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of ti|0 

of '(Knrottto 

The Estate of the late 
Effie M. K. Glass 




A Life of 

William Shakespeare 


William J. Rolfe, Litt. D, 


Dana Estes & Company 

Copyright, 1901 

Copyright, 1904 


Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Slmonds & Co. 
Boston, Mass., U. S. A. 


THE manuscript of this Life was finished, except for 
the Notes, in May, 1901, and from the beginning of June 
to the middle of September was kept in a Safety Vault at 
Cambridge. In October it mysteriously disappeared from 
my library. Though I had little doubt by whom it was 
taken, the evidence was purely circumstantial ; and for 
that and other reasons it was impossible for me to make 
any effort to regain possession of it. The person who 
took it intended, after reading it, to return it without 
betraying himself, but he was afterwards tempted to put 
it into other hands with a false statement of its history, 
possibly with a view to its being utilized, in part if not 
as a whole, in print. This can hardly be done with 
safety, but it has' complicated the affair and interfered 
with the return of the manuscript in time for it to go to 
press as promised. 

I have therefore been compelled to undertake the 
depressing task of rewriting it, and the present volume 
is the result. Whether it is better for being a twice-told 
tale I cannot say, but I am inclined to think it is no 
worse. My aim has been to give the main facts, tradi 
tions, and conjectures concerning Shakespeare's personal 
and literary history, adding, so far as my limits allow, 
the evidence for the facts and the reasons for accepting 


ii Preface 

or rejecting the traditions and conjectures. Biographers 
have never agreed, and probably never will agree, on 
many of these doubtful or disputed matters. I have 
endeavoured to be fair in stating theories and opinions 
which I feel obliged to' criticize, generally letting their 
authors or advocates speak for themselves, and leaving 
the reader to judge whether they are right or I am. 

My indebtedness to Halliwell-Phillipps is acknowledged 
on almost every page, and is even greater than is explic 
itly recognized. He sent me the successive editions of 
his Outlines, and we discussed many points in them by 
correspondence. In the prefaces to the latest editions he 
mentions five persons by name to whom his " gratitude " 
for " substantial corrections " is " restricted," and of these 
I happen to be the only one in this country. 

To Mr. Sidney Lee's more recent Life of Shakespeare 
I have also been indebted, though I have sometimes had 
to disagree with him, particularly on the history and 
interpretation of the Sonnets. 

Shakespeare's Poems (aside from the Sonnets) have 
received comparatively slight attention from his biog 
raphers and editors. In my edition of his works I 
attempted to treat them as thoroughly as the plays, and 
I have followed the same course here, quoting freely 
from the few critics who, to my thinking, have done 
justice to the real merit and interest of these early poet 
ical productions, which have been quite overshadowed by 
the author's later and greater achievements in dramatic 

In the Bibliography, which is necessarily a brief selec 
tion from material that would fill a volume larger than 
this, I have given a fuller account of the typographical 
peculiarities of the first folio than I have seen elsewhere. 

Preface iii 

It will suffice, I think, to prove beyond all question that 
the folio could not have been edited by Bacon, as the 
"cranks" I cannot call them critics who believe 
him to be the author of the plays have assumed, making 
it, indeed, the corner-stone of their crazy hypothesis. 

W. J. R. 

Cambridge, April 23, 1902. 

THIS life was written as a supplement to the New 
Century (subscription) Edition of " Shakespeare," and 
for this reason has not been hitherto available as an 
independent work. As neither time nor care was spared 
on the preparation for its original appearance, no 
addition or alteration has been deemed necessary or 

The portrait of Doctor Rolfe was prepared for the 
book as first published, but he declined to permit its 
insertion. Tt is with extreme reluctance that he yields 
to the request of the publishers that it may appear in 
the present edition. 








GOWER MONUMENT . ...... 224 






MORE than one biographer of Shakespeare has 
begun by quoting what George Steevens wrote 
somewhat more than a hundred years ago: "All 
that is known with any degree of certainty con 
cerning Shakespeare is, that he was born at Strat 
ford - on - Avon ; married and had children there; 
went to London, where he commenced actor and 
wrote poems and plays ; returned to Stratford, 
made his will, died, and was buried." And Ten 
nyson is reputed to have said that "the world 
should be thankful that there are but five facts 
absolutely known to us about Shakespeare: the 
date of his birth, April 23, 1564; his marriage at 
nineteen to Anne Hathaway; his connection with 
the Globe theatre and with Blackf riars ; his retire 
ment from theatrical life, with a competency, to 
Stratford; and the date of his death, which took 
place upon the anniversary of his birth, 1616." 

2 Life of Shakespeare 

It should be understood, however, that there is 
nothing exceptional in this, though certain folk who 
deny that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare have laid 
much stress upon it. The biographies of the great 
majority of literary men of that time, especially 
the dramatists, are as meagre as Shakespeare's or 
more so. In the latest sketch of the lives of Beau 
mont and Fletcher (in the " Mermaid Series ") the 
first sentence reads thus : " Beaumont and Fletcher, 
though not of obscure origin, like the greater num 
ber of their fellow dramatists, yet afford no ex 
ception to the general rule in the obscurity that 
surrounds their lives." Those who desire to see 
" all the scraps of information that can be collected 
concerning either poet" are referred to Mr. Dyce's 
introduction to his edition of their works. The 
volume of the same series devoted to Webster and 
Tourneur says: "Nothing is known about the lives 
of John Webster and Cyril Tourneur. We are 
ignorant where they were born and when they 
died," etc. The personal history of Marlowe, Mas- 
singer, Middleton, and others is much the same. 

As I have intimated, this is also true of other 
great authors than dramatists. Professor Hales 
begins the introduction to the "Globe" edition 
of Spenser as follows: "The life of Spenser is 
wrapt in a similar obscurity to that which hides 
from us his great predecessor Chaucer, and his still 
greater contemporary Shakespeare. As in the case 
of Chaucer, our principal external authorities are 

Introductory 3 

a few meagre entries in certain official documents, 
and such facts as may be gathered from his works. 
The birth-year of each poet is determined by infer 
ence. The circumstances in which each died are a 
matter of controversy. What sure information we 
have of the intervening events of the life of each 
one is scanty and interrupted ; " and so on. 

We need not wonder, then, that Mr. Halliwell- 
Phillipps, in the preface to his Outlines of the Life 
of Shakespeare, compares "the fragments of the 
personal history of the dramatist which have hith 
erto been discovered" to "the remains of New 
Place" (the residence of Shakespeare in his later 
years), which consist of a few stones and bricks of 
the foundations, absolutely nothing being left of the 
structure that rested upon them. He adds: "In 
this respect the great dramatist participates in the 
fate of most of his literary contemporaries, for if a 
collection of the known facts relating to all of them 
were tabularly arranged, it would be found that the 
number of the ascertained particulars of his life 
reached at least the average. At the present day, 
with biography carried to a wasteful and ridiculous 
excess, and Shakespeare the idol not merely of a 
nation but of the educated world, it is difficult to 
realize a period when no interest was taken in the 
events of the lives of authors, and when the great 
poet himself, notwithstanding the immense popular 
ity of some of his works, was held in no general 
reverence. It must be borne in mind that actors 

4 Life of Shakespeare 

then occupied an inferior position in society, and 
that in many quarters even the vocation of a dra 
matic writer was considered scarcely respectable. 
The intelligent appreciation of genius by individuals 
was not sufficient to neutralize in these matters the 
effect of public opinion and the animosity of the re 
ligious world; all circumstances thus uniting to 
banish general interest in the history of persons 
connected in any way with the stage. This bio 
graphical indifference continued for many years, 
and long before the season arrived for a real curi 
osity to be taken in the subject, the records from 
which alone a satisfactory memoir could have been 
constructed had disappeared. At the time of Shake 
speare's decease, non-political correspondence was 
rarely preserved, elaborate diaries were not the 
fashion, and no one, excepting in semi-apocryphal 
collections of jests, thought it worth while to record 
many of the sayings and doings, or to delineate at 
any length the characters, of actors and dramatists, 
so that it is generally by the merest accident that 
particulars of interest respecting them have been 

Still, as Karl Elze remarks, "we might have 
possessed more biographical material relating to 
Shakespeare, were it not that political and other 
events combined to destroy what existed. The 
Civil Wars, Puritanism, and a strange succession 
of conflagrations, are to blame for having destroyed 
the few records of Shakespeare's life that had sur- 

Introductory 5 

vived his day. Upon the accession of Charles I. 
only a few years after Shakespeare's death, and but 
two years after the publication of his works [in the 
folio of 1623], the political affairs of the country 
assumed so serious and threatening an aspect that 
all other considerations were thrust into the back 
ground more especially everything connected with 
the drama, which, as is well known, was one of the 
first things attacked by the fanaticism of the Puri 
tans. The appreciation of and interest in litera 
ture especially in dramatic literature which 
had shortly before risen to an unparalleled height, 
and which had affected all the different strata of 
the nation, died out, or rather was stifled by main 
force; and this change was accomplished with ex 
traordinary rapidity and with a force that hurled 
down everything that came in its way. . . . The 
neglect into which Shakespeare was allowed to fall 
can be accounted for only by the fact that the 
political revolution was also a complete upturning 
of the whole social fabric, and of the moral, literary, 
and aesthetic ideas which affected the very character 
of the nation." 

Besides these political events, other causes, as 
already stated, helped in the destruction. Chief 
among these was a series of fires, which, by a 
strange coincidence, destroyed all the buildings 
where any papers of Shakespeare's, or records of 
his life, might have been obtained. In 1613, during 
a performance of Henry VIII. , the Globe theatre 

6 Life of Shakespeare 

was burned, and in all probability manuscripts of 
the poet, or other written records relating to the 
history and management of this theatre, were des 
troyed at that time. In the following year, a second 
conflagration devastated a large portion of Strat 
ford, and although New Place was spared, it may 
be assumed, as fifty-four houses fell victims to the 
flames, that many records and important papers 
referring to Shakespeare's family were then lost. 
A few years later a fire broke out in Ben Jonson's 
house, destroying more especially books and papers. 
There can be no doubt that among his papers were 
letters of Shakespeare, and editions of single works, 
even though Ben Jonson does not mention this fact 
in the poem ("An Execration upon Vulcan") in 
which he recounts his losses. It is probable also 
that the Great Fire of London, in 1666, still further 
lessened the scanty memorials of Shakespeare's life 
and work. 

Moreover, he himself appears to have made no 
effort to leave any record of his life to posterity. 
He did not trouble himself about the printing or 
the preservation of his works. It is true that they 
were not written with a view to being printed, but 
were doubtless sold outright to theatrical managers 
for representation upon the stage ; but, though a 
poet, he was eminently practical, knew how to make 
and invest money and to take good care of his prop 
erty, and we may be sure that he preserved the 
legal and other documents relating to these business 

Introductory 7 

transactions. Doubtless lie also had manuscripts of 
some if not all of his works and copies of some 
of the editions that had been published ; and these 
may have had corrections and other memoranda 
that would throw light upon their history and upon 
many textual and other questions that perplex edi 
tors and critics. But his will makes no reference 
to books, manuscripts, documents, letters, or other 
written matter in which he was interested. These 
may have been informally entrusted to his family, 
but, if so, they do not appear to have taken care for 
their preservation. We have no evidence that they 
did anything to honour his memory except by the 
erection of the monument in the Stratford church. 
This apparent neglect, it has been suggested, may 
be due not so much to any want of esteem or affec 
tion as to the fact that he left no male heir. 
"After his death there was no one who could be 
regarded as the representative of the family, and for 
whom it would have been a matter both of pride 
and of duty to cherish the memory of its founder." 
His daughters had married, and had family cares 
and interests of their own. Tradition says that 
Lady Barnard (the only grandchild of the poet who 
lived to be twenty years old), upon her second mar 
riage, took certain family documents with her to 
her future home; but not even tradition pretends 
to tell what became of them. It appears from the 
records of litigation concerning her rights in New 
Place, in which she was engaged after the death of 

8 Life of Shakespeare 

her first husband, that she inherited the shrewd 
business qualities of her grandfather. At that time 
she states that she " hath in her hands or custodie 
many deeds, evidences, writings, charters, escripts, 
and muniments, which concern the lands and prem 
ises which the defendant claymeth as her inherit 
ance, and other the lands which are the defendant's 
joynture, and are devised to her by the said Thomas 
Nash." Besides the title deeds of New Place and 
other documents relating to that estate, here referred 
to, it is not unlikely that she had preserved other 
papers and memorials connected with the history of 
Shakespeare. She was only eight years old when 
he died, but that he was very fond of her is proved 
by his bequeathing to her nearly all his plate in 
addition to a valuable contingent interest in his 
estate. We can imagine that she had a childish 
affection for him which developed and strengthened 
in after years, and that she treasured many memen 
toes of him which, as she left no descendants, were 
subsequently scattered and lost. 

Unfortunately, the first biography of Shakespeare 
worthy of the name was not written until 1709, or 
nearly a century after his death, being prepared by 
Nicholas Howe as an introduction to his edition of 
the poet's works. It was based mainly upon the 
researches of Betterton the actor, who a few years 
earlier (the precise date is uncertain) had visited 
Stratford for the express purpose of ascertaining 
what could be learned there concerning the personal 

Introductory 9 

history of the dramatist. He communicated the 
results of his investigations to Kowe, who incor 
porated the better part of them in his biographical 
sketch. Rowe says, in referring to Betterton, " I 
must own a particular obligation to him for the 
most considerable part of the passages relating to 
his life which I have here transmitted to the pub 
lic, his veneration for the memory of Shakespeare 
having engaged him to make a journey into War 
wickshire on purpose to gather up what remains he 
could of a name for which he had so great a value." 
We are indebted to Kowe for the rescue of these 
and other fragments of information which otherwise 
would have been lost, and there is no reason for 
doubting his general accuracy. That he drew for 
the most part from reliable sources is unquestion 
able. A few errors have been detected in the minor 
details that he gives, but the more important par 
ticulars have been verified by later investigations. 
He appears to have exercised great caution in deal 
ing with his materials, discriminating carefully 
between what he regards as established fact and 
as doubtful tradition. 

With respect to the credibility of the traditional 
matter, Halliwell-Phillipps remarks in the preface 
to his Outlines : 

"There are many who question the value of the 
stray morsels collected by Betterton and others in 
the seventeenth century. The main external argu 
ment brought forward in support of their incredulity 

io Life of Shakespeare 

is the late period at which the traditions have been 
recorded. Thus it is said, and with truth, that 
there is no intimation of the poet having followed 
the trade of a butcher until nearly a century after 
wards, that the poaching exploit remained unnoticed 
for a still longer time, and so on; these long terms 
of silence being, it is considered, fatal to a depend 
ence upon such testimonies. But it appears to be 
overlooked that the Stratford biographical notices, 
unless we adopt the incredible theory that they 
were altogether gratuitous and foolish inventions, 
were in all probability mere repetitions of gossip 
belonging to a much earlier period. This gossip, it 
must be remembered, was of a character that was 
seldom jotted down, and that still more rarely 
found its way into print. Independently even of 
these considerations, the above line of argument, 
however plausible, will not bear the test of impar 
tial examination. It would apply very well to 
the present age, when incessant locomotion and the 
reign of newspapers have banished the old habit 
of reliance upon hearsay for intelligence or for a 
continuity in the recollection of minor events. The 
case was very different indeed in the country towns 
and villages of bygone days, when reading of any 
kind was the luxury of the few, and intercommuni 
cation exceedingly restricted. It may be confidently 
asserted that, previously to the time of Rowe, books 
or journals were very rarely to be met with at 
Stratford-on-Avon, while the large majority of the 

Introductory 1 1 

inhabitants had never in their lives travelled beyond 
twenty or thirty miles from their homes. There 
was in fact a conversational and stagnant, not a 
reading or a travelling, population; and this state 
of things continued, with gradual but almost imper 
ceptible advances in the latter directions, until the 
development of the railway system. The oral his 
tory of local affairs thus became in former days 
imprisoned, as it were, in the districts of their 
occurrence; and it is accordingly found that, in 
some cases, provincial incidents have been handed 
down through successive generations with an accu 
racy that is truly marvellous. There has been, for 
example, a tradition current at Worcester from time 
immemorial that a robber of the sanctus-bell was 
flayed, and his skin nailed to one of the doors of 
the cathedral. This is a species of barbarity that 
must be assigned to a very remote period, and yet 
the fact of its perpetration has been established in 
recent years by a scientific analysis of fragments 
hanging to an ancient door which is still preserved 
in the crypt. Other instances nearly as curious 
might be adduced, including the verification of one 
of B/owe's statements that was first given by him 
from an oral source a hundred and thirty years 
after the period to which it refers." 

A few of these traditions had been neted in 
manuscript or in print, as well as some slight 
mention of facts in Shakespeare's life, before the 
appearance of Howe's brief biography. 

12 Life of Shakespeare 

We might have expected that Sir William Dug- 
dale, who was born in 1605, eleven years before the 
death of Shakespeare, and whose Antiquities of 
Warwickshire was published in 1656, would have 
given us some valuable information concerning the 
personal history of the poet, but he barely mentions 
him in describing the church and tombs at Stratford. 

Fuller, in his Worthies (1662), has a very brief 
account of Shakespeare, which contains no informa 
tion of value or interest. In the same year (1662) 
the Rev. John Ward, vicar of Stratford, recorded 
in his memorandum-book certain traditions about 
the dramatist. Although he had settled in the 
town only in that year, there can be no doubt 
that he reports accurately the local gossip of the 
time. Many people were then living who must have 
known Shakespeare personally; and his daughter 
survived until 1662. It is to be regretted that the 
vicar did not collect more information from these 
and other available sources than he has preserved 
for us. 

In 1675 Edward Phillips, the nephew of Milton, 
in his Theatrum Poeticum, writes thus: "William 
Shakespeare, the glory of the English stage, whose 
nativity at Stratford-on-Avon is the highest honour 
that town can boast of, from an actor of tragedies 
and comedies, he became a maker ; and such a maker 
that, though some others may pretend to a more 
exact decorum and economy, especially in tragedy, 
never any expressed a more lofty and tragick height ; 

Introductory 13 

never any represented nature more purely to the 
life; and where the polishments of art are most 
wanting, as probably his learning was not extraor 
dinary, he phraseth with a certain wild and native 
elegance ; and in all his writings hath an unvulgar 
style, as well in his Venus and Adonis, his Rape 
of Lucrece, and other various poems, as in his dra- 

Malone, after quoting this, remarks : " I had long 
since observed, in the margin of my copy of this 
book, that the hand of Milton, who was the author's 
uncle, might be traced in the preface, and in the 
passage above quoted. The book was licensed for 
publication two months before the death of that 
poet. My late friend, Mr. Warton, has made the 
same observation." 

About 1680, John Aubrey, the antiquary, in his 
Minutes of Lives, the manuscript of which he sent 
to Anthony Wood for use in his Athence Oxonienses, 
recorded certain traditions concerning Shakespeare 
that he had gathered in a visit to Stratford. Halli- 
well-Phillipps doubts whether Aubrey is as trust 
worthy as Ward. He says of him : 

"This industrious antiquary was the author of 
numerous little biographies, which are here and 
there disfigured by such palpable or ascertained 
blunders, that it would appear that he must have 
been in the habit of compiling from imperfect notes 
of conversations, or, no doubt in many instances, 
from his own recollections of them. He was unfor- 

14 Life of Shakespeare 

tunately also one of those foolish and detestable 
gossips who record everything that they hear or 
misinterpret, and this without so much as giving 
a thought to the damage that they may inflict upon 
the reputation of their victims. It would, there 
fore, be hazardous as a rule to depend upon his 
statements in the absence of corroborative evidence, 
but we may at the same time in a great measure 
rely upon the accuracy of main facts in those cases 
in which there is too much elaboration for his mem 
ory to have been entirely at fault. We need not, 
for instance, give credence to his assertion that 
Shakespeare's father was a butcher, in the literal 
sense of that term, but it is scarcely possible that 
he would have given the story about the calf if he 
had not been told that the poet himself had fol 
lowed the occupation. In the same way, although 
it is obvious that the anecdote respecting the con 
stable l is incorrectly narrated, no one should hesitate 

!The "calf" story is told by Aubrey thus : "His father 
was a butcher ; and I have been told heretofore by some of 
the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his 
father's trade ; but when he kill'd a calfe, he would doe it in 
a high style, and make a speech." As to the "constable," 
Aubrey, after remarking that Shakespeare " drew his charac 
ters from the different persons that he met," adds that "the 
constable in the Midsummer-Nights Dream" (he probably 
meant Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing) was drawn 
from a certain constable at Grendon, Buckinghamshire, 
where Shakespeare staid one Midsummer night on his way 
from London to Stratford. 

Introductory 15 

at accepting for truth the circumstance that Shake 
speare occasionally rested at Grendon Underwood 
in taking the Aylesbury route in his journeys be- 
'tween his native town and the metropolis. Very 
meagre indeed are the fragments of information to 
be safely collected from Aubrey." 

In 1693, a traveller named Dowdall, who visited 
and described Stratford and several other towns 
in Warwickshire, gives the inscriptions on Shake 
speare's monument, and adds a few traditions which 
he got from William Castle, who was then the par 
ish clerk and sexton. He told Dowdall that Shake 
speare's father was a butcher (and Aubrey also cites 
him as authority for the statement), but does not 
add the " calf " story. Halliwell-Phillipps believes 
that Castle was " a person who could have had no 
motive for deception in such matters ; and the main 
facts of the poet's Stratford life would, moreover, 
have been clearly known in that town all through 
the seventeenth century." 

About the same time the Rev. Richard Davies, 
rector of Sapperton in Gloucestershire, added a few 
notes on the life of the dramatist to a manuscript 
biographical dictionary; and these were evidently 
drawn from oral sources not unworthy of credence. 

For almost a century after the appearance of 
Eowe's Life of Shakespeare no serious attempt was 
made to improve upon it. Pope, Johnson, and 
Steevens in the biographical sketches prefixed to 
their editions substantially repeated Eowe's matter. 

1 6 Life of Shakespeare 

Malone was the first to attempt a biography on a 
more extended scale. In the introductions to the 
Variorum editions of 1803, 1813, and 1821 he pre 
sented a large amount of new information, based on 
his researches in the Stratford records, the manu 
scripts collected by the actor and manager, Edward 
Alleyn, at Dulwich, and official records and docu 
ments in London. His Life of Shakespeare, as 
completed and published in the Variorum of 1821, 
fills 287 octavo pages ; and to this the discussion of 
the chronological order of the plays adds 180 pages 

Of the many contributions to Shakespearian biog 
raphy since the time of Malone it is not my purpose 
to attempt any detailed account here. The most 
important of these have been made by Halliwell- 
Phillipps, who, between 1850 and his death in 1889, 
made elaborate investigations in the Stratford ar 
chives and other ancient records and documents 
likely to throw light on the history of Shake 
speare and his works, and printed the results of 
his researches in successive publications and finally 
in the monumental work in two royal octavo vol 
umes which he modestly entitled Outlines of the 
Life of Shakespeare, the ninth edition of which was 
issued in 1890. 

Mr. Sidney Lee's Life of Shakespeare (1898) is 
the most noteworthy of the other biographies of the 
dramatist published in the last half -century. 



THE name Shakespeare occurs in widely separated 
parts of England from the thirteenth century. A 
Simon Shakespeye (probably Shakespere) is men 
tioned as living in Gloucestershire in 1260; and 
a Geoffrey Shakespeare in Surrey in 1268. Simon 
Sakesper was in the service of the Crown in 1278 
as "herderer of the Forest of Essex; >? and a John 
Shakespeare appears in a judicial case in 127879 
at Freyndon in Kent. A Henry Shakespere was a 
resident of Kirkland, near Penrith, as early as 1349, 
and "the land of Allan Shakespeare" occurs in 
connection with a conveyance of landed property 
in Penrith in 1398, when a William Shakespeare 
was one of the witnesses. There were also Shake- 
speares in Nottingham between 1357 and 1360. 

The earliest appearance of the name that has 
been discovered in Warwickshire is in 1359, when 
two bailiffs of Coventry " account for the property 
of Thomas Shakespere, felon, who had left his goods 
and fled." 

Other Shakespeares, at about the same time, 
appear to have been no less disreputable. In cer- 


1 8 Life of Shakespeare 

tain records of the reign of Richard II. (from June, 
1377, to June, 1379) there is an entry of " Walter 
Shakespere, formerly in gaol in Colchester Castle ; " 
and a John Shakespeare was " imprisoned in Col 
chester gaol as a perturbator of the King's peace/' 
March 3rd, 1381. A few other notices of Shake- 
speares in the fourteenth century have been col 
lected by Mrs. Stopes (Shakespeare's Family, 1901) 
and others. In the fifteenth century the name is 
often found in parish and other records, particularly 
in Warwickshire, in the town of Warwick, in 
Stratford, Snitterfield, Wraxhall, Temple Balsall, 
Rowington, Pachwood, Little Packington, Kenil- 
worth, Charlecote, Coventry, Hampton, Lapworth, 
Nuneaton, Kington, and many other places. At 
Eowington, twelve miles from Stratford, "one of 
the most prolific Shakespeare families resided, and 
no less than three Richard Shakespeares of Rowing- 
ton, whose extant wills were proved respectively in 
1560, 1591, and 1614, were fathers of sons called 
William" (Lee). 

The origin of the name has been the subject of 
controversy, but it is generally agreed that it is 
compounded of shake and spear, and was suggested 
by the bearing of arms or feats of arms. Verstegan 
(Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1605) says: 
"Breakspear, Shakespeare, and the lyke, have bin 
surnames imposed upon the first bearers of them 
for valour and feates of armes ; " and Camden (Re 
mains, 1605) remarks : " Some are named from that 

The Name of Shakespeare 19 

which they commonly carried, as Palmer, that is, 
Pilgrime, for that they carried palme when they 
returned from Hierusalem; Long-sword, Broad- 
speare, Fortescu, that is Strong-shield, and in some 
respect Break-speare, Shake-speare, Shot>bolt, Wag- 
staffe." In The Polydoron (a work of the same 
period, though without date) it is stated that names 
" were first questionlesse given for distinction, f acul- 
tie, consanguinity, desert, quality, ... as Arme- 
strong, Shakespeare, of high quality." 

Mr. Charles W. Bardsley (English Surnames, 
2d ed. 1875) thinks that Shakespeare belongs to a 
class of nicknames that became hereditary. He 
adds : " The nicknames given to lower-class officials 
some centuries ago were invariably hits at the offi 
cious and meddlesome character of their duties." 
Such names generally referred to the implement 
or badge of office, with the additional wag or shake. 
Thus we find shake-buckler (in Halliwell), shake- 
lock (as the designation of a turnkey), Waggestaff 
(in the Hundred Rolls), Wag-tail, Wagspere ; and 
the still existing Waghorn, Simon Shake-lok, Henry 
Shake-launce, and Hugh Shakeshaft occur in ancient 
records. In the year 1487 a student at Oxford of 
the name of Shakespeare changed it into Sawndare 
(Saunders) because he considered his name too 
common (Hugh Sawndare, alias dictus Shakspere, 
sed mutatum est istud nomen ejus, quod vile repu- 
tatum). Bardsley therefore comes to the conclusion 
that William Shakespeare was undoubtedly the de- 

2o Life of Shakespeare 

scendant of some "officer of the law, or one who 
held service under some feudal lord;" and Karl 
Elze (Life of Shakespeare, English ed. 1888) is 
inclined to agree with him, because " we know from 
documentary evidence that all the families of the 
name of Shakespeare belonged to the lower strata 
of the nation, to the yeomanry or agricultural class ; 
only two instances have been pointed out where the 
families belonged to the upper ranks." 

Mr. Charles Mackay (Athenceum, 1875, ii. 437) 
maintains that the name is of Celtic origin, " com 
posed of shac or seac = dry, and spier = shanks, and 
ought properly to be written Schacspeir or Chaksper, 
as, in fact, the poet's father spelt his name." He 
compares Sheepshank and Cruikshank. 

Among other fanciful etymologies "Jacques 
Pierre " may be mentioned as perhaps the most 

The orthography of the name has also been the 
subject of much controversy. In the only five sig 
natures of the dramatist the authenticity of which 
is undisputed, the spelling appears to be Shakspere, 
though in two of them the second syllable is not 
easily deciphered, and some experts in paleography 
read them as Shakspeare. But at that time men 
often wrote their names in more than one way. 
Dr. John Hall, Shakespeare's son-in-law, signed 
himself Hawle as well as Hall. Thomas Quiney's 
name in the fac-similes of his signature given by 
Halliwell-Phillipps in his Outlines (i. 256), appears 

The Name of Shakespeare 21 

as Quyney, Quyneye, and Conoy, and elsewhere we 
find other variations. Edward Alleyn used the 
forms Alleyn, Aleyn, Allen, and Allin. Many other 
instances of the kind might be cited from contempo 
raneous records and documents. " The name Mar 
lowe is met with in ten different forms, Gascoigne 
in nineteen, Percy in twenty-three, Cholmondeley 
in twenty-five, Percival in twenty-nine, and Bruce 
in thirty-three different forms" (Trench). In the 
Stratford records the name of John Shakespeare, 
the poet's father, occurs in fourteen variations. Of 
these the most common are Shaxpeare (69 times), 
Shaxpere (18 times), Shakspeyr (17 times), and 
Shakespere (13 times). 

In the local pronunciation the first syllable was 
unquestionably short, as the majority of the spell 
ings indicate ; but Shakespeare's friends in London 
appear to have assumed that the name was made up 
of shake and spear, and pronounced it accordingly. 
The poet himself adopted the form Shakespeare in 
the dedication of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, the 
only editions of any of his works which it is certain 
that he personally saw through the press. In all 
the quartos with the exception of those of King 
Lear (where it is Shakspeare) it is spelt Shake 
speare, sometimes with the hyphen between the 
syllables. This is also the form in the Sonnets 
(1609) and in all four folio editions, as well as in 
the " Commendatory Verses " prefixed to the folios 
and in all other cases, so far as I am aware, where the 

22 Life of Shakespeare 

poet is mentioned by contemporary writers. Karl 
Elze, in his discussion of the subject, remarks : 
" Halliwell[-Phillipps] refers his readers to Mil 
ton's Epitaph: 

< What need my Shakespeare, for his honoured bones,' etc., 

and is shocked at the mere thought that the name 
there could be read with a short first syllable. In 
like manner, all the witticisms to which the name 
gave rise presuppose the emphasis on the first syl 
lable. Greene's jest, that Shakespeare considered 
himself 'the onlie Shake-scene in a country;' 
Thomas Bancroft's epigram: 

< Thou hast so used thy pen, or shook thy speare, 
That poets startle ; ' 

Ben Jonson's famous line : 

' In each of which he seems to shake a lance ; ' 

the passage in Histrio-Mastix, act ii., where Troilus 
says to Cressida : 

' Thy knight his valiant elbow wears, 
That when he shakes his furious speare 
The foe in shivering fearful sort 
May lay him down in death to snort ; ' 

and Spenser's allusion to Shakespeare : 

* Whose muse full of high thought's invention 
Doth, like himself, heroically sound/ 

The Name of Shakespeare 23 

would otherwise completely lose their point. Still, 
it is not only the early editions of his works that 
give the form Shakespeare, it is also met with in the 
London records. In the document relating to the 
grant of the coat-armour in 1596, the name is inva 
riably spelt Shakespeare ; in that of 1599 it is spelt 
Shakespere ; in the license granted by King James, 
dated May 17-19, 1603, the name is again Shake 
speare ; and in the indenture dated the llth March, 
161213, the name is likewise spelt Shakespeare. 
These facts prove with tolerable certainty that in 
London, and especially in literary and well-educated 
circles, the name was spelt and pronounced with 
the first syllable long, and that to shorten it was 
a provincialism Boaden calls it ( a Stratford bar 
barism ' an opinion which, among others, is shared 
by Disraeli in his Curiosities of Literature and by 
Halliwell, both of whom have discussed the subject. 
The Stratfordians themselves were not altogether 
unacquainted with the more refined pronunciation 
of the name, particularly in cases where a more 
careful language was required. In one of the most 
carefully-written Stratford documents 'a fine 
levied on the purchase of New Place by Shake 
speare in 1597 ? the name occurs five times, and 
on every occasion is with great distinctness spelt 
Shakespeare. The same spelling is met with in the 
other documents relating to the purchase of New 
Place. On the family tombstones in the Stratford 
church the name is also Shakespeare; only in the 

24 Life of Shakespeare 

inscription below the bust of the poet have we 
the form Shakspeare, and on Susanna's tombstone 
we have Shakespere, the first syllable long, but no 
a in the second. In like manner the poet's brother 
Gilbert signed himself Shakespere." 

Mrs. Stopes (Shakespeare's Family) notes, in 
proof that Shakespeare was "the Court spelling 
of the period," the fact that this form is found in 
"the first official record of the name." When 
Mary, Countess of Northampton, made out the 
accounts of her second husband, Sir Thomas 
Heueage, in 1594, she wrote: "To William 
Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richard Bur- 
bage," etc. She was the mother of Shakespeare's 
patron, the Earl of Southampton. In 1594 she 
married Sir Thomas Heneage, the Vice-Chamber 
lain of the Household, and that same year Shake 
speare was invited to act at Court. Sir Thomas 
died shortly after, and his widow had to superin 
tend the making up of his official books and check 
the bills. 

It may be added that the great majority of the 
editors, commentators, and critics of the nineteenth 
century have adopted the spelling Shakespeare. 
Knight, Furnivall, and Dowden are among the 
few who prefer Shakspere. Schmidt in his Lexi 
con, Abbott in his Shakespearian Grammar, Bartlett 
and Mrs. Furness in their Concordances, and Sid 
ney Lee in his Life of Shakespeare are among those 
on the other side. 


OF the ancestry of William Shakespeare we have 
little knowledge. His father, John Shakespeare, 
must have come to Stratford before 1552, in which 
year he was a resident in Henley Street and one 
of three persons who were fined twelvepence each 
for a violation of the sanitary regulations of the 
town. The relatively large sum indicates that he 
must have been then a substantial householder. 

There is little doubt that he came to Stratford 
from Snitterfield, a village about three miles dis 
tant, and that he was a son of Richard Shake 
speare, the tenant of a farm owned by Robert 
Arden, whose daughter Mary afterwards became 
John's wife. Richard is mentioned in legal docu 
ments dated 1535, 1550, and 1560, and in a will 
made in 1543. He had another son named Henry, 
and Thomas Shakespeare living in Snitterfield at 
that time may have been a third son. Richard 
died in the latter part of 1560, and letters of ad 
ministration on his property were issued to his son 
John in the following February. 


a6 Life of Shakespeare 

In a law suit of 1556 John Shakespeare was 
styled a " glover ; " and in the same year he bought 
a house in Greenhill Street and another in Henley 
Street, which was the eastern half of the building 
now known as the Birthplace. Whether he had 
previously lived as a tenant in this tenement or 
in the western half has not been satisfactorily 

In 1557 the exact date is not known he 
married Mary Arden, the youngest daughter of 
Robert Arden, a well-to-do farmer of Wilmecote, 
near Stratford, who had died a few months be 
fore. He owned two farmhouses and a hundred 
acres of land at Snitterfield, which were rented 
to tenants, and a house, with about fifty acres of 
land, at Wilmecote, occupied by himself. This 
latter estate was known as Asbies or Ashbies. 

The Ardens were an old and respected family in 
Warwickshire, but the precise relationship of Rob 
ert Arden to them is uncertain. His father was a 
Thomas Arden, whom Mrs. Stopes believes to have 
been the second son of "Walter Arden of Park 
Hall, sixteenth in descent from the Saxon sheriff 
Ailwin." Later, as we shall see, John Shakespeare 
made application for the impalement of the Arden 
arms with his own, and the Heralds at first tricked 
the arms of the Ardens of Park Hall, but after 
wards substituted those of the Ardens of Alvanley 
in Cheshire. But, according to Mrs. Stopes, the 
reason for this " lay in no breach of connection, but 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 27 

in the fact that Mary Arden was an heiress, not in 
the eldest line, but through a second son," and the 
possible arms for a younger son were those borne 
as such by the Ardens of Alvanley. However that 
may be, and whether Mary Arden was " of gentle 
birth" or not, the honour of being the mother of 
Shakespeare was far higher than any connection 
with the Ardens of Park Hall could have given 

Robert Arden was twice married and had seven 
daughters. The name of his first wife is not 
known; the second was widow of a substantial 
farmer named Hill, her maiden name being Agnes 

Mary was evidently her father's favourite child. 
In his will (made November 23, 1556) he mentions 
her first and gives her the largest share of his prop 
erty : " I bequeathe to my youngest daughter Marye 
all my land at Willincote caulide Asbyes, and the 
crop upon the grounde sown and tythde as hitt is 
. . . and vi n xiii s iiii d of money to be paid her or 
ere my goodes be devided." 

Robert Arden' s movable goods were valued at 
77, 11s. 10e. Among the articles mentioned are a 
feather bed with two mattresses, a coverlet/ three 
bolsters, one pillow, five board-cloths, three towels 
(among these a coloured one), 6s. Sd. in cash, etc. 
In the kitchen were four pans, four pots, three can 
dlesticks, a chafing-dish, a frying-pan, a gridiron; 
further, an axe, two hatchets, four casks, four pails, 

28 Life of Shakespeare 

a baking-trough, a hand-saw, etc. The inventory of 
live stock consisted of eight oxen, two bulls, seven 
cows and four calves, amounting to 24 in value 
altogether ; of four horses and three foals, estimated 
at 8 ; of some fifty-two sheep, valued at 7 ; nine 
pigs valued at 26s. 8d; of bees and fowls, valued 
at 5s., etc. 

After quoting these items from the inventory 
Karl Elze remarks: "How simple, nay, how 
meagre were the possessions of the household! 
With the exception of the marriage-bed no others 
are mentioned, so that the daughters probably slept 
on sacks of straw or coarse mats. And how few 
the articles of household furniture! The only 
things beyond the absolute necessaries of life are 
two painted cloths in the hall, five similar ones in 
the chamber, and four others of the same sort men 
tioned without its being specified where they were 
used. There is not a word about vessels for eating 
and drinking, nor any mention of articles of silver or 
even tin. The family probably used wooden spoons 
and bowls forks were not then used in England. 
Nevertheless, this family, although by no means 
rich, occupied a position higher both as regards 
rank *and wealth than did the Shakespeares, and 
Mary Arden was decidedly what is called a good 
match for John Shakespeare." 

Halliwell-Phillipps also says : " The appointments 
of the dwelling were probably superior on the whole 
to those which were to be found in other residences 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 29 

of the same class, including no fewer than eleven 
painted-cloths, a species of artistic decoration that 
was in those days a favourite substitute for the 
more expensive tapestry. Pictures of the kind that 
are now familiar to us were then very rarely indeed 
to be seen, excepting in palaces or in the larger 
mansions of the nobility. These painted-cloths 
were generally formed of canvas upon which were 
depicted the Seven Ages of Man, the Story of the 
Prodigal, and such like ; grotesque accompaniments, 
in one or more of the rooms, to the ' bacon in the 
roof. 7 

"The inventory of Robert Arden's goods enables 
us to realize the kind of life that was followed by 
the poet's mother during her girlhood. In the total 
absence of books or means of intellectual education, 
her acquirements must have been restricted to an 
experimental knowledge of matters [connected with 
the farm and its house. There can be no doubt 
that the maiden with the pretty name, she who has 
been so often represented as a nymph of the forest, 
communing with nothing less aesthetic than a night 
ingale or a waterfall, spent most of her time in the 
homeliest of rustic employments ; and it is not at 
all improbable that, in common with many other 
farmers' daughters of the period, she occasionally 
assisted in the more robust occupations of the field. 
It is at all events not very likely that a woman, un 
endowed with an exceptionally healthy and vigorous 
frame, could have been the parent of a Shakespeare. 

jo Life of Shakespeare 

Of her personal character or social gifts nothing 
whatever is known." 

Neither do we know what was her age at the 
time of her marriage; but it seems probable that 
the youngest of so large a family, who survived till 
1608 and outlived her sisters by many years, was 
in her teens when John Shakespeare had the good 
fortune to win her affections. This view is not 
inconsistent with her appointment as one of the 
executors of her father's will. Swinburn, in his 
Treatise of Testaments, 1590 (quoted by Halliwell- 
Phillipps), says: "The testator hath power to 
appoint executors not onely persons of f ul age, but 
also infants, and the act done by the infant as 
executor, as the releasing of the debt due to the 
testator, or the selling or distributing of the testa 
tors goods, is saide to be sufficient in law." 

The match appears to have been every way a 
fortunate one for John Shakespeare. It gave him 
the reputation among his neighbours of having 
married an heiress and invested him with no small 
degree of local importance. He began at once to 
gain official honours from his fellow townsmen. In 
1557 he was elected as one of the ale-tasters, officers 
whose duty it was to see to the quality of malt 
liquors and bread. About the same time he was 
received into the municipal corporation as a burgess ; 
and in September, 1558, he was appointed one of 
the four petty constables. He was re-elected to the 
same office October 6th, 1559 ; and on the same day 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 31 

he was chosen one of the affeerors appointed to 
determine the fines for those offences which were 
punishable arbitrarily, and for which no express 
penalties were prescribed by statute. This latter 
office he again filled in 1561, when he was elected 
one of the two chamberlains of the borough, an 
office that he held for two years, delivering his 
second account to the corporation in the first month 
of 1564. It was the duty of the chamberlains to 
receive the rents and revenues of the corporation, 
to make all payments, and in general to attend to 
the financial business of the town. 

John Shakespeare was evidently an expert ac 
countant, and the greater part of the duties of the 
chamberlains' office appear to have devolved upon 
him. The accounts from Michaelmas, 1564, to 
Michaelmas, 1565, were put under his individual 
superintendence, as appears from the following head 
ing to them when they were submitted to the cor 
poration on February 15th, a day on which he is 
noted among the aldermen present : " The accompt 
of William Tylor and William Smythe, chambur- 
lens, made by John Shakspeyr the xvth day of 
February, in the eight yere of the reigne of our 
sovereigne Lady Elyzabeth, by the grace of God of 
Englond, Fraunce and Irelond, quene, defendor of 
the feith, etc., for one yere endyng at the feest 
of Sent Mychell tharchaungell now last past." We 
are told that " in thys accompt the chaumbur ys in 
det unto John Shakspeyr, to be payd unto hym by 

32 Life of Shakespeare 

the next chamburlein, vij.s. iij.d," an entry which 
was cancelled upon the repayment in. January, 1568. 
It is difficult to imagine John doing all this work, 
if he was unable to read and write ; but in signing 
accounts and other papers he regularly made his 
mark, as the majority of the aldermen and other 
town officers at Stratford did. It has been asserted 
that men who could write sometimes used the mark 
instead ; but Halliwell-Phillipps says : " There is no 
reasonable pretence for assuming that, in the time 
of John Shakespeare, whatever may have been the 
case at earlier periods, it was the practice for marks 
to be used by those who were capable of signing 
their names. No instance of the kind has been dis 
covered amongst the numerous records of his era 
that are preserved at Stratford-on-Avon, while even 
a few rare examples in other districts, if such are 
to be found, would be insufficient to countenance a 
theory that he was able to write. All the known 
evidences point in the opposite direction, and it 
should be observed that, in common with many 
other of his illiterate contemporaries, he did not 
always adhere to the same kind of symbol, at one 
time contenting himself with a rudely-shaped cross 
and at another delineating a fairly good representa 
tion of a pair of dividers, an instrument that is used 
in several trades for making circles, or setting off 
equal lengths in leather and other materials. John 
Lambert, the poet's aunt, and Edmund, her hus 
band, used respectively at least three and four dif- 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 33 

f event marks ; " and other instances of the kind are 
added. The same critic says elsewhere that " nearly 
all tradesmen then reckoned with counters, the 
results on important occasions being entered by 
professional scriveners." 

Sidney Lee, on the other hand, says that John 
Shakespeare, " when attesting documents, occasion 
ally made his mark, but there is evidence in the 
Stratford archives that he could write with facil 
ity." It would be interesting to know more about 
this "evidence," which , Halliwell-Phillipps, than 
whom no man was more familiar with the Stratford 
archives, failed to discover. 

In September, 1567, John Shakespeare was one of 
three persons nominated for the position of high 
bailiff, or chief magistrate, but failed of election. 
On the 4th of September the next year, however, he 
was more fortunate. At that time, according to the 
records, the corporation " procedyd to thellectione of 
theire balyf for the next yere," and John Shake 
speare was the chosen one out of the three who 
were nominated, " the names whereof one to be 
balyf, Mr. John Shakysper, Mr. Eobert Perrot, 
Eobert Salusburye." He presided as high bailiff 
at a meeting of the council held on the 1st of 
October, and at the Court of Eecord on the 6th and 
20th of the same month. In precepts that he issued 
in December he is termed, "justiciarius de pace ac 
ballivus infra burgum " (justice of the peace and 
bailiff of the town). After his year of office he was 

34 Life of Shakespeare 

always called "Master" (or "Magister") in the 

In September, 1571, he was elected chief alder 
man, and held that position for a year. While in 
office (in January, 1572) he was associated with Mr. 
Adrian Quiney, then the high bailiff, in important 
legal business. The vote of the council reads thus : 
" At this hall yt is agreed, by the asent and consent 
of the aldermen and burgeses aforeseid, that Mr. 
Adrian Queny, now baylif, and Mr. John Shake- 
spere shall at Hillary terme next ensuinge deale in 
the affayres concerninge the commen wealthe of the 
borroughe accordinge to theire discrecions." 

In 1556, as we have seen, John Shakespeare was 
called a "glover" in the town records, and he is 
again so termed, thirty years later (1586), in an 
official document. After his marriage he speculated 
in wool bought from the neighbouring farmers, and 
at times dealt also in corn and other agricultural 

In those days it was common, especially in the 
smaller towns, for several trades or lines of business 
to be thus united in the hands of a single person. 
In many cases the producer of the raw material was 
also its manufacturer. A glover, for instance, might 
raise the sheep that furnished him with leather, and 
might also be a dealer in leather and other articles 
made from it, as well as in meat and wool. This 
may explain the tradition that Shakespeare's father 
was a "butcher." It is recorded in 1595 that 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 35 

" Thomas Rogers now baielief e of this towne [Strat 
ford] besydes his butchers trade, which untill now 
of late hee allwaies used, hee ys a buyer and seller 
of corne for great somes, and withall usethe grazinge 
and buyinge and sellinge of cattell, and hathe in 
howshold xiij. persons ; " and in the same year we 
are told, under Hyghe Streete, that " Jhon Perrye 
useth sometimes his butchers trade besides his hus- 
bandrye." There can be little doubt that John 
Shakespeare, in common with other farmers and 
landowners, often killed his own beasts and pigs 
both for home consumption and for sale, but it is 
in the highest degree improbable that his leading 
business was ever that of a butcher. If that had 
been the case, there would assuredly have been some 
allusion to the fact in the local records. 

As already stated, the marriage of John Shake 
speare and Mary Arden probably took place early 
in 1557. It must have been subsequent to the 
proving of Eobert Arden's will, December 16th, 
1556, when Mary is referred to by her maiden 
name; and the baptism of her first child, Joan 
Shakespeare, occurred September 15th, 1558. This 
child died in infancy, or before the year 1569, as 
another daughter named Joan was baptized on the 
15th of April in that year, but the date of her death 
or burial is not recorded in the parish register. A 
second daughter, Margaret, baptized December 2d, 
1562, was buried April 30th, 1563. 

William, the third child and the first son, was 

36 Life of Shakespeare 

baptized April 26th, 1564, but the date of his birth 
is not known. It has been generally assumed that 
it occurred on the 23d of April (St. George's Day), 
as it was a common practice to baptize infants when 
three days old; but the rule, if rule it could be 
called, was often varied from, and there is not a 
particle of evidence that it was followed in this 
instance. Besides, the inscription on the poet's 
monument in the Stratford church tells us that 
he died on the 23d of April, 1616, in the 53d year 
of his age. If he was born on the 23d of April, 
1564, he would of course be in his 53d year after 
that date in 1616 ; but even if it is admitted (as 
some have urged) that the 53d year might be sup 
posed to begin on that day as in strictness it 
might at the recurrence of the hour of birth it is 
probable that, if he had died on that anniver 
sary, the coincidence would be mentioned in the 
inscription. On the whole, it is safe to say, with 
Halliwell-Phillipps, that the poet was born " upon 
or almost immediately before the twenty-second day 
of April, 1564, but most probably on that Satur 

De Quincey was the first to suggest that April 22d 
may have been the date ; but it should be understood 
that the 22d of April, as dates were then reckoned 
in England, corresponds to our 2d of May, New 
Style not being introduced into that country until 
the year 1752. 

Halliwell-Phillipps, referring to De Quincey's sug- 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 37 

gestion, remarks : " It was derived from the circum 
stance of the poet's only grandchild having been 
married to Thomas Nash on the 22d of April, 1626 ; 
and few things are more likely than the selection 
of her grandfather's birthday for such a celebration. 
Only ten years had elapsed since his death, and that 
he had been kind to her in her childhood may be 
safely inferred from the remembrances in the will. 
Whatever opinion may be formed respecting the pre 
cise interpretation of the record of the age under 
the monumental effigy, the latter is a certain evi 
dence that Shakespeare was not born after the 23d 
of April. It may also be fairly assumed that the 
event could not have happened many days previ 
ously, for it was almost the universal practice 
amongst the middle classes of that time to baptize 
children very shortly after birth. The notion that 
Shakespeare died on his birthday was not circulated 
until the middle of the last century, and it is com 
pletely devoid of substantial foundation. Had so 
unusual a circumstance occurred, it is all but im 
possible that it should not have been numbered 
amongst the early traditions of Stratford-on-Avon, 
and there is good evidence that no such incident 
was known in that town at the close of the seven 
teenth century." 

At the time of the poet's birth it is quite certain 
that his parents resided in the western half of the 
house in Henley Street, which tradition points out 
as his birthplace. We have seen that one of the 

38 Life of Shakespeare 

houses bought by John Shakespeare in 1556 was in 
Henley Street, and was undoubtedly the eastern 
half of this same building. He did not become 
the owner of the western half until 1575. As the 
town records show that in 1552 his residence was 
in Henley Street, it is probable that he rented and 
occupied one of these tenements at that time. It 
may have been the eastern one, which was the 
smaller, and of which he became the owner in 1556. 
His marriage in 1557 and his growing prosperity in 
business may have led him to rent the more com 
modious western tenement for residence, and to use 
the eastern one for a woolshop. Later (in 1575) he 
was able to buy the western tenement, thus becoming 
owner of the whole building. 

There is no record or any other clear evidence of 
the location of the estate purchased in 1575, but 
it is unlikely that John Shakespeare would have 
bought any other house than that which he occu 
pied either as a dwelling or as a shop. We have 
positive evidence that he owned the Henley Street 
building in 1590, and we know that his son William 
inherited it, mentioning it in his will in 1616 as 
then occupied by his sister, Joan Hart. It is un 
likely that she would have resided there if it had 
not been the home of her parents. 

On the whole, we may safely agree with Mrs. 
Stopes that "either John Shakespeare owned the 
birthplace [the western tenement] in 1552, and 
resided in it until he added the woolshop [the 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 39 

eastern tenement] in 1556 ; or he rented the birth 
place in 1552, which he purchased in 1575." 

The two tenements are collectively mentioned as 
the " house in which Shakespeare was born " in 
Winter's plan of the town, in 1759, and also in 
Greene's view, engraved in 1769. This view was 
published just before Garrick's Jubilee of 1769, but 
up to that time we find no information as to which 
of the two houses was the birthplace ; but during 
the Jubilee, the western tenement was thus desig 
nated, and the room in which the birth occurred 
was also pointed out. Mr. E-. B. Wheler, in his 
Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon (1814), says: "The 
stranger is shown a room over the butcher's shop, 
in which our bard is said to have been born ; and 
the numberless visitors, who have literally covered 
the walls of this chamber with names and other 
memorials, sufficiently evince the increasing resort 
to this hallowed roof." Mr. Wheler told Halliwell- 
Phillipps that he was indebted for the identification 
of this room to his father, who was at the Jubilee. 
The " butcher's shop " was the lower front room of 
the western tenement, and the room over it is the 
one still shown as that in which the poet was born. 

The estate remained in the possession of the 
Hart family until 1806,- when it was sold to one 
Thomas Court. His widow died in 1846, and the 
next year the property was "acquired by two com 
mittees of gentlemen, the representatives of a large 
body of independent subscribers who had come 

4O Life of Shakespeare 

forward to endeavour to save the Birthplace from 
whispered designs of an unpatriotic character. The 
purchase was completed in 1848 to four delegates 
selected from the committees, and in July, 1866, 
those nominal owners surrendered the legal estate, 
under a public trust, into the hands of the Corpora-, 
tion of Stratford " (Halliwell-Phillipps). 

The infant Shakespeare was exposed to a far 
more serious peril than the ordinary ills that baby 
hood is heir to. The plague visited Stratford in 
the latter half of 1564, and in those six months 238 
of the inhabitants were its victims, eighty-three of 
whom died in the single month of September. This 
was a full sixth of the entire population, which, 
estimated by the average number of births and 
deaths, could not have exceeded fourteen hundred. 
Almost every house in the town must have been 
visited by the scourge. That John Shakespeare's 
was spared is regarded by Karl Elze as "a proof 
that the house was kept in an orderly, cleanly, and 
rational state," notwithstanding that the occupant 
had been fined in 1552 for the heap of filth before 
the front door (page 25), and again, with four of 
his townsmen, including the high bailiff, in 1558, 
"for not kepynge ther gutters cleane." Whether 
John had profited by these sanitary lessons or not, 
some good angel watched over the cradle of the 
baby William in that terrible half-year of 1564, 
and our literature was spared a measureless and 
irreparable loss. 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 41 

John Shakespeare, like his fellows in the town 
council, appears to have been a lover of the drama. 
When he was high bailiff in 1569 licenses for per 
formances in the town were granted to the Queen's 
and the Earl of Worcester's companies of players. 
The Queen's company received nine shillings and the 
Earl's twelvepence for their first entertainments, to 
which the public were admitted free. They doubt 
less gave other performances afterwards for which 
an entrance fee was charged. 

John very likely took the five-year-old William 
to see them act. We know that in the city of 
Gloucester (only thirty miles from Stratford) a man 
took his little boy, born in the same year with 
Shakespeare, to a free dramatic performance simi 
larly provided by the corporation. In his auto 
biography, written in his old age, the good man, 
whose name was Willis, gives a quaint account of 
the experience which is worth quoting, particularly 
for the sketch of the play, which was one of the 
" moralities " then in vogue : 

" In the city of Gloucester the manner is, as I 
think it is in other like corporations, that, when 
players of enterludes come to towne, they first 
attend the Mayor to enforme him what noble-mans 
servants they are, and so to get licence for their 
publike playing ; and if the Mayor like the actors, 
or would shew respect to their lord and master, -he 
appoints them to play their first play before him- 
selfe and the Aldermen and Common Counsell of 

42 Life of Shakespeare 

the city ; and that is called the Mayors play, where 
every one that will comes in without money, the 
Mayor giving the players a reward as hee thinks fit 
to shew respect unto them. At such a play my 
father tooke me with him, and made mee stand' 
betweene his leggs as he sate upon one of the 
benches, where wee saw and heard very well. The 
play was called the Cradle of Security, wherin was 
personated a king or some great prince, with his 
courtiers of severall kinds, amongst which three 
ladies were in speciall grace with him ; and they, 
keeping him in delights and pleasures, drew him 
from his graver counsellors, hearing of sermons and 
listning to good counsell and admonitions, that, in 
the end, they got him to lye downe in a cradle upon 
the stage, where these three ladies, joyning in a 
sweet song, rocked him asleepe that he snorted 
againe; and in the rneane time closely conveyed 
under the cloaths wherewithall he was covered a 
vizard, like a swine's snout, upon his face, with 
three wire chaines fastned thereunto, the other end 
whereof being holden severally by those three ladies 
who fall to singing againe, and then discovered his 
face that the spectators might see how they had 
transformed him, going on with their singing. Whilst 
all this was acting, there came forth of another 
doore at the farthest end of the stage two old men, 
the one in blew with a serjeant-at-armes his mace 
on his shoulder, the other in red with a drawn 
sword in his hand and leaning with the other hand , 

Shakespeare's Ancestry and Birth 43 

upon the others shoulder j and. so they two went 
along in a soft pace round about by the skirt of the 
stage, till at last they came to the cradle, when all 
the court was in greatest jollity ; and then the fore 
most old man with his mace stroke a fearfull blow 
upon the cradle, whereat all the courtiers, with the 
three ladies and the vizard, all vanished ; and the 
desolate prince starting up bare-faced, and finding 
himself e thus sent for to judgement, made a lament 
able complaint of his miserable case, and so was 
carried away by wicked spirits. This prince did 
personate in the morrall the Wicked of the World ; 
the three ladies, Pride, Covetousnesse and Luxury ; 
the two old men, the End of the World and the 
Last Judgment. This sight tooke such impression 
in me that, when I came towards mans estate, it 
was as fresh in my memory as if I had seen it 
newly acted." Willis's book was entitled " Mount 
Tabor or Private Exercises of a Penitent Sinner, 
published in the yeare of his age 75, Anno Dom. 


WHEN William was seven years old he doubtless 
entered the Stratford Grammar School. That was 
the earliest age at which he could be admitted ; and 
the only other requirement, in the case of a Strat 
ford boy, was that he should be able to read ; and 
this he had probably learned at home, with the aid 
of a "horn-book," such as he afterwards referred 
to in Lovers Labour's Lost (v. 1. 49) : 

" Yes, yes ; he teaches boys the horn -book. 

