Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of theatrical art in ancient and modern times, with an introd. by William Archer; authorised translation by Louise von Cossel"

See other formats


= OO 




A History of Theatrical Art 

In Ancient and Modern Times by 

Karl Mantzius 

Authorised Translation by 
Louise von Cossel 

Volume III 

The Shakespearean Period 
in England 


Duckworth & Co. 
Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, W.C. 

All Rights Reserved. 




Hutbor's 2>et>ication 





I. Before the Existence of Theatres Influence of Italian 
Stage Technique Inns Attacks of the Puritans 
James Burbage and the Erection of the First Theatre . i 

II. "The Theatre" and its History The Performances merely 
a Branch of Sport The Quarrel between Burbage and 
George Allen The Staff and Repertoire of "The 
Theatre" The Second Theatre "The Curtain" . 13 

III. The Blackfriars' Theatre Its Comparatively Slight Import- 

ance to Shakespeare Its Situation and Construction 
Private and Public Theatres The Question of Property 
Children's Plays ..... 29 

IV. The Southern Bank of the Thames and its Places of 

Amusement Fights between Animals Edward Alleyn 

and the Lions The Watermen and their Poet . . 46 

V. The Theatres on the Southbank Henslowe and Alleyn 
and their Theatres, "Newington Butts" and "The 
Rose" Competition and Co-operation with Burbage's 
Company The First " Globe Theatre " and its Reper- 
toire ....... 56 

VI. Building of "The Fortune" Theatre Its Situation and 
Arrangement Difficulties and Dangers threatening 
from the Authorities ..... 65 

VII. The Burning of "The Globe" The new "Globe" and its 
Proprietors Philip Henslowe as Theatrical Manager 
The Burning and Reconstruction of "The Fortune" . 79 




VIII. Number of Theatres " The Red Bull" The Last 
Theatres, "The Cockpit" or "The Phoenix" and 
"Salisbury Court" ..... 92 


I. Hours of Performance Play-bills Taylor's Rhyming 
Matches Prices of Admission and Gatherers Pro- 
ceeds of the Performances, and Fees Paid by the 
Court Accommodation ..... 103 

II. Expenses Then and Now The Stage and its Equipment 

Spectators on the Stage . . . . 113 

III. Authors' Fees Censorship Sir Henry Herbert's Notes- 

Shakespeare's Fame as an Author . . . 123 

IV. Actors' Fees and Profits of the Theatres Great Theatrical 

Celebrities and Minor Actors What Shakespeare 
Earned Magnificence of Costumes Actors' Contracts 135 

V. A First Performance at "The Globe" . . . 157 


I. The Old School Clowns Richard Tarlton and his Art- 
William Kemp . . . . . . 167 

II. The Tragedians " King Cambyses' Vein" and Shake- 
speare's Opinion About It Edward Alleyn as an Artist 
and as a Man . . . ... . 190 

III. The Shakespearean School Shakespeare as Actor 
Richard Burbage and his Company Nathaniel Field 
The Cessation of Plays . . . . . 211 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . 241 

INDEX . ....'.. 245 


FlG. Pacing {>* 

1. An Old London Inn Tabard Inn (from an i8th century 

illustration) ....... 6 

2. London in Shakespeare's time (after Hoefnagel's ground plan) . 20 

3. Interior of a private theatre (Title to William Alabaster's 

Roxana) ....... 28 

4. View of London, with the "Swan," "Fortune" and "Globe" 

theatres ....... 46 

5. Part of a map of London, 1560 ..... 56 

6. The New Globe Theatre ...... 82 

7. Interior of the "Red Bull" theatre .... 94 

8. Richard Tarlton as a Clown . . . . ija, 

9. William Kemp dancing a Morris Dance . . . 180 
10. William Shakespeare ...... 194 

n. Alleyn as Dr Faustus ...... 198 

12. Alleyn as Hieronimo ...... 200 

13. Edward Alleyn (after a picture at Dulwich College) . . 210 

14. William Shakespeare (from the bust belonging to the Garrick 

Club) ..." 214 

15. Richard Burbage (after a picture at Dulwich College) . . 232 

1 6. Nathaniel Field 238 



Before the Existence of Theatres Influence of Italian stage technique 
Inns Attacks of the Puritans James Burbage and the Erection of 
the First Theatre. 

AT the date of Shakespeare's birth (1564) no permanent 
theatre as yet existed in England. 

But there had long existed a class of professional 
actors, descended partly from the mystery and miracle 
playing artisans of the Middle Ages, partly from the 
strolling players, equilibrists, jugglers and jesters. 1 

Professional Italian actors (players of the Commedia 
dell 1 Arte), who in the sixteenth century spread their gay 
and varied art all over Europe, also supplied English 
players with that touch of professional technique, in 
which their somewhat vacillating and half amateurish 
art was still wanting. 

While, however, as far as France is concerned, the 
Italian influence must strike everybody who studies the 

1 As early as the ninth year of the reign of Henry VII. we find in a 
royal account-book the following among other entries : . . . Item, payed 
for two playes in the hall, 265. 8d. Item, to the king's players for a reward, 
loos. . . . Item, to the players that begged by the way, 6s. 8d. (quoted by 
Malone : Historical Account of the English Stage, p. 43). Here we notice 
already an interesting difference between the refined royal actors, who 
receive loos, in reward, as much as the king loses at cards, and the poor, 
destitute jugglers who beg alms on the high - road of their passing 



stage-history of the country, the evidence of a fertilisa- 
tion of English scenic art by the Commedia deirArte is 
scanty. Yet I think it is sufficient to deserve more 
attention than has hitherto been bestowed on it. 

In any case there is sufficient evidence to prove that 
Italian professional actors penetrated into England and 
exercised their art there. 

In January 1577 an Italian comedian came to London 
with his company. The English called him Drou- 
siano, but his real name was Drusiano Martinelli, the 
same who with his brother Tristano visited the court 
of Philip II. ; and there is no reason to suppose that he 
was either the first or the last of his countrymen who 
tried to carry off good English gold from merry London. 
The typical Italian masks are quite well known to the 
authors of that period. Thus Thomas Hey wood men- 
tions all these Doctors, Zannis, Pantaloons and Harlequins, 
in which the French, and still more the Italians, dis- 
tinguished themselves. 1 In Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, and 
in Ben Jonson's The Case is Altered, mention is made 
of the Italian improvised comedy, and a few well-known 
types of character in the dramatic literature of the time 
bear distinct traces of having been influenced by Italian 
masks ; e.g. Ralph Roister Doister in Udall's comedy of 

1 Thorn. Heywood : An Apology for Actors, 1612 ; reprinted by the 
Shakespeare Society, 1841, p. 43. Comp. also the passage in Shakespeare's 
As You Like It, ii. 7 : 

" The sixth age shifts 
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, 
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side ; 
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide 
For his shrunk shank ; and his big manly voice, 
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes 
And whistles in his sound." 

that name ; as well as the splendid Captain Bobadill 
and his no less amusing companion, Captain Tucca, in 
Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour and The 
Poetaster, all of which are reproductions of the typical 

However, it is not these literary testimonies that I 
consider the most striking evidence of the influence of 
Italian professional technique on English professional 
actors. It is a remarkable discovery made by the 
highly esteemed Shakespearean archaeologist, Edmond 
Malone, about a century ago, in Dulwich College, that 
mine of ancient English dramatic research, founded by 
the actor Edward Alleyn. 

Among the notes left by the old pawnbroker and 
theatrical manager, Henslowe, and the various papers, 
letters, parts, accounts, etc., of his son-in-law, the famous 
and very wealthy actor Alleyn, among these rare docu- 
ments, to which we owe a great part of our knowledge 
of the Shakespearean stage, Malone found four remark- 
able card-board tables, on which the plots of as many 
plays were put down, together with the names of the 
persons represented, their entrances and exits, cues for 
music, sennets, etc. 

According to Collier's description, 1 these tables one 
of which only is preserved, the three others having 
disappeared through the carelessness and disorder which 
at that time prevailed in the Dulwich treasury were 
about fifteen inches in length and nine in breadth. They 

1 J. P. Collier : English Dramatic Poetry, iii. p. 197 (edit. 1879). In Malone's 
Additions to the Historical Account, we find four reprints of these tables, 
with explanations partly by Malone himself, partly by Steevens. 


were divided into two columns, and between these, towards 
the top of the table, there was a square hole for hanging 
it up on a hook or some such thing. They bore the 
following titles : 

1. The Plotte of the Deade Man's Fortune ; 

2. The Plotte of the First Parte of Tamar Cam ; 

3. The Plotte of Frederick and Basilea and 

4. The Platte of the Secound Parte of the Seven 
Deadlie Sinns. 

The last mentioned play is known for certain to 
have been composed by the excellent comic actor, 
Richard Tarlton. Gabriel Harvey, the astrologist and 
the implacable antagonist of Thomas Nash, tells us in 
his letters l how Tarlton himself in Oxford invited him 
to see his celebrated play on The Seven Deadly Sins ; 
Harvey asked him which of the seven was his own 
deadly sin, and he instantly replied : " By G the sinne 
of other gentlemen, lechery." 

Tarlton died in the year 1 588, and some of the other 
plays, especially The Dead Mans Fortune, are con- 
sidered to be a good deal older than his. They belong, 
therefore, to an early period of the English Renaissance 

These four tables caused considerable trouble to 
Malone and his contemporary Steevens, as well as to 
later investigators, as they are without equals in the 
archaeology of the English stage. If these men had 
known that such tables, containing the plot of the piece 
which was acted at the time, were always hung up on 
the stage of the Italian Commedia delTArte in order to 

1 [Gabriel Harvey :] Four letters and certain Sonnets, 1 592, p. 29. 


assist the memory of the improvising actors, they would 
have seen instantly that their essential historical impor- 
tance to us consists in their showing by documentary 
evidence how the early Elizabethan scenic art in its 
outer form was influenced and improved by the Italians. 

The fact that one of the principal characters in the 
oldest scenario (The Dead Mans Fortune] bears the 
name of Panteloun further confirms this supposition. 

This is not the place to investigate how far the 
English were influenced by Italian professional dramatic 
art. At any rate, the English national character 
differed too much from the Italian to allow it to receive 
more than an outward and formal stamp. And even 
this superficial effect is much less significant in England 
than in France. Still we are certainly not mistaken in 
assuming that it helped to strengthen English dramatic 
art, which already possessed no small amount of power ; 
and we may take it for granted that about the time of 
Shakespeare's birth, London possessed a socially and 
professionally organised class of actors, in spite of the 
fact that they did not yet possess a theatre of their 

Before proper theatres were built, and after the time 
of the great Mysteries, the actors found a refuge for their 
art chiefly in the Inns, those splendid and expensive old 
public-houses which convey to our minds the idea of 
old-fashioned and picturesque comfort ; where the nobility 
and clergy sought their quarters in winter, and where the 
carriers unloaded their goods in the large square yards, 
which were surrounded on all sides by the walls of the 
inn. On these walls there were galleries running all 


round, supported by wooden pillars and with steep 
picturesque ladders leading up to them. 

It was in these yards of "The Cross Keys" in 
Gracechurch Street, of " The Bull " in Bishopsgate 
Street, "La Belle Sauvage"on Ludgate Hill, or the 
"Tabard Inn" in South wark that the actors set up 
their stages. Perhaps it was this very circumstance that 
became one of the indirect reasons why they were finally 
obliged to build a house for themselves. 

Certainly the inns offered advantages to the actors ; 
they were meeting-places for the public, frequented by 
lords and other persons of distinction ; probably the 
companies paid next to nothing for the use of them. 
In themselves they afforded good room for the audience, 
with a natural pit for ordinary people in the yard, and 
with more comfortable " boxes " for the more dis- 
tinguished part of the audience on the surrounding 
balconies and at the windows facing the yard. 

On the other hand, these inn -theatres had their 
drawbacks. In the first place, the actors were not on 
their own ground, and so, after all, they were only 
tolerated. Secondly, it must have been very difficult 
for them to keep to regular prices, and especially to 
secure the payment of the entrance fee, as they had 
probably to collect the money during or after the per- 
formance, thus depending on the liberality of the public 
for their remuneration. And finally, worst of all, they 
were led into quarrels with the Lord Mayor and with 
the citizens. 

Indeed, it is not unlikely that these performances in 
the inns caused a good deal of noise and disturbance in 

I An Old London Inn Tabard Inn (from an i8th century illustration). 


the quarters where they took place, and that the joyous, 
but by no means refined or quiet " pit," when going 
home, excited by one of Tarlton's jigs and by the strong 
ale of the inn, was not animated by very respectful 
feelings towards their sour Puritan fellow-citizens, who 
were scandalised as they watched "merry London" 
crowding past their windows. Nor is it improbable that 
these anything but respectful feelings vented themselves 
in some of the coarse expressions in which the plays of 
those times abound, where Puritanism, the sworn enemy, 
is concerned ; " this barbarous sect," as it is called by a 
modern English author, 1 " from whose inherited and 
contagious tyranny this nation is as yet but imperfectly 

It is certain, at any rate, that the Puritan citizens 
entertained a deep and sincere hatred of anything con- 
nected with plays and actors, and if it had been in their 
power to do what they liked, the world would once for 
all have been relieved of such pernicious and wicked 
vagabonds as William Shakespeare, Christopher Mar- 
lowe and Ben Jonson. 

Fortunately, however, this power did not lie with the 
Puritans only. 

Luckily, this sect, which like a malicious growth seemed 
to have gathered to itself all the stubbornness, insensi- 
bility and rude obstinacy of the nation, was counter- 
balanced by a refined and intellectual nobility, which was 
inspired by the new artistic and philosophical thought of 
the Renaissance, and seemed to foresee, if not fully to 
recognise, what a mine of poetry the English theatre of 

1 A. C. Swinburne : A Study of Ben Jonson, p. 43. 


those times was destined to be. Thanks to men like 
Sir Francis Walsingham, Lords Leicester, Nottingham, 
Strange and Sussex, the drama resisted for a time the 
violent and unwearied attacks of the Puritans. Most 
fortunately for the actors also, Queen Elizabeth, as well 
as her successors, James I. and Charles I., was fond of 
plays, and favourably inclined towards their performers. 

Elizabeth rendered a great service to the actors by 
placing them under the patronage of the nobility. The 
municipal authorities, who were frequently Puritan, con- 
sidered neither dramatic art nor dramatic poetry as an 
acceptable means of livelihood ; consequently, those who 
cultivated these noble arts easily exposed themselves to 
being treated as " masterless men," unless they could 
give a reference to some distinguished aristocratic name. 

The Queen ordered by law in a statute which has 
often been misunderstood " that all common players of 
interludes wandering abroad, other than players of inter- 
ludes belonging to any baron of this realme, or any other 
honourable personage of greater degree, to be authorised 
to play under the hand and scale of arms of such baron 
or personage, shall be adjudged and deemed rogues and 
vagabonds " ; in other words, the Queen urged all actors, 
for their own sakes, to place themselves under the 
patronage of some nobleman, in order to protect them 
against the persecution of the Puritan citizens. 

But even such mighty protection could not entirely 
shield them, and it was this very power of the London 
Corporation to injure the actors that caused the establish- 
ment, of the first London theatre. 

In the year 1572 the Plague broke out in London; 


it killed many thousands of people, and kept recurring 
at certain intervals during the next twenty or thirty years, 
carrying horror and death with it. Under these circum- 
stances all dramatic performances were prohibited for a 
time in London, a precaution which was reasonable 
enough, as the dense crowding of people might have 
helped to spread the disease. But the magistrate seems 
to have caught eagerly at this opportunity of interfering. 

In Harrison's " Description of England " the event 
is reported as follows : " Plaies are banished for a time 
out of London, lest the resort unto them should ingender 
a plague, or rather disperse it, being alredy begonne. 
Would to God these comon plaies were exiled for 
altogether as semenaries of impiety, and their theatres 
pulled downe as no better than houses of baudrie. It 
is an evident token of a wicked time when plaiers wesce 
so rich that they can build suche houses. As moche I 
wish also to our comon beare baitinges used on the 
sabaothe daies." 1 

We cannot help noticing the predilection of the 
Puritans for the coarse bear-fights, which in their opinion 
were only displeasing to God when performed on a Sab- 
bath, whereas the play-houses at any time were no better 
than the "ill-famed stews" in South wark. It cannot be 
denied, however, that, under the prevailing circumstances, 
it was quite right that the play-houses should be tem- 
porarily forbidden. 

1 Harrison's Description of England, edited by F. J. Furnivall, i. p. 54. 
From this report it might seem as if there existed permanent theatres as 
early as 1572, but Harrison's annals are continued down to 1592, and, as 
Ordish (Early London Theatres, p. 31) justly points out, he may have written 
this passage at any period between 1572 and 1592. Harrison has confused 
what happened in 1572 with his own reflections about later events. 


But the sudden and unwarranted expulsion of all 
dramatic performances from the precincts of London a 
few years later (1575) cannot be accounted for other- 
wise than by the increasing popularity which these plays 
enjoyed among the non- Puritan public, and the envy 
with which the clergy saw the people crowding much 
more to the places where actors interpreted the rising 
poets, than to those where the preachers themselves 
enunciated their gloomy doctrine. 

In the year 1574 the actor, James Burbage, father 
of the afterwards famous Richard Burbage, with four 
other actors, all belonging to the retinue of the Earl of 
Leicester, had received permission from the Queen to 
perform all kinds of plays anywhere in England, "for 
the recreation of her beloved subjects as well as for her 
own comfort and pleasure, if it should please her to see 

Perhaps it was a countermove on the part of the 
Puritan community when the Lord Mayor and the 
Corporation in the following year straightway forbade 
all plays within the precincts of the town. If so, it 
proved a failure. James Burbage resolutely hired a 
liberty outside the city, and here, in 1576, on the 
premises of an ancient Roman Catholic priory, he built 
the first English play-house, which he named " The 

In the following year "The Theatre" gained an ally 
in " The Curtain," which was built in the same neigh- 
bourhood, both of course causing great indignation 
among the Puritans. In 1577, the year after the first 
play-house had been erected, there appeared a furious 


pamphlet (by John N orthbrooke l ) against "dicing, 
dancing, plays and interludes as well as other idle 

The treatise is written in the form of a dialogue, 
and the colloquists, Youth and Old Age, enter upon 
the subject in the following terms : 

Youth. " Do you speake against those places also, whiche 
are made uppe and builded for such playes and 
enterludes as the Theatre and Curtaine is, and 
other such like places besides ? " 

Age. " Yea, truly ; for I am persuaded that Satan hath 
not a more speedie way and fitter schoole to work 
and teach his desire, to bring men and women 
into his snare of concupiscence and filthie lustes 
of wicked whoredome, than those places and plays 
and theatres are ; and therefore necessary that 
those places and players shoulde be forbidden, 
and dissolved, and put downe by authoritie, as 
the brothell houses and stewes are." 2 

And no doubt all possible means were taken to have 
plays forbidden and the play-houses pulled down, but 
though the attack of the Black Army never ceased for 
a moment, the Puritans did not succeed in getting the 
better of the theatres till the year 1642, when they 
acquired political power through the Civil War ; and, 
fortunately for the part of mankind which appreciates 

1 Edited by T. P. Collier. 

2 The " Stews," houses of ill-fame, were mostly situated in Southwark. 
They were not prohibited by the authorities, and stood under the supervision 
of the Bishop of Winchester (Northbrooke's Treatise against Dicing, Danc- 
ing, Plays and Interludes, etc., edited by T. P. Collier). 


art, this precious flower of culture, one of the richest 
and most remarkable periods in the life of dramatic 
art had developed into full bloom before the outbreak 
of the war. 

Now and then in the course of this history we shall 
have opportunities of returning to the struggle between 
the theatres and the Puritans. At present we will only 
quote a further example of the attacks during the time 
of the earliest theatres, an example which not only shows 
the Puritan hatred of actors, which has been sufficiently 
indicated, but also the general favour with which the 
new theatrical enterprises were at once received. 

In a sermon of 1578 we read the following bitter and 
deep-drawn sigh by the clergyman, John Stockwood : 
" Wyll not a fylthye playe wyth the blast of a trumpette 
sooner call thyther a thousande than an houres tolling 
of a bell bring to the sermon a hundred ? nay, even 
heere in the Citie, without it be at this place and some 
other certaine ordinarie audience, where shall you finde 
a reasonable company ? whereas, if you resort to the 
Theatre, the Curtayne and other places of playes in the 
Citie, you shall on the Lords Day have these places, 
with many other that I cannot recken, so full as possible 
they can throng." 


1 Quoted by J. A. Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines of the Life of Shake 
peare, 3rd edition, p. 400. 



"The Theatre" and its History The Performances merely a Branch of 
Sport The Quarrel between Burbage and George Allen The Staff 
and Repertoire of "The Theatre" The Second Theatre, "The 

THAT the bold defiance with which James Burbage 
and the other actors met the Lord Mayor and the 
Corporation should prove so successful, lay almost in 
the nature of things. The prohibition of plays within 
the bounds of the city of London did not mean that 
they were looked upon with animosity by the people, 
but merely that a majority in the Corporation was 
unfriendly to them. It was soon shown that, though 
the wise city fathers could easily forbid the actors to 
perform their plays in London, they could not prevent 
the enthusiastic public from walking in crowds a mile 
out of town in order to see such performances, especially 
as people were quite accustomed to the journey. 
Burbage, who was a business-like man, had chosen 
his ground quite close to the public places, where the 
Londoners practised their open air sports, and amused 
themselves with tennis and football, stone-throwing, 
cock-fights and archery. 

Burbage gave his new building the name of "The 
Theatre." The title was not intended to mean the theatre 
par excellence, for the word theatre was not then com- 
monly used to denote a building in which dramatic 
representations were performed. It is more probable 
that he thought he had succeeded in choosing an elegant 


name with a certain suggestion of the old classics, which 
was euphonious and not quite common. 

The usual name for a theatre was the play-house, 1 
a house intended for all kinds of games and sport, such 
as fencing, bear-fights, bull-fights, jigs, morris-dances 
and pantomimes, as well as for dramatic performances. 

It cannot be sufficiently emphasised that the theatrical 
entertainments of those times were something more or 
less literary, anyhow something quite apart from the 
dramatic performances of the present day. They were 
meant to satisfy mixed desires in the nation ; but besides 
satisfying its craving for beautiful, picturesque language, 
fine spectacles and merry jests, they also gratified its 
desire for the display of physical strength, for shallow 
rhyming tricks and competitions, graceful exercises of 
the body, indeed for all that might be included under 
the notion of sport, and give opportunity for betting. 

Therefore, the plays, properly so-called, alternated 
with fights between animals, in which bears and bulls 
were baited by great bloodthirsty bull-dogs, or with 
fencing matches fought by celebrated English and 
foreign fencing masters, with rope-dancing, acrobatic 
tricks and boxing. Even the serious performances 
ended with a more or less absurd jig, in which the 
clown sang endless songs about the events of the day, 
and danced interminable morris-dances. 

Shakespeare and his contemporaries, whose works 

are now reckoned among the first literature so much 

7 so that they are scarcely read any longer at the time of 

which we are speaking were nothing but practical play- 

1 Play-house, from the Anglo-Saxon plegahus; plega. = \Aa.y, game, sport. 


wrights, and Shakespeare was so far from dreaming that 
the time would come when his plays would be counted 
among the most precious treasures of posterity that, as 
we know, he did not even take the trouble to have a 
printed edition of his works published. 

The many fighting scenes in the plays of the time, in 
Shakespeare's among the rest, the wrestling match in As 
You Like It, the duel between Macduff and Macbeth, 
the fencing scene between Hamlet and Laertes, no 
doubt afforded opportunities for magnificent displays of 
skill in the use of arms and in physical exercises, and 
we may be sure that the spectators followed those scenes 
with an interest which was perhaps more of a sporting 
than of a literary nature. 

It was according to a well-calculated plan, therefore, 
that the elder Burbage erected his play-house north of 
the city in Finsbury Fields, where from ancient times the 
people had been accustomed to see and practise military 
exercises and other sports, and where the soldiers were 
still in the habit of practising archery and musketry. 

And it was with equally sound calculation that he 
gave the theatre its particular form, which remained 
essentially the same in all the play-houses of the Shakes- 
pearean period. 

Before the establishment of permanent theatres there 
had long existed amphitheatres for the performance of 
fights between animals, the so-called " Rings." These 
Rings the auditorium as well as the arena were open 
all round, and the seats, like those of the ancient Greek 
theatre, were placed according to the natural formation 
of the ground. 


Burbage retained the circular amphitheatrical form. 
Being a joiner as well as an actor and manager, he 
was no doubt his own architect in his new theatrical 

But instead of the roofless, open air auditorium, he 
constructed a covered circular wooden building with 
storeys or galleries, which was made so as to contain a 
number of boxes for the distinguished and well-paying 
public, and which entirely enclosed the open uncovered 
arena, which, as it recalled the inn-yards, was called 
"the yard," or afterwards, perhaps on account of the 
high pit-like construction surrounding it, "the pit," 
whence the poorest and humblest spectators enjoyed 
the performances. 

Finally, he built a covered "tire-house" or "tiring- 
house " as it was called in those times for the actors, 
a place in which also all the requisites and the so-called 
" properties " were kept. This tiring-house stood within 
the circle, and its roof towered up above the auditorium. 

From the tiring-house the stage a simple wooden 
platform resting on rams was pushed forward, and it 
might be removed when the arena was to be used for 
fights between animals, etc., instead of dramatic per- 

By this reform of the building a reform which be- 
came epoch-making to the whole Shakespearean period 
James Burbage obtained a threefold advantage : more 
comfortable seats for the more distinguished portion of 
the audience, where they were sheltered from wind and 
weather ; the use of the house both for plays and the 
baiting of animals ; and the power to oblige the public 


to pay their admission at certain doors of his building, 
which spared him the unpleasant and unsafe collection of 
money from spectators, who might not always be very 
willing to pay. 

But this result was not obtained without considerable 

Though we are not so fortunate as to possess a draw- 
ing of the outside or inside of " The Theatre," about the 
shape of which, therefore, we must partly draw our con- 
clusions from analogy with other play-houses, we are 
comparatively well informed as to its outward history 
till it was pulled down in 1598-99. 

Thus we know that the enterprise cost James Bur- 
bage ^666, 133. 4d., a considerable sum in those days, 
which would be equal to about eightfold that amount in 
our own time. 

This money Burbage borrowed of his father-in-law, 
John Braynes, to whom he had to pay high interest, and 
it represented only the cost of the building itself, for he 
did not buy the ground on which it stood. This ground 
belonged to one Giles Allen, and in the contract between 
him and Burbage it was settled, among other points, that 
if, in the course of the first ten years after the drawing up 
of the lease, Burbage spent a sum of ^200 or more on 
the building, he should have a right to remove it after 
the expiration of the lease. 

The lease was drawn up in the year 1 576, for a period 
of twenty-one years. In spite of many pecuniary diffi- 
culties which the heavy rent and high interest naturally 
entailed on Burbage who for some time even seems to 
have been obliged to mortgage his entire property and 



innumerable annoyances from the Puritans, Burbage 
succeeded in keeping his theatre above water till the 
expiration of the lease and till his own death, which 
occurred in 1597. 

But before this date he had been negotiating with the 
proprietor, Giles Allen, about a prolongation of the lease. 
Allen, who was evidently as grasping as he was difficult 
to deal with, and who may not unjustly be suspected of 
having been an instrument in the hands of the Puritan 
authorities, had caused him a good deal of trouble in the 
course of years. On seeing how people crowded to the 
theatre, he had tried, for one thing, to press Burbage for 
a higher rent, and, partly for religious, partly for moral 
reasons, had threatened to forbid the running of a play- 
house on his property. The negotiations about the new 
lease had not come to an end when the elder Burbage died, 
and left his two sons, Cuthbert, who was a bookseller, 
and Richard, who was the leading actor of his time, not 
only burdened with the play-house, the long lease of which 
had expired, but opposed by a proprietor with whom it 
was impossible to come to terms, and by a magistrate who 
was more eager than ever to deal a blow at the play-houses. 

In the same year, when the two brothers took on 
" The Theatre," the Lord Mayor of London actually 
succeeded in inducing the Privy Council to issue an 
order of suppression against it and other play-houses. 
The order begins as follows : "Her Majestic being 
informed that there are verie greate disorders committed 
in the common playhouses both by lewd matters that are 
handled on the stages, and by resorte and confluence of 
bad people, hathe given direction that not onlie no playes 


shall be used within London or about the Citty, or in 
any public place, during this tyme of sommer, but that 
also those playhouses that are erected and built only for 
suche purposes shall be plucked downe, namelie the 
Curtayne and the Theatre nere to Shorditch, or any 
other within that county." l 

It is not known whether the order was withdrawn 
or whether the disregard of it was winked at the court 
very likely was not particularly inclined to see the 
sentence of condemnation carried out at all events, 
neither " The Curtain" nor "The Theatre" was pulled 
down at the time. But the order shows how much power 
the Puritan citizens possessed, and what difficulties the 
brothers Burbage had to contend with. 

They seem, however, to have inherited their father's 
resolute character. Since it seemed quite impossible to 
come to terms with the grasping proprietor, Allen, the 
brothers were sensible enough to avail themselves of the 
clause in the now expired lease, which permitted them 
to pull down and remove the buildings they had erected 
on the premises, in case they had spent at least ^200 on 
them during the first ten years. 

This sum had been much exceeded at the time, and one 
day, to the great consternation and anger of the astonished 
Giles Allen, they simply removed " The Theatre." 

One of the paragraphs in the account of the subse- 
quent law-suit between Allen and the Burbages gives 
a very vivid idea of this remarkable removal. Allen 
accuses Cuthbert Burbage of " unlawfullye combininge 
and confederatinge himselfe with the sayd Richard 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 3rd ed., p. 403. 


Burbage and one Peeter Streat, William Smyth and 
divers other persons, to the number of twelve, to your 
subject unknowne, did aboute the eight and twentyth 
daye of December in the one and fortyth yeere of your 
Highnes raygne [1598] . . . ryoutouslye assemble them- 
selves together, and then and there armed themselves 
with dyvers and manye unlawfull and offensive weapons, 
as, namelye, swordes, daggers, billes, axes and such like, 
and so armed, did then repayre unto the sayd Theater, 
and then and there, armed as aforesayd, in verye ryotous, 
outragious and forcyble manner, and contrarye to the 
lawes of your highnes realme, attempted to pull downe 
the sayd Theater, whereuppon divers of your subjectes, 
servauntes and farmers, then goinge aboute in peaceable 
manner to procure them to desist from that their unlaw- 
full enterpryse, they the sayd ryotous persons aforesayd 
notwithstanding procured then therein with greate 
vyolence, not only then and there forcyblye and 
ryotouslye resisting your subjectes, servauntes and 
farmers, but allso then and there pulling, breaking and 
throwing downe the sayd Theater in verye outragious, 
violent and riotous sort, to the great disturbance and 
terrefyeing not onlye of your subjectes sayd servauntes 
and farmers, but of divers others of your Majesties 
loving subjectes there neere inhabitinge ; and having so 
done, did then alsoe in most forcible and ryotous manner 
take and carrye away from thence all the wood and 
timber thereof unto the Bancksyde in the parishe of 
St Marye Overyes, and there erected a newe playehowse 
with the sayd timber and wood." 

Such was the precipitate end of the first short-lived 




London play-house. But the new house, which was 
built out of its materials on the " Bankside," was the 
celebrated " Globe," the name of which is inseparably 
connected with that of Shakespeare. 

As we said above, James Burbage, the creator of 
" The Theatre," belonged to the company which played 
under the patronage of Lord Leicester, and therefore 
went under the name of " Lord Leicester's Servants " or 
"Men." The four other actors, who in 1574 received a 
royal licence to act from Queen Elizabeth, were John 
Perkin,John Lanham, William Jonson, and Robert Wilson. 

While James Burbage was no doubt the leader of 
the company, Robert Wilson is supposed to have been 
its chief actor, at all events of comic parts, and he was 
the only one among the five who was also a dramatic 
author. Under his name, but after his death, Cuthbert 
Burby 1 published in 1594 The Prophecy of the Cobbler ; 
and among anonymous plays the following are ascribed 
to him : Fair Em, the Miller s Daughter from Man- 
chester \ The Three Ladies of London, etc. 2 

Most likely some of Wilson's plays were acted in " The 
Theatre." With this exception the internal history 
of this play-house is rather obscure, and very little is 
known of its repertoire. A few titles may be found 
in contemporary literature, such as The Blacksmiths 
Daughter, mentioned by the Puritan Gosson 3 in his 

1 A variant of Burbage. The Danish original does not contain this note, 
and I have not been able to find the variant " Burbay " anywhere but on 
this page. L. v. C. 

2 Comp. F. G. Fleay : A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 
under " Robert Wilson, senior," ii. pp. 278, ff. 

3 Gosson : School of Abuse, p. 30. The Conspiracies of Catilina is men- 
tioned by Gosson as "a pig of my owne Sowe," as it was written by himself. 


"School of Abuse," as " containing the treachery of Turks, 
the honourable bountye of a noble mind, the shining of 
vertue in distresse," " The Conspiracy of Catilina," 
"Caesar and Pompey/'and "The Play about the Fabians." 

All these must have belonged to the earliest repertoire 
of " The Theatre," for Gosson's " School of Abuse " 
appeared in 1579. 

It is of more interest that Thomas Lodge l mentions 
the original pre-Shakespearean Hamlet as having been 
acted in " The Theatre." He speaks of one who "looks 
as pale as the visard of the ghost which cries so miserably 
at the Theater, like an oister-wife, ' Hamlet, revenge.' ' 

The same company, originally " Lord Leicester's Ser- 
vants," continued to act in "The Theatre" till it was 
pulled down. But the company several times changed 
its patron and consequently its name. In 1588 Lord 
Leicester died, and after his death Ferdinando Stanley, 
Lord Strange, became the patron of the company ; till 
1592, therefore, the actors were called "Lord Strange's 
Men." But in 1592 Lord Strange was created Earl of 
Derby ; consequently the troupe became for two years 
"The Earl of Derby's Men." In 1594 the Earl of 
Derby died, and Henry Carey, first Lord Hunsdon and 
Lord Chamberlain, undertook to become patron of the 
company, which, therefore, adopted the name of " The 
Lord Chamberlain's Servants." The son of Lord 
Hunsdon, George Carey, second Lord Hunsdon, after 
his father's death in 1596, also inherited the patronage 
of the actors, and for almost a year they had to content 
themselves with being called " Lord Hunsdon's Men," 

1 Th. Lodge : Wifs Miserie, 1596. 


until Lord Hunsdon became Lord Chamberlain like his 
father, and allowed the company to resume the title of 
" The Lord Chamberlain's Servants " (1597). This name 
the actors retained till the accession of King James in 
1603, after which they were promoted to the title of 
" The King's Players" ; this title put them in the first rank, 
which indeed they had long held in reality, and which 
they kept till the suppression of the play-houses in 1642. 

It is no slight task for one who desires to study 
theatrical affairs in the time of Shakespeare to make 
himself acquainted with the varying names of the com- 
panies of actors ; but without such knowledge it would 
be very difficult to pursue the thread of the history even 
of the leading companies. 

About the year 1590 our company received an addi- 
tion in the person of a young man, who was not only a 
skilled and useful actor, but who also possessed the 
accomplishment of being able to adapt older plays to 
the taste of the times, and even proved to have the gift 
of writing tolerably good plays himself, though older and 
jealous colleagues might hint at their not being alto- 
gether original. This young man, whose capacities 
became of no slight use to the company and " The 
Theatre," was named William Shakespeare. 1 

At this time the leading actors of " The Theatre " 
were the great tragedian Richard Burbage, who was then 
quite a young man, Henry Condell and John Heminge, 
who continued to be the mainstays of the company. 
There was also the clown, Augustine Phillips, an excellent 

1 It is impossible to give the exact date of Shakespeare's engagement at 
Burbage's theatre. 


comic actor of the old school. These four became the 
most intimate friends of Shakespeare, and to Condell 
and Heminge posterity owes special gratitude, since it 
was they who, after the death of Shakespeare, undertook 
the publication of the first printed collection of his plays. 

It is impossible to decide definitely which of Shake- 
speare's plays belonged to the repertoire of " The 
Theatre." It is probable that his first plays, Loves 
Labour Lost, The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentle- 
men of Verona, and his first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, 
saw the light on this stage between 1589 and I59I. 1 
Afterwards, between 1594 and 1597, these were possibly 
increased by A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, Richard the 
Second, King John, The Merchant of Venice and Henry IV. 

The repertoire of " The Theatre " also included the 
so-called "jigs," merry after-plays, mostly consisting of 
songs and dances, with frequent allusions to the events 
of the day, sneering at the Puritans, the magistrates 
and other enemies of the play-houses. Later, we shall 
have an opportunity of entering more closely into the 
character of the "jig." 

It has been briefly mentioned above that not long 
after the establishment of " The Theatre " at the latest 
in the following year this play-house gained a com- 
panion in " The Curtain," which thus became the second 
of its kind in London. 

The two play-houses were very close to each other, 
but for this very reason it seems natural to suppose 

1 Fleay : The English Drama, ii. p. 176, and Life of Shakespeare. 
Others are of the opinion that no drama of Shakespeare's appeared 
before 1591. Comp. Sidney Lee: Life of William Shakespeare, 
p. 48. 


that they were rather meant to support than to rival 
each other. They were like a kind of double-barrelled 
gun directed against the Corporation, 1 and they seem 
indeed, to an equal extent, to have roused the anger of 
the Puritans, for they are generally mentioned together 
in the Puritan pamphlets directed against play-houses and 
all other wickedness. 

However, the history of " The Curtain " is almost 
unknown to us. While we know a good deal about 
the outward circumstances of " The Theatre " on account 
of the constant troubles which the Burbage family had 
to endure from the proprietor of the ground and the 
municipal authorities, and of the subsequent lawsuit, the 
reports we find about " The Curtain " are extremely 
meagre. We know neither when 2 nor by whom it was 
built, nor when it was pulled down. 

By a mistake which is natural enough, its name has 
been connected with the front curtain of the stage. We 
shall see later that no such curtain existed in the time of 
Shakespeare, and we do not know that the background 
draperies of that period had the fixed name of " curtain." 

Anyhow, the possibility of this derivation is ab- 
solutely excluded by the fact that the spot on which 
the second London play-house was built, for some un- 
known reason bore the name of "Curtayne Close." 3 So 
the play-house was simply named after the spot on which 
it was built. 

1 Ordish : Early London Theatres, p. 80. 

2 It was probably in 1577, for it is mentioned, together with "The 
Theatre," shortly after the erection of this building. However, it may have 
been b'-ilt in the same year as the latter (1576), only a little later. 

3 Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines of the Life of Shake spe are > 3rd ed., p. 422. 


As long as " The Theatre" stood close beside it, the 
two companions shared almost the same fate. We have 
seen that in 1597 an order was issued to pull down 
both play-houses ; this order, however, was never carried 
out. But after the removal of " The Theatre " to 
Bankside, " The Curtain " seems to have gone its own 
way. The actors, on the whole, were not afraid of 
pleading their cause from the stage, and of retorting on 
the attacks of their assailants by lashing them with the 
whip of caricature, and it seems that those of " The 
Curtain " had gone a little too far in their Aristophanic 
parodies of their worthy fellow-citizens and chief magis- 
trate. For in May 1601 the justices of the peace for 
the county of Middlesex received the following admoni- 
tion from the Privy Council : " We doo understand 
that certaine players that use to recyte their playes at 
the Curtaine in Moorefeilds, do represent upon the stage 
in their interludes the persons of some gent of good 
desert and quality that are yet alive under obscure 
manner, but yet in such sorte as all the hearers may 
take notice both of the matter and the persons that are 
meant thereby. This beinge a thinge very unfitte, offen- 
sive and contrary to such direction as have been hereto- 
fore taken, that no plaies should be openly shewed but 
such as were first perused and allowed, and that minister 
no occasion of offence or scandall, wee do hereby require 
you that you do forthwith forbidd those players to 
whomsoever they appertaine that do play at the Cour- 
taine in Moorefeildes to represent any such play, and that 
you will examine them who made that play and to shew 
the same unto you, and as you in your discrecions shall 


thincke the same unfitte to be publiquely shewed to 
forbidd them from henceforth to play the same eyther 
privately or publiquely ; and yf upon veiwe of the said 
play you shall finde the subject so odious and inconvenient 
as is informed, wee require you to take bond of the 
cheifest of them to aunswere their rashe and indiscreete 
dealing before us." 

We know nothing of the result of this prosecution, 
but we may be allowed to assume that it did not result 
in very severe measures. We seem to read a certain 
concealed sympathy in the writ of the great Lords, and 
we cannot help suspecting that it was the Puritan citizens 
who felt themselves hit, and who brought the complaint. 
If the Lords had been the butt of the mockery, no doubt 
the proceeding of the actors would have appeared to them 
much worse than "rashe and indiscreete." 

Until the Globe Theatre was built, the Burbages 
most likely possessed a share in "The Curtain." At 
any rate, their company used that building alternately 
with their own ; no doubt, for instance, during the period 
between the pulling down of " The Theatre " and the 
building of "The Globe." During this period they 
played (as the "Lord Chamberlain's Men") 1 among other 
things no less famous a piece than Ben Jonson's Every 
Man in his Humour, which, according to old tradition, was 
accepted on the recommendation of Shakespeare, after 
having been put aside contemptuously by the other lead- 

1 The original editions of the plays of this time generally have after their 

title a note stating by what company they were acted (" , as acted by 

's men "). Thus a knowledge of the varying names of the companies 

provides us with a pretty safe means of determining the date of the appear- 
ance of the plays. 


ing actors. This splendid play had an enormous success. 
Of Shakespeare's plays Much Ado about Nothing and 
The Second Part of King Henry IV. were acted. 

There is scarcely any reason for assuming with 
Halliwell-Phillipps and Ordish, that the first performance 
of Henry V. took place at " The Curtain." At the 
appearance of this play (in 1599) the Globe Theatre 
was built, and we cannot doubt that it was here that 
this popular play saw the light. So the frequently 
'mentioned "wooden O" in the prologue does not allude 
to "The Curtain," but to "The Globe." 

The outward shape of "The Curtain" we must imagine 
to have been, like that of "The Theatre," circular, and 
unroofed in the centre. It is generally supposed to 
have been somewhat smaller than Burbage's first theatre. 

The last period of the existence of " The Curtain " 
is enveloped in obscurity. But there is no reason to 
suppose that it did not continue to exist till all play- 
houses were put down during the Civil War, 1642-47. 
If " The Curtain " was preserved as long as that, its life 
was longer than that of any other play-house of the 
Shakespearean period. 

Interior of a Private Theatre 
(Title to William Alabaster's Roxana). 



The Blackfriars' Theatre Its Comparatively Slight Importance to Shake- 
speare Its Situation and Construction Private and Public Theatres 
The Question of Property Children's Plays. 

BEFORE his death the energetic James Burbage started 
another theatrical enterprise, the Blackfriars' Theatre. 

In the reading world the name of the Blackfriars' 
Theatre has for a long time been connected almost as 
closely as that of " The Globe " with the dramatic and 
the histrionic work of Shakespeare, but this is correct 
only to a certain extent. It is true that Shakespeare 
appeared as an actor on this stage, and that some of his 
pieces were performed there, but his work at this theatre 
was only of very short duration, and the most important 
and glorious part of his career belongs exclusively to 
" The Globe," which, moreover, was the only theatre 
in which he had a pecuniary share as part-proprietor. 

Until a few years ago the descriptions of the theatrical 
circumstances of the time by Shakespeare's biographers 
were chiefly based on the treatment of this subject by 
Malone and Collier, as given in the former's " Historical 
Account of the English Stage," and the latter's " Annals 
of the Stage." 

Malone, who was unique in his time as an expert 
in theatrical archaeology, brought forward an immense 
quantity of material to throw light on the theatrical 
circumstances of the time, and his honesty is above 
suspicion. However, as he himself confesses, he did 
not succeed in gaining a correct knowledge of the 


chronological details -of the theatres themselves ; and 
their history, on the whole, was not clear to him. 

Of the honesty of Collier, the less said the better. 
His account of the history of the ancient theatres is a 
model of inaccuracy, even in the last edition of his large 
work, which appeared as late as 1879 ; besides which, his 
quite erroneous dates are put forth with the authoritative 
assurance which his once great name had given him. 
No wonder, therefore, that many later literary critics of 
Shakespeare have been tempted to adopt his entirely 
misleading chronology. 

The last twenty or thirty years, however, have 
thrown abundant light on this question by the discovery 
of documents, which remove all doubt as to the outlines 
of the history of the most important theatres, though, so 
far as I know, no connected account of their external 
and internal history has yet been forthcoming. 1 

The present attempt to place the various theatres of 
the Shakespearean era in their correct relation to each 
other is essentially based on such documents as deeds of 
purchase, building-agreements, law-reports, petitions, etc. 

On the 4th of February 1596 James Burbage bought 
a property which stood on ground belonging to the 
monastery of the Blackfriars, which is now pulled down, 
the " Blackfriars' precinct," as it was called. The site is 
now occupied by the imposing offices of " The Times," in 

1 T. F. Ordish, an expert in the topography of ancient London, has begun 
such a history, and begun it admirably. Unfortunately, he has not con- 
tinued the work. The first part was published in 1894, and treats of the 
history of some of the theatres lying outside the town. The chapter by H. 
Barton Baker on the Elizabethan Theatres, in his London Stage, is too con- 
densed and too inaccurate to be taken into serious consideration. 


Queen Victoria Street near Blackfriars' Station. In the 
days of Queen Elizabeth the open spaces in the Black- 
friars' quarter were in great favour as tennis-courts. 
During the preceding reigns tennis had been forbidden 
in the Convent grounds, but Elizabeth willingly per- 
mitted respectable citizens, as well as strangers, foreign 
ambassadors and other noblemen, to practise on this 
spot the elegant game, which was as fashionable then as 
it is now. But vagabonds, with apprentices and servants, 
who played against the will of their masters, were for- 
bidden the use of this ground. 1 

When James Burbage chose this ground for the 
construction of a new theatre, he well knew what he 
was about, and he acted on the same practical principles 
which had guided him in selecting the site for " The 
Theatre." It had previously been a pleasure-ground, 
not for the lower classes, but for noblemen and wealthy 
merchants, and it was a monastic ground with old 
" liberties," over which the chief magistrates of London 
had no control. 

The old monastery had been partly rebuilt, and 
private suites of rooms had been arranged in it. One 
of these private suites belonged to Sir Thomas More, 
and on the second floor there had formerly been a very 
large hall, which at the time we are writing of had been 
converted into seven spacious rooms, and lately inhabited 
by a physician, William de Lawne. This property was 
bought by the elder Burbage for 6oo. z What he 

1 Two royal licences for playing tennis in the Blackfriars' quarter have 
been found by Mr J. Greenstreet and published in The Athenceum, January 
7th, 1 883. 

2 The deed of purchase has been published by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps 
in his Outlines, pp. 511-522. 


meant to do was to restore the old hall to its original 
shape, and then to make a theatre of it. 

