and allusive. The verbal 
and metrical temper gives the first signs of that valiant 
defiance of all conventional restraint which marks the 
latest stage in the development of Shakespeare's style, 
and becomes habitual to his latest efforts. 

Although Shakespeare's powers were unexhausted, he 
rested for a while on his laurels after his colossal effort of 
'Timonof 'Lear' (1607). He reverted in the following 
Athens.' yg^j- ^o earlier habits of collaboration. In two 
succeeding dramas, 'Timon of Athens' and 'Pericles,' 
he would seem indeed to have done Mttle more than 
lend his hand to brilKant embeUishments of the dull 
incoherence of very pedestrian pens. Lack of construc- 
tive plan deprives the two pieces of substantial dramatic 
value. Only occasional episodes which Shakespeare's 
genius illumined Hft them above the rank of mediocrity. 

An extant play on the subject of 'Timon of Athens' 
was composed in 1600 ^ but there is nothing to show that 
Timon and Shakespeare or his coadjutor, who remains 
Plutarch, anonymous, was acquainted with it. Timon 
was a familiar figure in classical legend and was a pro- 
verbial type of censorious misanthropy. 'Critic Timon' 
is lightly mentioned by Shakespeare in 'Love's Labour's 
Lost.' His story was originally told, by way of paren- 
thesis, in Plutarch's 'Life of Marc Antony.' There 
Antony was described as emulating at one period of 
his career the Ufe and example of 'Timon Misanthropos 
the Athenian,' and some account of the Athenian's 
perverse experience was given. From Plutarch the 
tale passed into Painter's miscellany of Elizabethan 
romances called 'The Palace of Pleasure.' The author 
of the Shakespearean play may too have known a dia- 
logue of Lucian entitled 'Timon,' which Boiardo, the 
poet of fifteenth century Italy, had previously converted 
into an Italian comedy under the name of ' II Timone.' 

' Dyce first edited the manuscript, which is now in the Victoria and 
Albert Museum, South Kensington, for the Shakespeare Society in 1842. 


With singular clumsiness the English piece parts com- 
pany with all preceding versions of Timon's history by 
grafting on the tradition of his misanthropy a shadowy 
and' irrelevant fable of the Athenian hero Aid- xheepi- 
biades. A series of subsidiary scenes presents sodeof 
Alcibiades in the throes of a quarrel with the ^icibiades. 
Athenian senate over its punishment of a friend ; finally 
he lays siege to the city and compels its rulers to submit 
to his will. Such an incident has no pertinence to 
Timon's fortunes. 

The piece is as reckless a travesty of classical life and 
history as any that came from the pen of a mediaeval 
fabulist.'- Nowhere is there a gKimner of the j^^ 
true Greek spirit. The interval between the divided 
Greek nomenclature and the characterisation or ^"' °^^ ^^' 
action of the personages is even wider than in ' Troilus 
and Cressida.' Internal evidence makes it clear that the 
groundwork and most of the superstructure of the in- 
coherent tragedy were due to Shakespeare's ' colleague. 
To that crude pen must be assigned nearly the whole of 
acts ni. and v. and substantial portions of the three 
remaining acts. Yet the characters of Timon himself 
and of tie churlish cynic Apemantus bear witness to 
Shakespeare's penetration. The greater part of the 
scenes which they dominate owed much to his hand. 
Timon is cast in the psychological mould of Lear. The 
> play was printed for the first time in the First Foho from 
a very defective transcript.^ 

' Although Timon is presented in the play as the contemporary of 
Alcibiades and presumably of the generation of Pericles, he quotes 
Seneca. In much the same way Hector quotes Aristotle in Troilus 
and Cressida. Alcibiades in Timon makes his entry in battle array 
'with drum and fife.' 

^ There is evidence that when the First Folio was originally planned 
the place after Romeo and Juliet which Timon now fills was designed 
for Troilus and Cressida, and that, after the typographical composition 
of Troilus was begun in succession to Romeo, Troilus was set aside with 
a view to transference elsewhere, and the vacant space was hurriedly 
occupied by Tirrion by way of stop-gap. (See p. 368 «.) _ The play is 
followed in the Folio by a leaf only printed on one side which contains 
'The Actors' Names.' This arrangement is unique in the First Folio. 