What is a, b, spelt backward with the horn on its head?" 

Or he may have had an " A-B-C book," which often 
contained a catechism, in addition to the elementary 
reading matter; like that to which there is an 
allusion in King John (i. 1. 196) : 

" Now your traveller 
He and his toothpick at my worship's mess, 
And when my knightly stomach is sufficed, 
Why, then I suck my teeth and catechise 
My picked man of countries : < My dear sir,' 
Thus, leaning on my elbow, I begin, 
I shall beseech you ' that is question now ; 
And then comes answer like an Absey book." 


Shakespeare's Education 45 

The Grammar School was an ancient institution 
in Shakespeare's day, having been originally founded 
in the first half of the fifteenth century by the 
local Guild for the children of its members. The 
Guild was dissolved by Henry VIII. in 1547, and 
its possessions remained as Crown property until 
1553, the school being given up. Meanwhile the 
leading citizens the old officers of the Guild 
had petitioned Edward VI. to restore that society as 
a municipal corporation. He granted their prayer, 
and by a charter dated June 7th, 1553, put the gov 
ernment of the town in the hands of its inhabitants, 
making over the estates, revenues, and chattels of 
the Guild to the corporation. He also re-created 
the school by royal charter as "The King's New 
School of Stratford-upon-Avon." The charter de 
scribes it as "a certain free grammar school, to 
consist of one master and teacher, hereafter for ever 
to endure." The master was to be appointed by the 
Earl of Warwick, and was to receive twenty pounds 
a year from the income of certain lands given by 
the King for that purpose. A part of the expenses 
of the school is to this day paid from the same 
royal endowment. 

The training in an English free day-school in the 
time of Elizabeth depended much on the attain 
ments of the master, and these varied greatly, bad 
teachers being the rule and good ones the exception. 
" It is a general plague and complaint of the whole 
land," writes Henry Peacham in the 17th century, 

46 Life of Shakespeare 

" for, for one discreet and able teacher, you shall 
find twenty ignorant and careless ; who (among so 
many fertile and delicate wits as England aff ordeth) 
whereas they make one scholar, they mar ten." 
Eoger Ascham, some years earlier, had written in 
the same strain. In many towns the office of 
schoolmaster was conferred on " an ancient citizen 
of no great learning." Sometimes a quack con 
juring doctor had the position, like Pinch in the 
Comedy of Errors (v. 1. 237), who is called a " schoole 
master " in the stage-direction of the folio of 1623, 
and whom Antipholus of Ephesus describes as 

" One Pinch, a hungry lean -faced villain, 
A mere anatomy, a mountebank, 
A threadbare juggler, and a fortune-teller, 
A needy, hollow-eyed, sharp-looking wretch, 
A living dead man." 

In old times the village pedagogue often had the 
reputation of being a conjurer and one who could 
exorcise evil spirits perhaps because he was the 
one man in the village, except the priest, who could 
speak Latin, the only language supposed to be " un- 
derstanded of devils." 

The masters of the Stratford school at the time 
when Shakespeare probably attended it were uni 
versity men of at least fair scholarship and ability, 
as we infer from the fact that they rapidly gained 
promotion in the church. Thomas Hunt, who was 
master during the most important years of Will- 

Shakespeare's Education 47 

iam's school course, became vicar of the neigh 
bouring village of Luddington. "In the pedantic 
Holofernes of Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare 
has carefully portrayed the best type of the rural 
schoolmaster, as in Pinch he has portrayed the 
worst, and the freshness and fulness of detail im 
parted to the former portrait may easily lead to the 
conclusion that its author was drawing upon his 
own experience." We need not suppose that Holo 
fernes is the exact counterpart of Master Hunt, but 
the latter was probably, like the former, a thorough 

The studies in the school were mainly Latin, with 
writing and arithmetic and perhaps a mere smatter 
ing of other branches. A little Greek was some 
times taught in the grammar schools, and this may 
have been the case at Stratford. Ben Jonson credits 
Shakespeare with " small Latin and less Greek," 
which some critics interpret as equivalent to "no 
Greek ; " but if that had been Ben's meaning he 
would pretty certainly have put it so, for he was 
not inclined to overstate Shakespeare's classical 
attainments. "Scholars of note," as Professor J. 
W. Hales remarks, in his article on " Shakespeare's 
Greek Names" (Cornhill Magazine, Feb., 1876), be 
lieve that the "small Latin and less Greek" is 
" entirely decisive evidence" that Shakespeare's 
knowledge of these languages was "of an appre 
ciable amount, considering how high was the 
learned Ben's standard." He himself dwells on 

48 Life of Shakespeare 

"the full intelligence and mastery of their sense 
and associations with which he uses" Greek names. 
Ophelia is one of these, which E/uskin considers to 
be the Greek ox^eXta (help) and in its application 
to Polonius's daughter to have an ironical force; 
and this Professor Hales believes that " Shakespeare 
may have perceived and felt and acknowledged." 
To cite another instance, " there can be little doubt 
that the name Desdemona is from the Greek Sv<r- 
Saifjuov (ill-starred), and its singular fitness for the 
unfortunate woman who bears it will need no asser 
tion for those who really know the play." Still, as 
the critic admits, " it would be rash indeed to infer 
from such considerations that Shakespeare was a 
Greek scholar of any great pretensions ; " for it 
"cannot be demonstratively shown that he was 
conscious of the curious significances " pointed out. 
The most that can be said is that " in some cases he 
may have been so." 

The boy's first lessons in Latin were probably 
from two well-known books of the time, the Acci 
dence and the Sententice Pueriles. The examination 
of Master Page by the Welsh parson and school 
master, Sir Hugh Evans, in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor (iv. 1) is taken almost verbally from the 

The Sententice Pueriles was a collection of brief 
sentences from many authors, including moral and 
religious passages intended for the use of the boys 
on Saints' days. 

Shakespeare's Education 49 

The Latin Grammar studied by William was 
certainly Lilly's, the standard manual of the time, 
as long before and after. The first edition was pub 
lished in 1513, and one was issued as late as 1817, 
or more than three hundred years afterward. In 
The Taming of the Shrew (i. 1. 167) a passage from 
Terence is quoted in the modified form in which it 
appears in this grammar. 

In Love's Labour's Lost (iv. 2. 95) Holofernes 
quotes the "good old Mantuan," as he calls him, 
the passage being evidently a reminiscence of 
Shakespeare's schoolboy Latin. The "Mantuan" 
is not Virgil, as one might at first suppose (and 
as Mr. Andrew Lang, who is a good scholar, as 
sumes in his pleasant comments on the play in 
Harper's Magazine for May, 1893), but Baptista 
Mantuanus, or Giovanni Battista Spagnuoli (or 
Spagnoli), who got the name Mantuanus from his 
birthplace. He died in 1516, less than fifty years 
before Shakespeare was born, and was the author 
of sundry Eclogues, which the pedants of that day 
preferred to Virgil's, and which were much read in 
schools. The first Eclogue begins with the passage 
quoted by Holofernes. 

A little earlier in the same scene the old pedant 
gives us a quotation from Lilly's Grammar. Other 
bits of Latin with which he interlards his talk 
are taken, with little or no variation, from the 
Sententice Pueriles or similar Elizabethan phrase- 

50 Life of Shakespeare 

The school hours, in summer, were from six in 
the morning until six in the evening, and in winter 
from daybreak till dusk, with intermissions of a 
quarter of an hour or more at nine and three and 
an interval of somewhat more than an hour at noon. 
The time spent in school would be about ten hours. 
These facts are taken from The Grammar Schoole, 
by John Brinsley, published in 1612, when the 
school arrangements did not materially differ from 
what they were in Shakespeare's boyhood. 

It would seem that some objection had been made 
to the intermissions at nine and three, on the ground 
that the boys then " do nothing but play ; " but 
Brinsley believed that the boys did their work the 
better for these brief respites from it. He adds : 
"It is very requisite also that they should have 
weekly one part of an afternoon for recreation, as 
a reward of diligence, obedience, and profiting; and 
that to be appointed at the master's discretion, 
either the Thursday, after the usual custom, or 
according to the best opportunity of the place." 

Schoolboys in that olden time appear to have 
been much like those nowadays. They sometimes 
played truant, as we learn from allusions in Shake 
speare and other writers of the time. The idle 
pupils often "made shift to escape correction" by 
methods not unknown in modern schools. Boys 
who had faithfully prepared their lessons would 
"prompt" others who had been less diligent. We 
get some interesting glimpses of this and other 

Shakespeare's Education 51 

features of school life in Elizabethan days from 
the autobiography of Willis, who has already been 
quoted (page 41). As he was of the same age as 
Shakespeare, he must have been in the school at 
Gloucester when William was a pupil at Stratford. 
He says : 

" Before Master Dowdale came to be our master 
at Christ-school, an ancient citizen of no great 
learning was our schoolmaster, whose manner was 
to give us severall lessons in the evening, by con 
struing it to every forme, and in the next morning 
to examine us thereupon ; by making all the boyes 
in the first forme to come from their seates and 
stand on the outsides of their desks, towardes the 
middle of the schoole, and so the second forme, and 
the rest in order, whiles himself walked up and down 
by them, and hearing them construe their lesson 
one after another ; and then giving one of the words 
to one, and another to another (as he thought fit), 
for parsing of it. Now, when the two highest 
formes were dispatched, some of them, whom we 
call prompters, would come and sit in our seates 
of the lower formes, and so being at our elbowes, 
would put into our mouths answers to the master's 
questions, as he walked up and downe by us; and 
so by our prompters help we made shift to escape 
correction, but understood little to profit by it; 
having this circular motion, like the mil-horse that 
travels all day, yet in the end finds himselfe not 
a yard further than when he began. 

52 Life of Shakespeare 

" I, being thus supported by my prompter, it fell 
out one day that one of the eldest schollers and one 
of the highest forme fell out with mee upon occa 
sion of some boyes-play abroad ; and in his anger, 
to doe me the greatest hurt hee could (which then 
he thought to be to fall under the rod), he dealt 
with all the prompters, that none of them should 
helpe me, and so (as he thought) I must necessarily 
be beaten. When I found myselfe at this strait, 
I gathered all my wits together (as we say) and 
listned the more carefully to my fellowes that con 
strued before me, and having also some easie word 
to my lot for parsing, I made hard shift to escape 
for that time. And when I observed my adversa 
ries displeasure to continue against me, so as I 
could have no helpe from my prompters, I doubled 
my diligence and attention to our masters constru 
ing our next lesson to us ; and observing carefully 
how in construction one word followed and de 
pended upon another, which with heedfull observ 
ing two or three lessons more, opened the way to 
shew me how one word was governed of another 
in the parsing; so as I needed no prompter, but 
became able to bee a prompter myselfe; and so 
evill intended to mee by f ellow-scholler, turned to 
my great good." 

School discipline at that time was extremely 
severe, as we learn from Ascham, Peacham, and 
other writers on education in the sixteenth century. 

Thomas Tusser, who was a pupil at Eton about 

Shakespeare's Education 53 

1545, tells of his painful experiences in verses that 
have been often quoted : 

From Paul's I went, to Eton sent, 
To learn straightways the Latin phrase ; 
When fifty -three stripes given to me 

At once I had : 

For fault but small, or none at all 
It came to pass, thus beat I was. 
See, Udall, see the mercy of thee 

To me, poor lad ! " 

Nicholas Udall, author of the first English comedy, 
Ralph Roister Doister, was then master of Eton. 

Sidney Lee, in his Stratford-on-Avon, remarks: 
"A repulsive picture of the terrors which the 
schoolhouse had for a nervous child is drawn in 
a 'pretie and merry new interlude 7 entitled 'The 
Disobedient Child, compiled by Thomas Ingeland, 
late student in Cambridge,' about 1560. A boy who 
implores his father not to force him to go to school 
tells of his companions' sufferings there how 

" ' Their tender bodies both night and day 

Are whipped and scourged, and beat like a stone, 
That from top to toe the skin is away ; ' 

and a story is repeated of how a scholar was tor 
mented to death by 'his bloody master.' Other 
accounts show that the playwright has not gone far 
beyond the fact." 

54 Life of Shakespeare 

We will try to believe, however, that Master 
Hunt of Stratford was of a milder disposition. 
Holofernes seems well disposed towards his pupils, 
and is invited to dine with, the father iof one of 
them; and Sir Hugh Evans, in his examination of 
William Page, has a very kindly manner. It is 
to be noted, indeed, that in few of Shakespeare's 
references to school life is there any mention of 
whipping as a punishment. 

How long William remained in the Grammar 
School we do not know, but probably not more than 
six years, or until he was thirteen. In 1577 his 
father was beginning to have bad luck in his busi 
ness, and the boy very likely had to be taken from 
school for work of some kind. 

Whatever he may have learned at the Stratford 
school, we may be quite certain that it was all the 
regular schooling he ever had; and we have no 
reason to suppose that he kept up his classical 
studies after he left school. Attempts have been 
made to prove him a scholar, but a careful exami 
nation of his works proves the contrary. His quota 
tions from Latin authors are confined to those then 
read in school, and are such as a schoolboy might 
make. In one instance at least, which has already 
been mentioned, the form of the quotation shows 
that it was taken from Lilly's Latin Grammar, and 
not from the original work, a play of Terence. He 
makes frequent mistakes in classical names, which 
a learned man like Bacon, for instance could 

Shakespeare's Education 55 

never have been guilty of. Bacon, indeed, gives 
some of these very names correctly in passages that 
have been quoted to illustrate the resemblance be 
tween his works and Shakespeare's; while they 
really show that the dramatist was ignorant of what 
the philosopher was familiar with. 

The training in the Grammar School was, how 
ever, but an insignificant part of Shakespeare's edu 
cation, in the broader sense. The poet is born, not 
made, says the ancient saw ; but the development * 
of his genius is largely dependent upon where and 
under what influences he lives in his childhood and 
in later years. His genius, as the derivation of the 
word implies, is a natural endowment, but what it 
shall become and what it shall produce will be, 
in great measure, determined by outward circum 

Shakespeare's only homes were in Stratford-on- 
Avon and London, and in both he was eminently 
fortunate. He was born and spent the first twenty 
years of his life in the country in the heart of 
rural England. His manhood was passed in the 
city in what was then, as now, the greatest of 

" We know," as Professor Baynes remarks in his 
Shakespeare Studies, "that Shakespeare was born 
and lived for twenty years at Stratf ord-upon-Avon ; 
and we can say therefore with certainty that all 
the physical and moral influences of that pictur 
esque and richly-storied Midland district melted 

56 Life of Shakespeare 

as years went by into the full current of his ardent 
blood, became indeed the vital element, the very 
breath of life his expanding spirit breathed. We 
know a good deal about his home, his parents, and 
his domestic surroundings ; and these powerful fac 
tors in the development of any mind gifted with 
insight and sensibility must have acted with re 
doubled force on a nature so richly and harmo 
niously endowed as that of the Stratford poet. 
It would be difficult indeed to overestimate the 
combined effect of these vital elements on his capa 
cious and retentive mind, a mind in which the 
receptive and creative powers were so equally 
poised and of such unrivalled strength." 

Warwickshire was known in the poet's own day 
as "the heart of England." Indeed, it was his 
friend, Michael Drayton, born the year before him 
self, who first called it so. In his Poly-Olbion (1613) 
Drayton refers to his native county as "That shire 
which we the heart of England well may call." The 
form of the expression seems to imply that it was 
original with him. It was doubtless suggested by 
the central situation of the county, about equidis 
tant from the eastern, western, and southern shores 
of the island ; but it is no less appropriate with 
reference to its historical, romantic, and poetical 
associations. Drayton, whose rhymed geography in 
the Poly-Olbion is rather prosaic and tedious, attains 
a kind of genuine inspiration when, in his 13th 
book, he comes to describe 

Shakespeare's Education 57 

" Brave Warwick that abroad so long advanced her Bear, 
By her illustrious Earls renowned everywhere ; 
Above her neighbouring shires which always bore her 

The verse catches something of the music of the 
throstle and the lark, of the woosel " with golden 
bill " and the nightingale with her tender strains, 
as he tells of these Warwickshire birds, and of the 
region with " flowery bosom brave " where they 
breed and warble; but in Shakespeare the same 
birds sing with a finer music more like that to 
which we may still listen in the fields and woodlands 
along the lazy-winding Avon. 

In Shakespeare's time Warwickshire was divided 
by the Avon into two districts, known respectively 
as Arden and Feldon. Arden included the forest 
region north of the river, while Feldon was the 
open country to the south, made up of arable 
and pasture land interspersed with woods, as 
the Arden district was with scattered farms and 

Agriculture and mining have in modern times 
effaced the distinction between these ancient dis 
tricts, and these causes had begun to operate even 
in the Elizabethan age. The Forest of Arden, which 
had extended across the entire county and far 
beyond it on either side, had then become much 
restricted, and farms and pastures were encroaching 
more and more upon its limits ; but it still retained 
enough of its primitive character to render the 

58 Life of Shakespeare 

youthful poet familiar with the beauty and freedom 
of woodland life, and to enable him later to impart 
to the scenery of As You Like It a freshness and 
reality which otherwise he could hardly have given 
it. It is true that he took the name of Arden from 
Lodge's novel of Rosalynde, from which he derived 
the main incidents of his plot ; and in the novel the 
Forest of Arden is the one by that name on the bor 
ders of France and Belgium ; but it was the War 
wickshire Arden that inspired the "woodnotes 
wild " which Milton ascribes to him, and the expres 
sion was doubtless suggested by the perusal of this 
charming pastoral play. 

Not only in As You Like It, but in Love's Labour's 
Lost) the Midsummer-Night's Dream, and The Merry 
Wives of Windsor, to say nothing of minor touches 
in other plays and in the poems, Shakespeare shows 
an intimate knowledge of woodland scenery and 
life ; and he must have gained much, if not most of 
this knowledge from his youthful familiarity with 
the Warwickshire Arden. 

His love of nature was that of a child for its 
foster-mother; Wordsworth's was never more so. 
We can imagine Nature bending over his cradle*, 
and singing in the slightly varied verse of the 
Cumberland minstrel, 

This child I to myself will take, 
He shall be mine, and I will make 
A poet of my own." 

Shakespeare's Education 59 

His poetry is full of the beauty and the fragrance of 
the flowers that bloom in and about Stratford j and 
the wonderful accuracy of his allusions to them 
their colours, their habits, their time of blossom 
ing, everything concerning them shows how thor 
oughly at home with them he was, how intensely he 
loved and studied them> The Avon flows through 
his verse, with the trees that hang over it and the 
meadows that border it. He pictures it as the scene 
of poor Ophelia's death : 

" There is a willow grows aslant a brook, 
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream." 

The description could have been written only by 
one who had observed the reflection of the whitish 
underside of the willow-leaves in the water over 
which they hung. It is the Avon too which is 
reproduced in that singularly musical simile in 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of his earliest 
plays : 

" The current that with gentle murmur glides, 
Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage ; 
But when his fair course is not hindered, 
He makes sweet music with the enamell'd stones, 
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge 
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage, 
And so by many winding nooks he strays 
With willing sport to the wild ocean. 
Then let me go, and hinder not my course. 
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream, 

6o* Life of Shakespeare 

And make a pastime of each weary step, 
Till the last step have brought me to my love ; 
And there I '11 rest, as after much turmoil 
A blessed soul doth in Elysium." 

As Mr. J. R. Wise says in his little book on Strat 
ford, "take up what play you will, and you will 
find glimpses of the scenery round Stratford. His 
maidens ever sing of ' blue - veined violets/ and 
< daisies pied/ and 'pansies that are for thoughts/ 
and ' ladies'-smocks all silver- white/ that still stud 
the meadows of the Avon. . . . All this, and the 
tenderness that such beauty gives, you find in the 
pages of Shakespeare, and it is not too much to say 
that he painted them because they were ever asso 
ciated in his mind with all that he held precious 
and dear, both of the earliest and the latest scenes 
of his life." 

It was also in Stratford and its neighbourhood 
that he got the minute knowledge of the practical 
side of country life which appears in his works. 
Wilmecote, the home of his mother, was within 
walking distance ; and so was Snitterfield, where his 
father had lived before he came to Stratford, and 
where his uncle Henry still resided. John Shake 
speare, as we have seen, must have had large deal 
ings with the farmers there and elsewhere; and 
William must have seen much of these people, their 
habits, manners, and employments, in the company 
of his father, or when wandering at his own will in 
the vicinity of Stratford. He went to London before 

Shakespeare's Education 61 

his literary career began, and lived there until it 
closed, with only brief occasional visits to Warwick 
shire. In the metropolis he could not have added 
much to his early lessons in the country life and 
character of which he has given us such graphic and 
faithful delineations. These are thoroughly fresh 
and real; they tell of the outdoor life he loved, 
and never smell of the study lamp, as Milton's and 
Spenser's allusions to plants, flowers, and other 
natural objects often do. 

Volumes have been written on the plant-lore and 
garden-craft of Shakespeare ; and the authors dwell 
equally on the poet's ingrained love of the country 
and his keen observation of natural phenomena and 
the agricultural practice of the time. Mr. Ella- 
combe, in his Plant-lore of Shakespeare, after quot 
ing the dialogue of the Gardener and his servant in 
Richard II. (iii. 4. 29-66), where they draw lessons 
of political wisdom from the details of their occu 
pation, remarks: "This most interesting passage 
would almost tempt us to say that Shakespeare 
was a gardener by profession; certainly no other 
passages that have been brought to prove his real 
profession are more minute than this. It proves 
him to have had practical experience in the work, 
and I think we may safely say that he was no mere 
'prentice hand in the use of the pruning-knife." But 
this play was written in London, where, though city 
gardens were then common, and the suburbs were 
semi-rural, he could hardly have known anything 

62 Life of Shakespeare 

more of practical gardening than he had learned in 
his boyhood and youth at Stratford. 

Grafting and the various ways of propagating 
plants by cuttings, slips, etc., are described or al 
luded to with equal accuracy ; also the mischief 
done by weeds, blights, frosts, and other enemies of 
the husbandman and horticulturist. He writes on 
all these matters as we might expect him to have 
done in his last years at Stratford, after he had had 
actual experience in the management of a large 
garden at New Place and in farming operations on 
other lands he had bought in the neighbourhood; 
but all these passages, like the one quoted from 
Richard II., were written long before he had a 
garden of his own. They were reminiscences of 
his observation as a boy, not the results of his 
experience as a country gentleman. 

For its historical associations Warwickshire was 
no less the fitting region for the birth and education 
of a great national poet. From the time of the 
Eoman occupation it had played an important part 
in the national history. Several Eoman roads tra 
versed this district, and Stratford got its name 
from the ford where one of these streets crossed 
the Avon. The sites of several Koman camps, or 
fortified stations, were in the neighbourhood, Al- 
cester, one of these, being only five miles from 
Stratford. When the Saxons conquered the coun 
try they appear to have met with less resistance 
here than in the eastern part of England. As it 

Shakespeare's Education 63 

would seem, there was a gradual coalescing of the 
invaders with the natives rather than any fierce or 
prolonged struggle between them ; so that this was 
" the district where, from an early period, the two 
race elements that have gone to the making of the 
nation were most nearly balanced and most com 
pletely blended." 

In Anglo-Saxon times Warwickshire formed a 
part of the kingdom of Mercia, which was for a 
while the dominant power of the country. Later, 
from its central position, it naturally was traversed 
and occupied by the rival armies during the civil 
wars. The most important events in its annals 
before the time of Shakespeare occurred during 
the two greatest civil conflicts in the early history 
of the country the Barons' War in the thirteenth 
century, and the Wars of the Roses in the fif 
teenth. The decisive battles that closed these long 
and bloody conflicts were both fought on the bor 
ders of Warwickshire, the battle of Evesham on 
its southwestern boundary, and that of Bosworth 
Field on the northeastern. The great leaders in 
each struggle were directly connected" with War 
wickshire, Simon de Montfort, the founder of the 
House of Commons, and Richard Neville, Earl of 
Warwick, the " King-maker." 

The castles of Kenilworth and Warwick, which 
are to-day among the chief attractions of the dis 
trict the one stupendous in its dilapidation and 
decay; the other, as Scott described it, "that 

64 Life of Shakespeare 

fairest monument of ancient and chivalrous splen 
dour which yet remains uninjured by time" 
these mighty structures, fortresses and palaces in 
one, were, during those great wars, the main centres 
of military and political interest in England. 

Kenilworth, in 1254, was given by Henry III. to 
Simon de Montfort, who had married Eleanor, the 
King's sister. De Montfort, who was now "in all 
but name a king," lived in regal state in the castle. 
Later he joined the rebellion against the King, and, 
with his eldest son, was killed at Evesham in 1265. 
His youngest son, Simon, vigorously defended Ken 
ilworth, which was besieged by the royal forces for 
several months; but, when provisions gave out, it 
was compelled to surrender, and Henry gave it to 
his youngest son, Edward Earl of Lancaster, after 
ward created Earl of Leicester. 

During the Wars of the Roses the castle was 
alternately taken by the partisans of the rival 
houses. In 1436 Henry V. kept his Christmas 
there. In 1562 (two years before the birth of 
Shakespeare) Elizabeth gave it to Eobert Dudley, 
Earl of Leicester, by whom the Queen was magnifi 
cently entertained in 1575. 

That was a memorable occasion in the annals of 
Kenilworth and of Warwickshire. From July 9th 
to July 27th there was a succession of holiday 
pageants in the most sumptuous and elaborate style 
of the time, and it attracted spectators from all the 
country roundabout. Master Eobert Laneham, whose 

Shakespeare's Education 65 

accuracy as a chronicler is not to be doubted, though, 
he may have been, as Scott calls him, " as great a 
coxcomb as ever blotted paper," mentions, as a proof 
of the earPs hospitality, that "the clock bell rang 
not a note all the while her highness was there; 
the clock stood also still withal; the hands stood 
firm and fast, always pointing at two o'clock/' 
the hour of banquet ! The quantity of beer drunk 
on the occasion was 320 hogsheads, and the total 
expense of the entertainments is said to have been 
1,000 ($5,000) a day. 

John Shakespeare, as a well-to-do citizen of Strat 
ford, would be likely to see something of that stately 
show, and it is not improbable that he took his son 
William with him. The description in the Midsum 
mer-Night's Dream (ii. 1. 150) of 

" a mermaid on a dolphin's back 
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious sounds 
That the rude sea grew civil at her song," 

appears to be a reminiscence of certain features of 
the Kenilworth pageant. The minstrel Arion fig 
ured there, on a dolphin's back, singing of course; 
and Triton, "in the likeness of a mermaid," com 
manded the waves to be still; and among the 
fireworks there were shooting-stars that fell into 
the water, like the stars that, as Oberon adds, 

" shot madly from their spheres 
To hear the sea-maid's music." 

66 Life of Shakespeare 

When Shakespeare was writing that early play, 
with its scenes in fairy-land, what more natural 
than that this youthful visit to what must then 
have seemed veritable fairy-land should recur to 
his memory and blend with the creations of his 
fancy ? 

Warwick Castle, which, according to tradition, 
was founded by Cymbeline, came into the posses 
sion of the Nevilles by the marriage of Eichard the 
King-maker with Anne, daughter and heiress of 
Eichard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. As has 
been intimated, the prominent part which that 
" setter-up and puller-down of kings " played in 
the making of history drew all eyes towards War 
wick. He was the most conspicuous personage of 
those troublous times ; and he was as munificent as 
he was mighty in statesmanship and war. The 
immense revenues from his patrimony were aug 
mented by the income he derived from his various 
high offices in the state; but his wealth was scat 
tered with a royal liberality. It is said that he 
daily fed thirty thousand people at his numerous 

The Lady Anne of Eichard III., whom the hero 
of the play wooes in such novel fashion, was the 
youngest daughter of the King-maker, born at War 
wick Castle in 1452. She became the wife of 
Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI., who 
was slain at the battle of Tewkesbury. 

The Earl of Warwick who figures in 2 Henry IV. 

Shakespeare's Education 67 

was the Eichard Beauchamp already mentioned as 
the father of Anne who became the wife of the 
King-maker. He appears again in the play of 
Henry V., and also in the first scene of 1 Henry VI., 
though he has nothing to say ; and, as some believe, 
he (and not his son) is the Earl of Warwick in the 
rest of the play, in spite of certain historical diffi 
culties which that theory involves. In 2 Henry IV. 
(iii. 1. 66) Shakespeare makes the mistake of calling 
him " 1ST evil " instead of Beauchamp. 

The title of the Warwick earls became extinct 
with the death of the King-maker on the battle 
field of Barnet. It was then bestowed on George, 
Duke of Clarence, who was drowned in the butt of 
wine by order of his loving brother Richard. It 
then passed to the young son of Clarence, who is 
another character in the play of Richard III. He, 
like his unfortunate father, was long imprisoned in 
the Tower, and ultimately murdered there after the 
farce of a trial on account of his alleged complicity 
in a plot against Henry VII. 

Shakespeare claimed more than a general patriotic 
interest in the historical renown of his native coun 
try. When his father, in 1596, applied for a coat 
of arms, the draft granting it declared that an ances 
tor of his had fought for Henry VII. at Bosworth 
Field, by which the House of Tudor gained the 
throne. It is by no means certain that there was 
any good foundation for this claim, though it is not 
improbable that some member of the many families 

68 Life of Shakespeare 

bearing the name of Shakespeare may have done 
honourable service in the battle which terminated 
that long and bloody civil conflict. 

But whether any of the poet's own ancestors 
fought at Bosworth Field or not, he " would be sure 
in his youth to hear, almost at first hand, a multi 
tude of exciting stories and stirring incidents con 
nected with so memorable and far-reaching a victory." 
The battle was fought only eight years before he was 
born, and, as Professor Baynes remarks, "public 
events of importance are vividly transmitted by 
local tradition for more than double that length 
of time." In that day the great events in the 
national history were popularly preserved and 
transmitted by means of oral tradition. Only the 
educated few could learn about them through lit 
erary chronicles and records. "The popular mind 
was of necessity largely fed and stimulated by the 
spoken narratives of the rustic festival and the win 
ter fireside ; and a quiet settled neighbourhood like 
Stratford, out of the crush, but near the great cen 
tres of national activity, would be peculiarly rich 
in these stored-up materials of unwritten history." 

Warwickshire thus supplied the means of a liberal 
elementary education in the heroic annals of the 
past, and especially in the great events of the recent 
past, the final years of the Wars of the Roses. How 
well Shakespeare profited by that elementary educa 
tion his subsequent work in dramatizing the history 
of this period may show. Writers of history have 

Shakespeare's Education 69 

testified to the value of his interpretation of it. Mr. 
Gairdner, in the preface to The Houses of Lancaster 
and York, says : " For this period of English history 
we are fortunate in possessing an unrivalled inter 
preter in our great dramatic poet Shakespeare. A 
regular sequence of historical plays exhibits to us, 
not only the general character of each successive 
reign, but nearly the whole chain of leading events 
from the days of Richard II. to the death of Rich 
ard III. at Bosworth. Following the guidance of 
such a master mind, we realize for ourselves the 
men and actions of the period in a way we cannot 
do in any other epoch. And this is the more impor 
tant as the age itself, especially towards the close, 
is one of the most obscure in English history. Dur 
ing the period of the Wars of the Roses we have, 
comparatively speaking, very few contemporary 
narratives of what took place, and anything like 
a general history of the times was not written till a 
much later date. But the doings of that stormy 
age, the sad calamities endured by kings the 
sudden changes of fortune in great men the glit 
ter of chivalry and the horrors of civil war, all 
left a deep impression upon the mind of the nation, 
which was kept alive by vivid traditions of the past 
at the time that our great dramatist ivrote. Hence, 
notwithstanding the scantiness of records and the 
meagreness of ancient chronicles, we have singularly 
little difficulty in understanding the spirit and char 
acter of the times." 

yo Life of Shakespeare 

The legendary lore of the district was equally 
stimulating and inspiring to a poet. Warwickshire 
was eminently a field of romance and old heroic 
story and the scene of many an ancient ballad. 
Guy of Warwick was a foremost hero in this popu 
lar poetry, and his gigantic spectre still haunts the 
scenes of his traditional exploits. Learned antiqua 
rians in these latter days have proved that, although 
he may have been a real personage, the adventures 
ascribed to him are mostly mythical, but the com 
mon people believe in him as of old. His sword, 
shield, and breastplate, which alone weighs more 
than fifty pounds, are preserved in the great hall 
of Warwick Castle, with his porridge-pot of metal 
holding more than a hundred gallons and the flesh- 
fork to match. The vulgar faith in these ponderous 
relics is not to be shaken, however prosaic skeptics 
may smile at it. No doubt Shakespeare in his boy 
hood believed it all; and he did not forget it in 
later life when he put allusions to Colbrand, the big 
Saracen whom Guy conquered and slew, into the 
mouths of certain characters in his plays. 

Warwickshire was also prominent in the history 
of the English Drama. Coventry was renowned for 
the mediaeval religious plays performed by the Grey 
Friars of its great monastery, and kept up, though 
with diminished pomp, even after the dissolution of 
their establishment. It was not until 1580 that 
these pageants were entirely suppressed ; and Shake 
speare, who was then sixteen years old, may have 

Shakespeare's Education 71 

been an eye-witness of the latest of them. No doubt 
he heard stories of their attractions in former times, 
when, as we are told by Dugdale, they were "acted 
with mighty state and reverence by the friars of 
this house, had theatres for the several scenes, very 
large and high, placed upon wheels, and drawn to 
all the eminent parts of the city for the better 
advantage of spectators; and contained the story 
of the New Testament composed into old English 
rhyme." There were forty-three of these ancient 
plays, performed by the monks until, as Tennyson 
puts it, 

Bluff Harry broke into the spence, 
And turned the cowls adrift." 

When the boy Shakespeare saw them if he did 
see them they were played by the different guilds, 
or associations of tradespeople. Thus the Nativity 
and the Offering of the Magi, with the Flight into 
Egypt and the Slaughter of the Innocents, were 
rendered by the company of Shearmen and Tailors ; 
the Smiths 7 pageant was the Crucifixion; that of 
the Cappers was the Resurrection ; and so on. The 
account-books of the guilds are still extant, with 
charges for helmets for Herod and gear for his wife, 
for a beard for Judas and the rope to hang him, etc. 
In the accounts of the Smiths or Armourers we find 
record of expenditures for "schepskens for gods 
cote," a " pair of gloves for god," " the mendyng of 
Herods hed," and many other stage properties. 

72 Life of Shakespeare 

Herod, as is well known, was a very important 
character in these plays, and the manner in which 
he blustered and raged about the stage became pro 
verbial. In Hamlet (iii. 2. 16) we have the expres 
sion, " It out-herods Herod ; " and in The Merry 
Wives of Windsor (ii. 1. 20), "What a Herod of 
Jewry is this ! " In Henry V. (ii. 3. 43) there is an 
allusion to the " lost souls," who, as well as " saved 
souls," appeared in the play of the Last Judgment ; 
the flea on Bardolph's rubicund nose being com 
pared to " a black soul burning in hell-fire." These 
" souls " were dressed in black, or black and yellow, 
and were represented as disappearing in "hell- 
mouth," a huge and grotesque head of canvas, the 
jaws of which were made to open and shut and to 
vomit flames. In the books of the guilds are entries 
of money paid for " kepyng of fyer at hell mouth e," 

Shakespeare has other allusions to these old 
dramatical performances, proving that he knew 
them by report if he had not seen them. 

Historical pageants, not Biblical in subject, were 
also familiar to the good people of Coventry a cen 
tury at least before the dramatist was born. " The 
Nine Worthies," which he has burlesqued in Love's 
Labour's Lost, was acted there before Henry VI. and 
his queen in 1455. The original text of the play 
has been preserved, and portions of Shakespeare's 
travesty seem almost like a parody of it. 

Stratford itself, as we have seen, was one of the 

Shakespeare's Education . 73 

provincial towns which were favoured with the visits 
of travelling theatrical companies. The instance 
already mentioned (page 41) was the first of the 
kind recorded in the Stratford archives, and John 
Shakespeare, who was then high bailiff, may have 
invited them to come to the town. Perhaps he 
had a natural taste for the drama, and his son's 
bent in that direction may thus have been hered 
itary. However that may have been, this was 
the beginning of theatrical performances in Strat 
ford, though in succeeding years they were frequent. 
Of course the young Shakespeare witnessed them; 
and we can surmise how they fired his imagination 
and fostered his inborn taste for the drama. This 
was an important part of his education which he 
might have entirely missed in ninety-nine out of a 
hundred little provincial towns in England. 

We see, then, that all outward conditions in 
Stratford and its neighbourhood were peculiarly 
favourable to the awakening, stimulating, and de 
veloping of Shakespeare's genius. He himself 
could not have been wholly unconscious of this; 
and no wonder that he loved his native town, and 
that in London, notwithstanding the attractions 
and advantages of the metropolis, he steadily 
planned for his return to Stratford, buying the best 
house in the place, adding other lands to the estate, 
and finally coming back to spend the last years of 
his life there. 

In his second home, where he spent more than 

74 . Life of Shakespeare 

twenty-five years, including the whole of his career 
as an actor and author, he was equally fortunate. 
London was then, as now, the metropolis of the 
kingdom, the capital of arts and letters no less than 
of the national government. 

It would be an insult to any intelligent reader to 
attempt telling why the city was the place of places 
for continuing his education. The mighty metropo 
lis of to-day, with almost twenty times the popula 
tion of that period, cannot gather so brilliant a 
company of poets and dramatists as used to meet 
at the Mermaid in Bread Street ; to say nothing of 
the many other men of letters who thronged "the 
spacious times of great Elizabeth," and who either 
had their homes in the city or were frequent visitors 
there. What an age it was ! And London was the 
centre of its literary activity and brilliancy. What 
stimulus, what inspiration must Shakespeare have 
found in its life and society ! He might have said, 
with Beaumont in his letter to Ben Jonson : 

" What things have we seen 

Done at the Mermaid ! Heard words that have been 
So nimble and so full of subtle flame 
As if that every one from whom they came 
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest, 
And had resolved to live a fool the rest 
Of his dull life." 

And this was but the diversion, the recreation of 
Shakespeare's daily life. The player and the dram- 

Shakespeare's Education 75 

atist then associated not only with the wits of his 
own circle and the congenial spirits who met with 
them at the Mermaid or the Falcon, but with noble 
men and courtiers, with royalty itself. Elizabeth 
never visited the public theatres, but she often had 
Shakespeare's plays performed before her; and the 
tradition that he wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor 
at her command is not improbable. 

The city itself was a great illustrated book of 
history far more so than now when so many 
of its pages have been destroyed or defaced, when 
so many buildings connected with the people and 
the events of the past have disappeared and their 
very localities have become matters of doubt or 
dispute, owing to the Great Fire of 1666 and the 
extensive changes due to the growth of the city. 
Few remains and relics of the London of that day 
are now left, and, with all that ancient pictures and 
descriptions, and all that the patient researches of 
antiquarians can do to help us, it is impossible for 
us by any effort of the imagination to see Shake 
speare's London as he saw it, or to understand how 
it must have moved and impressed him as a student 
of the history which he was destined to reproduce 
and interpret, not by adding to its musty annals, but 
by making it live again before our eyes. 

Not to dwell longer on Shakespeare's education, 
we see that, though, so far as schooling, properly so 
called, was concerned, it was inferior to what a boy 
of thirteen or fourteen would have got nowadays, it 

7 6 Life of Shakespeare 

was in the broader sense far from inadequate as a 
preparation for the work he was to do as a poet and 
dramatist. Warwickshire was an admirable train 
ing-school for the boy, in the study of nature, his 
tory, and romance, as well as rural life and character ; 
and London was a liberal education for the young 
man, not inferior, to say the least, to what Oxford 
or Cambridge might have given him. 


WHAT Shakespeare did after leaving school we 
can only conjecture. It is not improbable that for 
some time he helped his father in some part of his 
business. Aubrey quotes a tradition that he taught 
school for a while. It is barely possible that he 
may have been a " pupil-teacher," so called, in the 
Stratford school. The tradition that he was bound 
apprentice to a butcher and later ran away to 
London is less probable. Yet another tradition 
makes him an attorney's clerk for a time ; and the 
many references, literal and figurative, in his works 
to technicalities of the law, especially such as are 
not likely to become known to non-professional peo 
ple, have led Lord Campbell and other specialists 
to believe that he must have studied law somewhat 
thoroughly ; but Judge Allen, of the Supreme Judi 
cial Court of Massachusetts, in his recent Notes on 
the Bacon- Shakespeare Question (1900), has shown 
that such legal allusions are equally common in 
other dramatists of the time, and that Shakespeare, 
instead of being uniformly accurate in these mat 
ters, as Lord Campbell and others have assumed, is 


7 8 Life of Shakespeare 

often guilty of mistakes which a lawyer or student 
of law would never make. This may be regarded 
as the final word on the question of the supposed 
legal attainments of the dramatist. 

The first indubitable fact in his life after leaving 
school which we know is that of his marriage, which 
occurred when he was between eighteen and nine 
teen years of age. The bride, Anne Hathaway, was 
about eight years older, as we infer from the in 
scription on her tombstone, which states that she 
died on the " 6th day of August, 1623, being then 
of the age of 67 years." There is little reason to 
doubt that she was the daughter of Richard Hatha 
way, of Shottery, a village about a mile from Strat 

Richard Hathaway 's will was drawn up on the 
1st of September, 1581, and was duly proved July 
9th, 1582, probably a short time after his death, 
the exact date of which is unknown. Seven chil 
dren are mentioned in the document, Bartholomew, 
Thomas, John, William, Agnes, Catharine, and Mar 
garet. Anne Hathaway was probably the " Agnes " 
of the will, as the two names were then interchange 
able. Thomas Hathaway's daughter Agnes, men 
tioned in Richard's will, is called Anne twice in the 
parish register. In the Bishopton register we find 
"Thomas Greene and Agnes his wife" and later 
" Thomas Greene and Anne his wife," clearly refer 
ring to the same people. The wife of Phillip Hens- 
lowe, who is called Agnes in his will, appears as Anne 

Shakespeare's Marriage 79 

in the entry of her funeral at Dulwich, and also, ac 
cording to Aubrey, in the inscription on her grave 
stone. A tourist of the 17th century, transcribing 
an inscription in the Stratford church, unconsciously 
deviates from the original thus: "here lyeth the 
bodyes of William Clopton, Esquier, and Anne his 
wife . . . the said Agnes deceased 17 of September, 
1596." Nancy was sometimes used for both Anne 
and Agnes ; and Annys, Annes, Anneys, Annyce, etc., 
are merely old forms of Anne. 

The house at Shottery known as "Anne Hatha 
way J s Cottage " is believed to have been the dwell 
ing of Richard Hathaway ; and the trustees of the 
Stratford Birthplace purchased it in 1892 for pres 
ervation as another memorial of the poet. It must 
be confessed, however, that the tradition which con 
nects it with his wife is comparatively recent. Hal- 
liwell-Phillipps says : 

"The earliest notice of its presumed locality is 
in an unpublished version of Eowe's biography that 
was compiled about the year 1750 by the Rev. 
Joseph Greene, then master of the grammar school 
at Stratford, in which, as originally written, occurs 
the following paragraph : 'His (Shakespeare's) wife 
was the daughter of one Hathaway, a substantial 
yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford, probably 
of a place about a mile from thence call'd Ludding- 
ton, where a substantial family of that name and 
occupation still reside; 9 the manner in which the 
name of that hamlet is introduced showing that 

8o Life of Shakespeare 

the attribution was conjectural. That this was the 
case is also apparent from revisions that were after 
wards made by Greene, who erased the italicized 
words in the concluding sentences of the above 
quotation rewriting them in these terms: ' prob 
ably at that place about half a mile from thence 
calPd Shotteriche, where a creditable family of the 
name aforementioned 'till within these few years re 
sided.' The retention of the word probably appears 
to exclude what might otherwise have been the in 
ference, that the alterations were the result of a 
more careful investigation; but the same writer, 
nevertheless, in a subsequent memorandum accepts 
the Shottery theory as an established fact: 'As 
Shakespear, the poet, married his wife Hathaway 
from Shottery, a village near Stratford-upon-Avon, 
possibly he might become possessor of a remarkable 
house there as part of her portion, and, jointly 
with his wife, convey it as part of their daughter 
Judith's portion to Thomas Queeny; it is certain 
that one Queeny, an elderly gentleman, sold it to 
. . . Harvey esq., of Stockton, near Southam, War 
wickshire, father of John Harvey Thursby, esq., of 
Abington, near Northampton, and that the afore 
said Harvey sold it again to Samuel Tyler, Esq., 
whose sisters, as his heirs, now enjoy it' (note by 
Greene written on July the 4th, 1770). This 
Quiney hypothesis is disproved by the passages in 
Shakespeare's will that refer to Judith, and there is 
no probability that he was ever the owner of the 

Shakespeare's Marriage 81 

house here mentioned, and which, it is hardly nec 
essary to observe, is not the Anne Hathaway Cot 
tage of the present day. 

"The earliest reference to the present Anne 
Hathaway's Cottage under that title is that found 
in Ireland's Picturesque Views on the Warwickshire 
Avon, 1795, in which work there is an engraving of 
the dwelling introduced by the following observa 
tions: 'The cottage in which she is said to have 
lived with her parents is yet standing, and although 
I have doubts as to the truth of the relation, I have 
yet given a faithful representation of it in the 
annexed view; it is still occupied by the descend 
ants of her family, who are poor and numerous ; 
to this same humble cottage I was referred, when 
pursuing the same inquiry, by the late Mr. Harte 
of Stratford/ the person last named, who died in 
1793, being a descendant from the poet's sister. 
With the exception of an inferior lithograph circu 
lated by Green about the year 1820, no further 
notice of the house appears to have been submitted 
to the public until 1828, in which year excellent 
views of it were issued by Eider, and the late R. B. 
Wheler, in a manuscript note written about 1830, 
speaks of the then ' generally believed tradition ' that 
it was 'the identical one from which Shakespeare 
married Anne Hathaway,' adding in confirmation 
that 'the Hathaway's family certainly resided at 
Shottery at that period. 7 This latter writer, how 
ever, does not mention such a belief in either his 

82 Life of Shakespeare 

History of Stratford, 1809, or in his Guide, 1814, 
while from a notice of Shottery, compiled from his 
memoranda and published in 1820, it is obvious 
that he had personally no faith in its validity." 

The difficulty in settling the question is due to 
the fact that there were at least three Hathaway, 
families in Shottery at the time of Eichard Hatha 
way 's death, and it is not easy to disentangle their 
histories with the help of the parish records and 
other accessible sources of information. We may 
infer, however, that, before deciding to pay an exor 
bitant price for the house, the trustees of the Birth 
place made a careful examination of the evidence in 
favour of its identity, and came to the conclusion 
that it was no more doubtful than that of the house 
in Henley Street. 

Perplexing questions have also arisen concerning 
the marriage of William and Anne. Just when or 
where it was solemnized we do not know. There is 
no record of it in the Stratford registers, and none 
has been discovered elsewhere. It probably took 
place early in December, 1582, and in one of the 
neighbouring parishes, the records of which have 
been lost. The tradition that Luddington, a few 
miles from Stratford, was the place, though of com 
paratively recent date, is not improbable, as Thomas 
Hunt, one of Shakespeare's schoolmasters (page 46), 
was then vicar of that parish. 

The date of the marriage is approximately fixed 
by a bond authorizing it which is still extant in the 

Shakespeare's Marriage 83 

episcopal archives of Worcester, to which diocese 
Stratford and Shottery belonged. In this bond, 
dated November 28th, 1582, Fulk Sandells and 
John Eichardson of Shottery (both of whom are 
mentioned in Eichard Hathaway's will) bind them 
selves in a surety of 40 that " William Shagspere " 
and "Anne Hathwey" may "lawfully solemnize 
matrimony together, and in the same afterwardes 
remaine and continew like man and wiffe, according 
unto the lawes in that behalf provided ; and, more 
over, if there be not at this present time any action, 
sute, quarrell or demaund moved or depending be 
fore any judge, ecclesiasticall or temporall, for and 
concerning any suche lawfull lett or impediment; 
and, moreover, if the said William Shagspere do 
not proceed to solemnizacion of mariadg with 
the said Anne Hathwey without the consent of 
hir frindes; and also if the said William do, 
upon his owne proper costes and expenses, defend 
and save harmles the right reverend Father in God, 
Lord John Bushop of Worcester, and his offycers, 
for licencing them the said William and Anne to be 
maried together with once asking of the bannes of 
matrimony betwene them, and for all other causes 
which may ensue by reason or occasion therof, that 
then the said obligacion to be voyd and of none 
effect, or els to stand and abide in full force and 

Similar bonds, permitting the marriage ceremony 
to be expedited while " protecting the clergy from 

84 Life of Shakespeare 

the consequences of any possible breach of canonical 
law" are found in the diocesan registers of that 
period; but the wording of this one, according to 
Sidney Lee, "differs in important respects from 
that adopted in all other known examples." He 
adds : " In the case of the marriage of an ' infant ' 
bridegroom the formal consent of his parents was 
absolutely essential to strictly regular procedure, 
although clergymen might be found who were ready 
to shut their eyes to the facts of the situation and 
to run the risk of solemnizing the marriage of an 
'infant' without inquiry as to the parents' con 
sent. . . Despite the circumstances that Shake 
speare's bride was of full age and he himself was 
by nearly three years a minor, the bond stipulated 
merely for the consent of the bride's ' friends,' and 
ignored the bridegroom's parents altogether. Nor 
was this the only irregularity in the document. In 
other pre-matrimonial covenants of the kind, the 
name either of the bridegroom himself or of 
the bridegroom's father figures as one of the two 
sureties, and is mentioned first of the two. . . . 
The prominence of the Shottery husbandmen in the 
negotiations suggests the true position of affairs. 
Sandells and Richardson, representing the lady's 
family, doubtless secured the deed on their own 
initiative, so that Shakespeare might have small 
opportunity of evading a step which his intimacy 
with their friend's daughter had rendered essential 
to her reputation. The wedding probably took place, 

Shakespeare's Marriage 85 

without the consent of the bridegroom's parents, 
it may be without their knowledge, soon after the 
signing of the deed." 

That the bond was given without the consent of 
Shakespeare's parents is probably true, though it is 
quite certain that neither John Shakespeare nor 
William at that time could have furnished the 
forty pounds required as surety. It was necessary 
to find other bondsmen, and it was natural that 
they should be sought among the friends of the 
Hathaways at Shottery. There is not a particle 
of evidence that William was disposed to "evade" 
making honourable amends for the wrong he had 
done the lady. If he had had any such inclination, 
he could have run away to London, as Aubrey heard 
that he did when apprenticed to the butcher. 

Some have thought that the "smart" young 
woman of twenty-four entrapped the boy of eight 
een into this match which, from a worldly point 
of view, was so imprudent. Lord Campbell says 
that Anne was " ho better than she should be," and 
De Quincey feels sure that William must have been 
drawn on by Anne and her family, or at least that 
his attentions were all too readily accepted. But 
William Shakespeare at eighteen was not the guile 
less country youth that this theory assumes, and he 
would have disdained to make any such excuse for 
his conduct. We cannot doubt that he was more 
to blame for the hurried marriage than Anne 

86 Life of Shakespeare 

There are those, however, who believe that no 
special blame attaches to either of them, and that 
the bond authorizing the marriage with " once ask 
ing of the bans" does not justify us in considering 
the case either exceptional or exceptionable. They 
assume that William and Anne had been formally 
betrothed several months before the marriage; and 
they tell us that this "precontract" was legally 
recognized as equivalent to marriage. It was cer 
tainly a legal bar to a subsequent union of either 
of the parties with another person, unless by their 
common consent ; and it unquestionably came to be 
considered, at least among the lower classes, as con 
ferring the rights and privileges of the more formal 
ceremony that was to follow. There may have been 
such a precontract in this instance. In the absence 
of any positive evidence to the contrary, it is no 
more than fair to allow Shakespeare the benefit of 
the doubt. Those who are not willing to do this 
assert that the consent of the parents of both parties 
was necessary to this formal betrothal j but Halli- 
well-Phillipps has shown that, while this was the 
rule, it was not without exceptions. He says : 
"This ceremony was generally a solemn affair 
enacted with the immediate concurrence of all the 
parents, but it was at times informally conducted 
separately by the betrothing parties, evidence of 
the fact, communicated by them to independent 
persons, having been held, at least in Warwick 
shire, to confer a sufficient legal validity on the 

Shakespeare's Marriage 87 

transaction. Thus, in 1585, William Holder and 
Alice Shaw, having privately made a contract, came 
voluntarily before two witnesses, one of whom was 
a person named Willis and the other a John Maides 
of Snitterfield, on purpose to acknowledge that they 
we're irrevocably pledged to wedlock. The lady evi 
dently considered herself already as good as mar 
ried, saying to Holder, <I do confesse that I am 
your wief and have forsaken all my frendes for 
your sake, and I hope you will use me well ; ' and 
thereupon she ' gave him her hand. 7 Then, as 
Maides observes, 'the said Holder, mutatis mutan 
dis, used the like words unto her in effect, and toke 
her by the hand, and kissed together in the presence 
of this deponent and the said Willis.' These pro 
ceedings are afterwards referred to in the same 
depositions as constituting a definite < contract of 
marriage.' On another occasion, in 1588, there was 
a precontract meeting at Alcester, the young lady 
arriving there unaccompanied by any of her friends. 
When requested to explain the reason of this omis 
sion, ' she answered that her leasure wold not lett 
her and that she thought she cold not obtaine her 
mother's goodwill, but, quoth she, neverthelesse I 
am the same woman that I was before.' The future 
bridegroom was perfectly satisfied with this assur 
ance, merely asking her ( whether she was content 
to betake herself unto him, and she answered, off ring 
her hand, which he also tooke upon thoffer that she 
was content by her trothe, and thereto, said she, I 

88 Life of Shakespeare 

geve thee my faith, and before these witnesses, that 
I am thy wief ; and then he likewise answered in 
theis wordes, vidz., and I geve thee my faith and 
troth, and become thy husband/ These instances, 
to which several others could be added, prove deci 
sively that Shakespeare could have entered, under 
any circumstances whatever, into a precontract with 
Anne Hathaway. It may be worth adding that 
espousals of this kind were, in the Midland coun 
ties, almost invariably terminated by the lady's 
acceptance of a bent sixpence. One lover, who was 
betrothed in the same year in which Shakespeare 
was engaged to Anne Hathaway, gave also a pair 
of gloves, two oranges, two handkerchiefs and a 
girdle of broad red silk. A present of gloves on 
such an occasion was, indeed, nearly as universal 
as that of a sixpence." 

According to Bishop Watson (Doctrine of the 
Seven Sacraments, 1558), persons who were be 
trothed in this formal way were " perfectly married 
together," although, as he adds, "the marriage of 
them in the face of the Church afterward, by the min 
istration of the priest, is not superfluous, but much 
expedient for sundry causes." Even if there had 
been an informality in the precontract, the offence 
supposed to have been committed by Shakespeare 
would have been in itself a condition that rendered 
the arrangement legally valid (Swinburne's Treatise 
of Spousals, 1686). 

It will be noticed that in the instances of betrothal 

Shakespeare's Marriage 89 

cited by Halliwell-Phillipps the parties call each, 
other "husband" and "wife." Similarly Shake 
speare's maternal grandfather, Robert Arden, when 
settling part of an estate upon his daughter Agnes, 
July 17th, 1550, refers to her as " nunc uxor Thome 
Stringer, ac nuper uxor Johannis Hewyns " (now the 
wife of Thomas Stringer, and lately the wife of 
John Hewyns), though she was not married to 
Stringer until three months afterwards, according 
to the entry in the Beasley register: "1550, 15 
October, was maryed Thomas Stringer unto Agnes 
Hwens, wyddow." 

Shakespeare, who has introduced the formal 
betrothal repeatedly in his plays, similarly makes 
Olivia call Sebastian " husband " before she is mar 
ried to him. In iv. 3, Olivia enters with a Priest, 
and meets Sebastian, when this dialogue ensues : 

" Olivia. Blame not this haste of mine. If you mean 


Now go with me, and with this holy man, 
Into the chantry by ; there, before him, 
And -underneath that consecrated roof, 
Plight me the full assurance of your faith ; 
That my most jealous and too doubtful soul 
May live at peace. He shall conceal it, 
Whiles you are willing it shall come to note, 
What time we will our celebration keep 
According to my birth. What do you say ? 

Sebastian. I '11 follow this good man, and go with you, 
And, having sworn truth, ever will be true. 

90 Life of Shakespeare 

Olivia. Then lead the way, good father ; and heavens 

so shine, 
That they may fairly note this act of mine ! [Exeunt." 

Later (v. 1.), when Olivia mistakes the disguised 
Viola for the man to whom she has been betrothed, 
and charges the supposed young man with having 
"beguiled" her, the Priest is called in to bear 
witness to the ceremony that has taken place : 

" Olivia. Ah me ! detested ! how am I beguiled ! 

Viola. Who does beguile you? who does do you 
wrong ? . 

Olivia. Hast thou forgot thyself ? Is it so long ? 
Call forth the holy father ! [Exit an Attendant. 

Duke. [To VIOLA] Come away. 

Olivia. Whither, my lord ? Cesario, husband, stay. 

Duke. Husband ? 

Olivia. Ay, husband : can he that deny ? 

Duke. Her husband, sirrah ? 

Viola. No, my lord, not I. 

Olivia. Alas ! it is the baseness of thy fear 
That makes thee strangle thy propriety. 
Fear not, Cesario, take thy fortunes up ; 
Be that thou know'st thou art, and then thou art 
As great as that thou fear'st. 

Re-enter Attendant with the Priest. 

O, welcome, father! 