Burbage probably began converting the private 
house into a theatre very soon after the purchase, for 
as early as November in the same year thirty-one in- 
habitants of the Puritan persuasion, among others, 
William de Lawne, the former owner of the building, 
brought a complaint before the Privy Council to prevent 
the change from taking place. 

It is said in this complaint, 1 which is very charac- 
teristic : ". . . that whereas one Burbage hath lately 
bought certaine rooms in the same precinct neere adjoin- 
ing unto the dwelling houses of the right honorable the 
Lord Chamberlaine and the Lord of Hunsdon, which 
romes the said Burbage is now altering, and meaneth 
very shortly to convert and turne the same into a 
comon playhouse, which will grow to be a very great 
annoyance and trouble, not only to all the noblemen 
and gentlemen thereabout inhabiting, but allso a generall 
inconvenience to all the inhabitants of the same precinct, 
both by reason of the great resort and gathering to- 
geather of all manner of vagrant and lewde persons that, 
under cullor of resorting to the playes, will come thither 
and worke all manner of mischiefe, and also to the 
greate pestring and filling up of the same precinct, yf it 
should please God to send any visitation of sicknesse 
as heretofore hath been ; for that the same precinct is 
allready grown very populous, and besides that the 
same play-house is so neere the church that the 
noyse of the drummes and trumpetts will greatly dis- 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 3rd edition, pp. 522, 523. 


turbe and hinder both the ministers and parishioners in 
tyme of devine service and sermons, in tender con- 
sideracion whereof, as allso for that there hath not at 
any tyme heretofore been used any comon playhouse 
within the same precinct, but that now all players being 
banished by the Lord Mayor from playing within the 
Cittie by reason of the great inconveniences and ill rule 
that followeth them, they now thincke to plant themselves 
in liberties ; that therefore it would please your honors 
to take order that the same roomes may be converted 
to some other use, and that no playhouse may be used 
or kept there ; and your suppliants as most bounden shall 
and will dayly pray for your Lordships in all honor and 
happines long to live. . . ." 

Of this petition the Privy Council seems not to have 
taken the slightest notice. But it was the cause of a 
series of forgeries concocted and published by J. P. 
Collier, which represent petitions by various actors of 
Burbage's company, Shakespeare among the number, 
expressing a desire that the Blackfriars' Theatre may 
not be prohibited. They also mention Shakespeare's 
share in it as being worth ,933, 6s. 8d. Collier tried to 
prove that the Blackfriars' Theatre was already built in 
1576, and that Burbage and his company acted in it for 
a long time, and it was in support of these assertions 
that he produced his forgeries. For the same purpose a 
letter was composed purporting to be from the Earl of 
Southampton to Sir Thomas Egerton, in which the Earl 
desires protection for the actors, mentioning Burbage 
and Shakespeare by name. However, as late as 1596 

the Blackfriars' Theatre was not yet ready for use, and it 
in. c 


was not till many years later that Shakespeare and his 
company came to act in it. 

Probably in the beginning of 1597 James Burbage 
finished his new play-house. It differed very much from 
the others ; indeed, it was only a large hall which was 
made into a stage and an auditorium. The hall, as 
we have seen, was on the second floor, and several 
winding flights of stone stairs led up to it. In contrast to 
"The Theatre" and "The Curtain," the whole space 
was covered the leaden roof of the house is mentioned 
several times in the above-quoted deed of purchase. 
Later, these play-halls, which were arranged inside ordi- 
nary private houses, were called " private play-houses," 
as distinct from the larger open-air stages out of town, 
which were called " public play-houses." 

Whether there existed any real difference between 
the private and the public play-houses, besides the fact 
that the former were smaller in size and under cover, 
has never been ascertained. 

It may be supposed, however, that at the outset 
Burbage meant to collect a small and select aristocratic 
public in his new locality, and to exclude the tumultuous 
elements, which frequently caused annoyance to the 
actors in the pits of the public theatres ; and that for 
this reason he called his play-house "private," just as in 
English public-houses there is a " private room " for the 
more distinguished visitors, while the crowd must be 
contented with the "public room." It maybe, indeed, 
that during its earliest years " The Blackfriars " had a 
more exclusive character, but later there appear distinct 
complaints that the owner has converted his theatre 


into a "publique playhowse, into which there is daily 
so great resort of people, and soe great multitude of 
coaches, whereof many are hackney-coaches bringing 
people of all sortes that sometimes all their streetes 
cannot conteyne them, that they endanger one the other, 
breake downe stalles, throw downe men's goodes from 
their shopps, hinder the passage of the inhabitantes there 
to and from their howses, lett the bringing in of their 
necessary provisions, that the tradesmen and shopp- 
keepers cannot utter their wares, nor the passengers go 
to the common water staires without danger of their 
lives and lyms, whereby manye times quarrells and 
effusion of blood hath followed, and the minister and 
people disturbed at the administration of the Sacrament of 
Baptisme and publique prayers in the afternoones. . . ." 1 

The enumeration of all these horrors, which, as we 
scarcely need observe, hails from the Puritan camp, 
shows what popularity this little theatre enjoyed after 
the death of Shakespeare, but it does not give us any 
clearer an idea than before of the difference between 
private and public theatres. 

We must mention one more characteristic feature, 
which resulted from the establishment of a private 
theatre inside a house ; the effect, that is, that could be 
produced by playing sometimes in artificial light and 
sometimes in darkness by closing the shutters over the 
windows. From this effect the open air theatre was 
excluded. A contemporary author 2 says: " All the 

1 This quotation is taken from an order issued by the Corporation of 
London, who in 1619 wished to suppress "The Blackfriars." The order is 
quoted entire in Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines, 3rd edition, p. 538. 

2 Thomas Dekker : The Seven Deadly Sins of London, etc., 1606 ; quoted 
by Malone, Historical Account of the English Stage, p. 63, n. 7. 


city looked like a private play-house, when the windows 
are clapt downe, as if some nocturnal and dismal tragedy 
were presently to be acted." 

The closed play-houses were probably lighted, in 
England as elsewhere, by chandeliers hung above the 
stage, to which a row of oil-lamps with double wicks 
seem to have been added later. Anyhow, this method 
of lighting is shown in an illustration (much more recent, 
it is true) of another private theatre " The Red Bull " 
(fig. 7). Compared with fig. 3, which may quite well 
represent " The Blackfriars," though we do not know 
for certain that it does, this drawing clearly shows that 
the scenic arrangements in the closed halls were essentially 
similar to those of the public play-houses. 

It is quite possible that old James Burbage meant to 
fall back on Blackfriars, if he did not succeed in coming 
to terms with Giles Allen. However, he died, as we 
know, in 1597, the very year in which his play-house 
was arranged. This hall, therefore, was never used by 
the Burbage company, but was let to the well-known 
company called " The Children of the Chapel," or 
afterwards, "The Children of His Majesty's Revels," 
a company which enjoyed great favour at court in 
those times, and thus had particular reason to expect a 
large audience in the aristocratic quarter of Blackfriars. 

In 1635 tne bookseller Cuthbert Burbage writes the 
following lines about this matter to Lord Pembroke 1 

1 On account of a complaint from some of " the King's players," who 
considered themselves prejudiced by C. Burbage, by this time the only 
surviving heir of his father James and his brother Richard. The various 
documents concerning this affair have been published by Halliwell-Phillipps 
(Outlines, pp. 539-551), and offer a most valuable contribution to our know- 
ledge of the scenic conditions of the time. 


(p. 549) : . . . " The father of us, Cuthbert and Richard 
Burbage, was the first builder of playhowses, and was 
himselfe in his younger yeeres a player. ' The 
Theater' hee built with many hundred poundes taken 
up at interest. . . . Now for the Blackfriars, that is our 
inheritance ; our father purchased it at extreame rates, 
and made it into a playhouse with great charge and 
treble ; which after was leased out to one Evans that 
first sett up the boyes commonly called the Queenes 
Majesties Children of the Chappell. In processe of 
time, the boyes growing up to bee men, which were 
Underwood, Field, Ostler, and were taken to strengthen 
the King's service ; and the more to strengthen the 
service, the boyes dayly wearing out, it was considered 
that house would bee as fitt for ourselves, and soe 
purchased the lease remaining from Evans with our 
money, and placed men players, which were Heminge, 
Condell, Shakespeare, etc., and Richard Burbage, who, 
for thirty-five yeeres paines, cost and labour, made 
meanes to leave his wife and children some estate, and 
out of whose estate soe many other players and their 
families have been mayntained." 

That this statement of C. Burbage about Blackfriars 
is correct has been confirmed quite recently by a series 
of records 1 concerning the lease of the theatre, which 
give us also the date, hitherto unknown, at which " The 
King's Company " itself began acting at Blackfriars. 

Henry Evans of Blackfriars, London, gentleman, 
hired the large " Hall," as the play-hall is called in the 

1 They are published in full by James Greenstreet in The Athenaeum, 
7th and 2ist of April 1888. 


proceedings, with the adjoining room of Richard Burbage, 
for twenty-one years at a rent of ^"70 a year. 1 

During the first few years, while the boy-actors were 
still all the fashion, Henry Evans no doubt did good 
business with his children-plays. Everybody knows 
Shakespeare's complaint of " little eyasses that cry out," 
a passage to which we shall have an opportunity of 
returning later. 

But after some years taste changed, the cleverest 
boys, like Nathaniel Field and the above-mentioned 
Underwood and Ostler, grew up, and it was difficult for 
Evans to find new actors ; so difficult, indeed, that he 
had recourse to the expedient of tempting " gentlemen's 
children against their will and employing them as actors," 
for which " disorderly conduct and proceeding" he was 
sentenced by the Star Chamber. 

Under these circumstances Evans grew tired of 
managing the theatre, which no longer brought him the 
income which he had expected, and in i6o8 2 he pre- 
vailed on Richard Burbage to cancel the lease of 
twenty-one years. Thereupon "The King's Players" 
came to occupy "the larger Hall." And, as the record 
of the proceedings tells us, here they succeeded in 
gaining so much favour with the public that in one 

1 The lease for the twenty-one years was not signed till the year 1600, 
but it is distinctly mentioned in the proceedings that the hall was constantly 
(that is ever since its reconstruction) used for acting. Did not Evans have 
it during the three intervening years (1597-1600)? Did the children act 
under another manager? Or did another grown-up company act previously 
at Blackfriars ? To these questions I have not succeeded in rinding an 

2 This appears from the record of the proceedings, dating from 1612, in 
which it is stated that during the last four years Burbage and his companions 
had received the proceeds of " The Blackfriars." 


winter they took 1000 more than they were accus- 
tomed to get on the Bankside (that is, in " The Globe" 

Special mention is made of John Hemminge, a highly 
esteemed actor of " The King's Company," as one of the 
partners, but not of Shakespeare. Of course it is not 
impossible that the latter may have owned a share in 
the theatre, but there is nothing to prove it. 

After the death of Richard Burbage, which occurred 
in 1619, "The Blackfriars" remained in the possession 
of the family, and " The King's Company " continued to 
act there as well as at " The Globe." There were eight 
shares in the small theatre in the City, while the larger 
"Globe" was divided into sixteen shares. In the year 
^35 we find the eight shares thus divided: the comic 
actor, John Shancke, has two; Cuthbert Burbage, one ; 
the tragic actor, Richard Robinson, one ; the tragic 
actor, Joseph Taylor, one ; John Lowin, an actor of 
distinction, one ; the widow of Henry Condell, one ; and 
the widow of John Underwood, one. 

After that time there is no information about "The 
Blackfriars." No doubt it continued to exist till the 
Civil War, 1642 ; possibly it was used for acting up to 
1647, when plays definitely stopped. But after the 
Restoration, in 1660, it was no longer used as a theatre, 
and very likely it was pulled down by the Puritans in 
the meantime. 

As we have seen, the first period of its existence 
from 1597-1608 was occupied by the acting of the 
"Children of the Chapel." 

The child-actors were mostly recruited from the 


boy-choristers in the Chapel Royal. They were trained 
and instructed by older actors, and they seem to have 
cultivated a caricaturing imitation of the real and cele- 
brated actors, 1 a speciality by which they evidently suc- 
ceeded for a time in attracting a large part of the public. 
From the allusions in Hamlet it seems that the 
actors at "The Globe" suffered great pecuniary loss on 
account of these boy-actors, and even that they were 
obliged to go touring in order to make their living. 
It is in the second scene of the second act, in the 
conversation between Hamlet and Rosencrantz about 
the actors who are expected at Elsinore, that Shake- 
speare finds an opportunity of venting his annoyance at 
these troublesome little rivals. He begins thus : 
Hamlet. What players are they ? 
Rosencrantz. Even those you were wont to take 
delight in, the tragedians of the city. 
Ham. How chances it they travel? their residence, 
both in reputation and profit, was better 
both ways. 
Ros. I think their inhibition comes by the means of 

the late innovation. 

Ham. Do they hold the same estimation they did 
when I was in the city ? are they so 
followed ? 

Ros. No, indeed are they not. 
Ham. How comes it ? do they grow rusty? 
Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted 
pace ; but there is, sir, an aery of children, 

1 Comp. for instance Ben Jonson's Poetaster, which was written for and 
performed by these boys. 


little eyasses, that cry out on the top of 
question, and are most tyrannically clapped 
for't ; these are now the fashion. . . . 

During this period " The Blackfriars " and its eyasses 
provided a particularly powerful attraction by serving 
Ben Jonson as a medium in an exceedingly sharp, 
literary and personal quarrel which he had to settle with 
some of his contemporary actors and authors. The 
principal sufferers were John Marston and Thomas 
Dekker, and the quarrel included some of the Henslowe- 
Alleyn actors (" The Lord-Admiral's Men"), who at this 
time mostly acted in "The Fortune" Theatre. 

Ben Jonson afterwards maintained, in his well-known 
conversations with William Drummond, that the origin 
of this not very creditable theatrical quarrel lay with 
Marston. "He had," writes Drummond, "many 
quarrels with Marston, beat him, and took his pistol 
from him, wrote his Poetaster on him ; the beginning of 
them were that Marston represented him in the stage." l 

If Marston began the quarrel which is possible, 
though there is no evidence to prove that he had 
maliciously represented Jonson on the stage 2 Jonson 

1 Ben Jonson 's Conversations with William Drummond, edited by David 
Laing, London, 1892. In the above quotation a correction of the punctua- 
tion has been made by J. H. Penniman ( The War of the Theatres), which 
gives a very different sense to the much debated passage. The original 
runs as follows : " . . . Marston represented him in the stage, in his youth 
given to venerie. He thought the use of a maide nothing in comparison to 
the wantonness of a wyfe. ..." Mr Penniman puts a full stop after "the 
stage," and makes the words " in his youth ..." begin a new period, thus : 
K . . . Marston represented him in the stage. In his youth given to 
venerie, he thought the use of a maide nothing in comparison ..." The 
correction appears very plausible. 

2 F. G. Fleay thinks that Chrysoganus in Histriomastix by Marston is 
meant to represent Jonson, but he informs us at the same time that this 


laid on far the more heavily when it came to his turn to 
defend himself. In Every Man out of His Humour, in 
Cynthia 's Revels, and especially in The Poetaster, he 
completely turned the tables on Marston and his other 
antagonists. He had the" two last acted by the Chapel- 
boys, and they drew dense crowds of people to the 
Blackfriars' Theatre, and afforded great amusement to 
the public, to whom literary quarrels have always been a 
favourite entertainment. 

Quite apart from the wonderful Pantilius Tucca, who 
probably is not a portrait, but, like his dramatic 
kinsman, Captain Bobadill, an imitation of the typical 
Italian Capitano, The Poetaster exhibits a unique gallery 
of Jonson's friends and enemies, and though the events 
of the play are supposed to take place in the time of the 
Emperor Augustus in Rome, it gives a better idea of 
contemporary literary life in London than many histories 
of literature. 

Under the mask of Horace, Jonson with no 
inopportune modesty represents himself, and gives 
himself the pleasure of punishing the dull and tedious 
Crispinus, that is, Marston, by administering an emetic 
to him, which makes him vomit all the crude and stilted 
phrases with which he has encumbered his works. 

But besides this principal attack he deals several 
side-blows at his contemporaries among fellow-authors 
and actors. Dekker is very hard hit as Demetrius, and 
with the actors of " The Fortune " Theatre Jonson 

character is described as very sympathetic (Chronicle of the English 
Drama, ii. 71). I have had no access to Marston's Histriomastix it is not 
included in Bullen's edition of his works so I am unable to express any 
personal opinion about the resemblance of the portrait. 


seems at the time to have lived in the most strained 
relations, but it is impossible to say, in every case, 
against whom the malicious sarcasms, which are 
showered down on the heads of his former companions, 
are directed. 1 No attack on Shakespeare is to be found 
in the play ; it has even been suggested that the 
refined and noble Virgil was meant to represent 

In spite of this Shakespeare retorted on behalf of his 
fellows. The Poetaster was brought out in 1601, and in 
an anonymous University play of the same year, The 
Return from Parnassus, the literary quarrel is mentioned. 
In a conversation between Richard Burbage and William 
Kemp, the latter says : " Few of the University men 
play well ; they smell too much of that writer Ovid and 
that writer Metamorphosis, and talke too much of 
Proserpina and Juppiter. Why, here's our fellow Shake- 
speare puts them all downe, I, and Ben Jonson too. O 
that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow ! he brought up 
Horace giving the gods a pill, but our fellow Shake- 
speare hath given him a purge that made him berag his 

Upon which Burbage answers : " It's a shrewd fellow, 

There has been much debate about the purge which 
Shakespeare is said to have given Jonson. It is clear 
enough that Shakespeare took up arms against Jonson's 
attacks on the actors, the attacks which were performed 

1 I suppose jEsop to be the celebrated tragedian Edward Alleyn, who is 
also called " Seven-and-a-half-share." More about this in a future chapter. 
Possibly Frisker is William Kemp. 


by the boys. In Hamlet his protest against this mode 
of fighting appears indeed in a very direct form. He 
says of the youthful actors who, as is clear from The 
Poetaster, were accustomed to parody their adult fellow- 
players : " . . . and so berattle the common stages so 
they call them that many wearing rapiers are afraid of 
goose-quills and dare scarce come thither." 

And the dialogue continues as follows : 

Hamlet. What, are they children ? who maintains 
'em ? how are they escoted ? Will they pursue the 
quality 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. 

Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both 
sides ; and the nation holds it no sin to tarre 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. 

The meaning of these words is as clear as possible 
and needs no comment. However, there is no "purge" 
here which might cast a slur on the reputation of Jonson. 
It has been supposed that Shakespeare's real rejoinder 
to Jonson was to be found in Troilus and Cressida? 
where Ajax was meant to represent Jonson. But, 
though this is by no means an absurd suggestion in itself, 
it seems improbable that this play was written until long 
after the quarrel had been settled. 

1 F. G. Fleay : A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, ii. 
p. 189, f. 


On the other hand, it is not impossible, though it has 
not come to our knowledge, that there may be found in 
Hamlet or elsewhere a stronger and more direct rejoinder 
to Jonson. We only know the scene quoted above from 
the folio edition, 1 and it is quite natural that in this 
edition, which was introduced to the reading world by 
Jonson himself, any passages that might be personally 
offensive to him were left out. To judge from the 
quotation from The Return from Parnassus there seems 
not to be the slightest doubt that, somehow or other, 
Shakespeare took part in the quarrel. And that the 
company to which he belonged sided against Jonson, 
appears distinctly from the fact that they acted a strongly 
polemical play written by Dekker and Marston against 
Jonson. The title of it was Satiromastix, or, as it was 
also called, The Untrussing of the Humorous Poet 
that is Jonson. 

However this may be, through these quarrels the 
little stage of "The Blackfriars" gained a sudden and 
sensational notoriety, and its young actors won a tran- 
sient fame, as well as probably a basis of artistic skill, 
which carried some of them safely through the dangerous 
turning-point in their lives, when the beards began to 
appear on their chins. 

From Jonson's works we know the names of some 
of the Chapel-boys. He mentions Nathaniel Field, 
Salathiel Pavy, Thomas Day, John Underwood, Robert 
Baxter, John Frost, William Ostler, and Thomas 

Of these Nathaniel Field was, and continued to be, 

1 It is not found in the two quarto editions of Hamlet. 


by far the most celebrated. He also became a popular 
playwright. But several of the other boys likewise 
became actors of note. 


The Southern Bank of the Thames and its Places of Amusement Fights 
between Animals Edward Alleyn and the Lions The Watermen 
and their Poet. 

WE have related above how the Burbages, tired of their 
ground on Finsbury Fields, north of London, pulled 
down " The Theatre " and removed the materials to 
Bankside, where they used part of them to build a new 

The southern bank of the Thames was, and is still, 
called Bankside. Behind the part of it which was 
covered with buildings there were to the south 
of the City large commons which were used for all 
kinds of sport target-shooting in Newington Butts, 
baiting of wild beasts in the grounds of Paris Garden, 
etc. There were also large inns where all kinds of 
amusements went on, and two circuses and amphi- 
theatres, one for bear-baiting and one for bull-baiting, 
to which the citizens of London frequently made 

In the inhabited part of the south side of London, 
called Southwark, the acting of plays, and complaints 
thereof, had been common at an early period. 

As early as 1547, the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen 
Gardiner, complained of the actors' competition with 
himself. It was intended, he writes in his petition, 

Condon, 1616). 


which was presented to the Privy Council, to celebrate 
a solemn funeral mass for the late blessed King Henry 
VIII. ; but the South wark actors insisted that they were 
also going to perform " a solemn play, to try who would 
get the largest audience, they in play or I in earnest," 
and the Bishop requests that this blasphemy may be 
prevented. 1 

The course of theatrical events on the south of the 
river was exactly the same as on the north. 

When the actors were banished from the precincts of 
the town by the Mayor and Corporation, there could be 
no question where those who went southward should set 
up their theatres. Close to the bank, which at this time 
was covered with one or more rows of houses, stood the 
two above-mentioned " Rings " for bear and bull-fights, 
popular amusements which were then, and long con- 
tinued to be, one of the favourite entertainments of the 
Londoners, and which were a very characteristic feature 
of their public life. 

In books of travel by strangers who visited London 
at this time, we look in vain for the name of Shakespeare. 
Not a line is found even about any of his plays. The 
bear-fights, on the other hand, seem to have made a 
deep impression on the minds of the travellers, to judge 
from the numerous descriptions of them which they 
have left. Thus one of the attendants of the Spanish 
ambassador, the Duke of Najera, writes about a sojourn 
in London in 1544: 

" On the other side of the town we saw seven bears, 
some of them very large ; they are driven into a circus, 

1 Related by Ordish after State Papers, Domestic, February 5th, 1547. 


where they are enclosed by a long rope. Great fierce 
dogs are let loose against them as if to be eaten by them, 
and a fight takes place. It is no bad joke to look at this 
fight. The great bears fight with three or four dogs ; 
sometimes the former, sometimes the latter, get the upper 
hand. The bears are savage and very strong, and not 
only defend themselves with their teeth, but embrace the 
dogs so tightly with their forelegs, that these would be 
suffocated if they were not helped by their masters. In 
the same place a pony is pushed on with a monkey on 
its back, and defends itself against the dogs by kicking 
them. The screams of the monkey in seeing the dogs 
hanging on to the ears and neck of the pony make this 
scene appear very amusing." l 

Considering the early period at which this report was 
written, we cannot wonder that the Spaniard had nothing 
to say about English plays. It is more astonishing that 
in 1598, when the drama and the art of its representation 
were in their full glory, the German traveller, Paul 
Hentzner, should only have a few lines to devote to 
the theatres proper, while he gives the following interest- 
ing description of the fights between the animals : " There 
is still another place, built in form of a theatre, which 
serves for the baiting of bulls and bears ; they are 
fastened behind, and then worried by great English bull- 
dogs, but not without great risque to the dogs, from the 
horns of the one and theteeth of the other ; and it some- 
times happens they are killed upon the spot ; fresh ones 
are immediately supplied in the places of those that are 

1 From a Spanish manuscript in the British Museum, quoted by J. P. 
Collier : English Dramatic Poetry, iii. p. 94. 


wounded or tired. To this entertainment there often 
follows that of a blinded bear, which is performed by 
five or six men, standing circularly with whips, which 
they exercise upon him without any mercy, as he cannot 
escape from them because of his chain ; he defends him- 
self with all his force and skill, throwing down all who 
come within his reach and are not active enough to get 
out of it, and tearing the whips out of their hands and 
breaking them." 

Indeed, these excessively brutal sports were not only 
an amusement to the people : they were also very much 
relished by the higher classes. In a play by Richard 
Brome, The Antipodes (1638), there is a scene in which 
an old woman reads a programme of a bear-fight. A 
young girl warns her against that kind of amusement in 
the following words : " Let me ask one thing of you. 
Avoid that kind of animal pastime, it is the work of 
Satan." But the old woman replies : " Beware what you 
are saying, child ; it is the Kings delight." x 

And it was the Queen's also at that time. When 
foreign princes visited the English court, it was the 
fashion to show them the performances of the English 
dogs ; 1 there was even a special royal functionary, whose 
business it was to see that there should always be a 
sufficient supply of animals, so that there might be a 
performance ready at short notice for Royalty. This 
office of " Master of the Royal Games of Bears, Bulls 
and Dogs " was eagerly sought after, among others by 

1 A German report of the visit of the Duke of Wiirtemberg to a fight 
between dogs and bears, in 1592, informs us that there were at that time 
about 1 20 royal dogs. Rye : England as Seen by Foreigners, p. 45 ; quoted 
by Ordish, p. 209. 



the celebrated actor Edward Alleyn, who indeed finally 
succeeded in obtaining it. No doubt he gained a con- 
siderable part of his large fortune by these sports. One 
of the first things which James I. did after his accession 
was to assist at a fight between dogs and a lion in the 
Tower under the superintendence of Alleyn. The account 
of this, to us, revolting spectacle may be found in John 
Stow's " Annales of England" (1603 ). 1 As this report 
is very little known and throws an interesting light on 
the taste of the time, it may not seem unreasonable to 
quote it here in spite of its length : 

"Whereupon the king caused Edward Allen, late 
servant to the Lord Admirall, now sworne the Prince's 
man and Maister of the Beare Garden, to fetch secretly 
three of the fellest dogs in the Garden, which being done, 
the King, Queene and Prince with 4 or 5 Lords, went to 
the Lions Towre, and caused the lustiest lion to be 
separated from his mate, and put into the Lions den one 
dog alone, who presently flew to the face of the Lion, 
but the Lion suddenly shooke him off, and grasped him 
fast by the necke, drawing the dog up staires and downe 
staires. The King now perceiving the Lion greatly to 
exceede the dog in strength, but nothing in noble heart 
and courage, caused another dog to be put into the den, 
who proved as hotte and lusty as his fellow, and tooke the 
Lion by the face, but the Lion began to deale with him 
as with the former ; whereupon the King commanded 
the third dog to be put in before the second dog was 
spoiled, which third dog, more fierce and fell than either 
of the former, and in despight either of clawes or strength, 
1 It is quoted here from the edition of 1631, pp. 835 f. 


tooke the Lyon by the lip, but the Lion so tore the dog 
by the eyes, head and face, that he lost his hold, and 
then the Lion took the dog's neck in his mouth, drawing 
him up and downe as he did the former, but being 
wearied, could not bite so deadly as the first, now 
whilest the last dog was thus hand to hand with the Lion 
in the upper roome, the other two dogs were fighting 
together in the lower roome, whereupon the King caused 
the Lion to be driven downe, thinking the lion would 
have parted them, but when he saw he must needs come 
by them, he leapt cleane over them both, and contrary 
to the King's expectation, the lion fled into an inward 
den, and would not by any means endure the presence 
of the dogs, albeit the last dogge pursued eagerly, but 
could not finde the way to the Lion. You shall under- 
stand the two last dogs whilst the Lion held them both 
under his pawes, did bite the Lion by the belly, whereat 
the Lion roared so extreamely that the earth shooke 
withall, and the next Lion rampt and roared as if she 
would have made rescue. The Lion hath not any 
peculiar or proper kind of fight, as hath the dog, 
beare or bull, but only a ravenous kinde of surprising 
for prey. The 2 first dogs dyed within few dayes, 
but the last dog was well recovered of all his hurts, 
md the young Prince commanded his servant E. Allen 
to bring the dog to him to S. James, where the Prince 
charged the said Allen to keepe him and make much 
of him, saying, he that had fought with the King of 
Beasts, should never after fight with any inferior 

This strong predilection for exciting fights between 


wild beasts, a predilection which in a somewhat modified 
form still survives in the English nation, drew crowds to 
the southern bank of the Thames, and made the open 
parks, the gay riverside and the stately inns favourite 
places of excursion, especially in summer-time, when the 
grounds offered the additional attractions of lively strolling 
musicians, male and female rope-dancers, puppet-shows, 
clowns who danced the Morris-dance, and fools who sang 
comic songs. Rare foreign animals were also exhibited, 
as well as giants, grotesque dwarfs and peculiar mechanical 
devices. 1 

And behind these places of amusement on the 
space now occupied by Lambeth, the most miserable 
and dirty quarter of London we find in those times 
fresh and bright green meadows, with cattle grazing and 
birds singing. It was a charming place to keep holiday 
in for all who belonged to " old merry England " ; here 
they might sit down on the turf enjoying the contents of 
their well-filled hampers strong beer and savoury meat 
and consider which performances were to be visited 
after the meal, the bear-fight or the rope-dancers, the 
fencing matches or the comedians. 

The principal means of reaching the southern bank 
was the ferry-boats. Only one bridge crossed the 

1 Shakespeare also testifies to the taste of the time for all monstrous 
curiosities. In The Tempest he makes Trinculo say of Caliban, on meeting 
this remarkable creature for the first time : " What have we here ? a man or 
a fish ? dead or alive ? A fish : he smells like a fish ; a very ancient and 
fish-like smell ; a kind of, not of the newest, poor John. A strange fish ! 
Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not a 
holiday fool there would but give a piece of silver; there would this monster 
make a man ; any strange beast there makes a man ; when they will not 
give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead 
Indian." Act ii. Sc. 2. 


Thames within the circuit of the town old London 
Bridge, which was thickly covered with houses and 
towers, full of shops and tradespeople. But along both 
banks there were a quantity of landing-places, " stairs," 
between which people were rowed or sculled across by 
the watermen, a very numerous and rather important 
corporation of old disbanded seamen, who in times of 
peace gained their livelihood on the river, while in 
war-time all who were not disabled had to leave the oar 
and go out to serve in the Navy again, and fight for the 
honour of Old England. 

The watermen were well aware of their responsible 
and important task, and their charges were consider- 
able ; l but they were popular, and their busy traffic on 
the river is a characteristic feature in the physiognomy 
of London in those days. It is interesting for its close 
connection with stage matters. In the history of the 
drama we several times meet with the name of a water- 
man, Jacob Mead, as theatrical manager, either in co- 
operation with or in opposition to the great managers, 
Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn. Another, the 
well-known John Taylor, 2 "the water-poet," as he called 
himself, was a friend of actors and dramatic authors, 
took his meals with them in the "Cardinal's Hat" and 
other public-houses, and even appeared in person on the 
stage and as an author. Shakespeare, no doubt, many 
times sat in the ferry-boats of Taylor and his comrades, 
listening to the tough yarns which were spun there ; and 

1 In the very accurate accounts of the actor, Edward Alleyn, I find 
several times the sum of one shilling put down for a passage by ferry; 
sometimes, however, only 4d. ; for short passages the fare was 3d. 

2 Sometimes erroneously confounded with the actor Joseph Taylor. 


all who have wondered at the great poet's skill in sea- 
manship, though he is not known to have ever been on 
the sea, might perhaps have found the source of his 
knowledge in his familiarity with the able seamen of the 

This John Taylor was a very curious person and 
very characteristic of his time ; originally a mariner, 
afterwards an invalid, waterman and poet. He made 
songs to order for weddings and funerals, wrote pam- 
phlets on contemporary people and events, held rhyming 
tournaments in the play-houses, and undertook the most 
eccentric ' 'travelling- matches, " l which he afterwards 
described in humorous pamphlets. Sometimes also he 
pleaded as representative of his comrades, the watermen, 
and on one occasion he throws a light on the state of the 
ferry traffic to the theatres, which is not without interest. 
In 1613, at a time when the actors were again begin- 
ning to move into the town, in particular deserting 
Bankside, south of the Thames, the watermen expe- 
rienced considerable decline in their income, and Taylor 
sent a petition to the King concerning the actors, to 
prevent them from keeping a play-house in London on 

1 Of these travelling matches, which even now have not quite gone out 
of fashion in England, one consisted in travelling on foot from London to 
Edinburgh without a penny in the pocket, and without " begging, borrowing, 
or asking for meat, drink, or lodging." Another still more eccentric 
journey was the one he undertook, in company with a vintner, from London 
to Queenborough. They were to row in a boat of cartridge paper, and 
with oars made of two stockfishes tied to sticks. However, before they 
had rowed three miles, the boat came to pieces, and the travellers barely 
escaped from the venture. John Taylor left in all sixty-three works of great 
interest to investigators of the life of those times, and all bearing witness to 
high spirits, though not to a very refined mind. He was born in 1580, and 
died in 1653. 


the northern side of the Thames. He writes in his 
petition : ". . . Afterwards the players began to play 
on the Bankside, and to leave playing in London and 
Middlesex, for the most part. Then there went such 
great concourse of people by water, that the small 
number of watermen remaining at home were not able 
to carry them by reason of the court, the tearms, the 
players, and other employments. So that we were 
enforced and encouraged, hoping that this golden stir- 
ring would have lasted ever, to take and entertaine men 
and boyes, which boyes are grown men, and keepers of 
houses ; so that the number of watermen, and those that 
live and are maintained by them, and by the only labour 
of the oare and skull, betwixt the bridge of Windsor and 
Gravesend, cannot be fewer than forty thousand ; the 
cause of the greater halfe of which multitude hath been 
the players playing on the Bankside ; for I have known 
three companies, besides the bear-baiting, at once there ; 
to wit, The Globe, The Rose, and The Swan. 

"And now it hath pleased God in this peaceful time 
[from 1604-1613] that there is no employment at the 
sea, as it hath been accustomed, so that all those great 
numbers of men remaines at home ; and the players 
have all (except the King's men) left their usual resi- 
dence on the Bankside, and doe play in Middlesex, far 
remote from the Thames ; so that every day in the 
weeke they do draw unto them three or four thousand 
people, that were used to spend their monies by 

"His Majesties Players did exhibit a petition against 
us, in which they said, that our suit was unreasonable, 


and that we might as justly remove the Exchange, the 
walkes in Paul's or Moorefields, to the Bankside, for our 
profits, as to confine them." l 


The Theatres on the Southbank Henslowe and Alleyn and their Theatres, 
" Newington Butts " and " The Rose" Competition and Co-operation 
with Burbage's Company The first "Globe Theatre" and its Re- 

THUS, very naturally we might say necessarily the 
open pleasure-grounds south of the Thames became the 
next resort of the actors when banished by the Lord 
Mayor from the precincts of the town itself. 

Indeed, we know absolutely nothing about the 
theatrical matters of the first years after the eviction 
from Southwark, which also came under the jurisdiction 
of the Lord Mayor. Whether, immediately after the 
establishment of "The Theatre" and " The Curtain," a 
permanent play-house was built on the Southside, we 
do not know ; but, judging from the success of the two 
northern theatres, it is probable that an attempt was 
made here also, and it is generally supposed that 
Newington Butts was the site of the third London 

Our knowledge of stage-matters on the Southside is 
chiefly derived from " Henslowe's Diary," an account- 
book kept by the stage-manager, Philip Henslowe, during 
the years 1592 to 1609, tne manuscript of which was 
found about a hundred years ago by the excellent Shake- 

1 John Taylor: Works, edit. 1633, p. 171; quoted by Malone : His- 
torical Account, p. 164, n. 7. 


spearean archaeologist, Edmond Malone, 1 in Dulwich 
College, founded by Edward Alleyn, the son-in-law of 

Like his contemporary, James Burbage, Henslowe, 
the builder of " The Theatre," was originally an artisan, 
by occupation a dyer. But there is nothing to show 
that he ever practised the dramatic art in person. It is 
still less probable that he was a dramatic author, for his 
accounts and letters bear witness of the most helpless 
ignorance of the art of writing, and his orthography is, 
even for those times, quite puzzling in its absurd irregu- 
larity. 2 But if he was not a literary man, he was certainly 
a man of business. It appears, to judge from the Diary, 3 
that from 1577 to 1578 he occupied himself with forest 
exploitation and the timber trade. It is difficult to say 
whether about that period he had already begun his 
theatrical enterprises. His theatrical accounts do not begin 
till 1592, but before that time there are entries which prove 
that he lent money on interest, a transaction which he con- 
tinued assiduously to the end of his life, and by which he 
acquired considerable power over the actors in his service. 

On October 22nd, 1592, we find the entry in Hens- 

1 Malone printed parts of the Diary in an appendix to his Historical 
Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Stage, Basil, MDCCC. 
Later, in 1845, tne whole manuscript was published by J. P. Collier for the 
Shakespeare Society. 

2 He writes, for instance, "Troyeless and creasseday" for Troilus and 
Cressida; "thus and ondronicous" for Titus Andronicus ; "the venesyon 
comodey " for The Venetian Comedy ; " Doctor Fostose" for Doctor Faustus ; 
" sesor and pompie " for C&sar and Pompey, etc. Comp. Henslowe 's Diary, 
edited by Collier, pp. 149, 33, 41, 42 and 44. 

3 Collier questions whether this part of the Diary is Henslowe's own, but 
this has been established beyond doubt by G. F. Warner (Catalogue of MSS. 
and Monuments of Alleyn' s College of Gods Gift at Dulwich, 1881, p. 157). 


lowe's Diary : " Edward Alleyn was wedded to Jone 
Woodward." Though it is more than probable that 
Henslowe had been interested in theatrical business for 
some years before that time, this short note nevertheless 
marks a turning point in his dramatic career. Joan 
Woodward was his step-daughter, and her husband was 
one of the most distinguished actors of his time, and 
perhaps the most active theatrical manager of whom this 
epoch can boast. This close family connection with the 
popular actor no doubt strengthened Henslowe's resolu- 
tion to .build an entirely new theatre, based on the 
artistic and financial skill of his son-in-law, and this plan 
was carried out in the same year, 1592, when "The 
Rose" Theatre was built on a piece of ground behind 
the houses for bear-baiting and bull-baiting on Bankside, 
and close to the much frequented landing-place of Paris 
Garden on the Thames. 1 

From the very detailed accounts which Henslowe 
kept of his expenses for the new theatre, it appears that, 
like the former play-houses, "The Rose" was chiefly 
built of wood, that it had turned pillars to support the 
galleries, 2 and that it was thatched with straw or reeds. 3 

About 1593, therefore, London possessed four per- 

1 The theatre is seen distinctly in Norden's map of London of 1593. It 
does not follow with absolute certainty from the Diary that "The Rose" 
theatre was built precisely in 1 592, as the account does not give the name of 
the play-house, but only mentions it as "my play howsse," and it is not 
stated whether the item relates to repairs or a new building. But it seems 
most probable that the new "Rose" Theatre was meant. Comp. this item 
with a later one of 1595, which relates to repairs. See Henslowe's Diary, 
pp. 11-15 an d P- 4- 

2 As we see also in the somewhat later "Swan" Theatre in the illustra- 
tion of the interior, discovered by Dr Gaedertz. Gaedertz : Zur Kenntniss 
der altenglischen Btihne, etc. 

3 In the accounts are found several items for the thatcher and his men. 


manent play-houses; two on the north side, "The 
Theatre " and " The Curtain," and two on the south 
side, " Newington Butts" and "The Rose," all four, 
however, outside the proper territory of the town. 
Things had developed in a remarkably similar way on 
both sides of the Thames ; two plain and quite illiterate 
master- workmen, a joiner and a dyer, each build or 
invest money in two theatres, and create incomes for 
themselves by levying contributions on the acting com- 
panies to whom they let their stages. 

There was no arrangement confining each company 
to its own stage. On the contrary, we see from Hens- 
lowe's "Diary" that now one, now another company 
appeared on his stage, and that he charged them 
different rents. Burbage's actors played on Henslowe's 
stage, and the reverse may also have been the case, 
though this is not proved. 

The company, however, which was more particularly 
attached to Henslowe's enterprise was that of " The 
Lord Admiral's Men," a company of which Henslowe's 
son-in-law, Edward Alleyn, became the stage director, 
and unquestionably the leading actor. We can scarcely 
be mistaken in assuming that during the earliest period 
of permanent theatres " The Lord Admiral's Men " were 
the leading company in London. It was for them, above 
all, that Christopher Marlowe, the greatest dramatic 
author before Shakespeare, shone forth and wrote his 
plays, in which he probably acted as well, and that 
Alleyn interpreted before an admiring audience his wild 
and powerful characters, Tamburlaine, Barabbas (in The 
Jew of Malta], and Dr Faustus. 


Noted dramatists, like Thomas Lodge and Thomas 
Dekker, added to the repertoire of the same company. 

However, the increasing fame of Shakespeare as 
an author, and of Richard Burbage as an actor, soon 
turned the scales in favour of " The Lord Chamberlain's 
Servants," to whom these two magnates devoted their 
life-long work. At the same time, " The Lord Admiral's 
Men" long continued to maintain their position as the 
second of the companies. 

A paragraph in Henslowe's "Diary" shows us the 
Lord Chamberlain's and the Lord Admiral's men acting 
together in brotherly union at Newington Butts. The 
old manager notes this event in the history of the stage 
in the following words : 

"In the name of God Amen, beginninge at Newing- 
ton, my Lord Admiralle and my Lorde chamberlen men, 
as followeth, 1594."* 

After which, as usual, he puts down the share he 
has received for each day of performance and for each 
play. We see that he gets very little, much less than 
his usual share it varies between 175. and 45., while on 
other occasions he frequently receives several pounds. 

1 I happen to notice that Mr Sidney Lee, in his new, large, and excellent 
biography of Shakespeare (A Life of William Shakespeare, illustrated library 
edition, 1899, P- 35) mentions this joint acting of the companies as having 
taken place in 1 592 in " The Rose " Theatre, and as having lasted for " some 
months," and that on the same page he confuses some data relating to the 
history of the stage. Otherwise, Mr Lee's book is well known for its sound 
accuracy, and in this respect compares favourably with the numerous 
aesthetical appreciations of Shakespeare, in which theatrical matters are 
nearly always neglected. I do not write this note in order to correct the 
distinguished English author, but merely as a kind of anticipatory apology 
for possible mistakes which I may happen to commit. Where even the 
greatest experts can err, it will easily be understood that the ground is 
difficult and not much worked. 


This, perhaps, is the reason why the partnership 
lasted so short a time, only ten days, from June 
3rd to 1 3th. Possibly the shares, having to be divided 
between so many distinguished persons, became too 
small for the money-loving Henslowe ; possibly it was 
simply a case of a rupture. This, at any rate, is certain, 
that we never afterwards hear of a co-operation between 
the two companies ; the name of Shakespeare is not 
even mentioned in the papers left either by Henslowe 
or by Alley n. 1 

The competition between the two leading companies 
reached its height when " The Lord Chamberlain's Men " 
definitely left the Shoreditch quarter and settled on 

We have seen how Richard Burbage and his com- 
panions, no doubt including Shakespeare, on a day in 
I598 2 pulled down their old "Theatre" and removed 
the timber to Bankside. There, in the immediate vicinity 
of " The Rose " and " The Bear-garden," they made their 
builder, the carpenter Peter Street, erect a new play- 
house, which they decorated with a splendid sign which, 
according to the fashion of the time, was painted on the 
outer wall. It represented Atlas 3 carrying the globe, 
and underneath was written " Totus mundus agit histrio- 
nem" The new play-house was no doubt finished in the 

1 In the Alleyn Papers and Memoirs of Alleyn, indeed, published by 
J. P. Collier, we find Shakespeare occasionally mentioned ; but these 
passages are only some of the editor's frequent forgeries, detected too late. 

2 Not in 1 593 as stated by Collier. 

3 In the literature of the time, and even in modern writings on Shake- 
speare, Hercules is generally charged with this heavy task, though it justly 
devolves on Atlas. Comp, for instance, Hamlet, ii. 2 (" Hercules and his 
burden," even in speaking about " The Globe.") Malone's Historical Ac- 
count, p. 69, and Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, iii. p. 113. 


same year in which it had been commenced, at any rate 
in 1599, and after its sign it was called " The Globe." 

There are several illustrations of " The Globe " 
Theatre among others that reproduced here from 
Visscher's " View of London " (fig. 4) and we should 
like to think that the theatre, the octagonal exterior of 
which is so well known, was identical with that to which 
Shakespeare was attached, for which he wrote his best 
plays, and where he made his money. 

This, however, is not so. There is no picture of 
Shakespeare's " Globe," and we know scarcely anything 
about its outward appearance. In 1613, shortly after 
Shakespeare had retired, the play-house built by Richard 
Burbage was destroyed by fire ; a new one, more suitable 
to the requirements of the time, rose in its place, and 
this is the building we see represented in the familiar 

The original "Globe" was constructed as already 
mentioned of the material of "The Theatre," which 
had been pulled down. No doubt, like the latter, it 
was circular in shape. This seems to be proved by 
Shakespeare's words in the prologue of one of the first 
plays which was acted on its stage, viz. in Henry the 
Fifth, where we read : 

"... Can this cockpit hold 
The vasty fields of France ? or may we cram 
Within this wooden O, the very casques 
That did affright the air at Agincourt ? " 

It is possible, indeed, that only the inside of the 
building was circular while the outside was polygonal, but 


there is no proof that it was so, and there is more pro- 
bability in favour of the circular form. 1 

That the first "Globe" was of wood, we gather not 
only from this prologue, but also from the above story of 
the removal of its material, and from other evidence as 
well. The roof was thatched, and the whole house was 
probably neither very large nor very splendid. Other 
qualities than outward stateliness made " The Globe " 
what it became during this short period before it was 
burned down ; the workshop where the most precious 
jewels of English literature were produced. 

During these years, from 1599 to 1613, masterpiece 
after masterpiece was represented on this plain wooden 
platform, "this unworthy scaffold," as the poet himself 
calls his stage. 2 

Henry V. had already secured the success of the new 
theatre. This play, indeed, was not one of the master- 
pieces, but it dealt with the most popular national hero 
of the English, and served as a patriotic clou which 
neither could nor did miss its effect, the victory of the 
English over the French at Agincourt. Too modestly 
Shakespeare says about the performance : 

"... And so our scene must to the battle fly ; 
Where (O for pity !) we shall much disgrace 
With four or five most vile and ragged foils 
Right ill disposed in brawl ridiculous, 

1 A passage in Heywood's Apology for Actors (Shakespeare Society's 
Reprint, London, 1841, p. 37) also seems to prove the circular shape of the 
ancient "Globe." He speaks of the Roman circuses and supposes them to 
have differed in shape from theatres and amphitheatres, their frame having 
been "globe-like and merely round." Heywood's Apology appeared while 
the ancient " Globe" still existed, namely in 1612. 

2 Henry V., prologue to Act iv. 


The name of Agincourt : Yet sit and see ; 
Minding true things by what their mockeries be." 