There seems some ground for the belief that Shake- 
speare's anon)Tnous coadjutor in 'Timon' was George 

WiMns, a writer of ill-developed dramatic 
"' ''^^ power, who is known to have written occasion- 
ally for Shakespeare's company. In 1607 that company 
produced Wilkins's ' The Miseries of Enforced Marriage,' 
which was published in the same year and proved popular. 
The piece dealt with a melodramatic case of murder 
which had lately excited public interest. Next year 
the same episode served for the plot of ' The Yorkshire A 
Tragedy,' a piece falsely assigned by the publishers to 
Shakespeare's pen. The hectic fury of the criminal hero 
in both these pieces has afl&nities with the impassioned 
rage of Timon which Shakespeare may have elaborated 
from a first sketch by WiUdns. At any rate, to Wilkins 
may safely be allotted the main authorship of ' Pericles,' 
a romantic play which was composed in the same year 
as 'Timon' and of which Shakespeare was again an- 
nounced as the sole author. During his Ufetime and for 
many subsequent years Shakespeare was openly credited 
with the whole of 'Pericles.' Yet the internal evidence 
plainly reUeves him of responsibility for the greater part 
of it. 

The frankly pagan tale of 'Pericles Prince of Tyre' 
was invented by a Greek novelist near the opening of the 

Christian era, and enjoyed during the Middle 
original Ages an immense popularity, not merely in a 
Pericles'^ Latin version, but through translations in 

every vernacular speech of Europe. The Unc- 
age of the Shakespearean drama is somewhat obscured 
by the fact that the hero was given in the play a name 
which he bore in none of the numerous preceding ver- 
sions of his story. The Shakespearean Pericles of Tyre 
is the ApoUonius of Tyre who permeates post-classical 
and mediaeval hterature. The EngUsh dramatist de- 
rived most of his knowledge of the legend from the ren- 
dering of it which John Gower, the English poet of the 
fourteenth century, furnished in his rambling poetic 


miscellany called 'Confessio Amantis.' A prominent 
figure in the Shakespearean play is 'the chorus' or 'pre- 
senter ' who explains the action before or during the acts. 
The ' chorus ' bears the name of the poet Gower.^ At the 
same time the sixteenth century saw several versions of 
the veteran tale in both French and Enghsh prose, and 
while the dramatist found his main inspiration in 'old 
Gower ' he derived some embellishments of his work from 
an EUzabethan prose rendering of the myth, which first 
appeared in 1576, and^reached a third edition in 1607.^ 
Indeed the reissue in 1607 of the Ehzabethan version of 
the story doubtless prompted the dramatisation of the 
theme, although the three leading characters of the play, 
Pericles, his wife Thaisa, and his daughter Marina, all 
bear appellations for which there is no previous author- 
ity. The hero's original name of Pericles recalls with 
characteristic haziness the period in Greek history to 
which ' Timon of Athens ' is vaguely assigned.^ 

The ancient fiction of ApoUonius of Tyre was a tale of 
adventurous travel, and was inherently in- in^ohe- 
capable of effective dramatic treatment. The reuces of 
rambling scenes of the Shakespearean ' Pericles ' ^ * '"^'^^' 
and the long years which the plot covers tend to inco- 

' Of the eight speeches of the chorus (filling in all 305 lines), five 
(filHng 212 Hnes) are in the short six- or seven-syllable rhyming couplets 
of Gower's Confessio. 

^ In 1576 the tale was 'gathered into English [prose] by Laurence 
Twine, gentleman' under the title: 'The Patteme of painefuU Aduen- 
tures, containing the most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie 
of the strange accidents that befell vnto Prince ApoUonius, the Lady 
Lucina his wife and Tharsia his daughter. Wherein the vncertaintie 
of this world, and the fickle state of man's life are liuely described. . . . 
Imprinted at London by William How, 1576.' This volume was twice 
reissued (about 1595 and in 1607) before the play was attempted. The 
translator, Laurence Twine, a graduate of All Souls' College, Oxford, 
performed his task without distinction. 