Father, I charge thee, by thy reverence, 
Here to unfold though lately we intended 
To keep in darkness what occasion now 

Shakespeare's Marriage 91 

Reveals before 'tis ripe what thou dost know 
Hath newly pass'd between this youth and me. 

Priest. A contract of eternal bond of love, 
Confirm'd by mutual joinder of your hands, 
Attested by the holy close of lips, 
Strengthen'd by interchangement of your rings, 
And all the ceremony of this compact 
Seal'd in my function, by my testimony ; 
Since when, my watch hath told me, toward my grave 
I have travell'd but two hours." 

Sidney Lee, who denies that the betrothal or 
"troth-plight" ever "carried with it all the privi 
leges of marriage," remarks : " In Measure for Meas 
ure Claudio's offence is intimacy with the Lady Julia 
[sic] after the contract of betrothal and before the 
formality of marriage." It is true that the unright 
eous deputy Angelo interprets the ancient law in 
that way ; but Claudio defends himself thus : 

" Upon a true contract 
I got possession of Julietta's bed. 
You know the lady : she is fast my wife, 
Save that we do the denunciation lack 

Of outward order ; this we came not to." 

And later the Duke, disguised as a friar, justifies 
Mariana in taking the place of Isabella in the noc 
turnal visit to Angelo on the ground of the pre 
contract between them : 

" He is your husband on a pre-contract. 
To bring you thus together, 'tis no sin, 

92 Life of Shakespeare 

Sith that the justice of your title to him 
Doth flourish the deceit." 

Karl Elze, after quoting this, says : " On the other 
hand, in The Winter's Tale (i. 2. 278), Leontes says 
of his wife that she deserves a name 

< As rank as any flax-wench that puts to 
Before her troth -plight.' " 

He either takes the "troth-plight" to mean the 
marriage, instead of the betrothal, to which it really 
refers, or he strangely fails to note that the act is 
supposed to occur " before " the betrothal, not after 
it, as in the case of Angelo and Mariana. 

To add to the perplexing questions connected 
with Shakespeare's marriage, an entry has been 
discovered in the episcopal register at Worcester, 
according to which a license for the marriage of 
"William Shakespeare and Anna Whately of Tem 
ple Graf ton" was issued on the 27th of Novem 
ber, 1582, the day before the signing of the 
Hathaway bond. Certain of the Baconian heretics 
have argued from this that Anne Hathaway was 
a widow when Shakespeare married her; but, as 
Halliwell-Phillipps remarks, the bond is " of course 
of infinitely higher authority than the entry, and 
Temple Grafton is not one of the hamlets of Strat 
ford," as Shottery is. He believes that " the scribe, 
through some exceptional accident, must have mis- 
written " the latter part of the entry. 

Shakespeare's Marriage 93 

Sidney Lee, on the other hand, believes that the 
William Shakespeare of the entry was another of 
the many persons of that name in the diocese of 

Mrs. Stopes suggests yet another explanation: 
" Travelling was inconvenient on November roads ; 
Will set off for the license alone, as bridegrooms 
were often wont to do, when they could afford the 
expense of a special license. He might give his 
own name, and that of his intended wife, at a tem 
porary address. The clerk made an error in the 
spelling [of her name], which might have been cor 
rected, but meanwhile discovered that Shakespeare 
was under age, was acting without his parents that 
the bride was not in her own home, and that no mar 
riage settlement was in the air. No risk might be 
run by an official in such a case; the license was 
stayed; sureties must be found for a penalty in 
case of error. So poor Will would have to find, in 
post-haste, the nearest friends he could find to trust 
him and his story. And whom so likely to ask as 
Fulk Sand ells and John Richardson, friends of the 
Hathaway s ? They might have been at Worcester 
market with him." 

A daughter was born to the young couple before 
the end of the next May, being baptized with the 
name Susanna on Sunday, May 26th, 1583 ; and twin 
children, Hamnet and Judith, less than two years 
afterwards (baptized February 2d, 1585), or about 
two months before their father was twenty-one. 



OF Shakespeare's life from the date of his mar 
riage to his departure for London nothing is posi 
tively known except the facts already mentioned 
concerning the baptism of his three children; and 
the most important tradition of the period is that 
of his poaching in Sir Thomas Lucy's park at 
Charlecote, which is by no means improbable. 

Rowe tells the story thus: "He had, by a mis 
fortune common enough to young fellows, fallen 
into ill company, and, amongst them, some, that 
made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged 
him with them more than once in robbing a park 
that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, 
near Stratford ; for this he was prosecuted by that 
gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely, 
and, in order to revenge that ill-usage, he made a 
ballad upon him; and though this, probably the 
first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to 
have been so very bitter that it redoubled the pros 
ecution against him to that degree that he was 
obliged to leave his business and his family in War- 

At Stratford after the Marriage 95 

wickshire for some time, and shelter himself in 

Another version is given by Archdeacon Davies, 
according to whom the dramatist was " much given 
to all unluckiness in stealing venison and rabbits, 
particularly from Sir Thomas Lucy, who had him 
oft whipped and sometimes imprisoned, and at last 
made him fly his native county to his great advance 
ment; but his revenge was so great that he is his 
Justice Clodpate, and calls him a great man, and 
that in allusion to his name bore three louses ram 
pant for his arms." It is evident, therefore, from 
the independent testimonies of Rowe and Davies, 
that the deer-stealing story was accepted in the 
poet's native town and in the neighbourhood during 
the latter part of the seventeenth century. " That 
it has a solid basis of fact cannot admit of a reason 
able doubt. It was current at a period in the his 
tory of Shakespearean appreciation before tales of 
the kind became liable to intentional falsification, 
and the impressive story of the penniless fugitive, 
who afterwards became a leading inhabitant of 
Stratford and the owner of New Place, was one 
likely to be handed down with passable fidelity to 
the grandchildren of his contemporaries" (Halli- 

Some critics have endeavoured to prove that there 
was no deer-park at Charlecote at that time ; and 
there may have been none in the legal acceptation 
of the term. Blackstone says: "It is not every 

96 Life of Shakespeare 

field or common, which, a gentleman pleases to sur 
round with a wall or paling, and to stock with a 
herd of deer, that is thereby constituted a legal 
park." Probably Sir Thomas was the originator of 
the present deer-park, as he was the originator 
of the still existing mansion, and started his deer- 
park in a small way at first. The laying out of 
deer-parks and making enclosures was a fashion 
prevailing at the time. Holinshed dwells upon the 
injurious custom of enclosures and expressly says: 
"Nobles and gentlemen furnished the same with 
beasts and sheepe and also deere." It is very likely 
that Sir Thomas at first had only a warren, into 
which he gradually introduced deer as well. It 
will be noted that, according to Davies, Shakespeare 
stole "venison and rabbits." Besides, Lucy had 
other estates in the neighbourhood, on some of 
which he employed game-keepers, and in March, 
1585, about the date of the alleged poaching, he 
introduced a bill into Parliament for the better 
preservation of game, which he would not be likely 
to have done if he had not been personally in 
terested in the matter. Perhaps, as has been 
suggested, the depredations of Shakespeare and 
his companions may have been the cause of Sir 
Thomas's anxiety to have the new law enacted. 

The strongest argument in favour of the tradition 
is to be based on the evidence furnished by the 
plays that Shakespeare had a grudge against Sir 
Thomas, and caricatured him as Justice Shallow 

At Stratford after the Marriage 97 

(Davies's "Justice Clodpate") in 2 Henry IV. and 
The, Merry Wives of Windsor. The reference in the 
latter play to the " dozen white luces " on Shallow's 
coat of arms is palpably meant to suggest the three 
luces, or pikes, in the arms of the Lucys. The 
manner in which the dialogue dwells on the device 
indicates that some personal satire was intended. 

It should be understood that poaching was then 
regarded, except by the victims of it, as a venial 
offence. Sir Philip Sidney's May Lady calls deer- 
stealing " a prettie service." The students at Oxford 
were the most notorious poachers in the kingdom, 
in spite of laws making expulsion from the univer 
sity the penalty of detection. Froude says: "No 
English peasant could be convinced that there was 
any moral crime in appropriating the wild game. 
It was an offence against statute law, but no offence 
against natural law; and it was rather a trial of 
skill between the noble who sought to monopolize a 
right which seemed to be common to all, and those 
who would succeed, if they could, in securing their 
share of it." Reynolds, who wrote against the thea 
tre in 1599, classes the stealing of deer and of fruit 
together as equal offences. In The Merry Devil 
of Edmonton (1608) we have a case of poaching, in 
which even the parson, Sir John, takes part, and 
which all those who had a hand in it frankly pro 
claim a merry, successful joke. In Dodsley it is 
said of the parson: "the stove priest steals more 
venison than half the country." Another poaching 

98 Life of Shakespeare 

priest, who hunted rabbits on a large scale, we meet 
with in A Hundred Merry Tales. In The Hector of 
Germanie (1615) the page says: "I hold it [my 
office] not by patent, for term of life, nor for years : 
but as young gentlemen get venison upon sufferance, 
or by stealth." 

Apropos of the Oxford students, Dr. Forman 
tells how two of them in 1573 (one of whom after 
wards became Bishop of Worcester) were more given 
to such pursuits than to study ; and one good man 
lamented in later life that he had missed the advan 
tages that others had derived from these exploits, 
which he believed to be an excellent discipline for 
young men. 

We must not assume that Sir Thomas was fairly 
represented in the character of Justice Shallow. 
On the contrary, he appears to have been an able 
man and magistrate, and very genial withal. - The 
Stratford records bear frequent testimony to his 
judicial services; and his attendance on such occa 
sions is generally coupled with a charge for claret 
and sack or similar beverages. It is rather amusing 
that these entries occur even when he is sitting in 
judgment on tipplers. In the records for 1586 we 
read : " Paid for wine and sugar when Sir Thomas 
Lucy sat in commission for tipplers, xx.d." 

That he was a good husband we may infer from 
the long epitaph of his wife in Charlecote Church, 
which reads thus : " Here intombed lyeth the Lady 
Joyce Lucy, wife of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecot, 

At Stratford after the Marriage 99 

in the county of Warwick, knight, daughter and 
heire of Thomas Acton of Sutton in the county of 
Worster, esquire, who departed out of this wretched 
world to her heavenly kingdom the day of 
February, in the yere of our Lord God, 1595, and of 
her age Ix. and three : all the tyme of her lyf e a 
true and faythf ull servant of her good God, never 
detected of any cry me or vice ; in religion moste 
sounde ; in love to her husband moste faythf ull and 
true; in freindship moste constant; to what in 
trust was committed unto her moste secret ; in wise- 
dome excelling; in governing of her howse and 
bringing up of youth in the feare of God that did 
convers with her, moste rare and singuler. A great 
maintayner of hospitality ; greatly esteemed of her 
betters; misliked of none unles of the envyous. 
When all is spoken that can be saide, a wooman so 
furnished and garnished with vertue as not to be 
bettered, and hardly to be equaled by any. As 
shee lived moste vertuously, so shee died moste 
godly. Set downe by him that best did knowe what 
hath byn written to be true, Thomas Lucye." 

On the other hand, her son-in-law, Edward Aston 
who, however, may be a prejudiced witness 
says, in a confidential letter to a friend, that her 
ladyship was a thorough vixen. 

Other traditions represent Shakespeare as given 
to wild courses at this period of his life, but they 
are of more recent date, and probably have little or 
no foundation in fact. The only one of them worth 

ioo Life of Shakespeare 

mentioning here is that of the " Bidf ord challenge," 
as it is called. The earliest form of this legend 
dates back to 1762, when a gentleman who visited 
Stratford relates that the host of the White Lion 
Inn took him to Bidford, a neighbouring village, 
where, to quote his own words, "he shewed me in 
the hedge a crab-tree called ' Shakespear's Canopy,' 
because under it our poet slept one night; for he, 
as well as Ben Johnson, loved a glass for the 
pleasure of society ; and he, having heard much of 
the men of that village as deep drinkers and merry 
fellows, one day went over to Bidford to take a cup 
with them ; he enquired of a shepherd for the Bid- 
ford drinkers, who replied they were absent, but the 
Bidford sippers were at home, and, I suppose, con 
tinued the sheepkeeper, they will be sufficient for 
you ; and so, indeed, they were ; he was forced to 
take up his lodging under that tree for some hours " 
(British Magazine, June, 1762). 

If there was any truth in the story, this first 
version doubtless contains it ; but it was afterwards 
absurdly amplified and embellished by John Jor 
dan, a Stratford poet, in a manuscript of about the 
year 1770, from which the following is an extract : 
" There were two companys or f raternitys of Village 
Yeomanry who used frequently to associate to 
gether at Bidford a town pleasantly situate on the 
banks of the Avon about 7 Miles below Stratford, 
and Who boasted themselves Superior in the Science 
of drinking to any set of equal number in the King- 

At Stratford after the Marriage 101 

dom and hearing the fame of our Bard it was deter 
mined to Challenge him and his Companions to a 
tryal of their skill which the Stratf ordians accepted 
and accordingly repaired to Bidford which place 
agreeable to both parties was to be the Scene of 
Contendtion. But when Shakespeare and his Com 
panions arrived at the destined spot, to their dis 
agreeable disapointment they found the Topers 
were gone to Evesham fair and were told that if 
they had a mind to try their strenght with the 
Sippers, they were ther ready for the Contest, 
Shakespf and his compainions made a Scoff at their 
Opponents but for want of better Company they 
agreed to the Contest and in a little time our Bard 
and his Compainions got so intollerable intoxicated 
that they was not able to Contend any longer and 
acordingly set out on their return to Stratford 
But had not got above half a mile on the road e'er 
the found themselves unable to proceed any farther, 
and was obliged to lie down under a Crabtree which 
is still growing by the side of the road where they 
took up their repose till morning when some of the 
Company roused the poet and intreated him to 
return to Bidford and renew the Contest he declined 
it saying I have drank with 

* Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston, 
Haunted Hillborough, and Hungry Grafton, 
With Dadging Exhall, Papist Wixford, 
Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford.' " 

IO2 Life of Shakespeare 

Jordan may have written this doggerel, but cer 
tainly Shakespeare never did. The names are those 
of neighbouring villages. Two other accounts 
which were printed, respectively, in the Gentleman's 
Magazine for December, 1794, and in Ireland's 
Views on the Warwickshire Avon, are known to have 
been from materials furnished by Jordan. Other 
versions have been' invented more recently. In 
Brewer's Description of the County of Warwick 
(1820), for instance, we are told that " those who 
repeat the tradition in the neighbourhood of Strat 
ford invariably assert that the whole party slept 
undisturbed from Saturday night till the following 
Monday morning, when they were roused by work 
men going to their labour." According to an 
improved version of this form of the anecdote, so 
completely had the previous day been effaced from 
the sleeper's memory that, when he woke up, he 
rebuked a field labourer in the vicinity for his 
desecration of the Sabbath. 

Professor Baynes, commenting on this period in 
the life of the dramatist, says : " In its modern form 
the story of the Bidf ord challenge exploit may 
indeed be little better than a myth. But in sub 
stance it is by no means incredible, and if we knew 
all about the incident we should probably find there 
were other points to be tested between the rival 
companies besides strength of head to resist the 
effects of the well-known Bidf ord beer. The prompt 
refusal to return with his companions and renew the 

At Stratford after the Marriage 103 

contest on the following day, a decision playfully 
expressed and emphasized in the well-known dog 
gerel lines, implies that in Shakespeare's view 
such forms of good fellowship were to be accepted 
on social not self-indulgent grounds, that they were 
not to be resorted to for the sake of the lower 
accessories only, or allowed to grow into evil habits 
from being unduly repeated or prolonged. It is 
clear that this general principle of recreative and 
adventurous enterprise, announced more than once 
in his writings, guided his own conduct even in the 
excitable and impulsive season of youth and early 
manhood. If he let himself go, as he no doubt 
sometimes did, it was only as a good rider on com 
ing to the turf gives the horse his head in order to 
enjoy the exhilaration of a gallop, having the bridle 
well in hand the while, and able to rein in the ex 
cited steed at a moment's notice. It may be said 
of Shakespeare at such seasons, as of his own 
Prince Hal, that he 

' Obscured his contemplation 
Under the veil of wildness ; which, no doubt, 
Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night, 
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.' " 

The same writer suggests that Sir Thomas Lucy 
may have been prejudiced against the Shakespeares 
on religious grounds, and that this feeling may have 
prompted him to a display of exceptional severity 

1O4 Life of Shakespeare 

against their eldest son. He was an extreme and 
bigoted Protestant, and his bitterness against the 
Romanists had lately been intensified by the con 
spiracy of the Ardens of Park Hall against the 
queen's life. John Somerville, the son of Edward 
Arden, instigated by the family priest, had started 
for London with the purpose of assassinating Eliza 
beth with his own hand, but was arrested on the 
way and conveyed to the Tower, where, under 
threat of torture, he made a confession, implicating 
his father-in-law and the priest. All three were 
tried and convicted. Somerville committed suicide, 
and Edward Arden was hanged. These events made 
a deep impression in Warwickshire, and no one 
would be more excited by them than Lucy. His 
vindictive feeling against the Romanists led him 
a little later to bring forward a motion in Parlia 
ment in favour of devising some new and lingering 
tortures for the execution of the Romanist conspir 
ator Parry. As Mr. Froude puts it, "Sir Thomas 
Lucy, Shakespeare's Lucy, the original perhaps 
of Justice Shallow, with an English fierceness at 
the bottom of his stupid nature, having stud 
ied the details of the execution of Gerard, pro 
posed in the House of Commons 'that some new 
law should be devised for Parry's execution, such 
as might be thought fittest for his extraordinary 
and horrible treason.' " The Ardens were devoted 
Romanists ; the terrible calamity that had befallen 
the family occurred only a short time before the 

At Stratford after the Marriage 105 

deer-stealing adventure ; and the Shakespeares them 
selves, so far from being Puritans, were suspected 
by many of being but indifferent Protestants. John 
Shakespeare was an irregular attendant at church, 
and soon ceased to appear there at all, so that Sir 
Thomas Lucy probably regarded him as little better 
than a recusant. "In any case Sir Thomas would 
be likely to resent the elder Shakespeare's convivial 
turn and profuse hospitality as alderman and bail 
iff, and especially his official patronage of the play 
ers and active encouragement of their dramatic 
representations in the Guild hall. The Puritans 
had a rooted antipathy to the stage, and to the 
jaundiced eye of the local justice the reverses of 
the Shakespeares would probably appear as a judg 
ment on their way of life. He would all the more 
eagerly seize any chance of humiliating their eldest 
son, who still held up his head and dared to look 
upon life as a scene of cheerful activity and occa 
sional enjoyment. The young poet, indeed, em 
bodied the very characteristics most opposed to Sir 
Thomas's dark and narrow conceptions of life and 
duty. His notions of public duty were very much 
restricted to persecuting the Romanists and preserv 
ing the game on Protestant estates. And Shake 
speare probably took no pains to conceal his want 
of sympathy with these supreme objects of aristo 
cratic and Puritanical zeal. And Sir Thomas, 
having at length caught him, as he imagined, in 
a technical trespass, would be sure to pursue the 

106 Life of Shakespeare 

culprit with the unrelenting rigour of his hard and 
gloomy nature." 

Mrs. Stopes, who has no faith in the deer-stealing 
tradition, suggests that " it is much more than likely 
that Shakespeare was concerned in the religious tur 
moil of the time, was somewhat suspected, and was 
indignant at the cruel treatment of Edward Arden ; " 
and that this, rather than any fear of persecution 
by Lucy for poaching, may have had something to 
do with his leaving Warwickshire. 

It is a curious fact that a copy of the 1619 quarto 
edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor was discov 
ered a few years ago among the family records at 
Charlecote Hall the only copy of any one of 
Shakespeare's plays in the early editions found 
there. Dowden, referring to this, says : " If it is 
any satisfaction to us we have some reason to 
believe that the barb prepared for Sir Thomas Lucy 
struck home, and that the family did not forget the 
mockery of their old coat ; " but as Sir Thomas died 
in 1600, he could not himself have bought or seen 
this edition of 1619, nor even the first edition, 
which did not appear until 1602. He may, how 
ever, have heard of the play and of Justice Shallow 
before his death, as it was probably written as early 
as 1599. The title-page of the first quarto tells us 
that it had been " divers times acted by the Eight 
Honourable the Lord Chamberlaines servants both 
before her Majestic and elsewhere. 7 ' 

How William managed to support his family at 

At Stratford after the Marriage 107 

this time we have no means of knowing. It is 
improbable that he set up housekeeping for him 
self, and it is equally improbable that he made his 
home at Henley Street. His father's fortunes were 
declining, and there were four younger children to 
be taken care of: Gilbert, baptized October 13th, 
1566; Joan, April 15th, 1569; Richard, March llth, 
1573-4; and Edmund, May 3d, 1580. Anne, bap 
tized September 28th, 1571, had died in the spring 
of 1579, the record of her burial being dated April 
4th in that year. Some have suggested that Will 
iam and his family lived with the Hathaways at 
Shottery, and that Anne and her children remained 
there when the young man went to seek his fortune 
in London. Her widowed mother may have been 
glad to have her daughter and grandchildren with 
her in the large and comfortable house left to her 
by her husband's will ; for that document, after cer 
tain bequests to his children and others, concludes 
thus : " This bequeast donne, debts paide, and lega 
cies leavied, and my bodye honestlie buried, then 
I gyve and bequeathe all the rest of my goodes, 
moveable and unmoveable, unto Joane, 'my wief, 
whome I make my sole executrixe to see this my 
last will and testament trulye performed." The 
house, though long known as a "cottage," was 
really "a substantial thatched farmhouse of the 
Elizabethan period" (Halliwell-Phillipps). In the 
latter part of the eighteenth century it was con 
verted into two tenements, and later into three. 

io8 Life of Shakespeare 

John Shakespeare's bad luck appears to have 
begun some time after he bought the houses in 
1575 for 40. He must then have been prosperous, 
with money to invest in real estate. We learn 
nothing about his affairs in 1576 and 1577, but 
early in 1578 his circumstances were less flourish 
ing. The town council on the 29th of January in 
that year made a levy on the people for the pur 
chase of military accoutrements. It was agreed that 
"every alderman, except suche under-wrytten ex- 
cepted, shall paye " 6s. 8d. ; but two aldermen, " Mr. 
Plumley" and "Mr. Shaxpeare," were excepted, 
the former paying only 5s. and the latter only 
3s. 4d. The will of Eoger Sadler, a baker of Strat 
ford, in November, 1578, mentions a "debte of Mr. 
John Shaksper " for 5. On the 19th of the same 
month, it was ordered by the town council that 
"every alderman shall paye weekely towardes the 
releif of the poore iiij.d. savinge Mr. John Shax- 
peare and Mr. Robert Bratt, who shall not be taxed 
to pay anythinge." The estate of Asbies was lost 
forever to John and Mary Shakespeare in that same 
month oi" November, when they mortgaged it to 
Edward Lambert as security for a loan of 40. 
This transaction occurred only five days before the 
vote in the town council just mentioned, the mort 
gage having been effected on the 14th. 

On the llth of March, 1579, when another tax 
was levied " for the purchase of armour and defen 
sive weapons," John Shakespeare is recorded among 

At Stratford after the Marriage 109 

the defaulters, being unable to pay his 3s. 4d. On 
the 15th of October, in that year, John and his 
wife disposed of their interests in Snitterfield for 
4. This interest "consisted of a share in a 
considerable landed estate that had belonged to 
the poet's maternal grandfather, a share to which 
John and Mary Shakespeare would have become 
absolutely entitled upon the death of Agnes Arden, 
who was described as 'aged and impotent' in the 
July of the following year, 1580, and who died a 
few months afterwards, her burial at Aston Cant- 
lowe having taken place on the 29th of December. 
In her will, that of a substantial lady farmer of the 
period, there is no direct mention of the Shake- 

For the years 1581-1584, nothing of importance 
concerning John Shakespeare appears in the town 
records except the fact of his absence from all the 
meetings of the town council at which the attend 
ances are registered. In 1585 he continues to ab 
sent himself from the meetings, and during that 
year three suits against him for debt are recorded. 
In 1586 there were further suits of the same kind ; 
but he served on juries in May and July, and in 
the latter month he went to Coventry to become 
bail with Thomas Jones for the due appearance of 
Michael Pryce, who was indicted for felony. In the 
record at that time he is called " Johannes Shake- 
spere, . . . glover." 

On the 6th of September, 1586, there was an 

no Life of Shakespeare 

^election of newe aldermen," and "at thys halle 
William Smythe and Richard Courte are chosen to 
be aldermen in the places of John Wheler and John 
Shaxspere, for that Mr.' Wheler dothe desyre to be 
put owt of the companye, and Mr. Shaxspere dothe 
not come to the halles when they be warned, nor 
hathe not done of longe tyme." 

In the early part of the next year (1587) John 
Shakespeare was tormented by an action that had 
been brought against him in the Court of Eecord by 
Nicholas Lane, who averred that, in a conference 
they had held in the previous June, John had made 
himself responsible for 10 in the event, subse 
quently realized, of his brother Henry's not paying 
that sum on Michaelmas Day, 1586, being part of a 
debt of 22 that was owing to Lane. Judgment 
was no doubt given in favour of the plaintiff, the 
suit having been removed by certiorari at the in 
stance of the defendant. The legal papers are in 
Latin, and John's name appears in them as Shak- 
spere, Shaksper, Shacksper, Shaxpere, Schackspere, 
and Shakesper. 

In 1588 and 1589 his name appears in connection 
with certain suits, sometimes as plaintiff. In the 
autumn of 1589 he brought an action against Lam 
bert concerning an arrangement that had been made 
for the surrender of Asbies, and from his bill of 
complaints we learn that he was still engaged in 
commercial speculations; but the litigation seems 
to have been abandoned. In 1591 he was defend- 

At Stratford after the Marriage in 

ant in several suits ; and on the 16th of December 
he served on a jury in the Court of Record. 

In 1592 he was appraiser of the estates of two 
deceased persons. In that year Lucy and other 
commissioners prepared lists of the recusants of 
Warwickshire. Among those found who had been 
" hearetof ore presented," at Stratf ord-on-Avon, " for 
not comminge monethlie to the Churche according 
to Mr Majesties lawes," were "Mr. John Shack- 
spere " and eight others ; but the record states : 
"It is sayd that these laste nine coom not to 
Churche for feare of processe for debttee." In the 
paper from which the commissioners obtained their 
information the words are: "Wee suspect these 
nyne persons next ensuinge absent themselves for 
feare of processes. 7 ' They are named, "Mr. John 
Shackspeare" among them. Then they were not 
recusants persons who refused to conform to the 
established rites of the Church but debtors. 

Mrs. Stopes thinks "it is quite possible" that 
this reference is to John Shakespeare, the shoe 
maker, who has sometimes been confounded with 
John, the glover, but who is not called "Mr." else 
where in the town records. But as the shoemaker 
had been Master of the Shoemakers' Company, he 
"might have been called 'Mr.'" in this instance. 
Halliwell-Phillipps and others have no doubt that 
our friend of Henley Street is the person. 

In 1593 there were two suits against " Johannem 
Shaxpere;" and in 1595 another against "Philip- 

H2 Life of Shakespeare 

pum Grene, chaundeler, Henricum Bogers, butcher, 
et Johannem Shaxpere." With 'respect to this last 
suit Halliwell-Phillipps remarks: "The somewhat 
peculiar form of this entry, John Shakespeare be 
ing the only one of three defendants whose name is 
given without the addition of a trade, seems to be 
an indication that he was at that time out of busi 
ness; and that he did not indulge, during the 
remainder of his life, in his former love for specula 
tion may perhaps be gathered from the circum 
stance of the present being his last appearance in 
the register of the Court of Record. It is impossible 
to ascertain the exact history of the suit, none of 
the pleas or declarations having been preserved, but 
there being no notice of him in the entries of the 
proceedings after its commencement on 19 March, 
Quiney and Barber [the plaintiffs] continuing the 
litigation against the other two parties only, it is 
clear that he was released in some way or other 
from further liability in the matter." 

By this time, as we shall see further on, the 
poet was doing so well in London that he could help 
his father in supporting his family and in extricat 
ing himself from his pecuniary embarrassments. 

What were the causes that led to the continued 
decline of John Shakespeare's prosperity we do not 
know ; but it was probably due to the general de 
pression in business that seems to have affected 
Stratford at that time. It had become so serious 
by 1590 that the bailiffs and burgesses addressed a 

At Stratford after the Marriage 113 

petition to the Lord Treasurer Burghley in which 
they state that the town had fallen "into much 
decay for want of such trade as heretofore they 
had by clothing and making of yarn, employing 
and maintaining a number of poor people by the 
same, which now live in great penury and misery, 
by reason they are not set to work as before they 
have been." Special mention is also made of the 
decline in the wool trade, which was naturally 
affected by this depression in the manufacture of 
clothing and yarn and in which John Shakespeare, 
as we know, was largely interested. 

Professor Baynes, who does not appear to be 
aware of these facts, believes that John's bad luck in 
business was due to a " defect of character," a lack 
of "adequate care and foresight" in his dealings 
and calculating. He seems, in the opinion of this 
critic, "to have possessed the eager sanguine tem 
perament which, absorbed in the immediate object 
of pursuit, overlooks difficulties and neglects the 
wider considerations on which . lasting success de 
pends. Even in his early years at Stratford there 
are signs of this ardent, impatient, somewhat un- 
heedf ul temper. He is not only active and push 
ing, but too restless and excitable to pay proper 
attention to necessary details, or discharge with 
punctuality the minor duties of his position. . . . 
In the years 1556-57 he allowed himself to be sued 
in the bailiff's court for comparatively small debts. 
This could not have arisen from any want of means, 

H4 Life of Shakespeare 

as during the same period, in October, 1556, he 
made the purchase already referred to of two 
houses with extensive gardens. The actions for 
debt must therefore have been the result of negli 
gence or temper on John Shakespeare's part, and 
either alternative tells almost equally against his 
habits of business coolness and regularity. Another 
illustration of his restless, ill-considered, and un 
balanced energy may be found in the number and 
variety of occupations which he seems to have 
added to his early trade of glover and leather-dealer. 
As his prospects improved he appears to have seized 
on fresh branches of business, until he had in 
cluded within his grasp the whole circle of agricul 
tural products that could in any way be brought to 
market. It would seem also that he added farm 
ing, to a not inconsiderable extent, to his expanding 
retail business in Stratford. But it is equally clear 
that he lacked the orderly method, the comprehen 
sive outlook, and the vigilant care for details essen 
tial for holding well in hand the threads of so 
complicated a commercial web." 

That John was ambitious cannot be doubted, and 
this may have led him to undertake a larger busi 
ness on his limited capital than was prudent, in view 
of the possibility of such a period of depression in 
trade as actually occurred a few years later. But 
we have no reason to suppose that he undertook so 
great a " number and variety of occupations " as Pro 
fessor Baynes assumes, covering "the whole circle 

At Stratford after the Marriage 115 

of agricultural products 77 and including "farming 
to a not inconsiderable extent." He simply added 
to Ms trade as a glover the dealing in leather 
and other articles made of leather, and the sale of 
wool and perhaps other products brought to mar 
ket by the neighbouring farmers. There is not a 
shadow of evidence that he himself engaged in 
farming after he came to Stratford. Had he been 
the unbalanced and careless man of business de 
scribed in the passage quoted above, he could never 
have been successful and prosperous, as he was for 
more than twenty years. In 1556, before his mar 
riage, he had already made money enough in trade 
to enable him to buy two houses, and in 1575 he 
could afford to increase his investments in real 

During all his troubles, from 1578 onward, he was 
not compelled to part with the Henley Street prop 
erty or to mortgage any portion of it. In 1597, to 
oblige his neighbour, John Badger, he sold a narrow 
strip of land (a foot and a half wide) on the west 
ern side of that estate, receiving 2, 10s. in pay 
ment. He also sold a piece, 17 feet square, in the 
garden, behind the wool-shop, to oblige Edward 
Willis, his neighbour on the other side. 



THE date of Shakespeare's leaving Stratford for 
London cannot be definitely fixed. The poaching 
adventure is supposed to have occurred in the early 
part of 1585, and if the consequences of that act 
drove him from Warwickshire it was probably in the 
autumn of that year. The birth of the twins in Jan 
uary, 1585, and the difficulty he must have had in 
supporting his increasing family, are also in favour 
of that date. It was in that year, moreover, that 
he became of age, which may have induced him to 
take this serious step in the hope of bettering his 

If he did not make the move in the latter part of 
1585, it was probably in the spring of 1586. The 
biographers generally agree upon 1585 or 1586 as 
the year, but a few believe that it was 1587. 

The journey was a more serious undertaking than 
it is now, when a fast train takes us over the route 
in four hours or so. Four days would have been 
good average time then. The facilities for travel 
ling in the reign of good Queen Bess were poor 


Shakespeare Goes to London 117 

enough. Public coaches did not begin to run if 
the speed of any vehicle could be called running at 
that time until about half a century later. Road- 
making as an art was unknown. There were, 
indeed, what professed to be highways between the 
principal towns, but they were badly constructed 
and seldom repaired merely deep-rutted tracks, 
almost or quite impassable in wet weather. The 
country was still generally unenclosed, and when 
the ruts became too deep for endurance, a fresh 
track was struck out beside the old one. These 
roads, for the most part, made themselves, rather 
than were made, and often became like shallow 
ditches, the middle being lower than the sides. 

The bridges, as a rule, were better than the roads. 
Some of them had been built by pious priests in 
earlier times, and were substantial structures of 
stone, but they were narrow and steep, except over 
shallow streams of considerable breadth, where they 
were flat, with many arches, and often had houses 
upon them, like London Bridge. Sir Hugh Clopton's 
bridge across the Avon at Stratford is a fine spec 
imen of these old bridges, and it still does good 
service. Foot-bridges were sometimes only a single 
wooden beam with cross-pieces nailed to it ; and 
these were also used more or less by horsemen. 
Edgar in Lear (iv. 3. 57) tells how the foul fiend 
made him " proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting- 
horse over four-inch bridges." 

The hostelries or inns at the principal points 

n8 Life of Shakespeare 

along the great thoroughfares were large and fine. 
Harrison tells us that some of them could accom 
modate three hundred guests, and were even supe 
rior to those in the metropolis. He says : " Of all 
in England there are no worse inns than in London, 
and yet many are there far better than the best 
that I have heard of in any foreign country, if all 
circumstances be duly considered." 

The vehicles were in keeping with the roads. 
Carriers' carts, long covered wagons, conveyed pas 
sengers from place to place; but a writer of the 
times says that this kind of journeying was so 
slow and tedious that it was used only by women 
and people of inferior condition. For the most 
part men travelled on foot or on horseback, luggage 
and goods being carried by pack-horses. Coaches 
are said to have been introduced by Boonian, Queen 
Elizabeth's own coachman ; but they were little 
better than carts without springs, the body of the 
vehicle resting directly on the axles. In 1568, 
when the Queen gave an audience to the French 
ambassador, she described to him " the aching pains 
she was suffering in consequence of having been 
knocked about in a coach which had been driven a 
little too fast a few days before." At that time, as 
Professor Hales remarks, "the fact was that the 
roads could not bear the coaches, and the coaches 
could not bear the roads; so there was but little 
traffic in that way." 

We can get some idea of the condition of the 

Shakespeare Goes to London 119 

roads sixty or seventy years later from the fact 
that eight hundred horses were once taken by Crom- 
welPs forces while sticking in the mud. In 1640 
the road from London to Dover was the best in 
England, owing to the large Continental travel, but 
it took four days to traverse the sixty-six miles. 
A trip by wagon or stage-coach from London to 
Liverpool, about two hundred miles, took ten days 
in summer and twelve in winter. 

The perils from highwaymen were worse than the 
discomforts from bad roads. It was not safe to 
travel alone or unarmed. Harrison says that trav 
ellers carry staves twelve or thirteen feet long, with 
a twelve-inch pike at the end ; and, since the rob 
bers are often similarly armed, he adds that it is 
well to carry pistols also, " whereby he may deal 
with them further off in his own defence before he 
come within the danger of these weapons." He 
also tells us that the chamberlains, tapsters, and 
hostlers of the inns are often in league with the 
robbers; as we learn also from Shakespeare in 
1 Henry IV. (ii. 1). Gadshill says to the Chamber 
lain in the inn at Eochester: "thou variest no more 
from picking of purses than giving direction doth 
from labouring; thou layest the plot how;" and 
the Chamberlain tells Gadshill about the guests in 
the house who have money and goods, and are soon 
to start on their journey the same who are after 
wards waylaid by Falstaff and the rest. Harrison 
adds that these highwaymen are apt to come to 

I2O Life of Shakespeare 

the gallows, or, as he expresses it, "to be trussed 
up in a Tyburn tippet, which happeneth unto them 
commonly before they come to middle age." 

No wonder that travelling was little in vogue 
except under the pressure of dire necessity. A 
i-hymer of the day says : - 

" A citizen, for recreation sake, 
To see the country would a journey take 
Some dozen miles, or very little more, 
Taking his leave with friends two months before, 
With drinking healths and shaking by the hand, 
As lie had travelled to some new-found land." 

There were two main routes between Stratford 
and London : one by Oxford, the other by Banbury 
and Aylesbury. There is reason to believe that 
Shakespeare, in his yearly visits to his native town 
during his residence in London, used both routes, 
but it is probable that he ordinarily took the Oxford 

On his first journey to London very likely he 
went on foot, as most people did who could not 
afford to have a horse. If they did not expect to 
return very soon, they often bought a horse, which 
they sold on reaching their destination. Possibly 
our young adventurer did this, but, having, as we 
may suppose, little money to risk in an uncertain 
investment in horse-flesh, he may have preferred to 
foot it. 

Professor Hales, in an interesting paper on Shake- 

Shakespeare Goes to London 121 

speare's routes to and from London (Cornhill Maga 
zine, January, 1877), supposes the journey divided 
into four daily stages. The first, of twenty miles, 
was to Chipping Norton, a pleasant ride nowadays 
over a beautiful undulating country, a considerable 
portion of which is in Warwickshire. At a point 
six miles from Stratford, where the road branches, 
there is now a sign-post with this poetic inscrip 
tion : 

Six miles to Shakspere's town whose name 

Is known throughout the earth ; 
To Shipton four, whose lesser fame 
Boasts no such poet's birth." 

Little did the young man dream, as he plodded 
past this point on the road, that his native place 
would come to be memorable as " Shakspere's 
town," or that his name and fame would ever be 
known throughout the earth. 

The Shipton of the guide-post was the only town 
worthy of the name through which he would pass 
during the day. It is now a quiet place, as it must 
have been then, though in stage-coach times lively 
enough as a station for changing horses and staying 
over night. 

Chipping Norton, where Shakespeare would spend 
the night, was then, as long before, an important 
market-town, with many inns and a fine old church, 
which has probably changed very little since the 
sixteenth century. 

122 Life of Shakespeare 

The next day Shakespeare would plod on or jog 
on twenty miles further to Oxford. That was a 
fair day's journey even on horseback. When Mary 
Queen of Scots was removed from Bolton Castle 
to Hipon, on her way south, the ride of sixteen 
miles took from early morning to late in the even 
ing of a January day ; but the roads were doubtless 
in worse condition in the winter than they would 
have been at the time of year when Shakespeare is 
likely to have travelled. The most interesting 
point on this day's journey would be the ancient 
town of Woodstock, associated with the memory of 
Fair Rosamond and of Chaucer. Critical research 
had not then disparaged the traditions concerning 
the lady or the poet, and Shakespeare could have 
had no doubts concerning the connection of either 
with the locality. 

Woodstock had also associations with his own 
time. The palace had been one of the places where 
Elizabeth was confined during her sister's reign. 
It was here that she envied the happy lot of 
the milkmaid whom she heard singing; and here 
she wrote on the shutter of her chamber these 
verses : 

" O Fortune, how thy restless wavering state 
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit ! 
Witness this present prison whither fate 
Could bear me, and the joys I quit. 
Thou caused' st the guilty to be loosed 
From bands wherein are innocents enclosed; 

Shakespeare Goes to London 123 

Causing me guiltless to be straight reserved, 
And freeing those that death had well deserved. 
But by her envy can be nothing wrought ; 
So God send to my foes all they have sought ! 

ELIZABETH, Prisoner. 
A. D. 1555." 

These verses were written only about thirty years 
before Shakespeare passed through. Woodstock, and 
he may have perused them if he visited the old 
palace, which was seldom occupied as a royal resi 
dence then or during the reign of the Stuarts. 

At Oxford, according to tradition, Shakespeare, 
on his journeys to and from London, used to lodge 
at the Crown Inn, kept by John Davenant, father of 
Sir William Davenant, who was a godson of the 
poet. It was asserted later that Sir William was 
more than a poetical son of Shakespeare, and Sir 
William himself was inclined to favour the story ; 
but Halliwell-Phillipps, after elaborate investiga 
tion, decided that there was no ground for the 
imputation that the comely wife of John Davenant 
was unfaithful to her liege lord. 

In this first visit to Oxford, however, it is im 
probable that Shakespeare put up at the Crown, 
which was then the best hostelrie in the city. 
Some humbler inn was doubtless his resting-place 
after the day's journey. 

The next day he probably went on twenty-five 
miles further to High Wycornbe, this being the com 
mon route from Oxford on the way to London ; and 

124 Life of Shakespeare 

another stretch of twenty-nine miles on the fourth 
day would bring him to the metropolis. The roads 
would be somewhat better in the vicinity of the 
great city, and he could therefore make more rapid 
progress than on the first two days. On these latter 
stages of the journey he would pass through no 
large towns or scenes of special historical or other 
interest, though we cannot imagine the ride or walk 
to have been dull or monotonous to a young man 
with the keen eyes and alert intelligence of 

To the English people of that day London seemed 
one of the wonders of the world ; as indeed it was, 
though surpassed in some respects by Paris and by 
Venice, then in the height of its power and splen 
dour. Drayton, in the Poly-Olbion, says of it: 

" O more than mortal man that did this town begin, 
Whose knowledge found the plot so fit to set it in, 
As in the fittest place by man that could be thought, 
To which by sea or land provisions could be brought ! 
And such a road for ships scarce all the world commands 
As is the goodly Thames, near where Brute's city stands." 

It is hardly necessary to state that the "Brute" 
here is no Koman famous in history, but " Brutus 
of Troy," who, according to the mythical annals of 
Britain, as recorded in the old romances and chron 
icles, was the grandson of ^neas, and the founder 
of New Troy, or London. He is mentioned, as the 
reader may remember, in Milton's Comus, in connec- 

Shakespeare Goes to London 125 

tion with the story of Sabrina, which is a part of 
the same legendary history. 

London was still surrounded by its ancient walls, 
though portions of these were somewhat dilapidated. 
The gates were conspicuous structures, and were 
still guarded and closed at night, as they continued 
to be until 1760. The population, then about three 
hundred thousand, was mainly within the walls, 
though beginning to spread beyond them, especially 
in the neighbourhood of some of the gates. The 
city was crowded with houses, but open spaces 
existed here and there, and many large gardens. 
The Temple Gardens, where Plantagenet plucked 
the white rose and Somerset the red (1 Henry VI. 
ii. 4), still remain, though somewhat contracted in 
area and more built upon than at that time. The 
Strand, the road from Temple Bar to Westminster, 
which was then an independent city, had only a few 
houses on the northern side, but on the south was 
adorned with noble mansions, with lawns and gar 
dens extending to the river. John Gerard, whose 
Herball was published in 1597, and who had a large 
garden (probably attached to his house in Holborn) 
to which he often refers in his bcok, afterwards had 
another of two acres leased to him by Queen Anne, 
the consort of James I. This garden adjoined her 
mansion, Somerset House, also called " Strond 
House," which was on the bank of the river. 

Apropos of gardens, there was one of forty acres 
attached to Ely House in Holborn, the palace of the 

126 Life of Shakespeare 

Bishop of Ely. In Richard III. (iii. 4. 38), just 
before ordering the execution of Hastings, Richard 
says to the Bishop : 

" When I was last in Holborn, 
I saw good strawberries in your garden there. 
I do beseech you send for some of them " 

which the Bishop does; and no doubt Richard 
enjoyed them heartily at his dinner, which he 
swears that he will not eat until he sees the decapi 
tated head of Hastings. The suburb of Holborn 
was then chiefly occupied by gardens. In other 
directions outside the walls were many fine man 
sions with extensive gardens and pleasure-grounds, 
together with scattered hamlets, fields, and forests. 
Crossing the Thames by London Bridge, then the 
only one over the river, we come to the village of 
Southwark, with the grand old church of St. Sa 
viour's, the palace, the prison, the theatres, and the 
Tabard Inn, whence Chaucer's pilgrims started on 
their journey to Canterbury. Here Shakespeare 
lived for years ; and here was the Falcon Tavern, 
the haunt of wits and players and poets. Here, too, 
was Paris Garden, with its bears, among them the 
famous Sackerson which Slender told Anne Page 
(Merry Wives, i. 1. 307) he had seen loose and had 
taken him by the chain ! And here was the Globe 
Theatre, forever renowned among the playhouses of 
the Bankside as the one particularly associated with 

Shakespeare Goes to London 127 

Shakespeare, though not built until some years after 
he first came to London. 

But space would fail for referring to the many 
localities in and about the metropolis that were con 
nected with Shakespeare or are mentioned by him 
in the plays : to Eastcheap, where Ealstaff and 
Prince Hal haunted the Boar's Head ; to the cathe 
dral of Old St. Paul's, the nave of which had be 
come the resort of idlers and a place of merchandise, 
where Falstaff says he bought (hired) Bardolph ; to 
Bucklersbury, a street on the right of Cheapside, 
where druggists abounded, fragrant with medicinal 
herbs, to which fat Jack alludes when he speaks of 
the dudes of the day smelling "like Bucklersbury 
in simple time" (herb-gathering time); to Pickt- 
hatch and Turnbull Street, of less fragrant memory, 
the resorts of disreputable women; and to many 
buildings and localities of historical importance, 
churches, palaces, prisons, etc., very few of which 
have survived the lapse of centuries. The Middle 
Temple Hall still stands, unchanged in its interior 
since Elizabeth danced there and Twelfth Night was 
acted beneath its timbered roof; and Gray's Inn, 
where the Comedy of Errors was performed the 
only two buildings in London, where plays of Shake 
speare were thus acted in his lifetime. Crosby Hall, 
the residence of Richard III. when he was Duke of 
Gloster, and later of Sir Thomas More, as also 
of "Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother," likewise 
remains in Bishopgate Street, now a noted restaurant 

128 Life of Shakespeare 

of that eastern district, where one may lunch or 
dine in the grand hall in which Richard feasted of 
old. Hard by is the church of Great St. Helen's, a 
remnant of the ancient priory of the saint, old 
in Shakespeare's day and doubtless familiar to him, 
as in 1598 he was assessed for property in the 
parish, and may have resided there for a time, 
though we have no other evidence that he did. 
However that may be, it is probable that to his 
mention of Crosby Hall in Richard III. we owe the 
preservation of the fine remains of that mansion, 
which, after being occupied as a Presbyterian 
chapel, and later as a warehouse, was restored in 
1834 in its present form, and we may hope will 
long remain as one of the most beautiful and 
interesting relics of Shakespeare's London. 

To the few other relics of that period, better 
known from their historical fame and interest, 
like the Tower and Westminster Abbey, it is not 
necessary to refer here. Though mentioned in the 
plays and of course familiar to Shakespeare, they 
have no special connection with his personal 

What friends or what employment Shakespeare 
found on coming to London we do not know. 
Doubtless there were Stratford people in the city 
known to his father or to himself whom he could 
look up, and who might be of some assistance to 
him until he could get work of some kind ; but we 
have definite information of only one such person. 

Shakespeare Goes to London 129 

This was Richard Field, who was apprenticed to 
a printer in London in 1579, and soon after attain 
ing his freedom in 1587 began business on his own 
account, an elegant edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses 
(1589) being one of the many books from his press. 
That the Shakespeares were friends of the Fields 
is evident from the fact that John Shakespeare was 
appraiser of the goods of Henry Field, the father 
of Richard and a tanner by trade, whose inventory, 
attached to his will, was made out in August, 1592. 
The next year (1593) Richard Field printed Shake 
speare's Venus and Adonis. 

Mr. William Blades {Shakespeare and Typog 
raphy, 1872) advances the theory, based on the 
intimate knowledge of the printer's art shown in 
the poet's works, that he must have had a practical 
acquaintance with the business ; and that he prob 
ably worked at the trade for three years after he 
arrived in London, before becoming an actor. The 
theory is argued with much ingenuity in Blades's 
book, but has made few, if any, converts among the 
biographers and commentators. Shakespeare was 
keenly interested in all forms of human activity, 
and in his visits to Field's printing-house would 
soon pick up all the knowledge of the trade which 
appears in his works. Besides, it is quite certain 
that he personally superintended the printing of 
Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, both of which were 
published before most of his allusions to typography 
were written. 

130 Life of Shakespeare 

According to a tradition which does not appear 
in manuscript or in print until about the middle of 
the 18th century, though said to have been originally 
related by Sir William Davenant a century earlier, 
Shakespeare's first employment in London was in 
holding horses at the door of the theatre. The ear 
liest record of the story that has been discovered 
is a manuscript note preserved in the University 
Library, Edinburgh, written about the year 1748, 
which reads thus : " Sir William Davenant, who has 
been calFd a natural son of our author, us'd to tell 
the following whimsical story of him : Shake- 
spear, when he first came from the country to the 
play-house, was not admitted to act ; but as it was 
then the custom for all the people of fashion to 
come on horseback to entertainments of all kinds, 
it was Shakespear's employment for a time, with 
several other poor boys belonging to the company, 
to hold the horses and take care of them during the 
representation ; by his dexterity and care he soon 
got a great deal of business in this way, and was 
personally known to most of the quality that fre 
quented the house, insomuch that, being obliged, 
before he was taken into a higher and more honour 
able employment within doors, to train up boys to 
assist him, it became long afterwards a usual way 
among them to recommend themselves by saying 
that they were Shakespear's boys." 

In 1753, the story is printed in the Lives of the 
Poets /edited by Colley Gibber) as follows: "I can- 

Shakespeare Goes to London 131 

not forbear relating a story which Sir William 
Davenant told Mr. Betterton, who communicated 
it to Mr. Howe; Rowe told it Mr. Pope, and Mr. 
Pope told it to Dr. Newton, the late editor of 
Milton, and from a gentleman who heard it from 
him 'tis here related. Concerning Shakespear's 
first appearance in the playhouse : When he came 
to London, he was without money and friends, and 
being a stranger he knew not to whom to apply, nor 
by what means to support himself. At that time, 
coaches not being in use, and as gentlemen were 
accustomed to ride to the playhouse, Shakespear, 
driven to the last necessity, went to the playhouse 
door, and pick'd up a little money by taking care 
of the gentlemen's horses who came to the play. 
He became eminent even in that profession, and 
was taken notice of for his diligence and skill in it ; 
he had soon more business than he himself could 
manage, and at last hired boys under him, who were 
known by the name of Shakespear's boys. Some of 
the players, accidentally conversing with him, found 
him so acute and master of so fine a conversation 
that, struck therewith, they recommended him to 
the house, in which he was first admitted in a very 
low station, but he did not long remain so, for he 
soon distinguished himself, if not as an extraordi 
nary actor, at least as a fine writer." 

Johnson, in 1765, repeated the story in substan 
tially the same form as that of 1748 ; and Jordan, 
in a manuscript written about 1783, and others 

Life of Shakespeare 

subsequently gave it with sundry variations and 

Some biographers discredit the tradition entirely, 
but Halliwell-Phillipps, Sidney Lee, and others see 
no inherent improbability in it. Knight says it is 
possible that Shakespeare employed boys for the 
business, but never held the horses himself. Karl 
Elze declares that " the story cannot be true." It is 
incredible, he says, that " a married man and father 
of three children, who had enjoyed a comparatively 
good education, and who, besides, bore within his 
breast the divine spark of poetic genius, and the 
ambitious feelings that must assuredly have accom 
panied it, could have so thrown himself away, 
unless in the most abject want, and driven to it by 
hunger. Now to all appearance Shakespeare was 
in no way in any such straitened circumstances. 
He possessed accomplishments enough to have 
earned a living in some more refined, or, at least, 
in some more remunerative way, and to have found 
some employment in the theatre itself. If he did not 
begin at the outset by taking some subordinate parts 
on the stage, he might have obtained employment 
by copying out the actors 7 parts, or in some other of 
the many occupations to be had in connection with 
a theatre." 

On the other hand, the fact that the tradition is 
founded upon the practice of gentlemen to go to the 
theatre on horseback, " a custom obsolete after the 
Restoration, is sufficient to establish the antiquity 

Shakespeare Goes to London 133 

of the story.' 7 Sir John Davies, in his Epigrams 
(1599), ridicules a man of inferior position for being 
constantly on horseback, imitating in that respect 
persons of higher rank, who ride even "into the 
fieldes playes to behold." Halliwell-Phillipps, who 
cites this allusion, adds : " There is at all events no 
valid reason for enrolling the tradition amongst the 
absolute fictions that have been circulated respect 
ing the poet. Several writers have taken that course 
mainly on the ground that, although it was known 
to Rowe, he does not allude to it in his Life of 
Shakespeare, 1709; but there is no improbability 
in the supposition that the story was not related to 
him until after the publication of that work, the 
second edition of which in 1714 is a mere reprint 
of the first. Other reasons for the omission may be 
suggested, but even if it be conceded that the anec 
dote was rejected as suspicious and improbable, that 
circumstance alone cannot be decisive against the 
opinion that there may be glimmerings of truth in 
it. This is, indeed, all that is contended for. Few 
would be disposed to accept the story literally as 
related by Johnson, but when it is considered that 
the tradition must be a very early one, that its gen 
ealogy is respectable, and that it harmonizes with 
the general old belief of the great poet's having, 
when first in London, subsisted by 'very mean 
employments,' little doubt can fairly be enter 
tained that it has at least in some way or other a 
foundation in real occurrences. It should also 

134 Life of Shakespeare 

be remembered that horse-stealing was one of 
the very commonest offences of the period, and 
one which was probably stimulated by the facility 
with which delinquents of that class obtained 
pardons. The safe custody of a horse was a 
matter of serious import, and a person 'who had 
satisfactorily fulfilled such a trust would not be 
lightly estimated." 

It is significant, moreover, that all the early 
traditions that are at all credible "concur in the 
belief that Shakespeare did not leave his native 
town with histrionic intention." Aside from this, 
it would be a mistake " to assume that his dramatic 
tastes impelled him to undertake an arduous and 
premeditated journey to encounter the risk of an 
engagement at a metropolitan theatre, however 
powerfully they may have influenced his choice 
of a profession after he had once arrived in London. 
For, residing throughout his youth in what may 
fairly be considered a theatrical neighbourhood, 
with continual facilities for the cultivation of those 
tastes, if he had yielded in his boyish days to an 
impulsive fascination for the stage, it is most likely 
that he would in some way have joined the profes 
sion while its doors were readily accessible through 
one of the numerous itinerant companies, and 
before, not after, such inclinations must have been 
in some measure restrained by the local domestic 
ties that resulted from his marriage. If he had 
quitted Stratford-on-Avon in his early youth, there 

Shakespeare Goes to London 135 

would be no difficulty in understanding that he 
became one of the elder players' boys or appren 
tices, but it is extremely unlikely that, at the age 
of twenty-one, he would have voluntarily left a 
wife and three children in Warwickshire for the 
sake of obtaining a miserable position on the 
London boards." 

It is not necessary, therefore, to assume that 
Shakespeare went first to the theatre in search of 
employment therein. A more plausible explanation 
of the horse-holding tradition is suggested by Halli- 
well-Phillipps. It appears that JameiS Burbage, the 
owner of the Theatre, rented premises near Smith- 
field in which he " usually kept horses at liverye 
for sundry persons," the manager of the stable 
being " a northerne man usually called by the name 
of Robyn." If Shakespeare had bought a horse for 
the journey to London, he would probably take the 
animal to Smithfield in order to sell it. He might 
there have fallen in with Burbage, and have been 
hired by him to do some work in the stable and also 
to take care, during the play, of the horses of Bur- 
bage's customers who visited the theatre. Sooner or 
later the promising young man got into the theatre 
in some humble capacity, as tradition represents. 
William Castle, the parish-clerk at Stratford, in 1693 
(see page 15 above) said that, after Shakespeare 
ran away to London he " was received into the play 
house as a serviture " (servitor) ; and Rowe simi 
larly says that " he was received into the company 

136 Life of Shakespeare 

then in being at first in a very mean rank." Malone, 
in 1780, refers to "a stage tradition that his first 
office in the theatre was that of prompter's attend 
ant, whose employment it is to give the performers 
notice to be ready to enter as often as the business 
of the play requires their appearance on the stage; " 
and Downes, in 1710, remarks: "I have known men 
within my remembrance arrive to the highest dig 
nities of the theatre, who made their entrance in 
the quality of mutes, joint-stools, flower-pots, and 

When Shakespeare came to London there were 
only two playhouses in the metropolis the Theatre 
and the Curtain and these were on the north side 
of the Thames, both situated in the parish of Shore- 
ditch, in the fields of the Liberty of Halliwell. 
This was a sparsely populated suburb, about half a 
mile outside the city walls, " possessing outwardly 
the appearance of a country village, but inwardly 
sustaining much of the bustle and all the vices of 
the town." The rural character of the locality is 
indicated by the fact that here Gerard, a few years 
afterwards, discovered a new kind of crow-foot 
which he describes as being similar to the ordinary 
plant, "saving that his. leaves are fatter, thicker, 
and greener, and his small twiggie stalkes stand 
upright, otherwise it is like; of which kiride it 
chanced that, walking in the fielde next unto the 
Theater by London, in company of a worshipfull 
marchant named master Nicholas Lete, I founde 

Shakespeare Goes to London 137 

one of this kinde there with double flowers, which 
before that time I had not seene." 