Even though a representation on the stage must 
necessarily be far removed from the picturesque splendour 
of reality a circumstance, by the by, which the prologues 
of this play constantly impress upon us we may be sure 
that nothing was neglected to reproduce a battle scene 
as magnificently as possible at a period when fighting on 
the stage was so common and so popular. 

This play, at any rate, was a marvellous success, and 
was followed by others which better deserved to be so. 
First came a series of splendid comedies, like Much Ado 
About Nothing, in which the celebrated comic actor, 
William Kemp, delighted the public as the ingenious 
constable Dogberry ; The Merry Wives of Windsor, no 
doubt with John Heminge as Sir John Falstaff (brought 
to life again by order of the Queen) ; As You Like It 
and Twelfth Night, in which Malvolio won special 
popularity as a caricature of the sour and conceited 

Then followed such achievements as Julius C&sar 
(1600 or 1601), Hamlet (1601 or 1602), Othello (1604), 
King Lear (1605), Macbeth (1606), Timon of Athens 
(1606), Antony and Cleopatra (1607), Coriolanus (1608), 
Cymbeline ( 1 609), A Winters 7#/<?(i6io), The Tempest^- 
(1610); all produced with Richard Burbage in the prin- 
cipal parts. The same period saw Ben Jonson's Sejanus 

1 The year of performance of some of the plays is perforce only given 
approximately. I am chiefly guided by Fleay (Chronicle of the English 
Drama). The last pieces after 1608 may possibly have been acted at 
Blackfriars as well. 


(1603), Volpone (1605), The Alchymist (1610), and The 
Conspiracy of Catilina (1611); and Beaumont and 
Fletcher's Philaster. 


Building of " The Fortune " Theatre Its Situation and Arrangement- 
Difficulties and Dangers threatening from the Authorities. 

As a matter of course, a theatre with such cards in its 
hand as " The Globe " attracted great attention from the 
public. Indeed Henslowe and Alleyn seem to have 
understood at once that competition with Burbage's 
excellent company was out of the question. 

Still they did not give up, and they had no reason 
to do so. They were part-owners of " The Bear-garden," 
the arena for bear-fights which has been repeatedly 
mentioned, and they made much money by it. Later, 
as already stated, they succeeded in obtaining after 
several vain attempts the eagerly desired patent as 
" Masters of the Royal Games," a function which gave 
them very great advantages. In short, they were very 
wealthy men. 

On seeing that the fame of " The Rose " Theatre 
was bound to decline in the immediate vicinity of the 
new and rising " Globe," they did not hesitate to leave 
it to its fate, and to build a new play-house in a new 
quarter. Thither Alleyn went with his company, " The 
Lord Admiral's Men," 1 while " The Rose " was let to 
companies of minor importance. 

1 They were also called " The Earl of Nottingham's Men," and were 
under the patronage of Lord Charles Howard, until at the accession of 
King James (1603) they were given the title of "The Prince's (Henry's) 



Before this, a somewhat inferior company called 
" Lord Sussex's Men " had played here ; now Henslowe 
let the building to " The Earl of Worcester's Players," 
who afterwards, in 1603, became "The Queen's (i.e. 
Anne of Denmark's) Men." This company, however, 
does not seem to have been successful there, and after 
1603 we hear very little of "The Rose" Theatre. 
Apparently it sank to a lower class of performances- 
puppet-shows and displays of fighting. On Visscher's 
map of London of 1616, we find no trace of this theatre. 
At that time, therefore, it had very likely been pulled 
down. " Rose Alley," 1 the name of a street, still exists 
as a reminder of Henslowe's old play-house. 

As early as the year after "The Globe" had been 
built, on January 8th, 1600, Henslowe and Alley n made 
a contract with Peter Street, who had built for Burbage, 
for the construction of a new, large and fashionable 
theatre on a site which the two managers had acquired 
in St Giles's Parish near Golden Lane and outside 
Cripplegate. They moved, that is, to the north of the 
town, far away from Burbage and his dangerous com- 
petition, but though the ground chosen lay outside the 
gate, and was consequently safe from the persecution 
of the Mayor and Corporation, it was still in a densely 
crowded and much frequented quarter. 

As we learn from the builder's contract, 2 this new 


play-house was to be something hitherto unknown in 
shape, size and solidity. In contrast to the earlier 
theatres, which had only been of wood, it had a founda- 

1 T. F. Ordish : Early London Theatres, p. 200. 

2 Published in extenso in Halliwell-Phillipps's Outlines, 3rd ed., pp. 524 ff. 


tion of brick, which was to rise a foot above the 
ground ; in shape it was square, while the former theatres 
were circular ; its dimensions were spacious for those 
times, for it measured 80 feet each way outside, and 55 
feet inside. It was built with three storeys, the lowest 12 
feet high, the middle n, and the upper 9. Each storey 
was 1 2 feet deep ; the floor of each of the two upper 
galleries protruded 12 inches. There were four sets of 
" Gentlemen rooms " the best seats, a sufficient number 
of " twopenny rooms " for the middle class, and seats in 
every part of the galleries. The stairs, passages and 
partitions were to be similar to those which Peter Strange 
had made in " The Globe," the newly-built play-house on 
Bankside. This piece of information, however, does not 
make us any the wiser with regard to the construction 
of the Shakespearean theatre. On the whole this con- 
tract does not as H alii well- Phillipps and others think 
tell us what "The Globe" was like; it merely states 
all the points in which Henslowe's new theatre was to 
differ from it. 

The stage was to be 43 feet broad, and its length was 
to extend to the middle of the pit (the yard 1 ), being 
supported below by strong new oak planks. Above it 
was to be placed a roof covered with tiles like the 
galleries and the tiring-house, and provided with leaden 
gutters so arranged as to let the water out at the back- 
not over the stage or the spectators. In all other respects 
the stage was to be arranged like that of " The Globe," 

1 The contract says the reverse, but evidently the meaning must be as 
stated above, as elsewhere in the contract the word breadth is used for 
what we should call depth. By length I here understand the distance from 
the tiring-room to the end of the platform. 


with suitable windows and glass panes in the tiring- 
house. No windows are mentioned in the auditorium, 
and there probably were none, as the galleries were 
open towards the yard or pit. 

" And the saide howse," the contract continues, " and 
other thinges before mentioned to be made and doen, 
to be in all other contrivitions, conveyances, fashions, 
thinge and thinges, effected, finished and doen, accord- 
ing to the manner and fashion of the saide house called 
the Globe ; saveinge only that all the principall and 
maine postes of the saide frame and stadge forward 
shall be square and wrought palaster-wise, with carved 
proportions called satiers to be placed and sett on the 
topp of every of the same postes ; and saveing also that 
the same Peter Streete shall not be charged with anie 
manner of paynteinge in or about the saide frame, howse 
or stadge, or anie parte thereof, etc." 

Street was desired to use timber of larger dimensions 
and heavier weight than that which had been employed in 
" The Globe," and his payment for the building was ^440. 

The entire sum, however, for the complete structure 
with the decorations and painting was ^520, as appears 
from an entry in one of Edward Alleynls note-books, 
where we read : 

"What * The Fortune ' cost me, Nov. 1599 : 

" First for the leas to Brew 1 . . ^240 

"Then for building the playhous . 520 

" For other privat buildings of myn owne 1 20 

" So that it hath cost me for the leasse . ^880 " 

1 Patrick Brew, a goldsmith in Lombard Street. Among the Alleyn 
Papers there are several letters to and from him. J. P. Collier in his 


In front of the theatre was placed a painted statue of 
the Goddess of Fortune, and the house was called after 
her, " The Fortune." l 

The new theatre had probably been opened by the 
beginning of the following year (1601). In August, at 
any rate, we find it in full activity, for at that date 
Henslowe had to pay three pounds in taxes for the past 
month 2 to the Master of the Revels. 

But even before the building was finished, the ex- 
pectations as to this large new theatre had caused a 
great sensation in London, and called forth fresh com- 
plaints from the Puritans, complaints which this time 
threatened to break in a violent storm on the heads of 
the actors. 

On account of these complaints the Lords of the 
Privy Council felt bound, on the 22nd of June 1600, to 
issue an order that in future there must be only two 
theatres in London. The Privy Council considers " the 
exercise of such playes not beinge esvill in ytself, may 
with good order and moderation be suffered in a well- 
governed state," especially as " her Majestic, beinge 

English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 119, calls him Drew, and does not seem to 
know who he is ; which is all the more remarkable because it was Collier 
himself who discovered and published the letters in the Alleyn Papers. 
1 In Thomas Heywood's The English Traveller (iv. 6) we read : 

" I'll rather stand here 
Like a statue in the forefront of your house 
For ever like the picture of dame Fortune 
Before the Fortune Play-house." 

It is possible, however, that this refers to the rebuilt " Fortuna," in 1623, and 
that the previous one had to content itself with a painted sign like " The 
Globe." The English Traveller appeared in 1633, but the date of its 
performance is unknown. 

- Henslowe's Diary, p. 182. 


pleased at tymes to take delight and recreation in the 
sight and hearinge of them." 

It was not expedient, therefore, to suppress them 
entirely. But, on the other hand, it was notorious that 
" the multitude of the saide houses and the mysgovern- 
ment hath been and is dayly occasion of the ydle, ryotous 
and dissolute living of great nombers of people, that, 
leavinge all such honest and painefull course of life 
as they should followe, doe meete and assemble 

So the Council had to decide that in future there 
must only be two play-houses in or near London, one on 
Bankside and one in the county of Middlesex. But 
meanwhile their lordships had learned from the Master 
of the Revels, Sir Edmund Tylney, who received large 
gratuities from Henslowe and Alleyn, " that the house 
nowe in hand to be builte by the saide Edward Allen is 
not intended to increase the nomber of the playhouses, 
but to be insteede of another, namely the Curtayne, 
which is either to be ruined and plucked downe or to be 
put to some other good use." l Therefore, and because 
its situation was altogether suitable for its purpose, 
Alleyn's house was allowed to be one of the two 
acknowledged theatres, the one in Middlesex, and " The 
Lord Admiral's Servants " were permitted to act there. 
The other, that on the Surrey side or Bankside, was to 
be " The Globe," where " The Lord Chamberlain's 
Men " were allowed to perform. 

But in no other places in or out of London were 
plays to be performed, and it was specially forbidden 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines, p. 530. 


"that any stage-playes shall be played, as sometymes 
they have bin, in any common inne for publique assembly 
in or neare about the Cittie." 

Further, the two privileged companies were not to 
play more than twice a week, " each of them in their 
severall house twice a weeke and no oftener, and 
especially they shall refrayne to play on the Sabbath 
day upon payne of imprysonment and further penaltie." 

Finally " because these orders wil be of little force 
and effecte unlesse they be duely putt in execution by those 
unto whome it appertayneth to see them executed, it is 
ordered that severall copies of these orders shal be sent 
to the Lord Maior of London and to the Justices of 
Peace of the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, and 
that letters shal be written unto them from their Lord- 
ships straightly chargeinge them to see to the execution 
of the same, as well by commyttinge to prison any 
owners of playhouses and players as shall disobey and 
resist these orders as by any other good and lawfull 
means that in their discretion they shall finde ex- 
pedient, and to certifie their Lordships from tyme 
to tyme as they shall see cause of their proceedinges 
heerein." 1 

At that moment there were at least six permanent 
theatres in London. The Burbages possessed two, 
"The Globe" and "The Blackfriars " ; Henslowe and 
Alleyn three, "The Rose," "The Fortune," and ".The 
Curtain," the last of which they must have acquired by 

1 This order from the Pri^y Council, with certain other documents con- 
cerning the same affair, is reproduced in extenso in Halliwell-Phillipps's 
Outlines, 3rd ed., pp. 528-531;. 


this time, since they promise to pull it down when they 
build " The Fortune " ; finally there was a sixth be- 
longing to a certain Francis Langley, " The Swan," the 
history of which we shall soon have an opportunity of 
relating. It may be also that " The Newington " 
Theatre still existed, but it was of scarcely any import- 
ance, and its whole history is very obscure. 

At any rate the strict orders from the Privy Council 
meant the suppression of four large play-houses, three 
of which were only a few years old. 

Fortunately for the actors and the proprietors, this 
order shared the fate of many others : it was never 
carried out. A year and a half later, in December 1601, 
the Lord Mayor sends in a new complaint of the many 
theatres, to which the Privy Council replies as follows : 
" Wee have receaved a lettre from yow renewing a com- 
plaint of the great abuse and disorder within and about 
the cittie of London by reason of the multitude of play- 
howses, . . . wee must let yow know that wee did much 
rather expect to understand that our order sett downe and 
prescribed about a yeare and a half since for reformation 
of the said disorders upon the lyke complaint at that 
tyme had been duely executed, then to finde the same 
disorders and abuses so muche encreased as they are. 
The blame whereof, as we cannot but impute in great 
part to the Justices of the Peace or some of them in 
the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, who had speciall 
direction 'and charge from us to see our said Order 
executed for the confines of the Cittie, wherein the 
most part of those play-howses are scituate. . . . Wee 
do therefore once againe renew hereby our directions 


unto you, as wee have donne by our lettres to the 
justices of Middlesex and Surrey. . . ," 1 

Here follows a repetition of the earlier order, which 
winds up with a request to imprison the proprietors of 
theatres if, regardless of their duty, they have plays 
acted in other places besides the two authorised theatres, 
"The Fortune" and "The Globe." And, as before, 
a strict injunction is sent to the Justices of the 

But, just as before, the writs were entirely disre- 
garded. It is most astonishing to see how such orders 
from the highest authorities are ignored time after time, 
and treated as empty menaces in spite of their being 
addressed to the Puritan Lord Mayor, the hereditary 
enemy of actors. 

This would be quite incomprehensible if the Lords 
of the Council had not played a double game, secretly 
protecting the theatres while publicly censuring them. 
Among the councillors of state at that time were men 
like Nottingham, Shrewsbury and Worcester, who were 
known to be very favourably inclined towards plays and 
actors, and who, without openly breaking with the Mayor 
and the Corporation, found it amusing to play a few 
tricks on the conceited Puritan prigs. 

That the actors also considered the grave city fathers 
as a good butt for their wit is seen for one thing from 
the almost farcical way in which Shakespeare treats the 
Lord Mayor and Aldermen in his Richard III., where 
he makes Gloster and Buckingham send them off on a 

1 The county of Middlesex contained the part of London which lay north 
of the Thames, the county of Surrey contained the part south of the river. 


wild goose chace, and exhibits them as foolish victims 
of the grossest dissimulation. 

At any rate, the theatres were left alone for the 
present. It is true that the proprietors had to pay a 
considerable sum to the functionaries in whose hands 
their welfare lay, and we shall see later how the Master 
of the Revels taxed the actors. Still, the theatres which 
had to succumb in the struggle for existence perished 
by a natural death, and no brute force was exercised 
against their development 

Not even " The Curtain " disappeared, though 
Henslowe and Alley n had engaged themselves to pull 
it down when they built " The Fortune." It continued 
to exist, as we have seen, probably down to the time 
of the Civil War. It is even possible that Henslowe 
and Alleyn never owned this theatre, in which case, 
indeed, the promise of pulling it down would be the 
climax of comic impudence to the Puritan authorities. 
This promise, as far as I know, is the only indication of 
" The Curtain's " ever having been in the possession of 
Henslowe and Alleyn. In their detailed account-books 
no mention whatever is made of it. 

But a few years previously the two partners had built 
" The Rose," which, indeed, they did not show the 
slightest intention of pulling down. On the whole, the 
last twenty or thirty years of the century had brought 
vigorous life into the theatrical world, and, it must be 
confessed, had increased the number of theatres slightly 
beyond what the town was able to support at the time. 

About the year 1596 a large new play-house had been 
added, of which we have not yet had an opportunity of 


speaking in greater detail. It was called " The Swan," 
and like "The Rose" and " The Globe," it was situated 
on the southern bank of the Thames, but more to the 
west than the others. 

A Dutch scholar, Johan de Witt, who visited London 
about that time, has left not only a description but also 
a drawing 1 of this theatre, which in 1596 was quite new, 
and for that very reason, perhaps, particularly impressed 
the foreign traveller by its stately appearance. The 
translation of his Latin description runs as follows : 
" There are in London four theatres (Amphitheatre?) of 
noteworthy beauty, which bear different names according 
to their different signs. In each of them a different play 
(varia sccena) is daily performed before the people. The 
two most magnificent of these are situated across the 
Thames on the south side, and are called from the signs 
suspended over them : ' The Rose ' 2 and ' The Swan.' 
Two others, ' The Theatre ' and ' The Curtain,' are 
situated outside the town to the north, on the road which 
is entered through ' the episcopal gate,' generally called 
' Bishopsgate.' There is also a fifth, but of a different 
construction, meant for baiting of wild beasts, in which 
many bears, bulls and dogs of an extraordinary size are 
fed in separate dens and cages, which are baited to fight, 
and thus afford a most delightful spectacle to the people. 
Of all the theatres the largest and most magnificent is 
the one whose sign is a Swan (generally called ' The 
Swan ' Theatre), as it holds three thousand persons, and 

1 Both were discovered by Dr K. Th. Gaedertz, who found them in the 
Utrecht Library. The descriptions in the text are taken from his work 
before mentioned. 

2 " The Rose," as we have seen, was also new at the time. 


is built of flint, of which there is a large abundance in 
England, supported by wooden pillars. The paint that 
covers these pillars produces such an excellent imitation 
of marble that it baffles even the sharpest eye. And as 
in shape it seems to be an imitation of Roman work, 
I have given a drawing of it above." 1 

This " Swan Theatre," the magnificence of which 
made such a deep impression on the Dutch scholar, is 
well known to us from other sources. In the year 1594 
the Lord Mayor of London wrote to the Lord Treasurer, 
informing him that a certain Francis Langley, licensed 
alnager, 2 intended to build a new theatre on the Bank 
side, which he asked him to forbid his doing. 

Evidently the Lord Treasurer did not comply with 
the request of the Lord Mayor, for Francis Langley 
built his theatre on the ground of Paris Garden, quite 
close to the Bear-garden, and to the much frequented 
landing-place on the Thames, Paris Gardens Stairs ; and 
probably from the many swans which crowded the river 
at the time he chose a swan as the sign of his play- 
house, and called it " The Swan Theatre." There is no 
evidence to show when " The Swan " was built and 
opened for use. If Dr Gaedertz is right in his assertion 
that de Witt visited London in the summer of 1596, it 
is not likely to have been open for less than a year. 
But other circumstances seem to indicate that it was 
quite new in I598. 3 

In other respects we are exceedingly well informed 

1 The drawing is reproduced in vol. ii. of the present work : Middle Ages 
and Renaissance, facing p. 326. 

2 Comp. Ordish: Early London Theatres, p. 253. 

3 Comp. Ordish : Early London Theatres, p. 259. 


with regard to this play-house. We possess a drawing 
of the interior by de Witt ; its exterior is illustrated in 
Visscher's "View of London" (of 1616) ; it is described, 
as above, by de Witt, and, finally, we have the fairly 
detailed building contract of the later " Hope Theatre," 
the construction of which was to be exactly like that of 
"The Swan." 

This play-house, therefore, as far as its outward history 
is concerned, is probably the best known of all contem- 
porary theatres. Unfortunately, its importance to the 
dramatic art and dramatic literature of the time was 
obviously slight ; in any case its artistic history is as ob- 
scure as our knowledge of its architecture is clear. It is 
evident that the builder, Francis Langley, who seems to 
have selected the place for his fine theatre very judiciously, 
could not come up to his shrewd competitor, Philip 
Henslowe, who owned "The Rose," "The Newington " 
and " The Bear-garden." 

When de Witt's drawing appeared, it was thought 
for a moment that the three actors represented there 
might be meant for Malvolio, Olivia and Maria in 
Twelfth Night, and that this would prove that Shake- 
speare had written also for " The Swan " Theatre. But 
this hypothesis failed on the simple ground that that 
comedy cannot have been written before I6OO. 1 On the 
whole, there is nothing to justify the belief that any play 
of Shakespeare's was acted at " The Swan," or that the 
company to which the great poet belonged, and for which 

1 They might, by the by, be the same persons from an earlier play on 
the same subject. Some people consider Twelfth Night to be an adapta- 
tion of an earlier comedy. 


he wrote exclusively, 1 ever appeared on Langley's 

From a short colloquy in Dekker's Satiromastix we 
may conclude that Ben Jonson, whose restless nature 
drove him in turn to all companies and all theatres, 
acted Zulziman in " The Swan " Theatre. Otherwise 
this theatre seems mainly to have been used for per- 
formances of a lower kind, the so-called "activities," or 
what we should call " music hall entertainments," acrobatic 
tricks, fencing matches, and plays of the lowest class. 
The once magnificent building soon fell into decay, and, 
on the whole, this theatrical enterprise seems to have 
been a failure. In the year 1632, in a play by Marmyon, 
called Hollands Leaguer? after a house of ill fame in 
Paris Garden, mention is made of the things worth 
seeing in that neighbourhood, among which occurs 
" The Swan." The passage runs as follows : " There 
are pleasant walks and a concourse of strangers. Three 
famous amphitheatres can be seen from the turret ; one, 
the continent of the world [i.e. ' The Globe '], to which 
half the year [i.e. in summer] a world of beauties and of 
brave spirits resort a building of excellent Hope for 
players, wild beasts and gladiators and one other, that 
the lady of the leaguer or fortress could almost shake 

1 The only two of Shakespeare's plays which seem to have been written 
for other companies are Titus Andronicus, which we find mentioned in 
Henslowe's Diary (p. 33) as having been performed for the first time on the 
23rd of January 1593 or 1594 by the inferior company, "The Earl of 
Sussex's Men" (Rd at titus and ondronicous, the 23rd of Jenewary . . . iii. li 
viii. s.), and Henry VS., which on the title-page of the first edition is stated 
to have been acted by " The Earl of Pembroke's Servants." But as we know, 
Shakespeare's authorship of both these plays has been contested. 

2 Shakerly Marmyon : Hollands Leaguer, 1632 ; quot. by Ordish : 
Early London Theatres, p. 275. 


hands with, now fallen to decay, and, like a dying 
swanne [i.e. ' The Swan ' play-house], hangs her head 
and sings her own dirge." 

This melancholy description is the last information 
we have about the once proud " Swan." 


The Burning of " The Globe " The new " Globe " and its Proprietors 
Philip Henslowe as Theatrical Manager The Burning and Recon- 
struction of "The Fortune." 

ON the 2Qth of June 1613 London saw for the first time 
the destruction by fire of one of its theatres, and it was 
no other than " The Globe " which was destroyed. 

By this time it was more than a year since Shake- 
speare had retired from the stage. But a new play in 
which he had a share was acted on this fatal day. The 
historical play Henry VIII., or All is True, by Shake- 
speare and Fletcher, 1 was on the play-bill, and this royal 
drama was produced with much pomp and splendour. 
The Knights of the Garter appeared in their magnificent 
robes, and the Knights of St George in theirs ; the Royal 
Guard were refulgent in their embroidered surcoats ; even 
the stage contrary to custom was covered with mats, 
while for ordinary use it was only strewn with rushes. 

In Act i., Scene 4, the King comes as one of a 
company of maskers to the house of Cardinal Wolsey, 
and, in accordance with a common custom, on the 
entrance of the King a volley of cannon-shots was fired. 
The wad of one of these hit the roof, and in a twinkling 

1 Henry VIII. is supposed to have been commenced by Shakespeare in 
1611, and to have been performed two years later by "The King's Men," 
who had prevailed on Fletcher to finish it. 


the sixteen years' old theatre, which, as we remember, was 
built of wood, was in flames. Though there were only two 
narrow entrances to the whole theatre, all the people 
escaped almost unhurt. " Only one man," says the writer 
of a contemporary letter, 1 " had his breeches set on fire, 
that would perhaps have broyled him, if he had not by 
the benefit of a provident wit, put it out with bottle ale." 

But the whole theatre and an adjoining house were 
burned down in a little over an hour, and of course 
among other things part of the expensive wardrobe of 
the actors was destroyed. 

Naturally the fire created a considerable sensation. 
The Puritans considered it as a judgment from God, 2 and a 
street song appeared, which in graphic words, though in a 
humorous way, preserved the memory of the sad event. 

The song has the following title : " A Sonnet about 
the Sad Fire in the Globe Theatre in London " ; 3 and 
with an obvious allusion to the piece which was acted on 
the fatal day, each verse ended with this refrain : 
" Oh, sorrow, pittifull sorrow, an yett all this is true." 

1 Sir Henry Wotton. In Reliquice Wottoniana, ed. 1685, pp. 425-6, 
we find a description of the fire, first quoted by Malone, p. 69, n. 6. A 
letter from Mr Chamberlain, dated July 8th, 1613, also discovered by 
Malone (ibid.}, and Stow's Chronicle, under the year 1613, also give descrip- 
tions of this event in the annals of the theatre. The details given above are 
drawn from these three sources. 

2 As late as twenty years after, Prynne, in his Histriomastix, mentions 
the burning of the two theatres, " The Globe " and " The Fortune," as a 
proof that plays are the work of the devil. See the original edition of 1633, 
p. 516. 

3 Printed for the first time in The Gentlemen 's Magazine of 1816, from 
an old manuscript. Afterwards reprinted by Halliwell-Phillipps (Outlines, 
pp. 536 ff.) Malone mentions a ballad on the same subject, which is registered 
in the bookseller's catalogue of 1613, but which he has never been able to 
find. It can scarcely be the same as the above-mentioned sonnet ; the title 
at least is different. 


The sonnet begins in a high strain with a summons 
to Melpomene to report the last tragedy which was acted 
at "The Globe." 

" Now sitt the downe, Melpomene, 

Wrapt in a sea-cole robe, 
And tell the dolefull tragedie 

That late was playd at Globe." 

Then it describes how the fire began on the roof and 
spread over the whole house consuming everything, even 
the silk flag ; further, how the knights and noblemen ran 
out in great confusion, losing their hats and swords, and 
the actors likewise, Burbage, Condell and old Heminge, 
who stood with swollen eyes " like a drunken Flemming," 
and looked with sorrow at the burning wigs, costumes 
and drum-skins. At last the poet recommends the 
actors not to thatch their house, but to go to the expense 
of a tile roof. 

" Be warned, yow stage strutters all, 
Least yow againe be catched, 
And such a burneing doe befall, 
As to them whose howse was thatched ; 
Forbeare your whoreing, breeding biles, 
And lay up that expence for tiles. 
Oh, sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yet all this is true." 

To this warning Burbage and his companions paid 
heed, and when, as early as the following spring, 1 " The 

1 "... and the next spring it was new builded in far fairer manner than 
before." Stow's Chronicle, under the year 1613. 

" As gold is better that's in fire tried, 
So is the Bankside Globe that late was burn'd, 
For where before it had a thatched hide, 


Globe " rose again, it was not only much more splendid 
in appearance, but it had a tiled roof. 

The new " Globe " remained under the management 
of Richard Burbage till his death in 1619. After this 
event it continued to remain in the hands of the family, 
though now, as before, they shared the ownership with 
some of the leading actors as partners. No doubt, even 
on the establishment of the first " Globe Theatre," 
Shakespeare and others had shares in the enterprise. 1 
The bookseller, Cuthbert Burbage, the surviving brother 
of Richard, writes in the year 1635 on this question, 
after mentioning the difficulties which the family had 
had with their first enterprise, "The Theatre": "We 
then bethought us of altering from thence, and at like 
expense built the Globe, with more summes of money 
taken up at interest, which lay heavy on us many yeares, 
and to ourselves wee joyned those deserving men, 
Shakspere, Heminge, Condall, Philips and others, 
partners in the profittes of that they call the House, but 
makeing the leases for twenty-one yeeres hath beene the 
destruction of ourselves and others, for they dyeing at 
the expiration of three or four yeeres of their lease, 2 the 

Now to a stately theatre is turned ; 

Which is an emblem, that great things are won 

By those that dare through greatest dangers run." 

John Taylor : Quatern of new-catched Epigrams, no. xxii., 
quoted by Malone, Historical Account, p. 70. 

1 All actors were partners in so far as the entrance fee, which was col- 
lected at the doors, was their due. But the proprietors took all that was 
paid for the boxes, the galleries, and the seats on the stage. For further 
information on this point see the following section, p. 109. 

2 All these " deserving men " were alive three or four years after the 
building of the Globe. The first to die was Augustine Phillips, the old clown, 
whose death occurred in 1605. Condell and Heminge lived respectively to 
1627 and 1630. Shakespeare who, as we know, died in 1616, had probably 
given up his share some years previously. 

6 The New Globe Theatre. 


subsequent yeeres became dissolved to strangers as by 
marrying with their widdowes and the like by their 
children." 1 

In 1635 the Burbage family, though none of them 
acted any longer, still possessed 3! shares of the 16, into 
which " The Globe " was divided ; the remainder were 
held by the widow of Condell (2), and by the actors 
Robinson (3^), Schanke (3), Taylor and Lewin (each 

2 ). 

While " The Globe " continued to be a sound pay- 
ing business, its theatrical reputation had somewhat 
declined. The public which frequented it were scarcely 
so refined as that which went to Blackfriars, and the 
actors, " The King's Men," who were the same in both 
places, performed at "The Globe" mainly what we 
should call spectacular plays. 

James Shirley, in the prologue of his Rosania, or The 
Doubtful Heir, gibes at his own public. His plays were 
to have been performed at Blackfriars, and his prologue 
apologises for the refined fare in these words : 

" Gentlemen, I am only sent to say, 
Our author did not calculate his play 
For this meridian. The Bankside, he knows, 
Is far more skilful at the ebbs and flows 
Of water than of wit ; he did not mean 
For the elevation of your poles this scene. 

1 In the reply above quoted to a complaint from some of the actors. 
Comp. above, p. 37. 

2 Comp. a complaint from the actors Benfield, Swanston and Pollard to 
the Earl of Pembroke (1635), printed in Halliwell-Phillipps's Outlines, pp. 
539 * 


No shews, no dance and what you most delight in, 

Grave understanders, 1 here's no target-fighting 

Upon this stage ; all work for culers barr'd ; 

No bawdry nor no ballads ; this goes hard : 

But language clean, and, what affects you not, 

Without impossibilities the plot, 

No clown, no squibs, no devil in 't. Oh now, 

You squirrels that want 'nuts, what will you do ? 

Pray do not crack the benches, and we may 

Hereafter fit your palates with a play. 

But you that can contract yourselves, and fit, 

As you were now in the Blackfriars pit, 

And will not deaf us with lewd noise and tongues 

Because we have no heart to break our lungs 

Will pardon our vast stage, and not disgrace, 

This play meant for your persons, not the place." 2 

These words were written and spoken in 1640. A 
few years later the famous " Globe " had ceased to 
exist. The exact date of its destruction was the i5th 
of April 1644, when the Puritans pulled it down. 

The old home of the art of Shakespeare is now occu- 
pied by the large breweries of Barclay & Perkins. 

When in 1613 "The Globe" Theatre was entirely 
burned down, Henslowe at once profited by the chance 
offered him by the temporary incapacitation of his most 
dangerous competitors. He entered into partnership with 
the waterman, Jacob Meade, who had formerly been a 

1 Grave understanders, a very common pun on the populace in the pit, 
who stood below the stage. Ben Jonson also called them " the understand- 
ing gentlemen of the ground here." 

1 This prologue is printed in Malone : Historical Account, pp. 72 ff. 


keeper of the royal animals, and immediately had 
his bear-circus transformed into a proper play-house, 
but so that it might still be used for fights between 

For the construction of this theatre "The Swan" 
was to serve as a model. We read in the contract 
between the carpenter and the mason on the one side, 
and Henslowe and Meade on the other, that in circum- 
ference and height it was to be equal to the play-house 
called " The Swan." 

The foundation was to be of brick, and the timber 
in the lowest storey of oak only ; the pillars likewise of 
oak, and turned. The stage was to be surrounded by 
a frame and to rest on rams, so that it might be removed 
when the theatre had to serve for bull-baiting and bear- 
baiting. The stage was to be covered by " heavens " 
that is, a canopy which was not, however, to rest on 
pillars on the floor ; it was to be provided with leaden 
gutters for the rain-water to run off. The theatre was 
to have three storeys like "The Swan," the lowest of 
which was to contain some particularly comfortable 
boxes, " convenient and suitable for gentlemen to 
sit in." The roof was to be of English tiles, not 
thatched like the previous theatres. Finally, a tile- 
covered stable was to accommodate six bulls and three 
horses. 1 

The new play-house received the significant name of 
" The Hope," and the company which was engaged to 
act there obtained the Princess Elizabeth as patroness, 

1 The whole building contract is printed by Malone : Variorum Shake- 
speare, 343. 


and called itself, after her, " The Lady Elizabeth's 
Servants." Its leading actor was Nathaniel Field, a 
young star, 1 who had already won fame as a child-actor, 
and who now rivalled Richard Burbage himself as the 
youthful hero. 

Field was accompanied by a number of talented 
young dramatists, above all, Ben Jonson, and next to him 
John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Robert Daborne, all 
of them tempted by old father Henslowe's gold, and all 
more or less in the pocket of the wily pawnbroker. 

Among the papers left by Edward Alleyn are a 
number of letters, complaints and receipts from authors 
and actors who stood in business relations with Hens- 
lowe. 2 A thorough study of these old papers gives a 
most vivid and interesting idea of the circumstances 
in which dramatic authors lived at that time. It is 
sad and painful to see how even distinguished artists 
truckle and flatter in order to obtain a loan or an advance 
from the plebeian upstart and nouveau riche, as we may 
call Henslowe, a man who got his first start in life by 
marrying the wealthy woman 3 in whose service he was, 
who afterwards increased his fortune by pawnbroking 

1 In 1613 he was 26 years old. 

2 These papers were published for the Shakespeare Society by J. P. 
Collier, partly in his Memoirs of Alleyn, partly in The Alleyn Papers^ but 
unfortunately in a very disorderly and unchronological way. The notes 
and explanations, moreover, are to a great extent more misleading than 
instructive to anybody who is not thoroughly acquainted with the subject. 
Finally, these editions are marred by a number of forgeries, which are so 
many pitfalls for any student who has not been warned of them. 

3 From a lawsuit over Henslowe's estate after his death we are fur- 
nished with a document proving this fact, which, as far as I know, has not 
been noticed before : " That Philip Henslow maried Agnes at such tyme 
as she was his Mrs and he her servant, being wholy advanced by her . . ." 
Memoirs of E. Alleyn^ p. 124. 


and all kinds of more or less surreptitious theatrical 
enterprises, and was now a notorious usurer, scarcely 
able to write a single consecutive sentence, but never 
failing to begin his theatrical accounts with the words : 
"In God's name, Amen." 

The actors and dramatic authors were probably, as 
a rule, a happy-go-lucky careless sort of folks, who were 
very free with their money. Celebrated and distin- 
guished men like Field and Dekker were continually in 
prison arrested for debt, and obliged to turn for help 
to their wealthy acquaintances. Robert Daborne, a 
third-rate, but rather fertile author, has left a large 
number of notes sent to Henslowe, all without exception 
treating of loans and advances. We will quote one 
which dates from about the time when "The Hope" 
Theatre was opened. On August 3rd, 1613, he writes 
to Henslowe as follows : " Mr Hinchlow, 1 I have ever 
since I saw you kept my bed, being so lame that I 
cannot stand. I pray, S r , goe forward with that reason- 
able bargain for the Bellman ; 2 we will hav but twelve 
pounds and the overplus of the second day, whearof I 
hav had ten shillings and desyre but twenty shillings 
more, till you have three sheets of my papers. Good S r , 
consyder how for y r sake I have put myself out of the 
assured way to get money, and from twenty pounds a 
play am come to twelv ; thearfor in my extremyty for- 
sake me not, as y u shall ever command me. My wife 
can aquaynt y u how infinite great my occation is, and 

1 This is one of several ways in which the name of the old stage- 
manager is frequently spelt. 

2 The Bellman of London, the play at which Daborne was working at 
the time 


this shall be sufficient for the receipt till I come to set 
my hand to your book. 

" Yo r at comand, 


"Aug. 3, 1613." 

Below is added in Henslowe's handwriting : 

"Lent Mr Daborne upon this not the 32 of August 
in earnest of a playe called the Bellman of London, 

Henslowe was very cunning in the way he took 
advantage of the difficulties of his authors and actors. 
He sells them costumes and ornaments on part-payment, 
buys plays of the authors and sells them to the actors, 
but keeps the manuscripts for himself. When lending 
money to individual actors, he charges the amount to the 
account of the whole company, and deducts the instal- 
ments and interests due to him from the proceeds of the 
performance. He never permits his companies to get 
entirely out of debt to him, but as soon as they are on 
the point of freeing themselves he stops the performances 
by dismissing the hired men of the company, that is, the 
inferior actors and functionaries with whom he had a 
contract, but whom he did not pay, and without whom 
there could be no acting. In the course of three years 
he dissolved five companies, for, as he said, "If those 
fellows come out of their debt to me, I should never 
have any power over them." 

And indeed, the discontent with him increased more 
and more, and even within two years after the building 
of "The Hope," it broke out in a very sharply worded 
complaint from the actors, in which they accuse him of 


all the irregularities 1 we have mentioned and several 
others besides. 

Whether the actors reaped any benefit from their 
complaint during Henslowe's life-time, we cannot dis- 
cover, but it is not likely. However, a short time after 
this the old pawnbroker died (in 1616), leaving a 
considerable fortune (about ; 11,000) and an outstanding 
claim of ^400. His son-in-law, Edward Alleyn, took on 
his theatrical business, and some months after the death 
of Henslowe, 2 made a contract with the company, 
according to which he released them of ^"200 of the 
debt, and allowed them to pay the remainder out of a 
fourth part of the proceeds of the galleries, 3 a good proof 
that the grievances against Henslowe were not un- 
founded, for Alleyn, as a rule, was close enough in 
money matters. 

Among the names of the actors who made this 
contract with Alleyn we do not find that of Nathaniel 
Field, so at this time he must have left the company and 
"The Hope" Theatre, and no doubt had joined "The 
King's Men " (Shakespeare's old company) accompanied 
by Jonson, Fletcher and Massinger. 

" The Globe" Theatre had risen again after the fire, 
and the star of "The Hope" was declining. Formerly, 
plays had been acted four times a week, and there had 

1 The complaint was printed by Malone from a MS. found in Dulwich 
College. The MS. is nowhere to be found now, but a reprint of the 
complaint is contained in the Alleyn Papers, p. 78 ff. The above 
characteristic utterance of Henslowe is copied literally from the complaint. 

2 Henslowe died on January gth, 1616, and on the 2oth of March in the 
same year Alleyn made the contract with the actors. 

3 The contract is reprinted in full in Collier's Memoirs of E. Alleyn^ 
pp. 127 ff. 


been bear-fights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but 
gradually the bear-fights seem to have once more gained 
the upper hand ; " The Hope " lost its fine name and 
was commonly called the " Bear-garden," 1 and as such it 
was carried on down to 1642, when all entertainments of 
the kind were forbidden. 

The last news of the Bear-garden is of 1691. Then 
it had become a glass factory where " crown window- 
glass is made, which in all respects far exceeds French 
glass." 2 

Besides the burning of "The Globe" in 1613, 
London had another great conflagration at a theatre to 
record during this period. In 1621 the large and 
magnificent " Fortune," the first theatre in London, as it 
is called by the writer of a contemporary letter, 3 was 
destroyed by fire. In the course of two hours the whole 
of the fine building was converted into a heap of ashes, 
and the actors lost their whole wardrobe and other 
equipment, as well as their expensive " play-books," that 
is, the manuscripts of the plays in their repertoire. 

The company which was then acting at " The 
Fortune " was the same that had occupied it all along, 
viz., " The Prince's Servants," originally " The Lord 

1 We learn this from Stow's Survey of London^ continued by Howe, in 
which we read : "The Hope on the Bankside in Southwark, commonly 
called the Beare-Garden, a play-house for Stage playes on Mondayes, 
Wednesdayes, Fridayes and Saturdayes ; and for the baiting of the Beares 
on Tuesdayes and Thursdayes, the Stage being made to take up and down 
when they plesse." 

2 Advertisement in The Gazette for June i8th, 1691, quoted by Ordish. 

3 John Chamberlain, in a letter of December I5th, 1621, to Sir Dudley 
Carleton ; in the collection of MSS. of Dr Birch, Brit. Mus. ; discovered by 
Edmond Malone (Historical Account, p. 55, n. 5) ; Stow's Chronicle (1631 
edit.) also mentions the fire, but puts it down erroneously to 1617. 


Admiral's Men," hitherto under the leadership of 
Edward Alleyn, who, however, had given up acting 
several years before. 

If " The Fortune " is called the first theatre of the 
town, this must be understood to mean the most stately 
in appearance. As a home of dramatic art and literature 
it never attained the importance of " The Globe " or 
" The Blackfriars." 

The Henslowe- Alleyn enterprises always kept a touch 
of a somewhat rough and business-like popularity, which 
certainly brought a good deal of money into the cash- 
box of the managers, but no corresponding artistic glory 
to their memory. 

After the fire and the subsequent reconstruction, 
" The Fortune" for some years passed into the hands of 
another company called " The Prince Palatine's Men," 
which, however, was entirely dissolved in 1624, after 
which the old " Prince's Servants " were reinstalled 
under the name of " The Fortune Company," and 
continued acting there till the Civil War. 

About the year 1630 "The Fortune" and "The 
Red Bull," probably used by the same company, seem to 
have been considered as rather cheap and common 
places of amusement, to judge from a passage in the 
introduction to The Careless Shepherdess by Goffe, where 

we read : 

" I will hasten to the money-box, 

And take my shilling out again 

I'll go to The Bull or Fortune, and there see 

A play for twopence, and a jig to boot." 

The last news of " The Fortune " Theatre is an 


advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus of February 
1 4th, 1 66 1, 1 running thus : 

" The Fortune playhouse situate between White- 
cross-street and Golding-lane in the parish of Saint 
Giles, Cripplegate, with the ground thereto belonging, 
is to be lett to be built upon ; where twenty-three 
tenements may be erected, with gardens ; and a street 
may be cut through for the better accommodation of the 

So in that year " The Fortune " was probably pulled 
down. That it could give place to twenty-three 
dwellings with gardens proves what a large area it must 
have occupied. 


Number of Theatres" The Red Bull "The Last Theatres, " The Cockpit " 
or " The Phoenix" and " Salisbury Court." 

WE have still to mention a few theatres of no particular 
importance, of the history of which very little is known. 

We frequently meet with a tendency to exaggerate 
the number of theatres in London in the old times. 
Some authors mention no less than twenty-three con- 
temporary play-houses. One of the causes of this 
mistake is ignorance of the fact that several theatres had 
double names. For instance, much has been written 
about a theatre called "Paris Garden," though nobody 
has been able to determine its dates. But " Paris 
Garden Theatre " is none other than " The Swan," 

1 Discovered by Steevens and quoted by Malone, Historical Account, 
p. 55, n. 5. 


which was situated on the pleasure ground south of the 
Thames called " Paris Garden." Thus, as we have 
seen above, " The Hope " was the reconstructed Bear- 
garden, and was still frequently called by the old name. 
A later theatre is called alternately " The Cockpit " and 
"The Phoenix," and "Salisbury Court," built in 1629, 
is also called "The Whitefriars." 1 

At the time when Shakespeare made his appearance 
in the theatrical world, about 1590, there existed in 
reality at most three play-houses properly so-called, 
" The Theatre," " The Curtain," and " Newington Butts" ; 
and it is even doubtful whether the last-named was a 
real theatre. More probably it was a stage in the yard 
of an inn, like " The Cross Keys" and " The Red Bull," 
where plays were performed at the same time. 

Ten years later, about 1600, "The Theatre" and 
" Newington " have disappeared, but five others have 
been added, "The Rose," " Blackfriars," "The Globe," 
" The Swan," and " The Fortune " six theatres in all. 
Perhaps at this time " The Red Bull " was converted 
into a real play-house ; at any rate, from about this time 
(1599) the Company called the "Queen's Revels" Com- 
pany acted alternately on this stage and at " The Curtain." 

There is not much to be said about the history of the 
"Red Bull." It was situated in St John's Street, 
Clerkenwell, probably just outside St John's Gate. In 
1633 William Prynne mentions it in his Histriomastix 
as recently rebuilt and enlarged, 2 which proves its grow- 

1 In a marginal note to the dedicatory epistle of his Histriomastix (1633), 
" a newly-built theatre," which was " Salisbury Court," is called by William 
Prynne " Whitefriars' Play-house." 

2 Histriomastix. Epistle Dedicatory. 


ing popularity. About this popularity there exists 
other evidence as well, but at the same time the reports 
speak of the low character of the amusements provided 
at this play-house. Thus, in a little complimentary 
poem written in 1630 to Davenant on the occasion of 
his excellent play, The Just Italian, Carew complains 
of the bad taste of the public, and of the bad and 
boisterous acting : 

" Now noise prevails ; and he is taxed for drowth 
Of wit, that with the cry spends not his mouth 
.... thy strong fancies, raptures of the brain 
Dress'd in poetick flames, they entertain 
As a bold impious reach ; for they'll still slight 
All that exceeds Red Bull and Cockpit flight. 
These are the men in crowded heaps that throng 
To that adulterate stage, where not a tongue 
Of the untun'd kennel can a line repeat 
Of serious sense ; but like lips meet like meat : 
Whilst the true blood cf actors, that alone 
Keep natural unstrain'd action in their throne, 
Behold their benches bare, though they rehearse 
The terser Beaumont's or great Jonson's verse." 

By this " true brood of actors " Carew means " The 
King's Men," who, as we know, were acting at the time 
at "The Globe" and " Blackfriars." It must be added 
that Davenant's play, The Just Italian, was performed 
on the latter stage. 

" The Red Bull " was one of the few play-houses 
which survived the Civil War and the Commonwealth. 
Even during the protectorate of Cromwell, when all 

7 Interior of the " Red Bull " Theatre. 


plays were prohibited, it seems to have been used for 
secret performances. And after the Restoration it was 
the first place where the poor and miserable remains of 
the once proud and wealthy companies assembled under 
the leadership of a certain Rhodes, who was formerly a 
prompter at " The Blackfriars." 

But these unfortunate men had a pitiful time of it. 
Samuel Pepys, the well-known Secretary of the Admiralty, 
and playgoer, whose diary is one of the principal sources 
for the study of the stage-history of the time of the 
Restoration, gives the following report of a visit he paid 
to the place on March 23rd, 1661 : "To the Red Bull 
(where I had not been since plays come up again) up to 
the tireing-room, where strange confusion and disorder 
that there is among them in fitting themselves, especially 
here, where the clothes are very poore, and the actors 
but common fellows. At last into the pitt, where I think 
there was not above ten more than myself, and not one 
hundred in the whole house. And the play, which is 
called All's Lost by Lust, poorly done ; and with so 
much disorder, among others, in the musique-room, the 
boy that was to sing a song, not singing it right, his 
master fell about his ears and beat him so, that it put 
the whole house into an uproar." 

The old theatre still existed in 1 663, but at that time 
it must have been entirely abandoned, judging by a speech 
in Davenant's play, A Theatre to Let, where it is said 
to have no other lodgers than the spiders. 