' In all probability the name Pericles confuses reminiscences of the 
Greek Pericles with those of Pyrocles, one of the heroes ,of Sidney's 
romance of Arcadia, whence Shakespeare had lately borrowed the by- 
plot of King Lear. Richard Flecknoe, writing of the Shakespearean 
play in 1656, called the hero Pyrocles. Musidorus, another hero of 
Sidney's romance, had already supplied the title of the romantic play, 
Mvcedonis, which appeared in iSQS- 


herence. Choruses and dumb shows 'stand i' the gaps 
to teach the stages of the story.' Yet numerous refer- 
ences to the piece in contemporary literature attest the 
warm welcome which an uncritical public extended to its 
early representations.^ 

After the first production of 'Pericles' at the Globe in 
the spring of 1608, Edward Blount, a publisher of Hterary 
The issues proclivities, obtained (on May 20, 1608) a 
in quarto, license for the play's pubhcation. But Blount 
failed to exercise his right, and the piece was actually 
published next year by an undistinguished 'stationer,' 
Henry Gosson, then living 'at the sign of the Sunne 
in Paternoster Row.' The exceptionally bad text was 
clearly derived from the notes of an irresponsible short- 
hand reporter of a performance in the theatre.- A second 
edition, without correction but with some typographical 
variations, appeared in the same year, and reprints which 
came from other presses in 1611, 1619, 1630, and 1635,^ 
bear strange witness to the book's popularity. The 
original title-page is couched in ostentatious phraseology 
which sufficiently refutes Shakespeare's responsibiUty for 

' In the prologue to Robert Tailor's comedy, The Hogge hath lost Us 
Pearle (1614) the writer says of his own piece : — 

If it prove so happy as to please, 
Weele say 'tis fortunate l&e Pericles. 

On May 24, i6ig, the piece was performed at Court on the occasion of 
'a great entertainment in honour of the French ambassador, the Marquis 
de TrenouUIe. The play was still popular in 1630 when Ben Jonson, 
indignant at the failure of his own piece, The New Inn, sneered at 'some 
mouldy tale like Pericles' in his sour ode beginning 'Come leave the 
lothed stage.' On June 10, 1631, the piece was revived before a crowded 
audience at the Globe theatre 'upon the cessation of the plague,' At 
the Restoration Pericles renewed its popularity in the theatre, and Better- 
ton was much applauded in the title rSle. AU the points connected with 
the history and bibliography of the play are discussed in the facsitnile 
reproduction of Pericles, ed. by Sidney Lee, Clarendon Press, 1903. 

"^ The unnamed printer of both first and second editions would seem 
to have been William White, an inferior workman whose press was near 
Smithfield. White was responsible for the first quarto of Low's Labour's 
Lost in 1598. The second edition of Pericles is easily distinguishable 
from the first by a misprint in the first stage direction. 'En(er Gower' 
of the first edition is reproduced in the second edition as ' Eneer Gower.' 


the publication. The words run : ' The late and much 
admired play called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. With the 
true relation of the whole Historic, aduentures, and 
fortunes of the said Prince : as also, the no lesse strange 
and worthy accidents, in the Birth and Life of his Daugh- 
ter Mariana. As it hath b'een diuers and sundry times 
acted by his Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe on the 
Banck-side. By William Shakespeare.' All the quarto 
editions credit Shakespeare with the sole authorship; 
but the piece was with much justice excluded from the 
First Folio of 1623 and from the Second Folio of 1632. 
It was not admitted to the collected works of the drama- 
tist until the second issue of the Third FoUo in 1664. 

There is no sustained evidence of Shakespeare's handi- 
work in 'Pericles,' save in acts in. and v. and parts of 
act IV. The Shakespearean scenes tell the ghate- 
story of Pericles's daughter Marina. They speare's. 
open with the tempest at sea during which she ^^^'^^' 
is born, and they close with her final restoration to her 
parents and her betrothal. The style of these scenes is 
in the maimer of which Shakespeare gives earnest in 
'King Lear.' The eUipses are often puzzHng, but the 
condensed thought is intensely vivid and glows with 
strength and insight. The themes, too, of Shakespeare's 
contribution to 'Pericles' are nearly akin to many 
which figured elsewhere in his latest work. The tone 
of Marina's appeals to Lysimachus and Boult in the 
brothel resembles that of Isabella's speeches in 'Measure 
for Measure.' Thaisa, whom her husband imagines to 
be dead, shares some of the experiences of Hermione in 
'The Winter's Tale.' The portrayal of the shipwreck 
amid which Marina is born adumbrates the opening 
scene of ' The Tempest ' ; and there are ingenuous touches 
in the delineation of Marina which suggest the girlhood 
of Perdita. 

There seems good ground for assuming that the play of 
'Pericles' was originally penned by George Wilkins and 
that it was over his draft that Shakespeare worked. 