Some writers seem to suppose that in London the 
poet's surroundings were in all respects essentially 
urban and in marked contrast to those he had left 
behind in his native town; but, as we have seen, 
there were many large gardens in the very heart of 
the city, and here, in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the playhouse in which he soon found employ 
ment, were green fields where he could pluck wild 
flowers as he used to do in the pleasant meadows on 
the banks of the Avon. 

The Theatre was built and owned by James 
Burbage, who in 1576 obtained from one Giles 
Allen a lease for twenty-one years of houses and 
land situated between Finsbury Field and the public 
road from Bishopgate to Shoreditch Church. Bur 
bage, though a carpenter by trade, had later become 
an actor, and was a leading member of the Earl of 
Leicester's company of players. He was the origi 
nator of theatrical buildings in England, for the 
successful promotion of which both his earlier and 
his adopted profession were exactly suited. He 
obtained the lease with this express object, w.ith a 
proviso from Allen that, if he expended two hundred 
pounds upon the buildings already on the estate, he 
should be at liberty " to take downe and carrie awaie 
to his and their owne proper use all such buildinges 
and other thinges as should be builded, erected or 
sett upp, in or uppon the gardeines and voide 

ij 8 Life of Shakespeare 

grounde by the said indentures graunted, or anie 
parte therof, by the said Jeames, his executors or 
assignes, either for a theatre or playinge place, or 
for anie other lawefull use, for his or their com 
modities." The lease was signed on April 13th, 
1576, and Burbage must have commenced the erec 
tion of his theatre immediately afterwards. It was 
the earliest fabric of the kind ever built in the 
country, and by the summer of the following year it 
was a recognized centre of theatrical amusements. 
On the first of August, 1577, the Lords of the Privy 
Council directed a letter to be forwarded "to the 
L. Wentworth, Mr. of the Rolles, and Mr. Lieu- 
tenaunt of the Tower, signifieng unto them that, for 
thavoiding of the sicknes likelie to happen through 
the heate of the weather and assemblies of the 
people of London to playes, her Highnes plesure is 
that, as the L. Mayor hath taken order within the 
Citee, so they, imediatlie upon the receipt of their 
11. lettres, shall take order with such as are and 
do use to play without the liberties of the Citee 
within that countie, as the Theater and such like, 
shall f orbeare any more to play untill Mighelmas be 
past at the least, as they will aunswer to the c^n- 
trarye." This is the earliest notice of the Theatre 
yet discovered. 

The Curtain must have been built soon after the 
Theatre and was very near it. A reference to it by 
name occurs in Northbrooke's Treatise on Dicing, 
licensed for publication in December, 1576. Both 

Shakespeare Goes to London 139 

buildings were of wood, as proved by documents of 
the time referring to them, and were round in form, 
like the Globe theatre, erected later, of which pic 
tures are extant. Some writers believe that Henry V. 
was performed at the Curtain in 1599, and that the 
description of the theatre in the prologue of the first 
act as a " wooden " refers to this playhouse ; but 
it is more probable that the Globe is meant, to 
which Burbage's company removed in the spring of 

It would be natural to suppose that the name 
of the Curtain was of theatrical origin, but it was 
actually derived from the piece of ground on which 
the playhouse stood, and which from its shape was 
called the Curtain, being mentioned by that title in 
a lease as early as 1538. A mansion built upon this 
land was known as Curtain House, and Curtain Gar 
den and Curtain Close are mentioned in documents 
of the time. The name is still retained in Curtain 
Eoad, which must have been so called either from 
the theatre or the land. 

Although entertainments took place both at the 
Theatre and at the Curtain during the winter 
months, there can be but little doubt that the roof 
in each of these buildings merely covered the stage 
and galleries, the pit or yard being open to the sky. 
This was certainly the case in the latter theatre. 
The author of Vox Graculi or Jack Dawes Prognos 
tication, 1623, describing the characteristics of the 
month of April, observes : " About this time new 

140 Life of Shakespeare 

playes will be in more request then old, and if com 
pany come currant to the Bull and Curtaine, there 
will be more money gathered in one after-noone 
then will be given to Kingsland Spittle [Hospital] 
in a whole moneth ; also, if, at this time, about the 
houres of foure and five it waxe cloudy, and then 
raine downeright, they shall sit dryer in the gal 
leries then those who are the understanding men in 
the yard." The afternoon was likewise the usual 
time for the performances in Shakespeare's day. 
Chettle, in his Kind Hartes Dreame, 1592, alludes 
to bowling-alleys, situated between the City walls 
and the Theatre, " that were wont in the af ter-noones 
to be left empty, by the recourse of good fellows 
unto that unprofitable recreation of stage-playing." 
The charge for admission to the Theatre was a 
penny, but this merely entitled the visitor to stand 
ing-room in the lower part of the house. If he 
wanted to enter any of the galleries another penny 
was demanded, and even then a good seat was not 
always secured without a repetition of the fee. 
None who go, observes Lambard (Perambulation of 
Kent, ed. 1596), " to Paris G-ardein, the Bell Savage 
or Theatre, to beholde beare baiting, enterludes or 
fence play, can account of any pleasant spectacle 
unlesse they first pay one pennie at the gate, an 
other at the entrie of the scaffolde, and the thirde 
for a quiet standing." The author of Pappe with 
an Hatchet, 1589, speaks of twopence as the usual 
price of admission "at the Theater," so the prob- 

Shakespeare Goes to London 141 

ability is that the penny was for places which 
would be endured by only the lowest and poorest 
class of auditors, the "groundlings," as Hamlet 
calls them (iii. 2. 12), who stood in the yard or pit, 
exposed to the uncertainties of the weather. Those 
who were in the galleries were more or less pro 
tected from the rain. There were upper as well as 
lower galleries in the building, the former being 
mentioned in the proposed lease to Burbage of 
1585 : " and further that yt shall or maye be lawf ull 
for the sayde Gyles and for hys wyf e and familie, 
upon lawfull request therfore made to the sayde 
Jeames Burbage, his executors or assignes, to enter 
or come into the premisses, and their in some one of 
the upper romes to have such convenient place to 
sett or stande to se such playes as shal be ther 
played, freely without anythinge therefore payeinge, 
soe that the sayde Gyles, hys wyfe and familie, doe 
come and take ther places before they shal be taken 
upp by any others." It appears from this extract 
that there were seats for the audience, as well as 
standing-room, in the galleries. 

Neither the Theatre nor the Curtain was used 
exclusively for dramatic entertainments. Both were 
frequently engaged for matches and exercises in 
fencing, as appears from several notices, dated 
between the years 1578 and 1585, in a curious 
manuscript volume which seems to be a register of 
a society for the advancement of fencing. It would 
appear from the original manuscript of Stow's 

142 Life of Shakespeare 

Survey that not only fencers, but tumblers and such 
like, sometimes exhibited at these theatres. Near 
the buildings of the dissolve^ priory, observes 
Stow, "are builded two howses for the showe of 
activities, comedies, tragidies and histories for rec 
reation ; the one of them is named the Curteyn in 
Halywell, the other the Theatre ; thes are on the 
backesyde of Holywell, towards the filde." 

The district where these theatres were erected 
had long been a great suburban playground. At 
the butts in Finsbury Fields the youth and man 
hood of the city practised archery every Sunday, 
feast-day, and holiday, as enjoined by royal procla 
mation and city ordinance. Here the games and 
sports of the people were enjoyed, as hand-ball, 
bandy-ball, football, cock-fighting, and the like. 
This was also the drill-ground of the train-bands of 
the city; and here the periodical musters and in 
spections of the militia were held. 

The Theatre appears to have been a favourite 
place of amusement, especially with the more unruly 
of the populace. There are several allusions to its 
crowded audiences and to the license which occa 
sionally attended the entertainments, the disorder 
sometimes penetrating into the City itself. " By 
reason no playes were the same daye, all the Citie 
was quiet," observes the writer of a letter in June, 
1584. Stock wood, in a Sermon Preached at Paules 
Crosse in August, 1578, indignantly asks: "Wyll 
not a fylthye playe wyth the blast of a trumpette 

Shakespeare Goes to London 143 

sooner call thyther a thousande than an houres toll 
ing 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 resorte 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." Upon a Sunday, two years afterwards, 
in April, 1580, there was a great disturbance in the 
same quarter, thus noticed in a letter from the Lord 
Mayor to the Privy Council dated April 12th : 
" When it happened on Sundaie last that some great 
disorder was committed at the Theatre, I sent for 
the undershireve of Middlesex to understand the cer- 
cumstances, to the intent that by myself or by him 
I might have caused such redresse to be had as in 
dutie and discretion I might, and therefore did also 
send for the plaiers to have apered afore me, and 
the rather because those playes doe make assembles 
of cittizens and there families of whome I have 
charge; but forasmuch as I understand that your 
Lordship, with other of hir Majesties most honor- 
orable Counsell, have entered into examination of 
that matter, I have surceassed to procede further, 
and do humbly refer the whole to your wisdomes 
and grave considerations; howbeit, I have further 
thought it my dutie to informe your Lordship, and 
therewith also to beseche to have in your honorable 

144 Life of Shakespeare 

rememberance, that the players of playes which are 
used at the Theatre and other such places, and 
tumblers and such like, are a very superfluous sort 
of men and of suche facultie as the lawes have dis- 
alowed, and their exersise of those playes is a great 
hinderaunce of the service of God, who hath with 
His mighty hand so lately admonished us of oure 
earnest repentance." The Lord Mayor of course 
alludes to the great earthquake which had occurred 
a few days previously. In June, 1584, there was a 
disturbance just outside the Theatre, thus narrated 
in a letter to Lord Burghley: "Uppon Weddens- 
daye one Browne, a serving man in a blew coat, a 
shifting fellowe, havinge a perrelous witt of his 
owne, entending a sport if he cold have browght it 
to passe, did at Theater doore querell with certen 
poore boyes, handicraft prentises, and strooke 
somme of theym; and lastlie he, with his sword, 
wondeid and maymed one of the boyes upon the 
left hand, whereupon there assembled nere a thou 
sand people ; this Browne dyd very cuninglie 
convey hymself awaye." The crowds of disorderly 
people frequenting the Theatre are thus alluded to 
in Tarltoii's 'Newes out of Purgatorie, 1590 : " Upon 
Whitson monday last I would needs to the Theatre 
to see a play, where, when I came, I founde such 
concourse of unrulye people that I thought it better 
solitary to walk in the fields then to intermeddle 
my self e amongst such a great presse." In 1592, from 
an apprehension that the London apprentices might 

Shakespeare Goes to London 145 

indulge in riots on Midsummer-night, the following 
order was issued by the Lords of the Council: 
" Moreover for avoydinge of thes unlawf ull assem 
blies in those quarters, yt is thoughte meete yow 
shall take order that there be noe playes used in 
anye place nere thereaboutes, as the Theator, Cur- 
tayne or other usuall places there where the same 
are comonly used, nor no other sorte of unlawf ull or 
forbidden pastymes that drawe togeather the baser 
sorte of people, from henceforth untill the feast of 
St. Michael!" 

The crowds which flocked to places of entertain 
ment were reasonably supposed to increase the 
danger of the spread of infection during an epi 
demic, and the Theatre and Curtain were sometimes 
ordered to be closed on that account. The Lord 
Mayor of London in a letter to Sir Francis Walsing- 
ham, dated May 3rd, 1583, thus writes in reference 
to the plague : " Among other we fmde one very 
great and dangerous inconvenience, the assemblie of 
people to playes, beare-bayting, fencers and prophane 
spectacles at the Theatre and Curtaine and other like 
places, to which doe resorte great multitudes of the 
basist sort of people and many enfected with sores 
runing on them, being out of our jurisdiction, and 
some whome we cannot descerne by any dilligence 
and which be otherwise perilous for contagion, 
biside the withdrawing from Gods service, the 
peril of mines of so weake byldinges, and the avance- 
ment of incontinencie and most ungodly confeder- 

146 Life of Shakespeare 

acies." In the spring of 1586 plays at the Theatre 
were prohibited for the first of these reasons, as 
appears from the following note in the Privy Coun 
cil Eegister under the date of May llth : "A lettre 
to the L. Maior ; his 1. is desired, according to his 
request made to their Lordshippes by his lettres of 
the of this present, to geve order for the 
restrayning of playes and interludes within and 
about the Cittie of London, for th'avoyding of in 
fection feared to grow and increase this tyme of 
sommer by the com on assemblies of people at those 
places, and that their Lordshippes have taken the 
like order for the prohibiting of the use of playes at 
the Theater and th'other places about Newington 
out of his charge." 

Of Shakespeare's history after he obtained ad 
mission to the theatre in some capacity we know 
nothing. If he was employed at first as a servant 
or prompter's boy, as tradition says, we cannot 
doubt that his abilities were soon recognized and 
led to something higher. Probably it was not long 
before he began his career as an actor in small parts 
and worked his way up more or less rapidly. But 
for seven years after he went to London, or from 
1585 to 1592, we have no information whatever con 
cerning him, and tradition is silent except with 
reference to the very beginning of the period. 

Aside from his work, whatever it may have been, 
in the theatre, we may assume, with Halliwell- 
Phillipps, that this was the chief period of his liter- 

Shakespeare Goes to London 147 

ary training. " Eemoved prematurely from school, 
residing with illiterate relatives in a bookless neigh 
bourhood, thrown into the midst of occupations 
adverse to scholastic progress, it is difficult to be 
lieve that when he first left Stratford he was not all 
but destitute of polished accomplishments. He 
could not, at all events, under the circumstances in 
which he had then so long been placed, have had 
the opportunity of acquiring a refined style of com 
position. After he had once, however, gained a 
footing in London, he would have been placed under 
different conditions. Books of many kinds would 
have been accessible to him, and he would have 
been almost daily within hearing of the best dra 
matic poetry of the age. There would also no 
doubt have been occasional facilities for picking up 
a little smattering of the Continental languages, and 
it is almost beyond a doubt that he added some 
what to his classical knowledge during his residence 
in the metropolis. It is, for instance, hardly possi 
ble that the Amores of Ovid, whence he derived his 
earliest motto [for Venus and Adonis'], could have 
been one of his school-books." 

In 1587 several companies of actors visited Strat 
ford, two of which were those under the patronage 
of the Queen and of Lord Leicester. Sidney Lee 
plausibly suggests that " Shakespeare's friends may 
have called the attention of the strolling players to 
the homeless lad, rumours of whose search for em 
ployment about the London theatres may have 

148 Life of Shakespeare 

reached Stratford ; " and " from such incidents may 
have sprung the opportunity which offered Shake 
speare fame and fortune." If at the time of the 
return of these players to London he had already 
got into the theatre in some inferior capacity, they 
may have contributed to his promotion. With or 
without such help, however, William Shakespeare 
when once in the theatre was where his talents could 
not fail to be speedily recognized, and where his 
progress in the work for which he was born and 
fitted was assured. 

The company to which Shakespeare seems to have 
belonged was first known as the Earl of Leicester's, 
being under the nominal patronage of that noble 
man. Later, as it passed from one patron to 
another, on account of the death of his predecessor 
or for some other reason, it became successively the 
Earl of Derby's, the Lord Chamberlain's, and, after 
the accession of James to the throne, the King's 
Servants, or Players. The patronage of a peer of 
the realm or " some higher personage " was required 
by an act of Parliament in 1571, as a condition of 
the license granted to players. The patron's func 
tion was practically confined to this duty of grant 
ing or renewing the licenses. 



AT last, in 1592, we get a definite reference to 
Shakespeare in the literature of the time; and, 
curiously enough, we are indebted for it to the 
envy and spite of a disappointed and dying play 
wright, Robert Greene, who in the autumn of that 
year published a little book, the *f ull title of which 
(in the edition of 1596, the earliest that has come 
down to us) is as follows : " Greens Groats-ivorth of 
Wit, bought with a Million of Repentaunce. Describ 
ing the f ollie of youth, the falsehoode of make-shift 
flatterers, the miserie of the negligent, and mis 
chief es of deceiving Courtesans. Written before 
his death and published at his dying request. 
Fselicem f uisse infaustum." The dedication is " To 
those Gentlemen, his quondam acquaintance, that 
spend their wits in making Plaies, R. G. wisheth a 
better exercise, and wisdome to prevent his ex 

The passage in which the reference to Shake 
speare occurs reads thus : 

" If wof ull experience may moove you, gentlemen, 
to beware, or unheard of wretchednes intreate you to 


150 Life of Shakespeare 

take heed, I doubt not but you will looke backe 
with sorrow on your time past, and endevour with 
repentance to spend that which is to come. Won 
der not, for with thee wil I first begin, thou famous 
gracer of tragedians, that Greene, who hath said 
with thee, like the foole in his heart, there is no 
God, should now give glorie unto His greatnesse; 
for penitrating is His power, His hand lies heavie 
upon me, He hath spoken unto me with a voice of 
thunder, and I have felt, He is a God that can 
punish enimies. Why should thy excellent wit, 
His gift, be so blinded, that thou shouldst give no 
glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machivilian 
pollicie that thou hast studied ? punish f ollie ! 
What are his rules but meere confused mockeries, 
able to extirpate in small time the generation of 
mankinde. For if sic volo, sic jubeo, hold in those 
that are able to command ; and if it be lawf ull, fas 
et nefasj to doe anything that is beneficiall, onely 
tyrants should possesse the earth; and they, striv 
ing to exceede in tyranny, should each to other bee 
a slaughter-man; till the mightiest outliving all, 
one stroke were left for death, that in one age mans 
life should ende. The brother of this diabolicall 
atheisme is dead, and in his life had never the 
f elicitie he aimed at ; but as he began in craft, lived 
in f eare, and ended in despaire. Quum inscrutdbilia 
sunt Dei judicia ? This murderer of many brethren 
had his conscience seared like Caine ; this betrayer 
of him that gave his life for him inherited the por- 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 151 

tion of Judas ; this apostata perished as ill as 
Julian : and wilt thou, my friend, be his disciple ? 
Looke unto me, by him perswaded to that libertie, 
and thou shalt finde it an inf email bondage. I 
knowe the least of my demerits merit this miser 
able death ; but wilf ull striving against knowne 
truth exceedeth al the terrors of my soule. Defer 
not, with me, till this last point of extremitie ; for 
little knowest thou how in the end thou shalt be 

"With thee I joyne young Juvenall, that by ting 
.satyrst that lastlie with mee together writ a comedie. 
-Sweete boy, might I advise thee, be advised, and 
get not many enemies by bitter words; inveigh 
against vaine men, for thou canst do it, no man 
better, no man so wel; thou hast a libertie to re- 
proove all, and name none; for one being spoken 
to, al are offended ; none being blamed, no man is 
injured. Stop shallow water still running, it will 
rage; tread on a worme, and it will turne; then 
blame not schollers vexed with sharpe lines, if they 
reprove thy too much libertie of reproofe. 

" And thou, no lesse deserving then the other two, 
in some things rarer, in nothing inf erio'ur ; driven 
(as myselfe) to extreame shifts ; a little have I to 
say to thee ; and were it not an idolatrous oth, I 
would sweare by sweet S. George thou art un- 
worthie better hap, sith thou dependest on so meane 
a stay. Base minded men al three of you, if by my 
miserie ye be not warned; for unto none of you, 

152 Life of Shakespeare 

like me, sought those burres to cleave ; those pup- 
pits, I mieane, that speake from our mouths, those 
anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange 
that I, to whom they al have beene beholding, is it 
not like that you to whome they all have beene be 
holding, 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 Tygers heart wrapt in a 
Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bumbast 
out a blanke verse as the best of you ; and being an 
absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his owne conceit 
the onely Shake-scene in a countrie. O that I might 
intreate your rare wits to be imployed in more 
profitable courses, and let those apes imitate your 
past excellence, and never more acquaint them with 
your admired inventions ! I know the best hus 
band of you all will never prove an usurer, and the 
kindest of them all wil never proove a kinde nurse ; 
yet, whilst 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." 

Here Greene begins by addressing three drama 
tists Marlowe, Peele, and probably Lodge and 
then turns to the actors "puppits that speake 
from our mouths " (that is, declaim our productions), 
against whom his wrath is mainly directed. He 
then goes on to refer incidentally to "two more, 
that both have writ against these buckram gentle 
men " (the actors), but does not dwell upon them. 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 153 

He then reverts to the three dramatists: "But 
now returne I againe to you three," and urges 
them to take warning from his wretched fate: 
" Delight not, as I have done, in irreligious oaths ; 
for from the blasphemer's house a curse shall not 
depart. Despise drunkennes, which wasteth the 
wit and making [sic] men all equal unto beasts. 
Flie lust, as the deathsman of the soule, and defile 
not the temple of the Holy Ghost. Abhorre thou 
epicures, whose loose life hath made religion loth- 
some to your eares ; . . . remember Eobert Greene, 
whome they have so often flattered, perishes now 
for want of comfort." 

In December of the same year, Henry Chettle, 
who had published Greene's pamphlet for him, 
brought out his own Kind-Harts Dreame, in the 
preface to which he says : 

"About three moneths since died M. Robert 
Greene, leaving many papers in sundry bookesellers 
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 be 
cause 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- 1 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, 

154 Life of Shakespeare 

and with one of them I care not if I never be. The 
other, whoine 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 as sory 
as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because 
myselfe have seene his demeanor no lesse civill, 
than he exelent in the qualitie he professes ; be 
sides, divers of worship have reported his upright- 
nes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his 
facetious grace in writting, that aprooves his art. 
For the first, whose learning I reverence, and, at 
the perusing of Greenes booke, stroke out what 
then in conscience I thought he in some displeasure 
writ; or, had it beene true, yet to publish it was 
intolerable ; him I would wish to use me no worse 
than I deserve. I had onely in the copy this share ; 
it was il written, as sometimes Greenes hand 
was none of the best; licensd it must be ere it 
could bee printed, which could never be if it might 
not be read. To be breife, I writ it over; and, as 
neare as I could, followed the copy ; onely in that 
letter I put something out, but in the whole booke 
not a worde in; for I protest it was all Greenes, 
not mine nor Maister Nashes, as some unjustly 
have affirmed." 

In this passage " The other, whome at that time 
I did not so much spare " is assumed by nearly all 
the biographers and critics to be Shakespeare ; but 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 155 

this is not absolutely clear. Chettle refers ' to 
Greene's letter as " written to divers play-makers" 
and as " offensively by one or two of them taken." 
The "one or two" appears from the context to 
mean just two: "With neither of them that take 
offence was I acquainted, and with one of them I 
care not if I never be. The other" etc. This 
"other," it would seem, must be one of the three 
"play-makers" addressed by Greene, not one of 
the "puppets," or actors, against whom he warns 
them. Some one suggests that Chettle did not have 
Greene's book before him when he wrote, and that, 
having been particularly impressed by the sneer at 
Shakespeare, he apologized for it and expressed his 
own high opinion of the victim, without observing 
that he had not made it quite clear to whom he 
referred ; but this explanation seems to be a " trick 
of desperation " to which the author is driven by 
his reluctance to deprive Shakespeare of the praise 
generally supposed to be given him both as an 
actor and a writer. But the three " play-makers " 
were or had been actors as well. 

Greene's reference to Shakespeare has been as 
sumed to imply that he was both actor and author, 
and plagiarist also. " Beautified with our feathers " 
is taken to suggest the plagiarism ; but it may 
rather refer to getting credit for declaiming what 
they had written. The "player's hide" that fol 
lows favours this interpretation, and "to bumbast 
out a blank verse " suggests speaking quite as 

156 Life of Shakespeare 

naturally as writing. Of course it may refer to 
both, as Shakespeare before 1592 had entered upon 
his dramatic apprenticeship. [See also p. 529 below.] 

"A Tygers -heart wrapt in a Players hide" is 
obviously a parody of "0 tiger's heart wrapp'd 
in a woman's hide ! " in 3 Henry VI. (i. 4. 137). 
That play, then, had been produced before Greene 
wrote in August, 1592, or earlier. The other plays 
of the trilogy (1 and 2 Henry VI.) had preceded it. 
It is almost certain that 1 Henry VI. was an old 
play by one or more authors which, as printed in 
the folio of 1623, had been slightly retouched by 
Shakespeare. The revised form was probably the 
Henry VI. which, according to Henslowe's Diary, 
was acted March 3, 1591-92, and to which Nash 
alludes in his Pierce Pennilesse, printed in 1592, two 
editions appearing in that year. Nash says : " How 
would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the 
French) to thinke that, after he had lyen two hun 
dred yeare in his toomb, he should triumph againe 
on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with 
the teares of ten thousand spectators at least, at 
severall times, who, in the tragedian that repre 
sents his person, imagine they behold him fresh 

Greene is generally assumed to have had a part 
in the authorship of the original play, and may 
have been assisted by Peele and Marlowe. The 
critics are almost unanimous in crediting Shake 
speare with the scene (ii. 4) in which the white and 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 157 

red roses are plucked by Plantagenet and Somer 
set ; and the scene (v. 3. 45 f ol.) of the wooing of 
Margaret by Suffolk also appears to be wholly or 
partly his. Knight and some others believe that 
all three parts of Henry VI. are entirely Shake 

In 2 and 3 Henry VI. we have unquestionably a 
larger proportion of Shakespeare's work, and the 
earlier plays on which they were founded are ex 
tant in editions printed in 1594 and 1595. These 
plays are entitled, respectively, "The First part 
of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of 
Yorke and Lancaster ; " and " The true Tragedie of 
Kichard Duke of Yorke, and the death of good King 
Henrie the Sixt, with the whole contention between 
the two Houses Lancaster and Yorke." Second 
editions of both these plays appeared in 1600 ; and in 
1619 a third edition of the two together was issued 
with the title : " The Whole Contention betweene 
the two Famous Houses, Lancaster and Yorke." 
This last was said to be "Written by William 
Shakespeare, Gent." 

About 3240 lines of these old plays appear either 
in the same or in an altered form in 2 and 3 Henry 
VI., the remainder of these latter, or about 2740 
lines, being entirely new. 

Various theories have been advanced with respect 
to the authorship of the earlier plays, and their 
relation to the later ones. Johnson, Steevens, 
Knight, Ulrici, Delius, and the Germans generally, 

158 Life of Shakespeare 

contend that Shakespeare wrote both the earlier 
and the later plays. 

Of the other theories, which assume a mixed 
authorship for all the plays, that of Miss Jane Lee 
(Transactions of New Shakspere Society, 187576) 
seems, on the whole, the most plausible. She takes 
the ground that Marlowe and Greene (and possibly 
Peele) were the authors of the old plays ; and that 
Shakespeare and Marlowe, working together, recast 
these into the later ones. In the old plays, the 
parts of King Henry, Cardinal Beaufort, York 
(many of whose speeches, however, are by Greene), 
Suffolk, the two Cliffords, and Richard are assigned 
by Miss Lee to Marlowe, " with the reservation that 
in certain scenes written by Greene the parts of 
these characters were written by Greene also ; " 
while Duke Humphrey (in a measure), the Duchess 
Eleanor, Clarence, Edward IV., Elizabeth, Sir John 
Hume, and Jack Cade belong to Greene. 

" The Third Part of Henry VI.? as Miss Lee 
remarks, " underwent a much less thorough revision 
than the Second. Out of 3075 lines in Part II. 
there are 1715 new lines, some 840 altered lines 
(many but very slightly altered), and some 520 old 
lines. In Part III., out of 2902 lines, there are 
about 1021 new lines, about 871 altered lines, and 
about 1010 old lines. Hence it is that in Part III. 
there are fewer resemblances of thought and verbal 
expression to Shakespeare's undoubted writings 
than in Part II." 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 159 

There are difficulties in all the theories, and these 
multiply as we study the plays more minutely. 
It is not easy, on the one hand, to deny Shake 
speare a share in the early plays. The humorous 
Jack Cade scenes in the Contention, for instance, 
are too good for Greene, to whom they must be 
ascribed if they are not Shakespeare's. Miss Lee 
admits that they are " almost too good " for Greene, 
and says that we see him here at his best, while we 
see him at his worst in the earlier comic parts of 
the play. On the other hand, some of the passages 
which appear for the first time in Henry VI. are 
more like Marlowe than Shakespeare. 

The Contention and the True Tragedie appear to 
have been founded on Hall's Chronicle rather than 
Holinshed's; but in the revision of the plays the 
latter was also used. 

Titus Andronicus is another play, included in the 
folio of 1623 and in the modern editions of the 
dramatist, which must belong to this period, so far 
as any share that he may have had in it is con 
cerned. The earliest known edition of it is a quarto 
published in 1600. A second edition appeared in 
1611 ; but, like the former, with no name of author 
on the title-page. "A Noble Eoman-Historye of 
Tytus Andronicus " was entered for publication in 
the Stationers' Kegisters on the 6th of February, 
1593; and in Henslowe's Diary a "titus and 
ondronicus" is mentioned as acted for the first 
time on the 23d of January, 1594; but whether 

160 Life of Shakespeare 

either of those plays was the Titus Andronicus 
ascribed to Shakespeare it is impossible to say. 

Langbaine (Account of the English Dramatick 
Poets, ed. 1691) says that Titus Andronicus was first 
printed in 1594, and " acted by the Earls of Derby, 
Pembroke, and Essex, their servants," the " Essex " 
being evidently an error for "Sussex;" the play, 
according to the title-page of 1600, having " sundry 
times beene played by the Eight Honourable the 
Earle of Pembrooke, the Earl of Darbie, the Earle 
of Sussex, and the Lorde Chamberlaine theyr 

Eavenscroft, in the preface to his alteration of 
the play (1687), says: "I have been told by some 
anciently conversant with the stage, that it was not 
originally his [Shakespeare's], but brought by a 
private author to be acted, and he only gave some 
master-touches to one or two of the principal 
characters." Capell, Collier, Knight, and many of 
the Germans, believe that the play is Shakespeare's ; 
but the majority of the English editors reject it 
entirely. The rest think that it was only touched 
up by the dramatist, and they are probably right. 
It is difficult to believe that he had any larger share 
in its composition than Eavenscroft allowed him. 
It may at first seem strange that his name should 
have come to be associated with a work in which 
we find so few traces of his hand ; but he may have 
improved the old play in other ways than by re 
writing any considerable portion of it, by omis- 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 161 

sions, re-arrangement of scenes, and the like and 
its popularity in the revised form may have led 
to its being commonly known as "Shakespeare's 
Titus Andronicus " (to distinguish it from the origi 
nal version, whosever it may have been), until at 
length it got to be generally regarded as one of his 
own productions. 

If Shakespeare wrote the play, it must have been 
at the very beginning of his career as an author 
"1589, or earlier," as Dowden suggests, when he 
was " a young man carried away by the influence 
of a Sturm und Drang (storm and stress) move 
ment similar to that which urged Schiller to write 
his Robbers. Titus Andronicus belongs essentially 
to the pre-Shaksperian group of bloody tragedies, 
of which Kyd's Spanish Tragedy is the most con 
spicuous example. If it is of Shaksperian author 
ship, it may be viewed as representing the years of 
crude and violent youth before he had found his 
true self." The popularity of the revised play is 
attested by the number of representations and by 
several early notices. Ben Jonson, in the Intro 
duction to Bartholomew Fair (1614), indicates that 
it continued in favour even at that time. He says : 
" hee that will swearo Jeronimo or Andronicus are 
the best playes, yet shall passe unexcepted at heere 
as a man whose judgement shewes it is constant and 
hath stood still these five and twentie or thirty 

When Shakespeare first tried his hand at wholly 

1 62 Life of Shakespeare 

original work it appears to have been in comedy; 
and Love's Labour's Lost was probably the play. 
The earliest edition of it that has come down to 
us is a quarto published in 1598, the title-page of 
which describes it as "a pleasant conceited com- 
edie . . . presented before fher Highnes this last 
Christmas," and as " by W. Shakespere." 

The earliest mention of the play that has been 
discovered is in the following lines from a poem 
entitled Alba, or the Months Mind of a Melancholy 
Lover, by "R. T. Gentleman" (Robert Tofte), pub 
lished in 1598 : 

" Love's Labour Lost I once did see, a Play 
Y-cleped so, so called to my paine. 
Which I to heare to my small loy did stay, 
Giving attendance on my froward Dame : 
My misgiving minde presaging to me ill, 
Yet was I drawne to see it 'gainst my will. 

Each Actor plaid in cunning wise his part, 
But chiefly Those entrapt in Cupids snare ; 
Yet All was fained, 't was not from the hart, 
They seemde to grieve, but yet they felt no care : 
'T was I that Grief e (indeed) did beare in brest, 
The others did but make a show in lest." 

It was doubtless written as early as 1591, and 
some critics date it two or three years earlier 
Furnivall in 1588-89, and Grant White as "prob 
ably not later than 1588." 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 163 

Among the marks of early style may be men 
tioned : the introduction of well-known old charac 
ters (besides "the Nine Worthies," we have what 
Biron (v. 2. 540) calls "the pedant, the braggart, 
the hedge priest, the fool, and the boy " ) ; the ob 
servance of the. " unities ; " the abundance of rhyme, 
the doggerel, the sonnets (occasionally as speeches) ; 
the alliteration, or " affecting the letter," as Holof er 
nes calls it; the quibbles, antitheses, repartees, 
" the sparkles of wit, like a blaze of fireworks " 
(Schlegel) ; the proverbial expressions ; the peculiar 
and pedantic grammatical constructions ; the words 
used in their native forms ; the display of learning ; 
the pairs of characters; the disguising and chang 
ing of persons; the chorus-like, alternate answers; 
the strained dialogue, etc. It is " a play of conver 
sation and situation " (Furnivall), in which " depth 
of characterization is subordinate to elegance and 
sprightliness of dialogue" (Staunton). 

The edition of 1598 is evidently, as the title-page 
informs us, " newly corrected and augmented." In 
two instances a lucky blunder of the printer has 
preserved the original form of a passage together 
with the revised version the only such illustra 
tions of the dramatist " in the workshop " that are 
to be found in all his works. Elsewhere we have 
examples of early and later composition in different 
passages of a play, but never in the same passage. 

In Biron's long speech (iv. 3. 284 fol.) we have 
these lines : 


Life of Shakespeare 

" For when would you, my lord, or you, or you, 
Have found the ground of study's excellence 
Without the beauty of a woman's face ? 
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive : 
They are the ground, the books, the academes, 
From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire." 

** For where is any author in the world 
Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye ? 
Learning is but an adjunct to ourself , 
And where we are our learning likewise is ; 
Then when ourselves we see in ladies' eyes, 
Do we not likewise see our learning there ? 
O, we have made a vow to study, lords, 
And in that vow we have forsworn our books." 

This belongs to the play as first written. Some 
editors strike it out ; but it seems better (as I have 
done in my edition) to retain it enclosed in brackets. 
It re-appears in the revision of the speech thus : 

" For when would you, my liege, or you, or you, 
In leaden contemplation have found out 
Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes 
Of beauty's tutors have enrich'd you with ? 

Never durst poet touch a pen to write 
Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs ; 
O, then his lines would ravish savage ears 
And plant in tyrants mild humility ! 
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive : 
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire ; 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 165 

They are the books, the arts, the academes, 
That show, contain, and nourish all the world, 
Else none at all in aught proves excellent. 
Then fools you were these women to forswear, 
Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools. 
For wisdom's sake, a word that all men love, 
Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men, 
Or for men's sake, the authors of these women, 
Or women's sake, by whom we men are men, 
Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves, 
Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths." 

Again, in v. 2. 817 fol., we find this bit of the 
original play : 

"Biron. And what to me, my love ? and what to me ? 

Rosaline. You must be purged too, your sins are rank, 
You are attaint with faults and perjury ; 
Therefore if you my favour mean to get, 
A twelvemonth shall you spend, and never rest, 
But seek the weary beds of people sick." 

In the revision Biron's question is transferred to 
Dumain: "But what to me, my love? but what 
to me ? " and -the passage is altered and expanded 
thus : 

"Biron. Studies my lady? mistress, look on me ; 
Behold the window of my heart, mine eye, 
What humble suit attends thy answer there ; 
Impose some service on me for thy love. 

Rosaline. Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Biron, 

1 66 Life of Shakespeare 

Before I saw you ; and the world's large tongue 
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks, 
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts, 
Which you on all estates will execute 
That lie within the mercy of your wit. 
To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain, 
And therewithal to win me, if you please, 
Without the which I am not to be won, 
You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day 
Visit the speechless sick, and still converse 
With groaning wretches ; and your task shall be, 
With all the fierce endeavour of your wit 
To enforce the pained impotent to smile." 

The plot of the play, so far as we know, was 
original with Shakespeare. Dowden remarks: 
" The play is precisely such a one as a clever young 
man might imagine, who had come lately from the 
country with its ( daisies pied and violets blue/ its 
'merry larks/ its maidens who ( bleach their sum 
mer smocks/ its pompous parish schoolmaster and 
its dull constable (a great public official in his own 
eyes) to the town, where he was surrounded by 
more brilliant unrealities, and affectations of dress, 
of manner, of language, and of ideas. Love's 
Labour's Lost is a dramatic plea on behalf of nature 
and of common-sense, against all that is unreal and 

The hero of the play is the King of Navarre, and 
Sidney Lee has shown (Gentleman's Magazine, 
October, 1880) that Biron and Longaville bear the 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship' 167 

names of the two most strenuous supporters of the 
real king, and that the name of Dumain is an Angli 
cized form of that of the Due de Maine or Mayenne, 
who was so often mentioned in popular accounts of 
French affairs in connection with Navarre that 
Shakespeare was led to number him also among the 
king's supporters. Mothe or La Mothe, from whom 
the page gets his name, was a French ambassador 
long popular in London. M. Le Mot [is a courtier 
in Chapman's Humorous Day's Mirth, 1599, and is 
alluded to in Middleton's Blurt, Master Constable, 
1602. Armado is a caricature of a half-crazed 
Spaniard known as "fantastical Monarcho," who 
for many years hung about the Court of Elizabeth. 
Sundry other persons and topics of the time are 
alluded to in the play. 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona was probably Shake 
speare's next comedy, written in or about 1591, 
though not printed, so far as we know, until it 
appeared in the folio of 1623. 

Some of the incidents in the plot are identical 
with those in the Story of the Shepherdess Felismena 
in the Diana Enamorada of Jorge de Montemayor, 
a Portuguese poet and novelist (though this romance 
was written in Spanish), who was born in 1520. 
The Diana was translated by Bartholomew Yong (or 
Young) as early as 1583, though his version was 
not printed- until 1598. The tale appears to have 
been dramatized in 1584 in the History of Felix and 
Philomena, acted at Greenwich. Shakespeare may 

1 68 Life of Shakespeare 

also have drawn some material from Bandello's 
novel of Apollonius and Sylla (translated in 1581) 
and from Sidney's Arcadia. He was, however, but 
slightly indebted to any of these sources, and some 
of the coincidences that have been pointed out may 
be accidental. 

Hanmer, and after him Upton, thought the style 
of the play so little like Shakespeare's general 
dramatic manner that they were confident " he could 
have had no other hand in it than enlivening, with 
some speeches and lines, thrown in here and there," 
the production of some inferior dramatist, from 
whose thoughts his own are easily to be distin 
guished, "as being of a different stamp from the 
rest ; " but this view was refuted by Johnson, and 
has been rejected by all succeeding critics. On the 
contrary, as Verplanck remarks, " The play is full 
of undeniable marks of the author in its strong 
resemblance in taste and style to his earlier plays 
and poems, as well as in the indications it gives of 
his future power of original humour and vivid de 
lineation of character. It, indeed, has the charac 
teristics of a young author who had already acquired 
a ready and familiar mastery of poetic diction and 
varied versification, and who had studied nature 
with a poet's eyes; for the play abounds in brief 
passages of great beauty and melody. There are 
here, too, as in his other early dramas, outlines of 
thought and touches of character, sometimes faintly 
or imperfectly sketched, to which he afterwards 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 169 

returned in his maturer years, and wrought them 
out into his most striking scenes and impressive pas 
sages. Thus, Julia and Silvia are, both of them, 
evidently early studies of female love and loveli 
ness, from the unpractised ( prentice hand' of the 
same great artist who was afterwards to portray 
with matchless delicacy and truth the deeper affec 
tions, the nobler intellects, and the varied imagina 
tive genius of Viola, of Rosalind, and of Imogen. 
Indeed, as a drama of character, however inferior 
to his own after-creations, it is, when compared with 
the works of his predecessors and contemporaries, 
superior alike in taste and in originality." 

The precise order of these early comedies cannot 
be definitely settled, but The Comedy of Errors 
probably followed The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 
though some critics believe that it preceded that 
play. All agree that it was one of the earliest of 
the plays, though first printed in the folio of 1623. 
It is probably the " Comedy of Errors, like to Plautus 
his Menechmus" which, according to the Gesta 
Grayorum, was " played by the players " at Gray's 
Inn, one night in December, 1594. The pun in iii. 
2. 121 on France "making war against her heir" 
would seem to show that the play was written be 
tween August, 1589, when the civil war about the 
succession of Henry IV. began, and July, 1593, 
when it ended. A writer in the North British 
Review (April, 1870) attempts to show that events 
in French history of earlier date are alluded to. 


Life of Shakespeare 

Henry of Navarre, he says, became heir to the 
throne on the death of the Duke of Anjou in 1584, 
and remained so until he became king on the murder 
of Henry III., Aug. 2, 1589. 

The majority of editors date the play in 1591, 
though some place it as early as 1589 and others 
as late as 1592. 

The general idea of the plot is taken from 
Plautus, but with material changes and additions. 
To the twin brothers of the Latin dramatist are 
added twin servants, and though this increases the 
improbability, yet, as Schelgel observes, "when 
once we have lent ourselves to the first, which cer 
tainly borders on the incredible, we should not 
probably be disposed to cavil about the second ; and 
if the spectator is to be entertained with mere per 
plexities, they cannot be too much varied." 

The Comedy of Errors is the shortest of the plays, 
having only 1778 lines ("Globe" edition), while 
Hamlet, the longest, has 3930, Richard III. 3620, 
etc. The next shortest is The Tempest with 2065, 
the next Macbeth with 2108, and the next A Mid 
summer-Night's Dream with 2180. 

Coleridge, commenting on this play in his Liter 
ary Remains, remarks: "The myriad-minded man, 
our, and all men's, Shakspeare, has in this piece 
presented us with a legitimate farce in exactest 
consonance with the philosophical principles and 
character of farce, as distinguished from comedy 
and from entertainments. A proper farce is mainly 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 171 

distinguished from comedy by the license allowed, 
and even required, in the fable, in order to produce 
strange and laughable situations. The story need 
not be probable, it is enough that it is possible. A 
comedy would scarcely allow even the two Antiph- 
oluses; because, although there have been in 
stances of almost indistinguishable likeness in two 
persons, yet these are mere individual accidents, 
casus ludentis naturce, and the verum will not excuse 
the inverisimile. But farce dares add the two 
Dromios, and is justified in so doing by the laws of 
its end and constitution. In a word, farces com 
mence in a postulate, which must be granted." 

But though the play is a farce rather than a 
comedy, so far as the plot is based upon the con 
fusion of identity in the adventures of the twin 
brothers and the twin slaves, it is not a mere farce 
something, indeed, which Shakespeare seems to 
have been incapable of writing. With this farcical 
plot he has interwoven a pathetic story of domestic 
affection and misfortune, with which the play begins 
and with which it ends, when the sorrow upon 
which the curtain rose is turned to gladness as it 
falls. There is nothing of this in the old Latin 
play, and only one or two of the commentators have 
alluded to the manner in which the young Shake 
speare idealized and ennobled the story. Drake, in 
his Shakespeare and his Times (1817), hints at it 
thus : " In a play of which the plot is so intricate, 
occupied in a great measure by mere personal mis- 


Life of Shakespeare 

takes and their whimsical results, no elaborate de 
velopment of character can be expected ; yet is the 
portrait of ^Egeon touched with a discriminative 
hand, and the pressure of age and misfortune is so 
painted as to throw a solemn, dignified, and impress 
ive tone of colouring over this part of the fable, 
contrasting well with the lighter scenes which im 
mediately follow a mode of relief which is again 
resorted to at the close of the drama, where the 
reunion of ^Egeon and JEmilia, and the recognition 
of their children, produce an interest in the de*noue- 
ment of a nature more affecting than the tone of the 
preceding scenes had taught us to expect." 

The only other play which the critics generally 
agree in assigning, at least in its earliest form, to- 
the same period as the comedies already mentioned, 
is the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, which was 
probably begun as early as 1591, though it may not 
have attained its final shape until 1596 or 1597. 

The earliest edition of the play, so far as we 
know, was a quarto printed in 1597, the title-page 
of which asserts that "it hath been often (with 
great applause) plaid publiquely." A second 
quarto appeared in 1599, declared to be " newly cor 
rected, augmented, and amended." 

Two other quartos appeared before the folio of 
1623, one in 1609 and the other undated; and it 
is doubtful which was the earlier. The undated 
quarto is the first that bears the name of the author 
(" Written by W. Shake-speare "), but this does not 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 173 

occur in some copies of the edition. A fifth quarto 
was published in 1637. 

The first quarto is much shorter than the second, 
the former having only 2232 lines, including the 
prologue, while the latter has 3007 lines (Daniel). 
Some editors believe that the first quarto gives 
the author's first draft of the play, and the second 
the form it assumed after he had revised and en 
larged it; but the majority of the best critics agree 
substantially in the opinion that the first quarto was 
a pirated edition, and represents in an abbreviated 
and imperfect form the play subsequently printed 
in full in the second. The former was " made up 
partly from copies of portions of the original play, 
partly from recollection and from notes taken 
during the performance ; " the latter was from an 
authentic copy, and a careful comparison of the 
text with the earlier one shows that in the mean 
time the play " underwent revision, received some 
slight augmentation, and in some few places must 
have been entirely rewritten." 

The internal evidence confirms the opinion that 
the tragedy was an early work of the poet, and 
that it was subsequently "corrected, augmented, 
and amended." There is a good deal of rhyme, 
and much of it in the form of alternate rhyme. 
The alliteration, the frequent playing upon words, 
and the lyrical character of many passages also 
lead to the same conclusion. 

Girolamo della Corte, in his Storia di Verona, 

174 Life of Shakespeare 

1594, relates the story of the play as a true event 
occurring in 1303 ; but the earlier annalists of the 
city are silent on the subject. A tale very similar, 
the scene of which is laid in Siena, appears in a 
collection of novels by Masuccio di Salerno, printed 
at Naples in 1476 ; but Luigi da Porto, in his Giu- 
lietta, published about 1530, is the first to call 
the lovers Romeo and Juliet, and to make them the 
children of the rival Veronese houses. The story 
was retold in French by Adrian Sevin, about 1542 ; 
and a poetical version of it was published at Venice 
in 1553. It is also found in Bandello's Novelle, 
1554; and five years later Pierre Boisteau trans 
lated it, with some variations, into French in his 
Histoire de Deux Amans. The earliest English ver 
sion of the romance appeared in 1562 in a poem by 
Arthur Brooke founded upon Boisteau 7 s novel, and 
entitled Romeus and Juliet. A prose translation of 
Boisteau's novel was given in Paynter's Palace of 
Pleasure, in 1567. It was undoubtedly from these 
English sources, and chiefly from the poem by 
Brooke, that Shakespeare drew his material. It is 
to be noted, however, that Brooke speaks of having 
seen " the same argument lately set forth on stage ; " 
and it is possible that this lost play may also have 
been known to Shakespeare, though we have no 
reason to suppose that he made any use of it. That 
he followed Brooke's poem rather than Paynter's 
prose version is evident from a careful comparison 
of the two with the play. 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 175 

Grant White remarks : " The tragedy follows the 
poem with a faithfulness which might be called 
slavish, were it not that any variation from the 
course of the old story was entirely unnecessary for 
the sake of dramatic interest, and were there not 
shown in the progress of the action, in the modifica 
tion of one character, and in the disposal of another, 
all peculiar to the play, self-reliant dramatic intui 
tion of the highest order. For the rest, there is not 
a personage or a situation, hardly a speech, essential 
to Brooke's poem, which has not its counterpart 
its exalted and glorified counterpart in the 
tragedy. ... In brief, Romeo and Juliet owes to 
Shakespeare only its dramatic form and its poetic 
decoration. But what an exception is the latter! 
It is to say that the earth owes to the sun only its 
verdure and its flowers, the air only its perfume 
and its balm, the heavens only their azure and their 
glow. Yet this must not lead us to forget that the 
original tale is one of the most truthful and touch 
ing among the few that have entranced the ear and 
stirred the heart of the world for ages, or that in 
Shakespeare's transfiguration of it his fancy and his 
youthful fire had a much larger share than his phi 
losophy or his imagination." 

Coleridge, in his Notes and Lectures upon Shak- 
speare, says : " The stage in Shakspeare's time was 
a naked room with a blanket for a curtain ; but he 
made it a field for monarchs. That law of unity 
which has its foundations, not in the factitious 

176 Life of Shakespeare 

necessity of custom, but in nature itself, the unity 
of feeling, is everywhere and at all times observed 
by Shakspeare in his plays. Eead Romeo and 
Juliet: all is youth and spring youth with its 
follies, its virtues, its precipitancies; spring with 
its odours, its flowers, and its transiency. It is one 
and the same feeling that commences, goes through, 
and ends the play. The old men, the Capulets and 
the Montagues, are not common old men ; they have 
an eagerness, a heartiness, a vehemence, the effect 
of spring; with Romeo, his change of passion, his 
sudden marriage, and his rash death, are all the 
effects of youth ; whilst in Juliet love has all that 
is tender and melancholy in the nightingale, all 
that is voluptuous in the rose, with whatever is 
sweet in the freshness of spring ; but it ends with 
a long deep sigh like the last breeze of the Italian 

Richard IIL, the first of the English historical 
plays which, in the opinion of the majority of critics 
(with whom I heartily agree), is entirely the work 
of Shakespeare, may have been written as early as 
1592. Dowden considers that it can hardly be later 
than 1593, and Grant White is inclined to put it in 
that year or early in 1594. It naturally follows 
the Henry VI. trilogy, in which Shakespeare must 
have become keenly interested during his work of 
revision, and it is probable that he began the con 
tinuation of the history soon afterwards. The 
earliest known edition of the play was published in 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 177 

1597. It was not until that year that the reputa 
tion of the dramatist appears to have been sufficiently 
established to lead booksellers to print any of his 
plays. The first edition did not bear his name, but 
the second, published the next year (1598), adds 
" By William Shake-speare " to the title-page. Other 
quarto editions appeared in 1602, 1605, 1612, and 
1622. All four are said to be " newly augmented," 
but they contain nothing that is not found in the 
second quarto, unless it be additional errors of the 

The text of the play in the folio of 1623 differs 
materially from that of the quartos. Besides many 
little changes in expression, it contains several pas 
sages one of more than fifty lines not found in 
the earlier texts ; while, on the other hand, it omits 
sundry lines in some cases, essential to the con 
text given in the quartos. The play is, moreover, 
one of the worst printed in the folio, and the quar 
tos often help us in correcting the typographical 
errors. Which is on the whole the better text, and 
what is the relation of the one to the other, are 
questions which have been much disputed, but 
probably will never be satisfactorily settled. The 
Cambridge editors remark : " The respective origin 
and authority of the 1st quarto and 1st folio texts 
of Richard III. is perhaps the most difficult question 
which presents itself to an editor of Shakespeare. 
In the case of most of the plays a brief survey leads 
him to form a definite judgment; in this, the most 

178 Life of Shakespeare 

attentive examination scarcely enables him to pro 
pose with confidence a hypothetical conclusion." 
Staunton says : " The diversity has proved, and will 
continue to prove, a source of incalculable trouble 
and perpetual dispute to the editors, since, although 
it is admitted by every one properly qualified to 
judge, that a reasonably perfect text can only be 
formed from the two versions, there will always 
be a conflict of opinions regarding some of the read 
ings." Furnivall considers " the making of the best 
text " of the play " the hardest puzzle in Shakspere 

A seventh quarto edition was printed in 1629, 
but the text is not from the folio but from the 
quarto of 1622; and an eighth quarto (1634) is a 
reprint of the seventh. 

James Eussell Lowell, in a lecture at Chicago, 
February 22d, 1887, expressed the opinion that the 
play was merely revised by Shakespeare. "It 
appears to rne," he said, "that an examination of 
Richard III. plainly indicates that it is a play 
which Shakespeare adapted to the stage, making 
additions, sometimes longer and sometimes shorter ; 
and toward the end he either grew weary of his 
work or was pressed for time, and left the older 
author, whoever he was, pretty much to himself." 
The procession of ghosts in the play, Lowell says, 
always struck him "as ludicrous and odd rather 
than impressive." 

This does not differ essentially from the decision 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 179 

to which Mr. Fleay had come in his Chronicle History 
of Shakespeare, published in 1886. He believes that 
the earlier play was Marlowe's, partly written in 
1593, but left unfinished at his death, and completed 
and altered by Shakespeare in 1594. 

Even so cautious and conservative a critic as 
Halliwell-Phillipps recognizes indications of earlier 
work in the play. After referring to the historical 
sources of the plot in More and Holinshed, he adds : 
" There are also slight traces of an older play to be 
observed, passages which may belong to an inferior 
hand, and incidents, such as that of the rising of 
the ghosts, suggested probably by similar ones in a 
more ancient composition. That the play of Rich 
ard III., as we now have it, is essentially Shake 
speare's, cannot admit of a doubt ; but as little can 
it be questioned that to the circumstance of an 
anterior work on the subject having been used do 
we owe some of its weakness and excessively turbu 
lent character. No copy of this older play is known 
to exist, but one brief speech and the two following 
lines have been accidentally preserved : 

1 My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is ta'en, 
And Banister is come for his reward ' 

[compare Richard III. iv. 4. 529: <My liege, the 
Duke of Buckingham is taken 7 ], from which it is 
clear that the new dramatist did not hesitate to 
adopt an occasional line from his predecessor, al- 

180 Life of Shakespeare 

though he entirely omitted the character of Banis 
ter. Both plays must have been successful, for, 
notwithstanding the great popularity of Shake 
speare's, the more ancient one sustained its ground 
on the English stage until the reign of Charles I." 
The fact appears to be, as other critics have 
noted, that Shakespeare when he wrote Richard 
III. was still under the influence of Marlowe, and 
modelled the play after that dramatist. "It was 
Marlowe's characteristic," as Furnivall remarks, " to 
embody in a character, and realize with terrific 
force, the workings of a single passion. In Tam- 
burlaine he personified the lust of dominion, in 
Faustus the lust of forbidden power and knowl 
edge, in Barabas (The Jew of Malta) the lust of 
wealth and blood. In Richard III. Shakspere 
embodied ambition, and sacrificed his whole play 
to this one figure. . . . The weakest part of the play 
is the scene of the citizens' talk ; and the poorness 
of it, and the monotony of the women's curses, have 
given rise to the theory that in Richard III. Shak 
spere was only re-writing an old play, of which he 
let bits stand. But though I once thought this 
possible, I have since become certain that it is not 
so. The wooing of Anne by Richard has stirred 
me, in reading it aloud, almost as much as anything 
else in Shakspere. Note, too, how the first lines of 
the play lift you out of the mist and confusion 
of the Henry VI. plays into the sun of Shak- 
spere's genius." 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 181 

Oechelhauser (Essay uber Richard III.) well says 
that this play marks " the significant boundary- 
stone which separates the works of Shakespeare's 
youth from the immortal works of the period of his 
fuller splendour." 

Richard Burbage was particularly celebrated in 
the part of Richard in this play. The line, "A 
horse ! a horse ! my kingdom for a horse ! " was 
rendered by him with so much vigour and effect 
that it came to be imitated, and sometimes bur 
lesqued, by contemporary writers. "The speech 
made such an impression on Marston that it ap 
pears in his works, not merely in its authentic 
form, but satirized and travestied into such lines 
as, ' A man ! a man ! a kingdom for a man ! ? 
(Scourge of Villanie, 1598) ; ' A boate ! a boate ! a 
boate ! a full hundred markes for a boate ! ' (East 
ward Hoe, 1605) ; ( A f oole ! a f oole ! a f oole ! my 
coxcombe for a foole ! ' (Parasitaster, 1606). Bur 
bage continued to act the part of Richard until his 
death in 1619, and his supremacy in the character 
lingered for many years in the recollection of the 
public." Corbet, the witty and poetical Bishop 
of Oxford, in his Her Boreale a poetical narra 
tive of a journey, in the manner of Horace's Jour 
ney to Brundisium, first printed in 1617 thus 
incidentally records the popularity of the play 
and of its theatrical hero, in his account of a 
visit to Bos worth Field (misquoted by all the 
editors) : 

1 82 Life of Shakespeare 

" Mine host was full of ale and history, 

And in the morning when he brought us nigh 

Where the two Roses join'd, you would suppose 

Chaucer ne'er made the Romaunt of the Rose. 

Hear him. See ye yon wood ? There Richard lay 

With his whole army. Look the other way, 

And, lo ! where Richmond in a bed of gorse 

Encamp' d himself o'er night, and all his force : 

Upon this hill they met. Why, he could tell 

The inch where Richmond stood, where Richard fell. 

Besides what of his knowledge he could say, 

He had authentic notice from the play ; 

Which I might guess by 's must'ring up the ghosts, 

And policies not incident to hosts ; 

But chiefly by that one perspicuous thing 

Where he mistook a player for a king. 

For when he would have said, King Richard died, 

And call'd, A horse ! a horse ! he Burbage cried." 

Richard II. was written soon after Richard III., 
though, like that play, it was not printed until 
1597, in a quarto edition without the author's 
name, which was added in a second edition the 
next year. 