Afterwards, as far as I know, we hear no more about 
the fate of " The Red Bull." 


About " The Cockpit," which we mentioned together 
with " The Red Bull," the information is equally scanty. 
As we gather from the name, it was originally a place 
used for cock-fights. But as to the date at which it was 
rebuilt into a real theatre, there is no more accurate 
information than a passage in Camderis " Annals of 
James I.," in 1617, where he speaks of it as newly 
erected (nuper erectum). l 

In Stow's Chronicle of the same year it is spoken of 
as "a new play-house." 

In this year, on Shrove Tuesday, it was stormed and 
pillaged by London apprentices, who set fire to it, so 
that it was burned down. Neither " The Cockpit " nor 
Drury Lane, the quarter in which it was situated, bore 
a good reputation. It was not uncommon, on the whole, 
for a number of public-houses of more or less bad repute, 
to gather round the theatres, and here the disorderly 
element in the pit-audience sought refuge after the per- 
formance. And such ill-famed houses the apprentices of 
the time considered it their privilege to attack during 
Shrovetide, when they had their liberty and were allowed 
to kick over the traces. 

Whether they fell on the theatre by mistake instead 
of on the neighbouring houses of ill-fame, or whether 
" The Cockpit " Theatre was really so disorderly that it 
deserved no better name than the one which the stage- 
manager in Zola's " Nana" gives to his own theatre, we 
are unable to tell. 

If we are to believe the old enemy of theatres, the 
Puritan Prynne, the play-houses of his time were not 

1 Comp. Collier : History of English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 136. 


much better than their improper neighbours. In a 
passage in his extensive work " Histriomastix," he first 
tells us how the theatres of the Greeks and Romans 
were the homes of unchastity, and that there young 
women were simply trained for houses of ill-fame. 
" How farre this usage yet continues I cannot positively 
determine ; yet this I have heard by good intelligence 
that our common Strumpets and Adulteresses after our 
Stage-plays ended, are oft-times prostituted neere our 
Play-houses, if not in them ; that our Theaters if they are 
not Bawdy-houses (as they may easily be, since many 
Players, if reports be true, are common Panders) yet 
they are Cosin-germanes, at leastwise neighbours to 
them : Witnesse the Cockpit and Drury-lane ; Black- 
friers Playhouse, and Duke-Humfries ; the Red-bull, 
and Turnbull-street ; the Globe, and Bank-side Brothel- 
houses." l 

Though certainly we cannot attach much credit to 
good Mr Prynne, who, like so many other pretended 
"saints," had the foible of indulging too much in gossip 
upon sensual matters, there can scarcely be any doubt 
that "The Cockpit" neither was nor ever became a 
theatre of good reputation. Probably after its destruc- 
tion in 1617 it adopted the name of " The Phcenix," but 
generally we find it called by its original name. Nor 
did the old "Bear-garden" succeed in persuading the 
public to adopt the finer name of " The Hope," which 
was given it by Henslowe in 1614. 

In "The Cockpit" or "The Phcenix," the per- 

1 W. Prynne : Histriomastix, or the Players Scourge, 1633, pp. 390 f. 


formances were mainly given by " The Queen's Men," 
afterwards called " Beeston's Boys." It continued to 
exist after the Restoration, but it lost all importance 
when in the year 1663 the new Drury Lane Theatre, 
called "The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane," which was 
not situated on the same site as " The Cockpit " was 
opened by Sir William Davenant. 

There is still one little theatre the last built during 
this period of which we have a few words to say. 

We have mentioned above that " The Whitefriars " 
and "The Salisbury Court" Theatre were one and the 
same. This, however, means that " The Salisbury 
Court," which was built in 1629 close to the old 
Whitefriars' monastery or on its site, was now and 
then mentioned by the old monastic name, like "The 
Blackfriars " Theatre, though the latter had no other 

The old Whitefriars monastery of which Shake- 
speare speaks in his Richard II I ^ no longer existed as 
such in his time. It had given place to a number of 
splendid dwellings for noblemen and other rich people. 
But the old dilapidated refectory was used now and 
then probably not often for dramatic performances. 
I am inclined to believe that when, in 1608, "The 
King's Servant's" drove "The Queen's Children" away 
from Blackfriars, 2 the latter went to the old refectory of 
Whitefriars and tried their fortune there. At any rate, 

1 Gloster. Take up the corse, Sirs. 
Gentleman. Towards Chertsey, noble lord ? 
Gloster. No, to Whitefriars ; there attend my coming. 

Richard HI. i. 2. 

2 See above, p. 38. 


Nathaniel Field, the principal actor among " The 
Queen's Children," acted his play A Woman is a 
Weather-cock here about, or rather before, 1610. And 
before this period we hear nothing about performances 
at "The Whitefriars." 

It is not likely that this monastic hall was ever con- 
verted into a real theatre. When "Salisbury Court" 
was built, it was on another site, though in the imme- 
diate vicinity, and, no doubt, it was quite a new building. 
The English conservatism, which in this case is highly 
praiseworthy, and owing to which the names of the 
streets in London are like a hand-book of the history of 
the town, has also preserved the names of these two 
old theatres in the two streets, Whitefriars Street and 
Salisbury Court. They are situated in the central and 
the busiest part of the town, both running into Fleet 

We can say, then, in a certain sense that there was 
a " Whitefriars' Theatre," the old hall of the monastery, 
which was now and then used for dramatic performances, 
and the more recent " Salisbury Court," which was a 
real theatre, and which, we may be sure, rendered the 
monastic hall quite superfluous, so that they did not 
exist contemporaneously. 

The new theatre seems to have been successful, but 
not immediately. There is reason to believe that it was 
first hired by a company which at that time bore the 
name of "The Children of the King's Revels." 1 This 

1 The same which had formerly been called " The Queen's Children," 
but which after the death of Queen Anne, the wife of James I., received the 
above name. 


was scarcely a very distinguished company ; still, in 
1632, it had plays written for its performances by so 
noted an author as Shirley. In the same year " The 
King's Children " not to be confounded with " The 
King's Servants," Shakespeare's old company had to 
leave "Salisbury Court" and go to the less-esteemed 
" Fortune," while "Prince Charles's Men" moved into 
the new little theatre, and immediately had a success in 
Holland's Leaguer, the first amusing play by Marmyon. 
Richard Brome also wrote for " Salisbury Court," where 
his Antipodes was acted in 1638 by "The Queen's 

On the whole the little theatre, about the exterior or 
interior of which we know nothing except that, like 
" The Cockpit," it was a private which means a closed- 
in and roofed theatre, enjoyed a good reputation, and 
may be ranked next to "The Blackfriars" and "The 

It survived the time of the Commonwealth, and was 
used for acting after the Restoration, but was then 
called " The Theatre in Dorset Court." 

A general survey of the London Theatres between 
1576 and 1642. 



Built, 1576; pulled down, 1598; proprietor, 
Burbage ; company, the Lord Chamberlain's ; 
situation, Shoreditch, north-east of London; 
public theatre. 

Built, 1576 or 1577; date of destruction, 
unknown ; proprietor, unknown ; company, the 
Lord Chamberlain's, afterwards the Queen's 
and the Prince's ; situation, Shoreditch ; 
public theatre. 









" GLOBE." 



" HOPE " 



Dates of building and destruction, unknown ; 
proprietor, Henslowe; company, the Lord 
Admiral's ; situation, Newington (Lambeth), 
south side of London, right bank of the 
Thames ; public theatre (?). 

Built, 1592 ; date of destruction, unknown ; 
proprietor, Henslowe ; company, the Lord 
Admiral's ; situation, Bankside, southern bank 
of the Thames ; public theatre. 

Built, 1596; pulled down, 1647 (?); P ro ~ 
prietor, J. Burbage and heirs ; company, the 
Chapel Children after 1608, the King's; 
situation, present Queen Victoria Street, City ; 
private theatre. 

Built, about 1596 (?) ; date of destruction, 
unknown ; proprietor, Francis Langley ; com- 
pany, unknown ; situation, Paris Garden, 
Bankside ; public theatre. 

Built, 1598; burned, 1613; rebuilt, 1614; 
pulled down, 1644; proprietors, Richard and 
Cuthbert Burbage; company, the King's; 
situation, Bankside, near St Saviour's ; public 

Built, 1599; burned, 1621; rebuilt, 1622 (?); 
pulled down, about 1661; proprietors, 
Henslowe and Alleyn; company, the Lord 
Admiral's (the Prince's, the Fortune's) ; situa- 
tion, Golden Lane, Middlesex; public 

Built, about 1 5 99 (?); rebuilt, about i63o(?); 
pulled down, about 1663 (?) ; proprietor, un- 
known ; company, the Queen's (the Prince's, 
Bull Company); situation, St John Street, 
Clerkenwell ; private theatre. 

Built (as theatre), 1613 ; pulled down, about 
1644 (?); proprietors, Henslowe and Alleyn ; 
company, the Lady Elizabeth's; situation, 
Bankside ; public theatre. 






Built, about 1615 (?); pulled down, after 
1663; proprietor, unknown; company, the 
Lady Elizabeth's (the Queen's, Beeston's 
Boys); situation, Drury Lane; private 

Built, 1629; pulled down (?), after the 
Restoration; proprietor, unknown; company, 
Children of the Revels and the Prince's; 
situation, Salisbury Court (close to Fleet 
Street) ; private theatre. 



Hours of Performance Play-bills Taylor's Rhyming Matches Prices of 
Admission and Gatherers Proceeds of the Performances, and Fees 
Paid by the Court Accommodation. 

WHEN the trumpets sent out their shrill blasts over the 
roofs of London, and coloured silk flags were hoisted on 
the masts of the little garret-like towers which rose from 
the top of the circular walls enclosing the theatres, when 
the multifarious signs, the Swan, Atlas carrying the globe, 
the Goddess of Fortune, and the rest, were swinging in 
the wind, everybody knew that the theatrical performances 
were going to begin, and playgoers made haste to finish 
their dinner in order to secure a good seat in time. 

In the earliest times, when the taste for theatrical 
entertainments was reaching its height, though the 
number of play-houses was small, people frequently 
neglected their dinner and took their seats a long time 
in advance, waiting patiently for the beginning of the 
play ; if they caught sight of an actor peeping out from 
behind the draperies in the background to watch the 
filling of the house, they would greet him respectfully. 1 

It was the custom to attend to business early in the 

1 " For they to theatres were pleased to come, 
Ere they had din'd, to take up the best room ; 
There sat on benches not adorn'd with mats, 
And graciously did veil their high-crown'd hats 



day ; eleven o'clock was the hour for the Exchange, and 
twelve was dinner-time. So the play probably com- 
menced between one and two. But this was in the 
good old times at the close of the sixteenth century ; we 
soon hear of the " modern " fashion of dining as late as 
two o'clock, 1 and the theatre, which has always very 
much depended on people's dinner-time, had to put off 
the play till three o'clock. 

On particular occasions, for instance, when a new 
play was to be performed, it became the custom to secure 
a place in time by sending a servant who occupied a seat 
till his master arrived. On the whole, it was considered 
more distinguished to create a little sensation by de- 
laying one's entrance till after the beginning of the 

During the earliest period of the theatres there were 
performances every day, including Sundays, though not 
during the hours of service, and this fashion continued 
during the time of Queen Elizabeth, to the great annoy- 
ance of the Puritans, who had to endure the reconciliation 
by the head of the empire of the duties as Christian 
Majesty with her presence at dramatic performances on 
holidays. A prohibition from the Lord Mayor in 1580 
was not obeyed. Under James I. public performances 
on Sundays were indeed forbidden by an Act of Parlia- 
ment, but the Court did not comply with this order, and 
King James found pleasure in going to plays and masques, 

To every half-dress'd player, as he still 

Through hangings peep'd to see the galleries fill." 

Davenant : Prologue to The Unfortunate Lovers, quoted 

by Malone, Historical Account, p. 157, n. 9. 
1 Dekker : The Gulfs Horn-book, 1609. 


of which he was very fond, on Sundays as well as on 
week days. 

Though no daily press existed in the time of Shake- 
speare, the public had no great difficulty in learning which 
plays were to be acted in the theatres. 

The " water-poet," Taylor, in one of his humorous 
writings, 1 tells us a little " quiblet " about Field, which 
shows this very clearly : " Master Field, the player, 
riding up Fleet Street a great pace, a gentleman called 
to him, and asked him what play was played that day ? 
He (being angry to be stayed on so frivolous a demand) 
answered that he might see what play was to be played 
upon every post. I cry you mercy (said the gentleman) ; 
I took you for, you rode so fast." 

So this was the custom. Printed bills were stuck on 
posts 2 just as they are now on which the title of the 
play was announced, but neither the name of the author 
nor those of the actors. In another place the same 
"water-poet" also informs us of the number of bills 
that were usually printed. 

Once it was in 1 6 1 4 he had challenged the rhymer, 
William Fennor, to a competition in the art of impro- 
vised rhyming. The match was to take place in " The 
Hope " Theatre, but the false rhymer Fennor left the 
water-poet in the lurch, and kept away on the day of 
performance. The affair created some sensation, and 

1 John Taylor : Wit and Mirth ; the anecdote is called " a quiblet." 

2 " They use to set up their billes upon posts some certaine days before, to 
admonish the people to make resort to their theatres, that they may thereby 
be the better furnished and the people prepared to fill their purses with their 
treasures." John Northbrook : Treatise against Idleness, vaine Playes and 


Taylor wrote an indignant pamphlet in verse about the 
disgraceful way in which he had been treated. He says 
in the Preface : " Bee it therefore knowne unto all men 
that I, John Taylor, Waterman, did agree with William 
Fennor (who arrogantly and falsely entitles himselfe the 
King's Majesties Riming Poet) to answer me at a triall 
of Wit, on the seventh of October last 1614 on the Hope 
Stage on the Bankside, and the said Fennor received of 
mee ten shillings in earnest of his comming to meet me, 
whereupon I caused 1000 bills to be Printed, and divulg'd 
my name 1000 wayes and more, giving my Friends and 
divers of my acquaintance notice of this Bear Garden 
banquet of dainty conceits ; and when the day came that 
the Play should have been performed, the hous being 
fill'd with a great Audience, who had all spent their 
monies extraordinarily : then this Companion for an 
Asse, ran away and left me for a Foole, amongst 
thousands of critical Censurers, when I was ill thought 
of by my friends, scorned by my foes and in conclusion 
in a greater puzzell than the blinde Beare in the midst 
of all her whipbroth ; Besides the summe of twenty 
pounds in money I lost my reputation amongst many 
and gained disgrace instead of my better expectations." 

From this we see that a thousand printed bills were 
put up, at all events on special occasions ; for ordinary 
performances this number seems disproportionately large. 1 

Strange to say, as far as I know, none of the printed 
play-bills of the time have been preserved or discovered. 
But among the many treasures 2 of Dulwich College we 

1 Taylor's Revenge, or the Rimer William Fennor firkt, ferrited, and 
finely fetcht over the coales. Taylor's Works, 1630, pp. 142 ff. 

2 Warne's Catalogue, etc., p. 83 (Ordish, 236). 


have discovered a hand-written bill of a bear-fight, pro- 
bably the MS. of the printed one. It dates from the 
time of James I., and as the only authentic memorial of 
the theatrical advertisements of the period, it may find a 
place here. It runs as follows : 

" Tomorrowe beinge Thursdaie shalbe seen at the 
Beargarden on the banckside a greate mach plaid by the 
gamsters of Essex, who hath chalenged all comers what- 
soever to plaie V dogges at the single beare for V 
pounds, and also to wearie a bull dead at the stake ; and 
for your better concent shall have plasant sport with the 
horse and ape and wiping of the blind beare. Vivat Rex ! " 

We may, however, to a certain extent draw our own 
conclusions as to the form of the playbills by reading the 
" long-tailed " titles 1 which were given to books by the 
printers, e.g. in the earliest quarto editions of some of 
Shakespeare's dramas. A few examples will show the 
style. Henry IV. receives the following title : " The 
History of Henrie the Fourth ; With the battell at 
Shrewsburie, between the King and Lord Henry Percy, 
surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North. With the 
humorous conceits of Sir John Falstalffe." 

The Merchant of Venice starts with a still longer 
recommendation : "The Excellent History of the 
Merchant of Venice. With the extreme cruelty of 
Shylocke the Jew towards the said Merchant, in cut- 
ting a just pound of his flesh. And the obtaining of 
Portia, by the choyse of three Caskets." 

This is how King Lear makes his appearance : 

1 This expression is used by Thomas Nash in the Preface of his play, 
Pierce Penniless. He writes to his printer : " First of all cut off the long- 
tailed title." 


" Mr William Shakespeare, His True Chronicle History 
of the life and death of King Lear, and his three 
Daughters. With the unfortunate life of Edgar, sonne 
and heir to the Earle of Glocester, and his sullen and 
assumed humour of Tom of Bedlam. As it was plaid 
before the King's Majesty at White-Hall, upon S. 
Stephens night, in Christmas Hollidaies." l 

The playbills do not give the names of the persons 
represented or of the actors. The custom of doing so 
was probably not introduced into England before the 
eighteenth century. 2 

In A Midsummer Nighf s Dream Shakespeare himself 
makes fun of the ludicrous playbills by making Philos- 
trate read out about: "a tedious brief scene of young 
Pyramus, And his love Thisbe ; very tragical mirth." 

The prices of admission were not written on the 
playbills, but several passages in the dramatic literature 

1 These circumstantial programmes went to Germany with the travelling 
English companies, and in that country grew to a unique degree of tasteless 
length. In a Gotha play-calendar of 1783 I find the following magnificently 
florid play-bill of Hamlet : " Indeed Landshut never saw a grander play ! 
What thoughts ! Exalted, stirring, incomparable ! One Shakespear [sic] 
has existed in the world, who has written in such a masterly way and 
rendered himself immortal in both posterities [!] There is but one Hamlet 
who can make the spectator's blood run cold, oppress his heart and make 
his senses feel eternity. This tragedy is a true and horrible story from 
Denmark, and in a way which makes us shiver it contains the law of retribu- 
tion." (Then follows an account of the subject. In its German form the 
play ends with these words : " Hamlet mounts on his lawful throne " . . .). 
"Where could there be a man who would not like to see and admire Hamlet 
and pay his respects to him and tender him his applause." After this we 
cannot wonder at the German title given to another Shakespearean tragedy, 
Richard III. : " Richard der dritte, oder der grausame Protektor " ; or that 
a seventeenth century adaptation of Hamlet bears the title : " Der bestrafte 
Brudermord oder Prinz Hamlet aus Danemark." 

2 J. P. Collier, indeed, presents us with a playbill of 1663, containing a 
complete list of the players and the characters represented, but this docu- 
ment must undoubtedly be regarded with great suspicion. 


of the time enable us to form an idea of the usual 
entrance fee, though not of the exact prices of the 
different places in each theatre ; nor would this be of any 
particular interest. 

As far as we can judge from illustrations, the theatres 
of the Shakespearean period had only one entrance, 
probably for the practical purpose of simplifying the 
collection of the fees and rendering it difficult for the 
public to slip into the theatre without paying. 

At the entrance stood the trusted man of the com- 
pany, the "gatherer," with his cash-box, in which he 
collected the sixpences, which he afterwards delivered 
to the leading actor. Inside the theatre were several 
gatherers, who claimed the extra prices for the better 
seats. These gatherers were sometimes women. To 
the inferior actors it was a coveted addition to their 
income to have their wives employed as gatherers. 1 It 
is, as far as I know, the only employment a woman 
could obtain at the old English theatres. We are aware 
that no woman appeared on the stage either as an actress 
or as a super. 

Among the Alleyn Papers there is a short letter from 
the actor, William Birde, in which he speaks of the 
gatherer's functions, and which, we suppose, is the only 
direct testimony about these functionaries. As it affords 
us a good peep behind the scenes, and as it is very little 
known, I do not hesitate to quote it here. It runs as 
follows : 


" There is one John Russell, that by your appoynt- 


1 Comp. Alleyn Papers, p. 51, where the wife of the actor Rose is recom- 
mended for such a post. 


ment was made a gatherer with us, but my fellowes 
finding [him often] falce to us, have many tymes warnd 
him from taking the box ; and he as often, with moste 
damnable othes, hath vowde never to touch ; yet, not- 
withstanding his excecrable othes, he hath taken the 
box, and many tymes moste unconscionablye gathered, for 
which we have resolved he shall never more come to the 
doore. Yet, for your sake, he shall have his wages, to 
be a necessary atendaunt on the stage, 1 and if he will 
pleasure himself and us to mend our garments, when he 
hath leysure, weele pay him for that to. I pray send us 
word if this motion will satisfye you ; for him, his dis- 
honestye is such we knowe it will not. 

" Thus yealding ourselves in that and a farr greater 
matter to be comanded by you, I commit you to God. 
" Your loving friend to commaund, 

"W. BlRDE. 

" To his loving frend, Mr Allin, give these." 2 

With regard to one of the. theatres we happen to 
possess minute information about the scale of admission 
fees. Bartholomew Fair, a comedy by Ben Jonson, 
which was played at "The Hope" in 1614, has an 
induction acted by various functionaries the stage- 
keeper, the book-holder, and the scrivener,' in which 
Jonson writes very sarcastically of the audience. He 
makes a sort of bargain with the spectators, and says, 

1 It has been mentioned above, p. 6, that the gatherers also served as 

2 The last line is the usual form of address on the letters of those times. 
The MS. of the above was in the possession of Halliwell-Phillipps, the 
Shakespeare expert. It is printed in Collier's Alleyn Papers, pp. 32 f. 


among other things : "It is further agreed that every 
person here have his or their free-will of censure, to like 
or dislike at their own charge, the author having now 
departed with his right ; it shall be lawful for any man 
to judge his six-pen' worth, his twelve-pen' worth, so to 
his eighteen-pence, two shillings, half-a-crown, to the 
value of his place ; provided always his place get not 
above his wit. And if he pay for half-a-dozen, he may 
censure for all them too, so that he will undertake that 
they shall be silent. He shall put in for censures here 
as they do for lots at the lottery ; marry, if he drops 
but sixpence at the door, and will censure a crown's 
worth, it is thought there is no conscience or justice in 
that." 1 

From this we gather that the cheapest place cost 
sixpence, the dearest half-a-crown. Other passages in 
contemporary plays and pamphlets confirm Ben Jonson's 
statement ; others again speak of lower prices, even down 
to id. However, we have no particular reason to stop 
and consider the apparent divergency in the reports 
about the admission fees. Of course, they were not 
quite stationary in those times, any more than they are 
now, nor were they the same in the various theatres. 
Thus we know that the prices were doubled, nay, some- 
times trebled, at the first performances, 2 and, very likely, 

1 Ben Jonson : Bartholomew Fair. 

2 Scarcely, however, in the proper Shakespearean time. In the prologue 
of a play of 1678 we read the following lines : 

" An actress in a cloud's a strange surprise, 

And you ne'er paid treble prices to be wise." 

There are many testimonies to prove that even in early times the prices 
were raised when anything particular was played. 


the prices were lowered in bad times, or when the plays 
were performed by inferior companies. 

>/ There is no reason to think, for instance, that " The 
Earl of Sussex's Men" could obtain the same prices as 
" The Lord Chamberlain's Company," even if they acted 
in the same theatre. 

However, in the main, we may safely assume that 
the scale of prices mentioned by Ben Jonson was the 
normal one for good companies, and, on the whole, was 
maintained without much alteration from the earliest days 
of the theatres down to the Civil War in 1642. 

So the prices were by no means low, if we consider 
that the corresponding value in our own days would 
make at least eight times the amount. 

Twenty pounds seems to have been a good average 
result from one performance in a well-filled theatre. It 
was, as we see, the sum which John Taylor lost by his 
failure in the " Hope," and it was the amount paid by the 
Queen to a company when she ordered it to perform at 
court in the usual hours of performance in the theatre. 

Royal persons, it must be observed, did not go to 
the theatres, but the actors were engaged to play at the 
palaces, and received a salary for it. As a rule the 
performances at court took place in the evening, so that 
they did not collide with the public performances. In 
these cases only 10 was paid, which thus gave a net 
profit. But if a company was ordered to play at the 
usual hours of performance in the theatre they received 
^20, in order to cover the remuneration which they lost. 

If we fix the average price of admission at a shilling, 
we get the result that a well-filled house did not hold 


more than about 400 persons, a number which surprises us 
by its smallness, and which, indeed, differs widely from the 
above-quoted statement by de Witt that " The Swan " 
Theatre was able to hold 3000 persons. Nevertheless, 
it seems to me nearer the truth than the latter number. 
For, as a matter of fact, the theatres were all compara- 
tively small, and the stage, which protruded far out, took 
up a great part of the pit, whereas a theatre which is 
to hold 3000 persons must be of colossal dimensions, 
especially if there are only three galleries, and a fourth 
part of the floor is occupied by the stage. 

We may no doubt safely assume that no theatre of 
the Shakespearean period was able to hold more than 
600 persons. 


Expenses Then and Now The Stage and its Equipment Spectators on 

the Stage. 

THOUGH, as we have seen, the English theatres of 
those times were not able to hold very large crowds 
of people, they were, on the whole, very profitable 
enterprises. This was due to the smallness of the 
expense connected with them. From many of the 
expenses, which now weigh heavily in the manager's 
budget, and at any rate make the working of a theatre a 
very risky enterprise, the theatres of those times were 
entirely or partly exempt. We need only think of such 
an item as the lighting of the house, of which most 
theatres, where the acting took place by daylight and in 
the open air, knew nothing, and which even in the 



closed theatres amounted to a very small sum compared 
with the weight of this burden nowadays. 

We need say nothing of the large and compli- 
cated system of scenery and mechanism, which is the 
worst impediment to modern dramatic art, exceedingly 
expensive, as it always is, but usually without any power 
of creating illusion, and very frequently ugly and devoid 
of style. With such impediments the old English actors 
and managers were not troubled, and much time and 
money were thus saved. 

We must not fancy, however, that in those times 
expensive scenic equipment was quite unknown in 
England. At court festivals enormous sums were 
spent on decorations imported from Italy and France, 
under the auspices of Inigo Jones, the collaborator and 
afterwards the bitter enemy 1 of Ben Jonson. But the 
stage-managers justly reasoned that a public which paid 
sixpence or a shilling to see a play could not expect 
thousands of pounds to be spent on an equipment, which 
would perhaps be useless after a few performances. And 
thereby they wisely saved a good deal of money. 

They saved also a great deal of time. Probably no 
outsider has any idea what a disproportionate amount of 
time, trouble and worry is lavished on modern scenic 
equipment, with a result which in most cases lacks 
artistic refinement and style. Several months' toil is 

1 The enmity between Inigo Jones and Ben Jonson partly dated from 
the time when Jones claimed to have his name put first on the title-page as 
author of the " Masques " of Ben Jonson, which he had equipped, and for 
which he had arranged the machinery. Ben Jonson was blamed for having 
called Inigo Jones a fool. " I never said so," Jonson positively declared, 
" but I have said that he is an arch scoundrel, and this I maintain." (Ben 
Jonson' s Conversations with Drummond, Lond. 1842, p. 31.) 


frequently spent on plays which are not performed more 
than a few times. But even if justice is done to the 
scenery, and the expenses are covered by the number of 
times the play is acted, much time is lost in other ways 
by the present method of equipment. 

A great Shakespearean drama performed in modern 
style with many changes of scene, in which all the work- 
men in the theatre, painters, joiners, smiths, upholsterers 
and scene-shifters, have done their best to render the 
scenery as illusive as possible, could not possibly be 
acted in its original form within a reasonable space of 
time. The old pieces have to be cut down, and the 
process has to be conducted so thoroughly that much 
which is good and important is necessarily lost. 1 In 
Shakespeare's time his own plays and those of his 
companions were acted all through and without omissions 
during two or three hours the general duration 
in those times of what we call a full-length play. 
Fortunately the public of the time was able to enjoy fine 
and witty speeches well delivered, without demanding 
that the actors should be picturesque accessories to the 
scenes produced by the scene-shifters and scene-painters. 

1 On the whole, I see no sacrilege in omitting passages of the works of 
Shakespeare and other classics. Let us recall Ben Jonson's words : " I 
remember, the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, 
that in his writing, whatsoe'er he penned, he never blotted out a line. My 
answer hath beene, would he had blotted a thousand ; which they thought 
a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance, 
who choose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most 
faulted ; and to justify my own candour, for I lov'd the man, and doe 
honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any." Ben Jonson's 
Timber or Discoveries, 1641, reprinted by Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 
p. 649. Those who cannot see spots in Shakespeare may easily be suspected 
of being equally unable to measure the highest summits of art to which this 
marvellous poet ascended. 


I have given elsewhere l a connected account of the 
development of the stage from the Middle Ages to 
the Renaissance, and I have shown that the English 
stage did not materially differ from the simple stage- 
platforms of the rest of Europe, though there were 
several peculiarities in the auditorium and the outward 
shape of the theatre. I consider it superfluous to repeat 
in detail what has been described already. 

Indeed, there is nothing obscure in the arrangement 
of the old English stage. The many confused and 
erroneous statements which, in spite of this, we find 
even in the most recent works on Shakespeare, are 
probably due to the fact that the principal stress in 
these works is generally laid on the critical appreciation 
of the dramatic literature of the period, while the archaeo- 
logical side is neglected, so that one writer copies from 
another the theories which were current fifty or a hundred 
years ago, without investigating the later incidental dis- 
coveries of pictures and documents which have now given 
us a full and clear idea of the Shakespearean stage. 

We do not think it unreasonable, however, to drive 
a stake through the heart of the constantly recurring 
delusion about a front curtain of that stage, and of that 
also about the fantastic borders representing " heaven " 
or the blue air, which are still haunting the imagination 
of more than one student and casting a shadow over 
their idea about the stage. 

The stage of Shakespeare had no front curtain, and 
could not have had one. 

It was a platform projecting into the audience and 
open on three sides. If it had been covered before the 

1 In vol. ii. of the present work. 


beginning of the performance or between the acts, there 
must have been three curtains, which, like other curtains, 
must have been suspended on something. That would 
have necessitated poles or columns at the corners of the 
stage, between which the curtains might be pulled. But 
of all this there is no vestige on the Renaissance stage 
whether in England or elsewhere. 

But the Shakespearean theatre, like all other European 
stage-platforms, had a back curtain, that is, a drapery which 
separated the stage properly so-called from the tiring- 
house. How this drapery was used, and how the room 
behind it was sometimes added to the scene of action, are 
matters of which I have given a detailed account in the 
above-mentioned passage of vol. ii. of the present work. 1 

A glance at the three drawings of stages, figs. 3 and 7, 
and at the illustration discovered by Gaedertz, will give 
a very clear idea of the state of things. The small 
drawing from the title-page of Alabaster's " Roxana " is 
especially instructive. 

This illustration, which as yet is not widely known, 
shows us also that the stage was sometimes surrounded 
by a low railing on the three sides which turned towards 
the public, probably in order to serve as protection 
against the too indiscreet approaches of the audience. 2 

1 Middle Ages and Renaissance, pp. 317-323. 

2 That in some theatres these balustrades surrounded the stage is shown 
also by the two following quotations : 

" And now that I have vaulted up so hye, 
Above the stage-rayles of this earthen globe, 
I must turn actor." (Black Booke, 1604). 

" Monsieur, you may draw up your troop of force 
Within the pales." 

(Davenant's The Play-house to be let. 
Quoted by Malone, Historical Account, p. 123, n. 3.) 


As to the so-called " heavens," such objects really 
existed, but they had certainly as little resemblance to 
our modern top-borders as a tester made by an up- 
holsterer has to " this most excellent canopy, the air." 
The "heavens" were a kind of awning fastened to the 
tiring-house, and protecting part of the stage against 
rain, for which purpose they were provided with leaden 
gutters. In this way, as we have seen, they were 
arranged in " The Fortune " theatre (comp. above, p. 67). 
Of course it is entirely out of the question that there 
should have been any kind of decoration corresponding 
to our borders on this stage-platform, which was quite 
open and undecorated ; and the space behind it, which 
was roofed, generally represented a room, and, therefore, 
could not have wanted such decoration. 

We see, then, that scarcely any money was spent in 
the equipment of the stage, except on the properties 
which were needed in the plays, but which can hardly be 
called stage furniture. And even these were neither very 
numerous nor very expensive. We have an inventory of 
Henslowe's of March loth, I598, 1 containing a list of all 
the properties of " The Lord Admiral's Men," which 
contained altogether only thirty-five items. Some of 
these are very curious and give an insight into the 
theatrical life of the time. I quote a few of them : 

Item, I Rock, I Bow, I Grave, I Mouth of Hell. 1 

Item, II Marchpanes [artificial loaves] and the City 
of Rome. 

1 Published by Malone, Historical Account (additions), pp. 377 ff., and 
after him by Collier in English Dramatic Poetry, iii. pp. 158 ff. The MS. 
is now lost. 


Item, I Lionshide, I Bearshide, and Faeton's limbs, 

and Faeton's ear, and Argosses [i.e. Argus's] 

Item, I crosses [i.e. Iris's] Head and Rainbow, I little 

Item, Cupedes Bow and quiver, the Cloth with Sun 

and Moon. 2 
Item, A Boar's Head and Serberosses [i.e. Cerberus's] 

III Heads. 
Item, Mercury's Wings, Tasso Picture, I Helmet 

with a Dragon, I Shield with III Lions, 

a Shovel of elmwood. 
Item, III Tamburines, I Dragon in Faustes [Dr 


Item, III Imperial Crowns, I plain Crown. 
Item, I Ghost's Crown, I Crown with a Sun. 
Item, I Kettle for the Jew [i.e. The Jew of Malta by 


The scenic equipment, therefore, was anything but 
expensive, and the theatre derived even more profit from 
the stage than it does at present. 

From the beginning of the seventeenth century 
scarcely before, or, at all events, there is nothing to prove 
it places were hired for money on the stage itself. At 
the outset nicely furnished boxes were let to distin- 
guished gentlemen in the galleries opposite to the stage 
(comp. fig. 3) ; but it soon became fashionable for 

1 From mediaeval times onwards the entrance into hell had been repre- 
sented by a dragon's mouth. 

' 2 This little cloth, the object of which we do not know, has caused the 
belief that painted scenery was used. 


young gallants and gulls to place themselves on the 
very stage, where they entered deliberately from behind 
the back curtain, and seated themselves on small 
three-legged stools, which were let for this purpose by 
the actors for an extra payment of a shilling or 

Thomas Dekker in his "Gull's Hornbook" (1609) 
has a chapter which he calls "How a gallant is to 
behave himself in a theatre," 1 in which he gives an 
amusing and graphic description of the conceited way in 
which young dandies exhibited themselves on the stage. 
He writes : 

" Present not your selfe on the stage (especially at a 
new play) until the quaking prologue is ready to enter ; 
for then it is time, as though you were one of the pro- 
perties, or that you dropt of [i.e. off] the hangings, to 
creep from behind the arras, with your tripos or three- 
legged stoole in one hand, and a teston 2 mounted between 
a fore-finger and a thumb, in the other ; for if you should 
bestow your person upon the vulgar, when the belly of 
the house is but half full, your apparel is quite eaten up, 
the fashion lost, and the proportion of your body in more 
danger to be devoured, than if it were served up in the 
counter amongst the poultry. 3 Avoid this as you would 
the baston." 

It was still more fashionable to be attended by a 
page, who stood behind the stool on which his master 

1 Quoted in Malone : Historical Account, p. 80, n. 4. 

2 A silver coin worth sixpence. 

3 In Shakespeare's time there was a prison in London called the Poultry 
Compter, in which the prisoners were fed with remnants from the sheriff's 


was seated smoking his pipe. 1 When the pipe was 
empty, and his master handed it to him with a lazy 
gesture, it was his duty to refill and relight it. 

This bad custom of providing seats for spectators on 
the stage itself became more and more prevalent ; it was 
done partly in order to increase the proceeds, partly to 
satisfy the vain desire of the many dandies to display 
themselves before the public. As late as the beginning 
of the seventeenth century this custom does not seem to 
have been quite common, nor generally allowed. In the 
Induction of John Marston's " Malcontent " (printed in 
1604, performed without the Induction in 1601 at Black- 
friars) we find a little scene which enables us to draw 
this conclusion. In this Induction which is of some 
interest in theatrical history the comic actor William Sly 
personates such a young dandy who wants to force him- 
self on to the stage, and the following dialogue takes 
place between him and the tireman, who follows him with 
a stool in his hand : 

Tireman. Sir, the gentlemen 2 will be angry if you 
sit here. 

1 " When young Rogero goes to see a play 
His pleasure is you place him on the stage, 
The better to demonstrate his array, 
And how he sits attended by his page." 

H. Parrot : Laquei Ridiculosi, or Springes for 
Woodcocks, 1613. 

" The Globe to-morrow acts a pleasant play ; 
In hearing it consume the irksome day ; 
Go, take a pipe of To : the crowded stage 
Must needs be greced with you and your page." 

Henry "Hutton : Folly's Anatomy, 1619, quoted 

by Malone, Historical Account, p. 82. 
2 The actors had a right to call themselves gentlemen. 


Sly. Why ; we may sit upon the stage at a private 
house. Thou dost not take me for a country gentleman, 
dost? Dost thou think I fear hissing? I'll hold my life 
thou tookest me for one of the players. 

Tireman. No, sir. 

Sly. By God's slid, 1 if you had, I would have given 
you but sixpence for your stool. 

The spectators who wanted places on the stage did 
not pass through the ordinary entrance, but through the 
tiring-house, and here they paid the regular fee, while 
the sixpence or shilling for the stool was extra. And this 
tiring-house due was soon relied upon 2 as a fixed income. 

But this custom, though it might considerably increase 
the daily proceeds, soon became an intolerable nuisance 
to the actors, who were annoyed and disturbed in their 
performance by the number of restless gallants. The 
latter, however, were not easily driven away from their 
time-honoured places, and in the end a royal proclama- 
tion was required to restore order on the stage. In 
February 1665 an order was issued in which we read: 
' ' Whereas complaint hath been made unto us of great 
disorders in the Attiring-house of the Theatre of our 
dearest brother the Duke of York, under the government 
of our trusty and well beloved Sir Wm. Davenant, by 
the resort of persons thither, to the hinderance of the 
actors and interruption of the scenes. Our will and 

1 Senseless oaths of this kind were fashionable among the gallants, and 
the plays of the time frequently mock this bad habit. Compare, for instance, 
Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour. 

2 This appears distinctly from an actor's contract of 1614, in which these 
tiring-house dues are mentioned several times. Comp. \heAlleynPapers, 
P- 76. 


pleasure is, that no person of what quality soever do 
presume to enter at the door of the Attiring-house, but 
such only as do belong to the Company, and are em- 
ployed by them. Requiring the guards attending there 
and all whom it may concern to see that obedience be 
given hereunto." l 


Authors' fees Censorship Sir Henry Herbert's notes Shakespeare's fame 
as an author. 

ANOTHER thing which rendered the position of manager 
so profitable was the comparatively small fees paid for 
the pieces. 

Unfortunately we have no means of ascertaining how \ 
much Shakespeare received for his plays. He wrote 
exclusively for one particular company "The Lord 
Chamberlain's," afterwards "The King's Men" and 
from this company nothing in the way of accounts has 
ever come to light. But with regard to the money 
matters of other authors, Henslowe's Diary and the 
A i 'ley m Papers afford much valuable information. 

1 Printed by Collier from a manuscript in the State Paper Office, English 
Dramatic Poetry, iii. p. 154, n. 2. In France the same bad habit flourished 
at the time of Moliere. Chappuzeau writes (1674) in his Thddtre Franqais 
(livre iii. p. 1 53) : " Les Acteurs ont souvent de la peine a se ranger sur le 
Theatre, tant les ailes sont remplies de gens de qualit^ qui n'en peuvent faire 
qu'un riche ornement." The French stage, however, was not so fortunate 
as the English in having the custom abolished. Not till 1759 the Comedie 
Fran$aise, by the liberality of a noble playgoer, succeeded in introducing a 
reasonable arrangement of the stage, by which spectators were entirely 
excluded from it. Comp. Ad. Jullien : Les spectateurs sur le Thtdtre, Paris, 


Henslowe, as we have seen, was no liberal employer, 
and was very eager to take advantage of every oppor- 
tunity as it offered, and at a period when there was no 
particularly strong competition between the theatres, we 
find him paying ridiculously small sums to the companies 
employed by him. In fact he did not buy the pieces 
himself, but acted as a kind of agent between the 
authors and the actors. We see from the complaints 
lodged against him by his company (comp. above, p. 88) 
that they had "paid him upwards of ^200 for play- 
books, and yet he refuses to give us the manuscripts of 
any of them." 1 He kept them, indeed, as security for 
the debt in which the actors stood to him. 

By his extensive system of loans Henslowe kept 
authors as well as actors in constant dependence on 
himself, which enabled him to exercise a considerable 
pressure on the price of plays. In 1598 we find him 
paying Drayton, Dekker and Chettle ^4 and 5 shillings 
in full payment for a piece with the title Fames wares of 
Henry the fyrste and the pry nee of Walles? Nor did 
the unfortunate Dekker who, it is true, spent half his 
life in the debtor's prison receive more for his Phaeton, 
while he was paid five pounds for his The Triplicity of 
Cuckolds. Before the year 1600 the ordinary price seems 
to have been six or seven pounds, and in Henslowe's 
account-books down to this date it nowhere exceeds 
eight pounds. 

By the sale of his piece the author entirely gave up 

1 Articles of oppression against Mr Hinchlowe, comp. the Alley n 
Papers, p. 81. 

2 Henslowe's Diary, p. 120. 


his right to the possession of it, and it belonged for ever 
to the company. The actors might have it altered if 
they found that it no longer suited the taste of the time, 
and as the manuscript belonged to them, the author 
could not have it printed without the permission of the 
company. The many pirated editions which nevertheless 
appeared, without the consent of authors and actors, 
were picked up through the ear in the theatre and 
taken down in shorthand, 1 whereby, of course, the text 
became utterly defective. Against pirate editors the 
authors and actors had no other remedy than to pay 
them for omitting to publish the piece. And that 
this was really done we see from an entry in Henslowe's 
Diary, which runs thus : " Lent unto Robart Shawe, 
the 1 8 of marche 1599, to geve unto the printer, to 
staye the printing of patient gresell, the some of 
xxxxs." 2 

This piece, by the by, cost the old stage-manager 
;io, x ios., 3 and on the whole, about the year 1600, we 
notice an increase in the fees. While down to this 
period the average payment is 6, it now rises as high 
as 11. This was what Ben Jonson and Dekker 
received in August 1599 for their sensational play 
Page of Plymouth, a tragedy, the plot of which was 
taken from a crime recently committed. While Hens- 

1 " Some by stenography drew 

The plot, put it in print, scarce one word true." 

Thorn. Hey wood : Pleasant Dialogues and 
Dramas (1637), quoted by Collier; 
English Dramatic Poetry, iii. p. 193. 

2 Henslowe's Diary, p. 167. 

3 Not 9, IDS. as stated by Collier in the introduction to his Diary, p. 
xxv. ; comp. Diary, pp. 158 and 162. 


lowe's Diary never shows a higher price than this eleven 
pounds, we see from letters written to him by authors- 
published among the Alleyn Papers that about 1613 
the price rose again, no doubt on account of the eager 
competition between the companies, especially those of 
the King and of Prince Henry. From the earlier letter 
from Robert Daborne, quoted above (p. 87), we learned 
that elsewhere he had received 20 for his pieces, but 
that Henslowe beat him down to 12, besides the 
surplus of the second day's performance. In another 
letter of June 25th, 1613, which is also very charac- 
teristic, he writes as follows : 

" Mr Hinchlow, I perceave y u think I will be behind 
with my Tragoedy ; if soe, y u might worthely account me 
dishonest ; indeed for thear good and myne own I have 
took extraordynary payns with the end, and alterd one 
other scean in the third act, which they have now in 
parts. For y e Arreighnment, if you will please to be my 
paym 1 , as for the other, they shall have it ; if not, try my 
Tragoedy first, and as y l proves, so deal with me ; in the 
mean, my necessity is such y l I must use other means to 
be furnisht upon it. Before God, I can have ^25 for it, 
as some of y e company know ; but such is my much debt 
to y u , y* so long as my labors may pleasure them, and 
y u say y e word, I am wholy yours to be 

"ever commaunded, 

" I pray, S r , if y u resolv 

to do this curtesy for y e company, 
let me have 403 more tell we scale 

" 25 June, 1613 pade to Mr Daborne XXs." 


We nowhere find an instance of a higher fee than 
the ^25 which is mentioned here, and which, after all, 
may not have existed anywhere but in Daborne's poetic 
fancy. To this, of course, must sometimes be added 
the net proceeds of a performance, which might increase 
the profit considerably. If the play was particularly 
successful, it seems to have been the custom for the 
author to receive a small additional gratuity. At any 
rate, we find some not many such entries in Hens- 
lowe's accounts. Thus Thomas Dekker received ten 
shillings "over and above his price" for his play Medi- 
cine for a Curst Wife, 1 and John Day and others the 
same sum, which seems to have been the customary 

But though the authors' fees were but small, the 
managers had another item of expense, which was not 
inconsiderable, at least compared with the modern state 
of things. This was the tribute to the Censor. 

King Henry the Eighth had in his time created an 
office, the incumbent of which was called " The Master 
of the Court Revels," and this functionary was entrusted 
with the critical examination of all the plays which were 
to be performed. Each play was to be " licensed " by 
the Master, and he was at liberty to strike out any 
passages according to his own judgment, or to forbid the 
performance altogether. For his trouble in perusing the 
plays and for striking out scandalous passages, particu- 
larly " oaths, profanenesses and obscenities," besides, of 
course, political indiscretions and attacks on particular 
persons, the Master of the Revels fixed a fee which at 
1 Henslowe's Diary, p. 240. 


first does not seem to have been exorbitant. It is clear 
that in 1591 Mr Edmund Tylney, who occupied the 
post of Censor from 1578 to 1610, received no more than 
five shillings for each new or revived play. 1 But the 
great arbitrary power which he possessed in his relations 
with the managers rendered it easy for him to increase 
his fees ; already in 1592 we find him charging 6sh. 8d., 
and in 1597 we find in Henslowe's account-book several 
consecutive receipts of the following kind : " Received 
the daie and yeare [May 3ist, 1597] above written, by 
me Robert Johnson, to the use of the M r - of the Revells, 
of Phillippe Henslaye, the fulle and whole some of fortie 
shillinges, dew for this presente monthe aforesaide." 2 

The Master, then, had gradually managed to get a 
monthly tribute of ^2 besides the fee for each play, for 
we must not imagine that this remuneration had stopped ; 
on the contrary, it had been raised to seven shillings, 
which item of expense, however, the cunning Henslowe 
seems to have transferred to the actors, judging by the 
following entry in his book of the same year : " Lent 
unto Thomas Dowton, for the company to paye to the 
M r of the Revells for lysensynge of II boockes, XI 1 1 Is ; 
abated to Dawton Vs, so reaste 2." 