One curious association of Wilkins with the play is 
attested under his own hand. Very soon after the piece 

was staged he published in his own name a novel 
wlfkms's in prose which he asserted to be based upon the 
?°vei of^ _ play. The novel preceded by a year the pub- 

hcation of the drama, but the fiUal relation 
in which the romance stands to the play is precisely stated 
ahke in the title-page of the novel and in its ' argument to 
the whole histprie.' The novel bears the title: 'The 
Painful Adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre. Being 
the true History of the Play of Pericles, as it was lately 
presented by the worthy and ancient Poet John Gower.' * 
In the 'argument' the reader is requested 'to receive 
this Historic in the same maner as it was under the 
habite of ancient Gower, the famous EngHsh Poet, by 
the King's Maiesties Players excellently presented.' ^ 

■ On the same day (May 20, 1608) that Edward Blount 
obtained his abortive license for the issue of 'Pericles' 

he secured from the Stationers' Company a 
andaJo- second hcense, also by the authority of Sir 
?6o8^'' George Buc, the Ucenser of plays, for the pub- 

hcation of a far more impressive piece of lit- 
erature — 'a booke called "Anthony and Cleopatra.'" 

^ The imprint runs: 'At London. Printed by T[homas] P[avier] 
for Nat. Butter, 1608'; see the reprint edited by Tycho Mommsen 
(Oldenburg, 1857). 

* At times the language of the drama is exactly copied by Wilkins's 
novel, and, though transferred to prose, preserves the rhythm of blank 
verse. The novel is far more carefully printed than the play, and cor- 
rects some of the manifold corruptions of the printed text of the latter. 
On the other hand Wilkins's novel shows at several points divergence 
from the play. There are places in which the novel develops incidents 
which are barely noticed in the play, and elsewhere the play is somewhat 
fuller than the novel. One or two phrases which have the Shakespear^n 
ring are indeed found alone in the novel. A few lines from Shakespeafe** 
pen seem to be present there and nowhere else. After the preliminary 
'argument' of the novel, there follows a list of the dramatis persom 
headed 'The names of the Personages mentioned in the Historie' which 
is not to be found in the play, but seems to belong to it. The discrep- 
ancies between the play and novel suggest that Wilkins's novel followed 
a manuscript version of the play diflEerent from that on which the printed 
quarto was based. 


No copy of this date is known, and once again the 
company probably hindered the publication. The play 
was first printed in the folio of 1623. Shakespeare's 
'Antony and Cleopatra' is the middle play of Shake- 
speare's Roman trilogy which opened some seven years 
before with ' Julius Caesar' and ended with 'Coriolanus.' 
As in the case of all the poet's Roman plays, the plot of 
'Antony and Cleopatra' comes from Sir Thomas North's 
version of Plutarch's 'Lives.' On the opening section 
of Plutarch's Life of Antony Shakespeare had already 
levied substantial loans in 'Julius Caesar.' ^ He now 
produced a full dramatisation of it. The story of 
Antony's love of Cleopatra had passed from pjutarch's 
classical history into the vague floating tradi- Life of 
tion of mediaeval Europe. Chaucer assigned ■'^'°'^y- 
her the first place in his 'Legend of Good Women.' 
But Plutarch's graphic biography of Antony first taught 
western Europe in the early days of the Renaissance the 
whole truth about his relations with the Queen of Egypt. 
Early experiments in the Renaissance drama of Italy, 
France, and England anticipated Shakespeare in turning 
the theme to dramatic uses. The pre-Shakespearean 
dramas of Antony and Cleopatra suggest at some points 
Shakespeare's design. But the resemblances between 
the 'Antony and Cleopatra' of Shakespeare and the 
like efforts of his predecessors at home or abroad seem 
to be due to the universal dependence on Plutarch.^ 

' Shakespeare showed elsewhere familiarity with the memoir. Into 
the more recent tragedy of Macbeth (ni. i. 54-57) he drew from it a 
pomted reference to Octavius Caesar, and on a digression in Plutarch's 
text he based his lurid sketch of the misanthropy of Timon of Athens. 