A third quarto appeared in 1608, "with new 
additions of the Parliament Sceane, and the depos 
ing of King Richard," as the title-page informs us. 
It was reprinted in 1615 with the same title-page. 
A fifth quarto, apparently from the text of the 
second folio (1632), was issued in 1634. 

The " new additions " of the third quarto, which 
are retained in the succeeding editions, occur in the 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 183 

first scene of act iv., beginning with line 154, May 
it please you, lords, to grant the commons' suit ? " 
and ending with line 317 (318 in editions that re 
tain "Here, cousin" as line 182), "That rise thus 
nimbly by a true King's fall." Though not printed 
during the life of Elizabeth, there can be little 
doubt that they formed part of the play as origi 
nally written ; for they agree with the act in style 
and rhythm, and are the natural introduction to 
the Abbot's speech (line 321): "A woeful pageant 
have we here beheld." Their suppression in the 
earlier editions was probably for fear of offending 
Elizabeth, who was very sensitive upon the subject 
of the deposition of an English sovereign. It had 
been often attempted in her own case, and she did 
not like to be reminded that it had been accom 
plished in Richard's. It is said that once when 
Lambarde, the keeper of the records in the Tower, 
in showing her a portion of the rolls he had pre 
pared, came to the reign of Bichard II., she ex 
claimed, "I am Kichard the Second; know ye not 
that ? " In 1599 Sir John Hay warde was severely 
censured in the Star Chamber, and committed 
to prison, for his "History of the First Part 
of the Life and Eeign of King Henry IV.," 
which contained an account of the deposition of 

There was another play, and not improbably two 
other plays, on the same subject, extant in Shake 
speare's time, but now lost. On the afternoon of 

184 Life of Shakespeare 

the day preceding the insurrection of the Earl of 
Essex in 1601, Sir Gilly Merrick, one of his friends, 
had a play acted before a company of his fellow- 
conspirators, the subject of which was "deposing 
Richard II." It could scarcely have been Shake 
speare's, for it is described as an "obsolete 
tragedy," and the players are said to have com 
plained "that the play was old, and they should 
have loss in playing it, because few would come 
to it." 

In the Bodleian Library at Oxford there is a 
manuscript diary by Dr. Simon Forman, in which 
allusion is made to a play of Richard II, acted at 
the Globe Theatre, April 30, 1611. This play, how 
ever, began with Wat Tyler's rebellion, and seems 
to have differed in other respects from Shake 

There is no reason for supposing that Shake 
speare was indebted to either of these plays (which 
some critics suppose to be the same) or to any 
earlier one on the subject. His principal authority 
for the historical facts he has used was Holinshed's 
Chronicles, the first edition of which was published 
in 1577. The dramatist used the second edition 
(1586-87), as the withering of the bay-trees, alluded 
to in ii. 4. 8 (" The bay-trees in our country are all 
wither'd "), is not found in the first. 

The date of the play is fixed by some of the 
editors in 1593 and by others in 1594 or 1595. 
Sidney Lee is probably right in putting it "very 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 185 

early in 1593." He adds: "Marlowe's tempestuous 
vein is less apparent in Richard II. than in Richard 
III.j" but believes the play "was clearly suggested 
by Marlowe's Edward //.," closely imitating that 
drama "throughout its exposition of the leading 
theme the development and collapse of the weak 
king's character." 

Though " unsuited for the stage," Coleridge re 
garded Richard II. as "the most admirable of all 
Shakespeare's purely historical plays." He adds: 
" The two parts of Henry IV. form a species by 
themselves, which may be named the mixed drama. 
The distinction does not depend on the mere qual 
ity of historical events in the play compared with 
the fictions for there is as much history in Mac 
beth as in Richard but in the relation of the his 
tory to the plot. In the purely historical plays, the 
history forms the plot ; in the mixed, it directs it ; 
in the rest, as Macbeth, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Lear, 
it subserves it. ... The spirit of [patriotic reminis 
cence is the all-permeating soul of this noble work. 
It is, perhaps, the most purely historical of Shake 
speare's dramas. There are not in it, as in the 
others, characters introduced merely for the pur 
pose of giving a greater individuality and realness, 
as in the comic parts of Henry IV., by presenting, 
as it were, our very selves. Shakespeare avails 
himself of every opportunity to effect the great 
object of the historic drama, that, namely, of famil 
iarizing the people to the great names of their 

1 86 Life of Shakespeare 

country, and thereby of exciting a steady patriot 
ism, a love of just liberty, and a respect for all 
those fundamental institutions of social life which 
bind men together." 

The date of A Midsummer-Night's Dream has been 
the subject of much controversy, and the decisions 
of the critics concerning it have been widely diver 
gent, ranging from 1590 to 1598 and including every 
year between. There can, however, be no reason 
able doubt that it was one of the earliest of the 
plays, and that it belongs to the group of comedies 
already considered. In its present form it is the 
bright consummate flower of this group, but, though 
no early title-page refers to it as "corrected," the 
internal evidence indicates that it was begun at 
a very early period in Shakespeare's career as a 
writer and not finished until several years later, or 
was finished very early and revised several years 
later. It is remarkable that only two or three of 
the critics have recognized this fact. Verplanck, in 
his edition of the play (New York, 1847) was, I 
believe, the first (he says he does " not know that it 
has appeared so to any one else") to reckon the 
play as one of those which " were first written in a 
comparative immaturity of the author's genius, and 
afterwards received large alterations and additions." 
He thinks that "the rhyming dialogue, and the 
peculiarities of much of the versification in those 
scenes, the elaborate elegance, the quaint conceits, 
and artificial refinements of thought in the whole 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 187 

episode (if it may be termed so) of Helena and 
Hermia and their lovers, certainly partake of the 
taste and manner of the more juvenile comedies 
[Love's Labour's Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 
etc.], while in other poetic scenes 'the strain we 
hear is of a higher mood/ and belongs to a period 
of fuller and more conscious power." He therefore 
concludes that the play " was originally written in 
a very different form from that in which we now 
have it, several years before the date of its present 
shape/' and that it " was subsequently remodelled, 
after a long interval, with the addition of the heroic 
personages, and all the dialogue between Oberon 
and Titania, . . . the rhyming dialogue and the 
whole perplexity of the Athenian lovers being re 
tained, with slight change, from the more boyish 

Grant White, ten years later (1857), says of the 
play: "Although as a whole it is the most exqui 
site, the daintiest, and most fanciful creation that 
exists in poetry, and abounds in passages worthy 
even of Shakespeare in his full maturity, it also 
contains whole scenes which are hardly worthy of 
his 'prentice hand that wrought Love's Labour's Lost, 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Comedy of 
Errors, and which yet bear the unmistakable marks 
of his unmistakable pen. These scenes are the 
various interviews between Demetrius and Lysan- 
der, Hermia and Helen, in acts ii. and hi. It is 
difficult to believe that such lines as 

1 88 Life of Shakespeare 

1 Do not say so, Lysander, say not so. 

What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though ?' 


* When at your hands did I deserve this scorn? 
Is 't not enough, is 't not enough, young man, 
That I did never, no, nor never can,' etc. 

it is difficult to believe that these, and many others 
of a like character which accompany them, were 
written by Shakespeare after he had produced even 
Venus and Adonis and the plays mentioned above, 
and when he could write the poetry of the other 
parts of this very comedy. There seems, therefore, 
warrant for the opinion that this drama was one of 
the very first conceptions of the young poet ; that, 
living in a rural district where tales of household 
fairies were rife among his neighbours, memories of 
these were blended in his youthful reveries with 
images of the classic heroes that he found in the 
books which we know he read so eagerly ; that per 
haps in some midsummer's night he, in very deed, 
did dream a dream and see a vision of this comedy, 
and went from Stratford up to London with it 
partly written ; that, when there, he found it neces 
sary at first to forego the completion of it for labour 
that would find readier acceptance at the theatre; 
and that afterward, when he had more freedom of 
choice, he reverted to his early production, and in 
1594 worked it up into the form in which it was 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 189 

Whether this be in all particulars the history of 
the composition of the play or not, it seems to me 
the most satisfactory explanation of its peculiarities 
and inequalities that has been suggested. The 
crudeness of the versification in the lines that Grant 
White quotes has no parallel, or anything approach 
ing to a parallel, anywhere else in Shakespeare's 
work. It is difficult, indeed, to believe that he could 
have written them even in his schoolboy days. It 
would seem that they must date back to a period 
many years before he touched up the Titus Andro- 
nicus (if he had anything to do with that play) or 
the 1 Henry VI. There is not a line so poor, so 
thin, so palpably and clumsily padded, in either of 
those patched-up dramas. If possible, they are 
worse than the best verses of Francis Bacon. 

A Midsummer-Night's Dream was first printed in 
1600, when quarto editions were brought out by 
two independent publishers, one of which appears, 
from internal evidence, to be a reprint of the other. 
The folio text, the only other early one, followed 
this second quarto, some of its obvious misprints 
being copied. 

The plot of the play seems to be the poet's own, 
except for the few hints he may have got from 
Chaucer's Knightes Tale and the life of Theseus in 
North's Plutarch. For the interlude of Pyramus 
and Thisbe he was doubtless indebted to Golding's 
translation of Ovid and Chaucer's Legende of Goode 
Women. Attempts have been made to prove that 

190 Life of Shakespeare 

certain poems in which Puck, or Kobin G-oodfellow, 
figures were written before the play, and that 
Shakespeare used them; but it has been satisfac 
torily proved that the play was the earlier. The 
popularity of the comedy led to the writing up of 
the old fairy stories by others. Here, as in other 
instances, Shakespeare had his imitators and plagi 
arists, but there is no evidence that he imitated or 
plagiarized from anybody. As Grant White re 
marks, "the plot of A Midsummer-Night's Dream 
has no prototype in ancient story." Oberon, Titania, 
and Robin Goodfellow were familiar personages in 
the popular fairy mythology of the time, but Shake 
speare has made them peculiarly his own. He was 
"the remodeller, and almost the inventor of our 
fairy system." 

The play, indeed, as Verplanck remarks, "is, in 
several respects, the most remarkable composition 
of its author, and has probably contributed more to 
his general fame, as it has given a more peculiar 
evidence of the variety and brilliancy of his genius, 
than any other of his dramas. Not that it is in 
itself the noblest of his works, or even one of the 
highest order among them ; but it is not only exqui 
site in its kind it is also original and peculiar in 
its whole character, and of a class by itself. ... It 
stands by itself, without any parallel; for The 
Tempest, which it resembles in its preternatural 
personages and machinery of the plot, is in other 
respects wholly dissimilar, is of quite another mood 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 191 

in feeling and thought, and with, perhaps, higher 
attributes of genius, wants its peculiar fascination. 
Thus it is that the loss of this singularly beautiful 
production would, more than that of any other of 
his works, have abridged the measure of its author's 
fame, as it would have left us without the means 
of forming any estimate of the brilliant lightness of 
his l f orgetive ' fancy, in its most sportive and lux 
uriant vein. ... It has, in common with all his 
comedies, a perpetual intermixture of the essen 
tially poetical with the purely laughable, yet is 
distinguished from all the rest by being (as Cole 
ridge has happily defined its character) 'one con 
tinued specimen of the dramatized lyrical/ Its 
transitions are as rapid, and the images and scenes 
it presents to the imagination as unexpected and as 
remote from each other, as those of the boldest 
lyric; while it has also that highest perfection of 
the lyric art, the pervading unity of the poetic 
spirit that continued glow of excited thought 
which blends the whole rich and strange variety in 
one common effect of gay and dazzling brilliancy." 
If Shakespeare did not begin his career as a 
writer until 1590, this period of his dramatic ap 
prenticeship covers at most four years, or until the 
end of 1594 ; and during this time he revised more 
or less thoroughly Titus Andronicus and the three 
parts of Henry VI., and wrote at least seven 
original plays Love's Labour's Lost, The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, A Mid- 

192 Life of Shakespeare 

summer-Night' 's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard 
III. and Richard II. The two long poems, Venus 
and Adonis and Lucrece (to be considered in the next 
chapter) also belong to this period. To all this 
some biographers and critics would add all or 
nearly all of the Sonnets, which Sidney Lee, for 
instance, assumes to have been written between the 
spring of 1593 and the autumn of 1594. He also 
dates King John and The Merchant of Venice in 
1594. And all this time Shakespeare was actively 
engaged in his profession as an actor. It seems 
quite "impossible that before the end of 1594 he 
could have done any of this additional literary 
work, even if he began to write, as some suppose he 
did, as early as 1588 or 1589. 

The earliest definite notice of Shakespeare's ap 
pearance on the stage that has been discovered is 
of his having been a player in two comedies acted 
before Elizabeth, at Greenwich Palace, in December, 
1594. In the manuscript accounts of the Treasurer 
of the Chamber we find these entries : "To William 
Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richarde Bur- 
bage, servauntes to the Lord Chamberleyne, upon 
the Councelles warrant dated at Whitehall 
Marcij, 1594, for twoe severall comedies, or enter- 
ludes, shewed by them before her Majestie in 
Christmas tyme laste paste, viz., upon St. Step- 
thens daye and Innocentes daye, xiij. li. vj. s. 
viij. d., and by waye of her Majesties rewarde vj. 
li. xiij. s. iiij. d., in all xx. li." . . . "For making 

His Dramatic Apprenticeship 193 

ready at Grenewich for the Qu. Majestic against her 
Highnes coming thether, by the space of viij. daies 
mense Decembr., 1594, as appereth by a bill signed 
by the Lord Chamberleyne, viij. li. xiij. s. iiij. d" 
. . . "To Tho: Sheffeilde, under-keaper of her 
Majesties house at Grenewich for thallowaunce of 
viij. labourers there three severall nightes, at xij. d. 
the man by reason it was night-woorke, for making 
cleane the greate chamber, the Presence, the 
galleries and clossettes, mense Decembr., 1594, 
xxiiij. s" 

From this date Shakespeare was never known to 
write for any other managers than those with whom 
he was theatrically connected. 



THE breadth of Shakespeare's literary tastes and 
aspirations in this 'prentice period of his career is 
shown by the fact that, just when his reputation 
as an actor and a dramatist was becoming estab 
lished, he published two long narrative poems, Venus 
and Adonis and Lucrece. 

Venus and Adonis was entered on the Stationers' 
Eegisters, April 18th, 1593, and must have been 
published before June 12th, of that year, as a man 
uscript reference to the purchase of a copy of the 
book has been discovered under that date. 

A second edition appeared before June 25th, 
1594; and other editions in 1596, 1599, 1600, 1602 
(two editions), 1617, 1620, 1630 (two editions), and 
1636. Besides these thirteen editions it is probable 
that there were others, as only single copies are ex 
tant of several of the known issues. Nothing was 
known of the fourth edition until a copy was dis 
covered in 1867, and the single copy of the twelfth 
has come to light more recently. 

The Lucrece was entered for publication May 9th, 
1594, and was printed the same year. It was not 


Shakespeare's Poems 

so popular as the Venus and Adonis, but editions are 
extant bearing the dates of 1598, 1600, 1607, 1616, 
1624, 1632, and 1655; and there were probably 
others of which no copy has been discovered. 

The Venus and Adonis was dedicated to the young 
Earl of Southampton, apparently without his per 
mission, as the poet begins by saying, " I know not 
how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished 
lines to your lordship." He adds a "vow to take 
advantage of all idle hours " till he can honour his 
patron "with some graver labour." This promise 
doubtless refers to the Lucrece which he also dedi 
cates to Southampton, and in terms implying that 
he does it with the earl's permission : " The war 
rant I have of your honourable disposition, not the 
worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of 
acceptance. What I have done is yours; what I 
have to do is yours ; being part in all I have, de 
voted yours." 

Southampton was not quite twenty when the 
Venus and Adonis was dedicated to him, having been 
born October 6th, 1573. He was entered at St. 
John's College, Cambridge, on December 11, 1585, 
just after he was twelve; took his degree of Master 
of Arts before he was sixteen, on June 6, 1589; 
and soon after entered at Gray's Inn, London. He 
was a ward of Lord Burghley. He became a 
favourite of Queen Elizabeth's, but lost her favour, 
in 1595, for making love to Elizabeth Vernon (Es 
sex's cousin), whom he married later, in 1598. All 

196 Life of Shakespeare 

his life he was a liberal patron of men of letters. 
He was particularly interested in the drama. In 
1599 we find a reference to him as " going to plays 
every day." It may be added that later in life he 
was engaged in schemes for colonization in Amer 
ica. " He helped to equip expeditions to Virginia, 
and was treasurer of the Virginia Company. The 
map of the country commemorates his labours as a 
colonial pioneer. In his honour were named South 
ampton Hundred, Hampton River, and Hampton 
Roads in Virginia " (Sidney Lee). 

In the dedication of Venus and Adonis Shake 
speare calls the poem "the first heir of my inven 
tion " that is, the first product of his imagination. 
It is a question whether this means that it was writ 
ten before any of the plays, or that it was his first 
distinctively literary work, plays being then re 
garded as not belonging to " invention," or literature 
properly so called. Knight and some others take 
the expression in its literal sense. Knight, for in 
stance, says : " We regard the Venus and Adonis as 
the production of a very young man, improved, per 
haps, considerably in the interval between its first 
composition and its publication, but distinguished 
by peculiarities which belong to the wild luxuriance 
of youthful power, such power, however, as few 
besides Shakspere have ever possessed." 

Baynes remarks : " All the facts and probabilities 
of the case seem however to indicate that the 
Venus and Adonis, as Shakespeare's earliest con- 

Shakespeare's Poems 197 

siderable effort, must have been produced at Strat 
ford some years before the appearance of Lodge's 
poem. With regard to the internal evidence in sup 
port of this view, Mr. Collier says : ' A young man 
so gifted would not, and could not, wait until he 
was five or six and twenty before he made consider 
able and most successful attempts at poetical com 
position; and we feel morally certain that Venus 
and Adonis was in being anterior to Shakespeare's 
quitting Stratford. It bears all the marks of youth 
ful vigour, of strong passion, of luxuriant imagi 
nation, together with a force and originality of 
expression which betoken the first efforts of a great 
mind, not always well regulated in its taste. It 
seems to have been written in the open air of a fine 
country like Warwickshire, possessing all the fresh 
ness of the recent impression of natural objects; 
and we will go so far as to say that we do not think 
even Shakespeare himself could have produced it, 
in the form it bears, after he had reached the age of 
forty.' In relation to the last point I should be 
disposed to go further still, and say that it is very 
unlikely that Shakespeare either could or would 
have produced such a poem after he had found in 
the drama the free use of both his hands the 
means of dealing effectively with action as well as 

But Shakespeare in London did not forget with 
his love of nature he could not forget his " woody 
Warwickshire ; " and in London, as we have seen, 

198 Life of Shakespeare 

there were many large gardens, and the suburbs were 
distinctly rural. The Theatre and the Curtain, 
just outside the walls, were "in the fields," and 
wild flowers could be gathered almost at the door 
of the playhouse. Shakespeare, moreover, was a 
poet when he began to be a dramatist, and the semi- 
lyrical character of large portions of his earliest 
plays, as well as the delight in nature which they 
show, has been often pointed out by the critics. The 
poems, like these plays, abound in reminiscences of 
country life, but it is not necessary to suppose that 
they, any more than the plays, were actually writ 
ten amid the scenes of country life. 

In 1592 the theatres were closed from July to 
December on account of the plague, and it seems 
probable that the Venus and Adonis was mainly or 
wholly written during that half-year when the poet's 
interest was more or less diverted from dramatic 
composition into other literary channels. There is 
a striking allusion to the pestilence in the poem 
(505-510) : - 

" Long may they kiss each other for this cure ! 
O, never let their crimson liveries wear ! 
And as they last, their verdure still endure, 
To drive infection from the dangerous year 1 
That the star-gazers, having writ on death, 
May say, the plague is banish'd by thy breath." 

The allusion may have been immediately sug 
gested by the practice of strewing rooms with rue 

Shakespeare's Poems 199 

and other strong-smelling herbs as a means of pre 
venting infection. The reference to the astrologers, 
predicting death by their horoscopes, is also in keep 
ing with the fatal season. 

The title-page of Venus and Adonis bore this 
motto from the Amores of Ovid (i. 15. 35, 36) : 

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

which Marlowe renders thus : 

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

The story of the poem was taken from Ovid's 
Metamorphoses, which had been translated by Gold- 
ing in 1567 ; but Shakespeare was doubtless famil 
iar with it in the original Latin, which he had read 
in the Stratford grammar school, and to which he 
probably recurred in Field's edition after he came 
to London. In the poem he does not follow Ovid 
very closely. 

The critics of the eighteenth century were in 
clined to disparage Shakespeare's poems. Malone, 
in his concluding remarks upon the Venus and 
Adonis, and Lucrece, says : " We should do Shak- 
speare injustice were we to try them by a com 
parison with more modern and polished productions, 
or with our present idea of poetical excellence." 
Knight, after quoting this, observes: "This was 

2oo Life of Shakespeare 

written in the year 1780 the period which re 
joiced in the ' polished productions' of Hayley and 
Miss Seward, and founded its ' idea of poetical excel 
lence ' on some standard which, secure in its conven 
tional forms, might depart as far as possible from 
simplicity and nature, to give us words without 
thought, arranged in verses without music. It 
would be injustice indeed to Shakspere to try the 
Venus and Adonis and Lucrece by such a standard of 
' poetical excellence.' But we have outlived that 

Coleridge was the first to do justice to the merits 
of the Venus and Adonis. He remarks: "It is 
throughout as if a superior spirit, more intuitive, 
more intimately conscious, even than the characters 
themselves, not only of every outward look and act, 
but of the flux and reflux of the mind .in all its 
subtlest thoughts and feelings, were placing the 
whole before our view; himself meanwhile unpar- 
ticipating in the passions, and actuated only by 
that pleasurable excitement which had resulted 
from the energetic fervour of his own spirit in 
so vividly exhibiting what it had so accurately 
and profoundly contemplated. . . . His Venus and 
Adonis seem at once the characters themselves, and 
the whole representation of those characters by the 
most consummate actors. You seem to be told 
nothing, but to see and hear everything. Hence 
it is, that, from the perpetual activity of attention 
required on the part of the reader, from the 

Shakespeare's Poems 201 

rapid flow, the quick change, and the playful 
nature of the thoughts and images, and, above 
all, from the alienation, and, if I may hazard such 
an expression, the utter aloofness of the poet's own 
feelings from those of which he is at once the 
painter and the analyst, that though the very 
subject cannot but detract from the pleasure of 
a delicate mind, yet never was poem, less dangerous 
on a moral account." 

Elsewhere the same critic has observed that, " in 
the Venus and Adonis, the first and most obvious 
excellence is the perfect sweetness of the versifica 
tion; its adaptation to the subject; and the power 
displayed in varying the march of the words with 
out passing into a loftier and more majestic rhythm 
than was demanded by the thoughts, or permitted 
by the propriety of preserving a sense of melody 
predominant." This self - controlling power of 
"varying the march of the words without passing 
into a loftier and more majestic rhythm" is per 
haps one of the most signal instances of Shake 
speare's consummate mastery of his art, even as 
a very young man. 

Dowden says of the Venus and Adonis and the 
Lucrece : " Each is an artistic study ; and they form 
companion studies one of female lust and boy 
ish coldness, the other of male lust and womanly 
chastity. Coleridge noticed l the utter aloofness of 
the poet's own feelings from those of which he is 
at once the painter and the analyst ; ' but it can 

2O2 Life of Shakespeare 

hardly be admitted that this aloofness of the poet's 
own feelings proceeds from a dramatic abandon 
ment of self. The subjects of these two poems did 
not call and choose their poet ; they did not possess 
him and compel him to render them into art. 
K-ather the poet expressly made choice of the sub 
jects, and deliberately set himself down before each 
to accomplish an exhaustive study of it. ... And 
for a young writer of the Kenascence, the subject 
of Shakspere's earliest poem was a splendid one 
as voluptuous and unspiritual as that of a classical 
picture of Titian. It included two figures contain 
ing inexhaustible pasture for the fleshly eye, and 
delicacies and dainties for the sensuous imagina 
tion of the Eenascence the enamoured Queen of 
Beauty, and the beautiful, disdainful boy. It 
afforded occasion for endless exercises and varia 
tions on the themes, Beauty, Lust, and Death. In 
holding the subject before his imagination, Shak- 
spere is perfectly cool and collected. He has made 
choice of the subject, and he is interested in doing 
his duty by it in the most thorough way a young 
poet can; but he remains unimpassioned intent 
wholly upon getting down the right colours and 
lines upon his canvas." 

Furnivall says: "From whatever source came 
the impulse to take from Ovid the heated story 
of the heathen goddess's lust, we cannot forbear 
noticing how through this stifling atmosphere Shak- 
spere has blown the fresh breezes of English meads 

Shakespeare's Poems 203 

and downs. A Midsummer-Night's Dream itself 
is not fuller of evidence of Shakspere's intimate 
knowledge of, and intense delight in, country 
scenes and sights, whether shown in his descrip 
tion of horse and hounds, or in closer touches, like 
that of the hush of wind before the rain; while 
such lines as those about the eagle flapping, < shak 
ing its wings ' over its food, send us still to the Zoo 
logical Gardens to verify. Two lines there are, 
reflecting Shakspere's own experience of life his 
own early life in London possibly which we must 
not fail to note ; they are echoed in Hamlet : 

For misery is trodden on by many, 
And being low, never relieved by any.' 

Twas a lesson plainly taught by the Elizabethan 
days, and the Victorian preach it too. It has been 
the fashion lately to run down the Venus as com 
pared with Marlowe's Hero and Leander. Its faults 
are manifest. It shows less restraint and training 
than the work of the earlier-ripened Marlowe ; but 
to me it has a fulness of power and promise of 
genius enough to make three Marlowes. ... Of 
possession and promise in Shakspere's first poem, 
we have an intense love of nature, and a conviction 
(which never left him) of her sympathy with the 
moods of men; a penetrating eye; a passionate 
soul; a striking power of throwing himself into 
all he sees, and reproducing it living and real to 
his reader ; a lively fancy, command of words, and 

204 Life of Shakespeare 

music of verse; these wielded by a shaping spirit 
that strives to keep each faculty under one control, 
and guide it while doing its share of the desired 

Mr. George Wyndham, in his Poems of Shake 
speare, is right in declaring that Shakespeare 
handles his theme with due regard for beauty and 
" disregard for all that disfigures beauty," and, like 
Coleridge, defends the poem from the charge of 
immorality. He says: "Shakespeare portrays an 
amorous encounter through its every gesture; yet, 
unless in some dozen lines where he glances aside, 
like any Mediaeval, at a gaiety not yet divorced 
from love, his appeal to Beauty persists from first 
to last; and nowhere is there an appeal to Lust. 
The laughter and sorrow of the poem belong wholly 
to the faery world of vision and romance, where 
there is no sickness, whether of sentiment or of 
sense. And both are rendered by images, clean-cut 
as in antique gems, brilliantly enamelled as in 
mediaeval chalices, numerous and interwoven as 
in Moorish arabesques; so that their incision, 
colour, and rapidity of development, apart even 
from the intricate melodies of the verbal medium 
in which they live, tax the faculty of artistic ap 
preciation to a point where it begins to participate 
in the asceticism of artistic creation. <As little can 
a mind thus roused and awakened be brooded on 
by mean and indistinct emotion as the low, lazy 
mist can Aeep upon the surface of a lake while a 

Shakespeare's Poems 205 

strong gale is driving it onward in waves and 
billows : ' Thus does Coleridge resist the applica 
tion to shift the venue of criticism on this poem 
from the court of Beauty to the court of Morals, 
and upon that subject little more can be said. How 
wilful it is to discuss the moral bearing of an invi 
tation couched by an imaginary goddess in such 
imaginative terms as these : 

Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear, 
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green, 
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd hair, 
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen ! ' . . . 

"When Venus says, 'Bid me discourse, I will 
enchant thine ear,' she instances yet another pecul 
iar excellence of Shakespeare's lyrical art, which 
shows in this poem, is redoubled in Lucrece, and in 
the Sonnets yields the most perfect examples of 
human speech : 

* Touch but my lips with those fair lips of thine, 
Though mine be not so fair, yet are they red. . . . 
Art thou ashamed to kiss ? Then wink again, 
And I will wink ; so shall the day seem night.' 

These are the fair words of her soliciting, and 
Adonis's reply is of the same silvery quality : - 

If love have lent you twenty thousand tongues, 
And every tongue more moving than your own, 
Bewitching like the wanton mermaid's songs, 
Yet from mine ear the tempting tune is blown.' 

206 Life of Shakespeare 

And, as he goes on : 

1 Lest the deceiving harmony should run 
Into the quiet closure of my breast ; ' 

you catch a note prelusive to the pleading alterca 
tion of the Sonnets. It is the discourse in Venus 
and Adonis and Lucrece which renders them discur 
sive. Indeed they are long poems, on whose first 
reading Poe's advice, never to begin at the same 
place, may wisely be followed. You do well, for 
instance, to begin at stanza 136 

[' With this, he breaketh from the sweet embrace 
Of those fair arms which bound him to her breast, 
And homeward through the dark laund runs apace, 
Leaves Love upon her back deeply distress'd. 
Look, how a bright star shooteth from the sky, 
So glides he in the night from Venus' eye.'] 

in order to enjoy the narrative of Venus' s vain pur 
suit, with your senses unwearied by the length and 
sweetness of her argument. The passage hence to 
the end is in the true romantic tradition: stanzas 
140 and 141 

[< She marking them begins a wailing note 
And sings extemporally a woeful ditty : 
How love makes young men thrall and old men dote ; 
How love is wise in folly, foolish-witty. 
Her heavy anthem still concludes in woe, 
And still the choir of echoes answer so. 

Shakespeare's Poems 207 

Her song was tedious and outwore the night, 
For lovers' hours are long, though seeming short; 
If pleased themselves, others, they think, delight 
In such-like circumstance, with such-like sport ; 
Their copious stories oftentimes begun 
End without audience and are never done/] 

are as clearly forerunners of Keats as 144 

[< Venus salutes him with this fair good-morrow : 
" O thou clear god, and patron of all light, 
From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow 
The beauteous influence that makes him bright, 
There lives a son that suck'd an earthly mother, 
May lend thee light, as thou dost lend to other." '] 

is the child of Chaucer. The truth of such art 
consists in magnifying selected details until their 
gigantic shapes, edged with a shadowy iridescence, 
fill the whole field of observation. Certain gestures 
of the body, certain moods of the mind, are made 
to tell with the weight of trifles during awe-stricken 
pauses of delay." 

The three sonnets on the story of Venus and 
Adonis in The Passionate Pilgrim are generally 
regarded by the critics as preliminary studies for 
the poem; but it is doubtful whether Shakespeare 
wrote them. If they are his it is singular that 
they were not included in the 1609 edition of the 
Sonnets with the two sonnets (153, 154) on the 
same subject. Their authenticity may also be ques 
tioned from the fact that in one of them the author 

208 Life of Shakespeare 

ridicules Adonis (" He rose and ran away ah, fool 
too f roward ! ") for not yielding to the wiles of 
Venus. In Shakespeare's poem it is to be noted 
that nothing like this occurs. In the line (578), 
" The poor fool prays her that he may depart," the 
context proves that "fool" is used in a sympathetic 
pitying way; as "poor fool" is in at least eight 
passages in the plays so also "good fool" and 
"pretty fool." The behaviour of Adonis is indi 
rectly approved by the poet, while that of Venus 
is, again and again, directly condemned; as, for 
instance, in lines 555-558 : 

" Her face doth reek and smoke, her blood doth boil, 
And careless lust stirs up a desperate courage; 
Planting oblivion, beating reason back, 
Forgetting shame's pure blush and honour's wrack." 

Adonis himself is eloquent in his denunciations of 
her sensuality and her sophistry (787 fol.), and 
Shakespeare speaks through him as truly as in the 
129th sonnet : 

" < What have you urged that I cannot reprove? 
The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger : 
I hate not love, but your device in love, 
That lends embracements unto every stranger. 
You do it for increase ; O strange excuse, 
When reason is the bawd to lust's abuse ! 

* Call it not love, for Love to heaven is fled, 
Since sweating Lust on earth usurp'd his name ; 

Shakespeare's Poems 209 

Under whose simple semblance he hath fed 
Upon fresh beauty, blotting it with blame ; 

Which the hot tyrant stains and soon bereaves, 

As caterpillars do the tender leaves. 

< Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, 
But Lust's effect is tempest after sun ; 
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain, 
Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done ; 

Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies ; 

Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.' " 

It is significant, moreover, that the goddess is not 
successful in her lustful wooing, as other authors 
(except Ovid) represent, bringing Adonis back from 
Hades to be with her. 

That the poem was considered somewhat objec 
tionable even in Shakespeare's day is evident from 
certain contemporaneous references to it. Halli- 
well-Phillipps quotes A Mad World my Masters, 
1608 : " I have convay'd away all her wanton pam 
phlets, as Hero and Leander, Venus and Adonis;" 
and John Davies, who in his Papers Complaint 
(found in his Scourge of Folly, 1610) makes " Paper " 
admit the superlative excellence of Shakespeare's 
poem, but at the same time censure its being "at 
tired in such bawdy geare." It is also stated that 
"the coyest dames in private read it for their 
closset-games." In The Dumbe Knight, 1608, the 
lawyer's clerk refers to it as "maides philosophic ; " 
and the stanza beginning with line 229 ("'Fond- 

2io Life of Shakespeare 

ling/ she saith, ' since I have hemm'd thee here/ " 
etc.) is quoted both in that play and in Hey wood's 
Fayre Mayd of the Exchange, 1607. 

The main incidents of the Lucrece were doubtless 
familiar to Shakespeare from his school-days; and 
they had been used again and again in poetry and 
prose : in Latin by Ovid, Dionysius Halicarnassus, 
Diodorus Siculus, Dio Cassius, and Valerius Maxi- 
mus ; and in English by Chaucer (in his Legende of 
Goode Women), by Lydgate (Falles of Princes), and 
by Paynter (Palace of Pleasure), to say nothing of 
"balletts" on the subject entered in the Stationers' 
Eegisters in 1568, 1570, and 1576. 

The greater maturity shown in the poem, though 
published only a year after Venus and Adonis, cer 
tainly tends to support the theory that the latter 
was largely written some years before its publica 
tion, though probably not completed until 1592. 
Knight, indeed, goes so far as to say: "There is to 
our mind the difference of eight or even ten years 
in the aspect of these poems a difference as man 
ifest as that which exists between Love's Labour's 
Lost and Romeo and Juliet" Coleridge remarks: 
" The Venus and Adonis did not perhaps allow the 
display of the deeper passions. But the story of 
Lucretia seems to favour, and even demand, their 
intense st workings. And yet we find in Shake 
speare's management of the tale neither pathos nor 
any other dramatic quality. There is the same 
minute and faithful imagery as in the former poem, 

Shakespeare's Poems 211 

in the same vivid colours, inspirited by the same 
impetuous vigour of thought, and diverging and 
contracting with the same activity of the assimila 
tive and of the modifying faculties; and with a 
yet larger display, a yet wider range of knowledge 
and reflection; and, lastly, with the same perfect 
dominion, often domination, over the whole world 
of language." 

Baynes, in his comments on "the profounder 
ethical and reflective aspects" of the two poems, 
observes: "It may justly be said that if Shake 
speare follows Ovid in the narrative and descriptive 
part of his work, in the vivid picturing of sensuous 
passion, he is as decisively separated from him in 
the reflective part, the higher purpose and ethical 
significance of the poems. The underlying subject 
in both is the same, the debasing nature and de 
structive results of the violent sensuous impulses, 
which in antiquity so often usurped the name of 
love, although in truth they have little in common 
with the nobler passion. The influence of fierce 
inordinate desire is dealt with by Shakespeare in 
these poems in all its breadth as affecting both 
sexes, and in all its intensity as blasting the most 
sacred interests and relationships of life. In work 
ing out the subject, Shakespeare shows his thorough 
knowledge of its seductive outward charm, of the 
arts and artifices, the persuasions and assaults, the 
raptures and languors of stimulated sensual pas 
sion. In this he is quite a match for the erotic 

212 Life of Shakespeare 

and elegiac poets of classic times, and especially of 
Roman literature. He is not likely therefore in 
any way to undervalue the attraction or the power 
of what they celebrate in strains so fervid and rap 
turous. But, while contemplating the lower pas 
sion steadily in all its force and charm, he has at 
the same time the higher vision which enables him 
to see through and beyond it, the reflective insight 
to measure its results, and to estimate with re 
morseless accuracy its true worth. It is in this 
higher power of reflective insight, in depth and 
vigour of thought as well as feeling, that* Shake 
speare's earliest efforts are marked off even from 
the better works of those whom he took, if not as 
his masters, at least as his models and guides. He 
was himself full of rich and vigorous life, deepened 
by sensibilities of the rarest strength and delicacy ; 
and in early youth had realized, in his own experi 
ence, the impetuous force of passionate impulses. 
But his intellectual power no less than the essential 
depth and purity of his nobler emotional nature 
would effectually prevent his ever becoming 'soft 
fancy's slave/ 

" In the very earliest poem we have from Shake 
speare's pen this higher note of the modern world 
is clearly sounded the note that ' Love is Lord of 
all,' and that love is something infinitely higher and 
more divine than the lawless vagrant passion which 
in pagan times passed under that name. To the 
modern mind, while the latter is blind, selfish, and 

Shakespeare's Poems 213 

often brutal in proportion to its strength, the former 
is full of sympathy and self-abnegation, of an almost 
sacred ardour and gentleness, humility and devotion, 
the very heart and crown of life." 

Further on, after quoting the stanzas (787 fol.) 
given above, in which Adonis reproaches Venus for 
her sensuality, Baynes remarks: "In this reproof 
of the pagan goddess of love, the higher note of the 
modern world is struck fully and clearly. It is 
repeated with tragic emphasis in the Lucrece, deep 
ened in the Sonnets, and developed through all the 
gracious range of higher female characters in the 
dramas. Nowhere indeed is the vital difference in 
the social axes of the ancient and modern world 
more vividly seen, than in the contrast between the 
Lesbias, Delias, and Corinnas of Roman poetry, and 
the Mirandas, Portias, and Imogens of Shakespeare's 
dramas. In the one -we have the monotonous ardours 
and disdains, the gusts and glooms, the tricks and 
artifices belonging to the stunted life of lower im 
pulse ; in the other, the fadeless beauty and grace, 
the vivacity and intelligence, the gentleness and 
truth of perfect womanhood." 

Aside from Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, and the 
Sonnets (which will be discussed in another chap 
ter), the only poems ascribed to Shakespeare which 
are quite certainly his are A Lover's Complaint and 
The Phcenix and the Turtle. 

A Lover's Complaint was first published with the 
Sonnets in 1609. There is no external evidence for 

214 Life of Shakespeare 

determining when it was written, but the internal 
evidence of style and treatment indicates that it was 
later than Lucrece. It is in the same seven-lined 
stanza as that poem, and shows a " marked decrease 
in the use of antithesis and verbal paradox, and so 
far points to a refinement in taste ; " but there is 
nothing in the treatment of the subject the lament 
of a girl who has been betrayed by a deceitful youth * 
which shows any noteworthy advance in other 
respects. The Spenserian flavour of the poem has 
been often noted by the critics. Malone remarks 
that it reads like a challenge to Spenser on his own 
ground. As Mr. Verity observes (" Henry Irving " 
edition of Shakespeare), " it has much of Spenser's 
stately pathos and sense of physical beauty, and 
exquisite verbal melody*" It appears to be an early 
exercise in the style of that poet, whose Complaints : 
containing Sundry Small Poems of the World's Van 
ity was published in 1591. These opening lines of 
The Ruins of Time in that volume have been com 
pared with those of A Lover's Complaint : 

" A woman sitting sorrowfully wailing, 
Rending her yellow locks like wiry gold, 
About her shoulders carelessly down trailing, 
And streams of tears from her fair eyes forth railing ; 
In her right hand a broken rod she held, 
Which towards heaven she seemed on high to weld." 

The Phoenix and the Turtle must have been written 
before 1601, when it was printed with Chester's 

Shakespeare's Poems 215 

Love's Martyr and ascribed to Shakespeare. The 
title-page of the book, after referring at some length 
to that poem and " the true legend of famous King 
Arthur," which follows it, continues thus : 

" To these are added some new compositions of seu- 
erall moderne Writers whose names are subscribed to 
their seuerall workes, vpon the first subiect : viz. the 
Phoenix and Turtle." 

The part of the book containing these " composi 
tions " has a separate title-page, as follows : 

on the former Subiect ; viz : the Turtle and Phcenix. 
Done by the best and chief est of our moderne writers, 
with their names subscribed to their particular 
workes: neuer before extant. And (now first) con 
secrated by them all generally, to the loue and merite 
of the true-noble Knight, Sir lohn Salisburie. Dig- 
num laude virum Musa vetat mori. [wood-cut of 
anchor] Anchora Spei. MDCI." 

Among these poems are some by Marston, Chap 
man, and Ben Jonson. 

Malone had no doubt of the genuineness of The 
Phcenix and the Turtle, but a few of the recent 
critics have been less confident of its authorship. 
Grant White says: "There is no other external 
evidence that these verses are Shakespeare's than 
their appearance with his signature in a collection 
of poems published in London while he was living 
there in the height of his reputation. The style, 
however, is at least a happy imitation of his, espe- 

2i6 Life of Shakespeare 

cially in the bold and original use of epithet." 
Dowden, in his Primer (1878), says: "That it is 
his seems in a high degree doubtful ; " but, some 
years later, in a letter to the present writer, he said 
that he had no longer any doubt that the poem is 

There is one point in favour of this view which 
apparently has been overlooked by the critics; 
namely, that Chester's book was not a publisher's 
piratical venture, like The Passionate Pilgrim, but 
the reputable work of a gentleman who would 
hardly have ventured to insult his patron to whom 
he dedicates it, by palming off anonymous verses as 
the contribution of a well-known poet of the time, 
who was residing in London in 1601 when it ap 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the preface to his Par 
nassus (1875) remarks : " I should like to have the 
Academy of Letters propose a prize for an essay on 
Shakespeare's poem, Let the bird of loudest lay, and 
the Threnos with which it closes, the aim of the 
essay being to explain, by a historical research into 
the poetic myths and tendencies of the age in which 
it was written, the frame and allusions of the poem. 
I have not seen Chester's Love's Martyr and 'the 
Additional Poems' (1601), in which it appeared. 
Perhaps that book will suggest all the explanation 
this poem requires. To unassisted readers, it would 
appear to be a lament on the death of a poet, and of 
his poetic mistress. But the poem is so quaint, and 

Shakespeare's Poems 217 

charming in diction, tone, and allusions, and in its 
perfect metre and harmony, that I would gladly 
have the fullest illustration yet attainable. I con 
sider this piece a good example of the rule that 
there is a poetry for bards proper, as well as a 
poetry for the world of readers. This poem, if pub 
lished for the first time, and without a known 
author's name, would find no general reception. 
Only the poets would save it." 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: "It was towards the 
close of the present year, 1600, or at some time in 
the following one, that Shakespeare, for the first and 
only time, came forward in the avowed character of 
a philosophical writer." After giving an account 
of Chester's book, he adfls : " The contribution of 
the great dramatist is a remarkable poem in which 
he makes a notice of the obsequies of the phoenix 
and turtle-dove subservient to the delineation of 
spiritual union. It is generally thought that Ches 
ter himself intended a personal allegory, but, if 
that be the case, there is nothing to indicate that 
Shakespeare participated in the design, nor even 
that he had endured the punishment of reading 
Love's Martyr." 

All the other poems included in the standard edi 
tions of Shakespeare's works are from The Passion 
ate Pilgrim, which was first printed in 1599, with 
the following title-page : 

speare. At London Printed for W. laggard, and are 

2i 8 Life of Shakespeare 

to be sold by W. Leake, at the Greyhound in Paules 
Churchyard. 1599." 

In the middle of sheet C is a second title : 

" SONNETS To sundry notes of Musicke. At Lon 
don Printed for W. laggard, and are to be sold by 
W. Leake, at the Greyhound in Paules Churchyard. 

The book was reprinted in 1612, together with 
some poems by Thomas Heywood, the whole being 
attributed to Shakespeare. The title at first stood 
thus : 

" THE PASSIONATE PILGRIME. or Certaine Amorous 
Sonnets, betweene Venus and Adonis, newly corrected 
and augmented. By W. Shakespere. The third 
Edition. Whereunto is newly added two Loue- 
Epistles, the first from Paris to Hellen, and Hellens 
answere backe againe to Paris. Printed by W. 
laggard. 1612." 

The Bodleian copy of this edition contains the 
following note by Malone: "All the poems from 
Sig. D. 5 were written by Thomas Heywood, who 
was so offended at Jaggard for printing them under 
the name of Shakespeare that he has added a post 
script to his Apology for Actors, 4to, 1612, on this 
subject; and Jaggard in consequence of it appears 
to have printed a new title-page to please Heywood, 
without the name of Shakespeare in it. The former 
title-page was no doubt intended to be cancelled, 
but by some inadvertence they were both prefixed 
to this copy and I have retained them as a curios- 

Shakespeare's Poems 219 

ity." The corrected title-page is substantially as 
above, omitting " By W. Shakespere." 

It will be observed that this is called the third 
edition; but no other between 1599 and 1612 is 
known to exist. 

The book contained five poems that are known to 
be Shakespeare's : Sonnets 138 and 144 ; Longaville's 
sonnet in Love's Labour's Lost (iv. 3. 60 fol.); "If 
love make me forsworn," etc. (iv. 2. 109 fol.); and 
On a day alack the day ! " etc. (iv. 3. 101 fol.) 
in the same play. Of the three sonnets on Venus 
and Adonis (see page 207 above), one (" Venus, with 
young Adonis," etc.) was probably by Bartholomew 
Griffin, in whose Fidessa more Chaste than Kinde it 
had appeared in 1596. It is improbable that the 
others are Shakespeare's. Several other poems in 
the book have been traced to their authbrs; and 
among the rest there are none that can have been 
written by Shakespeare. 

Swinburne, in his Study of Shakespeare, remarks : 
"What Coleridge said of Ben Jonson's epithet for 
1 turtle-footed peace/ we may say of the label affixed 
to this rag-picker's bag of stolen goods : The Pas 
sionate Pilgrim is a pretty title, a very pretty title ; 
pray, what may it mean ? In all the larcenous little 
bundle of verse there is neither a poem which bears 
that name nor a poem by which that name would be 
bearable. The publisher of the booklet was like 
1 one Eagozine, a most notorious pirate ; ' and the 
method no less than the motive of his rascality in 

220 Life of Shakespeare 

the present instance is palpable and simple enough. 
Fired by the immediate and instantly proverbial 
popularity of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, he 
hired, we may suppose, some ready hack of unclean 
hand to supply him with three doggrel sonnets on 
the same subject, noticeable only for the porcine 
quality of prurience ; he procured by some means a 
rough copy or an incorrect transcript of two genuine 
and unpublished sonnets by Shakespeare, which 
with the acute instinct of a felonious tradesman he 
laid atop of his worthless wares by way of gilding 
to their base metal; he stole from the two years 
published text of Love's Labour's Lost, and repro 
duced, with more or less mutilation or corruption, 
the sonnet of Longaville, the ' canzonet' of Biron, 
and the far lovelier love-song of Dumain. The rest 
of the ragman's gatherings, with three most notable 
exceptions, is little better for the most part than 
dry rubbish or disgusting refuse ; unless a plea may 
haply be put in for the pretty commonplaces of the 
lines on a ' sweet rose, fair flower/ and so forth; for 
the couple of thin and pallid if tender and tolerable 
copies of verse on ' Beauty' and 'Good Night,' or 
the passably light and lively stray of song on 
* crabbed age and youth.' I need not say that those 
three exceptions are the stolen and garbled work of 
Marlowe and of Barnfield, our elder Shelley and our 
first-born Keats : the singer of Cynthia in verse 
well worthy of Endymion, who would seem to have 
died as a poet in the same fatal year of his age that 

Shakespeare's Poems 221 

Keats died as a man; the first adequate English 
laureate of the nightingale, to be supplanted or 
equalled by none until the advent of his mightier 

In 1640 a volume was published with the fol 
lowing title : 

" POEMS : Written by Wil. Skake-speare. Gent. 
Printed at London by Tho. Cotes, and are to be sold 
by lohn Benson, dwelling in S*. Dunstans Church 
yard. 1640." 

It contains the Sonnets (with the exception of 
eight) ; The Passionate Pilgrim (all the poems, not 
merely " some," as both the first and the revised 
" Cambridge " editions state ; or " the greater part," 
as Knight and others give it) ; The Phoenix and the 
Turtle ; the lines, " Why should this a desert be," 
etc. (As You Like It, iii. 2. 133 fol.) ; "Take, take 
those lips away " (Measure for Measure, iv. 1. 1 fol.) ; 
and A Lover's Complaint; with some translations 
from Ovid and other pieces, all falsely ascribed to 
Shakespeare. Venus and Adonis and Lucrece are 
not included in the volume. 

The first complete edition of Shakespeare's Poems, 
including the Sonnets, was issued (according to 
Lowndes, Bibliographer's Manual) in 1709, with the 
following title : 

"A Collection of Poems, in Two Volumes; Being 
all the Miscellanies of Mr. William Shakespeare, 
which were Publish'd by himself in the Year 1609, 
and now correctly Printed from those Editions. The 

222 Life of Shakespeare 

First Volume contains, I. VENUS AND ADONIS. II. 
The Kape of LUCRECE. III. The Passionate Pil 
grim. IV. Some Sonnets set to sundry Notes of 
Musick. The Second Volume contains One Hun 
dred and Fifty Four Sonnets, all of them in Praise 
of his Mistress. II. A Lover's Complaint of his 
Angry Mistress. LONDON: Printed for Bernard 
Lintott, at the Cross-Keys, between the Two Temple- 
Gates in Fleet-street" 

The editor of this collection evidently did not 
know that most of the Sonnets were addressed to a 
man, and that the " lover " of A Lover's Complaint 
was a woman. 



King John, though first printed in the folio of 
1623, was written, as internal evidence indicates, 
at about the same time as Richard II. ; and it is 
probable that it followed rather than preceded that 
play. We cannot be far wrong if, with Furnivall, 
we assign it to the year 1595. Dowden also says : 
" The chief point of difference with respect to form 
is that Richard II. contains a much larger proportion 
of rhymed verse, and on the whole we shall not 
perhaps err in regarding Richard II. as the earlier 
of the two." Fleay makes the date 1596, seeing in 
ii. 1. 66-75, as others have done, an allusion to the 
fleet sent against Spain in that year : 

" And all the unsettled humours of the land, 
Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries, 
With ladies' faces and fierce dragons' spleens, 
Have sold their fortunes at their native homes, 
Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs, 
To make a hazard of new fortunes here. 
In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits 
Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er 


224 Life of Shakespeare 

Did never float upon the swelling tide, 
To do offence and scath in Christendom.' 

He believes also that "the laments of Constance 
for Arthur's death (iii. 4) were inspired by Shake 
speare's sorrow for his heir and only son, Hamnet, 
whom he lost August 12, 1596." 

King John varies from the facts of history more 
than any other play of the English series, being 
founded upon an earlier drama published in 1591 
with the following title-page : 

"THE | Troublesome Eaigne | of lohn King of 
England, with the dis- | couerie of King Kichard 
Cordelions | Base sonne (vulgarly named, The 
Ba- | stard Fawconbridge) : also the \ death of King 
lohn at Swinstead \ Abbey. \ As it was (sundry times) 
publikely acted by the \ Queenes Maiesties Players, in 
the ho- | nourable Citie of \ London. Imprinted at 
London for Sampson Clarke, \ and are to be solde at 
his shop, on the backe- \ side of the Royall Exchange. 
| 1591." 

In 1611 this play was reprinted with " Written 
by W. Sh." added to the title-page ; and in a third 
edition, brought out in 1622, it was ascribed to " W. 
Shakespeare." This was doubtless a mere trick of 
the publishers to help the sale of the book, as the 
style proves conclusively that Shakespeare had no 
part in its authorship. 

While the poet follows this old play in the out 
lines of his plot, and occasionally borrows its Ian- 

The English Historical Plays 225 

guage, his real indebtedness to it is comparatively 
slight. The main incidents are the same, but the 
characters are almost re-created. "Artistically 
considered, Shakespeare took in the outward design 
of the piece, blended both parts into one, adhered 
to the leading features of the characters, and 
finished them with finer touches." 

Furnivall remarks : " Shakspere alters the old 
play ... in order to bring it closer home to his 
hearers and the circumstances of the time, the 
disputed succession, of ' Elizabeth, and the inter 
ference of Spain and the Pope. The old play-writer 
made the murder of Arthur the turning-point be 
tween the high-spirited success of John at first and 
his dejection and disgrace at last; and he, too, 
fixed on the assertion of national independence 
against invading Frenchmen and encroaching eccle 
siastics as the true principle of dramatic action of 
John's time. So long as John is the impersonator 
of England, of defiance to the foreigner, and opposi 
tion to the Pope, so long is he a hero. . . . His 
death, ought, of course, dramatically to have fol- 
lowd from some act of his in the play, as revenge 
for the murder of Arthur, or his plundering the 
abbots or abbeys, or opposing the Pope. The 
author of The Troublesome Raigne, with a true in 
stinct, made a monk murder John out of revenge for 
his anti-papal patriotism. But Shakspere, unfortu 
nately, set this story aside, though there was some 
warrant for it in Holinshed, and thus left a serious 

226 Life of Shakespeare 

blot on his drama which it is impossible to remove. 
The character which to me stands foremost in 
John is Constance, with that most touching expres 
sion of grief for the son she had lost. Beside her 
cry, the tender pleading of Arthur for his life is 
heard, and both are backed by the rough voice of 
Falconbridge, who, Englishman-like, depreciates his 
own motives at first, but is lifted by patriotism into 
a gallant soldier, while his deep moral nature 
shows itself in his heartfelt indignation at Arthur's 
supposd murder. The rhetoric of the earlier his 
torical plays is kept up in King John, and also 
Shakspere's power of creating situations, which he 
had possessed from the first." 

The Merchant of Venice may have been Shake 
speare's next play. It has been dated as early as 
1594 and as late as 1598, but 1596 or 1597 seems 
more probable. It was entered for publication on 
the Stationers' Eegisters thus : 

"22 July, 1598, James Eobertes.] A booke of 
the Marchaunt of Venyce, or otherwise called the 
Jewe of Venyse. Provided that yt bee not prynted 
by the said James Robertes, or anye other whatso 
ever, without lycence first had from the right hon 
ourable the Lord Chamberlen." 

The company of players to which Shakespeare 
belonged, and for which he wrote, were "the Lord 
Chamberlain's Servants ; " and the above order was 
meant to prohibit the publication of the play until 
the patron of the company should give his permis- 

The English Historical Plays 227 

sion. This he , appears not to have done until two 
years later, when the following entry was made in 
the Eegister : 

" 28 Oct., 1600, Tho. Haies.] The booke of the 
Merchant of Venyce." 

Soon after this entry, or before the end of 1600, 
the play was published by Haies (or Heyes); and 
another edition was brought out by Roberts in the 
same year. The play, so far as known, was not 
printed again until it appeared in the folio of 1623. 

Henslowe's Diary, under the date " 25 of aguste, 
1594," records the performance of "the Venesyon 
comodey," which is marked ne, as a new play. Some 
critics take this to be The Merchant of Venice, as 
Shakespeare belonged to the company then acting 
in the theatre of which Henslowe was chief mana 
ger ; but the play shows a decided advance on any 
of the other work assigned to that period, which, 
moreover, as we have seen, includes so much other 
work of Shakespeare's, dramatic and poetical, that 
nothing more can in reason be added to it. Sidney 
Lee assumes that the "Venesyon comodey" "was 
probably the earliest version of The Merchant of 
Venice" and that " it was revised later ; " but there 
is not the slightest internal evidence that the play 
was ever revised. 

The main plot of the drama is composed of two 
distinct stories : that of the bond, and that of the 
caskets. Both are found in the Gesta Romanorum, 
which had been translated into English as early as 

228 Life of Shakespeare 

the time of Henry VI. Shakespeare, however, 
appears to have been indebted, directly or indirectly, 
for the incidents connected with the bond to a story 
in II Pecorone, a collection of tales by Giovanni 
Fiorentino, first published at Milan in 1558, though 
written nearly two centuries earlier. In this story 
we have a rich lady at Belmont, who is to be won 
on certain conditions ; and she is finally the prize 
of a young merchant, whose friend, having become 
surety for him to a Jew under the same penalty as 
in the play, is rescued from the forfeiture by the 
adroitness of the married lady, who is disguised as 
a lawyer. The pretended judge receives, as in the 
comedy, her marriage ring as a gratuity, and after 
wards banters her husband, in the same way, upon 
the loss of it. An English translation of the book 
was extant in Shakespeare's time. 