It must be borne in mind, of course, that the Master 
received an equal sum from each of the more important 
managers i.e. of four companies at least which makes 
12 ; besides seven shillings for at least two plays monthly 
of the same four companies, which comes to about ^3. 
And all this money the Master received for the service 
he rendered to authors and actors for striking out 

1 Henslowe's Diary, pp. 18 ff. 2 Ibid., p. 79. 


" oaths and profanenesses " in their plays ; for his court- 
function he received a separate fee. 

However, this monthly income, which to outsiders 
would seem very large in proportion to the work, was 
but small compared with the sums which later incum- 
bents of the office were enabled to extort from the actors. 

One of these, Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the 
Revels from 1623 to 1662, has left a number of most 
curious accounts, which prove that he "improved" much 
upon his predecessors in the way he increased the 
profits of the post. He can make money out of every- 
thing, and he reckons only in pounds ; we never 
read anything about shillings. He charges 2 for 
reading a new play, i for an old one ; ^4 a week 
from each company ; besides the net proceeds of one 
performance in the summer and one in the winter, 
fixed at ,100 each, and gratuities at Christmas and 
at Lent of 3 each. Altogether his profits from the 
theatres can scarcely have been less than what in our 
time would equal about ^3900 a year. According to 
his own calculation, they were even considerably higher 
when, in 1662, to his great and very natural annoyance, 
the post of Censor was abolished. 

At all times this office has had its comic aspect, 
though perhaps the holder has often been unconscious 
of the fact, and Sir Henry Herbert does not fail to place 
himself in an amusing light by his notes, which are both 
naive and consequential, and in which the offence he 
takes at wicked authors, his veneration of royalty, his 
self-satisfaction and his joy at the abundant flow of fees, 

are mixed up in the drollest manner, 
in. i 


We will quote a few passages, which will succeed, 
better than any long description, in placing us at once in 
the midst of the theatrical life of those times, at all 
events in one corner of it. 

In the year 1633 he receives for perusal a play 
entitled The Young Admiral by James Shirley, a very 
productive and popular author. It obtains his gracious 
approval, because it is free from "oaths, prophaness or 
obsceanes," and he thinks it may " serve for a patterne to 
other poetts, not only for the bettring of maners and 
language, but for the improvement of the quality, which 
has received some brushings of late." 

" When," he adds, with the unshakable faith of 
literary censors in the importance of their own judg- 
ments, " Mr Shirley has read this approbation, I know 
it will encourage him to pursue this beneficial and 
cleanly way of poetry, and when other poetts heare and 
see his good success, I am confident they will imitate 
the original for their own credit, and make such copies 
in this harmless way, as shall speak them masters in 
their art, at the first sight, to all judicious spectators. ..." 

" I have entered this allowance, for direction to my 
successor, and for example to all poetts, that shall write 
after the date hereof." 1 

Immediately after, he tells us that "at the old Ex- 
change " he has met the leading man of " Queen's com- 
pany," the actor Beeston, who has evidently courted 
his favour, for Sir Herbert adds : " He gave my wife a 
payre of gloves that cost him at least twenty shillings." 

In the previous year another play by Shirley, The 

1 Malone : Historical Account, p. 293. 


Ball, had been acted ; but this piece had not been to 
Herbert's taste at all.for it contained portraits of many lords 
and courtiers, which evidently had not been discovered by 
the Censor while perusing the play ; he writes : . . . " ther 
were divers personated so naturally, both of lords and 
others of the court, that I took it ill and would have 
forbidden the play, but that Biston promiste many things 
which I found faulte withall should be left out, and that 
he would not suffer it to be done by the poett any more, 
who deserves to be punished ; and the first that offends 
in this kind, of poets or players, shall be sure of publique 
punishment." x 

In Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub he strikes out the 
whole part of Vitruvius Hoop at the instigation of Inigo 
Jones, the royal scene-painter, who in this character 
saw a satire on himself. His reward for this is 2. 

Now and then, nevertheless, we see his literary 
verdicts reversed by King Charles I. himself, which 
causes him to write the following amusing note : " This 
morning, being the 9th of January 1633, the Kinge was 
pleasd to call mee into his withdrawinge chamber to the 
windowe, wher he went over all that I had croste in 
Davenant's play-booke, and allowing of faith and slight 
to be asseverations only and no oathes, markt them to 
stande, and some other few things, but in the greater 
part allowed of my reformations. This was done upon 
a complaint of Mr Endymion Porter in December." 

"The Kinge is pleased to take faith, death, slight, 
for asseverations and no oaths, to which I doe humbly 
submit as my master's judgment ; but under favour 

1 M alone : Historical Account, p. 292. 


conceive them to be oaths, and enter them here, to 
declare my opinion and submission." 1 

Another time he himself applies to the King about 
a play by Massinger, one of the last which this author 
wrote. Its title was The King and the Subject, and we 
find in it a speech, in which Don Pedro, King of Spain, 
addresses his subjects in the following words : 

Monys ? We'le rayse supplies what ways we please 

And force you to subscribe to blanks, in which 

We'le mulct you as wee shall thinke fitt. The Caesars 

In Rome were wise, acknowledginge no lawes 

But what their swords did ratifye, the wives 

And the daughters of the senators bowinge to 

Their wills, as deities. . . . 

At a time when King and subjects did not live on 
the best of terms with one another, we cannot wonder 
that these words caused some alarm to a royal censor, 
though he may have been amply paid by the actors for 
showing indulgence. Even His Majesty, on perusing 
the play, put a mark against the passage, adding in his 
own handwriting : " This is too insolent, and to be 

A few years later his subjects were guilty of the still 
greater and quite irreparable insolence of decapitating 
their King. 

In the notes of these Masters of the Revels, though 
they treat almost exclusively of dramatic pieces, it 
is most interesting to notice how little the name of 
Shakespeare predominates over the names of the other 

1 M alone, Historical Account, p. 295. 


dramatists. Sir Herbert certainly was no artist, nor can 
we suppose him to have been a man of particularly 
refined taste ; still, he came almost daily in contact with 
all the dramatic celebrities of his time, and his office 
obliged him to acquaint himself with the entire dramatic 
literature. If, indeed, so shortly after his death, the 
fame of Shakespeare as something unique, something 
of which the value towered considerably above that of 
his contemporaries, had entered into the minds of the 
people and been fixed there, as modern biographers try 
to make us believe, we should certainly have discovered 
it in the way his dramas are mentioned by the censor. 
But these records do not give the slightest indication 
that he held such a peculiar position, or rather, we 
distinctly see that the poet's crown, which we have 
bestowed as a humble tribute on Shakespeare, would in 
those days have caused the greatest astonishment. Mr 
Shakespeare was a clever playwright like so many others, 
his comedies pleased like those of so many others. 
Cymbeline receives the character " well liked by the 
King," but Fletcher's Loyal Subject is "very well liked 
by the King." The Taming of the Shrew is only " liked." 
A Winters Tale is mentioned in the following terms as 
an old half forgotten play. 1 ..." An olde playe called 
Winter s Tale, formerly allowed of by Sir George Burke, 
and likewyse by mee on Mr Heminge his worde that 
there was nothing profane added or reformed, thog the 
allowed booke was missinge, and therefore I returned it 
without a fee, this iQth of August 1623." 

Shakespeare's biographers tell us that his plays were 

1 Malone, Historical Account, p. 288. 


King Charles the First's " companions in his solitude" 
the expression is taken from Milton 1 but in Herbert's 
records we read that the same king says about The 
Gamester, by Shirley, that it was the best play he had 
seen for seven years, and at that time he had seen many 
of Shakespeare's. 

It seems clear, not only from this testimony, but from 
a great deal of other evidence, and particularly from the 
whole tone and manner in which Shakespeare and his 
contemporaries are mentioned, that even if his supremacy 
was acknowledged by the few, especially among authors 
and actors, even if he was both appreciated by experts 
and popular among the people at large, he by no means 
stood as the one star ; and neither during his life-time 
nor shortly afterwards were people aware of the enormous 
distance in artistic genius between him and the best of 
his contemporaries, a distance which in later times 
placed him on an almost supernatural summit of lonely 

When the Civil War broke out in 1642, and all play- 
houses were closed, the office of Censor naturally ceased 
to exist. At the accession of Charles II. in 1660, Sir 
Henry Herbert still held the office of Master of the 
Revels, and when the theatres reopened, he resumed 
his high claims on the managers. But they were recal- 
citrant and would pay no longer. After a hard struggle, 
with many interesting lawsuits, on which, however, we 
will not enter more particularly here, since they belong 
to another period, the king sided with the actors and 
deprived the master of his censorial authority over the 

1 IconoclasteS) 1690, pp. 9 ff., quoted in Lee's Life of Shakespeare. 


plays, and thereby of every pecuniary claim on the 

One of the last items of payment which Sir Henry 
entered in his book is 1, which he claimed (in June 
1642) for a new play, " which I burnte for the ribaldry 
and offense that was in it." 


Actors' Fees and Profits of the Theatres Great Theatrical Celebrities and 
Minor Actors What Shakespeare Earned Magnificence of Costumes 
Actors' Contracts. 

IT is by no means easy to form a clear idea of the 
conditions regarding the payment of actors during the 
Shakespearean period, and the sources at hand are far 
from throwing a full light on the matter. So much, how- 
ever, is evident, that the system of payment was the same 
which prevailed in Italy and France where, perhaps, it 
originated the share-holding or socittaire system, which 
in an essentially unaltered form is still prevalent in the 
Comddie Franfaise in Paris. 

N^ The actors were sharers in the theatre, i.e. after 
deducting the current expenses they shared the proceeds 
among them, at first probably in the simplest way, as in 
France, where after the performance the account was 
made up at once, and the net proceeds divided. , But 
afterwards the distribution was made in a much more 
business-like manner. 

The sharers in the proceeds were the proprietor of 
the theatre, who probably possessed the largest number 
of shares, the permanent members of the company, and, 


for a time at all events, the Master of the Court 
Revels. No shares were due to the following : the 
inferior actors, who, as nowadays, are engaged by 
the week ; the gatherers, who served also as supers ; 
the book-holder or prompter, who had to look after the 
actors' entrances and to give them their cues and pro- 
perties, if necessary (" prompting," in our sense of the 
word, was out of the question in the time of Shake- 
speare) ; the stage-keeper, who kept the stage in order, 
strewed it with rushes before the beginning of the per- 
formance, picked up the rotten apples and oranges which 
might have been thrown at the actors during the per- 
formance, and let stools to the spectators who were 
placed on the stage. 

All these subordinate functionaries were called by 
the one name of hirelings, and were paid either by the 
company or by the proprietor. 1 What salary they re- 
ceived I have not been able to make out. It seems as 
if a subordinate actor who, as we remember, was not a 
shareholder, received one shilling a day. On the whole, 
the position of these third-rate or fourth-rate actors was 
no doubt very humble, and to become a sharer was the 
aim and end of every young actor. Among the Alleyn 
Papers we find a letter from such an actor, who is still 
playing for a fixed weekly payment, which he even does 
not always receive. Now he has an opportunity of going 
to the Continent with a travelling company, and asks his 
rich and celebrated comrade, Edward Alleyn, for a loan 
to redeem his pawned clothes. This little letter is very 
characteristic and full of life. It runs as follows : 

1 Compare above p. 88. 


" Mr Allen, I commend my love and humble duty 
to you, geving you thankes for y r great bounty bestoed 
upon me in my sicknes, when I was in great want : God 
blese you for it. Sir, this it is, I am to go over beyond 
the seeas w l Mr Browne and the company, but not by 
his meanes, for he is put to half a shaer, and to stay 
hear, for they are all against his going ; now, good Sir, 
as you have ever byne my worthie frend, so helpe me 
nowe. I have a sute of clothes and a cloke at pane for 
three pound, and if it shall pleas you to lend me so much 
to release them, I shall be bound to pray for you so long 
as I leve ; for if I go over, and have no clothes, I shall 
not be esteemd of; and, by gods help, the first money 
that I gett I will send it over unto you, for hear I get 
nothinge, so that I leve in great poverty hear, and so 
humbly take my leave, prainge to god, I and my wiffe, 
for y r health and mistris Allen's, which god continew. 
Yo r poor frend to command, RICHARD JONES." I 

The boys who acted the female parts (during this 
period, and as far down as 1656, no English woman 
mounted the boards) of course were not sharers, 
nor were they properly engaged ; they were simply 
bought by the manager, received their training and 
probably board and clothes as well of him, and were 
hired out to the company. Thus in Henslowe's accounts 
we find the following entries : 

" Bowght my boye, Jeames Bryston, of William 
Augustus, player, the i8of desembr 1597, for VIII. li" 2 ; 
and three years later : " Antony Jeaffes and the company 
doth owe unto me for my boye, Jeames Bristo, wages, 

1 Alleyn Papers, p. 19. 2 Henslowe's Diary, p. 259. 


from the 23rd of Aprell 1600; w ch Robart Shawe hath 
geven his word for the paymente." 1 

When the boys were grown up and remained at the 
theatre acting male parts, of course they might rise to 
a higher position like all the others, and become dis- 
tinguished sharers. Nathaniel Field is probably the 
most celebrated among the child-actors of the time, and 
he was just one of those who afterwards rose to high 
distinction, and became one of the leading sharers. 

About the mutual economical relations between the 
sharers there has been hitherto great uncertainty, con- 
fusion and contradiction among experts. I will try to 
consider the matter in the light of fairly definite facts. 

The first question to be settled is the approximate 
annual sum to which a share might amount. And we 
do, as a matter of fact, possess a document which shows 
the average amount of such a share, a scale of fees which 
in 1662, by the desire of the Lord Chamberlain, was 
delivered to him by Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the 
Court Revels. Sir Herbert in his estimate enumerates 

the emoluments of his office from 1628-1642 and one 

item (which both M alone and Collier seem to have over- 
looked in their attempts to explain the conditions of 
payment of the time) runs thus : " For a share from 
each companye four companyes of players (besides the 
late Kinge's Companye) valued at 100 a yeare, one 
yeare with another, besides the usual fees, by the yeare, 
^400 os. od." 

Sir Henry therefore reckons a ^100 to be an 
average share. Though we cannot altogether rely on 

1 Henslowe's Diary > p. 149. 


the estimate of the Master of the Court Revels he 
greatly overrates the proceeds of the two benefits allowed 
him by fixing them at ^50, while in reality they did not 
amount to more than 9 on an average in this instance 
we have no reason to suppose that he exaggerates the 
amount of a full share. To be engaged with a full share 
was a thing which commanded some respect, 1 and the 
more distinguished actors, as a rule, were men of con- 
siderable means. There does not seem then to be any 
reason for doubting Henry Herbert's statement, especially 
as even in 1678 a share was as large as ,300, 2 and yet 
at that time the shares were considerably diminished. 

The second question to be asked is : how many shares 
were there in the Shakespearean period, and how were 
they distributed ? 

Malone supposes though, contrary to his custom, he 
does not give any reason for his supposition that there 
were forty shares, which he fancies were distributed in the 
following way : the proprietor (the housekeeper as he was 
called) received fifteen shares, the actors twenty-two, and 
three were spent on the purchase of new plays, costumes, 
etc. 3 Collier, as usual, repeats Malone's supposition 
without being able to throw further light on the matter. 

Now, as in another place, Malone estimates the 

1 Comp., e.g. , Hamlet, iii. 2 : Hamlet : " Would not this, sir, and a forest 
of feathers if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me with two Pro- 
vincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir ? " 
Horatio : " Half a share." 
Hamlet : "A whole one, I." 

a Comp. the complaint of Charles Killigrew and several of his actors 
against Dryden, in which they reproach him with pocketing his share and a 
quarter amounting to ^300 or .400, but writing no plays. Malone's 
Historical Account, p. 191, n. 9. 

3 Malone's Historical Account, pp. 188 ff. 


average net proceeds of a performance at .9, and the 
average annual number of performances at 200, the 
total annual income of a theatre would not be more 
than .1800, and the salary of a full-share actor not 
more than ^45, which undoubtedly is very little, even 
considering the high value of money in those days, and 
much too little to allow of the leading actors becoming 
men of considerable means. 

I believe Malone to be in error. Among the Alleyn 
Papers we find the draught of a contract (of 1608) 
between Thomas Henslowe and Edward Alleyn on the 
one side and the distinguished actor Thomas Dowton 
on the other, according to which Dowton is engaged to 
act in "The Fortune" Theatre, and is to receive "an 
eighth part of a quarter of all ... net proceeds in 
money " at the said theatre. By " net proceeds " is 
understood the profits after deducting the daily ex- 
penditure on officers and subordinate members of the 
staff, on light, where light was used, in short on the 
regular and daily recurring demands on the budget. 
These expenses, according to Sir Herbert's accounts, 
amounted to about 2, 55. a-day. 1 In order to obtain 
this thirty-second share Dowton had first to pay down 
in ready money ^27, IDS. "in lawful English coin," and, 
in addition, los. per annum as long as the contract 
lasted. He further engaged himself to undertake a 
thirty-second share of the expenses for repairs, etc., at 

1 "The kinges company with a generall consent and alacritye have given 
mee the benefitt of too dayes in the yeare, the one in summer, thother in 
winter, to bee taken out of the second daye of a revived playe, att my owne 
choyse. The housekeepers have likewyse given their shares, their dayly 
charge only deducted, which comes to some 2\. 55. this 25 May, 1628." 


the theatre. Finally, as a sharer he was not allowed to 
discontinue acting unless prevented by illness, and of 
course he had to give up every right of acting in any 
other theatre in London, or within two miles' distance 
from it, without the permission of Henslowe or 

I think I may conclude from this contract that in 
Henslowe's and Alleyn's theatres there were thirty- two 
shares, and I suppose for reasons which I shall explain 
presently that of these shares the proprietors them- 
selves retained eight, a fourth part of the net proceeds. 
Of the remaining twenty-four shares four were probably 
put aside as a reserve fund for paying for the repertoire, 
etc., and the remaining twenty shares may have been 
divided between the actors, not all of whom, however, 
received a full share, since we hear both of three quarters 
and of halves. 

According to this calculation, a London theatre of 
the first rank at that time would give average receipts 
of ^"3200, in addition to the 2 and 55., which were 
the current daily expenses. If we fix the annual 
number of performances at 240, which is certainly not 
too many, as they went on summer and winter, we get the 
average proceeds of about 13 from each performance. 
And this is not too much, 1 though Malone reckons only 
an average of g. But his average receipts are calculated 
on the benefits of the Master of the Revels, which were 
all only performances of second-rate value, without a 

1 The ^25 which Mr Sidney Lee (Life of W. Shakespeare, p. 161), 
without proper calculation, mentions as the daily proceeds of " The Globe " 
Theatre, is decidedly too much, and there is not the slightest indication to 
show that " The Globe " could hold 2000 people. 


single new play or "first night," which must necessarily 
give too low an amount for the average proceeds. 

I have calculated from Henslowe's Diary that his 
daily receipts were about thirty shillings ; l with an annual 
share of ^100 and 240 performances a year, each sharer 
would receive daily about eight shillings. It is most 
probable, indeed, that Henslowe held four shares out of 
the thirty-two, while Alleyn, as fellow-proprietor, held 
the other four. But Alleyn was, moreover, a very 
popular actor, who played all the chief parts in the 
repertoire. As such he may also have had a number of 
shares. In Ben Jonson's Poetaster we read of an actor 
who is called " Seven shares and a half," and I fancy that 
no one but Edward Alleyn can be meant. In the scene 
between Tucca, the swaggering captain, and the actor 
Histrio, Tucca says: "Well, now fare thee well, my 
honest penny-biter. Commend me to seven shares and 
a half, and remember to-morrow. If you lack a service, 
you shall play in my name, rascals ; but you shall buy your 
own cloth, and I'll ha' two shares for my countenance." 1 

" Fleay has shown 3 that the actors who appear in 
The Poetaster belong partly to " The Fortune," partly to 
" The Rose " Theatres, both under the management 
of Alleyn and Henslowe. The latter, as we know, 
possessed four shares, so Seven-and-a-half-share can 
only mean Alleyn. Whether Alleyn really was in 

1 During one short period, which I leave out of consideration here, 
Henslowe evidently had a much smaller share. It was at the time when 
his company acted together with the Lord Chamberlain's Servants (comp. 
p. 60). During that period his average share was only a little more than 
nine shillings. 

2 Ben Jonson : The Poetaster, Act iii., Scene 4. 

3 Fleay : The English Drama, i. 368. 


possession of so considerable a portion must remain an 
open question. The above somewhat uncertain proof 
is the only one I have been able to find. At any rate, 
Alleyn became a very rich man, and must, therefore, 
have had a very large income. The seven-and-a-half 
shares represent in modern money about ^4500. 
\J It is true that Alleyn was by far the richest of all the 
actors of his time. And, on the whole, it must be borne 
in mind that this calculation only applies to the best 
actors of the best companies. The inferior companies, 
of course, gained less, as the shares were necessarily 
smaller. 1 Only a first-rate actor in a first-rate company 
could have a salary of 100 a year, equal to about ^800 
in our time. And the very few who rose above this income 
only did so on account of particular circumstances, by 
being part-proprietors of the theatre, by holding shares in 
several theatres and places of amusement simultaneously, 
by being both authors and actors, or in some other way.>/ 

In the theatrical enterprises of Burbage the con- 
ditions were arranged in the same way as in Henslowe's, 
though we have reason to suppose that in the former the 
terms were more profitable to the actors as well as to 
the authors ; for, evidently, the brothers Burbage were 

1 Mr Lee in his work on Shakespeare quoted above (p. 159 libr. ed.) 
asserts that we know of no actor's fee lower than three shillings a day ; but 
the reader will have gathered from the above statements that this is a 
mistake. On the whole, Mr Lee, as I think, represents the conditions as a 
good deal more brilliant than they really were. Because men like Alleyn, 
Shakespeare, Burbage, and Condell, who, besides being excellent actors, 
were economical and energetic men of business, left a good deal of property, 
we must not forget that even men like Ben Jonson and Nathaniel Field were 
constantly in money difficulties ; nor must we leave out of consideration the 
large number, who stood far beneath the high level of these men, struggling 
hard to earn the daily shilling. 


scarcely as skilled as Henslowe and Alley n in the art of 
making capital out of the artists who worked for them. 

Nevertheless, the celebrated Richard Burbage left a 
very considerable fortune, if not quite so large a one as 
Alleyn's. It is valued by a contemporary at ^300 in 
annual interest on landed property. 1 

Our knowledge about the conditions of the share 
system in the three Burbage theatres, " The Theatre," 
"The Globe" and " Blackfriars," is drawn from a series 
of letters which Halliwell-Phillipps brought to light in 
1870, letters which date from the year 1635, and give us 
some insight into a struggle between the non-sharing 
actors Robert Benneld, Heliard Swanston and Thomas 
Pollard on the one side, and the sharers in " The 
Globe" and "Blackfriars," among them the actors 
Shancke, Taylor, Robinson and Lowin on the other. 2 

What we learn through these letters confirms what 
we have gathered from Henslowe's and other papers. 
We see that at that time " The Globe" was divided into 
sixteen and " Blackfriars " into eight shares which equals 
the thirty-two shares with Henslowe and Alleyn. The 
sixteen shares of " The Globe " are distributed among six 
hands only, of which, moreover, only four are actors, 
whereas the bookseller, Cuthbert Burbage and the 
widow, Mrs Condell, have five and a half shares 
between them. 

1 In a letter from John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carlton (State Papers 
quoted by Malone) we read : " The funeral [of the Queen] is put off to the 
2gth of next month, to the great hinderance of our players, which are 
forbidden to play so long as her body is above ground ; one special man 
among them is lately dead, and hath left, they say, better than 300 1. land." 

2 All these letters are printed in Halliwell-Phillipps's Outlines, 3rd ed. 
PP- 539-551- 


The discontented non-sharing actors complain of 
these conditions to the Earl of Pembroke, who, at the 
time, was Lord Chamberlain at the court of King 
Charles I. They wish to become sharers, and think it 
unreasonable that so large a number of shares should be 
in the hands of men who are not actors themselves, but 
merely reap the fruits of their toil and trouble. How 
wrong these conditions are they prove by showing that 
the sharers in " The Globe " have a daily profit of two 
shillings a share, while the actor's part does not exceed 
three shillings. This, as we see, harmonises closely 
with our above calculation. 

These statements, it is true, are contradicted by the 
opposing party, who assert that the complaining actors 
have gained ^180 each during the last year, which is 
admitted to be double of what they have gained 
hitherto ; but even half of i 80 gives a considerably 
larger daily sum than three shillings. 

Now, even if both parties exaggerate, it is evident 
that the sharer was much better off than the ordinary 
actor, for otherwise the latter would not have coveted 
this position as eagerly as the former tried to prevent 
him from obtaining it. 

Cuthbert Burbage's defence of the existing order of 
things is very interesting, as it shows us how the 
circumstances gradually developed. 

His father, he tells us, was the very first builder of 
theatres, and "The Theatre" cost him many hundred 
pounds, which he borrowed at interest. " The players 
that lived in those first times " (that is about sixty years 
before Cuthbert writes this), "had only the profitts 
in. K 


arising from the dores, but now the players receave all 
the commings in at the dores to themselves and halfe 
the galleries from the housekepers." l 

We see that old James Burbage left to his actors the 
regular entrance fee, which was collected at the door ; 
but the extra amount which was paid for sitting in the 
boxes and the gallery, " the House," as it was called, he 
took for himself, for the house was his own and built at 
his own expense. 

Afterwards, however, this distribution went a little 
too much in favour of the owner. The most dis- 
tinguished and indispensable actors were included among 
the sharers, and, with Burbage, the whole company 
received, besides the entrance fees, half of the proceeds 
of "the House." But, as the three complaining actors 
point out, from this sum were deducted " all expenses for 
hirelings, apparel, poets, light and all other expenses of 
the play-houses." On the other hand, all repairs of the 
building naturally devolved on the owners. 

What tempts us most in making these financial 
researches is to find out the financial condition of 

It has always been well known that Shakespeare was 
a man of means when he died. That he had honestly 
gained his little fortune by means of his art, his 
biographers ought to have assumed as a foregone 
conclusion, instead of searching for mysterious sources of 
income, or inventing supernaturally liberal patrons. 

Indeed, it was not as an author at any rate not in a 
direct way that he enriched himself. If Shakespeare 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, p. 549. 


were to rise from the grave at this moment and receive 
the fees for his plays from all parts of the world, 
he would probably take many times more in one 
season than the amount which his works brought him 
throughout his whole life-time. We have seen that the 
author's fees were but small. Ben Jonson, in his 
conversations with Drummond, asserts that he did not 
gain more than ^200 from his plays altogether, 1 and 
even if Shakespeare gained a good deal more, the direct 
proceeds of his works cannot have been considerable. 
But, indirectly, his dramatic works were a capital which 
brought him abundant interests as an actor and afterwards 
as proprietor, since their great popularity attracted crowds 
to the theatre in which he was concerned, and thus pro- 
cured for himself and his comrades a large annual profit. 

It would be impossible, of course, to give an exact 
account of Shakespeare's income ; still, with the informa- 
tion we possess about theatrical matters, we can make an 
approximate calculation. 

That his old fellow-townsmen at Stratford considered 
him a man of considerable means as early as 1598 
appears from a number of letters concerning loans and 
purchases, dating from that time. 2 Yet this must have 
been his least prosperous period. Between 1590 and 
1599, indeed, he wrote nineteen dramatic works, but 
before 1600 the price of these plays was but low. Hens- 
lowe, as we have heard, at that time did not pay more 
than 11. Though Burbage may have given rather 
more, and though there may from time to time have been 

1 D. Laing : Benjonsotts Conversations with Drummond, p. 35. 

2 See Sidney Lee : Life of Shakespeare, pp. 154 ff. 


a benefit and a small extra fee of ten shillings, we cannot 
fix the average payment for these nineteen plays at more 
than 12, which makes an annual profit of ^25 during 
the first nine years of his theatrical career. His actor's 
share in the entrance fees of " The Theatre " and other 
play-houses may be fixed at ^75, if we allow him a double 
share, and suppose a share to have been three shillings a 
day, and the days of performance 240 in number. To this 
must be added the performances at Court and at the 
country seats of the noblemen, which might yield about 
;i5 a year, amounting altogether to a total of ^115. 

Though this is no exorbitant sum, it is sufficiently 
large to justify his townspeople in calling him a man of 
considerable means. 

But after 1599 his income must have increased very 
much. Higher prices began to be paid for plays, and, 
what was more important, " The Globe " Theatre was 
built, and Shakespeare became part - owner of this 
house, together with Condell, Heminge, Phillipps and 
others. 1 

As we know, the enterprise was divided into sixteen 
shares. Of these the brothers Burbage no doubt held 
four (in 1635 Cuthbert himself had 3! shares). The 
remaining twelve were probably distributed among six 
principal actors, two shares to each. A share in " The 
Globe" (which was double the value of one in "The 
Fortune ") may reasonably be fixed at ^200. Besides 
this he may have had his share of the admission fees, 
though that does not absolutely follow, and this may not 

1 Cuthbert Burbage's letter to the Earl of Pembroke, Halliwell-Phillipps, 
Outlines, p. 549. 


have exceeded the amount of one share. Altogether his 
profits as an actor may have amounted to about ^450. 

During the period from 1599 to 1611 with the latter 
year Shakespeare closed his theatrical career he wrote 
seventeen plays. He certainly did not receive less than 
^25 for any of them, as that was the sum which an 
insignificant author like Robert Daborne claimed to be 
able to earn from " The Globe " Theatre (see above, p. 
126) ; this would make ^425 for the seventeen plays, or 
during the last twelve years an average sum of ^35 per 
annum. To this may be added the proceeds of Court 
performances and authors' benefits, which, without the 
slightest exaggeration, may be supposed to have brought 
him in ^30 a year. According to this calculation Shake- 
speare must have earned an annual sum of about ^515 
during the best twelve years of his career. 1 
v It may be said in general that during the Elizabethan 
period the English actors as a class were comparatively 
well off, and that their economical condition, as well as 
the consideration which they enjoyed, went on steadily 
improving down to the time of the Civil War. We 
possess several pieces of evidence which show that other 
classes looked with a certain jealousy on the wealthy 
theatrical class, and thought it absurd that these vaga- 
bonds, who not many years previously were obliged to 
drag themselves along carrying their baggage on their 

1 Mr Sidney Lee has made a similar calculation (Life of Shakespeare, pp. 
154-162), and has arrived at a similar, if somewhat higher, result. I cannot, 
however, agree with him in the details. At all events, we cannot fix an 
ordinary actor's share at ^180, as our only source (John Shancke's letter 
to Lord Pembroke, Outlines, p. 546) expressly mentions this sum as double 
the amount which actors generally received. 


backs, were now to be seen riding ostentatiously through 
the streets on smart horses and in showy silk clothes. 

In an anonymous University play of 1601, The Return 
from Parnassus, this anger vents itself in the following 
verses by the poor student who wrote them : 

" Vile world that lifts them up to high degree 
And treads us down in grovelling misery ! 
England affords these glorious vagabonds, 
That carried erst their fardels on their backs, 
Coursers to ride on through the gazing streets, 
Sweeping it in their glaring satin suits, 
And pages to attend their master-ships : 
With mouthing words that better wits have framed 
They purchase lands, and now esquires are made." 

The last lines most likely allude to Edward Alleyn, who 
at this period was probably the only actor who rose beyond 
the usual style of theatrical artists by exchanging the title 
of gentleman for that of esquire (possessor of an estate). 

It is probable that a similar bitter sally against actors, 
which is found in a small pamphlet of about 1606, 
" Ratsey's Ghost," is also partly directed against Alleyn. 
Gamaliel Ratsey was a well-known highwayman, who 
had forced a travelling company of actors to play 
gratuitously to him. In return he gives the following 
rule of life to one of the actors, who is on his way to 
London, where Ratsey advises him to seek his fortune : 
" There (says he) thou shalt learn to be frugal (for 
players were never so thrifty as they are now about 
London), and feed upon all men ; to let none feed upon 

1 The return from Parnassus, Act. v., Sc. i. 


thee ; to make thy hand a stranger to thy pocket, thy 
heart slow to perform thy tongue's promise ; and when 
thou feelest thy purse well lined, buy thee some place of 
lordship in the country, that, growing weary of playing, 
thy money may there bring thee to dignity and reputa- 
tion ; then thou needest care for no man ; no, not for 
them that before made thee proud with speaking their 
words on the stage." x 

V The last lines cannot properly apply to Alleyn, who 
was born in London ; they are much more appropriate 
to Shakespeare, who had indeed come to London poor 
and without employment in order to seek his fortune* 
and who by this time about 1606 was very wealthy. v 
Some of the Puritan writings also mention the wealth 
and magnificence of the actors, and especially their 
extravagance in dress. We mentioned above poor 
Richard Jones, who, having to live upon one shilling 
a day, which he did not get, attempts to borrow $ to 
redeem his clothes, for " if he has no clothes, he will not 
be respected." Clothes, on the whole, were a very im- 
portant point with actors. Yet, in the portraits we know 
of Elizabethan actors, they appear by no means dressed 
with excessive magnificence, though these likenesses 
represent the very richest and most distinguished 
theatrical personages of the time, such as Edward 
Alleyn, Richard Burbage, Shakespeare and Field. 
Among these, Burbage (comp. fig. 15), the celebrated 
stage-hero and wealthy proprietor, is even modestly 
dressed; Alleyn (comp. fig. 13), the circus-manager and 
millionaire-actor, is decently but simply dressed, like an 

1 The Alleyn Papers, Introduction, p. 10. 


honest citizen. Shakespeare appears in somewhat more 
elegant attire, with a touch of the nobleman, especially 
in the Droeshout portrait (fig. 10) and in the terra-cotta 
bust (fig. 14), yet without the slightest showiness or 
extravagance. Finally, Nathaniel Field (fig. 16), who, 
though not rich, was a very fashionable and, no doubt, 
very smart actor, wore a rather odd but apparently not 
very expensive indoor suit. 

On the stage, however, we know that there was a 
magnificent display of apparel. It is well known that 
the stage cgstumes did not differ in cut from the ordinary 
dresses of the time. There was no more attempt during 
the Renaissance period than there had been during the 
Middle Ages to adapt the costumes to historical require- 
ments ; all plays alike were acted in contemporary dress. 
In this respect, however, distant countries weighed a 
little more in the scale than different periods, and, as in the 
Middle Ages, clumsy attempts were made to represent 
fantastic costumes, Mahometan or Turkish, for instance. 
Attention was also paid to the different fashions of 
civilised countries; thus in Henslowe and Alleyn's list of 
apparel we read of " French hose and Spanish doublet." 

This habit of playing everything in the same kind 
of costume naturally very much curtailed the wardrobe 
expenses. On the other hand, the costumes in them- 
selves were exceedingly expensive, so much so that a 
fine costume actually cost more than one of Shakespeare's 

In the Alleyn Papers (p. 12) we find a long legal 
document drawn up in minute detail, which for a pay- 
ment of 20, IDS. transfers to the brothers John and 


Edward Alleyn a cloak ! It is true, this garment was 
of velvet, elaborately embroidered in silver and gold, 
lined with black and gold striped satin ; still 20 seems 
a large sum to pay for a stage-cloak, considering that 
this, as we know, was looked upon as an exceedingly 
high price for a play. 1 

And this sum does not even seem to have been 
uncommonly high for a costume. Another contract in 
the same collection tells us that John Alleyn paid 16 for 
" one cloke of velvett with a cape imbrothered with gold, 
pearles and red stones, and one roabe of cloth of golde." 2 

The Renaissance in England was a period of imitation, 
like our own time. The materials in which the actors 
appeared were genuine and expensive, not cheap silks and 
tinsel. In Henslowe's Diary I find the following little 
item : " Lent unto Robert Shawe, the 26th of novembr 
: 597> to by viii yds of clothe of gowld, the some of fowr 
powndes : I saye lent for the usse of the company . . ." 3 

This would be about equal to ^4 a yard nowa- 
days, a price which would make a modern manager 
turn pale. And shortly after the same Robart Shawe 
borrows sixteen shillings (equal to about 6 nowa- 
days) to buy " copper lace of sylver, to lace a payer 
of hosse for alles perce [Alice Pierce]." . . . 

Between these two items we find the following 
entry : " Lent unto Bengemen Johnsone, the 3 of 
desembr 1 597, upon a Booke 4 w ch he has to writte for 
us befor crysmas next after the date hereof, w ch he 

1 Alleyn Papers, p. 12. 2 Alleyn Papers, p. ri. 

3 Henslowe's Diary, p. 104. 

4 Perhaps The Fall of Mortimer. Compare Fleay : English Drama, 
\. 356. 


showed the plotte unto the company : I saye lente in 
Redy money unto hime the some of XXs." 

Sometimes figures speak with incisive distinctness. 
The draper gets ^"4 for eight yards of stuff, Ben Jonson 
receives a loan of twenty shillings for engaging himself 
to write a play from the 3rd to the 24th of December. 
So, if in other respects the stage equipment was cheap, 
large sums were spent in costumes, an expense which 
was generally defrayed by the actors themselves. 
Whether the costliness and well-known splendour of 
the dresses was always in proportion to their taste and 
style is another question, which Ben Jonson in his Intro- 
duction to his Staple of News tempts us to answer in 
the negative. He says there : " O Curiosity, you come 
to see who wears the new suit to-day ; whose cloath are 
best pen'd, whatever the part be ; which actor has the 
best leg and foot ; what king plays without cuffs, and 
his queen without gloves ; who rides post in stockings, 
and dances in boots ." 1 

Prynne, the fanatic Puritan, also complains that the 
public plays were generally acted in over-expensive, 
effeminate, fantastic and gorgeous clothes. 2 

It only requires a superficial perusal of Alleyn's and 

1 Ben Jonson : Staple of News, Introduction. The above quotation, it 
seems to me, is no proof whatever that the costumes were poor at " The 
Globe" Theatre, as Malone thinks they were (Historical Account, p. 127), 
only that they were sometimes negligently arranged and not in harmony 
with the character of the part. 

2 Prynne : Histriomastix, p. 216. It seems to me that Malone equally 
alters the meaning of this passage by saying that the fanatical Prynne, who 
thought playgoers little better than incarnated devils, might easily take a 
piece of coarse stuff trimmed with tinsel for a magnificent and ungodly 
dress. We have seen above that the stuffs as well as the trimming were 
genuine and expensive enough. 


Henslowe's lists of apparel and of their account-books 
to show us that the Puritan is not quite wrong. Among 
these old items of expense there is a rustling of silk and 
velvet and a sparkling of gold, silver and precious 
stones. Many a good shilling of the actors' fees was 
spent on the costly dresses, which afterwards went to 
the pawnbroker's shop, whence they had to be redeemed 
by " Father Henslowe." He then used to keep them 
as pledges for some advance of money. 1 

About the official relations of the actor with the 
manager, i.e. the proprietor, we are pretty well informed 
through a contract the only one of its kind or the 
Articles, as they were still called in theatrical language, 
between the actor, Robert Dawes, on the one side, and 
the managers, Henslowe and Meade, on the other. 2 This 
contract probably gives us the general formula of actors' 
contracts in those times, and I will here repeat its principal 
points, though stripping them of the involved legal attire, 
which renders this kind of document almost unreadable. 

i. ... the said Robert Dawes shall and will plaie 
with such company as the said Phillipp Henslowe and 
Jacob Meade shall appoynte, for and during the tyme 
and space of three yeares from the date hereof, for and 
at the rate of one whole Share, accordinge to the custome 
of players ; . . . 

1 Lent Thomas Dowton, to featche ii clockes owt of pane, the 2. of novmbr 
1597, the some of xii li xs, for wch money these ii clockes were leafte unto 
me in pane, the one wasse an embrodered clocke of ashe colerd veil vet, 
the other a blacke vellvett clocke layd with sylke laces abowt. I saye lent 
unto him in Redy money xii li xs. 

2 These Articles were discovered by Malone in Dulwich College, whence, 
however, they have since disappeared. Fortunately they were reprinted by 
Malone (Shakespeare, by Boswell, xxi. p. 413), and afterwards in Collier's 
Alley n Papers, pp. 75 ff. 


2. ... the said Robert Dawes shall and will at all 
tymes during the said term duly attend all such re- 
hearsall, which shall the night before the rehearsall be 
given publickly out, and that if he the saide Robert 
Dawes shall at any tyme faile to come at the hower 
appoynted, then he shall and will pay to the said 
Phillipp Henslowe and Jacob Meade, their executors 
or assignes, Twelve pence, and if he come not before 
the saide rehearsall is ended, then the said Robert 
Dawes is contented to pay twoe shillings. 

3. ... if the said R. D. shall not every daie whereon 
any play is or ought to be played be ready apparrelled 
and to begyn the play at the hower of three of the 
clock in the afternoone unles by sixe of the same 
Company he shall be lycensed to the contrary that then 
he ... shall and will pay unto the said Phillipp and 
Jacob, or their assignes, three [shillings]. 

4. and if that he the saide Robert Dawes happen to 
be overcome with drinck at the tyme when he [ought 
to] play, by the Judgment of ffower of the said company, 
he shall and will pay Tenne shillings ; 

5. and if he [the said R. D.] shall [faile to come] 
during any plaie having no lycence or just excuse of 
sicknes he is contended to pay Twenty shillings ; 

6. the said Robert Dawes . . . doth covenant and 
grant to and with the said Phillipp Henslowe and Jacob 
Meade ... to receave and take back . . . half parte of 
all such moneyes as shall be receaved at the galleries 
and tyring howse of such howse or howses wherein the 
said Robert Dawes shall play . . . towards the pa[ying] 
to them the saide Phillipp Henslowe and Jacob Meade 


of the some of one hundred twenty and fower pounds 
[being the] value of the stock of apparell furnished by 
the same company by [to ?] the said Phillipp Henslowe 
and Jacob Meade . . . 

7. ... if the said Robert Dawes shall at any time 
after the play is ended depart or go out of the [howse] 
with any [of their] apparell on his body, or if the said 
Robert Dawes [shall carry away any propertie] belong- 
ing to the said Company . . . shall and will forfeit and 
pay . . . the some of ffortie pounds . . . 

8. ... it shall and will be lawfull to and for the said 
Phillipp Henslowe and Jacob Meade ... to have and 
use the playhows so appoynted [for the said company 
one day of] every fower daies, the said daie to be 
chosen by the said Phillipp and [Jacob] ... on which 
it shall be lawful ... to bait their bears and bulls ther, 
and to use their accustomed sport . . . allowing to the 
saide company for every such daye the some of fforty 
shillings. . . . 


A First Performance at " The Globe." 

IT is between two and three o'clock. There is bustle 
and excitement within the high wooden walls of " The 
Globe " Theatre. 

To-day there is a first performance, and great ex- 
pectations are entertained with regard to the new play. 
In the tiring-house the actors are nervously busy in 
putting on their magnificent new clothes and their wigs, 
and in painting their cheeks. The boys who play the 


female parts are pinched into tightening stays and 
adorned, painted and perfumed like any lady. The 
prompter and the stage-keeper run busily about with 
lists in their hands, seeing that all the properties are 
ready and that the musicians tune their instruments. 

The Prologue is ready. He walks solemnly up and 
down in his black velvet cloak, a garment which is 
always worn by this functionary, mumbling to himself 
the introductory verses which he has to recite. He is 
a tall stately man of a distinguished appearance : the 
black velvet suits him, though it adds to the pallor 
which excitement gives to his face. He is not painted 
and he rubs his cheeks to give them a little colour. 

From the audience we hear the ever increasing 
sounds of humming and buzzing, now and then mixed 
with loud cries of female voices. We distinguish the 
words : " apples ! nuts ! ale ! canary ! " 

The Prologue enters by one of the large gates at the 
back of the stage ; the draperies which divide it from the 
stage proper are drawn aside, and he looks out into the 

There they stand, his judges yonder in the "yard," 
all those apprentices, soldiers and sailors, mixed up with 
the worst dregs of London, gamblers, pick-pockets and 
women of low repute, the people who, before three hours 
have passed, will have pronounced their twopenny ver- 
dict on the work in which he has expressed his fine soul's 
best feelings and thoughts. For it is he, the Prologue 
himself, who has written the new play. 

The expensive seats, boxes and galleries, are still 
empty. Only a few lackeys sit yawning while occupying 


the places which they have taken for their employers. 
But the upper gallery, to which the admission is very 
cheap, is quite full, and a lively fire of coarse jokes is 
kept up between the gallery and the pit. People are 
playing cards ; they drink, shout and cry, and a smell 
of food, ale, tobacco, garlic and cheap wine fills the house, 
and finds its way out through the opening of the roof, 
like smoke mounting through a chimney. 

The Prologue turns up his nose contemptuously and 
draws back his head. At this moment there is a gentle 
touch on his shoulder and a voice asks kindly : " Aye, 
Will, how are you?" He turns round. It is the 
manager, Richard Burbage, who also is ready to begin. 
They shake hands. " I am afraid those fellows will kill 
us before our time with their smell of garlic," says the 
Prologue, making room for Burbage, who now peeps out 
between the curtains. 

Burbage too is dressed in black, but in the short 
costume of a young nobleman. He is a little shorter 
than Will and rather stout ; his bearded face with the 
gentle, sensitive features and the large expressive eyes 
casts an inquisitive and business-like glance into the 
house. " Now the great people begin to come," he 
says, looking back over his shoulder at Will, "look 
how they pour in ! Look, there is young Sir Francis ; 
he has gone into the pit and glances along the galleries 
to find a place near the finest girl. I hope we shall give 
him something else to think of to-day ; shan't we, old 
Will ? " " We shall see," Will answers quietly. 

In the house, boxes and galleries are filling with 
stately gentlemen and ladies. The gentlemen in costly 


silk and velvet dresses, with gold chains on their breasts, 
stiff Spanish collars, fine lace cuffs, high hats or low caps 
with flying ostrich feathers ; the ladies more gorgeous 
still, in tight-laced, long-pointed stays, enormous puffed 
sleeves, high lace collars, their towering natural, or false, 
hair interwoven with pearls the natural hair was seldom 
sufficient for the fashionable head-dresses of the time 
ears and fingers glittering with jewels, gloves with gold 
embroidered initials, faces bright with white and red 
paint, costly fragrance emanating from their persons. 

Not all, however, show their faces, as most of the 
well-bred ladies are masked. It is a peculiar and motley 
sight to see the boxes filling with all these variegated 
masks, wax-yellow, reddish brown, jet-black, grass-green, 
cherry, or apple-grey, through which the eyes cast their 
mysterious glances, while the bejewelled hands wave the 
large ostrich feather fans. 

High up in the top-gallery we see the light-living 
company of the women of doubtful reputation. They 
take great pains to conceal the class to which they belong ; 
some of them appear in gloomy black, like mourning 
widows ; others in grey linsey-woolsey, as if they were 
innocent country-maidens ; others again in lapelled 
bodices and aprons like ladies' maids, or in the guise of 
respectable matrons, if not in rustling silk and lace like 
ladies of rank. But there is a something which betrays 
them all, with which they lure thoughtless lovers, who 
are to pay for their supper after the play : " those wanton 
eyes," which the Puritans dread and curse. 