*The earUest dramatic version of the Plutarchan narrative came 
from an Italian pen about 1540. The author, Giraldi Cinthio of Ferrara, 
is best. known by that collection of prose tales, Hecatommithi, which 
supplied Shakespeare with the plots of Othello and Measure for Measure. 
The topic enjoys the distinction of having inspired the first regular 
tragedy in French literature. This piece, Cleopatre Captive by Estienne 
Jodelle, was published in 1552. Within twenty years of Jodelle's ef- 
fort, the chief dramatist of the French Renaissance, Robert Gamier, 
handled the theme in his tragedy called Marc Antoine. Finally the 
inferior hand of Nicolas de Montreux took up the parable of Cleopatra 


Shakespeare follows the lines of Plutarch's biography 
even more loyally than in 'Julius Caesar.' Many trifling 
details which in the play accentuate Cleopatra's 
s^e^re's idiosyncrasy come unaltered from the Greek 
debt to author. The superb description of the barge 
in which the Queen journeys down the river 
Cydnus to meet Antony is Plutarch's language. Shake- 
speare borrows the supernatural touches, which compli- 
cate the tragic motive. At times, even in the heat of 
the tragedy, the speeches of the hero and heroine and of 
their attendants are transferred bodily from North's 
prose.^ Not that Shakespeare accepts the whole of the 
episode which Plutarch narrates. Although he adds 
nothing, he makes substantial omissions, and his method 
of selection does not always respect the calls of perspicuity. 
Shakespeare ignores the nine years' interval between 
Antony's first and last meetings with Cleopatra. During 
that period Antony not only did much important political 

in 1594; his five-act tragedy of CUopatre, alike ia construction and 
plot, closely follows Jodelle's CUopatre Captive. It was such French 
efforts which gave the cue to the dramatic versions of Cleopatra's his- 
tory in Elizabethan England which preceded Shakespeare's work. The 
earliest of these English experiments was a translation of Gamier's 
tragedy. This came from the accomplished pen of Sir Philip Sidney's 
sister, Mary Countess of Pembroke; it was published in 1592. Two 
years later, by way of sequel to the Countess's work, her prot^g^, Daniel, 
issued an original tragedy of Cleopatra on the Senecan pattern. Daniel 
pursued the topic some five years later in an imaginary verse letter 
from Antony's wife Octavia to her husband. A humble CEunp-follower 
of the Elizabethan army of poets and dramatists, one Samuel Brandon, 
emulated Daniel's example, and contrived in 1598 The tragicomedie 
of the mrtiMUs Octavia. Brandon's catastrophe is the death of Mark 
Antony, and Octavia's jealousy of Cleopatra is the main theme. 

^ George Wyndham, in his introduction to his edition of North's 
Plutarch, i. pp. xciii-c, gives an excellent criticism of the relations of 
Shakespeare's play to Plutarch's life of Antonius. See also M. W. 
MacCallum, Shakespeare's Roman Plays and their background (1910), 
pp. 318 seq. The extent to which the dramatist saturated himself 
with Plutarchan detail may be gauged by the circumstance that he 
christens an attendant at Cleopatra's Court with the name of Lamprius 
(i. ii. I stage direction). The name is accounted for by the fact that 
Plutarch's grandfather of similar name (Lampiyas) is parenthetically 
cited by the biographer as hearsay authority for some backstairs gossip 
of the palace at Alexandria. 


work at Rome, but conducted an obstinate war in Pat- 
thia and Armenia. Nor does Shakespeare take cog- 
nisance of the eight or nine months which separate 
Antony's defeat at Actium from his rout under the 
walls of Alexandria. With the complex series of events, 
which Shakespeare cuts adrift, his heroine has no concern, 
yet the neglected incident leaves in the play some jagged 
edges which impair its coherence and symmetry. 

Shakespeare is no slavish disciple of Plutarch. The 
dramatist's mind is concentrated on Antony's infatuation 
for Cleopatra, and there he expands and de- shake- 
velops Plutarch's story with niagnificent free- speare's 
dom and originality. The leading events and ofth?'*'™ 
characters, which Shakespeare drew from the ^^'^■ 
Greek biography, are, despite his liberal borrowings of 
phrase and fact, re-incarnated in the crucible of the 
poet's imagination, so that they glow in his verse with an 
heroic and poetic glamour of which Plutarch gives faint 
conception. All the scenes which Antony and Cleopatra 
dominate show Shakespeare's mastery of dramatic 
emotion at its height. It is doubtful if any of his cre- 
ations, male or female, deserve a rank in Ms great gal- 
lery higher than that of the Queen of Eg)^t for artistic 
completeness of conception or sureness of touch in dra- 
matic execution. It is almost adequate comment on 
Antony's character to affirm that he is a worthy com- 
panion of Cleopatra. The notes of roughness and sen- 
suality in his temperament are ultimately sublimated 
by a vein of poetry, which lends singular beauty to all 
his farewell utterances. Herein he resembles Shake- 
speare's Richard II and Macbeth, in both of whom a 
native poetic sentiment is quickened by despair. Among 
the minor personages, Enobarbus, Antony's disciple, is 
especially worthy of study. His frank criticism of 
passing events invests him through the early portions of 
the play with the function of a chorus who sardonically 
warns the protagonists of the destiny awaiting their 
delinquencies and follies. 