It is probable, however, that the legends of the 
bond and the caskets had been blended in dramatic 
form before Shakespeare began to write for the 
stage. Stephen Gosson, a Puritan author, in his 
Schoole of Abuse, published in 1579, except s a few 
plays from the sweeping condemnation of his " pies- 
aunt inuective against Poets, Pipers, Plaiers, Jest 
ers, and such-like caterpillers of a Commonwelth." 
Among these exceptions he mentions " The Jew, and 
Ptolome, showne at the Bull ; the one representing 
the greedinesse of worldly chusers, and the bloody 
minds of usurers ; the other very lively describing 
howe seditious estates with their owne devises, false 

The English Historical Plays 229 

friends with, their owne swoords, and rebellious 
commons in their owne snares, are overthrowne." 
We have no other knowledge of this play of The 
Jew ', but the nationality of its hero and the double 
moral, agreeing so exactly with that of The Mer 
chant of Venice, render it probable that the plots of 
the two dramas were essentially the same, and that 
Shakespeare in this instance, as in others, worked 
upon some rough model already prepared for him. 
Be this as it may, Shakespeare's indebtedness to 
his predecessors, as in all similar instances, is insig 
nificant. The characters, the poetry, the sentiment 
everything that makes the play what it is are 
his, and his alone. As Grant White remarks, " the 
people are puppets, and the incidents are all in 
these old stories. They are mere bundles of barren 
sticks that the poet's touch causes to bloom like 
Aaron's rod : they are heaps of dry bones till he 
clothes them with human flesh and breathes into 
them the breath of life. Antonio, grave, pensive, 
prudent save in his devotion to his young kinsman, 
as a Christian hating the Jew, as a royal merchant 
despising the usurer; Bassanio, lavish yet provi 
dent, a generous gentleman although a fortune- 
seeker, wise although a gay gallant, and manly 
though dependent; Gratiano, who unites the not 
too common virtues of thorough good nature and 
unselfishness with the sometimes not unserviceable 
fault of talking for talk's sake ; Shylock, crafty and 
cruel, whose revenge is as mean as it is fierce and 

230 Life of Shakespeare 

furious, whose abuse never rises to invective, and 
who has yet some dignity of port as the avenger of 
a nation's wrongs, some claim upon our sympathy 
as a father outraged by his only child ; and Portia, 
matchless impersonation of that rare woman who is 
gifted even more in intellect than loveliness, and 
who yet stops gracefully short of the offence of 
intellectuality these, not to notice minor charac 
ters no less perfectly organized or completely devel 
oped after their kind these, and the poetry which 
is their atmosphere, and through which they beam 
upon us, all radiant in its golden light, are Shake 
speare's only ; and these it is, and not the incidents 
of old and, but for these, forgotten tales, that make 
The Merchant of Venice a priceless and imperishable 
dower to the queenly city that sits enthroned upon 
the sea a dower of romance more bewitching than 
that of her moonlit waters and beauty-laden bal 
conies, of adornment more splendid than that of 
her pictured palaces, of human interest more endur 
ing than that of her blood-stained annals, more 
touching even than the sight of her faded gran 

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth was 
probably written at about the same time as The 
Merchant of Venice ; or, as the editors almost unan 
imously decide, in 1596 or 1597. It was entered 
on the Stationers' Eegisters on the 25th of February, 
1597-8 as "a booke intituled The historye of 
Henry the iiij th with his battaile of Shrewsbury e 

The English Historical Plays 231 

against Henry Hottspurre of the Northe with the 
conceipted mirthe of Sir John ffalstoff ; " and a 
quarto edition was printed in 1598. A second 
quarto was brought out in 1599, followed by others 
in 1604, 1608, and 1613. Each of these appears to 
have been. printed from its predecessor; and a par 
tially corrected copy of the last in the series seems 
to have furnished the text of the play for the folio 
of 1623. Subsequent editions in quarto were 
printed in 1622 (probably too late for the folio 
editors), 1632, and 1639. 

The historical materials of the play, as of 2 Henry 
IV. and Henry F., were drawn from Holinshed's 
Chronicles and from the old play of The Famous 
Victories of Henry the Fifth. A Sir John Oldcastle 
appears in the latter as one of Prince Henry's wild 
companions. That the poet adopted the name is 
evident from allusions of subsequent writers, from 
the circumstance that in the first (1600) quarto 
edition of 2 Henry IV. the prefix Old." is found 
before one of Falstaff's speeches, and from Henry's 
calling the knight "my old lad of the castle " (i. 2. 
38). In 2 Henry IV. (iii. 2. 28), moreover, Falstaff 
is said to have been " page to Thomas Mowbray, 
Duke of Norfolk," which the historical Oldcastle 
actually was. This Oldcastle is better known as 
Lord Cobham, the Lollard martyr. Shakespeare 
changed the name because he did not wish to offend 
the Protestants nor to please the Koman Catholics. 
He refers to the alteration in the epilogue to 

232 Life of Shakespeare 

2 Henry IV. where, after intimating that he may 
bring Fal staff on the stage again, where he " shall 
die of a sweat," he adds: "for Oldcastle died a 
martyr, and this is not the man." 

In the Palladis Tamia, or Wits Treasury, by 
Francis Meres, published in 1598, 1 Henry IV. is 
one of twelve plays of Shakespeare enumerated 
in a famous passage which may be appropriately 
quoted here: 

"As the Greeke tongue is made famous and elo 
quent by Homer, Hesiod, Euripedes, Aeschilus, 
Sophocles, Pindarus, Phocylides and Aristophanes; 
and the Latine tongue by Virgil, Quid, Horace, 
Silius Italicus, Lucanus, Lucretius, Ausonius and 
Claudianus : so the English tongue is mightily en 
riched, and gorgeouslie inuested in rare ornaments 
and resplendent abiliments by sir Philip Sidney, 
Spencer, Daniel, Drayton, Warner, Shakespeare, 
Marlow and Chapman. 

" As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to liue in 
Pythagoras : so the sweete wittie soule of Quid Hues 
in mellifluous & hony-tongued Shakespeare, witnes 
his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets 
among his priuate friends, &c. 

" As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for 
Comedy and Tragedy among the Latines : so Shake 
speare among y e English is the most excellent in 
both kinds for the stage ; for Comedy, witnes his 
Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Loue labors 
lost, his Loue labours wonne, his Midsummers night 

The English Historical Plays 233 

dreame, and his Merchant of Venice: for Tragedy 
his Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry the 4. King 
lohn, Titus Andronicus and his Romeo and luliet. 

"As ^?ms $fofo said, that the Muses would 
speake with Plautus tongue, if they would speak 
Latin : so I say that the Muses would speak with 
Shakespeares fine filed phrase, if they would speake 

" And as Horace saith of his : Exegi monumentum 
cere perennius ; Regaliq : situ pyramidum altius ; 
Quod non imber edax ; Non Aqidlo impotens possit 
diruere ; aut innumerabilis annorum series & fuga 
temporum : so say I seuerally of sir Philip Sidneys, 
Spencers, Daniels, Draytons, Shakespeares, and 
Warners workes ; . . . 

"As Pindarus, Anacreon and Callimachus among 
the Greeks; and Horace and Catullus among the 
Latines are the best Lyrick Poets ; so in this faculty 
the best amog our Poets are Spencer (who excelleth in 
all kinds) Daniel, Drayton, Shakespeare, Bretton. . . 

"As these Tragicke Poets flourished in Greece, 
Aeschylus', Euripedes, Sophocles, Alexander Aetolus, 
Achceus Erithriceus, Astydamas Atheniensis, Apollo- 
dorus Tarsensis, Nicomachus Phrygius, Thespis At- 
ticus, and Timon Appoloniates ; and these among 
the Latines, Accius, M. Attilius, Pomponius Secun- 
dus and Seneca : so these are our best for Tragedie, 
the Lorde Buckhurst, Doctor Leg of Cambridge, 
Doctor Edes of Oxforde, maister Edward Ferris, 
the Authour of the Mirrour for Magistrates, Marlow, 

234 Life of Shakespeare 

Peele, Watson, Kid, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chapman^ 
Decker, and Beniamin lohnson." 

Of this play, and the others in the series, Ver- 
planck remarks: "With all sorts of readers and 
spectators this is the greatest favourite of the whole 
of Shakespeare's English histories, and, indeed, is 
perhaps the most popular of all dramatic compo 
sitions in the language. The popularity of this 
play has extended itself to the other histories with 
which it is connected, until it has made them all 
nearly as familiarly known as itself. It is probably 
owing quite as much to Fal staff and to Hotspur as 
to the several merits of the other histories great 
as they are, though in very different degrees that 
this whole dramatic series of histories have been 
mixed up with all our recollections and impressions 
of the Wars of York and Lancaster, and finally be 
come substituted in the popular mind for all other 
history of the period. Thus it is to this play that 
the great majority of those at all familiar with old 
English history in its substantial reality, not as a 
meagre chronological abridgment of names and 
events, but exhibiting the men and deeds of the 
times, are indebted generally for their earliest and 
always their most vivid, impressive, and true con 
ceptions of England's feudal ages. Of the ten 
plays of this historic series, 1 Henry IV. is the 
most brilliant and various, and, therefore, the most 
attractive ; while it is substantially as true as any 
of the rest in its historical instruction although 

The English Historical Plays 235 

it is neither a dramatized chronicle in the old fash 
ion, nor yet a strictly historical drama in the sense 
in which Richard II. and Julius Ccesar are pre 
eminently indebted to that appellation as present 
ing only historical personages and great public 
events with the condensed effect and sustained feel 
ing of dramatic unity and interest." 

Falstaff is a character "hardly less complex, 
hardly less wonderful, than Hamlet." Nothing 
has been written about him that is better than 
Maurice Morgann's Essay on the Dramatic Char 
acter of Sir John Falstaff (first published in 1777, 
and reprinted in 1820 and 1825), unfortunately long 
out of print. The fat knight is concisely described 
thus: "He is a man at once young and old, enter 
prising and fat, a dupe and a wit, harmless and 
wicked, weak in principle and resolute by constitu 
tion, cowardly in appearance and brave in reality, 
a knave without malice, a liar without deceit, and 
a knight, a gentleman, and a soldier, without either 
dignity, decency, or honour. This is a character 
which, though it may be decompounded, could not, 
I believe, have been formed, nor the ingredients 
of it duly mingled, upon any receipt whatever ; it 
required the hand of Shakspere himself to give to 
every particular part a relish of the whole, and 
of the whole to every particular part; alike the 
same incongruous, identical Falstaff, whether to the 
grave Chief -justice he vainly talks of his youth 
and offers to caper for a thousand, or cries to Mrs. 

236 Life of Shakespeare 

Doll, ( I am old ! I am old ! ' although she is seated 
on his lap, and he is courting her for busses." 

It is almost certain that 2 Henry IV. was written 
immediately after 1 Henry IV., and before the entry 
of the latter on the Stationers' Registers, February 
25th, 1598 ; for that entiy shows that the name of 
Oldcastle, originally given to the fat knight in both 
plays, had already been changed to Falstaff. It 
was certainly written before Ben Jonson's Every 
Man out of his Humour, which was acted in 1599 ; 
for in that play Justice Silence is alluded to by 

The earliest edition of the play was a quarto 
printed in 1600 ; and in this the prefix "Old." was 
accidentally retained before one of the speeches of 
Falstaff (i. 2. 113) : " Very well, my lord, very well," 

No other edition of the play appears to have 
been issued before the publication of the folio of 
1623, in which it was probably printed either from 
a transcript of the original manuscript, or from a 
complete copy of the quarto collated with such 
a transcript. " It contains passages of considerable 
length which are not found in the quarto. Some 
of these are among the finest in the play, and are 
too closely connected with the context to allow of 
the supposition that they were later additions in 
serted by the author after the publication of the 
quarto. In the manuscript from which that edition 
was printed, these passages had been most likely 

The English Historical Plays 237 

omitted, or erased, in order to shorten the play for 
the stage." On the other hand, the quarto contains 
several passages which do not appear in the folio. 
Some of these were probably struck out by the 
author, and others by the Master of the Eevels. 

The play is inferior to 1 Henry IV. in dramatic 
interest, and has long disappeared from the stage. 
But as Furnivall remarks, " all continuations do fall 
off, and this is no exception to the rule. How are 
Hotspur and the first impressions of Falstaff to be 
equalled ? Even Shallow cannot make up for them. 
There 's a quieter tone, too, in this Part 7Z, though 
the rhetorical speeches are still kept up by North 
umberland and Mowbray. The King leads, not at 
the head of his army, but in his quiet progress to 
the grave." 

Henry V.j in the form in which we now have it, 
was first published in the folio of 1623, but a muti 
lated and incomplete quarto edition, probably com 
piled from short-hand notes taken at the theatre, 
was issued in 1600 and reprinted in 1602. 

The date of the play is fixed by a passage in the 
chorus of the last act : 

" Were now the general of our gracious empress 
As in good time he may from Ireland coming," etc. 

This evidently refers to Lord Essex, who went to 
Ireland, April 15, 1599, and returned to London, 
September 28, of the same year. Unless the passage 
was a later insertion, which is not probable, the 

238 Life of Shakespeare 

play must have been written between those dates. It 
is not mentioned by Meres in 1598 in the list given 
above, which, as we have seen, includes Henry IV. 

Henry V. was Shakespeare's ideal king, and his 
history as prince and as sovereign runs through 
three plays 1 and 2 Henry IV. and Henry V. 
The two former are really but one play, divided for 
the stage on account of its length ; and the latter 
continues the history of Prince Hal, who has been 
a prominent actor in the earlier parts of the trilogy. 
Similarly, the history of Henry IV. had begun in 
the play of Richard II. where Bolingbroke is per 
haps a more important personage than the weak 
monarch whose title he usurps, and who gives his 
name to the drama. That play prepares us for the 
right understanding of the King in Henry IV.; and 
the development of the Prince, his son, in the latter 
leads up to his presentation as sovereign in Henry 
V. The four plays should be read as a connected 
composition if we would fully appreciate the poet's 
plan and aim. 

The delineation of the Prince in Henry IV., 
which at first glance seems inconsistent with that 
of the King in Henry F., is in reality thoroughly 
in keeping therewith. At first we are inclined to 
say, with the Archbishop in the opening scene of 
Henry V. : 

" The courses of his youth promised it not. 
The breath no sooner left his father's body 

The English Historical Plays 239 

But that his wildness, mortified in him, 

Seem'd to die too ; yea, at that very moment 

Consideration, like an angel, came 

And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him, 

Leaving his body as a paradise 

To envelope and contain celestial spirits. 

Never was such a sudden scholar made ; 

Never came reformation in a flood 

With such a heady currance, scouring faults ; 

Nor never hydra-headed wilfulness 

So soon did lose his seat and all at once 

As in this king." 

But Shakespeare is careful that this remarkable 
change shall not appear like the sudden reform of 
the villain in the average modern melodrama. In 
the very first scene in which the Prince appears, the 
poet takes pains to show us his real character. He 
is introduced in the company of his wild friends, 
and joins them in planning the Gadshill robbery; 
but when they leave him the poet detains him on 
the stage for a soliloquy in which the true prince 
utters himself : 

" I know you all, and will awhile uphold 
The unyoked humour of your idleness ; 
Yet herein will I imitate the sun, 
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds 
To smother up his beauty from the world, 
That, when he please again to be himself, 
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at, 
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists 

240 Life of Shakespeare 

Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. 

If all the year were playing holidays, 

To sport would be as tedious as to work ; 

But when they seldom come, they wish'd-for come, 

And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. 

So, when this loose behaviour I throw off 

And pay the debt I never promised, 

By how much better than my word I am, 

By so much shall I falsify men's hopes ; 

And like bright metal on a sullen ground, 

My reformation, glittering o'er my fault, 

Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes 

Than that which hath no foil to set it off. 

I '11 so offend, to make offence a skill, 

Kedeeming time when men think least I will." 

This soliloquy has puzzled some of the critics 
and offended others. Furnivall says : " Prince Hal, 
afterwards Henry the Fifth, is Shakspere's hero in 
English, history. He takes not Cceur-de-lion, Ed 
ward the First or the Third, or the Black Prince 
of Wales, but Henry of Agincourt. See how he 
draws him by his enemy Vernon's mouth, how 
modestly he makes him challenge Hotspur, how 
generously treat that rival when he dies; how he 
makes him set Douglas free, praise Prince John's 
deed, save his father's life, give Falstaff the credit 
of Hotspur's death! Yet, on the other hand, he 
shows us him as the companion of loose-living,' 
debauched fellows, highway-robbers, thieves, and 
brothel-hunters, himself breaking the law, lying to 

The English Historical Plays 241 

the sheriff on their behalf. And what is the justifi 
cation, the motive for all this ? To astonish men, 
to win more admiration 

* So when this loose behaviour I throw off,' etc. 

(i. 2. 212 fol.). 

" Surely this is a great mistake of Shakspere's ; 
surely in so far as the prince did act from this 
motive, he was a charlatan and a snob. 7 ' 

When we are tempted to say that Shakespeare 
has made a mistake, it is well to pause and con 
sider whether the mistake is not ours rather than 
his. In this instance, it is clearly the critic, not 
the dramatist, who is at fault. Furnivall seems to 
have overlooked the exigencies of the stage soliloquy, 
which, while it is a device for unfolding to us the 
inmost thoughts and feelings of the person, does 
not in all cases present them in the exact form in 
which they exist in his mind and heart. Here, for 
example, we may readily admit all that Henry 
claims for himself, without supposing that he would 
have said it, even to himself, in the formal way 
in which the dramatist is compelled to give it. 
There is an element of sophistry in it, we may 
admit, but no snobbishness. The young man is 
not wholly forgetful of his rank and his responsi 
bilities. When his conscience pricks him for yield 
ing to the temptation to study low life in London, 
he excuses himself with the thought that the burden 
of these responsibilities is not yet laid upon his 

242 Life of Shakespeare 

shoulders. He justifies his present fooleries as the 
harmless whim of a young man who has nothing of 
importance to do; and he promises himself that 
when the call of duty comes he will obey it. Thus 
doing, he says that he shall appear like the sun 
breaking through clouds, the brighter for its tempo 
rary obscuration. 

This thought follows, not precedes, the conduct 
to which it refers; it is a comment upon it as it 
will strike others, not a reminiscence of the motive 
that prompted it. If, at the outset, he had de 
liberately planned his wild career with a view to 
the impression he now suggests it will make, it 
woulci have been a piece of contemptible stage 
trickery ; but we may be sure that Henry was in 
capable of thus shaping his behaviour for mere 
theatrical effect ; and Shakespeare was incapable of 
the blunder it would have been to represent him as 
doing it. 

As the poet approached his task in this final 
portion of the trilogy he must have felt the 
peculiar difficulties it involved. The title-page of 
the first edition of the play terms it a " chronicle 
history/' and, whether Shakespeare was responsible 
for this designation or not, it aptly expresses the 
character of the production. It is an epical treat 
ment of his subject, though cast in a dramatic 
mould. Like Homer, the poet begins by invoking 
the Muse, and, like the ancient poet, he dwells at 
times on details prosaic in themselves such as 

The English Historical Plays 243 

the grounds of Henry's title to the crown of France 
but which, though unpoetical, were an important 
part of the history^ and therefore interesting to his 
countrymen. The choruses, which, though they 
answer a purpose in bridging over the long intervals 
in the action, are not absolutely necessary, appear 
to have been due in part to this merely semi- 
dramatic method of composition. As has been well 
said, they are "a series of brief lyrical poems, for, 
though not lyrical in metre, they are strictly so in 
spirit, crowded with a quick succession of rapidly 
passing brilliant scenes, majestic images, glowing 
thoughts, and kindling words." 

The result of this peculiar treatment of the poet's 
materials is naturally unlike all his other dramas. 
As a recent critic has remarked, "a siege and a 
battle, with one bit of slight love-making, cannot 
form a drama, whatever amount of rhetorical patri 
otic speeches and comic relief are introduced." 
The king is really all the play ; it is a " magnificent 
monologue," and he the speaker of it. The other 
characters serve little purpose except to afford him 
breathing-spaces, and to set off his glory by con 
trast. In the preceding plays, as we have seen, we 
got, "under the veil of wildness," glimpses of his 
nobler nature. He was the "true prince" even 
when he played the fool for lack of anything better 
to do. Weary with the formality of court life, he 
sought relief and diversion in scenes of low life 
low, but with no shame about it filled with 

244 Life of Shakespeare 

characters worthless enough, but interesting as 
studies of human nature. The Prince mingled 
with them, but was not one of, them. He never 
forgot his royal destiny, never lost his true self, 
but let it lie latent, ready to awake when the call 
should come for action worthy of it. 

And now the prince to whose advent to the throne 
his father and all who were thoughtful for the weal 
of England looked forward with fear and anxiety, 
has become the king and what a change ! His 
prodigal habits drop from him like a jester's robe that 
he had assumed as a disguise, and the real man 
who had been masquerading in them stands forth 
" every inch a king " a king to whom the sturdiest 
republican might concede the divine right to rule, 
so completely do all royal gifts and graces unite 
in his character. He is profoundly conscious of 
his responsibilities and duties as a sovereign, yet 
not weakly sinking under them, but accepting the 
trust as from God, and doing the work as for God, 
relying on Him in battle, and rendering to Him the 
praise of the victory. This was, indeed, not the 
Henry of history ; but as an ideal hero, the perfect 
flower of chivalry and piety, the character is un 
rivalled in its way in Shakespeare's long gallery of 
manly portraiture. 

It may be added that Henry V. speaks more lines 
than any other character in Shakespeare. Besides 
1063 in this play (out of 3380) he has 616 in 
1 Henry IV. and 308 in 2 Henry IV., making 1987 in 

The English Historical Plays 245 

all. Falstaff comes next, having 719 in 1 Henry IV., 
688 in 2 Henry IV., and 488 in the Merry Wives of 
Windsor, or 1895 in all. Of characters that appear 
in only a single play, Hamlet comes first, with 1569 

It seemed best to discuss the plays in which Henry 
V. appears as prince and as king before taking up 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, though this play was 
written between 2 Henry IV. and Henry V. That 
it was written after 2 Henry IV. is evident from 
the fact that Falstaff in that play was originally 
called Oldcastle, but not in this one. It has been 
urged that it must have been produced before 
Henry V. in which FalstafPs death is recorded ; but 
it is not necessary to regard the Merry Wives as an 
integral part of the historical trilogy. If it was 
written at the request of Elizabeth, the dramatist 
would not have hesitated to resuscitate the knight 
for her gratification. It is more probable, however, 
that, as Eowe asserts, it was because she was "so 
well pleased with the admirable character of Fal 
staff: in the two parts of ' Henry the Fourth/ that 
she commanded him to continue it for one play 
more, and to show him in love ; " and if, as Dennis 
declared (in 1702), " she was so eager to see it acted 
that she commanded it to be finished in fourteen 
days," the dramatist would doubtless have post 
poned the completion of the trilogy in order to do 
it. Some critics doubt this story of the origin of 
the play, but the placing of the scene at Windsor, 

246 Life of Shakespeare 

and the complimentary allusions to Windsor Castle, 
favour the tradition that the play was written in 
obedience to a royal command. The story, given 
independently by Dennis and by Howe, was repeated 
in 1710 by Gildon, who is often referred to as a 
competent authority on theatrical history; and it 
was accepted without question by Pope, Theobald, 
and other of the early editors. 

Some of the more recent critics have been more 
skeptical ; but they are ably answered by Verplanck 
thus : " Yet, as Rowe relates his anecdote on the 
same authority with that on which most of the 
generally received facts of the poet's history are 
known, acknowledging his obligations to Betterton 
( for the most considerable passages ' of the biogra 
phy; as Betterton was then seventy-four years of 
age, and thus might have received the story directly 
from contemporary authority ; as Gildon was Better- 
ton's friend and biographer, and as Dennis (a learned 
acute man, of a most uninventive and matter-of-fact 
mind) told his story seven or eight years before, 

* with a difference/ yet without contradiction, so as 
to denote another and an independent source of 
evidence; as Pope, the rancorous enemy of poor 
Dennis, whom he and his contemporary wits have 

* damned to everlasting fame,' received the tradi 
tions without hesitation ; we have certainly, in the 
entire absence of any external or internal evidence 
to the contrary, as good a proof as any such insu 
lated piece of literary history could well require or 

The English Historical Plays 247 

receive, although it may not amount to such evi 
dence as might be demanded to establish some 
contested point of religious or legal or political 

The earliest edition of The Merry Wives was a 
quarto printed in 1602, with the following title- 
page : - 

"A | Most pleasaunt and | excellent conceited Co- 
| medie, of Syr John Falstaffe, and the | m'errie 
Wiues of Windsor. \ Entermixed with sundrie | 
variable and pleasing humors of Syr . Hugh \ the 
Welch Knight, Justice Shallow, and his | wise 
Cousin M. Slender. \ With the swaggering vaine of 
Auncient | Pistoll, and Corporall Nym. \ By William 
Shakespeare. \ As it hath bene diuers times Acted 
by the right Honorable | my Lord Chamberlaines 
servants Both before her | Maiestie, and else-where. 
| LONDON | Printed by T. C. for Arthur lohnson ; 
and are to be sold at | his shop in Powles Church 
yard, at the signe of the | Flower de Leuse and the 
Crowne. | 1602." 

A second quarto was published in 1619. These 
editions appear to be a pirated version of the play 
as first written, probably in 1599. 

This early sketch was afterwards revised and 
enlarged to about twice the original length; and 
this is the form in which it appears in the folio 
of 1623. Internal evidence shows that this revision 
was made after James came to the throne, and 
probably about 1605. 

248 Life of Shakespeare 

The critics have wasted much ink and ingenuity 
in trying to decide at what point in the career of 
Falstaff these Windsor adventures belong; but, as 
already suggested, we may consider the comedy 
as having a certain independence of the histories 
and not to be brought into chronological relations to 
them. As White remarks, " Shakespeare was not 
writing biography, even the biography of his own 
characters. He was a poet, but he wrote as a play 
wright ; and the only consistency to which he held 
himself, or can be held by others, is the consistency 
of dramatic interest." 

If we are to make a connected and consistent 
biography of Sir John out of the four plays, there 
is no alternative but to adopt the hypothesis of Ver- 
planck and some other critics who put the Windsor 
exploits before all the other experiences of the 
knight recorded by Shakespeare. Elizabeth may 
have induced the poet to write a play "with Sir 
John in it " in the role she proposed, but after com 
paring the new Sir John with the old we are con 
strained to say "this is not the man." At some 
uncertain period before we meet him in Eastcheap 
he may indeed have been capable of such fatuity, 
but he was too old a bird then to be caught with 
the chaff of the merry wives. 

Hartley Coleridge, in his Essays and Marginalia, 
remarks : " That Queen Bess should have desired to 
see Falstaff making love proves her to have been, as 
she was, a gross-minded old baggage. Shakespeare 

The English Historical Plays 249 

has evaded the difficulty with great skill. He knew 
that Falstaff could not be in love; and has mixed 
but a little, a very little, pruritus with his fortune- 
hunting courtship. But the Falstaff of the Merry 
Wives is not the Falstaff of Henry IV. It is a big- 
bellied impostor, assuming his name and style, or, 
at best, it is Falstaff in dotage. The Mrs. Quickly 
of Windsor is not mine hostess of the Boar's Head ; 
but she is a very pleasant, busy, good-natured, un 
principled old woman, whom it is impossible to be 
angry with. Shallow should not have left his seat 
in Gloucestershire and his magisterial duties. Ford's 
jealousy is of too serious a complexion for the rest 
of the play. The merry wives are a delightful pair. 
Methinks I see them, with their comely, middle-aged 
visages, their dainty white ruffs and toys, their half- 
witch-like conic hats, their full farthingales, their 
neat though not over-slim waists, their housewifely 
keys, their girdles, their sly laughing looks, their 
apple-red cheeks, their brows the lines whereon look 
more like the work of mirth than years. And sweet 
Anne Page she is a pretty little creature whom 
one would like to take on one's knee." It is note 
worthy that Maurice Morgann, in his essay on 
Falstaff, avoids the Merry Wives. 

Among the sources from which it has been sup 
posed that Shakespeare may have got some hints 
for the plot of the Merry Wives are two tales in 
Straparola's Le Tredici Piacevoli Notte, and a modi 
fied version of one of these, under the title of " The 

250 Life of Shakespeare 

Lovers of Pisa" in Tarleton's Newes out of Pur- 
gatorie, 1590 ; the tale of Bucciolo and Pietro Paulo 
in the Pecoronk of. Giovanni Florentine; and "The 
Fishwife's Tale of Brainford" from Westward for 
Smelts. This last, however, was probably not pub 
lished till 1620, though Malone refers to an edition 
of 1603. 

Whether Shakespeare found his plot in Italian or 
other literature, the play is thoroughly English. " It 
' smells April and May/ like Fenton. It has the 
bright healthy country air all through it : Windsor 
Park with its elms, the glad light-green of its 
beeches, its ferns, and deer. There is coursing and 
hawking, Datchet Mead, and the silver Thames, 
and though not 

< The white feet of laughing girls 
Whose sires have march'd to Rome,* 

yet those of stout, bare-legged, bare-armed English 
wenches plying their washing-trade. There 7 s a 
healthy moral as well : ( Wives may be merry and 
yet honest too. 7 The lewd court hanger-on, whose 
wit always mastered men, is outwitted and routed 
by Windsor wives " (Furnivall). 

The Taming of the Shrew, first printed, so far as 
we know, in the folio of 1623, is a play which prob 
ably belongs to this period, though the critics differ 
widely as to its exact date, some making it as early 
as 1594, others as late as 1603. The internal evi 
dence seems on the whole to favour putting it not 

The English Historical Plays 251 

later than 1597, and possibly a year or two earlier. 
The play is not mentioned by Meres in 1598 ; but 
this may be, as has been suggested, because he 
"affects a pedantic parallelism of numbers" and 
gives only six comedies to balance his six "trag 
edies," as he calls them, or because the play is 
Shakespeare's only in part. Craik and Hertzberg, 
however, endeavour to prove that the Love's Labour's 
Won in Meres's list is The Taming of the Shrew ; 
but the critics generally identify that play with the 
early version of All 's Well That Ends Well. 

The Taming of the Shrew is evidently an adapta 
tion of an earlier play published anonymously in 
1594 under the title of "A Pleasant Conceited His- 
torie, called The taming of a Shrew," which had 
been " sundry times acted by the Bight honorable 
the Earle of Pembrook his seruants." Fleay be 
lieves that this old play was written by Marlowe 
and Shakespeare in conjunction in 1589, but the 
critics generally agree that the latter had no hand 
in it. They also agree that somebody beside Shake 
speare had a hand in the revision of the play. The 
most plausible theory, on the whole, is that of Fur- 
nivall and Dowden, who believe that The Taming of 
The Shrew is Shakespeare's adaptation, not of the 
original Taming, of a Shrew, but of an enlarged 
version of that play made by some unknown writer. 
As Furnivall puts it, "an adapter, who used at 
least ten bits of Marlowe in it, first recast the old 
play, and then Shakspere put into the recast the 

252 Life of Shakespeare 

scenes in which. Katherina, Petruchio, and Grumio 
appear." Dowden remarks : " In The Taming of the 
Shrew we may distinguish three parts : (1) the hu 
morous Induction, in which Sly, the drunken tinker, 
is the chief person ; (2) a comedy of character, the 
Shrew and her tamer Petruchio being the hero and 
heroine; (3) a comedy of intrigue the story of 
Bianca and her rival lovers. Now the old play of 
'A Shrew ? contains, in a rude form, the scenes 
of the Induction^ and the chief scenes in which 
Petruchio and Katherina (named by the original 
writer Ferando and Kate) appear; but nothing in 
this old play corresponds with the intrigues of 
Bianca' s disguised lovers. It is, however, in the 
scenes connected with these intrigues that Shak- 
spere's hand is least apparent. It may be said that 
Shakspere's genius goes in and out with the person of 
Katherina. We would therefore conjecturally assig'n 
the intrigue-comedy which is founded upon Gas- 
coigne's Supposes, a translation of Ariosto's I Sup- 
positi to the adapter of the old play, reserving 
for Shakspere a title to those scenes in the main 
enlarged from the play of f A Shrew ? in which 
Katherina, Petruchio, and Grumio are speakers." 

Grant White also recognizes three hands in the 
play as it stands : " The first appears in the struc 
ture of the plot, and in the incidents and the dia 
logue of most of the minor scenes ; to the last must 
be assigned the greater part of the love business 
between Bianca and her two suitors; while to 

The English Historical Plays 253 

Shakespeare belong the strong, clear characteriza 
tion, the delicious humour, and the rich verbal 
colouring of the recast Induction, and all the scenes 
in which Katherina and Petruchio and Grumio are 
the prominent figures, together witfy the general 
effect produced by scattering lines and words and 
phrases here and there, and removing others else 
where, throughout the rest of the play." 

This last point seems to me an important one; 
and it seems to explain the difficulty that some of 
the critics have had in deciding just how much 
Shakespeare had to do with certain parts of the 
present play. He rewrote considerable portions of 
the earlier one and retouched the rest. 

The sources of the plot appear to be limited to 
the old play and Gascoigne's Supposes, already men 
tioned. The latter was " englished " from Ariosto 
in 1566. The story of the Induction has been 
traced as far back as the Thousand and One Nights ; 
and Mr. Lane conjectures that it is founded on 
fact. It has been repeated in various languages 
and at various times. The old ballad of The Frolic 
some Duke, or the Tinker's Good Fortune , in Percy's 
Reliques may be mentioned as an illustration. 

The comic parts of the old play have considerable 
merit, but the serious or sentimental portions are 
generally poor, sometimes very poor. Shakespeare 
helped himself freely to the former where they 
suited his purpose, but the latter he used scarcely 
at all. For instance, in iv. 3 and iv. 5 he followed 

254 Life of Shakespeare 

the old play quite closely; and so, too, in the final 
scene until we come to Kate's long speech (136- 
179), where he gives us something all his own and 
in keeping with the character, instead of the pedan 
tic homily on- the creation of the world and of man, 
with which the earlier Kate is absurdly made to 
address her sisters. This is but one illustration out 
of many that might be cited to show how Shake 
speare has bettered the characterization of the old 
play, not only by making the personages consistent 
with themselves, but 'also by lifting them to a 
higher plane of humanity. Kate, "curst" though 
she be, is not the vulgar vixen the earlier play 
wright made her ; and Petruchio, if " not a gentle 
man," judged by the standard of our day, is much 
nearer being one than his prototype Ferando. The 
two Kates are tamed by the very same methods, but 
in the case of the first we miss all the subtle touches 
that show the result to be a genuine "moral re 
form," and make us feel that the Shrew has learned 
to love her conqueror as well as to respect him 
" taming her wild heart to his loving hand," as Bea 
trice expresses it. 


IN the closing years of the sixteenth century, after 
finishing the English historical plays (not counting 
Henry VIII. which was much later, and his only in 
part), Shakespeare returned to comedy and produced 
his three most brilliant works in that line, As You 
Like It } Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth 
Night. All three appear to have been written be 
tween the summer of 1598 and the end of 1600, 
but in what order it is impossible to determine. 
The critics generally agree in regarding Twelfth 
Night as the last of the series, but there is some 
question whether As You Like It or Much Ado was 
the first. 

These latter plays were both entered in the 
Stationers' Eegisters on the 4th of August, 1600. 
The year is not specified in the record, but is 
proved to be 1600 by other evidence in the Kegister. 
Henry V. was entered on the same date, together 
with Jons on' s Every Man in His Humour; but all 
are marked in the margin "to be staied." Why 
this restriction was imposed it is impossible to 


256 Life of Shakespeare 

decide; but the prohibition was soon removed, at 
least with regard to Henry V. and Much Ado, the 
former being duly licensed for publication on the 
14th, and the latter on the 23d of August ; and edi 
tions of both were issued before the end of the 
year. As You Like It and Twelfth Night were not 
printed, so far as we know, until they appeared in 
the folio of 1623. 

For myself I like to regard As You Like It as 
the earliest of the plays in this " golden prime of 
comedy," written by the dramatist when the histori 
cal series was just finished, and perhaps as a rest 
for his imagination the recreation that is gained 
by taking up a wholly different kind of literary 
work. The poet escaped for a season from camps 
and courts, and took a delightful vacation in the 
Forest of Arden. History was for the time for 
gotten, and free scope was given to imagination 
amid the scenes of a purely ideal life an Arcadia 
where they "fleet the time carelessly as they did 
in the golden world. 7 ' The result is this " sweetest 
and happiest of Shakespeare's comedies," a pastoral 
drama in which we have almost unbroken sunshine, 
no more of shadow being admitted than serves to 
give variety to the scene. It is not the shadow that 
forebodes the coming of night or of tempest; but 
rather like that of the passing summer cloud, or 
like that of the green canopy of a pleasant wood, 
falling, flecked with sunlight sifted through the 
leaves, upon the velvet sward below. No one suffers 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy " 257 

seriously or for any great length of time. The 
banished Duke is only the happier for his exile, 
and exults in his escape from the artificial restraints 
of the court. In the end he is restored to his rank 
and position ; and Kosalind, Celia, and the rest, who 
are made temporarily uncomfortable by the banish 
ment of tjie Duke and other causes, soon forget 
their troubles in the forest, and are all happy at 
last. Nobody could be really miserable in that 
Forest of Arden. No matter what griefs and anx 
ieties one brought thither, these soon vanished 
and were forgotten in "the charmed atmosphere." 
Things might not be entirely to one's mind at first, 
but one felt that they must soon become " as you 
like it." 

The play is not mentioned by Meres, whose Pal- 
ladis Tamia was published in September, 1598; 
and it contains a quotation (iii. 5. 81) from Mar 
lowe's Hero and Leander, the earliest known edition 
of which appeared in the same year. We may 
therefore conclude, as nearly all the critics agree, 
that As You Like It was written between Septem 
ber, 1598, and August, 1600; probably in the year 

Shakespeare was chiefly indebted for the story of 
the play to a novel by Thomas Lodge, published in 
1590 under the title of " Eosalynde, Euphues Golden 
Legacie ; found after his death in his Cell at Silexe- 
dra, Bequeathed to Philautus sonnes noursed up 
with their father in England. Fetcht from the 

258 Life of Shakespeare 

Canaries. By T. L., gent." This book was re 
printed in 1592, and eight editions are known to 
have appeared before 1643. 

Lodge seems to have taken some of the incidents 
of his novel from The Cokes Tale of Gamelyn, which 
is found in a few of the later manuscripts of the 
Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, but which the best 
editors of that poet believe to be the production of 
another writer. Furness believes that the story 
had been dramatized before the date of the play, 
and that Shakespeare made some use of the earlier 
drama, but there is no external or internal evidence 
to support this theory. Grant White is probably 
right in regarding the Hymen episode in the last 
scene as an interpolation, like the Hecate passages 
in Macbeth and the Vision in Cymbeline. It will be 
observed that it makes an awkward break in the 
dialogue, which would run along very naturally 
without it. 

Charles Lamb used to call Love's Labour's Lost the 
"Comedy of Leisure," because its characters not 
only "led purely ornamental lives" but were well 
content to do so, and, having nothing to do, did it 
agreeably ; but, as Verplanck remarks, he might have 
given the title in a higher sense to As You Like It, 
where the pervading feeling is that of a refined and 
tasteful, yet simple and unaffected throwing off the 
stiff "lendings" of artificial society; and this is 
done by those who had worn those trappings with 
ease and grace. The humour too is toned down to 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy" 259 

suit the general impression, being odd, fanciful, gay, 
and whimsical, without much connection with the 
more substantial absurdities of the real "worka 
day world." 

There is a tradition that Shakespeare himself 
played the part of Adam in As You Like It. Will 
iam Oldys, who (about the middle of 'the eighteenth 
century) was collecting materials for a Life of 
Shakespeare, gives one version of the story thus: 
"One of Shakespeare's younger brothers [probably 
Gilbert], who lived to a good old age, even some 
years, as I compute, after the restoration of King 
Charles the Second, would in his younger days 
come to London to visit his brother Will, as he 
called him, and be a spectator of him as an actor in 
some of his own plays. This custom, as his broth 
er's fame enlarged, and his dramatick entertain 
ments grew the greatest support of our principal 
if not of all our theatres, he continued, it seems, so 
long after his brother's death as even to the latter 
end of his own life. The curiosity at this time of 
the most noted actors to learn something from him 
of his brother, etc., they justly held him in the 
highest veneration j and it may be well believed, as 
there was besides a kinsman and descendant of the 
family, who was then a celebrated actor among 
them, this opportunity made them greedily inquisi 
tive into every little circumstance, more especially 
in his dramatick character, which his brother could 
relate of him. But he, it seems, was so stricken in 

260 Life of Shakespeare 

years, and possibly his memory so weakened with 
infirmities, which might make him the easier pass 
for a man of weak intellects, that he could give 
them but little light into their enquiries ; and all 
that could be recollected from him of his brother 
Will in that station was the faint, general, and al 
most lost ideas he had of having once seen him act 
a part in one of his own comedies, wherein, being to 
personate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, 
and appeared so weak and drooping and unable to 
walk, that he was forced to be supported and car 
ried by another person to a table, at which he was 
seated among some company who were eating, and 
one of them sung them a song." 

According to E-owe, the dramatist played "the 
Ghost in his own Hamlet" John Davies, of Here 
ford, in his Scourge of Folly (1610) says that he 
"played some kingly parts in sport." His name 
heads the list of those who took part in the first 
performance of Ben Jonson's Every Man in His 
Humour (1598). In the list of "the principall 
actors in all these pi ayes," prefixed to the folio of 
1623, his name is also placed first, but perhaps only 
because he was the author of the plays. 

Much Ado About Nothing was first published in 
quarto form in 1600, but was not reprinted until it 
appeared in the folio of 1623. The printers of the 
latter seem to have used a copy of the quarto be 
longing to the library of the theatre and corrected 
for the purposes of the stage j but the changes are 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy" 261 

mostly very slight and seldom for the better. In 
iv. 2- "Kemp" is prefixed to most of the speeches 
of Dogberry, and " Cowley " or " Couley " to those 
of Verges. These are the names of actors of the 
time, and were probably inserted in the stage copy 
for their convenience in learning their parts. With 
the fourth speech in this scene we find the prefix 
"Andrew" a name that cannot be identified with 
that of any comic actor of the period ; but perhaps, 
as Halliwell-Phillipps suggests, it was the familiar 
appellation of some one in the company. 

As the play is not mentioned in Meres's list, 
while, according to the title-page of 1600, it had 
then been " sundrie times publikely acted," it was 
probably written in 1599. 

The earlier incidents of the serious portion of the 
plot may have been taken from the story of Ario- 
dante and Ginevra in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso 
(canto v.) ; where Polinesso, in order to revenge 
himself on the princess Ginevra (who has rejected 
his suit and pledged her troth to Ariodante), in 
duces her attendant Dalinda to personate the prin 
cess, and to appear at night on a balcony to which 
he ascends by a rope-ladder in sight of Ariodante, 
whom he has stationed there to witness the infidel 
ity of Ginevra. A translation of this story was 
entered on the Stationers' Eegisters in 1566 ; and in 
1582 a play entitled "Ariodante and Genevora" 
was performed before the Queen "by Mr. Mulcas- 
ter's children." Spenser had also introduced the 

262 Life of Shakespeare 

story, with some variations, in the Faerie Queene 
(ii. 4. 17 f ol.), and this part of the poem was pub 
lished in 1590. 

It is more probable, however, that Shakespeare 
drew this part of his materials from the 22d Novel 
of Bandello, which had been translated into French 
by Belleforest in his Histoires Tragiques, and prob 
ably also into English, though the version is not 
extant. In Bandello's book, as in the play, the 
scene is laid at Messina ; the father of the slandered 
girl is Lionato ; and the friend of her lover is Don 
Piero, or Pedro. How closely the poet has followed 
the novel will be seen from the outline of the latter 
given by Staunton : " Don Piero of Arragon returns 
from a victorious campaign, and, with "the gallant 
cavalier Timbreo di Cardona, is at Messina. Tim- 
breo falls in love with Fenicia, the daughter of 
Lionato di Lionati, a gentleman of Messina, and, 
like Claudio in the play, courts her by proxy. He 
is successful in his suit, and the lovers are be 
trothed ; but the course of true love is impeded by 
one Girondo, a disappointed admirer of the lady, 
who determines to prevent the marriage. In pur 
suance of this object, he insinuates to Timbreo that 
Fenicia is false, and offers to show him a stranger 
scaling her chamber window. The unhappy lover 
consents to watch ; and at the appointed hour 
Girondo and a servant in the plot pass him dis 
guised, and the latter is seen to ascend a ladder 
and enter the house of Lionato. In an agony of 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy" 263 

rage and jealousy, Timbreo in the morning accuses 
the lady of disloyalty, and rejects the alliance. 
Fenicia falls into a swoon j a dangerous illness 
supervenes; and the father, to stifle all rumours 
hurtful to her fame, removes her to a retired house 
of his brother, proclaims her death, and solemnly 
performs her funeral obsequies. Girondo is now 
struck with remorse at having ' slandered to death ' 
a creature so innocent and beautiful. He confesses 
his treachery to Timbreo, and both determine to 
restore the reputation of the lost one, and undergo 
any penance her family may impose. Lionato is 
merciful, and requires only from Timbreo that he 
shall wed a lady whom he recommends, and whose 
face shall be concealed till the marriage ceremony 
is over. The denouement is obvious. Timbreo es 
pouses the mysterious fair one, and finds in her his 
injured, loving, and beloved Fenicia." 

The comic portion of the play is Shakespeare's 
own, as indeed is everything else in it except this 
mere skeleton of tragic incident. Claudio and Hero, 
Don Pedro and Don John, are as really his own 
creations as Benedick and Beatrice, Dogberry and 
Verges, who have no part in Bandello's novel or 
Ariosto's poem. 

It is a tribute of no slight significance to Shake 
speare's skill in the delineation of character that we 
instinctively regard the personages in his mimic 
world as real men and women, and are not satisfied 
to think of them only as they appear on the stage, 

264 Life of Shakespeare 

We like to follow them after they have left the scene, 
and to speculate concerning their subsequent history. 
This is well illustrated by not a few of the criticisms 
on the present play. The commentators are not will 
ing to dismiss Benedick and Beatrice when the drama 
closes, without discussing the question whether they 
probably "lived happily ever after." 

Mrs. Jameson says: "On the whole we dis 
miss Benedick and Beatrice to their matrimonial 
bonds rather with a sense of amusement than a feel 
ing of congratulation or sympathy; rather with an 
acknowledgment that they are well -matched and 
worthy of each other, than with any well-founded 
expectation of their domestic tranquillity. If, as 
Benedick asserts, they are both 'too wise to woo 
peaceably,' it may be added that both are too wise, 
too witty, and too wilful to live peaceably together. 
We have some misgivings about Beatrice some 
apprehensions that poor Benedick will not escape 
the ' predestinated scratched face,' which he had 
foretold to him who should win and wear this 
quick-witted and pleasant-spirited lady; yet when 
we recollect that to the wit and imperious temper of 
Beatrice is united a magnanimity of spirit which 
would naturally place her far above all selfishness, 
and all paltry struggles for power when we per 
ceive, in the midst of her sarcastic levity and volu 
bility of tongue, so much of generous affection, and 
such a high sense of female virtue and honour, we 
are inclined to hope the best." 

" The Golden Prime of Comedy " 265 

The poet Campbell, in his introduction to the 
play, remarks: "Mrs. Jameson concludes with hop 
ing that Beatrice will live happy with Benedick, 
but I have no such hope ; and my final anticipation 
in reading the play is the certainty that Beatrice 
will provoke her Benedick to give her much and 
just conjugal castigation. She is an odious woman. 
... I once knew such a pair. The lady was a per 
fect Beatrice; she railed hypocritically at wedlock 
before her marriage, and with bitter sincerity after 
it. ... Beatrice is not to be compared, but con 
trasted, with Eosalind, who is equally witty; but 
the sparkling sayings of Rosalind are like gems 
upon her head at court, and like dewdrops on her 
bright hair in the woodland forest." 

Verplanck, after quoting this passage, comments 
upon it thus : " We extract this criticism, partly in 
deference to Campbell's general exquisite taste and 
reverent appreciation of Shakespeare's genius, and 
partly as an example of the manner in which acci 
dental personal associations influence taste and opin 
ion. . . . Beatrice's faults are such as ordinarily 
spring from the consciousness of talent and beauty, 
accompanied with the high spirits of youth and 
health, and the play of a lively fancy. Her bril 
liant intellectual qualities are associated with strong 
and generous feelings, high confidence in female 
truth and virtue, warm attachment to her friends, 
and quick, undisguised indignation at wrong and 
injustice. There is the rich material which the 

266 Life of Shakespeare 

experience and the sorrows of maturer life, the 
affection and the duties of the wife and the mother, 
can gradually shape into the noblest forms of ma 
tronly excellence ; and such, we doubt not, was the 
result shown in the married life of Beatrice." 

Furnivall says on the same subject: "Beatrice is 
the sauciest, most piquant, sparkling, madcap girl 
that Shakspere ever drew, and yet a loving, deep- 
natured, true woman too. . . . She gives her heart 
to Benedick. . . . The two understand one another. 
We all know what it means. The brightest, sunni 
est married life, comfort in sorrow, doubling of 
joy. . . . The poet Campbell's story of his pair was 
an utter mistake : he never knew a Beatrice." 

Gervinus, after discussing the question at consid 
erable length, and with due German profundity, 
comes to the same wise conclusion: "We have 
no reason to be anxious either for the constancy 
or for the peaceableness of this pair. The poet 
has bestowed upon them two names of happy 

Charles Cowden-Clarke, while he defends Beatrice 
against Campbell, strangely expresses the opinion 
that she does not really love Benedick. Their 
union, he thinks, was " like ninety-nine hundred ths 
of the marriages that take place in society," one of 
mere friendship rather than strong mutual affection. 
He quotes in support of this view what Beatrice 
says in the arbour after being led to believe that 
Benedick is in love with her: 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy " 267 

And, Benedick, love on ; I will requite thee, 
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand. 

If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee 
To bind our loves up in a holy band ; 

For others say thou dost deserve, and I 

Believe it better than reportingly." 

He adds: "There is no avowal of passion, me- 
thinks, in that speech. It is merely an acquiescent 
one ( If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite 
thee ' to tie the knot." So good a critic as Cowden- 
Clarke should have remembered that kindness in 
Shakespeare, as in other writers of the time, is often 
used in a much stronger sense than now. Schmidt, 
in his Lexicon, puts fully one-third of the instances 
in which the poet uses the word under the head of 
"affection, tenderness, love;" and this passage is 
very properly one of the number. Another striking 
one is in the 152d Sonnet : 

" For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness, 
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy; " 

where the second line explains the first. In this 
speech of Beatrice kindness is evidently used for 
variety of expression, the word love, in one form or 
another, occurring in every one of the four lines. 
The speech is really full of tender passion. It may 
strike one at first as too strong an outburst of affec 
tion for so sudden a one and from the sarcastic 
Beatrice withal ! But, as Mrs. Jameson and others 

268 Life of Shakespeare 

have noted, it was evident that Beatrice was ready 
to fall in love with Benedick at the opening of the 
play. Now that she believes him to be in love with 
her, the response of her own heart is prompt and 
unrestrained. No utterance of affection could be 
more impulsive or more earnest. " Contempt, fare 
well ! and maiden pride, adieu ! " are almost her 
first words ; and then follows that spontaneous and 
clearly joyous apostrophe, 

" And, Benedick, love on ; I will requite thee, 
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand." 

And at once she goes on to the pledge of marriage, 
which no woman who did not love would have been 
so quick to do. Juliet's prompt surrender of her 
self to Romeo, when she is assured of his love, is 
not more sudden and unreserved. She is not more 
ready than Beatrice to look forward to the marriage 
which is to be the crown and consummation of that 

When Don Pedro first suggested that Beatrice 
would be an excellent wife for Benedick, Leonato 
replied : " Lord ! if they were but a week married 
they would talk themselves mad." Some of the 
critics, as we have seen, have been confident that it 
was an unfortunate match ; but, for myself, I have 
no doubt that it was one of the marriages made in 
heaven, and happy to the end. 

The earliest reference to Twelfth Night that has 
been found is in a manuscript diary of John Man- 

" The Golden Prime of Comedy " 269 

ninghain, a member of the Middle Temple, which is 
preserved in the British Museum. The passage reads 
thus : 

" Feb. 2, 1601 [-2]. At our feast, wee had a play 
called Twelve Night, or What You Will. Much like 
the Comedy of Errors, or Menechmi in Plautus ; but 
most like and neere to that in Italian called In- 
ganni. A good practise in it to make the steward 
beleive his lady widdowe was in love with him, by 
counterfayting a letter as from his lady in generall 
termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and 
prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparaile, etc., 
and then when he came to practise, making him be 
leive they tooke him to be mad." 

As the play is not in Meres's list, we may infer 
that it was written between September, 1598, when 
that book appeared, and February, 1602. It is 
assigned by the majority of the critics to 1600 or 

There are two Italian plays entitled GV Inganni 
(The Deceits), published in the latter part of the 
16th centurjr, and containing incidents somewhat 
resembling those of Twelfth Night. In one of them 
the sister who assumes male apparel bears the name 
Cesare, which may have suggested Shakespeare's 
Cesario. A third Italian play, GP Ingannati, has 
even a closer likeness to Twelfth Night, and in its 
induction we find the name Malevolti, of which 
Malvolio may be a variation. It has been recently 
discovered (see the preface to Furness's "New Vari- 

ijo Life of Shakespeare 

orum " edition of the play) that a Latin translation 
of this Italian drama, under the title of Lcelia (the 
name of the heroine), was performed at Queen's Col 
lege, Cambridge, in 1590, and again in 1598. Shake 
speare's "small Latin" was large enough for the 
reading of this play, and he may have been indebted 
to it rather than any other source that has been sug 
gested. It has been generally assumed that he must 
have read and used the version of the story by 
Barnaby Riche, in his History ofApolonius and Silla, 
included in Riche His Farewell to Militarie Profes 
sion ; but Furness doubts that Shakespeare ever 
read the "coarse repulsive novel." The resem 
blances between the story and the play are few and 
slight. "Let nothing induce us to contaminate 
the spotless Viola and the haughty Olivia by the 
remotest hint of a kinship with the weak Silla and 
the brazen Julina." 

Prom whichever source the dramatist derived the 
hint of his plot, he owed to it only a few incidents 
and the mere skeleton of some of the characters. 
Malvolio, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Fabian, the Clown, 
and Maria are entirely his own creation ; as indeed 
all the other actors in the drama are in all that gives 
them life and individuality. 

"Twelfth Night was, in the olden times, the 
season of universal festivity of masques, pageants, 
feasts, and traditionary sports. This comedy then 
would not disappoint public expectation, when it 
was found to contain a delightful combination of 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy" 271 

the delicate fancy and romantic sentiment of the 
poetic masque, with a crowd of revelling, laughing, 
or laugh-creating personages, whose truth all would 
recognise, and whose spirit and fun no gravity could 
resist. He gave to these the revelling spirit, and 
the exaggeration of character necessary for the 
broadest comic effect, but still kept them from be 
coming mere buffoon masquers by a truth of por 
traiture which shows them all to be drawn from 
real life. Malvolio the matchless Malvolio 
was not only new in his day to comic delineation 
of any sort, but I believe has never since had his 
fellow or his copy in any succeeding play, poem, 
essay, or novel. The gravity, the acquirement, the 
real talent and accomplishment of the man, all 
made ludicrous, fantastical, and absurd by his in 
tense vanity, is as true a conception as it is original 
and droll, and its truth may still be frequently 
attested by actual comparison with real Malvolios, 
to be found everywhere, from humble domestic life 
up to the high places of learning, of the State, and 
even of the Church. Sir Toby certainly comes out 
of the same associations where the poet saw Falstaff 
hold his revels. He is not Sir John, nor a fainter 
sketch of him, yet with an odd sort of family like 
ness to him. Dryden and other dramatists have 
felicitated themselves upon success in grouping to 
gether their comic underplots with their more heroic 
personages. But here all, grave and gay, the lovers, 
the laughers, and the laughed-at, are made to har- 

Life of Shakespeare 

monise in one scene and one common purpose " 

Twelfth Night is the brightest and sunniest of 
the three plays of Shakespeare's " golden prime of 
comedy." As You Like It and Much Ado both have 
a larger admixture of the serious and sentimental, 
but that element in Twelfth Night is of the most 
delicate and ethereal character. The play was 
meant, as the title indicates, for the climax of the 
holiday season, when the sport and revelry are at 
their height, and sober occupations and serious 
interests are laid aside and forgotten. Only enough 
of the shadow of the workaday world is left to form 
a background to the lively picture, and to remind 
us that life is not all pleasure and pastime, but 
that after the Twelfth Night revels are over, the 
morning brings back its duties and responsibilities 
and "man goeth forth unto his labour until the 

The Hall of the Middle Temple (see page 127 
above), where the play was acted in 1602, was built 
in 1572. It is one hundred feet long, forty-two feet 
wide, and forty-seven feet high; and the roof is 
the best specimen of Elizabethan architecture in 
London. The exterior has been modified consider 
ably in more recent times, but the interior has 
suffered only slight changes since Shakespeare's 

Hawthorne, in his English Note-Books, gives the 
following description of the hall: "Truly it is 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy " 273 

a most magnificent apartment ; very lofty, so lofty, 
indeed, that the antique roof is quite hidden, as 
regards all its details, in the sombre gloom that 
broods under its rafters. The hall is lighted by 
four great windows on each of the two sides, 
descending halfway from the ceiling to the floor, 
leaving all beneath enclosed by oaken panelling, 
which on three sides is carved with escutcheons 
of such members of the society as have held the 
office of reader. There is likewise in a large recess 
or transept a great window occupying the full 
height of the hall and splendidly emblazoned with 
the arms of the Templars who have attained to 
the dignity of Chief -justices. The other windows 
are pictured, in like manner, with coats of arms 
of local dignities connected with the Temple; and 
besides all these there are arched lights, high to 
wards the roof, at either end, full of richly and 
chastely coloured glass; and all the illumination 
that the great hall had came through these glorious 
panes, and they seemed the richer for the sombre- 
ness in which we stood. I cannot describe, or even 
intimate, the effect of this transparent glory, glow 
ing down upon us in the gloomy depth of the hall. 
The screen at the lower end is of carved oak, very 
dark and highly polished, and as old as Queen 
Elizabeth's time. ... I am reluctant to leave this 
hall without expressing how grave, how grand, how 
sombre, and how magnificent I felt it to be. As 
regards historical associations, it was a favourite 

274 Life of Shakespeare 

dancing-hall of Queen Elizabeth, and Sir Christopher 
Hatton danced himself into her good graces there." 
The feasts of Christmas, Halloween, Candlemas, 
and Ascension were formerly celebrated here with 
great magnificence. A Master of the Bevels was 
chosen, and the Lord Chancellor, Judges, and 
Benchers opened the sports by dancing thrice 
around the sea-coal fire. 