The house is full, the actors ready. Only Burbage 
and the Prologue are in black ; most of the other 


performers are as variegated and gorgeous as the 
audience in the boxes. Through the tiring-house some 
young nobles are still forcing their way to the stage. 
They nod all round and greet the actors by their 
Christian names : " Good afternoon, Dick ! have you 
something good to show us to-day?" "Aye, Will, are 
you afraid we shall mew at your play ? " " Do you 
think you are a match for old Will Kemp, Bob?" 
They stroll on deliberately, followed by the stage-keeper, 
who carries their three-legged stools. They sit down, 
take their pipes from their pages, light them and begin 
smoking, at the same time greeting their acquaintances 
all round with grace and elegance. 

The actors grumble in their beards at these gallants, 
who take up their room and blow tobacco smoke into 
their throats, but they dare not complain aloud ; the 
young men are too mighty and pay too well. The 
Prologue arranges his black velvet cloak and looks up at 
the musicians, who are ready holding their trumpets to 
their mouths. He gives the signal, and the first flourish 
rings through the theatre. 

Everybody looks up ; people settle themselves ; the 
card-players in the pit make haste to finish their game 
before the play begins. Another flourish. The talk 
and noise abate. The apple-girls and other hawkers 
stop crying. The card-players put down their last 
trumps. The light-living women dart their last glance 
at the chosen friend. One more flourish, the third and 
last. All is quiet ; every eye is turned towards the 

Behind them stands the Prologue, upright, but with 



dry lips and trembling hands. He clenches his teeth. 
" Shall I be able to-day to tame the many-headed 
monster yonder ? " he mutters ; then with a quick 
movement pulls aside the curtain, advances with a quiet 
smile, and bows to the crowd. 

"It is Shakespeare ! look, Shakespeare ! " is the 
general whisper, and the S es of this rare name hiss 
through the house. The great lords nod kindly in 
acknowledgment, the apprentices and sailors in the pit 
roar out a welcome to their " Will," and the ladies in 
both the first and the second galleries smile insinuatingly 
at their honey-sweet poet, who has written the graceful 
Venus and Adonis which stands at home on their shelf 
between Beaumont's Salmacis and Hermdphroditus and 
Marston's Pygmalion s Image. 

With a grace and dignity of his own, Shakespeare 
recites the introductory verses and retires slowly, 
followed by the applause of his friends. 

But he has no sooner disappeared behind the 
curtains than his dignity is thrown off. In a great 
hurry, and tucking up his richly folded velvet mantle, 
he flies to the tiring-room. " Right so, Willy, make 
haste ! " Burbage cries after him ; " you have not much 

And Shakespeare takes off his velvet cloak and puts 
on the heavy armour, which lies ready for him. With 
white paint he gives a deadly pallor to his cheeks, he 
puts on a long venerable black beard sprinkled with 
silver, and with the crowned helmet on his head, he 
stands there, awful, yet gentle and dignified, like a dead 
man, clothed in steel and plate. He seizes his 


" truncheon," and, proud and majestic, advances a few 
steps, practising his voice which he tries to render deep 
and husky like a ghost's, and from his mouth come the 
following words : 

" I am thy father's spirit, 
DoonYd for a certain term to walk the night, 
And for the day confined to fast in fires, 
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature 
Are burnt and purged away." 

Then he walks quickly towards the stage. The 
prompter meets him with the book in his hand. 
" Presently, Mr Shakespeare," he whispers. Shake- 
speare listens. " Yes, indeed." Burbage enters with the 
two others. Shakespeare hears his own familiar verses : 

" The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold." 
Suddenly a blast of trumpets is heard, and thundering 
cannon-shots frighten the spectators. From the stage 
the following verses are heard : 

" What does this mean, my lord ? " 
And the voice of Burbage replies with bitter 
sarcasm : 

"The King does wake to-night and takes his rouse, 
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels, 
And as he drains his draughts^of Rhenish down, 
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out 
The triumphs of his pledge." 

Shakespeare smiles. He thinks of the merry stories 
which his old comrade, William Kemp, has told him of 
the drunken Danish king, Frederick II., and the festivals 
at Kronberg and Elsinore, . . . but it is time now ; he 
must enter. 


He walks on, and the house is filled with horror and 
midnight awe. 

The monster yonder with the many heads opens its 
thousand eyes and many mouths, and is seized with 
wonder and terror. 

The act ends amid breathless calm, through which 
are heard the voices of Burbage and Shakespeare, those 
of the son and the dead father, low, but strained, like the 
trembling tones of the 'cello. 

Then the applause bursts forth. The act is ended. 
Up from the cellarage whence his " Swear ! " has sounded 
gloomily through the theatre comes Shakespeare. He 
hurries up to Burbage, who stands there out of breath 
after the fatiguing act. 

They shake hands in silence, and both feel that this 
day they have done something good. 

There is an entr'acte. The noise and talk is 
resumed. The apple-girls cry again as if Hamlet had 
never lost his father. Critics discuss and criticise, the 
ladies flirt, and the mob drinks. Here and there 
someone sits silently musing on what he has heard 
and seen. 

Suddenly a shrill cry pierces the din. A man is 
seen, who, with a smiling face, swings a bloody ear in 
his left hand and a knife in the other, while the original 
owner of the ear furiously screams, scolds and threatens. 
The crowd throngs round them. But the first man 
stands calmly holding the ear in his hand. " Now do 
be quiet, dear sir," he says ; " I sha'n't cheat you. Give 
me back my purse, and here is your ear. There now, 
take it and be off." 


It is a pick-pocket, who has been caught red-handed. 
Just as he was sneaking away with his booty, his victim, 
discovering him, had drawn his dagger, and with a quick 
movement cut off his ear, " in order to get something for 
his money," as he says. 

The poor pick-pocket is seized amid great noise and 
merry exclamations from the mob, and tied to a stake on 
the stage, where he remains during the rest of the per- 
formance, the laughing-stock of all, but scarcely to the 
advantage of the impression produced by the play. 

Meanwhile the play pursues its course. The actors 
do their best, though they do not all please equally well. 
One of them has to endure an unpleasant hissing, which 
to his ears sounds like the noise of geese or the fizzing 
of a bottle of ale which is being uncorked. Another 
rouses such discontent that he is mewed at like a cat ; 
while a third can hardly protect himself against the 
apples, oranges, and nutshells that are showered down 
upon him, and which are afterwards swept away by the 
stage-keeper and given to the bears in the adjoining 

But the great Burbage, the favourite of the public, 
the English Roscius, as they call him, though Roscius 
was a comic actor, and Burbage won his greatest laurels 
as a tragic, saves all by his powerful and deeply impres- 
sive acting. 

And when, moreover, in the last act he shows his 
skill in fencing in the scene with Laertes, there is no end 
to the cheering. The success of Hamlet is secured. All 
leave the house pleased and touched. 

" This Burbage is the devil of a fellow, and Shake- 


speare too ! Did you see how he fenced ? " Such ex- 
clamations are heard while people throng towards the 
narrow entrance, hasten down to the river and quarrel 
with the sturdy watermen. The ladies declare their 
opinion that the young man who played Osric was 
charming, and beautifully dressed, and that the play was 
very nice. 

The actors also are pleased. They gather at a little 
festival in " The Cardinal's Hat," where Burbage spends 
thirty shillings in wine for them. 

But who among them felt that on that day time had 
turned a leaf in the book, which is called The Great 
Deeds of the Human Mind ? 


The Old School Clowns Richard Tarlton and his Art William Kemp. 

IT would be quite impossible to give anything like a full 
description of the art of acting and the individual actors 
of the Shakespearean period. 

It is always difficult to fix the ephemeral art of the 
theatre on paper. In this respect, however, the last two 
centuries have afforded great assistance by the publication 
of numerous memoirs, appreciations and biographies of 
actors, and last, not least, by the issue of many pictorial 
representations of actors in their parts. This material 
for the historical treatment of histrionic art is ever increas- 
ing in value, so that in this new century we shall no doubt 
be able, with the assistance of the phonograph and the 
kinematograph, to call back to life the stage-heroes who 
have passed away, almost as easily as we can now take 
down from the shelf our Shakespeare or our Moliere. 

But in those old times material is virtually non- 
existent. No descriptive criticism*, no autobiography, 
no picture of an actor's part except a few rough wood- 
cuts of two clowns assist us in throwing light on one 
of the most interesting periods of histrionic art. We 
know the names of a great number of actors ; we know 
something about them where they were born, where 
they died and were buried, and how much money they 


left behind them. But what places they occupied in the 
mighty literature of the time, or what was the character 
of their art, these are questions of which we are so hope- 
lessly ignorant in every case that, for all we know 
of them, they might as well not have been born at 

It is tragicomical to think that, while our contem- 
porary theatrical statisticians put down and print a note 
each time when Mr X. is replaced by Mr G. as a servant 
in a quite indifferent piece, so that posterity is perfectly 
secured against mistakes about the theatrical careers of 
these gentlemen, we are completely cut off from ever 
learning which parts Shakespeare chose to represent in 
his own plays, and must content ourselves with sup- 
posing that he acted the ghost in Hamlet. 

Any attempt, therefore, at a real description of the 
histrionic art of the time is bound to fail. The following 
chapters do not pretend either to offer such a description, 
or to give a categorical list of names of the known actors, 
which would not agree at all with the plan of the 
present work. Their object is to exhibit a few prominent 
types which are characteristic of some particular branches 
of the histrionic art. 

Like the Drama, the earliest Elizabethan art of acting 
no doubt stood with one foot in the Middle Ages, with- 
out knowing where to put the other. Certainly there 
existed in England at a very early period a kind of pro- 
fessional actors, but their domain was so limited and so 
peculiar that for a long time there did not seem to be any 
possibility of their further development. With dramas 
properly so called, such as the great Mysteries and 


Moralities, which impressed their stamp upon the Middle 
Ages, these artists had nothing to do. 

These plays, we know, were performed by amateur 
citizens, who undertook the great task and carried it out 
to the best of their ability. Only the comic parts, which 
were required as a relief from the long strain on the 
attention of the audience, were executed by professionals, 
who could sing and dance, play the flute, beat the drum, 
cut all sorts of capers, crack jokes, or find rhymes at a 
moment's notice; in short, who possessed a whole r- 
pertoire of jests and amusing tricks, which all required 
practice and training, and perhaps a talent of which, 
naturally, the citizen amateurs were destitute. 

Thus the professional actors found themselves in a 
very isolated position. They stood in no connection 
with the serious subject of the play and the deep 
influence it exercised on the spectators ; their business 
was only to divert the mind by their jokes. But 
though they carried these diversions to an extraordinary 
degree of perfection, their domain was naturally very 
limited. They continued to be "players of interludes." 
Actors, according to the modern acceptation of the word, 
did not exist till the time when dramatic literature passed 
entirely into the hands of professional artists. 

But players of interludes continued to flourish through- 
out the Shakespearean period. These gay mediaeval 
jugglers, half equilibrists, half" instrumentalists " (as they 
were called abroad), were comic in every sense of the 
word. They were not actors playing comic parts or 
representing comic characters ; everything about them 
was ludicrous, their appearance, manners, movements and 


speech. They were by nature " the clown " or " fool " of 
the Renaissance play, closely related to the ancient court- 
fool, though with a more athletic training than the latter. 
The modern English clown of the music-hall and the 
circus is their direct descendant. 

Everybody knows the beautiful passage in Hamlet} 
where the Prince, holding the old jester's skull in his 
hand, philosophises on the vanity of life : " Let me 
see. Alas, poor Yorick ! I knew him, Horatio ; a 
fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy ; he hath 
borne me on his back a thousand times ; and now, how 
abhorred in my imagination it is ! my gorge rises at it. 
Here hung those lips that I have kissed, I know not how 
oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your 
songs ? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set 
the table on a roar ? Not one now to mask your own 
grinning ? quite chop-fallen ? Now get you to my lady's 
chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this 
favour she must come ; make her laugh at that." 

The words are so pathetic and seem to betray such 
personal feeling, that we are no doubt justified in believ- 
ing that Shakespeare in his little funeral oration meant 
to commemorate a certain late comrade. In that case 
he could be referring to none other than Richard Tarlton. 

Tarlton was an exact type of the kind of actor we 
have tried to describe above. He is just the man the 
comedian who half belongs to the Middle Ages and 
cannot find a firm footing in the new literature ; the 
jester par excellence, the idolised and mourned, but poor 
and humble juggler, who, when Shakespeare wrote his 

1 Act v. Sc. i. 


Hamlet, had been dead for a few years. The year of his 
death, 1588, was remembered as coinciding with that of 
the destruction of the Spanish Armada. 

At Tarlton's death Shakespeare was twenty-four years 
old, and he may well have acted with him. It is not 
even improbable that he may have known him as a boy, 
and that Tarlton had really carried little Willy on his 
back when, as a travelling actor, he visited Stratford 
among other places. Of his many travels we are re- 
minded in a collection of anecdotes, which was published 
after his death, 1 and which, by the by, affords no slight 
contribution to a knowledge of the kind of wit he 

Otherwise we know little about his life. According 
to Fuller's " Worthies," 2 he is supposed to have been 
born in Shropshire, where he kept his father's swine, and 
attracted the attention of a Leicester man by his clever 
replies. He came to London and became a water- 
carrier, 3 a characteristic figure in the daily life of old 
London, and a situation which might well afford him 
opportunities of exercising his wit, and extend his know- 
ledge of human frailties. 

1 The date is unknown. In 1611 appeared Tarltorts Jests, Drawn into 
three parts : His Court Witty Jests; His Sound City Jests; His Country 
Pretty Jests : full of Delight, Wit and honest Mirth, 4to. After this first 
and still extant edition, a reprint was undertaken by Halliwell (1844) for 
the Shakespeare Society. But the three parts appeared separately at an 
earlier date. 

2 Thomas Fuller : History of the Worthies of England, London, 
MDCLXII. p. 47 (Staffordshire). 

3 According to Lord Wilson's play : The Three Lords and Three Ladies of 
London, which contains several references to Tarlton, and was performed 
shortly after his death. Compare Fleay : English Drama, ii. 280, and 
Halliwell : Tarlton's Jests, p. 9. 


He married a woman of somewhat loose habits, 
named Kate, and with her kept a tavern in Gracious 
(i.e. Gracechurch) Street, and at another period a public- 
house in Paternoster Row. 1 It is not known when he 
became an actor, but there is nothing to prevent its 
having been simultaneous with his keeping of a tavern 
and his other occupations. As a matter of fact, he was 
a qualified fencing master, and an author as well. The 
first entirely trustworthy information about him is con- 
cerned with his authorship; in 1570 he published a by 
no means brilliant ballad on the floods in Bedfordshire, 
etc. 2 It is scarcely probable, however, that he himself 
composed this miserable song ; we should think it more 
likely that he lent the printer his name, which, no doubt, 
was already celebrated by that time. So much is certain, 
however, that he wrote the scenario of the play pre- 
viously mentioned, The Seven Deadly Sins, and very 
likely he also composed the famous Victories of Henry 
V., a forerunner of Shakespeare's royal dramas about the 
popular "Prince Hal." We meet with him in 1583 as 
one of the twelve distinguished artists from various com- 
panies, who are selected to be " The Queen's Players," 
and at the same time he is made groom of the chamber. 
In 1587 he took the highest degree in the art of fencing 
as " master of the noble syence of deffence," from which 
we conclude that he cannot have been very old when he 
died. He was probably carried off by the plague, which 
ravaged the country in 1588, for on a single day, the 3rd 
of September, he made his will, died, and was buried. 3 

1 Comp. Tarltorfs Jests, pp. 15, 21 and 26. 

2 Reprinted in Tarltorfs Jests, pp. 126 ff. 

3 Tarltoris Jests, p. 12. 

8 Richard Tarlton as a Clown. 



From the numerous anecdotes about Tarlton we get 
the impression of a light-living merry fellow, who felt as 
much at ease when at court in the society of the Queen 
and the great lords where he himself was a Lord of 
Mirth * as when surrounded by fiddlers in a public- 
house. A man of quick wit, never at a loss for an 
answer, and sparing nobody, high or low, man or 

In the theatre he was the great delight of the audience 
from the moment when his ludicrous little body with the 
large head dived out from behind the back drapery. 
His flat nose and squinting eyes, his cap with the button, 
his reddish brown clown's dress, his drum and his pipe, 
were known to every child in London, and as soon as 
he stood up on tiptoe and prepared to speak, the house 
roared with laughter. 

It was a favourite joke to challenge him to rhyme by 
addressing verses to him about his appearance or private 
circumstances. But the challengers seldom got the best 
of their game, for Tarlton's tongue was as sharp as it 
was quick. Thus it happened one day that a spectator, 
wishing to make game of him, asked him in tolerably 
good verses how he had come by his flat nose. But 
Tarlton was not slow, and retorted in a little improvised 
poem which ended thus : 

" Though my nose be flat, 
My credit to save, 

1 Here within this sullen earth 
Lies Dick Tarlton, lord of mirth. 

(Wits Bedlam, 1617, quoted by Halliwell- 
Tarltorts Jests , p. 15.) 


Yet very well I can by the smell 
Scent an honest man from a knave." l 

Altogether he was a great master in the art of im- 
provisation, which he had no doubt studied successfully 
after the Italian actors, who by this time were travelling 
about England. One of his comic scenes, which is 
known to us, reminds us a good deal of the burlesques 
of Scaramuccia or Arlecchino : A rich man is lying on 
his death-bed, and has called his three sons to him in 
order to acquaint them with his last will. All his landed 
property is left to his eldest son, who in great emotion 
assures his father that he hopes he may live and enjoy 
it himself. The second son receives a large sum of 
ready money to live on and to buy books with, but he 
too is moved to tears and pretends that he does not 
want the money, and that he trusts his good father may 
live and enjoy it himself. Now conies the last, the 
prodigal son, to the death-bed. It is Tarlton. He 
appears in a ragged and dirty shirt, a coat with only 
one sleeve, stockings without heels, and a headgear of 
feathers and straw. "As to you, sirra," his father says 
angrily, " you know how many times I have got you out 
of Newgate and Bridewell you have been an ungrateful 
scoundrel all I can leave you is the gallows and a 
rope." Tarlton bursts into a deluge of tears, falls on his 
knees, and exclaims sobbing : " Oh, my father, that is 
much more than I desire ; I hope to God that you may 
live and enjoy them yourself." 2 

However, it was by his "jigs," a merry singing and 

1 Tarltoris Jests, p. 29. 

2 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, pp. 86 ff. 


dancing performance, which, according to the fashion of 
the time, closed the dramatic representation, that Tarlton 
won his greatest fame. 1 The only jig 2 which has been 
preserved shows us a very long humorous song, not 
differing in kind from our modern music-hall songs ; it is 
amusing and well written, and has a constantly recurring 
refrain, which with a small variation adapted itself to the 
contents of each verse. Its title is : " Tarlton's Jigge of 
a Horse-loade of Fooles," and the first verse runs as 
follows : 

What do you lacke ? what do ye lacke ? 

Ive a horse loade of fooles, 

Squeaking, gibbering of everie degree ; 

I me an excellent workeman 

And these are my tooles : 

Is not this a fine merie familie ? 3 

We can imagine Tarlton entering the stage riding 
on one of those ludicrous hobby-horses, which in those 
times were a favourite means of producing an effect, 
and which even now circus clowns do not disdain to use. 
A hobby-horse is the hollow body of a horse through 
which the rider sticks his legs, while a pair of artificial 
legs are placed astride on the animal, so that he seems 

1 The same fashion prevailed during that period in Paris, where the 
chansons of Gaultier Garguille enjoyed the same popular favour as Tarlton's 
jigs in London. 

2 It would be more correct to say, the only text of a jig, for we know the 
music of several of them. Compare Halliwell's Cambridge Manuscript 
Rarities, p. 8. 

3 " What do you lacke ? what do you lacke ? " was in those times the general 
cry of the seller to the customer. The jig is reprinted in the Introduction 
to Tar/ton's Jests (pp. 20 ff.) after a manuscript which was in Collier's 
possession. It is one of the curiosities discovered by him, the authenticity 
of which has never been doubted. 


to ride while he runs round with the body fastened to 
himself. In front of him he probably had a basket full 
of dolls representing fools, which he offered for sale 
while singing his song. 

The first he presents is himself; his name is Dick, 
he is a fool-actor, whose portrait hangs on every wall, 
so that nobody can mistake the likeness. Moreover, he 
has his father's " lovelie visnomie," his two eyes and flat 
nose, and "he comes of a rare witty family." 

Next, he presents a Puritan fool, whom he calls 
" Goose-son," i.e. Stephen Gosson, one of the most 
zealous antagonists of actors, whose " School of Abuse " 
we have mentioned before. He is very badly treated as 
a common hypocrite " of a very numerous family." 

Then comes the "fool of state," who is born very 
small, but "would fain be very great"; "of a very 
ancient family " ; and the poet who drinks sack and 
canary in "The Hat" or "The Rose," "of a rare wine- 
bibing family " ; the doctor who kills us with such skill 
and art that he makes dying quite a pleasure; "of a 
marvellously learned family " ; the lover-fool who sings 
to his lute about his lost luck ; " of a most melancholy 
family " ; the alderman who hates all kinds of wisdom, 
but most of all in plays ; " of a very obstinate family " ; 
and the country fool, who comes to town to be made a 
gentleman, though he is but a "rustic clown"; "of a 
Somersetshire family." 

Of course, Tarlton, who performed this jig on the 
stage of " The Curtain," knew how to characterise each 
of these different types by their special gestures and the 
peculiarities of class, which in the old time much more 


than nowadays distinguished people from each 

Tarlton became the principal exponent of the genuine 
unadulterated English humour, untainted with the bigoted 
Puritan moroseness, and unawed by the overweening 
pride of the court and nobility, the two powers which 
have always done their best to crush healthy national 
mirth. Tarlton even occupied a peculiar position at 
court. Without being in any way a court-fool like the 
famous William Sommer of Henry VIII., he was 
allowed the privilege of free speech to the Queen, which 
nobody else possessed. Fuller relates : 1 " Our Tarlton 
was master of his faculty. When Queen Elizabeth was 
serious, I dare not say sullen, and out of good humour, 
he could undumpish her at his pleasure. Her highest 
favourites would, in some cases, go to Tarlton before 
they would go to the Queen, and he was their usher 
to prepare their advantageous access unto her. In a 
word, he told the Queen more of her faults than most 
of her chaplains, and cured her melancholy better than 
all of her physicians. 

" Much of his merriment lay in his very looks and 
actions, according to the epitaph written upon him : 

"Hie situs est cujus poterat vox, actio, vultus, 
Ex Heraclito reddere Democritum. 

" Indeed, the same words, spoken by another, would 
hardly move a merry man to smile, which, uttered by 
him, would force a sad soul to laughter." 

We have reason to question whether he stood in 

1 Fuller's Worthies, ed. 1662, p. 47 (Staffordshire). 


any intimate relation with the new time and its new-born 
dramatic literature. He was probably not an actor in 
the modern sense of the word, an exponent of human 
character, such as the time immediately after him was 
to produce, and though he performed "parts" in various 
plays, 1 he always remained the same Tarlton. 

However, such as he was, he not only gained 
immense popularity, but he created a school, though 
his pupils never equalled their master. He was sur- 
rounded by a staff of comic actors like Knell, Bentley, 
Mils, Wilson, Crosse and Lanam, 2 among whom Knell, 
as we see from the preceding note, was the original 
Prince Henry in the ante-Shakespearean Henry V., 
while Robert Wilson was one of the companions of 
James Burbage and a popular dramatic author, of whom 
we have spoken before. They are all mentioned by 
their later colleague, Thomas Heywood, in company 

1 In Tarlton 's Jests (pp. 24. ff.) we read the following rather amusing little 
anecdote, which at least shows that he was capable of playing other parts 
than his usual clown : " At the Bull at Bishopsgate was a play of Henry the 
fift, wherein the judge was to take a box on the eare ; and because he was 
absent that should take the blow, Tarlton himselfe ever forward to please, 
tooke upon him to play the same judge, besides his owne part of the clown ; 
and Knell then playing Henry the fift, hit Tarlton a sound boxe indeed, 
which made the people laugh the more because it was he, but anon the 
judge goes in, and immediately Tarlton in his clownes cloathes comes out 
and askes the actors what newes ; O, saith one, hadst thou been here thou 
shouldest have seen Prince Henry hit the judge a terrible box on the eare : 
What, man, said Tarlton, strike a judge ? It is true, y faith, said the other. 
No other like, said Tarlton, and it could not be but terrible to the judge, 
when the report so terrifies me, that me thinkes the blow remaines still on 
my cheeke, that it burnes againe. The people laughed at this mightily : 
and to this day I have heard it commended for rare ; but no marvell, for he 
had many of these. But I would see our clowns in these dayes do the like : 
no, I warrant ye, and yet they thinke well of themselves to." 

2 They are mentioned in this order by Thomas Heywood, as a school of 
actors which he had never seen himself. Apology for Actors, p. 43. 


with "all these Doctors, Zannis, Pantaloons and Harle- 
quins, in which the French, and especially the Italians, 
have distinguished themselves," and this fact confirms 
our supposition that this first period was influenced by 
the Commedia deir Arte. 

To a somewhat later generation belonged artists like 
William Kemp, Robert Arnim, Gabriel Spencer, Thomas 
Pope, Augustine Phillips and William Sly, the first of 
whom, Kemp, undoubtedly gained the greatest celebrity. 
He really became Tarlton's inheritor, as Hey wood says, 
"of Her Majesty's favour as well as of the good opinion 
and thoughts of the public in general." But it may be 
doubted if he equalled his predecessor in naive and 
brilliant comic power. 

It seems to me that the small amount of information 
we possess about Kemp gives the impression of a 
business-like, swaggering, coarse artist, while Tarlton 
was a born comic genius. Where Kemp is mentioned 
in the literature of the time, allusions are made to his 
ignorance and lack of culture side by side with his 
great popularity. Thus, especially in a previously 
quoted scene from the University play, The Return from 
Parnassus, in which he appears together with Richard 
Burbage, and speaks about "that writer Ovid and that 
writer Metamorphosis." 1 While in the whole of this 
scene Burbage is represented as a well-bred and educated 
man, we get an image of Kemp as a rough, swaggering 
juggler. He cannot distinguish the names of the two 
students Philomusus and Studioso, but calls them " Mr 
Phil and Mr Otioso " ; he boasts of his fame and says 

1 Compare above, p. 43. 


to the students : . . . " for honours, who of more report 
than Dick Burbage and Will Kemp ? he is not counted 
a gentleman that knowes not Dick Burbage and Will 
Kemp ; there is not a country wench that can dance 
Sellenger's Round but can talk of Dick Burbage and 
Will Kemp"; whereupon Philomusus adds: ''Indeed, 
M. Kemp, you are very famous." 

The only literary work left by Kemp also shows his 
vanity and self-complacency. It is a short description 
of his celebrated Morris-dance from London to Norwich, 
one of those eccentric journeys of which Englishmen 
were so fond in those days. What Kemp pledged him- 
self to do was this ; in nine days he was to dance the 
whole way from London to Norwich, of course not un- 
interruptedly, but without walking or driving at all, 
only moving in the steps of the Morris-dance, for which 
he was particularly noted. 1 The Morris was a kind 
of rustic dance accompanied by the jingling of bells 
which were fastened to the dancer's legs, and by the 
sounds of a drum and a pipe played by a musician. 
The drawing on the title-page of his little book 2 
shows us Kemp dancing along the road, accompanied 
by his drummer, Thomas Sly (perhaps a relative of 
William Sly, the comic actor), and by his servant and 
an umpire, who had to see that the dance was properly 

1 He styles himself " Cavaliero Kemp, head-master of Morris-dancers " 
(Kemp's Nine Dates Wonder, p. 3). 

8 Its title is : Kemps Nine Dates Wonder. -Performed in a daunce from 
London to Norwich. Containing the pleasure, paines, and kinde entertain- 
ment of William Kemp between London and that Citty in his late Morrice. 
London, 1600. This exceedingly rare book has been reprinted by A. Dyce 
for the Camden Society. 

9 William Kemp Dancing a Morris Dance. 


On the first Monday in Lent, 1599, in the early- 
morning, he danced out of London while his drummer 
played merrily, and old and young followed him on the 
way, throwing sixpences and coppers to him and crying 
many a "good speed on the journey." The dance went 
into the country, where the populace crowded curiously 
round him, and everyone wanted him to pass through 
their particular village ; where nut-brown country-lassies 
would borrow jingles of him and dance with him on 
the road ; where he stopped in the inns and had great 
difficulty in refusing the number of brimming cups which 
were offered him by gay millers and enthusiastic smiths ; 
where he sometimes danced in water and mud up to 
his knees without giving up the task ; at other times in 
beautiful clear dry moonlight nights, till at last he 
reached Norwich, where the whole populace were 
assembled to receive him. He brought his dance to 
an end with a smart jump over the church wall, after 
which he wound up with a grand festival at the house 
of the Mayor of Norwich, who, moreover, made him a 
present of ^5. 

In a lively and not unamiable way Kemp describes 
the experiences of each day in his little book, which 
gives us a pretty clear idea of the man, an actor of 
Shakespeare, who, like an organ-grinder, accepts the 
coppers of the peasants on the road, and nevertheless is 
seated side by side with the mayor and aldermen, knights 
and ladies, who- honour him for his athletic feat; a 
vain, penny-loving, yet tolerably attractive and clever 
juggler, who one day acts in one of Shakespeare's finest 
plays, dances in a country inn the next, and on the third 


is admitted perhaps to Her Majesty's table. The man 
is a type of a certain kind of Renaissance actor. 

Of Kemp's theatrical career we know a little more 
than of Tarlton's, but not very much. 

Curiously enough, the first entirely trustworthy infor- 
mation about Kemp's stage-work dates from Denmark. 
It is a well-known fact that from the close of the sixteenth 
and quite to the middle of the seventeenth century 
English companies travelled through Germany, Austria, 
France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. They 
were very successful everywhere, both with the courts 
and among the people ; chiefly, it is probable, with their 
dancing and playing, though in Germany they also 
performed their usual dramatic repertoire and were 
gradually naturalised. 1 

Denmark was one of the first countries to be visited 
by these companies. As early as in 1579 Frederick II. 
engaged a company of " instrumentalists " at his court, 
under the management of an Italian named Zoega. 
Besides the Italian leader, the company included both 
German and English members, 2 of whom the English 
were much better remunerated than the Germans; 

In 1586 a company of much greater importance 
arrived at Elsinore, where the King frequently held his 

1 In later years the study of the travels and work of these companies has 
made considerable progress, especially since the publication in 1865 of the 
pioneer book by Albert Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany. Throughout the 
annual issues of the Shakespeare Jahrbuch we find numerous interesting 
essays and notes, some by Cohn himself, some by Johannes Bolte and 
Johannes Meissner. 

2 Among them was the unfortunate Thomas Bull, whose love story and 
beheading have been described by Dr Ad. Hansen after the municipal 
records of Elsinore in Tilskueren of July 1900. 


court. It included such noted members as William 
Kemp, Thomas Pope and George Bryan, all of them 
well-known clowns, who figure in the list of principal 
actors in the plays of Shakespeare published in the folio 
edition of 1623. The little company consisted of five 
members besides Kemp and his "boy," Daniel Jones. 
Kemp seems to have belonged to the company as a kind 
of distinguished guest. He only remained two months 
in Denmark, and received a larger amount of board- 
money than the others. In the accounts of the court 
the entry concerning Kemp runs as follows : " William 
Kempe, instrumentist, received in board-money for 
two months for himself and a boy named Daniell 
Jones, which he had earned from the i7th of June, 
when he entered the service, and moreover for one month, 
which was given him at his departure, together three 
months, each month 12 Dalers . . . xxxvi Dalers." 

The English guests probably all belonged to " Lord 
Leicester's Men," consequently to the company of the 
Burbages, and most likely came direct from London with 
a large embassy, which Frederick II. had sent to Queen 
Elizabeth in April, and which must have arrived at 
Elsinore at the date when the company was engaged 
(June 1 7th). At the beginning of the year Kemp, and 
perhaps the others also, had been in Utrecht with their 
protector, Lord Leicester himself, who was staying in 
the Netherlands to fan the revolt against Philip II. ; but 
in the meantime he had been back in England. This 
appears from a passage in a letter from rhilip Sidney, 
a nephew of Leicester's, to Walsingham, his father-in- 
law, in which he says that at an earlier date he had sent 


a message home with Will, " Mylord of Leicester's 
jesting plaier." 1 

Will Kemp now returned to England, while his 
travelling companions remained some time in Denmark, 
and then were engaged by the Elector of Saxony. Most 
likely he joined his old company again, and acted with 
them at " The Theatre " 2 during the following years. 
We know for certain that he played Peter in Romeo and 
Juliet here, for in the oldest editions of this piece (the 
quartos of 1599 and 1609) his name has crept in instead 
of the name of the part, so that (in act iv., scene 5) we 
read : " enter William Kemp " instead of " enter Peter." 
We do not know any of his other parts on this stage, 
but as he is specially mentioned as a principal actor in 
Shakespeare's plays, and as he was undoubtedly a great 
celebrity as a comic actor, it is probable that during this 
period he acted such parts as Bottom in A Midsummer 
Nighfs Dream ; Lance in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 
which seems to be written for his special capacity ; 
Costard in Loves Labour Lost ; one of the Dromios in 
A Comedy of Errors, etc. 

When " The Theatre " was pulled down in 1 598, he 
went with his company to " The Curtain," and there 
played Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing; for this 
we possess the same kind of evidence as for his im- 
personation of Peter. At " The Curtain," moreover, he 

1 Albert Cohn (and others after him) is of opinion that Kemp and the 
rest of the company travelled direct from the Netherlands to Denmark. 
But though those times were not accustomed to quick postal communication, 
vre must say that it would have been absurd for anybody to send a letter 
home to England by a man who went to Denmark. 

, 2 Not at "The Blackfriars," which was not built till 1596, and Kemp is 
not likely to have ever acted there. 


played one of the principal parts in Ben Jonson's Every 
Man in His Humour ; which it was, we do not know, but 
I feel inclined to think that it was Brainworm. 

However, during this whole period from his return 
from Denmark in 1586 to 1598 he did not stay uninter- 
ruptedly at the theatres of the Burbages. At any rate, 
from the iQth of February to the 22nd of June 1592, a 
part of "Lord Leicester's" company, which since 1588 
had been " Lord Strange's," played under Henslowe and 
Alleyn, and probably at " The Newington." 1 That 
Kemp was included in the cast here we know for 
certain, from the fact that on the loth or nth of June 
1592 2 a new anonymous play was performed for the first 
time ; its title was : A Knack to Know a Knave, with 
Kemp's Applauded Merriments. The piece is still 
extant, and Kemp's Applauded Merriments prove to be 
a perfectly senseless and spiritless little interlude, per- 
formed by artisans. 3 It is to be supposed, however, that 
Kemp improvised the jokes which created the success of 
the play, for, like Tarlton's, his strong point was improvi- 
sation. At any rate, this piece proves unmistakably that 
in 1592 Kemp played under Alleyn and Henslowe, for 
on the title-page of its first edition (i 594) we read : " as it 
has been acted several times by Edw. Allen and his 
company." He had not, however, left his own company, 
" Lord Strange's Men," as Collier 4 thinks, but, for what 

1 Not, as asserted by Fleay {English Drama, ii. p. 310), at "The Rose," 
the building of which was not completed at this time. 

2 Comp. Henslowe's Diary, p. 28. 

3 It is reprinted in Dyce's edition of A Nine Dazes Wonder, pp. xxiii. ff. 

4 English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 335, where Collier indeed speaks of "The 
Lord Chamberlain's Company," which did not exist at all in 1592, when its 
name was " Lord Strange's Men." 


reason, is unknown, this company had for a time sub- 
mitted to the leadership of Henslowe and Alley n. This 
fact appears distinctly from the headlines of Henslowe's 
accounts for this season, which run : " In God's name, 
Amen, i59i[2], 1 beginning the iQth of February, my Lord 
Strange's men, as follows." Till February 1593 Kemp 
and his companions probably remained under Henslowe 
and Alleyn. A Knack to Know a Knave was performed 
for the last time on January 25th, I593, 2 whereafter, 
very likely, they again returned to the Burbages. 

Later, however, matters came to a decisive rupture 
between Kemp and the company, or rather, if we dare 
venture on the wild paths of conjecture, between Kemp 
and Shakespeare. We can scarcely imagine a greater 
contrast than these two men. Shakespeare, noble and 
reticent, quietly writes one masterpiece after another, but 
never about himself, never about his own greatness, 
never against his colleagues ; unnoticed, even without 
noticing it himself, he becomes the greatest man of his 
time. Kemp, noisy and coarse, fills England and the 
Continent with the tinkling of his clown's bells, his 
pipes and drums ; advertises himself without shame and 
without measure, and becomes the common topic much 
more than Shakespeare, which naturally gives him the 
idea that he himself is a far greater man than the other. 

These two are fellow-actors. They play together 
daily and in the same pieces, which, moreover, are 
written by Shakespeare himself, and the representation 

1 Henslowe frequently mixes up the Old and the New Style in his dates. 
In the middle of this year of his accounts he suddenly passes from 1591 
to 1592. 

2 Henslowe's Diary, p. 30. 


of which is conducted by him. A rupture between them 
was inevitable. From his tours on the Continent, and 
from such more or less mediocre performances as his 
above-mentioned ''Applauded Merriments" Kemp had 
fallen into habits of improvisation, and of taking posses- 
sion of the stage, which Shakespeare did not like, and 
from which he considered it his duty to purge the theatre. 
That down to a much later period Kemp was famed, or ill- 
famed, for his heedless running after witticisms, we gather 
from The Antipodes, a piece by Brome, in which there is a 
scene between the nobleman, Letoy, and an actor, Byplay. 
Letoy endeavours to make the actor see that it is not 
right to add anything to the part, or to have direct 
intercourse with the public, but that actors have to 
follow the course of the dialogue, and pay attention to 
what is going on on the stage. Byplay excuses himself 
in the following lines : 

" That is a way, my lord, has been allowed 
On elder stages, to move mirth and laughter." 

But Letoy answers : 

" Yes, in the days of Tarleton and Kemp, 
Before the stage was purg'd from barbarism, 
And brought to the perfection it now shines with : 
Then fools and jesters spent their wits, because 
The poets were wise enough to save their own 
For profitabler uses." 

Now, we cannot justly say that Shakespeare spared 
his wit in his comic characters, but probably he did not 
like his actors, any more than other authors, and with 


greater right than any of them, to treat the public to 
the jokes which occurred to them at the moment, instead 
of offering those which he himself had taken the trouble 
of providing with wit and point ; especially if these 
jokes, as we may suspect of those delivered by Kemp, 
were coarse, and not in keeping with Shakespeare's own 
taste. In Kemp and Shakespeare, then, we meet not 
only with a conflict between two men, but with a col- 
lision between two kinds of taste, two types within the 
domain of dramatic art. 

Shakespeare did not fail to be explicit in expressing 
his opinion about actors of the kind to which he thought 
Kemp belonged. In the rules for the players which he 
has put into the mouth of Hamlet, he uses the following 
sharp words, which are applicable to all times : l " Let 
those that play your clowns speak no more than is set 
down for them ; for there be of them that will them- 
selves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spec- 
tators to laugh too ; though, in the meantime, some 
necessary question of the play be then to be considered : 
that's villainous, and shews a most pitiful ambition in the 
fool that uses it." 

That these words were aimed directly at Kemp is very 
probable, though, of course, it cannot be proved. About 
this time Kemp had left the Burbage company. Doubt- 
less he did not go to " The Globe " at all, when this 
theatre was opened in 1599. For, while he is put down 
as one of the cast of Jonson's Every Man in his Humour 
in 1598, he is not mentioned among the actors of Every 
Man Out of his Humour by the same author, which 

1 Hamlet, iii. 2. 


was performed at "The Globe" in 1599. It was in 
this year that he undertook his famous Morris-dance to 
Norwich, and perhaps he afterwards made other journeys 
to the Continent. In the above-mentioned scene in The 
Return from Parnassus, which dates from about 1601, 
Kemp is greeted as having recently arrived from abroad. 
Philomusus says to him : " What, Mr Kemp, how doth 
the Emperor of Germany ? " and Studioso : " Welcome, 
Mr Kemp, from dancing the morrice over the 

After his rupture with Burbage and Shakespeare, 
Kemp very likely spent a year on the Continent. In a 
play called The Travels of the Three English Brothers, 
he is represented as staying in Venice, where he 'is 
having a burlesque and not very decent conversation 
with an Italian comrade, " Signior Harlakin" and his 
wife. However, we do not possess any positive evi- 
dence of his having visited either Germany or Italy. 
His name is not found included in the various com- 
panies which travelled in Germany at this period. 

In 1602, in any case, he is again in London, acting 
under Henslowe and Alleyn as one of " the Earl of 
Worcester's Men." We gather from Henslowe's Diary 
that on the loth of March 1602 he borrows "in Redy 
monye twentye shillenges for his necessary usses." 1 . . . 

The later part of his life is enveloped in obscurity. 
It does not seem probable, in spite of Collier's assertion, 
that he returned to Burbage's company. However, the 
document on which Collier founds his belief a com- 
plaint of the Lord Mayor in 1605 against Kemp, Arnim 

1 Henslowe's Diary, pp. 215, 237, 238. 


and other players of " The Blackfriars " l is evidently a. 
forgery, and even if it could be proved that Kemp had 
played at " The Blackfriars " in 1605, it does not follow 
that he had returned to Burbage's company, for, as we 
have proved above, it was not till 1608 that the King's 
men acted at " The Blackfriars." 

The year of Kemp's death is unknown, as is that of 
his birth. I think it probable, however, that he was still 
alive in 1607, when The Three English Brothers was 
acted ; in the scene where he appears under his own 
name there is nothing to prove that a dead man is 
represented. It is even probable that he impersonated 
himself in the play ; in that case he belonged at the 
time to "The Queen's Men." 

Kemp is not likely to have left other literary works 
besides his little Nine Daies Wonder. A number of jigs 
indeed bear his name, but doubtless they were not 
composed, only performed by him. 2 


The Tragedians "King Cambyses' Vein" and Shakespeare's Opinion 
About It Edward Alleyn as an Artist and as a Man. 

THE custom of improvisation in comic dramatic art, 
though it did not die with Kemp, certainly went out of 
fashion after his death. If it had ever had a footing in 
tragedy, it had long been abolished. 

1 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 352. 

2 A pamphlet directed against the Puritans and published under the 
name of W. Kemp has led Collier and others to believe that our clown 
took part in the literary struggle against the Puritans. This strange error 
rests on the mistake of confusing Kemp the actor with a schoolmaster and 
pedagogue in Plymouth, who bore the same name. 


Nevertheless, we can trace an old and a new style in 
tragic acting also. The serious performers of the 
Middle Ages were mostly artisans and petty tradesmen, 
and it was probably from these classes that the first 
generation of professional tragedians was recruited. 
The first builder of theatres in London, the actor James 
Burbage, was a joiner by profession ; the second great 
theatrical manager, Philip Henslowe, was a dyer. 
Among the earlier performers of the pre-Shakespearean 
sanguinary repertoire of tragedies, no doubt there was 
many a master-weaver Bottom, carpenter Quince and 
tailor Starveling. To semi-amateurs nothing is more 
welcome than the external display of violence on which 
these pieces were based, where roaring and shouting 
cover the lack of capacity for emotional speech, where 
rolling of the eyes replaces well developed facial play, 
and violent, purposeless movements are substituted for 
expressive gestures. 

Let us hear what Bottom says (Midsummer Night's 
Dream, Act i., sc. 2) : " . . . I could play Ercles 
rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split. 
" The raging rocks, 

With shivering shocks, 

Shall break the locks 

Of prison gates : 

And Phibbus' car 

Shall shine from far, 

And make and mar 

The foolish fates." 

" This was lofty ! . . . This is Ercles' vein, a 
tyrant's vein, a lover is more condoling." 


This style was particularly odious to Shakespeare. 
In Henry IV. he calls it " King Cambyses' vein," a 
splendid expression, which ought to serve for ever as a 
description of this sort of art. It is put into the mouth 
of old John Falstaff, who, in the famous public-house 
scene in the second act, is about to represent the father 
of Prince Henry in this style : 

" Give me a cup of sack to make mine eyes look red, 
that it may be thought I have wept, for I must speak in 
passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein." 1 

" A lamentable tragedy mixed ful of pleasant mirth 
contegning the life of Cambises " was an old play by 
Thomas Preston, written ab. 1561, published in 1570, 
in which ghastly horrors are mixed up with burlesque 
scenes in the old-fashioned way. But the style of this 
play in itself has not the slightest resemblance to that of 
Falstaff in the speech he makes to the prince it might 
rather be called a little euphuistic so it cannot be 
the style of writing, but the manner of acting which 
Shakespeare means to parody, the "tyrant vein," the 
old-fashioned exaggerated grandiloquence, which he 
detested and against which he struggled in every way, 
though he did not conquer it. It still flourishes and will 
go on flourishing as long as there are actors without 
talent to use it as the best screen for their incapacity. 
This style indeed affords the great advantage to the 
performer of gaining quite as much admiration from the 
ordinary public as true and genuine art. That is why 
Mrs Quickly, the hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern, 
falls into ecstasies at the first verses recited by Falstaff. 

1 Henry IV., Part I., ii. 4. 


Hostess : " O, the Father, how he holds his coun- 
tenance ! " 

Falstaff : " For God's sake, lords, convey my trustful 


For tears do stop the flood-gates of her 

Hostess : " O rare ! he doth it as like one of these 
harlotry players as I ever see." 

Elsewhere (in Richard 1 Y/.) 1 Shakespeare describes 
the manners of a villain on the stage. It is in the scene 
where Gloster incites Buckingham to deceive the Lord 
Mayor. Buckingham gives the somewhat conceited 
reply : 

" Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian ; 
Speak, and look back, and pry on every side, 
Tremble and start at wagging of a straw, 
Intending deep suspicion : ghostly looks 
Are at my service, like enforced smiles ; 
And both are ready in their offices, 
At any time, to grace my stratagem." 

Naturally this exaggerated manner was repugnant to 
the refined and self-controlled mind of Shakespeare. He 
evidently burned to express his disgust of it. As a rule, 
he keeps his own personality in the background, and 
scarcely ever expresses his private opinion in literary or 
artistic controversies ; but for once he speaks his mind 
and deals a blow at his antagonists in art, which is much 
harder, much more serious, and more directly personal in 

1 Act iii. Sc. 5. 


aim than any of the allusions mentioned above. The 
attack is found in Hamlet, which, on the whole, contains 
more personal and actual self-expression than any other 
of Shakespeare's plays ; but which, it must be added, 
appeared at a time when the tide in theatrical controversy 
ran high. 