The metre and style of 'Antony and Cleopatra,' when 
they are compared with the metre and style of the great 
The St le tragedies of earlier date, plainly indicate fresh 
of the development of faculty and design. The ten- 
piece, dency to spasmodic and disjointed efiects, 
of which 'King Lear' gives the earUest warnings, has 
become habitual. Coleridge applied to the language 
of 'Antony and Cleopatra' the Latin motto 'feliciter 
audax.' He credited the dramatic diction with ' a happy 
vahancy,' a description which could not be bettered. 
Throughout the piece, the speeches of great and small 
characters are instinct with figurative allusiveness and 
metaphorical subtlety, which, however hard to para- 
phrase or analyse, convey an impression of sublimity. 
At the same time, in their moments of supreme exalta- 
tion, both Antony and Cleopatra employ direct language 
which is innocent of rhetorical involution. But the tone 
of subUmity commonly seeks sustenance in unexpected 
complexities of phrase. Occasional lines tremble on the 
verge of the grotesque. But Shakespeare's 'angelic 
strength' preserves him from the perils of bombast.' 

Internal evidence points with no uncertain finger to the 
late months of 1608 or early months of 1609 as the period 
'Corioia- of the birth of ' Coriolanus,' the last piece of 
°"^' Shakespeare's Roman trilogy. The tragedy 

was first printed in the First Folio of 1623 from a singu- 
larly bad transcript.^ The irregularities of metre, the 
ellipses of style closely associate 'Coriolanus' with 
'Antony and Cleopatra.' The metaphors and similes 
of 'Coriolanus' are hardly less abundant than in the 
previous tragedy and no less vivid. Yet the austerity 

' A full review of the play and its analogues by the present writer 
appears in the introduction to the text in the 'Caxton' Shakespeare. 

^ Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, which is known to have been first 
acted in 1609, seems to echo a phrase of Shakespeare's play. In n. u- 
105 Cominius says of the hero's feats in youth that 'he lurch'd [i.e. de- 
prived] all swords of the garland.' The phrase has an uncomnion ring 
and it would be in full accordance with Jonson's habit to have assimilated 
it, when he penned the sentence, 'Well, Dauphin, you have lurched your 
friends of the better half of the garland' {Silent Woman, v. iv. 227-8). 


of Coriolanus' tragic story is the ethical antithesis of the 
passionate subtlety of the story of Antony and his mis- 
tress, and the contrast renders the tragedy a fitting 

As far as is known, only one dramatist in Europe an- 
ticipated Shakespeare in turning Coriolanus' fate to 
dramatic purposes. Shakespeare's single predecessor 
was his French contemporary Alexandre Hardy, who, 
freely interpreting Senecan principles of drama, pro- 
duced his tragedy of 'Coriolan' on the Parisian stage 
for the first time in 1607.' 

Coriolanus' story, as narrated by the Roman historian 
Livy, had served in Shakespeare's youth for material of a 
prose tale in Painter's well-known 'Palace of xhefiddity 
Pleasure.' There Shakespeare doubtless made to 
the acquaintance of his hero for the first time. "'^"^ ' 
But once again the dramatist sought his main authority 
in a biography of Plutarch, and he presented Plutarch's 
leading facts in his play with a documentary fidelity 
which excels any earUer practice. He amplifies some 
subsidiary details and omits or contracts others. Yet 
the longest speeches in the play — the hero's address 
to the Volscian general, Aufidius, when he offers him his 
military services, and Volumnia's great appeal to her 
son to rescue his fellow-countrymen from the perils to 
which his desertion is exposing them — both transcribe 
with small variation for two-thirds of their length 
Plutarch's language. There is magical vigour in the 
original interpolations. But the identity of phraseology 
is almost as striking as the changes or ampUfications.^ 

' Hardy declared that 'few subjects will be found in Roman history 
to be worthier of the stage' than Coriolanus. The simplicity of the 
tragic motive with its filial sentiment well harmonises \irith French 
ideals of classical drama and with the French domestic temperament. 
For more than two centuries the seed which Hardy had sown bore fruit 
in France; and no less than three-and-twenty tragedies on the subject 
of Coriolanus have blossomed since Hardy's day in the French theatres. 