" Full oft within the spacious walls, 

When he had fifty winters o'er him, 
My grave Lord Keeper led the brawls ; 
The Seal and Maces danced before him." 

This judicial foolery was satirized by Bucking 
ham in The Rehearsal, by Prior in his Alma, and 
by Donne in his Satires ; and Pope has his fling at 
it in the Dunciad : 

" The judge to dance, his brother serjeant calls." 

' It was in this hall at dinner-time that Mr. 
Richard Martin, the Bencher to whom Ben Jonson 
dedicated his Poetaster, was thrashed by Sir John 
Davies, who for this display of unruly temper was 
expelled from the society. 

There can be little doubt that Julius Ccesar 
belongs to this period. It was first printed in the 
folio of 1623, but was certainly written before 1601, 
when it is alluded to in Weever's Mirror of Martyrs, 
printed in that year, as follows : 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy " 275 

The many -headed multitude were drawne 
By Brutus' speech, that Caesar was ambitious ; 
When eloquent Mark Antonie had showne 
His vertues, who but Brutus then was vicious ? " 

This was probably written in 1599, as the author 
in his dedication says : " This poem, which I present 
to your learned view, some two yeares ago was 
made fit for the print." The allusion cannot be 
to Plutarch, who does not give the two speeches. 
Those which are found in Appian, of whom an 
English translation was published in 1578, have 
no points of resemblance to Shakespeare's. 

There were earlier plays on the same subject. 
One in Latin, entitled "Epilogus Csesaris inter- 
fecti," had been written as early as 1582, by Dr. 
Kichard Eedes, and acted at Christ Church College, 
Oxford. This was very likely the drama referred 
to in Hamlet (iii. 2. 103 f ol.) : 

"Hamlet. My lord, you played once i' th' university, 
you say? 

Polonius. That did I, my lord, and was accounted 
a good actor. 

Hamlet. What did you enact ? 

Polonius. I did enact Julius Csesar : I was killed i' th' 
Capitol; Brutus killed me." 

Gosson also, in his Schoole of Abuse (1579), refers to 
plays on the subject of Ccesar and Pompey (Ward). 
A Julius Ccesar was acted at Whitehall on the 1st 
of February, 1562; and a Tragedy of Ccesar and 

276 Life of Shakespeare 

Pompey, or Ccesar's Revenge appears, according to 
Craik, "to have been produced in 1594," though, 
the earliest dated edition (mentioned by Malone) 
is of 1607. 

But the only source to which Shakespeare appears 
to have been indebted was Sir Thomas North's ver 
sion of Plutarch's Lives (translated from the French 
of Amyot), first published in 1579. He has followed 
his authority closely, not only in the main incidents, 
but often in the minutest details of the action. 
This has been well stated by Gervinus in his 
Shakespeare Commentaries: "The component parts 
of th3 drama are borrowed from the biographies of 
Brutus and Caesar in such a manner that not only 
the historical action in its ordinary course, but also 
the single characteristic traits in incidents and 
speeches, nay, even single expressions and words, 
are taken from Plutarch; even such as are not 
anecdotal or of an epigrammatic nature, even such 
as one unacquainted with Plutarch would consider 
in form and manner to be quite Shakespearian, and 
which have not unfrequently been quoted as his 
peculiar property, testifying to the poet's deep 
knowledge of human nature. From the triumph 
over Pompey (or rather over his sons), the silencing 
of the two tribunes, and the crown offered at the 
Lupercalian feast, until Caesar's murder, and from 
thence to the battle of Philippi and the closing 
words of Antony, which are in part exactly as 
they were delivered, all in this play is essentially 

" The Golden Prime of Comedy " 277 

Plutarch. The omens of Caesar's death, the warn 
ings of the augur and of Artemidorus, the absence 
of the heart in the animal sacrificed, Calpurnia's 
dream ; the peculiar traits of Caesar's character, his 
superstition regarding the touch of barren women 
in the course, his remarks about thin people like 
Cassius ; all the circumstances about the conspiracy 
where no oath was taken, the character of Ligarius, 
the withdrawal of Cicero; the whole relation of 
Portia to Brutus, her words, his reply, her subse 
quent anxiety and death; the circumstances of 
Caesar's death, the very arts and means of Decius 
Brutus to induce him to leave home, all the 
minutest particulars of his murder, the behaviour 
of Antony and its result, the murder of the poet 
Cinna; further on, the contention between the re 
publican friends respecting Lucius Pella and the 
refusal of the money, the dissension of the two con 
cerning the decisive battle, their conversation about 
suicide, the appearance of Brutus' s evil genius, the 
mistakes in the battle, its double issue, its repeti 
tion, the suicide of both friends, and Cassius' s 
death by the same sword with which he killed 
Caesar all is taken from Plutarch's narrative, 
from which the poet had only to omit whatever 
destroyed the unity of the action." 

It is evident, as Craik notes, that the character 
and history of Caesar had taken a strong hold of 
Shakespeare's imagination. There is perhaps no 
other historical personage who is so often alluded 

ij 8 Life of Shakespeare 

to in the plays. After quoting illustrative passages 
from As You Like It, 2 Henry IV., Hertry V., the 
three parts of Henry VL, Richard IIL 9 Hamlet, 
and Cymbeline, Craik remarks: "These passages, 
taken altogether, and some of them more particu 
larly, will probably be thought to afford a con 
siderably more comprehensive representation of 
' the mighty Julius ' than the play which bears his 
name. We cannot be sure that that play was so 
entitled by Shakespeare. 'The Tragedy of Julius 
Caesar,' or 'The Life and Death of Julius Caesar,' 
would describe no more than the half of it. Caesar's 
part terminates with the opening of act iii. ; after 
that, on to the end, we have nothing more of him 
but his dead body, his ghost, and his memory. The 
play might more fitly be called after Brutus than 
after Caesar. And still more remarkable is the 
partial delineation that we have of the man. We 
have a distinct exhibition of little else beyond his 
vanity and arrogance, relieved and set off by his 
good nature or affability. He is brought before 
us only as 'the spoilt child of victory.' All the 
grandeur and predominance of his character is kept 
in the background, or in the shade to be inferred, 
at most, from what is said by the other dramatis 
personce by Cassius on the one hand and by 
Antony on the other in the expression of their own 
diametrically opposite natures and aims, and in 
a very few words by the calmer, milder, and juster 
Brutus nowhere manifested by himself. It might 

" The Golden Prime of Comedy " 279 

almost be suspected that the complete and full- 
length Csesar had been carefully reserved for 
another drama. . . . He is only a subordinate 
character in the present play; his death is but an 
incident in the progress of the plot." 

Other critics have taken the same view of the 
title t of the play, and some have apologized for it. 
Gervinus, for example, says that "it was fully 
intended that Csesar should take but a small part in 
the action," as the poet " had in his eye the whole 
context of the Eoman civil wars for this single 

It is true, as Hazlitt says, that in the play Caesar 
" does nothing ; indeed, he has nothing to do." It 
might be added that he has nothing even to say, in 
the way of heroic utterance. But he is neverthe 
less the mainspring of the action, and appropriately 
furnishes the title for the drama. He dies, it is 
true, early in the third act; but his real action in 
the play, paradoxical as it may seem at first, begins 
with his death. He is, so to speak, a " very lively 
corpse;" and Shakespeare has emphasized the fact 
by several significant utterances. Note Antony's 
graphic prophecy over the dead body of the Dictator 
the vision of the " domestic fury and fierce civil 
strife " that are to follow the murder : 

" And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge, 
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice 
Cry Havoc ! and let slip the dogs of war." 

280 Life of Shakespeare 

And later, how eloquently does Antony make " sweet 
Caesar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths," speak 
for him to the crowd in the forum, who rush to 
"fire the traitors' houses" with the very brands 
from the funeral pile of Caesar ! And Caesar is still 
" the evil spirit " of the conspirators, as his ghost 
warns Brutus on his first visit, and will " see A him 
again" on the battle-field of Philippi that is to 
settle his fate. And there at Philippi both Brutus 
and Cassius, as the dramatist takes pains to make 
them tell us with their own mouths, die by the very 
swords that had been turned against Caesar. As 
Cassius falls, he cries : 

" Caesar, thou art revenged 
Even with the sword that kill'd thee ! " 

and Brutus, looking on the dead body of Cassius, 
exclaims : 

" O Julius Caesar, thou ai*t mighty yet ! 
Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords 
In our own proper entrails." 

It is not long before he verifies this by his own 
suicide ; and again, in his last words, he pays tribute 
to the power of the murdered Julius : 

" Caesar, now be still ; 
I kill'd not thee with half so good a will." 

Shakespeare meant that we should not fail to see 
that Caesar, though dead, was indeed " mighty yet," 

"The Golden Prime of Comedy" 281 

the ruling spirit, the Nemesis, of the latter half of 
the play, making good his right to the honour given 
him in the title, as he had nowise had the oppor 
tunity of doing in the first half. 

The play was popular, and many allusions to it 
are found in the literature of the time. Leonard 
Digges, in the verses printed in the 1640 edition 
of the Poems, tells us that it was more successful 
than Ben Jonson's Roman dramas, and incidentally 
refers to other of Shakespeare's plays. Addressing 
the "needy Poetasters of this age," and advising 
them to bring out their "lame blancke Verse" at 
the inferior theatres, he adds : 

" I doe not wonder when you offer at 

Blacke-Friers, that you suffer : tis the fate 

Of richer veines, prime judgements that have far'd 

The worse, with this deceased man [Shakespeare] com- 


So have I seene, when Cesar would appeare, 
And on the Stage at halfe-sword parley were, 
Brutus and Cassius : oh how the Audience 
Were ravish'd, with what wonder they went thence, 
When some new day they would not brooke a line 
Of tedious (though well labour'd) Catiline ; 
Sejanus too was irkesome, they priz'de more 
Honest lago, or the jealous Moore. 
And though the Fox and subtil AlcJiimist 
Long intermitted could not quite be mist, 
Though these have sham'd all the Ancients, and might 

Their Authours merit with a crown e of Bayes, 

282 Life of Shakespeare 

Yet these sometimes, even at a friends desire 
Acted, have scarce defrai'd the Seacoale fire 
And doore-keepers ; when let but Falstaffe come, 
Hall, Poines, the rest you scarce shall have a roome 
All is so pester'd [crowded] : let but Beatrice 
And Benedicke be seene, loe in a trice 
The Cockpit, Galleries, Boxes, all are full 
To hear Malvoglio, that crosse garter' d Gull. 
Briefe, there is nothing in his wit fraught Booke 
Whose sound we would not heare, on whose worth looke 
Like old coynd gold, whose lines in every page, 
Shall passe true current to succeeding age. 
But why doe I dead Shakespeares praise recite, 
Some second Shakespeare must of Shakespeare write ; 
For me tis needlesse, since an host of men 
Will pay to clap his praise to free my pen." 

The "wit-fraught book" is of course the folio of 
1623, to which Digges, seventeen years earlier, had 
contributed one of the prefatory poetical tributes, 
in which, he also refers to Julius Ccesar : 

" Nor shall I e're beleeve, or thinke thee dead 

(Though mist) untill our bankrout Stage be sped 

(Impossible) with some new strain t' out-do 

Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo ; 

Or till I heare a Scene more nobly take, 

Then [than] when thy half-Sword parlying Romans spake, 

Till these, till any of thy Volumes rest 

Shall with more fire, more feeling be exprest, 

Be sure, our Shake-spear e, thou canst never dye, 

But crown'd with Laurell, live eternally." 



WE have seen that in 1578 John Shakespeare and 
his wife mortgaged the Asbies estate to Edmund 
Lambert for a loan of 40 ; and that the next year 
they conveyed their interest in Snitterfield property, 
likewise a part of the inheritance of Mary Arden 
from her father, to Eobert Webbe for 4. 

In 1587 they were taking measures for the re 
covery of Asbies. The loan remaining unpaid, and 
the mortgage expiring in April of that year, they 
threatened John Lambert, the son and heir of 
Edmund, with a suit for the settlement of the 
business. Lambert was naturally desirous that this 
should be arranged without litigation, if possible, 
and it was agreed that, on cancelling the mortgage 
and paying 20, he should receive from the Shake- 
speares an absolute title to the estate, or the best 
title it was in their power to give. Having obtained 
the assent of William, who was his mother's heir- 
apparent, they were enabled to offer almost a perfect 
security ; but it appears, from the records of subse 
quent litigation, that the intended compromise was 

284 Life of Shakespeare 

It is not improbable that William made a visit to 
Stratford in 1587 for a conference with his parents 
concerning the Asbies mortgage. The sum of 20 
(equivalent to from seven to ten times that amount 
now), to be paid in cash by Lambert, would have 
been of great value to them in their financial diffi 
culties. It must have been a subject for anxious 
deliberation, and could hardly have been arranged 
without a personal interview between them and 
William ; and if this occurred, it was doubtless in 
Stratford, not in London. 

There is no record of any further proceedings in 
the Asbies matter until ten years later, in 1597, 
when John and Mary Shakespeare brought a suit 
against John Lambert for the recovery of the 
estate. This was probably done at the instigation 
of the dramatist, who doubtless furnished the means 
for the prosecution of the suit. As his mother's 
heir he had a prospective interest in the success of 
the litigation. " There were not merely the associa 
tions twining around the possession of a family 
estate to stimulate a desire for its restoration, but 
there was nearly at hand a very large increase in 
its annual value through the termination of a lease 
under which all but the . dwelling was held from 
1580 to 1601 at the inadequate rental of half a 
quarter of wheat and half a quarter of barley. Our 
knowledge of the course taken by the plaintiffs in 
furtherance of their object is imperfect, Lambert, 
in his answer to the above-mentioned bill, declaring 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 285 

that another one of like import had been afterwards 
exhibited against him by John Shakespeare in his 
individual capacity, and of this independent action 
no explanatory records have been discovered. Th& 
mere facts, however, of the last-named suit having 
been instituted, and of John Shakespeare hav 
ing taken out two commissions under it for the 
examination of witnesses, show that there was a 
tolerably well-furnished purse at his disposal, a cir 
cumstance which, unless the expenses were borne by 
the poet, is difficult to reconcile with the plaintive 
appeal of his wife and himself when they asked the 
court to bear in mind that 'the sayde John Lam- 
berte ys of greate weal the and abilitie, and well 
frended and alied amongest gentlemen and free 
holders of the countrey in the saide countie of 
Warwicke, where he dwelleth, and your saide ora- 
tours are of small wealthe, and verey fewe f rends 
and alyance in the saide countie. 7 The terms of 
this sample of legal policy must be attributed to 
the counsel, but the facts, so far at least as they 
affect the parents of the great dramatist, were no 
doubt correctly stated. It appears that the suit was 
carried on for very nearly two years, publication hav 
ing been granted in October, 1599, but, as no decree 
is recorded, it is all but certain that either the 
plaintiffs retired from the contest, or there was a 
compromise in favour of the possession of the land 
by the defendants. Had it been otherwise, some 
thing must have been afterwards heard of the 

286 Life of Shakespeare 

Shakespearean ownership of the estate " (Halliwell- 

In 1596 the poet's only son died, and was buried 
on the llth of August at Stratford. He also lost 
his uncle Henry, the farmer of Snitterfield, during 
the Christmas holidays, in which his company had 
the honour of performing twice before Elizabeth at 

The records concerning the poet's own family 
after he went to London are few and slight, but 
they doubtless continued to reside in his native 
town. Tradition says that he visited Stratford once 
a year, and, as soon as he was able, he began to 
make arrangements for again establishing his home 

In the spring of 1597 he made his first invest 
ment in real estate by the purchase of New Place, 
a mansion with nearly an acre of land in the centre 
of Stratford. He paid 60 for it, a moderate price 
for such a property, but in a document of about 
1549 it is described as having then been for some 
time " in great ruyne and decay and unrepayred," 
so that it was probably in a dilapidated condition 
when it was transferred to Shakespeare. There are 
reasons for believing that it was renovated by the 
new owner ; but whatever may have been its state 
of repair at the time of its acquisition, it was un 
questionably one of the largest dwellings in the 
town. Sir Hugh Clopton, for whom it was erected, 
speaks of it in 1496 as his " great house," a title by 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 287 

which it was popularly known at Stratford for up 
wards of two centuries; but scarcely any details 
concerning its architecture have been discovered. 
We know, however, that it was mainly built of 
brick, on stone foundations, that it was gabled, and 
that there was a bay-window on the eastern or 
garden side, but little beyond this. Two eye-wit 
nesses only, out of the numbers who had seen the 
building previously to its destruction, have left 
memorials, and those but slight notices, of its ap 
pearance. Leland, who wrote about the year 1540, 
simply describes it as " a praty house of bricke and 
tymbre," words which may imply either that the 
upper part was formed entirely of wood or that 
there were large portions of brickwork in the outer 
walls. There is no genuine drawing or engraving 
of the mansion as it appeared in the sixteenth or 
seventeenth centuries. The earliest existing sketch 
was made about the year 1715, after the house had 
been demolished and rebuilt by Sir John Clopton, 
into whose possession it came through his wife, in 
1677. He modified the ground-plan, and apparently 
changed the whole construction of the house. 

Theobald, who was acquainted with Sir Hugh 
Clopton (upon whom Sir John settled it), was told 
by that gentleman that Shakespeare " repaired and 
modelled it [New Place] to his own mind," as he 
naturally would have done with an old dilapidated 
house that he had bought for his future residence. 

In 1596 John Shakespeare, doubtless on his son's 

288 Life of Shakespeare 

advice and at his expense, applied to the College 
of Heralds for a coat-of-arms. In the application 
he stated that in 1568, when he was bailiff of Strat 
ford and a justice of the peace, he had obtained 
from E/obert Cook, the Clarenceux herald, a "pat 
tern" or sketch of an armorial coat. As this alle 
gation is not noticed in the records of the College, 
Sidney Lee suggests that it " may be a formal fic 
tion designed by John Shakespeare and his son to 
recommend their claim to the notice of the heralds." 
But Mrs. Stopes (Shakepeare' 's Family, 1901) be 
lieves that John may have told the truth. She 
quotes Sir John Ferae (The Glorie of Generositie, 
1586), who says : " If any person be advanced into 
an office or dignity of publique administration, be 
it eyther Ecclesiasticall, Martiall, or Civill, . . . 
the Herald must not refuse to devise to such a 
publique person, upon his instant request, and will 
ingness to bear the same without reproche, a Coate 
of Armes, and thenceforth to matriculate him with 
his intermarriages and issues descending in the 
Register of the gentle and the noble. ... In the 
Civil or Political State divers offices of dignitie 
and worship doe merite Coates of Armes to the pos- 
sessours of the same offices, as ... Bailiffs of 
Cities and ancient Boroughs or incorporated townes." 
John Shakespeare had certainly been bailiff of 
Stratford in 1568, and we know that he was an 
ambitious man. The draft says that he then applied 
for arms, and that Cook sent him a "pattern." 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 289 

Probably, as Mrs. Stopes suggests, he did not con 
clude the negotiations at that time, thinking the 
fees too heavy, or he might have delayed until he 
found his opportunity lost. The story of this 
draft, or the sight of it, may have stimulated the 
son to honour his parents by having them enrolled 
among the " armigeri " of the county. 

In the 1596 application the claims are based on 
John's public office, on a grant to his " antecessors " 
by Henry VII. for special services, and on marriage 
with the daughter and heir of a gentleman of wor 
ship. Then a fuller draft was made out, also in 
1596, changing " antecessors " to " grandfather." 

On the 20th of October, 1596, a draft was pre 
pared under the direction of William Dethick, 
Garter King-at-Arms, granting John Shakespeare's 
request for a coat-of-arms; and the same is de 
scribed thus: "Gold, on a bend sable, a spear of 
the first, and for his crest or cognizance a falcon, 
his wings displayed argent, standing on a wreath 
of his colours, supporting a spear gold steeled as 
aforesaid." A pen sketch of the arms and crest is 
put in the margin, and above them, the motto, "Kon 
Sans Droict." 

Neither of the drafts made in 1596 was duly ex 
ecuted, and three years passed, so far as any records 
indicate, before the effort to secure the desired end 
was renewed. In 1599 John addressed a new ap 
plication to the heralds, in which he stated that the 
oat-of-arms described in the drafts of 1596 had 

290 Life of Shakespeare 

been " assigned " to him while he was bailiff, and he 
now asks for a " recognition " or " exemplification " 
of it. He also requests that he and his son may be 
allowed to quarter on the coat that of the Ardens 
of Wilmecote, his wife's family. The heralds ac 
cordingly prepared a draft granting the desired 
" exemplification " and quartering ; but after trick 
ing the coat of the Warwickshire Ardens in the 
margin of the draft, they substituted the arms of 
the Ardens of Alvanley in Cheshire. 

Sidney Lee believes that this change was made 
because the Warwickshire relationship was doubt 
ful, and the family " were certain to protest against 
any hasty assumption of identity between their line 
and that of the humble farmer of Wilmecote." So 
the heralds substituted the arms of another Arden 
family living so far away that they were not likely 
to learn of the suggested impalement of their arms 
with the Shakespeare shield, and " the heralds were 
less liable to the risk of litigation." "But the 
Shakespeares wisely relieved the College of all 
anxiety by omitting to assume the Arden coat." 

This explanation, discreditable alike to the Shake 
speares and to the heralds, is highly improbable. 
If the heralds feared to take the risk of granting 
the impalement of the Warwickshire coat, it is un 
likely that they would have ventured to substitute 
the arms of a Cheshire family with which, as 
Mr. Lee himself says, " there was no pretence that 
Eobert Arden of Wilmecote was lineally connected." 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 291 

They are supposed not only to have run the risk 
of being detected in the fraud, but also of be 
ing unable to give any plausible reason for their 
action ; while in the other case they might have 
pleaded that they had been led to believe there 
was a relationship between Mary Arden and the 
great Warwickshire family bearing the name. The 
Shakespeares apparently were not disposed to urge 
the petition for the impalement and quartering, 
as they refrained from taking advantage of it after 
it was granted. They would have run no risk in 
doing this, as they had not asked for the use of the 
Alvanley coat, and the heralds were alone respon 
sible for permitting it. 

Mrs. Stopes gives a more satisfactory explanation 
(see page 26). The arms of the elder branch of the 
Ardens were those of the old Earls of Warwick; 
the younger branches took the arms of the Beau- 
champs, with a difference. The heralds made the 
change in their sketch of the impalement because 
" Mary Arden was an heiress, not in the eldest line, 
but through a second son ; " and the substituted 
arms were those borne, for a similar reason, by the 
Alvanley Ardens. The heralds " were only seeking 
correctness in their draft of the restitution of the 
Ardens 7 arms." 

John Shakespeare died in 1601, only two years 
after his final application for the coat-of-arms. 
Whether the grant was completed before his death 
or not, there is no record of his using the impaled 

Life of Shakespeare 

Arden arms. Whether his son ever used it we do not 
know, but the impalement does not appear on any 
of the tombs or seals that have been preserved. 
He certainly used the Shakespeare arms; and he 
may have felt after obtaining them that they had 
become honourable enough, without displaying the 
connection with the Ardens. In 1599 William 
Shakespeare had made a name for himself that 
needed no borrowed lustre from ancestral rank. 

Two years or more later, objection was made to 
Shakespeare's arms on the ground that they bore 
too close a resemblance to those of Lord Mau 
ley, but the heralds answered that certain other 
coats were quite as much like Mauley's, and that 
the spear in Shakespeare's was a "patible differ 
ence." The heralds add with regard to the latter 
coat that " the person to which it was granted hath 
borne magistracy, and was justice of peace at 
Stratford-upon-Avon." This case, as appears from 
the answer of the heralds, was one of twenty-three 
concerning which exceptions were taken. 

Shakespeare went to London in 1585 or 1586 a 
penniless adventurer, but in 1597 we find him in 
vesting his surplus income in the purchase of the 
best house in Stratford. The sources of his pros 
perity have been the subject of no little discussion 
among the biographers and critics, but there is 
nothing particularly mysterious about the matter. 
It is evident that he soon gained reputation both as 
an actor and as an author, and in both capacities 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 293 

made money. The actor's business was then lucrative 
enough to attract the attention and excite the envy 
of pamphleteers. In Eatseis Ghost (1605) there is a 
passage in point which, as some critics believe, may 
allude to Shakespeare. Eatsey meets certain play 
ers and gets them to perform for his amusement. 
In return he gives them forty shillings and some 
gratuitous advice : 

"And for you, sirra, saies hee to the chief est of 
them, thou hast a good presence upon a stage ; me- 
thinks thou darkenst thy merite by playing in the 
country. Get thee to London, for, if one man were 
dead, they will have much neede of such a one as 
thou art. There would be none in my opinion fitter 
then thyselfe to play his parts. My conceipt is 
such of thee, that I durst venture all the mony in 
my purse on thy head to play Hamlet with him for 
a wager. There thou shalt^learne to be frugall, 
for players were never so thriftie as they are now 
about London and to feed upon all men, to let 
none feede upon thee ; to make thy hand a stranger 
to thy pocket, thy hart slow to perform e thy 
tongues promise; and when thou feelest thy purse 
well lined, buy thee some place or lordship in the 
country, that, growing weary of playing, thy mony 
may there bring thee to dignitie and reputation ; 
then thou needest care for no man, nor not for them 
that before made thee prowd with speaking their 
words upon the stage. Sir, I thanke you, quoth 
the player, for this good counsell ; I promise you I 

294 Life of Shakespeare 

will make use of it, for I have heard, indeede, of 
some that have gone to London very meanly, and 
have come in time to be exceeding wealthy. And 
in this presage and propheticall humor of mine, 
sayes Ratsey, kneele downe Rise up, Sir Simon 
Two Shares and a Half e ; thou art now one of my 
knights, and the first knight that ever was player 
in England. The next time I meete thee, I must 
share with thee againe for playing under my war 
rant, and so for this time adiew." 

If the actor got a share in the theatre or its 
profits, it added materially to his income, but Shake 
speare did not attain to this until 1599, after the 
Globe theatre was built. Greene, in his Grroats- 
worth of Wit, makes a player boast that his share in 
"the stage apparel would be cheap at 200." In 
The Return from Parnassus (1606), Kemp addresses 
the two Cambridge students who had requested him 
and Burbage to give them instruction, as f ollow.s : 
"Be merry, lads; you have happened upon the 
most excellent vocation in the world for money : 
they come north and south to bring it to our play 
house." An epigram entitled " Theatrum Licentia," 
in Laquei Ridiculosi (1613), reads thus : 

" Cotta 's become a Player, most men know, 
And will no longer take such toyling paines ; 

For here 's the spring (saith he) whence pleasures flow, 
And brings them damnable excessive gaines ; 

That now are cedars growne from shrubs and sprigs, 

Since Greene's Tu Quoque, and those Garlicke Jigs." 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 295 

Greene's Tu Quoque was a very popular comic piece, 
and " Garlicke Jigs " is an allusion to certain dances 
that were much in favour with the " groundlings." 

Shakespeare's annual income as an actor before 
1599, according to Sidney Lee, is " not likely to 
have fallen below 100; while the remuneration 
due to performances at Court or in noblemen's 
houses, if the 1 accounts of 1594 be accepted as the 
basis of reckoning, added some 15." 

His work as a dramatist was far less remunera 
tive. The highest price paid for a play before 
1599, so far as we know, was 11, and the lowest 
was 6, to which some small amount was added 
as a gratuity if a play was particularly successful, 
and the author received a certain share of the re 
ceipts as a " benefit " on a second production. For 
revising an old play (such work as Shakespeare 
probably began with as a writer) 4 was sometimes 

Shakespeare's income from the revision and writ 
ing of plays up to 1599 can hardly have brought 
him more than 20 a year, which, added to 110 
or 115 from acting, would make his entire income 
130 or 135, equal to from seven to ten times that 
amount in modern money. 

The quarto editions of his plays published at this 
time and afterwards were probably all piratical ven 
tures which yielded him nothing. From the suc 
cessive editions of his poems, which were published 
by his friend Field, and evidently under his per- 

296 Life of Shakespeare 

sonal supervision, he may have received something, 
but we have no means of estimating how much. 

According to Rowe, the poet once received a gift 
of a thousand pounds from his generous patron, the 
Earl of Southampton. The amount (equal to at 
least 7,000, or about $35,000 now) is quite certainly 
exaggerated ; but it is probable that there is a 
basis of truth in the tradition. Southampton, who 
was so liberal to others, can hardly have omitted to 
make some substantial acknowledgment of the com 
pliment paid him in the dedications of Venus and 
Adonis and Lucrece. 

Shakespeare, unlike the great majority of men of 
genius, was eminently shrewd and practical. He 
knew how to make and invest money, and such a 
man is not likely to waste it. Besides taking care 
of his own family in Stratford, we have reason to 
believe that he helped to restore the fallen fortunes 
of his father, and to furnish the means for the 
Asbies litigation and the expenses of obtaining 
the coat-of-arms. The purchase of New Place in 
1597 was followed by outlays for the renovation of 
the mansion, and adding other lands to the estate. 
A few years later, in 1602, he makes the large in 
vestment of 320 in the purchase of one hundred 
and seven acres of land near Stratford. 

Halliwell-Phillipps suggests that this acquisition 
may be referred to by Crosse in his Vertues Com 
monwealth, 1603, when he says of the actors and 
dramatists of the period : " As these copper-lace 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 297 

gentlemen growe rich, purchase lands by adulterous 
playes, and not f ewe of them usurers and extortion 
ers, which they exhaust out of the purses of their 
haunters, so are they puft up in such pride and 
selfe-love as they envie their equalles and scorne 
theyr inferiours." 

In the same year (1602) Shakespeare bought a 
cottage and garden, situated in Chapel Lane oppo 
site the lower grounds of New Place. The land 
was a quarter of an acre in area, with a frontage of 
forty feet on the lane. 

In July, 1605, he paid 440 for the unexpired 
term of the moiety of a lease of the tithes of Strat 
ford, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe. The 
lease was made in 1544 for a term of ninety-two 
years, and therefore had thirty-one years to run 
when Shakespeare purchased an interest in it. His 
annual income from it was 38, according to Halli- 
well-Phillipps, " but it was necessarily of a fluctuat 
ing character, the probability, however, being that 
there was a tendency towards increase, especially in 
the latter part of his career. It is most likely that 
he entered into an agreement each year with a col 
lector, whose province it would have been to relieve 
him of all trouble in the matter, and pay over a 
stipulated amount. It is not probable that he him 
self visited the harvest field to mark, as was then 
the local practice, every tenth sheaf with a dock, or 
that he personally attended to the destination of 
each of his tithe-pigs." 

298 Life of Shakespeare 

Although this purchase of the tithes involved 
Shakespeare in considerable litigation from time to 
time, on account of the conflicting interests involved, 
it was quite certainly a good investment. This may 
be inferred from the fact that his son-in-law John 
Hall, in August, 1624, disposed of his interest in 
the remainder of the lease for 400, the Stratford 
corporation being the purchaser ; that is to say, 
after Shakespeare and his heirs had received the 
income for nineteen years, the value of the re 
mainder ' (about two-fifths) was reckoned as more 
than ninety per cent, of the original cost. 

Shakespeare's income in 1599, as we have seen, 
was probably 130 or 135. After the building of 
the Globe theatre in the latter part of that year, the 
Burbages leased for twenty-one years shares in the 
receipts to " those deserving men, Shakespeare, Hem- 
ings, Condell, Phillips, and others,' 7 all of whom 
were players in Shakespeare's company. There were 
sixteen shares in all, of which Shakespeare probably 
had two. The receipts of the theatre are supposed 
to have been about 8000 a year ; and in 1635 an 
actor who owned a share is known from documentary 
evidence to have received from it more than 200 a 
year, in addition to his salary of 180 as player. 
The income from the shares may not have been so 
large in 1600-1610, but Shakespeare must have 
received from the theatre at least 500 a year. 

In the latter part of 1609 Shakespeare acquired 
an interest in a lease of the Blackfriars theatre, in 

Domestic Annals, 1587-160^ 299 

connection with Hemings, Condell, and others; and 
this is estimated to have added some 100 to his 
income from that date. 

From 1599 the returns from his plays also in 
creased. Higher prices were obtained for new plays, 
averaging 20 or more ; and performances at Court 
were more frequent and probably better paid. The 
Eev. John Ward, vicar of Stratford in 1661-63, may 
not have exaggerated much in saying that in his 
last years the poet " spent at the rate of a thousand 
a year." Of course there were some sources of 
revenue besides these already mentioned ; as rents 
from houses and lands in Stratford and vicinity, 
profits from the sale of agricultural produce, in 
which he traded, etc. 

Some of the poet's transactions led to lawsuits 
against delinquent debtors. In 1600, for instance, 
he brought an action against one John Clayton for 
7 due, and obtained a verdict for the recovery of 
the amount. Again, in 1604, it appears, from a 
declaration filed in the Stratford court, that he had 
sold to one Philip Rogers several bushels of malt at 
various times between March 27th and the end of 
May, 1604, and that the latter did not pay the debt 
thus incurred, amounting to 1 19s. Wd. ; and on 
June 25th Rogers borrowed two shillings of the 
poet, making in all 2 Is. Wd. Six shillings of this 
were afterwards paid, and the action was brought 
to recover the balance. We find record of other 
suits of the kind in 1608 and 1609. 

300 Life of Shakespeare 

The only epistolary correspondence in which 
Shakespeare was a party, and the only letter ad 
dressed to him, which are extant, have reference 
to business affairs. In January, 1598, Abraham 
Sturley writes from Stratford to his brother-in-law, 
Richard Quiney, who was in London, where the poet 
also was at that time, as follows : 

" Most loving and belovedd in the Lord, in plaine 
Englishe we remember u in the Lord, and ourselves unto 
u. I would write nothinge unto u nowe, but come home. 
I prai God send u corafortabli home. This is one speciall 
remembrance from ur fathers motion. Itt seemeth bi 
him that our countriman, Mr. Shaksper, is willinge to 
disburse some monei upon some od yarde land or other 
att Shotterie or neare about us ; he thinketh it a veri fitt 
patterne to move him to deale in the matter of our tithes. 
Bi the instruccions u can geve him thearof, and bi the 
frendes he can make therefore, we thinke it a faire marke 
for him to shoote att, and not unpossible to hitt. It 
obtained would advance him in deede, and would do us 
muche good. Hoc movere, et quantum in te est per- 
movere, ne necligas, hoc enim et sibi et nobis maximi erit 
momenti. Hie labor, hie opus esset eximie et gloriae et 
laudis sibi. U shall understande, brother, that our neigh 
bours are growne with the wantes they feele throughe 
the dearnes of corne, which heare is beionde all other 
countries that I can heare of deare and over deare, 

Kichard Quiney, who was a leading business man 
in Stratford, was in London that year, endeavouring 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 301 

to arrange important matters for the town, includ 
ing the grant of a new charter and relief from a 
subsidy. He was not well furnished with means 
for conducting these affairs, the corporation having 
trouble and delay in procuring the necessary funds. 
Richard was also embarrassed on his own account, 
and later applied to Shakespeare for the large loan 
of 30. It is doubtful, however, whether the letter 
containing this request was ever forwarded to the 
poet. At any rate, it somehow got into the Strat 
ford archives, probably on the death of Eichard in 
his year of office. Perhaps he and Shakespeare hap 
pened to meet about the time when the letter was 
written, and arranged the business orally. The 
letter reads thus : 

" Loveinge contreyman, I am bolde of yow, as of a 
ffrende, craveinge yowr helpe with xxx. II. vppon Mr. 
Bushells and my securytee, or Mr. Myttons with me. Mr. 
Rosswell is nott come to London as yeate, and I have 
especiall cawse. Yow shall ffrende me muche in helpeing 
me out of all the debettes I owe in London, I thancke 
God, and muche quiet my mynde, which wolde nott be 
indebeted. I am nowe towardes the Cowrte, in hope of 
answer for the dispatche of my buysenes. Yow shall 
nether loase creddytt nor monney by me, the Lorde 
wyllinge; and nowe butt perswade yowrselfe soe, as I 
hope, and yow shall nott need to feare butt with all hartie 
thanckefullenes I wyll holde my tyme and content yowr 
ffrende, and yf we bargaine farther, yow shal be the paie- 
master yowrselfe. My tyme biddes me hastene to an 

302 Life of Shakespeare 

ende, and soe I commit thys [to] yowr care, and hope 
of yowr helpe. I feare I shall nott be backe thys night 
ffrom the Cowrte. Haste. The Lorde be with yow and 
with vs all, Amen ! ffrom the Bell in Carter Lane, the 
25 October, 1598. 

" Yowrs in all kyndenes, 

"Rye. QUYNEY." 

The letter is addressed, "To my loveinge good 
ffrend and countreymann Mr. Win. Shackesperre 
deliver thees." 

An undated letter, written by Adrian Quiney to 
Kichard in London, in 1598 or 1599, contains this 
passage : 

" Yff yow bargen with Wm. Sha ... or receve money 
therfor, brynge youre money homme that yow maye; 
and see howe knite stockynges be sold ; ther ys gret 
byinge of them at Aysshome. Edward Wheat and 
Harrye, youre brother man, were both at Evyshome thys 
daye senet, and, as I harde, bestowe 20li ther in knyt 
hosse ; wherefore I thynke yow maye doo good, yff yow 
can have money." 

The following is a portion of a very long letter 
written by Sturley to Kichard Quiney, November 
4th, 1598 : - 

" All health, happines of suites and wellf are, be multi 
plied unto u and ur labours in God our Father bi Christ 
our Lord. Ur letter of the 25. of Octobr came to mi 
handes the laste of the same att night per Grenwai, which 
imported a stai of suites bi Sr. Ed. Gr. advise, untill &c., 
and that onli u should followe on for tax and sub. 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 303 

presentii, and allso ur travell and hinderance of answere 
therein bi ur longe travell and th affaires of the Courte ; 
and that our countriman Mr. Wm. Shak. would procure 
us monei, which I will like of as I shall heare when, and 
wheare, and howe ; and I prai let not go that occasion if 
it mai sorte to ani indifferent condicions. Allso that if 
monei might be had for 30 or 40/., a lease, &c., might be 
procured. Oh howe can u make dowbt of monei, who 
will not beare xxx.tie or xl.s. towardes sutch a match ! 
The latter end of ur letter which concerned ur houshold 
affaires I delivered presentli. Nowe to ur other letter of 
the 1 of Novmbr receved the 3d. of the same. I 
would I weare with u ; nai, if u continue with hope of 
those suietes u wrighte of, I thinke I shall wt. concent ; 
and I will most willingli come unto u, as had u but 
advise and compani, and more monei presente, much 
might be done to obtaine our charter enlargd, ij. faires 
more, with tole of corne, bestes and sheepe, and a matter 
of more valewe then all that ; for (sai u) all this is 
nothinge that is in hand, seeinge it will not rise to 80L, 
and the charges wil be greate. What this matter of more 
valewe meaneth I cannot undrstand; but me thinketh 
whatsoever the good would be, u are afraid of want of 
monei. Good thinges in hand or neare hand can not 
choose but be worth monei to bringe to hand, and, beinge 
assured, will, if neede be, bringe monei in their mouthes, 
there is no feare nor dowbte." 

Further on the letter contains some quaint hy 
gienic advice which is worth quoting : 

" Take heed of tobacco whereof we heare per Wm. 
Perri ; against ani longe journei u mai undertake on foote 

304 Life of Shakespeare 

of necessiti, or wherein the exercise of ur bodi must be 
imploied, drinke some good burned wine, or aqavitse and 
ale strongli mingled without bread for a toste, and, above 
all, kepe u warme." 

The Greenway mentioned in the letter was the 
Stratford carrier, the people of the town being well 
contented in those days if they received letters 
from London once a week. 

Eichard Quiney was descended from his name 
sake, the Master of the Guild of Stratford-on-Avon 
in the time of Henry VIII. He was one of the 
leading tradesmen of the town, his father Adrian 
and himself being well-to-do mercers, who then 
dealt, at least in Warwickshire, not only in silk and 
cloth goods, but in such articles as ginger, sugar, 
and red-lead. Throughout the reign of Elizabeth 
the Quiney s were influential members of the cor 
poration, and were thus brought into contact with 
the poet's father during his official career. In Jan 
uary, 1572, John Shakespeare was nominated, with 
Adrian Quiney, then bailiff, to undertake the man 
agement of some important legal business connected 
with the affairs of the town. Richard Quiney, who 
married in 1580 the daughter and sole heiress of one 
Thomas Philipps, another of the Stratford mercers, 
was bailiff in 1592-1593 and again in 1601-1602, 
dying in the year last mentioned after a few weeks 7 
illness, and before his term of office had expired. 
After his decease, his widow, Elizabeth, kept a 

Domestic Annals, 1587-1605 305 

tavern. Her son Thomas afterwards married Judith 
Shakespeare, the poet's younger daughter. 

Neither Mrs. Quiney nor Judith could write even 
their own names. " There were no free-schools for 
girls, and home education was, as a rule, the privi 
lege of a section of the higher classes ; so when 
Judith Shakespeare was invited in December, 1611, 
to be a subscribing witness to two instruments re 
specting a house at the southeast corner of Wood 
Street, then being sold by Mrs. Quiney to one 
William Mountford for the large sum of 131, in. 
both instances her attestations were executed with 

John Shakespeare, as already mentioned, died in 
September, 1601, his funeral having taken place 
on the 8th of that month. No record of the site 
of his grave has been discovered, and all traces of 
a sepulchral memorial, if one were ever erected, 
either within or without the church, have entirely 
disappeared. He left no will, so far as is known, 
and his son inherited the Henley Street property. 
His widow continued to reside in one of the tene 
ments, and the other was rented. 

308 Life of Shakespeare 

The plan to establish the Blackfriars theatre in 
1596 was strenuously opposed by the inhabitants of 
the district. Their petition to the Privy Council 
is interesting as an illustration of the Puritan spirit 
of the time : 

" To the right honorable the Lords and others of her 
Majesties most honorable Privy Councell, Humbly 
shewing and beseeching your honors, the inhabitants of 
the precinct of the Blackfryers, London, that whereas 
one Burbage hath lately bought certaine roomes in the 
same precinct neere adjoyning 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 togeather of all manner of vagrant and 
lewde persons that, under cullor of resorting to the 
playes, will come thither and worke all manner of mis- 
cheefe, and allso 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 growne very populous ; 
and besides, that the same playhouse is so neere the 
Church that the noyse of the drummes and trumpetts 
will greatly disturbe and hinder both the ministers and 
parishioners in tyme of devine service and sermons; 
In tender consideracion wherof, as allso for that there 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 309 

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 therfore it would 
please your honors to take order that the same roomes 
may be converted to some other use, and that no play 
house 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." 

This petition was presented to the Privy Council 
in November, 1596, but it did not prevent the open 
ing of the theatre as soon as the reconstruction of 
the old mansion was completed. In 1597 we find it 
occupied by the company of boy-actors, mostly from 
the choristers of the Chapel Royal, and known as 
the Children of the Chapel. Their success led to the 
formation of other boy-companies; and these soon 
became so popular that they seriously interfered 
with the interests of the veteran actors. The latter 
naturally became bitterly hostile to their juvenile 
fivals, who were especially in favour with the 
better portion of the public. In Jack Drum's En 
tertainment, which was played by the Children of 
Paul's, in 1601, we find direct reference to this : 

" Sir Edward. I sawe the Children of Powles last 


And troth they pleas'd me prettie, prettie well. 
The Apes in time will do it handsomely. 

312 Life of Shakespeare 

ing to the Lord Admirall, so as the house called the 
Curtaine be, as it is pretended, either ruynated or applyed 
to some other good use. And for the other house 
allowed to be on Surrey side, whereas their Lordships are 
pleased to permitt to the company of players that shall 
play there to make their owne choice which they will 
have of divers houses that are there, choosing one of 
them and no more, and the said company of plaiers, 
being the servantes of the Lord Chamberlain, that are 
to play there, have made choise of the house called the 
Globe, it is ordered that the saide house and none other 
shal be there allowed ; and especially it is forbidden that 
any stage-playes shal be played, as sometymes they have 
bin, in any common inne for publique assembly in or 
neare aboute the Cittie. 

"Secondly, forasmuch as these stage- plaies, by the 
multitude of houses and company of players, have bin 
so frequent, not servinge for recreation but invitinge 
and callinge the people dayly from their trade and worke 
to myspend their tyme, it is likewise ordered that the 
two severall companies of players assigned unto the two 
houses allowed may play each of them in their severall 
house twice a weeke and no oftener, and especially they 
shall refrayne to playe on the Sabbath-day upon paine 
of imprisonment and further penaltie ; and that they 
shall forbeare altogether in the tyme of Lent, and like 
wise at such tyme and tymes as any extraordinary sick- 
nes or infection of disease shall appeare to be in or 
about the cittie. 

" Thirdly, 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 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 313 

be sent to the Lord Maior of London and to the Justices 
of the Peace of the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, 
and that lettres shal be written unto them from their 
Lordships straightly charginge them to see to the execu- 
cion 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 
meanes that in their discretion they shall finde expedient, 
and to certifie their Lordships from tyme to tyme as they 
shall see cause of their proceedinges heerein." 

Alleyn's new theatre here referred to was the 
Fortune in Cripplegate; but the order that this 
and the Globe should be the only playhouses 
allowed in the city and its suburbs was not enforced 
by the authorities. This naturally led to further 
complaints on the part of the Puritans ; and on the 
31st of December, 1601, the Lords of the Council 
addressed a letter to the Lord Mayor of London, 
reproving him for the neglect to enforce the order, 
and adding : " Wee do therefore once againe renew 
hereby our direction unto yow, as wee have donne 
by our lettres to the justices of Middlesex and 
Surrey, concerninge the observation of our former 
Order, which wee do praie and require yow to cause 
duelie and dilligentlie to be put in execution for 
all poyntes thereof, and especiallie for the expresse 
and streight prohibition of any more playhowses 
then those two that are mentioned and allowed in 
the said Order." 

The letter to the magistrates of Surrey and Mid- 

316 Life of Shakespeare 

"The War of the Theatres," as it has been called, 
deserves some notice in connection with the dramatic 
history of the closing years of the sixteenth century. 
The " war " was due to the quarrels of Marston and 
Dekker with Ben Jonson, and the record of it is 
mainly to be found in their plays written between 
1598 and 1602. Other dramatists, including Shake 
speare, have been supposed to be involved in it, but 
there is no satisfactory evidence that they were. 

Marston' s Satires have generally been regarded 
as the first cause of the quarrel ; but the critics do 
not agree as to the passages in which Jonson is 
supposed to be satirized. Some believe that Tor- 
quatus in the Scourge of Villanie (1598) was meant 
for Jonson ; but this view is not supported by what 
Jonson himself says concerning the beginning of 
the quarrel. In the Apologetical Dialogue appended 
to The Poetaster, first printed in 1616, and stated to 
have been " only once spoken on the stage," Jonson 
says : 

" But sure I am, three years 
They did provoke me with their petulant styles 
On every stage ; and I at last, unwilling, 
But weary, I confess, of so much trouble, 
Thought I would try if shame could win upon 'em." 

In the Conversations with Drummond, we read : " He 
[Jonson] had many quarrels with Marston, beat him, 
and took his pistol from him, wrote his Poetaster on 
him ; the beginning of them were that Marston rep- 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 317 

resented him on the stage, in his youth given to 

If, as these passages both assert, the quarrel arose 
from some stage representation, it could not have 
been the Scourge of Villanie, which was a satire in 
verse ; and the internal evidence in the poem that 
Jonson is ridiculed is by no means decisive. 

Whether Marston began the quarrel or not, it is 
clear that Jonson attacked him in Every Man Out 
of His Humour (acted in 1599), where certain pecul 
iar words used by Marston in the Scourge of Villanie 
and Histriomastix are ridiculed, and the latter play 
is mentioned by name. Marston appears to have had 
a hand in Histriomastix, if he was not the sole author 
of it. The character of Chrisoganus in the play is 
quite certainly intended for Jonson ; and Carlo 
Buffone in Every Man Out of His Humour is meant 
by Jonson for Marston. 

Several plays by Dekker have been thought by 
critics to be connected with the quarrel between 
Jonson and Marston, and concerning Satiromastix 
(1601) at least there can be no doubt, as it is 
avowedly a reply to Ben's satirical comedies, espe 
cially to The Poetaster, in which Dekker is intro 
duced as Demetrius, who is to write a play ridiculing 
Horace (Jonson). 

Cynthia's Revels (1601) was written by Jonson to 
satirize the four men (probably Marston, Daniel, 
Lodge, and Munday) who had been ridiculed in 
Every Man Out of His Humour. The Poetaster, 

320 Life of Shakespeare 

Histrio says that the reason for hiring Demetrius 
to bring in Horace and his gallants in a play is 
" that it will get us a huge deal of money . . . and 
we have need on ? t." " Of course," as Professor J. 
H. Penniman remarks, in his War of the Theatres 
(1897), "any profit to be derived from satirical 
plays could be gained by Jonson as well as by his 
opponents. Although he was several times involved 
in legal difficulties on account of his plays, and 
although the Elizabethan laws concerning libel and 
slander were severe, and the people of the time 
were litigious, yet we have no record of any legal 
action instituted by the playwrights against Jonson, 
or by Jonson against the playwrights. There was 
undoubtedly much bitterness of feeling on both 
sides, but, much as they hated each other, they 
sought no legal redress, for the almost libellous 
plays were a source of profit, and legal proceedings 
might have killed the goose that laid the golden 

In the plays already mentioned as connected 
with the " War of the Theatres " there is no evi 
dence worthy of serious consideration to show that 
Shakespeare was involved in the wordy conflict. It 
is improbable, indeed, that he would have been sup 
posed to be one of the combatants except for a 
perplexing allusion to him in The Return from 
Parnassus, a play " publiquely acted by the students 
in St. Johns Colledge, in Cambridge," as the title- 
page of the edition of 1606 informs -us. This 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 321 

performance at Cambridge was at Christmas tide, 
1601-2, and not improbably on the 1st of January, 

The play must have been written after The Poet 
aster, to which there is a direct allusion. In iv. 3, 
Kempe says to Burbage : " Few of the university 
pen plaies well, they smell too much of that writer 
Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talke too 
much of Proserpina and Juppiter. Why heres our 
fellow Shakespeare puts them all downe, I [ay] and 
Ben Jonson too. that Ben Jonson is a pestilent 
fellow, he brought up Horace giving the Poets a 
pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him 
a purge that made him beray his credit." 

At first thought it is natural to suppose that the 
" purge " given by Shakespeare to Ben Jonson is a 
play ; and the only play of Shakespeare's that can 
possibly be considered as meant is Troilus and Cres- 
sida, the date of which is put by some critics as 
early as 1601. 

A play upon Shakespeare's name has been fan 
cied to occur in Histriomastix in the following 

" Thy knight his valiant elbow wears, 
That when he shakes his furious speare 
The foe in shivering fearful sort 
May lay him down in death to snort." 

In Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida the line (i. 3. 
73), "When rank Thersites opes his mastic jaws," 

322 Life of Shakespeare 

has been supposed to contain in the word mastic an 
allusion to Histriomastix, and Thersites has been 
suspected to represent Marston, while Ajax is Ben 
Jonson. Fleay declares that "hardly a word is 
spoken of or by Ajax in ii. 3 and iii. 3 which does 
not apply literally to Jonson ; and in ii. 1 he beats 
Thersites of the < mastic jaws' as Jonson 'beat 
Marston'" (Conversations with Drummond). More 
over, "Thersites in all respects resembles Marston, 
the railing satirist ; " and the " purge " is from 
Troilus and Cressida, ii. 3. 223: "He will be the 
physician that should be the patient." In another 
passage Fleay says that "the setting up of Ajax as 
a rival to Achilles shadows forth the putting for 
ward of Dekker by the King's men to write against 
Jonson his Satiromastix ; " and in yet another pas 
sage he says that Dekker is Thersites in Troilus and 
Cressida. It will be seen that Fleay is not consist 
ent with himself, as indeed he has often failed to 
be in discussing other dramatic questions. In 
the first passage, Ajax is Jonson, and Thersites is 
Marston; in the second, Ajax is Dekker and Achil 
les is Jonson ; in the third, Thersites is Dekker. 
Gifford maintained that the " purge " was merely 
Shakespeare's great superiority to other play 
wrights; and Sidney Lee takes it to refer to the 
fact that " Shakespeare had signally outstripped 
Jonson in popular esteem ; " adding that, " as the 
author of Julius Ccesar, he had just proved his 
command of topics that were peculiarly suited to 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 323 

Jonson's vein, and had in fact outrun his churlish 
comrade on his own ground." Professor Penniman 
thinks that the " purge " must be " something more 
definite" than Gifford suggests, and was "presu 
mably a play ; " and Dr. Brinsley Nicholson supposes 
it to be some play of Shakespeare's that has not 
come down to us. Dr. Cartwright, in his Shake 
speare and Ben Jonson, Dramatic versus Wit Com 
bats, connects Shakespeare's Much Ado, As You Like 
It, Timon of Athens, and Othello with the quarrel. 
"Who can doubt that lago is malignant Ben?" 
Fleay recognises Marston as Malvolio in Twelfth 
Night, and Maria's "M. 0. A. I." in the forged 
letter as "Jo. Ma. (John Marston)." "With the 
locking up of Crispinus in some dark place, com 
pare the imprisonment of Malvolio." Verily, as 
Dowden says of certain wild theories concerning the 
Sonnets, " these be the pranks of Puck among the 
critics ! " 

The simplest solution of the problem is, on the 
whole, the most satisfactory ; and Sidney Lee is, to 
my thinking, substantially right, though it does not 
seem necessary to suspect a specific allusion to Julius 
Ccesar. The author of The Return from Parnassus 
makes simply a metaphorical reference to Ben Jon- 
son's purgative pill, which was a disagreeable dose 
for his patients. Shakespeare gave Ben an equally 
unpalatable dose by outdoing him as a playwright 
and thus physicking his abounding self-conceit ; and 
this treatment was wholly independent of Ben's 

324 Life of Shakespeare 

quarrel with his fellow dramatists, in which the 
" gentle Shakespeare " had no part whatsoever. 

Shakespeare's company acted before Elizabeth at 
Richmond Palace on Twelfth Night and Shrove 
Sunday, 1600, and at Whitehall on the 26th of 
December. On March the 6th they were at Somer 
set House, and there performed, before Lord Huns- 
don and some foreign ambassadors, another drama 
on the subject of Oldcastle. The Queen kept her 
Court at Whitehall in the Christmas of 1601-1602, 
and during the holidays four plays were exhibited 
before her by Shakespeare's company. They also 
acted at Richmond on Candlemas Day, February 
2d, 1603, and this was the last occasion on which 
they could have appeared before Elizabeth, as she 
died on the 24th of March, 1603. 

James arrived in London on May the 17th, 1603, 
and ten days afterwards he granted, by bill of Privy 
Signet, a license to Shakespeare and the other mem 
bers of his company to perform in London and in 
the provinces. The royal license reads thus : 

" James, by the grace of God King of England, Scot 
land, Fraunce, and Irland, Defender of the Faith, etc. to all 
justices, maiors, sheriffes, constables, headboroughes, and 
other our officers and loving subjects greeting. Know ye, 
that we of our speciall grace, certaine knowledge, and 
meere motion, have licenced and authorized, and by 
these presentes doe licence and authorize, these our ser 
vants, Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard 

Theatrical Affairs, 1595-1605 325 

Burbage, Augustine Phillippes, John Hemmings, Henrie 
Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowlye, 
and the rest of their associats, freely to use and exercise 
the arte and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies, his 
tories, enterludes, moralls, pastorals, stage-plaies, and such 
other like, as thei have already studied, or hereafter shall 
use or studie, as well for the recreation of our loving sub 
jects, as for our solace and pleasure, when we shall thinke 
good to see them, during our pleasure ; and the said com 
edies, trajedies, histories, enterludes, moralls, pastoralls, 
stage-plaies, and such like, to shew and exercise publiquely 
to their best commoditie, when the infection of the plague 
shall decrease, as well within theire now usuall howse 
called the Globe, within our county of Surrey, as also 
within anie towne halls, or mout halls, or other conve 
nient places within the liberties and freedome of any 
other citie, universitie, towne, or borough whatsoever 
within our said realmes and dominions : willing and 
commaunding you, and every of you, as you tender our 
pleasure, not only to permit and suffer them heerin, 
without any your letts, hinderances, or molestations, 
during our said pleasure, but also to be ayding or assist 
ing to them yf any wrong be to them offered ; arid to 
allowe them such former courtesies, as hathe bene given 
to men of their place and qualitie ; and also what further 
favour you shall shew to these our servants for our sake, 
we shall take kindly at your hands. And these our let 
ters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge in this 
behalf e. Given under our signet at our mannor of Greene- 
wiche, the seavententh day of May in the first yeere of 
our raigne of England, Fraunce, and Irland, and of Scot 
land the six and thirtieth." 