The old idea in Hamlet, which was not Shakespeare's 
own, of making the king betray himself by acting before 
him a play in which his own crime was represented, 
afforded Shakespeare an opportunity of revealing his 
own artistic creed in an unusually outspoken way, and 
of doing it in a form so personal and concise, that it 
ought to be the vade mecum of every true actor : - 

Hamlet : " Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pro- 
nounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue : but if you 
mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the 
town -crier spoke my lines. Nor do saw the air too 
much with your hand, thus, but use all gently ; for in the 
very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind 
of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance 
that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the 
soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a 
passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the 
groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing 
but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise : I would have 
such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant ; it out- 
herods Herod. . . . O, there be players that I have seen 
play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to 
speak it profanely, that neither having the accent of 
Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan nor man, 
have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some 

10 William Shakespeare (the Droeshont- Flowers portrait). 

. J 



of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them 
well, they imitated humanity so abominably." 

To this the actor to whom the speech is addressed 
replies : " I hope we have reformed that indifferently 
with us, sir." 

But Hamlet (Shakespeare) continues inexorably : 
" O, reform it altogether." And thereupon he delivers 
the little side-blow at Kemp which we quoted before. 

Now the play which is subsequently acted does not 
offer any opportunity for particular admonitions of this 
kind ; there is no fool and no " tyrant " who might have 
an occasion for displaying his bad points in acting. 
Evidently this little lecture has an aim which lies outside 
the subject of the play. It is an attack on a school of 
acting which was distasteful to Shakespeare. And 
what kind of school it was does not seem difficult to 
guess, especially if one passage of Hamlet's speech is 
rightly understood. 

Shakespeare says : "I would have such a fellow 
whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod." 
Now, as all commentators on Shakespeare know, Ter- 
magant and Herod are two characters frequently appear- 
uig in the Mysteries of the Middle Ages. Termagant, 
originally a deity supposed to be worshipped by the 
iracens, stood afterwards in general for an exotic knave 
d tyrant. This name we meet everywhere in ancient 
neroic fiction in slightly varying forms, such as Terva- 
gant, Termagaunt, Terrogant, Tarmagant. Herod is 
the villain and tyrant in the Passion Plays properly 

Now it seems somewhat strange that Shakespeare 


should point to mediaeval types as examples of bad acting ; 
but a circumstance to which the commentators have paid 
no attention is this : these two characters undoubtedly 
belonged to the repertoire of Edward Alleyn. In Hens- 
lowe's Diary frequent mention is made of a play, the 
scenario of which we know, and which bears the title of 
Tamar Cam or Tambercam}- Considering Henslowe's 
usual extraordinary way of spelling, it would not be 
surprising if these names were meant for Termagant. 
That the subject of this play was " Mahometan," i.e. 
heathen and foreign, we see from the scenario, 2 in which 
the King, or the " Shaugh'en," 3 of Persia makes his appear- 
ance. Moreover, there is an abundance of ghosts and 
other supernatural beings in the piece, which agrees 
perfectly well with Termagant. And further, Alleyn is 
unmistakably indicated in the scenario as having played 
the title part. He also owned the play, as in 1602 
Henslowe buys the book of him for^2. 4 It seems to 
have been popular and widely known ; for ten years, 
from 1592 to 1602, it is on the repertoire (of course, with 
interruptions), and it is probable that it had been revived 
at the time when Hamlet was performed. So, if Shake- 
speare says that he " would have such a fellow whipped 
for [even] o'erdoing Termagant," I have not the slightest 
doubt that these words, clear enough to all spectators, 
were meant as a hit at his rival, Alleyn. 

As to Herod, there has been no evidence hitherto to 

1 Also Tamour Cam and Tamber Came. 

2 Reprinted in Malone : Historical Account, Plate ii. 

3 In seventeenth century writers it is sometimes spelt " Shawne." 

4 Henslowe's Diary, pp. 227 and 241. 


prove that a play with this title was acted under Alleyn 
in the period previous to Hamlet. Much later, about 
1622, we know that a play by Markham and William 
Sampson was acted at " The Red Bull," the title of 
which was Herod and Antipater with the death of Fair 
Marian^ Though Henslowe's Diary does not contain 
any direct information about a play with this title and 
this subject, it may be proved, nevertheless, that such a 
play really was included in Alleyn's repertoire even 
shortly before the representation of Hamlet, as in 
Henslowe's Diary, in an inventory of apparel of I598, 2 
belonging to " The Lord Admiral's Men," i.e. Alleyn's 
company, I find the following entry : " Item iiii. Here- 
vodes cottes and iii sogers [soldiers] cottes and i green 
gown for Maryan." 

Now, if such a play was acted by " The Lord 
Admiral's Men," it may be taken for granted that Alleyn 
played the part of Herod, as all such violent characters 
belonged to his province. So the words, "he out- 
herods Herod," are another allusion to the exaggerated 
acting of Alleyn and his school. 

In speaking, as we did above, of an old and a new 
school, of course we must not be understood to imply 
that Alleyn and Shakespeare represented two genera- 
tions, of which Shakespeare belonged to the younger ; 
for the two antagonists were of almost the same age, 
Alleyn being even the younger of the two. But a 
young person may very well adhere to an old school, be 

1 Comp. Fr. G. Fleay, English Drama, ii. 175. 

2 This inventory, the MS. of which no longer exists, is reprinted in 
Mai one's Additions, pp. 375 ff. 


supported by it, and refuse to adopt the progress which 
is the result of a more refined taste and greater artistic 

And this, we suppose, was the case with Edward 
Alleyn. He was two years younger than Shakespeare, 
being born on September ist, 1566, but he was probably 
brought up from his childhood for the stage, 1 and he 
obtained celebrity at a marvellously early age, consider- 
ing the branch in which he acted. His father was a 
publican and porter to the Queen, and died leaving a 
considerable fortune, when his son Edward was only 
four years old. His wife afterwards married a shop- 
keeper of the name of Brown, who has been erroneously- 
identified with the actor, Robert Brown, 2 especially- 
known for his professional journeys on the Continent. 
Mrs Alleyn's second husband was a John Brown, who 
had nothing to do with the theatre. 

In 1586, when Alleyn was twenty years old, we find 
him mentioned for the first time as one of " The Earl 
of Worcester's Players," and in the following year he is 
already acting a part of such importance as Tamburlaine 
the Great in Marlowe's play of that name. The two 
following years bring him the gigantic tasks of Dr 
Faustus, and of Barrabas in The Jew of Malta, both 
also by Marlowe, as well as the title-part of Robert 

1 According to Fuller in his Worthies (ii. 84, ed. 1811), and there is no 
reason to doubt it, as it is perfectly in accordance with Alleyn's earlier 
career that he should have played female parts as a boy, and, as Fuller has 
it, been " bred a stage player." 

2 Albert Cohn makes this mistake on the authority of Collier's assertion 
that the shopkeeper and the actor Brown were the same person. Comp. 
Collier's Memoirs of Alleyn^ p. iii., and Cohn's Shakespeare in Germany, 
p. xxxi. 

The TragicaU Hiftory 
of the Life and Death 

of *Do8or Fau/lus. 
Written by (Jo. Mar 


Pilnte'd lor John Wright, and are to be fold at hi* fhop 
Without Newgate, at the fi- .w.'.hc 

XI Alleyn as Dr Faustus. 


Greene's Orlando Furiosol It is almost incompre- 
hensible that a young man of little more than twenty 
years should have been able to assume and represent 
these indescribably violent and, to a certain extent, really 
powerful characters, which at the same time differ very 
much from each other. He must have won his fame at 
a stroke, but probably he at once adopted a manner 
which became fatal to his later artistic career. At 
scarcely twenty-six years of age, he is mentioned as the 
leading tragedian in England, and even in the same 
breath with the comic stars of the elder generation, 
Tarlton, Knell and Bentley. In his Pierce Penniless s 
Supplication to the Devil, which appeared in 1592, 
Thomas Nash draws a comparison between English and 
foreign actors, which is interesting in itself, and which 
in an unmistakable way shows Alleyn's celebrity at the 
time. He writes : " Our players 2 are not as the players 
beyond the sea, a sort of squirting baudie comedians, 
that haue whores and common curtizans to play womens 
parts, and forbeare no immodest speach or unchast 
action that may procure laughter ; but our sceane is 
more stately furnisht than euen it was in the time of 
Roscius, our representations honorable, and full of gallaunt 
resolution, not consisting like theirs of a pantaloun, 
a whore and a zanie, but of emperours, kings and princes, 

1 The MS. of his part in this last play, in Alleyn's own hand, is preserved 
in Dulwich College as a rare relic. It is the only extant part belonging to 
the Shakespearean period, and it shows that the parts were written out in 
the same way as nowadays, but with very short cues. The whole part is 
reprinted in Memoirs of Alley n, Appendix, pp. 198-213. 

2 The original has playes, but this is evidently a misprint, especially as 
we read in a marginal note : " A comparison of our players and the players 
beyond the sea." 


whose true tragedies (Sophocleo cothurno) they doo 

" Not Roscius nor Esope, those tragedians admired 
before Christ was borne, could euer performe more in 
action than famous Ned Alley n. I must accuse our poets 
of sloth and partialitie, that they will not boast in large 
impressions what worthie men (above all nations) 
England affoords. Other countreyes cannot haue a 
fidler breake a string but they will put it in print, . . . 
if I euer write any thing in Latine (as I hope one day I 
shall), not a man of any desert heere amongst us, but I 
will haue up. Tarlton, Ned Alleyn, Knell, Bentley, shall 
be made knowen to Fraunce, Spayne and Italic ; and 
not a part that they surmounted in more than other but 
I will there note and set downe, with the manner of their 
habites and attyre." 

Unfortunately this hope of N ash's was never realised ; 
neither in Latin nor in English did he describe these 
actors, which we regret very much, as we should have 
liked to know something about their way of acting. The 
two pictures reproduced here of two of Alleyn's parts, 
Faustus and Hieronymo in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, give 
us little information ; in the first place because they are 
very inferior in themselves, and in the second, because it 
is not ascertained that they represent Alleyn, though it 
is quite probable that the unskilled draughtsman took 
his subjects from the traditional representations. 

So much is certain, that his reputation as an actor 
did not make Alleyn forget his love of business, which 
was probably his ruling passion. In his twenty-first 
year he is in partnership both with his elder brother, 

12 Alleyn as Hieronimo. 


John, who, like his father, was a publican, but who also 
occupied himself with stage matters ; and also with the 
noted travelling actors and managers, Robert Browne 
and Richard Jones, in a business for the sale of " play- 
books " (i.e. manuscripts of plays), costumes, and musical 
instruments Richard Jones, however, whom we know 
from his letter quoted above, in which he requests a 
loan of his well-to-do colleague, in January 1588 sold 
his share to Edward Alleyn for 30, los. 1 Four years 
later Alleyn appears for a time as leader of " Lord 
Strange's Company," but in the following year (1593) 
the plague was raging violently, and all acting was 
prohibited in London ; so he set out on a tour in the 
provinces with his company. 

Six months previously he had married Joan Wood- 
ward, the step-daughter of Philip Henslowe, of whom he 
was evidently fond, and whom he treated well. While 
the plague was ravaging London, and Alleyn was 
travelling in the provinces with his companions, the 
newly married couple exchanged a number of letters, 
some of which have been found at Dulwich College, 
which give us an amusing picture of the man, if not of 
the actor, Alleyn. He appears as a home-loving, 
careful, practical and affectionate man, whose thoughts 
are shared equally between his little "mouse," as he 
calls his wife, his woollen stockings, his spinach and 
his horses, but who has not a word to spare for his 
art, and is most unlike our idea of an actor, whose 
particular task it was to represent the wildest and 

1 This we learn from a contract between Alleyn and Jones, printed in an 
Appendix to Collier's Memoirs of Alleyn, p. 198. 


most insanely bloodthirsty characters ever produced in 
literature. He writes, for instance, on the first of 
August from Bristol : 

" This be delyvered to mr. hinslo, on of the gromes 
of his maist. chamber ; dwelling on the bank sid, right 
over against the clink. 

"My good sweete mouse, I comend me hartely to 
you And to my father, my mother and my sister bess, 
hopinge in God, though the sicknes be round about you, 
yett by his mercy itt may escape your house, which by 
the grace of God it shall, therefore use this corse : 
kepe your house fayr and clean, which I knowe you will, 
and every evening throwe water before your dore and in 
your bake sid, and have in your windows good store of 
reue and herbe of grace, and with all the grace of God, 
which must be obteynd by prayers ; and so doinge, no 
doubt but the Lord will mercifully defend you. now, 
good mouse, I have no newse to send you but this, thatt 
we have all our helth, for which the Lord be praysed. 
I reseved your Letter at Bristo by richard canly, for the 
which I thank you. I have sent you by this berer, 
Thomas popes kinsman, my whit wascote, because it is 
a trobell to me to cary it. reseve it with this letter, 
And lay it up for me till I com. if you send any 
more Letters, send to me by the cariers of Shrewsbury, 
or to Westchester, or to York, to be kept till my Lord 
Strange's players com. and thus, sweett hart, with my 
harty comenda. to all our frends, I sett from Bristo this 
Wensday after Saynt James his day, being redy to begin 
the playe of hary of Cornwall, mouse, do my harty 


commend, to Mr. grigs, his wife, and all his houshold, 
and to my sister phillyps. 

" Your Loving housband 


" Mouse, you send me no newes of any things ; you 
should send of your domestycall matters, such things as 
hapens att home ; as how your distilled watter proves, 
or this or that, or any thing, what you will. 

" And, Jug, I pray you, lett my orayng tawny 
stokins of wolen be dyed a very good blak against I 
com horn, to wear in the winter, you sente me nott 
word of my garden, but next tym you will ; but remember 
this in any case, that all that bed which was parsley in 
the month of September you sowe it with spinage, for 
then is the tym. I would do it my selfe, but we shall 
nott com horn till allholland tyd. and so, swett mous, 
farwell, and broke our Long Jorney with patience." 

This letter is delightful in its quite unemotional 
commonplace, in its perfectly unvarnished homeliness, 
without a vestige of the vainglorious bravado of a stage- 
hero ; and it gives us as clear an insight into the every- 
day life of this celebrated man as if we had peeped 
through one of the windows of his house, where the 
" herbe of grace " served as protector against the plague. 
But as to his art we are no wiser than we were before. 
Or does this entirely matter-of-fact letter confirm our 
supposition that Alleyn was a mere workman in art, who 
worked on a large scale? For this is how a strolling 
player or juggler might write to his family while travelling 
professionally from town to town. He does his work to 


the best of his ability, and makes money by it, but his 
thoughts are with his house and garden and with his 
wife at home. 

If chance some day should bring the unexpected to 
pass and reveal a similar intimate epistle from Shake- 
speare, let us hope that the high-strung expectations 
about his personality, in which our minds have been 
reared, may not be disappointed by finding that he too 
writes only about stockings and parsley. 

Some lines of an answer from his father-in-law, 
Henslowe, and from "the Mouse" will complete this 
little still-life picture of the domestic existence of the 
famous performer of villains during the terrible reign 
of the plague. The letters from home are written by a 
" scrivener," as Mrs Alleyn probably could not write at 
all, and Henslowe, as we know, wrote very badly. 

" For my wealbeloved husbande Mr. Edwarde 
Allen, on of my Lorde Strange's players, this 
be delyvered with speade. 

" Jesus. 

" Welbeloved Sonne, Edwarde Allen, I and your 
mother and your sister Beasse have all in generall our 
hartie commendations unto you, and very glad to heare 
of your good healthe, which we praye God to contenew 
longe to his will and pleasur ; for we hard that you were 
very sycke at Bathe, and that one of your felowes weare 
fayn to playe your part for you, which wasse no lytell 
greafe unto us to heare, but thanckes be to God for 
amendmente, for we feared it much, because we had no 
leatter from you when the other wifes had letters sente ; 


which made your mouse not to weape a lytell, but tooke 
yt very greavesly, thinckinge that you had conseved 
some unkindnes of her, because you were ever wont to 
write with the firste : . . . Now, sonne [it is Henslowe 
who goes on] . . . and you sayd in your leater that she 
scant you not worde howe your garden and all your 
things dothe prosper; very well, thanckes be to God, 
for your beanes are growen to heg headge and well 
coded, and all other thinges doth very well . . . and for 
your good cownsell which you gave us in your leater we 
all thanck you, which wasse for keping of our howsse 
cleane and watringe of our dores, and strainge our 
windowes with wormwoode and rewe, which I hope all 
this we do and more ; for we strowe it with hartie 
prayers unto the lorde, which unto us is more avaylable 
than all thinges eallse in the world ; . . . and I praye 
ye, sonne, comend me harteley to all the reast of your 
fealowes in generall, for I growe poore for lacke of them, 
therefor have no geaftes to sende, but as good and 
faythfull a hart as they shall desyer to have comen 
amongst them. Now, sonne, we thanck you all for your 
tokens you seant us ; and as for newes of the sycknes, 
I cane not seande you no juste note of yt, because ther 
is comandement to the contrary, but as I thincke doth 
die within the sittege and without of all syckneses to 
the number of seventeen or eyghten hundredth in one 
weacke . . . 

" Your lovinge Father and Mother to our powers, 

"P. H. A. 

"Your lovinge wife to comande till death, 
" Johne Allen." 


In the course of the autumn the plague ceased, and 
about All Saints' Day (ist of November) Alleyn returned 
from his tour with Lord Strange's company, which he 
left for good in order to undertake the management of 
" The Lord Admiral's Servants," afterwards " The 
Prince's Men," to which he henceforth belonged. In 
partnership with his father-in-law, the confirmed usurer 
Henslowe, he now started a grand theatrical business in 
" The Rose " Theatre and " The Bear-garden," an enter- 
prise of which we have spoken in a previous chapter. 
In 1597, when only thirty-one years of age, he had 
already made sufficient money to allow him to retire 
from the stage as an active player, which, however, he 
only did for a time. When the sharp competition with 
"The Globe" Theatre began, Alleyn returned to the 
stage and acted again for some years how many is 
unknown at the new " Fortune " theatre, which he and 
his father-in-law had built. 

Shortly after the accession of James I. the two 
partners received a royal appointment as joint masters 
of the Royal game of bears, bulls and mastiff dogs, an 
office which Alleyn, who lived the longer of the two, 
retained till his death, and which brought him in a con- 
siderable income. His riches increased from day to day ; 
he bought a mansion and grounds, and became the 
recognised and unrivalled leader of the theatrical world. 
This is shown by the innumerable petitions, humble 
requests for loans, orders, etc., which abound among the 
papers left by him. His fortune increased to such a 
degree that he was able to buy the estate of Dulwich, 
for which he paid in all ,10,000. He became an 


Esquire, and associated in the most familiar way with 
the highest aristocracy ; the Earl of Arundel, for in- 
stance, and Sir William Alexander, were among his 
good friends. 

But what gained him universal respect was the great 
munificence he exhibited in converting the Dulwich estate 
into a school and training college for poor children, an 
institution which still exists under its old name of " God's 
gift," and which continues to be one of the most largely 
attended schools in England. 

An old legend tells us that in one of his parts 
probably Dr Faustus Alleyn had seen the devil in 
person appear before him on the stage, and that this 
had made him vow to spend his money on a charitable 
purpose. This, of course, is nonsense ; but Alleyn, 
though twice married, was childless, and the great work 
of charity may have been a matter of honour as well 
as of feeling with him. He planned and arranged his 
college himself with the greatest care and with extra- 
ordinary practical sense. The study of his life and 
papers gives us the convincing impression that he was 
a distinguished man, and a firm and honest character. 
The letters of his later years especially testify to this 
fact. A short passage in one of them, where he main- 
tains the honour of his class not of his art is aglow 
with pure manliness, and deserves to be known every- 
where. The man of whom he had bought the Dulwich 
estate was a nobleman loaded with debts, Sir Francis 
Calton, who had wasted his patrimony. This Sir 
Francis gave him considerable annoyance, and, in his 
impotent vexation, had evidently his letter is lost 


taunted Alleyn with his mean extraction and his pro- 
fession as an actor. To this Alleyn replies : 

" And where you tell me of my poor originall and of 
my quality as a Player. What is that ? If I am richer 
than my auncesters, I hope I may be able to do more 
good with my riches than ever your auncesters did with 
their riches. You must now beare povertye, and if you 
bear it more patiently than I, your desert will be the 
gretter. That I was a player I can not deny, and I am 
sure I will not. My meanes of living were honest, and 
with the poore abilytyes wherewith god blesst me I 
was able to doe something for myselfe, my relatives and 
my frendes, many of them nowe lyving at this daye will 
not refuse to owne what they owght me. Therefore I 
am not ashamed." 

After retiring from the theatre as an actor Alleyn 
lived a quiet domestic life, regularly gathered his dues 
from the theatres, cultivated his distinguished acquaint- 
ances, and entertained his former companions at little 
parties on his estate. His most familiar friends among 
the actors seem to have been Benfield, Cartwright, 
Lowin, Taylor, and others, members also, as we see, of 
"The King's Company," though, of course, the "Fortune" 
company, "The Prince's Men," were more frequently 
invited. He does not seem to have associated at all 
with contemporary authors, not even with those who 
had written for him, like Ben Jonson, Dekker, Middle- 
ton, Hey wood, Webster or Marston. 

Several of these, however, did not fail to express to 
him their great admiration of his dramatic art. Jonson, 
for instance, dedicates an epigram 1 to him, in which, 
1 Ben Jonson : Epigrams, No. 89, ed. Gifford. 


after the obligatory comparison with Roscius and ALsop, 
which is used for nearly all contemporary actors of note, 
appear the following lines : 

" How can so great example die in me [viz., that of 
Cicero, which brought the name of Roscius down 
to posterity] 

That, Allen, I should pause to publish thee 

Who both their graces [that of Roscius and of y^sop] 
in thyself hast more. 

Outstript, than they did all that went before, 

And present worth in all dost so contract, 

As others speak, but only thou dost act. 

Wear this renown. 'Tis just, that who did give 

To many poets life, by one should live." 

It might be concluded from these verses that 
Alleyn also played comic parts, for Jonson knew quite 
well that Roscius was a comic actor. Nor is it at all 
improbable that this was the case, for in those times 
it was not usual for actors to be limited to particular 
lines. But we are unable to mention a single one of 
these parts. An expression like "as others speak, 
but only thou dost act," must strike the eye. Do 
they not confirm our supposition about Alleyn's ex- 
cessive " action," which we cannot be surprised to hear 
was particularly to the taste of the rather coarse-grained 
Jonson ? 

Thomas Hey wood, who during many years wrote 
for Alleyn's company, also speaks of him in the most 
enthusiastic terms. First of all in his " Apology 
for Actors" (1612), where he says: "Among so 



many dead, let me not forget one yet alive, in his 
time the most worthy, famous Maister Edward 
Allen." 1 

And in the prologue of Marlowe's Jew of Malta, 
which he published in 1633, six years after the death 
of Alleyn, 2 he writes : 

" We know not how our play may pass this stage, 
But by the best of poets in that age 
The Malta Jew had being and was made ; 
And he then by the best of actors play'd. 
In Hero and Leander one did gain 
A lasting memory : in Tamberlaine, 
This Jew, with others many, the other man 
The attribute of peerless ; being a man 
Whom we may rank with (doing no one wrong) 
Proteus for shapes, and Roscius for a tongue, 
So could he speak, so vary." 

Edward Alleyn died in 1625, on the 25th of Novem- 
ber, at the age of sixty. Two years before his death, 
and five months after losing his first wife, he married a 
young girl, Constance Donne, a daughter of the well- 
known clergyman, Dr John Donne. With Dr Donne, 
however, he lived in constant enmity, and therefore left 
him nothing in his will ; while he generously bestowed 
100 on the former proprietor of Dulwich, besides for- 
giving a debt of 20. He is buried in his college, which 

1 Thomas Heywood : An Apology for Actors, p. 43. 

2 A short time before the play had been revived at " The Cockpit " with 
R. Perkins in the part of Barrabas, 

13 Edward Alleyn (after a picture at Duhvich College). 


is also the repository of a number of curiosities illus- 
trating the history of the stage among others, the por- 
trait reproduced above. 1 


The Shakespearean School Shakespeare as Actor Richard Burbage and 
his Company Nathaniel Field The Cessation of Plays. 

Nowadays Shakespeare's relation to the art of acting 
is generally considered to have been of a purely business- 
like and very cool nature, as a tie which he longed to 
break, and which he really broke as soon as he was 
capable of doing so. But this view of the matter rests 
on a great and evident mistake. 

It is quite natural that Shakespeare's eminent poetic 
productions should have entirely eclipsed the remembrance 

1 All the material we possess concerning the life of Alleyn is chiefly 
found in Collier's Memoirs of Edward Alleyn, London, 1841. But this 
book, like so many by the same author, is marred by a number of spurious 
documents, which are mixed up with much good and genuine matter. As a 
guide to the unprepared reader, I will mention some of the grossest for- 
geries : p. 13, the poem " Sweete Ned," etc., is altogether spurious ; p. 45, 
in the letter from Henslowe some words are introduced about Thomas 
Lodge to prove that he was an actor (and hauinge some knowledge and 
acquaintance of him as a player) ; p. 63, to the otherwise genuine letter 
from Alleyn's wife a forged note has been added about Shakespeare (Mr 
Shakespeare of the globe, who came . . .) ; p. 69, the list of the eleven 
actors of " The King's Company " is concocted by Collier (a facsimile of 
the forged document is found in Lee's Life of Shakespeare, libr. ed., p. 305) ; 
pp. 90 ff., the list of poor-rates, which is meant to prove that Shakespeare 
lived in Southwark in 1609, is fallacious. The whole work is brimful of 
false information about stage-matters. Fleay somewhere mentions having 
found more than one hundred misstatements merely in the account of 
Kemp. The number would be at least equally great if he took Alleyn's 
Memoirs alone. 


of his histrionic art. It must not be forgotten, however, 
that as certainly as he figures in the modern eye as the 
great poet who also at times played comedy, so certainly 
did he appear to his own time as the excellent actor and 
stage-manager, who also wrote plays, much more so 
than even Ben Jonson, who was also an actor. 

Clearly enough, his poetic fame gradually eclipsed 
his reputation as an actor. In 1592, when Shakespeare 
was a young man of twenty-four, Chettle writes about 
him that he is " exelent in the qualitie he professes." * 
His somewhat younger colleague, William Beeston, the 
manager of a company which for a time was called 
" The Beeston Boys," afterwards told Aubrey that he 
acted exceedingly well. But already in 1699 we learn 
from the anonymous author of Historia Histrionica 
that he was a much better author than actor. And 
Nicholas Rowe, the Shakespeare publisher, tells us in 
1709 that he distinguished himself, if not as a superior 
actor, yet as an excellent author. 

In the nineteenth century Guizot, 2 among others, 
writes (1852) : " As an actor he does not seem to have 
distinguished himself among his rivals." Till now it has 
been assumed that his profession as actor weighed on 
him like a nightmare of shame, which he fervently longed 
to throw off. 

This opinion is based on a few passages in the 
Sonnets, which poems, on the whole, have given rise to 
all kinds of fancies, some of which are perfectly absurd, 

1 The word " quality " in the language of the time is constantly used in 
the sense of acting. Compare, <?."., Hamlet, ii. 2 : " come, give us a taste of 
your quality." 2 Shakespeare et son temps, p. 61. 


about the life and circumstances of Shakespeare. 1 Thus 
No. XXIX., which begins with these lines : 

" When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 
I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself and curse my fate. ..." 

and CX., where he says : 

" Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, 
And made myself a motley to the view." 

or again, the bitter lines in CXI. : 

" O for my sake do you with Fortune chide, 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds. 
That did not better for my life provide, 
Than public means, which public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, 
And almost thence my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. ..." 

But these testimonies do not go far to prove that 
Shakespeare had no love for histrionic art. If, on the 
whole, it can be considered as anything more than a 
momentary feeling, which was consciously clothed in a 
poetic form, what he complains of, with less firm 
manliness than Alleyn, but certainly with stronger 
emotion, was no more than his social status and the 
disgust which every actor, and especially the gifted one, 
may occasionally feel with his relation to the public. 

We cannot wonder that Shakespeare, who was 

1 Mr Israel Gollancz, the editor of The Temple Shakespeare, very wittily 
puts at the heads of the Sonnets five different and quite contradictory 
mottoes (by Wordsworth, Browning, Swinburne, Shelley and Tennyson). 


evidently ambitious and aspiring, not merely in his art, 
but also from a mere worldly and social point of view, 
found his class low, compared with the powerful and 
glorious position of an Earl of Southampton or of Pem- 
broke to whichever of these two the Sonnets may have 
been addressed. 

As a matter of fact he retired early from the theatre, 
at the age of about forty-six ; but so did many of his 
colleagues, who, when they had made a certain amount 
of money, withdrew to rest after the hard toil of a 
number of years. For at that time, even more than 
nowadays, the actor's work was most fatiguing ; and this, 
we suppose, may be the reason why many of the actors of 
those days died comparatively young. 1 The companies 
were small, and the repertoire exceedingly large. So 
there was much to be learned, and it had to be 
learned well, as the actors had not, as nowadays, a 
prompter to support them. In addition to this, Shake- 
speare had his great work as an author, and undoubtedly 
was stage-manager at least with regard to his own 
plays. Life as well as work moved at full speed in 
those times ; no wonder that age and fatigue came early. 
But Shakespeare continued his work as an actor faith- 
fully and uninterruptedly until he retired altogether from 
the theatrical world, giving up authorship as well as 
acting. That he loved his art and was more interested 

1 Shakespeare and Richard Burbage were fifty-two years old when they 
died ; Nathaniel Field forty-six, Robert Arnim about forty-three. John 
Underwood can scarcely have been forty, and William Ostler not much 
more than thirty. Kemp and Tarlton no doubt also died young, whereas 
Edward Alleyn, who, it is true, spent a large part of his life away from the 
theatre, lived to the age of sixty. 

14 William Shakespeare (from the Bust belonging to the Garrick Club). 


in it than most of his fellow-actors we shall shortly try 
to prove. 

Shakespeare's theatrical career, in its external 
features, is very clear and simple. Only the first years 
after his arrival in London are obscure, or rather, 
absolutely blank. There is no foundation whatever for 
all the legends about his beginning his stage life by 
holding the horses of the spectators during the per- 
formance, by organising a company of boys for this 
purpose, by helping the book-holder as call-boy, who 
had to summon the actors when they were to appear on 
the stage. All these reports are of very late origin, and 
the thought that they might possibly be true is certainly 
no sufficient reason for accepting them as such. 

But from the moment when he enters into the full 
light of stage history till he retires to his native town, 
tired of the labour and toil of London life, his career is 
as plain as possible. During all these twenty years he 
belongs uninterruptedly to the same company, which, at 
the beginning of his career was " Lord Strange's," and 
at the end of it " The King's Men." 

At the age of twenty-eight we see him already it 
must be borne in mind that he began comparatively late 
in an undoubtedly distinguished position as actor and 
author, with steadily increasing fame, and, as is always 
the case, surrounded by a barking host of enviers. 

One of these, Robert Greene, an author of some 
talent, was now a miserable invalid, ruined by a vicious 
life, the end of which was near. According to his own 
saying, he was now converted, and with the usual 
inclination of proselytes to attack their former friends, 


he made haste before his death to compose a libellous 
pamphlet against his old colleagues among authors and 
actors. He warns his friends Marlowe, Lodge (or 
Nash) and Peele against the sinful writing of plays, but 
especially against actors. 

" Base-minded men," he says, "all three of you, if by 
my miserie ye be not warned ; for unto none of you, like 
me, sought those burres to cleave ; those puppits, I 
meane, that speak from our mouths, those anticks gar- 
nisht in our colours. Is it not strange that I, to whom 
they all have beene beholding, shall, were ye in that case 
that I am now, be both at once of them forsaken ? Yes, 
trust them not ; for there is an upstart crow, beautified 
with our feathers, that with his Tyger's heart wrapt in a 
Player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bumbast out 
of blanke verse as the best of you ; and being an absolute 
Johannes Factotum, is in his owne conseite the onely 
Shake-scene in a countrie. O that I might intreate 
your rare wits to be imployed in more profitable courses, 
and let these apes imitate your past excellence, and 
never more acquaint them with your admired inventions ! 

Wilst you may, seeke you better 
maisters ; for it is pittie men of such rare wits should 
be subject to the pleasures of such rude groomes. . . . 
For other newcommers I leave them to the mercie of 
these painted monsters." l 

1 Greene's Groafs worth of Wit, bought with a Million of Repentaunce. 
The book appeared in September 1 592, very shortly after Greene's death ; the 
passage quoted is taken from the introductory letter. 


What made Greene direct this fanatical attack against 
" Lord Strange's Men" for there can be no doubt that 
it was aimed at this company we are unable to say. 
Surely it was more than mere professional jealousy. 
Most likely he had had a theatrical conflict with " Lord 
Strange's Men," who, during the first half of 1 592, acted 
at "The Rose" Theatre, and had performed plays by 
Marlowe, Lodge and Peele, while their greatest success 
had been the first part of Henry VI \, in which Shake- 
speare's Talbot-scenes had called forth special enthusiasm 
from the public. 

The literary basis of Greene's attack does not concern 
us here. We have quoted it much more at length than 
in the ordinary literary handbooks, in order to show that 
it is Shakespeare the actor whom he wants to hit ; he 
does not consider Shakespeare as an author at all. 
What strikes him is, that having appeared but recently, 
he has gained ascendency in his company, and has be- 
come an absolute factotum ; so much so, that he has 
even ventured to drive an older noted author and actor 
into a corner. 

A few months later this personal attack on Shake- 
speare received a warm retort from Henry Chettle, who 
says in the preface of his "Kind Harts Dreame" : 
" About three moneths since died Mr Robert Greene, 
leaving many papers in sundry booke-sellers hands, 
among other his Groatsworth of Wit, in which a letter 
written to divers play-makers, is offensively by one or 
two of them taken ; and because on the dead they cannot 
be avenged, they wilfully forge in their conceites a living 
author ; and after tossing it two and fro, no remedy but 


it must light on me. How I have all the time of my 
conversing in printing hindred the bitter inveying against 
schollers, it hath been very well knowne ; and how in 
that I dealt, I can sufficiently proove. With neither of 
them that take offence was I acquainted, and with one 
of them I care not if I never be. The other, whome at 
that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, 
for that, as I have moderated the heate of living writers, 
and might have usde my owne discretion, especially 
in such a case, the author beeing dead, that I did not I 
am sory as if the originall fault had beene my fault, 
because myselfe have scene his demeanor no less civill, 
than he exelent in the qualitie he professes ; besides, 
divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of deal- 
ing, which argues his honesty and his facetious grace in 
writing, that aprooves his art." 

The attack and the defence combined give us a clear 
idea of the young actor Shakespeare as a man of great 
importance to his company, a man of the future on whom 
high expectations were built. Except the short period 
of occasional engagements at "The Rose," and after- 
wards (in 1594) at "The Newington," and several 
journeys in the provinces, Shakespeare during his first 
period chiefly played at " The Theatre." 

When "The Globe" was built in 1599, the pro- 
prietors, the brothers Burbage, as we said above, ad- 
mitted Shakespeare and some of his distinguished 
colleagues as part-owners of the theatre. After 1608 
he acted also at " Blackfriars," which at this time was 
used by " The King's Men," till three years later he 
definitely retired to Stratford a wealthy man. 


Unfortunately we know next to nothing about the 
parts he acted. That he played tragedy as well as 
comedy we see from the list of actors of two of Ben 
Jonson's plays. Among the dramatis personae of Every 
Man in His Humour we read of "the principal 
Comedians " who have acted in this excellent play. 
Will Shakespeare stands at the top. Is this done in 
courtesy to Shakespeare, because it was he who caused 
the play to be acted ? is it mere chance ? or does it mean 
that Shakespeare acted the part which headed the list of 
the persons represented ? 

The last suggestion seems to be the most probable, 
and in this case we find that Shakespeare performed 
Old Knowell, a rather important part in the play, a 
" heavy father," which afterwards belonged in Germany 
to the popular Biedermann-repertoire of Iffland and 

In Sejanus we see Shakespeare fifth among the 
principal Tragedians, at the top of the second column 
of the eight actors, and opposite to him Richard Burbage, 
who heads the first column. So, if the conclusion we 
drew above is right, he must have acted a rather inferior 
part in this play. 

Rowe tells us that Shakespeare represented the dead 
king's ghost in Hamlet, and that it was the top of his 
performance, to which may be added the statement of 
John Davies, that he performed " some kingly parts." 1 

1 " Some say, good Will, which I in sport do sing, 
Hadst thou not play'd some kingly parts in sport, 
Thou hadst been a companion for a king." 

The Scourge of Folly, by John Davies of Hereford ; 
quoted by Malone : Historical Account, p. 237. 


brother of Shakespeare's, who was old and infirm at the 
time, but who could still remember that, when young, he 
had seen William act the octogenarian servant Adam in 
As You Like It. 

This is absolutely all that is known about the parts 
which Shakespeare performed, and it is perfectly use- 
less to try to guess what parts he may have taken. 
Even though we know beforehand that in most of his 
own plays he did not represent the principal characters, 
there is a large field for conjecture. To judge from the 
parts already mentioned, we might conclude that he had 
especially impersonated old men, but the fact that two 
parts are known, and two others are supposed to have 
been old men, is not sufficient foundation for this con- 
clusion, seeing that during his twenty years' career as an 
actor he must have played at least some hundred parts. 

But of his relation to the art of acting in general, 
we know, or may learn something more from his plays. 
It is a foregone conclusion that dramatic art filled his 
life, as he was attached to it in a threefold way, as poet, 
as actor, and as stage-manager. That it filled his 
thoughts also we see from innumerable images scattered 
throughout his works, which are derived from dramatic 
art and stage-life. To him " All the world's a stage 
And all the men and women merely players ; They have 
their exits and their entrances ; And one man in his time 
plays many parts, His acts being seven ages." l 

How fully he realised and yet wondered at the over- 
whelming power which the art of the genuine actor could 

Finally, we have a statement of Gilbert, a younger 

1 As You Like //, ii. 7. 


exercise on himself and others, we find most strikingly 
expressed in the following speech of Hamlet : 

" Is it not monstrous that this player here, 
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 
Could force his soul so to his own conceit 
That from her working all his visage warm'd, 
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, 
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting 
With forms to his conceit ? and all for nothing ! 

For Hecuba! 

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, 
That he should weep for her." * 

But in his relations to the art of acting Shakespeare 
is not only the philosophic critic, but also the practical 
reformer. We have seen him, when quite young, derid- 
ing the unreal, empty and bombastic style, for which in 
his maturer years his contempt increases and deepens. 
His taste develops in refinement, and he maintains his 
ambition against the cheap applause of the mob, which 
is too frequently bought with false coin ; he does not 
appreciate the laughter which the comic actor earns with 
his shallow jokes, if they are not in keeping with the 
subject of the play and disturb its sense ; nor is he im- 
pressed by a hero who leaves the stage in a boisterous, 
ostentatious way followed by the applauding cheers of 
the crowd, while he himself and every quiet expert shake 
their heads at the man's atrocious style of speaking. 
Just as it was his vocation as a poet to introduce artistic 
refinement, natural grace, deep feeling and genuine 

1 Hamlet, ii. i. 


humour into the old rude and ungraceful plays, so it 
became his task as an actor to lead the violent and 
affected style of acting back to nature, true feeling and 
moderation. He did not wish to introduce a conventional 
literary taste, like that in which Goethe indulged when 
he wanted to reform the German acting, nor did he 
desire a sombre and dull indifference to counterbalance 
excessive enthusiasm and exaggerated praise ; all he 
wanted was naturalness. 

Hamlet : "Be not too tame neither, but let your 
own discretion be your tutor : suit the action to the word, 
the word to the action ; with this special observance, that 
you o'erstep not the modesty of nature ; for anything so 
overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end both 
at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the 
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, 
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the 
time his form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come 
tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but 
make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one 
must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of 
others." x 

It is Shakespeare who speaks these words, because 
they are burning on his tongue ; not Hamlet, for Hamlet 
at the moment has other things weighing more heavily 
on his mind than the duty of giving golden rules for their 
art to the actors he admires. 

And the imperious and authoritative tone in which 
he speaks the words, and those we quoted above, is 
not that of a prince addressing poor actors, still less, of 

1 Act ii. Sc. 3. 


course, that of an amateur to an old expert in his art. 
It is the language of the mature, intelligent, consistent 
actor to younger or less intelligent fellow-actors, or that 
of a teacher to his pupils. It is Shakespeare, the in- 
structor, teaching his colleagues. 

Perhaps this is an ideal picture ; perhaps it was thus 
Shakespeare would have liked to speak to the other 
actors without having an opportunity of doing so. 
Perhaps the picture represents a fact ; perhaps he did 
catch the ear of his fellow-actors, and was allowed to be 
their guide along the lofty but bewildering paths of art, 
which he knew better than anyone else ; along which he 
himself preferred to walk, rather than on the broad and 
dusty road that leads to the favour of the pit. 

We have, indeed, an absolute proof of the fact 
that Shakespeare did instruct his younger colleagues. 
Downes l tells us that when Thomas Betterton, the 
famous tragedian of the Restoration, was to play 
Hamlet, he was taught all the details by Sir William 
Davenant (Shakespeare's godson), who had seen the 
part performed by Mr Taylor of the Blackfriars' com- 
pany, "he having been instructed by the author, Mr 
William Shakespeare " ; and by his exact reproduction 
Betterton gained a higher respect and reputation than 
any other. 

If Shakespeare instructed young Joseph Taylor, 
when he was to play Hamlet, he no doubt also gave his 
assistance to his contemporary, his friend and comrade, 
Richard Burbage, who was the original performer of 
the part. On the whole, we may conclude that these 

1 The author of Roscius Anglicanus. 


two men, the highly gifted poet and the equally intelli- 
gent actor, worked together in hearty co-operation ; 
they inspired and incited each other to continuous 
new efforts, and the result obtained must have been 

It has frequently been imagined that the histrionic 
art of those days was something barbarous and child- 
like, something which our taste is much too advanced 
to appreciate. Unfortunately we have not the slightest 
chance of settling this question by evidence. But since 
none of the other arts, poetry, painting, sculpture, 
applied arts perhaps with the single exception of 
music stand higher now than they did at the time of 
the Renaissance, it would be absurd to imagine that the 
art of acting, which is not one of those which require 
centuries of cultivation before they can attain perfection, 
should not have failed to reach an equally high standard 
with poetry, especially since England offered the very 
best conditions for its thriving. 

In Italy and France, poetry and the art of acting 
were still too far apart to obtain a great result. The 
actors cultivated "pure dramatic art" with improvisa- 
tions and set phrases, and they reached a certain 
external perfection, while the poets who enjoyed any 
consideration wrote learned pseudo-classical dramas, 
which nobody beyond their own circle wanted to see 
performed ; and they had, in consequence, a great 
contempt for the theatre. 

In England, on the contrary, poetry and dramatic 
art went to work hand in hand ; indeed, they were so 
merged into each other that we are frequently at a loss 


to know whether it is the poet who acts or the actor 
who composes. Men like Marlowe, Robert Wilson, 
Greene, Shakespeare, Jonson, Field, and many others 
men, that is, whose aim in life it was to create art on 
the stage both by writing and by acting, these were the 
men who raised dramatic art in England. 

But no doubt it is permissible to say that the co- 
operation between Shakespeare and Burbage, and the 
effect it exercised on the company to which they be- 
longed, was the culmination of the whole movement. 
In the eyes of the time, therefore, at any rate from the 
close of the nineties, Burbage's company was unquestion- 
ably the best and the finest in London. 

Richard Burbage was a child of the stage, a son of 
the old actor James, the first builder of theatres in 
England. Of course he was brought up as an actor 
from his childhood, while Cuthbert, 1 the elder brother, 
who seems to have been an intelligent and business-like 
man, became a bookseller. And, very likely, the old 
joiner and artist initiated him in the mysteries of the 
"art," as Vo understood them, and as they were ex- 
pounded in his days. We find Richard, when very 
young, already appearing in The Seven Deadly Sins, 2 the 
improvisational and spectacular play by Tarlton, and it 
is not unlikely that during his earliest years James 
Burbage's repertoire consisted largely of that kind of 
play. But with the increasing influence of Shakespeare, 
the repertoire no doubt underwent a change for the 

1 " Cuthbert Burby " he generally calls himself in the books he publishes. 

2 His name is sometimes met with in the scenario, but it is impossible 
to find out which part he played. 



better. Shakespeare was three or four years older 
than Richard Burbage ; l this circumstance, combined 
with the great superiority of his mind, rendered it 
natural that he should obtain enough influence over the 
young actor to draw him away from the affected and 
boisterous manner which was the fashion of the time, 
and inoculate him with the sound principles which ruled 
his own writing and acting. Very likely Shakespeare 
did not feel himself qualified for the great principal 
parts of his own plays ; it seems evident from what we 
know of him, that his nature was too delicate and gentle 
for such violent characters as Richard III., Shylock, 
Othello and Macbeth. At any rate, it is certain that 
it became Richard Burbage's task to play all these parts, 
and that he played them so excellently that he gained 
the highest admiration from all -his contemporaries. 
But it was not only these striking and violent characters 
in which he was so successful ; he played Prince Henry, 
Hamlet and Brutus with equal success. In 1664 Fleck- 
noe 2 says: "He was a delightful Proteus, so wholly 
transforming himself into his parts, and putting off him- 
self with his cloaths, as he never (not so much as in the 
tyring-house) assumed himself again, untill the play was 
done. He had all the parts of an excellent orator, 
animating his words with speaking, and speech with 
action ; his auditors being never more delighted than 
when he spake, nor more sorry than when he held his 
peace ; yet even then he was an excellent actor still : 

1 The exact date of Richard Burbage's birth is unknown, but he must have 
been born about 1 567. 

2 Flecknoe : A Short Discourse of the English Stage, 1664 ; cf. M alone : 
Historical Account ', p. 240. 


never failing in his part when he had done speaking, 
but with his looks and gesture maintaining it still to the 

These are general terms, but they give an idea of the 
style of Burbage's art. We see that he did not belong 
to the class of actors who transform the part to suit their 
own person, but on the contrary to those who adapt their 
persons to their parts ; l and that he eagerly and con- 
scientiously gave himself up to his art. 

A funeral elegy, written after the death of Richard 
Burbage in 1619, is preserved in several manuscripts and 
reprinted in various places. J. P. Collier pretends to 
have found a copy of this elegy, which enumerates a 
large number of the parts acted by Burbage ; out of 
Shakespeare alone, for instance, it gives Shylock, 
Richard III., Prince Henry, Romeo, Henry V., Brutus, 
Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Pericles and Coriolanus; 
whereas the other copies do not mention these parts. 
Now, though this addition to the elegy, as far as I know, 
has not been proved to be a forgery, 2 and though it has 
been introduced as an authentic fact by nearly all writers 
on these questions, the mere form of this list of parts 
bears in my eyes such a distinct stamp of being spurious, 
that, considering the notorious untrustworthiness of the 
writer, it is wiser for the present not to put faith in this 
testimony of the famous actor's parts. 

Burbage very likely acted these and several other 

1 In modern times the former category seems to be the prevalent one, 
at all events with the great celebrities (among them, for instance, Eleonora 
Duse. Mounet-Sully, Josef Kainz). 