* In Plutarch, Coriolanus' first words to Aufidius in his own house run : 
'If thou knowest me not yet, Tullus, and seeing me, dost not believe 
me to be the man that I am indeed, I must of necessity betray myself 


Despite such liberal levies on Plutarch's text Shake- 
speare imbues Plutarch's theme with a new vivacity. 
The unity of interest and the singleness of the 
Characters dramatic purpose render the tragedy nearly as 
o* the complete a triumph of dramatic art as ' Othello.' 

trage y. Shakespeare's Coriolanus is cast in a Titanic 
mould. No turn in the wheel of fortune can modify that 
colossal sense of the sacredness of caste with which his 
mother's milk has infected him. Coriolanus' mother, 
Volumnia, is as vivid and finished a picture as the hero 
himself. Her portrait, indeed, is a greater original effort, 
for it owes much less to Plutarch's inspiration. From her 
Coriolanus derives ahke his patrician prejudice and his 
mihtary ambition. But in one regard Volumnia is greater 
than her stubborn heir. The keenness and phancy of 

to be that I am.' In Shakespeare Coriolanus speaks on the same oc- 
casion thus : 

If Tullus, 

Not yet thou knowest me, and, seeing me, dost not 

Think me for the man I am, necessity 

Commands me name myself, (iv. v. S4-S7-) 

Volumnia's speech offers like illustration of Shakespeare's dependence. 
Plutarch assigns to Volumnia this sentence : ' So though the end of 
war be uncertain, yet this, notwithstanding, is most certain that if it 
be thy chance to conquer, this benefit shalt thou reap of this thy goodly 
conquest to be chronicled the plague and destroyer of thy country.' 
Shakespeare transliterates with rare dramatic effect (v. iii. 140-148) : 

Thou know'st, great son, 
The end of war's uncertain, but this certain, 
That if thou conquer Rome, the benefit 
Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name 
Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses ; 
Whose chronicle thus writ : 'The man was noble, 
But with his last attempt he wiped it out, 
Destroy'd his country, and his name remains 
To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' 

Like examples of Shakespeare's method of assimilation might be quoted 
from Coriolanus' heated speeches to the tribunes and his censures of 
democracy (act ni. sc. i.). The account which the tribune Brutus 
gives of Coriolanus' ancestry (n. iii. 234 seq.) is so hterally paraphrased 
from Plutarch that an obvious hiatus in the corrupt text of the play 
which the syntax requires to be filled, is easily supplied from North's 
page. A full review of the play and its analogues by the present writer 
appears in the introduction to the text in the 'Caxton' Shakespeare. 


her intellect have no counterpart in his nature. Very 
artistically are the other female characters of the tragedy, 
Coriolanus' wife, Virgilia, and Virgilia's friend Valeria, 
presented as Volumnia's foils. Valeria is a high-spirited 
and honourable lady of fashion, with a predilection for 
frivolous pleasure and easy gossip. Virgilia is a gentle 
wife and mother, who well earns Coriolanus' apostrophe 
of 'gracious silence.' Of other subsidiary characters, 
Menenius Agrippa, Coriolanus' old friend and coun- 
sellor, is a touching portrait of fideUty to which Shake- 
speare lends a significance unattempted by Plutarch. 
Throughout the tragedy Menenius criticises the progress 
of events with ironical detachment after the manner of 
a chorus in classical tragedy. His place in the dramatic 
scheme resembles that of Enobarbus in 'Antony and 
Cleopatra,' and the turn of events involves him in almost 
as melancholy a fate. 

More important to the dramatic development are the 
spokesmen of the mob and their leaders, the tribunes 
Brutus and Sicinius. The dark colours in ThepoKt- 
which Shakespeare paints the popular faction are icai crisis 
often held to reflect a personal predilection for °^ "^* ^^^^' 
aristocratic predominance in the body politic or for feudal 
conditions of poUtical society. It is,