2 The whole elegy is reprinted in Collier's English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 


parts, but we only know with absolute certainty that 
he played Hamlet, Hieronymo (in Kyd), King Lear, 
Othello, which are mentioned in the authentic manu- 
scripts of the elegy, and Richard III. An undoubtedly 
genuine version of the elegy contains these lines : 1 

" Hee's gone, and with him what a world is dead, 
Which hee reviv'd ; to bee revived so 
No more : young Hamlet, old Hieronimo, 
Kind Leir, the greived Moor, and more beside 
That lived in him, have now for ever died. 
Oft have I scene him leape into the grave, 
Suiting the person (that he seemed to have) 
Of a sad lover with so true an eye, 
That then I would have sworn hee meant to die." 

As to Richard III. we know from several con- 
temporary anecdotes that this part was performed by 
Burbage. One of these, told by the lawyer, John 
Manningham, in his diary on March 1602, is well known ; 
it runs as follows : " Upon a time when Burbidge played 
Rich. 3., there was a citizen grene soe farr in liking 
with him that, before shee went from the play, shee 
appointed him to come that night unto her by the name 
of Ri. the 3. Shakespere, overhearing their conclusion, 
went before, was entertained, and at his game ere 
Burbedge came. Then message being brought that 
Rich, the 3d. was at the dore, Shakespeare caused 
returne to be made that William the Conquerorer was 
before Rich, the 3. Shakespere's name William." 1 

1 Reprinted in Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines, pp. 600 f. 


Another anecdote which shows the popularity of 
Burbage in this part, and which is generally misquoted, 
is told in a versified book of travels by Bishop Corbet. 1 
On his journey the bishop arrives at Bosworth Plain, 
where once the battle was fought between Richard III. 
and Richmond. The keeper of the inn where the bishop 
is staying is a loquacious man, " full of ale and history." 
He can describe the whole battle. In short, he can tell 
within an inch where Richmond stood and where Richard 
fell. But the prelate soon finds out that the landlord has 
derived his knowledge from seeing the play : 

" But chiefly by that one perspicuous thing 
Where he mistook a player for a king, 
For when he would have said, King Richard dy'd, 
And call'd a horse, a horse, he Burbage cry'd." 

Though we cannot tell for certain what parts Burbage 
performed, we read his name in the lists of characters 
of several contemporary dramatic authors, e.g., in Jonson's 
Sejanus, in which we imagine that he acted the principal 
part, and in Every Man in His Humour, in which he 
probably played the jealous husband, Kitely. In Mar- 
ston's Malcontent we know for a fact he represented 
Male vole, the exiled Duke of Genoa, at the time when 
this play passed from the hands of the " Children of the 
Chapel " at " The Blackfriars " to " The King's Men " at 
" The Globe." In the Induction which Webster wrote 
for the occasion, and which we have quoted in a previous 
chapter (compare above, p. 121), Burbage appears in 

1 Published in 1647, but written much earlier. The passage which con- 
tains this anecdote is reprinted in Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines, pp. 601 ff. 


person under his own name, and offers his welcome to 
the gallants on the stage. When he retires one of the 
dandies (Sinklo) says : " Does he play the Malcontent? " 
to which Condell, who also appears under his own name, 
replies : " Yes, sir." l 

The external facts of Richard Burbage's theatrical 
career were as simple as Shakespeare's, or even simpler. 
He was attached to the same company throughout, first 
as actor, and later, after the death of his father, as 
manager and proprietor as well. His relations with the 
various theatres have been mentioned above in detail. 
Of his private life and character, we know nothing 
beyond that he was married and had several children, 
and that he became a man of considerable means. 
We have spoken of his financial condition on a previous 

Like many actors after him, he cultivated pictorial as 
well as dramatic art, and the portrait reproduced here, 
the original of which is in the Dulwich Museum, is 
supposed to have been painted by himself. It shows a 
pair of dark, melancholy eyes ; a thin, sensitive mouth ; 
and a large, fleshy nose. He is said to have been some- 
what short of stature, and rather stout. It is supposed, 
as we know, that the phrase used about Hamlet, "He's 
fat and scant o' breath," spoken by the Queen during the 
duel, alludes to Burbage. The fact that he died of 
apoplexy comparatively young (at the age of fifty-two) 
also seems to bear witness to his increasing stoutness. 
First of all his tongue was paralysed, and thence the 

1 John Marston : The Malcontent, Induction, Bullen's edition, i. 


paralysis gradually extended to his whole body, as we 
learn from the dirge on his death : l 

" Hadst thou but spoke to Death, and us'd the power 
Of thy enchanting tongue, at that first hour 
Of his assault, he had let fall his dart, 
And quite been charm'd with thy all-charming art ; 
This Death well knew, and, to prevent this wrong, 
He first made seizure on thy wondrous tongue, 
Then on the rest, 'twas easy ; by degrees 
The slender ivy twines the hugest trees." 

His death, which occurred on May i3th, 1619, called 
forth such universal grief in London that it seemed to 
make people forget the death of the Queen, 2 which had 
occurred a few weeks previously. A little poem, no 
doubt hailing from the Puritan side, but very well written 
indeed, derides the difference of feeling shown by the 
Londoners on the two mournful events, and declares it 
scandalous that 

" The deaths of men who act our Queens and Kings 

Are now more mourn'd than are the real things. 

The Queen is dead ! to him now what are Queens, 

Queens of the theatre are much more worth, 

Drawn to the play-house by the bawdy scenes 

To revel in the foulness they call mirth. 

Dick Burbage was their mortal god on earth ; 

When he expires, lo ! all lament the man, 

But where's the grief should follow good Queen Anne." 3 

1 The title of this elegy is : On Mr Richard Burbidg, an excellent both 
player and painter. 

* Queen Anne, wife of James I., died on the first of March 1619, 
J. P. Collier : English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 303. 


Round Shakespeare and Burbage were gathered a 
number of actors of whose individual artistic characters 
we know nothing or next to nothing, but whose names 
have been frequently mentioned in these pages : men of 
the old school, like Augustine Phillips, Thomas Pope, 
and George Bryan ; Shakespeare's intimate friends of 
about his own age, Henry Condell and John Heminge, 
two highly trusted members of the Company; Heminge 
being, according to tradition, the original performer of 
Falstaff, Condell perhaps the first Captain Bobadill in 
Jonson's Every Man in his Humour. Both of them 
can lay claim to the deepest gratitude of posterity for 
their edition of their friend Shakespeare's plays, without 
which, certainly, some of them would never have reached 
us. Besides these we find a younger generation, in- 
cluding men like Joseph Taylor and Nathaniel Field, 
Burbage's successors in the tragic line ; John Lowin, 
Heminge's successor in the old comic characters, the 
original Volpone in Jonson's comedy of that name ; the 
clown Robert Arnim, of Tarlton's school, who filled 
the blank left by William Kemp ; William Sly, whom 
we know best from the amusing Induction of Marston's 
Malcontent, in which he played the comic gallant, 
who forcibly obtains admission to the stage ; and John 
Shancke, who in the thirties occupied a distinguished 
position, and was the most important shareholder in both 
"The Blackfriars" and "The Globe"; finally the per- 
formers of female parts : Robert Goughe or Goffe, Alex- 
ander Cooke, who played both tragic and comic female 
characters, and was a pupil of Heminge ; and the 
charming Richard Robinson, who, like Shancke, in 

15 Richard Burbage (after a picture at Dulwich College supposed to have 
been painted by himself). 


1635, held a large number of shares in the two theatres 
of the company. 1 

The latter is mentioned in a characteristic manner by 
Ben Jonson in his The Devil is an Ass, in which the two 
rascals, Meercraft and Engine, are discussing the best 
means of procuring a woman to help them in deceiving 
the foolish squire, Fitzdottrel. The conversation runs 
as follows : 

Engine: "Why, sir, your best will be one o' the 

Meercraft : " No, there is no trusting them. They'll 

talk on't 

And tell their poets." 
Engine : " What if they do ? the jest 

Will brook the stage. But there be some 

of 'em 
Are very honest lads. There is Dick 


A very pretty fellow, and comes often 
To a gentleman's chamber, a friend of 

mine : we had 

The merriest supper of it there one night. 
The gentleman's landlady invited him 
To a gossip's feast : now, he, sir, brought 

Dick Robinson, 
Drest like a lawyer's wife, amongst 'em 

(I lent him clothes), but to see him 

behave it, 

1 Compare the repeatedly quoted complaint from the actors Benfield, etc., 
reprinted in Halliwell-Phillipps : Outlines, p. 542. 


And lay the law, and carve, and drink 

unto 'em, 
And then talk bawdy, and send frolics! 

It would have burst your buttons, or not 

left you 
A seame." 

Meercraft. " They say he's an ingenious youth." 
Engine, " O, sir ! and dresses himself the best, beyond 
Forty o' your very ladies ! Did you never 

see him ? " 
Meercraft. "No, I do seldom see those toys." 1 

This is one of the very few pieces of contemporary 
evidence of what we should consider the unsavoury 
manner in which the actors of female parts behaved them- 
selves off the stage. 

Among the actors above-mentioned there was one 
who belonged to "The King's Men" for only a very 
short time, but who, nevertheless, acquired great fame, 
Nathaniel Field, whose name has appeared repeatedly 
in these pages. 

Field was an actor of rather a remarkable type, who 
stands a little removed from the men whom we have 
chosen above as types of the histrionic art of the time. 
On this account he deserves a few lines to himself, 
though we must acknowledge that we know nothing 
distinctive about his style of acting. 

The first remarkable circumstance relating to Field 
is his parentage. He was the son of a Puritan preacher, 

1 Ben Jonson : The Devil is an Ass, ii. 3. Gifford's edition. 


one of the most ardent opponents of the art to which his 
son afterwards devoted his life, the same Rev. John 
Field, who, in 1583, saw a judgment of God in the 
misfortune that happened in Paris Garden, when the 
Bear-garden, which was situated there, collapsed on a 

Fortunately for him, he did not live to see his son 
follow the way of evil, as he died the year after the birth 
of Nathaniel (1587). At the age of ten the latter was 
apprenticed to a bookseller, but no doubt was very early 
pressed to enter as a chorister among the Queen's 
Chapel-boys. 1 And here, between the ages of twelve 
and fourteen, he already gained unusual celebrity. Ben 
Jonson, who, as we have seen, was writing for the 
Chapel-boys at "The Blackfriars " during these years, 
took charge of the clever and talented boy, taught him 
Latin, 2 and, no doubt, instructed him in acting. For 
Jonson was known as a bad actor, but as an excellent 
instructor. Field became the principal actor in Cynthia s 
Revels and in the Poetaster, in which Jonson puts his 
name first among the boys. At the dates of their 
production he was respectively thirteen and fourteen 
years old, and not only a noted actor, but in the heat of 
the literary quarrel, with Jonson to back him. 

1 At that time Queen Elizabeth had appointed a committee with the task 
of procuring boys for the school of choristers of the Chapel Royal. The 
Committee made a bargain with " The Blackfriars " Theatre and its leader, 
Henry Evans, for providing the latter with the necessary boy-actors. In 
this matter Evans overstepped the limits of his authority by depriving 
parents of the control of their children. This brought about a lawsuit 
between Evans and a Suffolk gentleman. The latter gained his cause, and 
Evans lost his privilege. The deeds concerning this affair have been 
published by Mr James Greenstreet in The Athenceum of August loth, 
1889. See above, pp. 45 f. 

2 JonsotHs Conversations with Drummond, p. n. 


However, he did not share the ordinary fate of 
infant prodigies, and fade away on reaching maturity ; on 
the contrary, he continued to develop as an actor and as a 
poet. Before long he remains the only actor whose fame 
can be compared to that of Richard Burbage, for by this 
time Alleyn had retired from the stage, and he became 
the author of a number of very popular plays, which he 
wrote, partly alone, partly in co-operation with Fletcher, 
Massinger and Daborne. A well-known play of his is 
the amusing comedy Woman is a Weathercock, which 
was performed about 1610 by the company to which 
Field continued to belong, and which at that time was 
called " The Children of the Queen's Revels," who now 
acted in the refectory of Whitefriars, after " The King's 
Men " had taken possession of " The Blackfriars." In 
the preface of this play we find the rather haughty 
remark that he does not wish to dedicate it to any great 
personage, as he does not care for the 403. which he 
might expect to receive as a gratuity. 

A short time afterwards we find him in the clutches 
of old Henslowe, and by now he has changed his tune. 
As we stated before, in 1613 he was engaged by 
Henslowe and Alleyn as principal actor at the newly 
built "Hope" Theatre. Here he had a very good 
situation indeed, and Henslowe evidently treated him as 
a star to whom particular consideration was due ; * for 
all that he was soon in debt to the cunning manager, 
who had even to rescue him from the debtors' prison. 
A letter from Field concerning this affair has been 

1 This appears from the complaint previously quoted from the other 
actors against Henslowe. 


preserved among the Alleyn Papers}- It runs as 
follows : 

" Father Hinchlow, 

" I am unluckily taken on an execution of 30 1. I 
can be discharged for xx 1. x 1 I have from a friend ; 
if now, in my extremity, you will venture x 1 more for 
my liberty, I will never share penny till you have it 
againe, and make any satisfaction by writing or other- 
wise, y* you can devise. I am loath to importune, 
because I know your disbursements are great ; nor must 
any know I send to you, for then my creditor will not 
free me but for the whole some. I pray, speedily con- 
sider my occasion, for if I be putt to use other meanes, 
I hope all men and selfe will excuse me if (unforcedly) 
I cannot proove so honest as towards you I ever resolv'd 
to be. 

" Yo r loving son, 2 

" Nat. Field." 

After the death of Henslowe in 1616, Field left 
" The Hope " Theatre and Alleyn's company and joined 
"The King's Men." With him went Fletcher, Mas- 
singer and Jonson as authors, which testifies to the 
favour in which he stood at that time. But he did not 
remain long with "The King's Men" either; after 1619, 
at all events, we hear nothing about him as an actor. We 
should have thought that the death of Burbage, which 

1 Alleyn Papers, pp. 65 f. 

2 It was a custom in those times for the young to address their elders 
with whom they stood in friendly relations as " father," and vice versa for 
older people to call the younger ones "sons." Henslowe is frequently called 
Father Henslowe by younger actors and authors, to whom he advanced 


occurred this same year, would have opened new fields 
to him in his own line. But, most likely, Joseph Taylor 
took possession of the parts for which Field considered 
himself particularly qualified ; we know that Taylor 
played Hamlet after Burbage, and Field may have felt 
offended and retired altogether. 

We know of one Shakespearean part which he played, 
that of Othello, from a malicious little epigram, 1 which 
sneers at Field's jealousy of his wife. We quote it 
here : 

" Field is, in sooth, an actor, all men know it, 
And is the true Othello of the poet. 
I wonder if 'tis true, as people tell us, 
That like the character, he is most jealous. 
If it be so, and many living sweare it, 
It takes no little from the actor's merit, 
Since, as the Moore is jealous of his wife, 
Field can display the passion to the life." 

He died on February 2Oth, 1633, at the age of 

Neither his artistic career nor his life was of long 
duration, but it seems as if they must have been full of 
excitement, fame and variety. His portrait shows us a 
narrow, nervous and refined head, beautiful and ex- 
pressive, a genuine "decadence" head, compared with 
the quiet firmness of Burbage and Shakespeare. 

Was not Field the very type of the highly gifted 

1 Reproduced from a MS. by J. P. Collier. Its genuineness, as far as I 
know, has not been disputed. 

i6 Nathaniel Field. 


decadent, in whom the great art of the time blazed forth 
with a brief but glorious light ? 

At all events, with Field and his generation, men 
like Swanston, Benfield and Pollart, we come to the end 
of the most important period of the history of the English 

At the same moment a period was drawing to a close 
in politics, the long struggle between King and Parlia- 
ment ; and as the winning side was not favourably 
inclined towards the theatres, it wrote an emphatic " Finis " 
under the history both of the monarchy and of the stage. 

On the 2nd of September 1642 Parliament issued the 
following order : 

" Whereas the distressed Estate of Ireland, steeped 
in her own Blood, and the distracted Estate of England, 
threatened with a cloud of Blood, by a Civill Warre, call 
for all possible meanes to appease and avert the Wrath 
of God appearing in these Judgments ; amongst which 
Fasting and Prayer have been often tried to be very 
effectual, have been lately, and are still enjoyned, and 
whereas publike Sports doe not well agree with publike 
Calamities, nor publike Stage-playes with the Seasons 
of Humiliation, this being an Exercise of sad and pious 
solemnity, and the other being Spectacles of, too com- 
monly expressing lacivious Mirth and Levitie. It is 
therefore thought fit, and Ordeined by the Lords and 
Commons in this Parliament Assembled, that while these 
sad Causes and set times of Humiliation doe continue, 
publike Stage-playes shall cease, and bee forborne. 
Instead of which are recommended to the people of this 
Land, the profitable and seasonable Considerations of 


Repentance, Reconciliation, and peace with God, which 
probably may produce outward peace and prosperity, 
and bring again Times of Joy and Gladness to these 
Nations." 1 

This was the death-blow of the theatres and dramatic 
art of the Shakespearean period. 

Resistance was indeed attempted for a time, in the 
hope that this decree would be no more enforced than 
so many of its predecessors. But it soon became evident 
that the times had changed. A number of successive 
orders, each severer than the last, was directed against 
the unfortunate actors. First, they are threatened with 
imprisonment ; then all actors are declared to be ipso 
facto " rogues and vagabonds " ; if any man is found 
acting, he is to be punished with a flogging, and every 
person who is present at a play has to pay a fine of five 
shillings ; the magistrates are authorised to pull down 
galleries and seats ; in short, dramatic art is to be 
deprived of every support ; and the actors, who were 
naturally nearly all of them staunch royalists, were 
persecuted like noxious animals. 

Some of them became soldiers and fought in the war 
on the royalist side ; others went to the Continent, and 
endeavoured to gain a living there. 

From 1647 we may say that dramatic art was de- 
finitely suppressed in England, till it awoke to new life 
under the Restoration. 

1 This document is very rare. I believe it has not been reprinted any- 
where but in Joseph Knight's edition of Roscius Anglicanus, from which we 
reproduce it here. Knight took his reproduction from a copy possessed by 
the booksellers, Jarvis & Son. 


The Alleyn Papers. A collection of original documents illustrative of the 
life and time of Edward Alleyn, and of the early English stage and 
drama. With an introduction by J. Paine Collier. London 1843 
Archer, William: A Sixteenth Century Playhouse (The Universal Review). 

London 1888. 
Barton Baker, H.: The London Stage. Its History and Traditions. 2 

vols. London 1889. 

Boas, F. S.: Shakespeare and his Predecessors. London 1895. 
Bolte, Johannes : Englische Komodianten in Danemark und Schweden. 

Shakesp. Jahrb. Bd. XXIII. 
Englische Komodianten in Munster und Ulm, ibid. Bd. 

Brandes, Georg: William Shakespeare. 3 vols. K0benhavn 1895. I vol. 

London 1899. 
Cohn, Albert: Shakespeare in Germany in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth 

Centuries. London 1865. 
Englische Komodianten in Koln (1562-1656). Shakesp. 

Jahrb. Bd. XXI. 
Collier, J. P.: Memoirs of Edward Alleyn, Founder of Dulwich College. 

London 1841. 
Fools and Jesters, with a reprint of Robert Arnim's Nest of 

Ninnies 1608. London 1842. 

The History of English Dramatic Poetry to the Time of 

Shakespeare and Annals of the Stage to the Restoration. 
3 vols. London 1879. 
Conrad, Hermann : Robert Greene als Dramatiker. Shakesp. Jahrb. Bd. 

Creizenach, W. : Geschichte des neueren Dramas (Mittelalter und Friihre- 

naissance). Halle 1899. 
Cunningham, Peter: Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court in 

the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. London 1842. 
Dewischeit, Curt: Shakespeare und die Stenographic (" Munchener Allg. 

Zeitung" 1898, No. 31). 

Dyce, Alexander: Kemp's Nine Daies Wonder, performed in a Daunce from 
London to Norwich. With an Introduction and 

Shakespeare's Works. With an Introduction and Notes 

9 vols. London 1857. 

Q "4 1 


Else, Karl: Eine Auffuhrung in Globus Theater. Shakesp. Jahrb. Bd. 

Fleay, Frederick Card: Shakespeare Manual. London 1878. 

A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama 

1559-1642. 2 vols. London 1891. 
Fuller, Thomas: The History of the Worthies of England. London 

Gaedertz, Th. : Zur Kenntniss der altenglischen Biihne, etc. Bremen 


Gen&, Rudolph : Shakespeares Liv og Vaerker. K0benhavn 1877. 
Gossan, Stephen: The School of Abuse, containing a Pleasant Invective 
against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, etc. London 1841 (Shakespeare 
Society Reprint). 
Greenstreet, James: The Blackfriars Playhouse: Its Antecedents (Athenceum 

No. 3141). 
Blackfriars Theatre in the time of Shakespeare (Athenaum 

No. 3154 and 3156). 
Guizot, Fr.-P. : Histoire de la Revolution d'Angleterre. Paris 1826. 

Shakespeare et son temps. Paris 1852. 

Halliwell, I. O.: Tarlton's Jest and News out of Purgatory. London 

Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 3rd edit. London 

/fansen, Adolf: En Notits om engelske Instrumentister ved Frederik den 

andens Hof. " Tilskueren " Juli 1900. 
Harrison : Description of England in Shakespeare's Youth. Edited by 

Fr. J. Furnivall. London 1877. 
Heyivood, Thomas: An Apology for Actors. In three books. London 

1841 (Shakespeare Society Reprint). 
The Diary of Philip Henslowe, from 1591 to 1609. Edited by J. P. Collier. 

London 1845. 

Jonson, Ben: Works. Edited by W. Gifford. 9 vols. London 1816. 
fullien, Adolphe: Les Spectateurs sur le theatre. Paris 1875. 
fusserand, J.-J. : Le theatre en Angleterre depuis la Conquete jusqu'aux 

pre*de*cesseurs imme'diatsde Shakespeare. Paris 1881. 
Kalisch, C.: Shakespeares yngre Samtidige og Efterf01gere. K0benhavn 


Kellner, L. : Shakespeare. Leipzig, Berlin, Wien 1900. 
Klein, J. L. : Geschichte des englischen Dramas. Leipzig 1876. 
Kurz, Hermann : Shakespeare der Schauspieler. Shakesp. Jahrb. Bd. VI. 
Laing, David: Notes on Ben Jonson's Conversations with William 

Drummond. London 1842. 
Lee, Sidney: A Life of William Shakespeare. Illustrated Library Edition. 

London 1899. 

Loftie, W. J.: A History of London. 2 vols. London 1884. 
Malone, Edmund: Historical Account of the rise and progress of the 

English Stage. 3 vols. 1800. 


Marston, John : Works. Edited by A. H. Bullen. 3 vols. London 1887. 
Meissner, Johannes : Die englischenKomodianten in Oesterreich. Shakesp. 

Jahrb. Bd. XIX. 

Moulton, Rich. G. : Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist. London 1885. 
M filer, Niels : Shakespeares Theater (" Frem" Maj 1900). 
Nash, Thomas: Pierce Penniless's Supplication to the Devil. Edit, by 

J. P. Collier. London 1842. 
Northbrooke 1 s Treatise against Dicing, Dancing, Plaies and Interludes, etc. 

Edit, by J. P. Collier. London 1843. 
Ordish, T. Fairman : Early London Theatres (in the Fields). London 

Shakespeare's London. A Study of London in the 

Reign of Queen Elizabeth. London 1897. 
Pepys, Samuel: Diary and Correspondence. Edited by Richard Lord 

Braybrooke. In five volumes. London 1851. 
Prynne, William : Histriomastix. The Players Scourge ; or, Actors 

Tragsedie divided into Two Parts. London 1633. 
Prolss, R. : Geschichte des neueren Dramas. Leipzig 1881-1883. 
Ravn, V. C. : " Engelske Instrumentister" ved det danske Hof paa Shakes- 
peares Tid. ("For Ide" og Virkelighed" 1870 I.). 
Sarrazin, G. : Zur Chronologie von Shakespeares Jugenddramen. Shakesp. 

Jahrb. XXIX-XXX. 
Schiick, Henrik : William Shakespeare, hans lif och verksamhet. Stockholm 


Stoive,John: Annales of England. London 1631. 
Swinburne, A. C. : A Study of Ben Jonson. London 1889. 
Thornbury, G. W. : Shakespere's England ; or, Sketches of our Social 

History in the Reign of Elizabeth. London 1856. 
Thummel, Julius : Ueber Shakespeares Narren. Shakesp. Jahrb. 

Bd. IX. 

Ueber Shakespeares Clowns. Ibid. Bd. XI. 

Vatke, Th. : Das Theater und das Londoner Publikum in Shakespeares 

Zeit. Shakesp. Jahrb. Bd. XXI. 
Ward, A. W. : A History of English dramatic literature to the death of 

Queen Anne. London 1875. 

III. Q * 



Boy, 38-41, 137-8, 235 ; contracts of, 
J 55-7 J dress of, 151-3 ; English 
and Foreign compared, 199, 200 ; 
female parts taken by, 137, 233-4 ; 
professional, of Shakespearean 
period, 169, 170 ; salaries of, 135- 
149 ; theatres, share-owners in, 
82-3, 135-146. 

Alchymist, the, 65. 

All is True, 79. 

Allen, Giles, 17, 18-20. 

Allen, Ned, see Alleyn, Edward. 

Alleyn, Edward, 3, 43*, 53, 58, 59, 
140, 185, 1 86, 189, 21472 ; business 
enterprise and character of, 65-69, 
200-205 ; Dulwich College founded 
by, 3, 207 ; Fortune Theatre built 
by, 66-69 5 friendships of, 208-210 ; 
Henslowe's business taken over by, 
89; master of the Bear Garden, 
50, 5 1 ; opposition from council, 70- 
74 ; parts played by, 198-9 ; pro- 
sperity and charity of, 1 50, 206-208 ; 
Rose Theatre abandoned by, 65 ; 
share system under, 140 seq. ; style 
of, 196-7, 199, 200. 

Alleyn, Memoirs of, 19972, 21 in. 

Alleyn Papers, 109, 10972, 123, 12472, 
126, 136-7, 140^^-., 151;*, 152, 15372, 
I55, 23772. 

All's lost by Lust, 95. 

Antipodes, 49, 100, 187. 

Antony and Cleopatra, 64. 

Arlecchino, 174. 

Armin, Robert, 179, 21472, 232. 

As you like it, 15, 64, 220. 

Augustus, William, 137. 

BAKER, H. Barton, 3072. 
Ball, the, 130. 
Bankside, 46, 53-6. 
Bartholomew Fair, no. 
Baxter, Robert, 45. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, 65. 

Beeston, 130, 212. 

" Belle Sauvage," the, 6. 

Bellman of London, 877*. 

Benfield, Robert, 8372, 144, 208. 

Bentley, 178. 

Betterton, Thomas, 223. 

Birde, William, 109. 

Black Army, the, 1 1. 

Blacksmith's Daughter, the, 21. 

Bolte, Johannes, 18272. 

Braynes, John, 17. 

Brew, Patrick, 6872. 

Bristo, James, 137. 

Brome, Richard, 49, 100, 187. 

Brown, John, 198. 

, Robert, 198. 

Bryan, George, 183, 232. 

Bryston, James, 137. 

Bull, Thomas, 18272. 

"Bull," the, 6. 

Burbage, Cuthbert, 82, 144 ; letter to 
Lord Pembroke quoted, 36-7 ; pub- 
lications of, 21 : share system, 145 ; 
"The Theatre," connection with, 

, James, 10, 21, 178, 191 ; actors 

under, payment of, 145-6 ; Black- 
friars Theatre built by, 29 seq, ; "the 
Theatre" built by, 13, 15-18. 

, Richard, 10, 23, 43, 60, 81, 21472, 

223 ; character and death of, 230, 
231 ; friends of, 232 ; Globe rebuilt 
by,82 ; Shakespearean plays, in, 64, 
225-9 > share system under, 143 seq.; 
style of, 179, 1 80 ; " The Theatre," 
connection with, 18-21, 61. 

Burby, see Burbage, Cuthbert. 

Burke, Sir George, 133. 

CALTON, Sir Francis, 207. 
Camden, 96. 

Careless Shepherdess, The, 91. 
Carew, 94. 




Carey, George, see Hunsdon, Lord 

, Henry, see Hunsdon, Lord (I). 

Carlton, Sir Dudley, 90^, 144^. 

Cartwright, 208. 

Case is Altered, 2. 

Censorship of Plays, 127-135. 

Chamberlain, John, 907*, I44. 

Chappuzeau, 123. 

Charles I., Shakespeare, appreciation 
of, 133-4 ; stage, attitude towards, 
8, 131. 

Chettle, Henry, 124, 212, 217. 

Cohn, Albert, i82, 1847*, 198;*. 

Collier, J. P., 3, ii, 29, 30, 33, 48*, 
57#, 6i, 89,96, io8, 12372, i25, 
138, 139, 185, 189, 1907*, 19872,21172. 

Comedy of Errors, 24, 184. 

Commedia dell' Arte, 2, 4, 179. 

Companies : 

Beeston's Boys, 98, 212 ; Chapel- 
Boys, 45, 235 ; Children of the 
Chapel, 36, 229 ; Children of His 
Majesty's Revels, 36 ; Children 
of the Queen's Revels, 236 ; Earl 
of Pembroke's Servants, 7872 ; 
Earl of Worcester's Men, 66, 189, 
198 ; Fortune Company, 91, 208; 
King's Children, 99, 100 ; King's 
Men (or the King's Players), 23, 
37, 38, 79, 83, 89, 94, 190, 208, 
215, 229, 236, 237; Lady Eliza- 
beth's Servants, 86; Lord Ad- 
miral's Men, 41, 59, 60, 65, 70, 90, 
118, 197, 206; Lord Chamber- 
lain's Servants, 22, 23, 60, 6 1, 70, 
112 ; Lord Hunsdon's Men, 22 ; 
Lord Leicester's Men, 2 1, 22,183; 
Lord Strange's Men (Earl of 
Derby's Men), 22, 185, 201, 206, 
215, 217 ; Lord Sussex's Men, 
65, 7872 ; Prince Charles's Men, 
TOO ; Prince's Servants, 90, 206, 
208 ; Queen's Men, 98, 100, 190; 
Queen's Revels Company, 93. 

, joint acting of, 60. 

Condell, Henry, 23, 24, 81, 83, 232. 

, Mrs, 83, 144. 

Conspiracy of Catilina, 65. 

Cooke, Alexander, 232. 

Coriolanus, 64. 

"Cross Keys," the, 6. 

Crosse, 178. 

Cymbeline, 64, 133. 

Cynthia's Revels, 42, 235. 

DABORNE, Robert, 86, 87, 126, 236. 
Davenant, Sir William, 94, 95, 98, 

122, 131, 223. 
Davies, John, 219. 
Dawes, Robert, 155-7. 
De Lawne, William, 31, 32. 
De Witt, Johan, 75, 76, 77, 113- 
Dead Man's Fortune, 4, 5. 
Dekker, Thomas, 41, 60, 78, 124, 125, 

127, 208 ; Quarrel with Jonson, 

45 j Quoted, 1 20. 
Devil is an ass, the, 233. 
Donne, Constance, 210. 

, Dr John, 210. 

Downes, 223. 

Down ton, Thomas, 140, I55. 

Dray ton, 124. 

Drousiano, see Martinelli, Drusiano. 

Drummond, William, 41, 147. 

Dulwich College, 3, 8972, 106, 1557?, 

201, 207. 

EGASSES, see Actors, Boy. 
Elizabeth, Queen, attitude towards 

stage, 8, 10, 104, 23572. 
English Stage, Italian influence on, 

1-3- . 

Evans, Henry, 38, 235;*. 
Every man in his humour, 3, 27, 185, 

1 88, 229, 232. 
Every man out of his humour, 42, 188. 

FAIR EM, 21. 

Famos wares of Henry the Fyrste, 

Fennor, William, 105, 106. 

Field, Nathaniel, 37, 38, 45, 86, 87, 
89, 99, 105, 138, 151-2, 21472, 225, 
232 ; career of, 234 seq. ; Hens- 
lowe, relations with, 236-8. 

Field, Rev. John, 235, 

Fleay, F. G., 2172, 247*, 4172, 44*, 142, 
15372, I7in, 18572, 19772. 

Flecknoe, 22672. 

Fletcher, John, 79, 86, 89, 133, 236. 

Frederick II. of Denmark, 182, 183. 

Frost, John, 45. 

Fuller, Thomas, 171, 177, 19872. 

GAEDERTZ, Dr K. Th., 7572, 76. 
Gamester ; the, 134. 
Gardiner, Stephen, Bp. of Winches- 
ter, 46-7. 

Garguille, Gaultier, 175*. 
Gilbert, 219. 



Goffe, 91. 

Gollancz, Israel, 2i3. 
Gosson, Stephen, 21, 176. 
Goughe, or Gaffe, Robert, 232. 
Greene, Robert, 198, 215-18, 225. 
Greenstreet, James, yjn, 2357*. 
Guizot, 212. 

I9, 2572, 36^, 66, 7o, 7 in, 11572, 
144, I4S, 171^, 174;*, i75, 233. 

Hamlet, 44, 64, 139^, 194-5, 197. 

Hamlet, the pre-Shakespearean, 22. 

Hansen, Dr Ad., i82. 

Harrison, gn. 

Harvey, Gabriel, 4. 

Heminge, John, 23, 24, 39, 64, 81, 
133, 232. 

Henry IV., 24, 107. 

Henry V., 28, 63-4, 178. 

Henry VI., ?8n. 

Henry VIII., 79, 80. 

Henslowe, Philip, 3, 53, 185, 186, 
189, 191 ; character of, 86-7, 89, 
124, 155 ; lack of education, 57 ; 
properties of, 118, 119, 154; rela- 
tions with, Alleyn, 89, 204-5, Field, 
236-7, Lord Mayor, 73, 74, Meade, 
84, 85, Shakespeare, 147, Sir Ed- 
mund Tylney, 70, Dawes, 155-7; 
share system under, 140 seq. ; suc- 
cesses of, 65 seq. ; " tables " of, 4 ; 
theatres built by, Fortune, 66-9, 
Hope, 84-5, Rose, 58-9, 65. 

Henslowe's Diary, 56, 58, 59, 60, 7872, 
123, J24, 125, 126, 142, 153, 185/2, 
189, 196, 197. 

Hentzner, Paul, 48. 

Herbert, Sir Henry, 129, 134, 135, 
138-9, 140. 

Herod and A ntipater, 1 97. 

Hey wood, Thomas, 2, 69^, I78, 179, 
208, 209, 210. 

Hinchlow, see Henslowe. 

Historia Histrionica, 212. 

Histriomastix, 93, I54. 

Histrionic Art, English and Foreign 
styles compared, 199, 200 ; Im- 
provisation in, 190, 224; "King 
Cambyses' Vein," Shakespeare's 
opinion on, 191-5 ; School of 
Shakespeare, 223-5 ; Shakespeare, 
of, 221, 226. 

Holland's Leaguer, 78, 100. 

Hunsdon, Lord (I), 22. 

Hunsdon, Lord (II), 22. 
Hutton, Henry, I2i. 


Italian Stage, influence in England, 

JAMES I., Sport, love for, 49-51 ; 
Stage attitude towards, 8, 104-5. 

Jew of Malta, 198. 

"Jigs," character of, 24; Tarlton's, 

Jones, Daniel, 183. 

Jones, Inigo, 114, 131. 

Jonson, Ben, 84^, 86, 89, no, in, 
125, 131, 142-6, I54, 208, 225, 232, 
233 ; Italian types in, 2, 3 ; Jones, 
quarrel with, 114; Shakespeare's 
plays, on, H5; Marston and 
Dekker, quarrel with, 41-5 ; Plays 
of, at the Globe, 64-5 ; Shake- 
speare, relations with, 43-5. 

Jonson, William, 21. 

Julius Caesar, 64. 

Just Italian, the, 94. 

KEMP, William, 43, 64, 163, 179, 
Burbage's Company and, rupture 
between, 185 seq. ; Denmark and 
the Netherlands, travels in, 182-3 ; 
Norwich, dance to, 180, 181 ; Parts 
taken by, 184-5 > Shakespeare and, 
contrasted, 186-9 > Style of, 179, 
1 80 ; Travels and later engage- 
ments of, 189, 190. 

Killigrew, Charles, iy)n. 

King John, 24. 

King Lear, 64, 107. 

Knack to know a Knave, 185, 186. 

Knell, 178. 

Kyd, 2. 

LAING, David, 4i. 

- , T., 14791. 

Lanam, 178. 

Langley, Francis, 72, 76, 77. 

Lanham, John, 21. 

Lee, Sidney, 6o, 14 in, 143^, 149^. 

Leicester, Earl of, attitude towards 

Stage, 8, 10. 
Lewin, see Lowin, John. 
Lodge, Thomas, 22, 60, 217. 
London Corporation, hostility to- 

wards Theatres, 8, 10 seq., 18, 19, 

34-5, 72-3- 



London Sports, 47. See also Sports. 

Theatres, first permanent, 8, 972. 

See also Theatres. 
Lovers Labour Lost, 24, 1 84. 
Lowin, John, 83, 144, 208, 232. 


Malcontent, the, 121, 229. 

Malone, Edmond, 3, 4, 29, 30, 57 

Son, 8472, 8972, 11872, 1 2 172, 13372 

138, 139, 140, 141, 14472, 15472, 

15572, i97. 

Manningham, John, 228. 
Markham, 197. 
Marlowe, Christopher, 59, 198, 217, 


Marmion, see Marmyon. 
Marmyon, Shakerly, 78. 
Marston, John, 41, 45, 121, 208. 
Marston, Thomas, 45. 
Martinelli, Drusiano, 2. 

, Tristano, 2. 

Masks, Italian, 2. 
Massinger, Philip, 86, 89, 236. 
Master of the Revels, 132, 134, 136, 


Mead, Jacob, 53,84-5, 155-7. 
Medicine for a Curst Wife, 127. 
Meissner, Johannes, 18272. 
Merchant of Venice, 24, 107. 
Merry Wives of Windsor, 64. 
Middleton, 208. 
Midsummer Night's Dream, A, 24, 

108, 184 
Mils, 178. 
Milton, 134. 
Moliere, 12372. 
Much Ado about Nothing, 28, 64, 


NAJERA, Duke of, 47. 
Nash, Thomas, 4, 10772, 199. 
Nine Days' Wonder, 190. 
Nobility, the : 
Sport, love for, 49 ; Stage, attitude 

towards, 8. 
North, John, 10572. 
Northbrooke, John, n. 
Nottingham, Lord, 8, 73. 

ORDISH, T. F., 972, 2572, 3072, 4972, 6672, 

7672, 90/2. 

Orlando Furioso, 199. 
Ostler, William, 37, 38, 45, 21472. 
Othello, 64. 


Parrot, H., 12172. 

Pavy, Salathiel, 45. 

Peele, 217. 

Pembroke, Earl of, 36, 83??, 144, 

Penniman, J. H., 41/2. 

Pepys, Samuel, quoted, 95. 

Performance, a first, at the Globe, 

Perkin, John, 21. 

Phaeton, 124. 

Philaster, 65. 

Phillips, Augustine, 24, 8272, 232. 

Pierce Penniless 's Supplication to the 
Devil, 199. 

Plague, Theatres, effect on, 9, 10. 

Play-bills, 106-8. 

Play-houses, see also Theatres : 
Civil War, effect on, 134 ; Public 
and Private, 34 seq. ; Suppres- 
sion of, 71-2. 

Play, Renaissance, 170. 

Plays : 

Advertisement, method of, 105-8 ; 
Authorship fees, 123-7 ; Com- 
mencement, hour of, 104 ; En- 
trance fees, 108-9 > Licensing of, 
127-135 ; Proceeds of, 138-42 ; 
Sunday performances, 104-5. 

Poetaster, the, 3, 42, 43, 44, 235. 

Pollard, Thomas, 8372, 144. 

Pope, Thomas, 179, 183, 232. 

Porters, Endymion, 131. 

Privy Council, Theatres, attitude 
towards, 72-3. 

Prologue, the, Sketch, 1 58 seq. 
Prophecy of the Cobbler, 21. 

Prynne, William, Son, 93, 96-7, 154. 

Puritans, Stage, antipathy towards, 7, 
9, 10-12, 34-5,69, 80,231. 


Ratsey, Gamaliel, 150. 

Return from Parnassus, 43, 45, 149, 

179, 189. 
Rhodes, 95. 

Rhyming Matches, 105. 
Richard II., 24. 
Richard III., 98. 
"Rings," 15,47. 

Robinson, Richard, 83, 144, 232. 
Romeo and Juliet, 24, 184. 
Rosania, 83. 
Rowe, Nicholas, 212, 219. 



Satiromastix, 45, 78. 
Scaramuccia, 174. 
Schancke, John, 83, 14972, 232. 
"School of Abuse," 21, 22, 176. 
Second part of King Henry IV., 28. 
Se janus, 64, 219, 229. 
Seven Deadly Sins, 4, 225. 
Shakespeare : 

Actor, as, 211-215, 221-2; Black- 
friars Theatre, connection with 
29; Career of, 215 seq. ; "City 
Fathers," disrespect for, 73-4 
Financial condition and salary 
of, 146-151 ; Friends of, 232 
Globe, connection with, 29, 64 
82, 148 ; Kemp and, contrasted, 
186-9; "King Cambyses vein,' 
opinion on, 191-5; Non-apprecia- 
tion of, under Charles I., 133-4 ; 
Parts taken by, 219-20 ; Plays of, 
24, 28, 79 ; Relations with ; Ben 
Jonson, 43-5, Green, 217, Tarlton, 
171; School of, 223-5; "The 
Theatre," connection with, 23-4 ; 
Theatres, played at, 218-9. 
Shankes, 144. 
Shares, Theatre, 135-146. 
Shawe, Robart, 125, 138, 153. 
Shirley, James, 83, 100, 130, 134. 
Shrewsbury, Earl of, 73. 
Sly, Thomas, 180. 

, William, 121, 179. 
Smyth, William, 20. 
Sommer, William, 177. 
Spanish Tragedy, 2, 200. 
Spencer, Gabriel, 179. 
Sports, London : 

Bear-baiting, 47-9, 206 ; Bull- 
baiting, 47-9 ; Dog and Lion 
rights, 49-51 ; River ferrying, 
and, 54-6; Theatres and, 14, 15. 
Stage : 

Italian influence on, 1-3 ; Laws 
against, 239-40 ; Nobility, atti- 
tude towards, 8 ; Puritans, atti- 
tude towards, 7, 9, 34-5 ; Shake- 
spearean, 116-7 ; Share-holding 
system, 135-146. 

Costumes during Renaissance, 113- 
4, 118 ; Properties, 118-9 ; Scenic 
arrangements, 114; Seats on 
the, 120-123. 
Staple of News, 154. 

Steevens, 3/2, 4. 

"Stews," u. 

Stockwood, John, 12. 

Stow's, Chronicle, 8o#, 81 n, gon, 96. 

Strange, Lord, Stage, attitude to- 
wards, 8. 

Street, Peter, 20, 61, 66. 

Sussex, Earl of, Stage, attitude to- 
wards, 8. 

Swanston, Heliard, 837*, 144. 

TALE OF A TUB, 131. 
Taming of the Shrew, 133. 
Tarlton, Richard : 

Character and wit of, 170, 173-7 ; 
events in life of, 171-2 ; Fuller 
on, 177; "jigs" of, 174-7; 
Kemp and, compared, 179, 180 ; 
Shakespeare, relations with, 171. 
Tarlton's Jests,i7i#, 17272, 17472, 175/2, 


Taylor, John, 53-6, 105, 106, 112. 
Taylor, Joseph, 5372, 83, 144, 208, 

223, 232. 

Tempest, the, 5272, 64. 
Theatre to let, 95. 
Theatre, the : 

Actors as shareholders, 135-146 ; 
admission fees, 109-113; Dis- 
repute of, 97 ; expenses, 113-4, 
127 ; first permanent, 8, 972, 10, 
56, 71. 

Theatres, see also Play-houses : 
General survey of London, 100- 
102 ; Privy Council opposition, 
69-71; "public and private" 
play-houses, 34 seq. ; sport in, 
14, 15. 
Theatres, London : 

Bear Garden, 61, 65, 76, 77, 90, 206. 
Blackfriars, 29, 64/2, 83, 93, 101, 
190, 229, 232, 235, 236; boy- 
actors at, 41 ; built by Burbage, 
29 seq. ; C. Burbage, statement 
by, 37 ; Notoriety of, 45 ; profits 
of, 38-9 ; share-system in, 144. 
Cockpit, 93, 96-8, 102. 
Curtain, 10, 11, 12, 19, 24-8, 56, 59, 

70, 74, 7S 93-4, i, 176, 184. 
Fortune, 41, 42, 66-70, 73, 74, 90- 

92, 101, 140, 142, 206, 208. 
Globe, 21, 29, 39, 40, 55, 70, 73, 
78, 84, 89, 93, 101, 188, 189, 206, 
229, 232 ; a first performance at, 
157-166; building and descrip- 



Theatres, London continued : 
tion of, 61-3 ; burning and re- 
building of, 79-82 ; profits of, 
I4I ; repertoire of, 64-5 ; re- 
putation of, 83 ; share system 
at, 83, 144, 148. 

Hope, 77, 85, 88, 89, 90, 101, 105, 
236, 237. 

Inn, 6, 7. 

Newington (Newington Butts), 
59, 60, 72, 77, 93, 101, 185. 

Paris Garden, 76, 78, 92. 

Phoenix, see Theatres, Cockpit. 

Red Bull, 36, 91, 95, 101. 

Rose, 55, 58-9, 65, 66, 74, 75, 77, 
93, 101, 142, 206, 217. 

Royal Drury Lane, 98. 

Salisbury Court, 100, 102. 

Swan, 55, 58^, 72, 75, 78-9, 93, 101, 

The Theatre, 10 seq., 18, 27-8, 56, 
59, 75, 93, 1, l8 45 actors of, 
23 ; Bankside, removal to, 19-21, 
61 ; built by James Burbage, 13, 
15-17 ; repertoire of, 21-2, 24. 
Whitefriars, 98-9. 

Three Ladies of London, 21. 

Timon of Athens, 64. 

Tiring House dues, 122. 

Titus Andronicus, 7$n. 

Travels of three English Brothers, 

189, 190. 

Triplicity of Cuckolds, the, 1 24. 
Troilus and Cressida, 44. 
Twelfth Night, 64, 77. 
Two Gentlemen of Verona, 24, 184. 
Tylney, Sir Edmund, 70, 128. 

UDALL, 2. 

Underwood, John, 37, 38, 45, 214^. 
Untrussing of the Humorous Poet, 

VlSCHER, 62, 77. 

Volpone, 65. 

WALSINGHAM, Sir Francis, 8. 

Warner, G. F., 57*. 

Webster, 208, 229. 

Wilson, Robert, 21, ijin, 178, 225. 

Winchester, Bishop of, see Gardiner, 


Winter's Tale, 64, 133. 
Woman is a Weathercock, 236. 
Woodward, Jone, 58. 
Wotton, Sir Henry, 8o. 

ZOEGA, 182. 







Mantzius, Karl 

A history of theatrical