326 Life of Shakespeare 

The King was staying in December, 1603, at 
Wilton, the seat of one of Shakespeare's patrons, 
William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke, and on 
the second of that month the company had the 
honour of performing before the distinguished party 
then assembled in that noble mansion. In the fol 
lowing Christmas holidays, 1603-1604, they were 
acting on several occasions at Hampton Court, the 
play selected for representation on the first evening 
of the new year being mentioned by one of the 
audience under the name of Robin Goodfellow, pos 
sibly a familiar title of the Midsummer-Night's 
Dream. Their services were again invoked by roy 
alty at Candlemas and on Shrove Sunday, on the 
former occasion at Hampton Court before the Floren 
tine ambassador, and on the latter at Whitehall. At 
this time they were prohibited from acting in or 
near London because of the plague ; and the King 
on that account made the company a present of 
thirty pounds. 

On the loth of March, 1604, James undertook his 
formal march from the Tower to Westminster, amid 
emphatic demonstrations of welcome, passing every 
now and then under the most elaborate triumphal 
arches London had ever seen. In the royal train 
were the nine actors to whom the special license 
had been granted the previous year, including of 
course Shakespeare and his three friends, Burbage, 
Hemmings, and Condell. Each of them was 'pre 
sented with four yards and a half of scarlet cloth, 

Theatrical Affairs, 15951605 327 

the usual dress-allowance to players belonging to 
the household. The poet and his colleagues, now 
termed the King's Servants, took rank at Court 
among the Grooms of the Chamber. 

On the evening of Hallowmas Day, November 1st, 
1604, " The Moor of Venice " (Othello) was played 
before the Court at Whitehall. Richard Burbage 
took the part of Othello. The Elegy on Burbage 
refers to him as unrivalled in the character of " the 
grieved Moor." In the Christmas holidays of 1604, 
Measure for Measure was played at Whitehall. 



OF all the perplexing problems concerning Shake 
speare and his works none have been the subject of 
more speculation and controversy than the history 
and the interpretation of the Sonnets. 

What we really know about the Sonnets can be 
stated in a few sentences. The earliest known 
reference to them is in the often-quoted list of the 
poet's plays and poems in the Palladis Tamia 
of Francis Meres, who calls them "his sugred 
Sonnets among his private friends" (see page 232 
above). This was in 1598, and in the next year 
two of them (138 and 144) were printed in The 
Passionate Pilgrim. 

In 1609 the entire collection was published, by 
Thomas Thorpe, with the following title-page : 

printed. AT LONPON. By G. Eld for T. T. and 
to be solde by William Aspley. 1609." 

In some copies the latter part of the imprint 
reads: "to be solde by lohn Wright, dwelling at 
Christ Church gate. 1609." 

The dedication of the volume is as follows : 


The Sonnets 329 












T. T. 

At the end of the volume A Lover's Complaint 
was printed. 

In 1640 the Sonnets (except Nos. 18, 19, 43, 56, 
75, 76, 96, and 126), re-arranged under various 
titles, were reprinted, with the pieces in The 
Passionate Pilgrim, A Lover's Complaint, The 
Phcenix and Turtle, and other poems (see page 221 
above), some of which are known to be Shake 
speare's, while others are falsely ascribed to him. 

330 Life of Shakespeare 

There is an introductory address " To the Eeader " 
by the publisher, in which he asserts that the poems 
are " of the same purity the Authour himself e then 
living avouched," and that they will be found 
" seren, cleere and eligantly plaine." He adds that 
by bringing them " to the perfect view of all men " 
he is " glad to be serviceable for the continuance of 
glory to the deserved Author." 

The order of the poems in this volume is followed 
in the editions of Gildon (1710) and of Sewell 
(1725 and 1728) ; also in those published by Ewing 
(1771) and Evans (1775). In all these editions the 
sonnets mentioned above (18, 19, etc.) are omitted, 
and 138 and 144 are given in the form in which 
they appear in The Passionate Pilgrim. 

The first complete reprint of the Sonnets, after 
the edition of 1609, appears to have been in the 
collected edition of Shakespeare's Poems, published 
by Lintott in 1709. 

So much for facts about which there is no dis 
pute; and now for a few of the most important 
questions- concerning the Sonnets over which editors, 
commentators, and critics have wrangled, and over 
some of which they will doubtless continue to 
wrangle to the last syllable of recorded time. 

Was the edition of 1609 authorized or supervised 
by Shakespeare ? Some editors have answered the 
question in the negative, but the reasons given for 
the decision are far from conclusive. The fact that 
the dedication is the publisher's, not the author's, 

The Sonnets 331 

has, for instance, been cited; but there are those 
who tell us that the poet, for certain reasons, chose 
to hide behind Master Thorpe. Dowden, who 
summarizes the entire literature of the subject 
in the introduction to his larger edition of the 
Sonnets, says "there is reason to believe" that 
the edition of 1609 had "neither the superintend 
ence nor the consent of the author ; " but the only- 
reason he gives for this opinion and presumably 
the best he could offer is that the book, " though 
not carelessly printed, is far less accurate than the 
Venus and Adonis." That poem and the Lucrece 
are the only works of Shakespeare that he himself 
appears to have seen through the press. Both are 
carefully printed for that day, and the Lucrece 
at least, as the variations in copies of the first 
edition clearly prove, was corrected by the author 
while on the press. Both, moreover, contain formal 
dedications signed with his name. 

The 1609 edition of the Sonnets, on the other 
hand, abounds in errors of the type, most of which 
Shakespeare could not have failed to detect if he 
had supervised the printing. He was pretty cer 
tainly in London in 1609, and if he allowed these 
" sugred sonnets " to be printed at all, he would 
surely have seen that they were printed well. 

The question, however, is definitely settled (as I 
was the first to point out) by one little peculiarity 
in the printing of the 126th Sonnet, if sonnet it 
may be called. It has only twelve lines, and Thorpe 

332. Life of Shakespeare 

(or his editor), assuming that a couplet had been 
lost, completed the normal fourteen lines by two 
blank ones enclosed in marks of parenthesis j 
thus : 

Shakespeare could not have done this, and Thorpe 
would not have done it if he had been in communi 
cation with Shakespeare. In that case he would 
have asked the poet for the couplet he supposed to 
be missing, and would have been told that nothing 
was missing. The piece is not an imperfect sonnet 
of Shakespeare's pattern, but is made up of six 
rhymed couplets, and the sense is apparently com 

There is another fact that may have a bearing 
upon this question. The final couplet of the 96th 
Sonnet is the same as that of the 36th. The lines 
do not fit the latter poem so well as they do the 
earlier one. Possibly, as Dowden suggests, the 
manuscript of the 96th may have been imperfect, 
and Thorpe, or his editor, filled it out as well as he 
could with a couplet from another Sonnet. Of 
course he would not have done this if the book 
had been printed with the author's knowledge, or 

If Shakespeare had nothing to do, directly or 
indirectly, with the publication of the Sonnets, the 
fact has some important bearings, as we shall see 
further on. 

The Sonnets 


Are the Sonnets, wholly or in part, autobio 
graphical, or are they merely " poetical exercises " 
dealing with imaginary persons and experiences? 
This is the question to which all others relating to 
the poems are secondary and subordinate. 

For myself, I firmly believe that the great 
majority of the Sonnets, to quote what Wordsworth 
says of them, " express Shakespeare's own feelings 
in his own person ; " or, as he says in his sonnet 
on the sonnet, "with this same key Shakespeare 
unlocked his heart." Browning, quoting this, asks : 
"Did Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare 
he!" to which Swinburne replies, "No whit the 
less like Shakespeare, but undoubtedly the less like 

The theory that the Sonnets are mere exercises 
of fancy, "the free outcome of a poetic imagina 
tion," as Delius phrases it, is easy and specious at 
first, but lands us at last among worse perplexities 
than it evades. That Shakespeare, for example, 
should write seventeen sonnets urging a young man 
to marry and perpetuate his family is strange 
enough, but that he should select such a theme 
as the fictitious basis for seventeen sonnets is 
stranger yet; and the same may be said of the 
story or stories underlying other of the poems. 
Some critics, indeed, who take them to be thus 
artificially inspired, have been compelled to regard 
them as " satirical " intended to ridicule the 
sonneteers of the period, especially Drayton and 

334 Life of Shakespeare 

John Davies of Hereford. Others, like Professor 
Minto, who believe the first 126 to be personal, 
regard the rest as "exercises of skill, undertaken 
in a spirit of wanton defiance and derision of 
commonplace." The poems, to quote Dowden, " are 
in the taste of the time ; less extravagant and less 
full of conceits than many other Elizabethan collec 
tions, more distinguished by exquisite- imagination 
and all that betokens genuine feeling ; they are, as 
far as manner goes, such sonnets as Daniel might 
have chosen to write if he had had the imagination 
and the heart of Shakespeare. All that is quaint 
or contorted or < conceited' in them can be paral 
leled from passages of early plays of Shakespeare, 
such as Romeo and Juliet, and the Two Gentlemen of 
Verona, where assuredly no satirical intention is 

If the Sonnets were mostly written before 1598 
when Mer'es refers to them, or 1599 when Jaggard 
printed two of them, or in 1593 and 1594, as Sidney 
Lee assumes, and if most of them, as the same 
critic believes, were "little more than professional 
trials of skill, often of superlative merit, to which 
the poet deemed himself challenged by the efforts 
of contemporary practitioners," it is passing strange 
that Shakespeare should not have published them 
ten or fifteen years before they were brought out 
by the pirate Thorpe. He must have written them 
for publication if that was their character, and the 
extraordinary popularity of his earlier poems would 

The Sonnets 335 

have ensured them a favourable reception with the 
public. His fellow-townsman and friend, Richard 
Field, who had published the Venus and Adonis 
in 1593 and the Lucrece in 1'594, and who must 
have known of the circulation of the sonnets in 
manuscript, would have urged him to publish them ; 
or, if the author had declined to let them be 
printed, some pirate, like Jaggard or Thorpe, would 
have done it long before 1609. Mr. Lee tells us 
that Sidney, Watson, Daniel, and Constable circu 
lated their sonnets for some time in manuscript, 
but he tells us also that the pirates generally got 
hold of them and published them within a few 
years if the authors did not do it. But the history 
of The Passionate Pilgrim shows that it was not so 
easy to obtain copies of Shakespeare's sonnets for 
publication. It was the success of Venus and Adonis 
and Lucrece (the fourth edition of the former being 
issued in 1599 and the second of the latter in 1598) 
which prompted Jaggard to compile The Passionate 
Pilgrim in 1599 ; and it is a significant fact that he 
was able to rake together only ten poems which can 
possibly be Shakespeare's, and three of these were 
from Love's Labour's Lost, which had been pub 
lished in 1598. To these ten pieces he added ten 
others (eleven, as ordinarily printed) which he 
impudently called Shakespeare's, though we know 
that most of them were stolen and can trace some 
of them to their authors. His book bears evidence 
in its very make-up that he was hard pushed to fill 

^336 Life of Shakespeare 

the pages and give the purchaser a tolerable six 
pence-worth. The matter is printed on but one 
side of the leaf, and is further spun out by putting 
a head-piece and tail-piece on every page, so that a 
dozen lines of text sandwiched between these con 
venient pictorial devices may make as fair a show 
as double the quantity would ordinarily present. 

Note, however, that, with all his pickings and 
stealings, Jaggard managed to secure but two of the 
sonnets, though more than a hundred of them were 
probably in existence among the author's " private 
friends/' as Meres expressed it a year before. The 
pirate Newman, in 1591, was able to print one 
hundred and eight sonnets by Sidney which had 
been circulated in manuscript, and to add to them 
twenty-eight by Daniel without the author's knowl 
edge ; and other similar instances are mentioned by 
Mr. Lee. How, then, are we to explain the fact 
that Jaggard could obtain only two of Shakespeare's 
sonnets, five years or more after they had been 
circulating among his friends ? Is it not evident 
that the poems must have been carefully guarded 
by these friends on account of their personal and 
private character ? A dozen more of those sonnets 
would have filled out Jaggard' s "larcenous bundle 
of verse," and have obviated the necessity of pilfer 
ing from Barnfield, Griffin, Marlowe, and the rest; 
but at the time they were in such close confidential 
keeping that he could get no copies of them. In 
the course of years they were shown to a larger and 

The Sonnets 337 

larger number of "private friends," and with, the 
multiplication of copies the chances of their getting 
outside of that confidential circle were proportion 
ally increased. We need not be surprised, then, 
that a decade later somebody had succeeded in 
obtaining copies of them all, and sold the collection 
to Thorpe. 

Even if we suppose that the sonnets had been 
impersonal, and that Shakespeare for some reason 
that we cannot guess had wished to withhold them 
from the press, we may be sure that he could not 
have done it in that day of imperfect copyright 
restrictions. Nothing could have kept a hundred 
and fifty poems by so popular an author out of 
print if there had not been strong personal reasons 
for maintaining their privacy. At least seven edi 
tions of the Venus and Adonis and four of the 
Lucrece appeared before Thorpe was able to secure 
" copy " for his edition of the Sonnets. 

If, as Mr. Lee asserts, Southampton was the 
<( patron " to whom twenty of the sonnets which 
may be called "dedicatory" sonnets (23, 26, 32, 
37, 38, 69, 77-86, 100, 101, 103, and 106) are ad 
dressed, it is all the more remarkable that Shake 
speare should not have published them, or, if he 
hesitated to do it, that his noble patron should not 
have urged it. He had already dedicated both the 
Venus and Adonis and the Lucrece to Southampton ; 
and Mr. Lee says that " three of the twenty dedi 
catory sonnets [26, 32, 38] merely translate into the 

338 Life of Shakespeare 

language of poetry the expressions of devotion which 
had already done duty in the dedicatory epistle in 
verse that precedes Lucrece." Other sonnet-sequences 
of the time (including the four mentioned by Mr. 
Lee as pirated while circulated in manuscript, ex 
cept Sidney's, which were not thus published until 
after his death) were brought out by their authors, 
with dedications to noble lords or ladies. Shake 
speare's sonnets, so far as I am aware, are the only 
exception to the rule. 

Mr. Lee himself admits that " at a first glance a 
far larger proportion of Shakespeare's sonnets give 
the reader the illusion of personal confessions 
than those of any contemporary ; " and elsewhere 
he recognizes in them more "intensity" than ap 
pears in the earlier poems except in " occasional 
utterances " of Lucrece ; but, for all that, he would 
have us believe that they are not personal, and that 
their " superior and more evenly sustained energy 
is to be attributed, not to the accession of power 
that comes with increase of years, but to the innate 
principles of the poetic form, and to metrical exi 
gencies which impelled the sonneteer to aim at a 
uniform condensation of thought and language." I 
cannot help agreeing with those who regard their 
personal character as no " illusion," and who believe 
that they clearly show the increase of power which 
comes with years, their true date probably being 
1597-98 rather than 1593-94. 

For myself, I could as soon believe the peniten- 

The Sonnets 


tial psalms of David to be purely rhetorical and 
fictitious as the 129th sonnet, than which no more 
remorseful utterance was ever wrung from a soul 
that had tasted the ashes to which the Sodom- 
apples of illicit love are turned in the end. Have 
we there nothing but the "admirable fooling" of 
the actor masquerading in the garb of the penitent, 
or the satirist mimicking the conceits and affecta 
tions of the sonneteers of the time? If this is 
supposed to be the counterfeit of feeling, I can 
only exclaim with Leonato in Much Ado, " God ! 
counterfeit ! There was never counterfeit of passion 
came so near the life of passion ! " 

To whom is the Dedication addressed, and what 
does it mean ? 

If Shakespeare had nothing to do with Thorpe's 
venture, the dedication is Thorpe's own, as it pur 
ports to be. But in what sense was " Mr. W. H.," 
whoever he may have been, " the onlie begetter " of 
the Sonnets? "Begetter" may mean either the 
person to whom the poems owed their birth and to 
whom they were originally addressed, or the one 
who collected and arranged them for Thorpe. The 
majority of critics take the word in the former and 
more familiar sense, while the minority cite ex 
amples of the other meaning from writers of the 
time, and argue plausibly for its adoption here. 
Both explanations have their difficulties, but the 
first seems on the whole the more probable. The 
choice between them does not of necessity affect 

34 Life of Shakespeare 

the opinions we may form concerning the origin, 
the order, or the significance of the Sonnets. Who 
" Mr. W. H." was critics will probably jiever agree 
in deciding; but if he was not the editor of the 
book of 1609, it had an editor about whom we 
know with certainty neither more nor less than 
we know about "Mr. W. H." 

The vital question concerning the unknown editor 
is whether he was in the confidence of either the 
writer of the sonnets or the person or persons to or 
for whom they were written. If he was not, his 
arrangement of the poems is not an authoritative 
one; and that he was not is evident from the fact 
that he did not, and presumably could not, ask either 
the author or the addressee of the 126th Sonnet for 
that supposed lost couplet. Neither author nor ad 
dressee could have been privy to the publication of 
the poems, and neither would have assisted the 
piratical editor or publisher in arranging them for 
the press. 

Dr. Furnivall, in a private note, says he has no 
doubt that the insertion of the marks of parenthesis 
"was the printer's doings ; " and Mr. Thomas Tyler, 
in his edition of the Sonnets (London, 1890), expresses 
the same opinion; but it is extremely improbable 
that the printer would resort to this extraordinary 
typographical expedient (absolutely unprecedented, 
so far as my observation goes) without consulting 
the publisher, and Thorpe would not have consented 
to it if he could have avoided it. It is clear that 

The Sonnets 341 

printer or publisher, or both, considered that some 
thing was evidently wanting which could not be 
supplied and must be accounted for. 

Dr. Furnivall also says that our " editor " is " an 
imaginary being." He is in no wise essential to 
the theory. If anybody chooses to regard Thorpe 
as his own editor, be it so. Whether he arranged 
the poems as we find them in his edition or some 
body else arranged them for him does not matter. 
Whichever it may have been, he simply did the 
work as well as he could from what he knew of 
the history of the poems or could learn from a study 
of them. He seems to have discovered enough about 
their origin and their meaning to enable him to get 
them nearly in their proper order ; but it is not 
improbable that, if Shakespeare had read the proof- 
sheets, he might have made some transpositions. 

The editor, as we will call him, though not in the 
confidence of the persons directly concerned, had 
evidently become deeply interested in the poems, 
and spent much time and labour in making a CQ!- 
lection of them. In the course of the ten years or 
more previous to 1609, he had gathered in the 154, 
which he sorted and arranged for publication. Those 
urging a friend to marry were easily picked out; 
and this group of seventeen, as the largest or, 
perhaps, as that in which the connection would be 
most obvious to the average reader he placed first. 
As to the arrangement of the other groups he had 
made, he doubtless had his own theory, based, we 

34 2 Life of Shakespeare 

may suppose, on facts better known or more acces 
sible then than now ; but he had not all the infor 
mation he needed for doing the work with absolute 
accuracy. After arranging the first 126, or all that 
he regarded as addressed* to "Mr. W. H." or the 
poet's male friend, he appended those written to 
the "dark lady," as he supposed apparently with 
out any attempt at regular order, except in a few 
small groups readily made up and, having added 
the two Cupid sonnets, handed the whole collection 
to Thorpe for printing. 

It is hardly possible that certain of the sonnets in 
the second group (127-152) were really addressed 
to the " dark lady " 129, for instance, though it 
may have been suggested by his relations with her; 
and 146, which seems to be entirely independent of 
that entanglement. 

It is also very doubtful whether certain sonnets 
in the first group (1-126) properly belong there. 
Some of them appear to have been addressed to a 
woman rather than a man for instance, 97, 98, 99, 
etc. Of course everybody familiar with the literature 
of that time knows, as Dyce remarks, that " it was 
then not uncommon for one man to write verses to 
another in a strain of such tender affection as fully 
warrants us in terming them amatory." Many of 
Shakespeare's sonnets which he addressed to his 
young friend are of this character, and were it not 
for internal evidence to the contrary might be sup 
posed to be addressed to a woman. But Sonnets 97, 


The Sonnets 343 

98, and 99 could hardly have been written to a male 
friend even in that day. Look at 99, for example : 

The forward violet thus did I chide : 

Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that 


If not from my love's breath ? The purple pride 
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells 
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed. 
The lily I condemned for thy hand, 
And buds of marjoram had stolen thy hair ; 
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, 
One blushing shame, another white despair ; 
A third, nor red nor white, had stolen of both, 
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath ; 
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth 
A vengeful canker eat him up to death. 
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see 
But sweet or colour it had stolen from thee." 

If this sonnet were met with where we had no ex 
ternal evidence that it was addressed to a man, could 
we have a moment's hesitation in deciding that it 
must be addressed to a woman ? Even in Eliza 
bethan times when extravagant eulogies of manly 
beauty were so common, do we find the poet dwell 
ing upon his " love's breath " or the " lily " white 
ness of his hand ? From first to last, the sweetness 
and loveliness described in the verses are unmistak 
ably feminine. There are other sonnets in this 
group which may or may not belong in it ; there is 
no internal evidence to settle the question. Our 

344 Life of Shakespeare 

editor gave them the benefit of the doubt, and put 
them in ; but he had no better authority for doing 
so than any of his successors. 

Moreover, certain sonnets in the first group appear 
to be out of place, though many of the editors 
attempt to prove that the order of the series is 
Shakespeare's own. But if the 70th Sonnet is ad 
dressed to the same person as 3335 (to say nothing 
of 40-42) it seems to be clearly out of place. Here 
the poet says : 

" That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect, 
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair ; 
The ornament of beauty is suspect, 
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. 
So thou be good, slander doth but approve 
Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time ; 
For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love, 
And thou present'st a pure unstained prime. 
Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days, 
Either not assail'd or victor being charged ; 
Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise, 
To tie up envy evermore enlarged." 

His friend has been charged with yielding to the 
seductions of vice, but the accusations are declared 
to be false and slanderous. He is said to present 
"a pure unstained prime," having passed through 
the temptations of youth either " not assailed " by 
them or " victor being charged ; " but in 33-35 we 
learn that he has been assailed and has not come 

The Sonnets 345 

off victorious. There the " stain " and " disgrace " 
of his " sensual fault " are clearly set forth, though 
they are excused and forgiven. Here the young 
man is the victim of slander, but has in no wise 
deserved it. If he is the same young man who is 
so plainly, though sadly and tenderly, reproved in 
33-35, this sonnet must have been written before 
those. One broken link spoils the chain ; if the 
order of the poems is wrong here, it may be so else 

Mr. Tyler's attempt to show that this sonnet is 
not out of place is a good illustration of the " tricks 
of desperation " to which a critic may be driven in 
defence of his theory : " Slander ever fastens on the 
purest characters. His friend's prime was unstained, 
such an affair as that with the poet's mistress not be 
ing regarded, apparently, as involving serious moral 
blemish. Moreover, there had been forgiveness ; and 
the special reference here may be to some charge 
of which Mr. W. H. was innocent." Whatever this 
charge may be, the " pure unstained prime " covers 
the period referred to in Sonnets 33-35 and 40-42 ; 
and the young man's conduct then appeared a " tres 
pass " and a " sin," a " shame " and a " disgrace," to 
the friend who now, according to Mr. Tyler, sees no 
" serious moral blemish " in it. Let the reader com 
pare the poems for himself, and draw his own con 
clusions. Mr. Tyler has the grace to add to what 
is quoted above : " But (as in 79) Shakespeare can 
scarcely escape the charge of adulation." Rather 

346 Life of Shakespeare 

than believe William Shakespeare guilty of " adula 
tion " so ineffably base and sycophantic, I could sup 
pose, as some do, that Bacon wrote the Sonnets. 

Both Furnivall and Dowden, in their exposition 
of the relation of each sonnet to the story involved 
in the series, fail to explain this 70th Sonnet satis 
factorily. Furnivall's comment, in his analysis of 
Sonnets 67-70, is this : " Will has mixed with bad 
company, but Shakespeare is sure he is pure, and 
excuses him." At this stage of the friendship, 
then, Shakespeare is " sure " that the young man is 
" pure ; " but in the analysis of Sonnets 33-35, we 
read: "Will's sensual fault blamed, repented, and 
forgiven;" and this "fault," as the context ex 
plains, is taking away Shakespeare's mistress. 
There can be no doubt as to the fact and the 
nature of the sin mourned and condemned in the 
earlier sonnets ; nor can there be any question that 
the later sonnet congratulates the youth to whom 
it is addressed, not on having repented after yield 
ing to temptation, but on having either escaped or 
resisted all such temptations. If this youth and 
the other youth are one and the same, the sonnets 
cannot be in chronological order. 

Dowden, in like manner, infers from the earlier 
sonnets that "Will" has been "false to friend 
ship," and that the only excuse that Shakespeare 
can offer for him is that " he is but a boy whom a 
woman has beguiled ; " but in the 70th Sonnet the 
poet says that the charges of loose living brought 

The Sonnets 347 

against his friend "must be slanders." Dowden 
cannot mean that this sonnet is a friendly attempt 
to apologize for Will's disgrace after the poet has 
forgiven him. We have that in Sonnets 35, 36, 40, 
41, and 42, where Elizabethan conceits are racked 
to the uttermost to excuse both his friend and his 
mistress for playing him false; but, in 70 his 
friend is " pure," though he cannot escape slander, 
"unstained," though envy would fain besmirch 

Mr. Gollancz, in the "Temple" edition of the 
Sonnets, after quoting what I say in my edition 
(as here) to prove that 70 is out of place, simply 
repeats Tyler's attempt to prove the contrary. 
"Surely," he says, "the faults referred to in the 
earlier sonnets are not only forgiven, but here [in 
70] imputed to slander." This is an evasion of my 
argument. That the sin was forgiven is obvious; 
but the later sonnet says that the sin was never 
committed, and it therefore needed no forgiveness. 
How lightly such lapses were regarded in the olden 
time we all know ; but in this case the treason to 
friendship was added, and the earlier sonnets show 
that Shakespeare did not regard the double sin as 
" involving no serious moral blemish." 

The critics who believe the Sonnets to be autobio 
graphical generally agree in assuming that all of 
them (or all but two) are either addressed to one 
man and one woman, or connected with the poet's 
relations with those two persons. Is it not prob- 


Life of Shakespeare 

able, on the face of it, that a poet who " unlocked 
his heart " to such an extent in this form of verse 
would occasionally, if not often, have employed it 
in expressing his feelings towards other friends or 
with reference to other experiences? Is it likely 
that the two Cupid sonnets (153, 154) and the 
Venus and Adonis sonnets in The Passionate Pil 
grim (if we believe those to be Shakespeare's 
which is extremely improbable) and the sonnets in 
Love's Labour's Lost are his only efforts in this 
kind of composition outside of this great series? 
Is it not far more probable that some sonnets in 
this series really have no connection with the per 
sons and events supposed to be directly connected 
with the series ? 

If we assume that the Sonnets are autobiograph 
ical, and that all, or nearly all, are addressed to two 
persons a young man beloved of the poet, and 
the "dark lady," with whom they were both en 
tangled can these persons be identified ? The 
majority of the critics who accept the personal 
theory assume that the " Mr. W. H." of the dedica 
tion was this young man, rather than the collector 
or editor of the poems. 

The only theories concerning the young man 
(whether "Mr. W. H." or not) that are worthy of 
serious consideration are that he was William 
Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, or that he was Henry 
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. 

As early as 1819 Mr. B. H. Bright suggested 

The Sonnets 


that Herbert was the man, and this theory has 
steadily gained favour with biographers and critics. 
The editor of the "Temple" edition, who accepts 
the Southampton theory, writing a few years ago, 
believed that the Herbert theory was "in the as 
cendant." He added: "Many a former ally of 
Southampton has rallied round the banner unfurled 
by Herbert's redoubtable champion, Mr. Thomas 
Tyler." But more recently (in 1897) Sidney Lee, 
who had been on the side of Herbert, has now (in 
his article on Shakespeare in the Dictionary of 
National Biography, and in his Life of Shake 
speare) gone over to the Southampton party; and 
Mrs. Stopes and one or two other recent writers 
have also joined that faction. 

William Herbert was born April 8th, 1580 ; and 
in the spring of 1598 he came to reside in London. 
He was brilliant, accomplished, and licentious ; " the 
most universally beloved and esteemed of any man 
in London" (Clarendon). To him and his brother 
Philip, Earl of Montgomery, as two patrons of the 
dramatist, Hemings and Condell dedicated the folio 
of 1623. The " Herbertists " assign the Sonnets to 
the years 15971601. The most serious objection 
to regarding him as "Mr. W. H." (or the person 
addressed in the Sonnets) was the improbability 
that the poet would write seventeen sonnets to 
urge a youth of seventeen or eighteen to marry; 
but Mr. Tyler discovered, from letters preserved in 
the Kecord Office, that in 1597 the parents of Will- 

35 Life of Shakespeare 

iam Herbert were engaged in negotiations for his 
marriage to Bridget Vere, daughter of the Earl of 
Oxford. The course of the parental match-making 
ran smooth for a while, but was soon checked by 
obstacles not clearly explained in the correspond 
ence. Shakespeare may have written the seven 
teen sonnets afc the request of Herbert's mother, 
the Countess of Pembroke. 

It is a curious fact that Grant White, in his first 
edition of Shakespeare (1865) had said of Sonnets 
1-17 : " There seems to be no imaginable reason 
for seventeen such poetical petitions. But that a 
mother should be thus solicitous is not strange, or 
that she should long to see the beautiful children 
of her own beautiful offspring. The desire for 
grandchildren, and the love of them, seem some 
times even stronger than parental yearning. But I 
hazard this conjecture with little confidence." 

Mr. Tyler also attempted to prove that the "dark 
lady" was Mary Fitton, maid of honour to Queen 
Elizabeth, and mistress of Herbert, by whom she 
had a child in 1601. The Queen could not overlook 
the offence, and sent the father to the Fleet Prison. 
He was soon released, but appears never to have 
regained the royal favour. 

There is no direct evidence to connect Shake 
speare with Mistress Fitton ; but we find that she 
was on somewhat intimate terms with a member of 
his theatrical company, that is, the Lord Chamber 
lain's Company, and was probably acquainted with 

The Sonnets 351 

other members of it. In 1600 William Kemp, the 
clown in the company, dedicated his Nine dales 
wonder to " Mistris Anne Fitton, Mayde of Honour 
to most sacred Mayde, Eoyal Queene Elizabeth." 
As Elizabeth certainly had no maid of honour 
named Anne Fitton in 1600, while Mary Fitton held 
such office from 1595 to 1601, either Kemp or his 
printer probably made a mistake in the lady's 
Christian name in the dedication. As Mr. Tyler 
suggests, the form " Marie " might be so written as 
to be easily mistaken for "Anne." Mary had a 
sister Anne, who was married to John Newdigate 
on the 30th of April, 1587, and who could not, 
therefore, have been maid of honour in 1600. 

A statue of Mary Fitton exists as a part of the 
family monument in Gawsworth Church, Cheshire ; 
and the remnants of colour upon it were thought 
by Mr. Tyler (as by others who have seen it) to 
indicate that she was of dark complexion, with 
black hair and eyes, like the lady of the second 
series of the Sonnets. But Lady Newdigate- 
Newdegate (Gossip from a Muniment Room, 1598) 
states that two portraits of Mary represent her as 
of fair complexion, with brown hair and gray 

It is a point in favour of the Herbert theory that 
Sonnets 135, 136, and 143 indicate that the person 
to whom the poems in the other series were ad 
dressed was called " Will ; " but Mr. Lee considers 
that "Will" in these sonnets is only a play on 

Life of Shakespeare 

Shakespeare's own name and the lady's " will." It 
is true that such quibbles on "Will" are found 
elsewhere in his works, but it is doubtful whether 
any one but a Southamptonite would see them in 
these Sonnets. 

Henry Wriothesley' was born October 6th, 1573. 
As we have seen, the Venus and Adonis and the Lu~ 
crece were both dedicated to him, and tradition says 
that he was a generous patron of the poet (see page 
296). In September, 1595, he fell in love with Eliz 
abeth Vernon, a cousin of the Earl of Essex. This 
lost him the favour of the Queen, and involved him 
in serious troubles. In 1598 he secretly married 
Elizabeth Vernon. On account of his connection 
with the rebellion of Essex he was condemned to 
death, but the sentence was commuted to imprison 
ment for life. He was pardoned in 1603 when 
James came to the throne, and the 107th Sonnet is 
supposed by Mr. Gerald Massey to be Shakespeare's 
congratulation upon his release from prison and 
restoration to royal favour. The initials in "Mr. 
W. H.," according to some of the Southainptonites, 
are those of Henry Wriothesley transposed as a 

When Southampton was seventeen (1590) he was 
urged by Burghley to marry his grandaughter, Lady 
Elizabeth Vere, a daughter of the Earl of Oxford, 
but the youth declined the alliance. If the Sonnets 
were addressed to him, the first seventeen could 
hardly have been written at this time, but the 

The Sonnets 353 

efforts of his friends to find him a wife continued 
for several years afterwards. 

While Mr. Lee believes that such of the sonnets 
as are personal in their character are addressed to 
Southampton, he does not understand that noble 
man to be the " Mr. W. H." of the dedication. He 
says: "No peer of the day bore a name that could 
be represented by the initials ' Mr. W. H.'. . . The 
Earl of Pembroke was, from his birth to the date 
of his succession to the earldom in 1601, known by 
the courtesy title of Lord Herbert, and by no other 
name, and he could not have been designated at 
any period of his life by the symbols ' Mr. W. H.' " 
This may be admitted, but it does not prove that 
the "Mr. W. H." of the dedication was not meant 
to refer ambiguously to him. If Thorpe knew the 
history of the Sonnets, and that both the author and 
the person to whom they were addressed did not 
wish to have them printed, he certainly would not 
venture to inscribe the book in distinct terms to the 
Earl of Pembroke ; but he might be inclined to give 
an indirect hint to those who were acquainted with 
the story underlying the poems that he also knew 
of the Earl's connection with it. He could do this 
. with perfect safety by using the initials " W. H." 
which, as Mr. Lee elsewhere remarks, were common 
to many names, and which therefore could not be 
proved to be meant to suggest " William Herbert." 
But after all it matters little whether W. H." 
was meant for " William Herbert " or " Henry Wri- 

354 Life of Shakespeare 

othesley," so far as either the Herbert or South 
ampton theory is concerned. In either case they 
might refer to the " begetter " of the poems as the 
collector or editor, though the other interpretation 
of " begetter " seems to accord better with the rest 
of the dedication. Mr. Lee thinks that Mr. W. H. 
is "best identified with a stationer's assistant, Will 
iam Hall, who was professionally engaged, like 
Thorpe, in procuring 'copy,'" and who, in 1606, 
"won a conspicuous success in that direction, and 
conducted his operations under cover of the famil 
iar initials." Thorpe "gave Hall's initials only 
because he was an intimate associate who was 
known by those initials to their common circle of 
friends." But, though Thorpe was " bombastic " in 
his dedications, and might wish to Hall " all happi 
ness " and even " eternitie," it is unlikely that he 
would wish him that "eternitie promised by our 
ever-living poet." Promised to whom ? Mr. Lee 
refers it to the eternity that Shakespeare in the son 
nets " conventionally foretold for his own verse ; " 
but this interpretation is a desperate attempt to 
force the expression into consistency with his 
theory. The words plainly mean " promised in 
the sonnets to the person to whom they are ad-, 
dressed." This promise is far more prominent in 
the sonnets than that of their own immortality, 
which, indeed, is made dependent on the enduring 
fame of the youth who is their theme and inspirer. 
If it were proved beyond a doubt that "Mr. W. 

The Sonnets 355 

H." was William Hall or some other person who 
secured the sonnets for Thorpe, I should none the 
less believe that Herbert rather than Southampton 
was their "patron" and subject. The only facts 
worth mentioning in favour of Southampton are 
that the earlier poems were dedicated to him, and 
that certain personal allusions in the sonnets can 
be made to refer to him if we suppose them to have 
been written some four years before their more 
probable date. But Mr. Lee himself admits that 
these allusions are equally applicable to Herbert. 
"Both, 57 he says, "enjoyed wealth and rank, both 
were regarded by admirers as cultivated, both were 
self-indulgent in their relations with women, and 
both in early manhood were indisposed to marry, 
owing to habits of gallantry." It may be added 
that both were noted for personal beauty, though 
Mr. Lee thinks that Francis Davison's reference to 
the beauty of Herbert in a sonnet addressed to him 
in 1602 is " cautiously qualified " in the lines : 

" [His] outward shape, though it most lovely be, 
Doth in fair robes a fairer soul attire." 

Anybody who had not a theory to defend would see 
that the eulogy of the "fairer soul" enhances in 
stead of " qualifying " the compliment to the " most 
lovely" person. This is a good illustration of Mr. 
Lee's perverse twisting of quotations for the pur 
poses of his argument. He even finds a reference 
to Southampton's long hair (shown in his portrait) 

356 Life of Shakespeare 

in the 68th Sonnet, where Shakespeare "points to 
the youth's face as a map of what beauty was ' with 
out all ornament, itself and true/ before fashion 
sanctioned the use of artificial < golden tresses ' " 
though this is only one out of several illustrations 
of the poet's antipathy to false hair. See Love's 
Labour's Lost, iv. 3. 258 ; Merchant of Venice, iii. 2. 
95 ; and Timon of Athens, iv. 3. 144. 

One of the most serious objections to the South 
ampton theory is the necessity which it involves of 
fixing the date of the poems as early as 1592 or 
1593. As we have seen (page 192), that period of 
Shakespeare's career is so crowded with work, 
dramatic and poetic, that it is quite impossible to 
add anything more to it. 

There are difficulties, it is true, according to some 
of the critics, in fixing the date of the Sonnets as 
required by the Herbert theory. The earliest of 
them cannot be supposed to have been written be 
fore 1597, when Herbert's friends desired that he 
should marry Bridget Vere; and it has been as 
sumed that the rest, or the great majority of them, 
must have been written before Jaggard printed the 
144th Sonnet in 1599, because, it is said, that sonnet 
proves that the intrigue with the " dark lady " had 
come to an end. But, though no critic appears to 
have pointed it out, this is clearly a misinterpreta 
tion of that sonnet, which, instead of marking the 
end of the story, really belongs to a comparatively 
early stage of it. The sonnet, which it is well to 


The Sonnets 357 

quote here in order to bring it directly before the 
eye of the reader, is as follows : 

" Two loves I have of comfort and despair, 
Which like two spirits do suggest me still ; 
The better angel is a man right fair, 
The worser spirit a woman colour'd ill. 
To win me soon to hell, my female evil 
Tempteth my better angel from my side, 
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, 
Wooing his purity with her foul pride. 
And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend 
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell ; 
But being both from me, both to each friend, 
I guess one angel in another's hell : 

Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt, 
Till my bad angel fire my good one out." 

This certainly refers to the period indicated in 
Sonnets 33-35, at the latest. The poet says that 
the woman "tempteth" (not, has succeeded in 
seducing) his friend. She "would corrupt" him, 
but whether she has actually done it, he adds, 
" Suspect I may, yet not directly tell," and " I guess 
one angel in another's hell ; " but he does not 
" know " this, and will " live in doubt " until the 
affair comes to an end. But in Sonnets 34 and 35 
he had no doubt that the " woman coloured ill " had 
corrupted his "better angel." He endeavours to 
excuse the " sensual fault " of his friend ; but in 
the next sonnet he decides that 

358 Life of Shakespeare 

" We two must be twain, 
Although our undivided loves are one." 

They cannot wholly cease to love each other, but 
"a separable spite" ("a cruel fate that spitefully 
separates us from each other," as Malone para 
phrases it) must put an end to their friendly in 
tercourse. In Sonnets 40-42 he recurs to the 
"robbery" his friend has committed; and la 
ments, not only the loss of his mistress, but that 
of his friend : 

" That thou hast her, it is not all my grief, 
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly ; 
That she hath thee, is of my wailing chief, 
A loss in love that touches me more nearly." 

Is it not evident that Sonnet 144, with its suspi 
cions and doubts and guesses, was written before 
rather than after 33-35 and 40-42, where the same 
facts are treated as facts well established, and 
thoroughly recognized as such by all the parties 
interested ? 

It is not necessary, then, to assume that all or 
most of the Sonnets were written before 1599, when 
The Passionate Pilgrim was published. Perhaps not 
more than half of the whole number were then in 
existence ; and this may be one of the reasons why 
Jaggard was .unable to get more of them for his six 
penny booklet. It would be easier to keep thirty 
out of his reach among the poet's f( private friends" 

The Sonnets 359 

than a hundred and fifty ; and Meres may not have 
had even as many as thirty in mind when he re 
ferred to the "sugred sonnets," in 1598. The 
others may have been scattered through several 
years after 1599; and some of those which seem 
independent of the regular series may have been 
written only a few years before the whole collec 
tion was published in 1609. 

Mr. Lee dates some of the sonnets much later 
than 1593-94. He believes, for instance, with Mr. 
Gerald Massey (page 352), that the 107th was writ 
ten in 1603, and refers to the death of Elizabeth 
and the release of Southampton from prison on the 
accession of James. "The mortal moon" of the 
sonnet is Elizabeth, whose " recognized poetic appel 
lation " was Cynthia (the moon) ; and her death is 
more than once described as an eclipse. But the 
sonnet tells us that the moon "hath her eclipse 
endured" and come out none the less bright 
which could hardly refer to death ; and the sup 
posed allusion to the imprisonment of the poet's 
friend is extremely fanciful. 

It may be added that Shakespeare's references to 
himself in the Sonnets as " old " appear to have 
a bearing on their date, and thus upon the question 
whether Herbert or Southampton was the person 
addressed. Thirty or more of them were written 
before 1599, when the poet was thirty-five years 
old, and the first seventeen appear to have been 
written in 1597, when he was only thirty-three; 

360 Life of Shakespeare 

but in the 22d, which seems to be one of the earlier 
ones, he intimates that he is already old : 

" My glass shall not persuade me I am old, 
So long as youth and thou are of one date ; " 

but in the preceding sonnets he has repeatedly 
admonished his young friend that the summer of 
youth is fast flying, and has urged this as a reason 
why he should marry ; " for," he says in substance, 
" you will soon be old, as I am." In the 73d we 
have a most beautiful and pathetic description of 
his own autumnal age : 

" That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou seest the twilight of such day 
As after sunset f adeth in the west, 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire, 
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. 

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, 
To love that well which thou must leave ere long." 

In the 138th, which was published in 1599, he 
refers to himself as " old" and his days as " past 
the best." We are told that here, as in some of 
the earlier sonnets, he is comparing himself, as a 

The Sonnets 361 

mature and experienced man, with, a green youth 
of perhaps twenty. Thus in the 62d Sonnet, after 
referring to his own face as he sees it in the glass, 
" Bated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity," he adds 
that he comforts himself by " Painting my age with 
beauty of thy days." But in the 73d there is no 
contrast of his own age with that of his young 
friend, but a long-drawn and apparently heartfelt 
lament that his life has fallen into the sere and 
yellow leaf. Mr. Lee says that this "occasional 
reference to his growing age was a conventional 
device traceable to Petrarch of all sonneteers 
of the day, and admits of no literal interpretation." 
If the Sonnets were of the ordinary conventional 
Elizabethan type, poetical exercises on fictitious 
themes, we might regard the "growing age" as 
equally fictitious; but William Shakespeare, at 
thirty-one or thirty-two (as Mr. Lee imagines him 
to have been when he wrote these sonnets), or even 
at thirty-five, was not the man to indulge in such 
sentimental foolery least of all through an entire 
sonnet when dealing with real experiences like 
those that form the basis of these poems. 

However that may be, a man of twenty-eight or 
twenty-nine (as Shakespeare was in 1592 or 1593) 
writing to one of nineteen or twenty (as Southamp 
ton was in those years) would be less likely to 
assume that fictitiously exaggerated age than a 
man of thirty-four or thirty-five writing to a youth 
of eighteen or nineteen. 

362 Life of Shakespeare 

Among the minor questions relating to the Son 
nets which have been the subject of no little con 
troversy the only one that seems to claim notice 
here is the identity of the " rival poet " of Sonnets 
79-86. Spenser, Marlowe, Drayton, Nash, Daniel, 
and others have been suggested by the critics, and 
Mr. Lee adds Barnabe Barnes, " a poetic panegyrist 
of Southampton and a prolific sonneteer, who was 
deemed by contemporary critics certain to prove a 
great poet." On the whole, Chapman, whom Pro 
fessor Minto was the first to suggest, and whom 
Dowden, Furnivall, and many others have endorsed, 
is most likely to have been the poet whom Shake 
speare had in mind. Mr. Lee, having dated the 
Sonnets in 1592 and 1593, naturally objects that 
Chapman had produced no conspicuously "great 
verse" until 1598, and that we find no complimen 
tary sonnet addressed by him to Southampton until 
1610; but he had published poetry before 1598, 
and that date is early enough for the Herbert 
theory, in which, of course, the failure to praise 
Southampton does not count. The question, never 
theless, is one that cannot be definitely settled. 

Besides the autobiographical theories concerning 
the Sonnets many others, allegorical, mystical, and 
fantastical, have been proposed, which it would take 
too much space even to enumerate here ; neither is 
it possible to make more than a passing reference 
to the notions that "Mr. W. H." was William Hart, 
the poet's nephew (who was not born until a year 

The Sonnets 363 

after The Passionate Pilgrim was printed, and was 
only nine years old in 1609), William Hughes (on 
the strength of the capitalized and italicized Hues 
in the 20th Sonnet), "William Himself " (a German 
notion, revived by Mr. Parke Godwin, in 1901), or 
Queen Elizabeth; or that the poems are addressed 
to Ideal Manhood, or the Spirit of Beauty, or the 
Eeason, or the Divine Logos; or that the "dark 
lady" is Dramatic Art, or the Catholic Church, or 
the Bride of the Canticles, " black but comely." 

To most of the Baconian heretics the Sonnets 
have been a stumbling-block. Mr. W. D. O'Connor, 
in his Hamlet's Note-Book, says that they cannot 
be Bacon's; "their autobiographic revelations are 
incompatible with the history of Bacon's life." We 
are then told that Walter Raleigh wrote the Son 
nets ; as one G. S. Caldwell had maintained nearly 
ten years earlier (1877) in Australia. Raleigh was 
lame, after being wounded in 1596, as the author of 
Sonnets 38 and 89 represents himself, etc. On the 
other hand, Judge Holmes has no doubt that the 
Sonnets, like the plays, were written by Bacon. 
" The similitudes of thought, style, and diction," he 
says, "are such as to put at rest all question on 
that head." In 1887, another learned judge, in 
California, Hosmer by name, published a .book on 
the Sonnets, the theory of which is that the poems 
were addressed by Bacon to Shakespeare ; and that 
the former, making over the plays to the latter, 
gives his directions concerning the concealment of 

364 Life of Shakespeare 

their true authorship. The Sonnets contain imper 
sonations of Truth, Beauty, Thought, the Drama, 
etc. These may serve as specimens of the manner 
in which the Baconians deal with the poems. 

It would be interesting, if space permitted, to 
consider the Sonnets as poems to note the " linked 
sweetness long drawn out" of their verse, not un 
mixed with most 'sonorous music, and what Cole 
ridge has aptly called their "boundless fertility 
and laboured condensation of thought ; " or to view 
them, in the words of Eurnivall, "as a piece of 
music, or as Shakespeare's pathetic sonata, each 
melody introduced, dropped again, brought in again 
with variations, but one full strain of undying love 
and friendship running through the whole ; " but I 
can only close with a summing up of what I have 
attempted to prove : 

I. That the Sonnets were not edited by Shake 
speare, but by some anonymous collector, who did 
not, and obviously could not, ask the poet or the 
persons to whom they were addressed for aid in 
settling a textual question. 

II. That the arrangement of the Sonnets in the 
edition of 1609 was therefore not authoritative, but 
simply the best conjectural one that the collector 
could make, from a study of the poems and what 
he knew of their history; and there is, moreover, 
internal evidence that the order is not strictly 

III. That the great majority of the Sonnets are 

The Sonnets 365 

probably personal, or autobiographical, and were 
not intended for publication ; but it is not probable 
that the first 126 (or such of these as are personal) 
are all addressed to one man, and the rest to one 
woman, with whom Shakespeare and that man were 

IV. That Mr. W. H. " was probably the person 
to whom the Sonnets are addressed, rather than the 
one who collected and edited them ; and that, if so, 
he was probably William Herbert, Earl of Pem 
broke ; but the " dark lady," to whom most of the 
second series (127-152) were addressed, cannot be 
positively identified. 

V. That while the majority of the Sonnets were 
probably written between 1598 and 1601, some of 
them, particularly those which are not connected 
with the main story, may be of later date. 



AFTER the plays that have been already con 
sidered, we come to a group of comedies, so called, 
which are in marked contrast to those of the pre 
ceding period. They are comedies only in name, or 
because they do not have a tragical ending. They 
are All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for 
Measure , and Troilus and Cressida "one earnest, 
another dark and severe, the last bitter and iron 
ical 7 ' (Dowden). 

All 's Well That Ends Well was first printed in 
the folio of 1623, in the division of Comedies. 
There can be little doubt that the play is a revision 
of the " Love Labours Wonne," included in Meres' s 
often-quoted list of 1598. This was first suggested 
by Farmer in his Essay on the Learning of Shake 
speare (1766), and his opinion has been endorsed 
by the great majority of more recent editors and 
critics. Hunter believed that Love's Labour's Won 
was The Tempest ; Mr. A. E. Brae argues for Much 
Ado ; and Craik and Hertzberg for The Taming of 
the Shrew. Fleay objects to regarding All's Well 


Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 367 

as the play, on the ground that "the present title 
is alluded to in several places in the play itself 
which are clearly part of the early work;" but 
.this, if true, does not settle the question. The play 
may have had a double title originally Love's 
Labour's Won, or All 's Well, etc.,. like Twelfth 
Night, and probably Henry VIII. ; or the present 
title may be a later one, suggested by the occurrence 
of the proverb in the play. 

If Farmer and the rest are right, All 's Well was 
originally a companion play to Love's Labour's Lost, 
and written about the same time, or not far from 
1592. Knight, Ulrici, and some other critics put 
the date earlier than 1590. The marks of early 
work are seen in the frequent rhymed passages 
(some of them in alternate rhymes), the sonnet 
letter in iii. 4. 4-17, the lyrical, non-dramatic form 
of certain portions, and some peculiar grammatical 
constructions. Most of these earlier passages 
" boulders from the old strata imbedded in the later 
deposits," as Fleay calls them will be easily 
recognized by the reader. There are critics, how 
ever, who doubt whether any portion of the play is 
of early origin. 

The date of the revision of the play was probably 
not earlier than 1601, and may have been a year or 
two later, some critics making it 1604, 1605, or 

The text presents many difficulties, on account 
of the peculiarities of the style and the corruptions 

368 Life of Shakespeare 

of the folio. Verplanck remarks: "The language 
approaches in many places to the style of Measure 
for Measure, as if much of it had been written in 
that season of gloom which imparted to the poet's 
style something of the darkness that hung over his 
soul. In addition to these inherent difficulties, 
there are several indications of an imperfect revi 
sion, as if words and lines intended to be rejected 
had been left in the manuscript, together with 
those written on the margin or interlined, for the 
purpose of being substituted for them. We have 
not the means afforded in several other plays where 
similar misprints have been found of correcting 
them by the collation of the old editions, as there 
is no other than that in the folio, which is less 
carefully printed than usual, not being even divided 
into scenes. From all these concurring causes 
there are many passages of obscure or doubtful 
meaning, some of which would perhaps remain so, 
even if we had them as the author left them ; while 
others are probably darkened by typographical 
errors. Some of these difficulties have been per 
fectly cleared up, by the ingenuity or antiquarian 
industry of the later commentators; as to others, 
we must be content with explanations and con 
jectural corrections, which are only probable until 
something more satisfactory can be presented." 

The story of Helena and Bertram was taken by 
Shakespeare from Paynter's Palace of Pleasure, 
1566, Paynter having translated it from Boccaccio's 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 369 

Decameron, Y\rhich was "the great storehouse of 
romantic and humorous narrative for the poets and 
dramatists of that and the succeeding age." The 
characters of the Countess, Lafeu, Parolles, and 
the Clown are the poet's own. 

"In All's Well That Ends Well a subject of ex 
treme difficulty, when regarded on the ethical side, 
was treated by Shakespeare with a full conscious 
ness of its difficulty. A woman who seeks her 
husband, and gains him against his will ; who after 
wards by a fraud a fraud however pious de 
feats his intention of estranging her, and becomes 
the mother of his child ; such a personage it would 
seem a sufficiently difficult task to render attractive 
or admirable. Yet Helena has been named by 
Coleridge 'the loveliest of Shakspere's characters.' 
Possibly Coleridge recognized in Helena the single 
quality which, if brought to bear upon himself by 
one to whom he yielded love and worship, would 
have given defmiteness and energy to his somewhat 
vague and incoherent life. For sake of this one 
thing Shakspere was interested in the story, and so 
admirable did it seem to him that he could not 
choose but endeavour to make beautiful and noble 
the entire character and action of Helena. This 
one thing is the energy, the leap-up, the direct 
advance of the will of Helena, her prompt, uner- 
roneous tendency towards the right and efficient 
deed. ... A motto for the play may be found in 
the words uttered with pious astonishment by the 

370 Life of Shakespeare 

clown, when his mistress bids him to begone, 
<That man should be at woman's command, and 
yet no hurt done/ Helena is the providence of 
the play; and there is 'no hurt done/ but rather 
healing healing of the body of the French king, 
healing of the spirit of the man she loves" 

Measure for Measure was first printed in the folio 
of 1623. No direct allusion to it in Shakespeare's 
time has been found, and we have nothing to fix 
the date of its composition but the style and versifi 
cation, with some minor points of internal evidence. 
The critics, however, have generally agreed that 
the play was written in 1603 or early in 1604. 

The story, like that of Othello, was originally 
from the Hecatommithi of Giraldi Cinthio, pub 
lished in Venice in 1566. Whetstone's tragedy of 
Promos and Cassandra (1578) was founded on 
Cinthio's novel, and was probably known to Shake 
speare, though he owed little to either the English 
play or the Italian tale. Whetstone "followed 
Cinthio very closely, in making the sister (the 
'woful Cassandra' of his play, the Epitia of 
Cinthio, and the Isabella of Shakespeare) yield 
to the governor's desires and her brother's pusil 
lanimous sophistry a degradation which Shake 
speare has avoided by the introduction of Mariana, 
and the very venial artifice of Isabella, which 
Coleridge censures, but which is certainly, if a 
blemish at all, a very light one compared with the 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 371 

intrinsic repulsiveness of making the heroine the 
wife of the guilty governor, and the supplicant 
for his life. The inferior characters of Whetstone 
are the same only in their habits and occupations 
the painting of their character is Shakespeare's 
own as much as that of the nobler personages, and 
the high moral wisdom which overflows in their 
dialogue. Isabella, as a character, is entirely his 
own creation." 

Whetstone, some years after writing his play, 
translated the original story in his Heptameron of 
Civil Discourses (1582). He also prefixed the sub 
stance of it to his play as an " argument." 

Critics have objected to Shakespeare's plot as an 
improbable fiction, but it strangely happens that 
something much like it has occurred several times 
in different ages and countries. One of these is the 
story of Colonel Kirke, in the reign of James II., 
related by Pepys and Macaulay. Another occurred 
in Holland, in the time of Charles the Bold, a cen 
tury before Shakespeare's birth. Another, which 
may have been the foundation of Cinthio's novel, is 
said to have taken place under one of the old Dukes 
of Ferrara. 

The Angelo of the Netherlands, whose history is 
recorded by several of the old Dutch and Flemish 
chroniclers, was a brave and renowned knight, who 
was governor of Flushing; and it was the wife of 
a state criminal, confined on a charge of sedition, 
who is tempted to yield up her honour on condition 

372 Life of Shakespeare 

of receiving from the governor an order to the 
gaoler to deliver her husband up to her. In the 
meanwhile, a prior order had been sent; the hus 
band was secretly beheaded ; and the wife received, 
on presenting her order, a chest containing the 
bloody corpse. Upon the duke's visiting his prin 
cipality of Zealand, she appealed to him for justice. 
The governor confessed his guilt, and threw himself 
with confidence upon the duke's mercy, relying on 
his former services and favour. The duke com 
manded him to marry the widow, and endow her 
formally with all his wealth. She at first shrunk 
with horror from the alliance, but at last consented 
to the ceremony, on the prayers of her family, who 
thought their honour involved in it. When this 
was done, the governor returned to the duke, and 
informed him that the injured person was now sat 
isfied. " So am not I," replied the duke. He sent 
the guilty man to the same prison where his victim 
had died. A confessor was sent with him; and 
after the last rites of religion, without further 
delay, the governor was beheaded. His new wife 
and her friends had hurried to the prison, and 
arrived there only to receive the bloody trunk in 
the same manner that she had received the remains 
of her first husband. Overcome with horror, she 
fainted, and never recovered. 

Measure for Measure, as Verplanck remarks, 
"bears the stamp of that period of the author's 
life, first noted by Hallam, when some sad influence 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 373 

weighed upon the poet's spirit, and prompted him 
constantly to appear as ' the stern censurer of man.' 
I see no reason to doubt that this did not arise 
merely from a change of taste, or an experiment in 
dramatic art, but was, in some manner, connected 
with events or circumstances personal to the author, 
and affecting his temper, disposition, and moral 
associations of thought. . . . Although we often 
find in his later works a calm and serene spirit of 
enjoyment, as in the pastoral beauties of Perdita's 
conversation, and the mountain scenes of Cymbeline 
though his comic sketches in his later dramas 
prove that his perception of whimsical or absurd 
character was as acute and active as ever, and his 
power of graphic delineation as vivid yet even 
then there seems to be an absence of that per 
sonal abandonment of the author's own spirit to 
the beauty or the humour of the scene to which he 
had before accustomed us. He appears more as 
the great philosophical artist, depicting the very 
truth and nature of his scenes, and not, as was his 
former wont, as himself one of his own joyous 
throng, mixing in the plot against the bachelor 
liberty of Benedick enjoying the frolics in East- 
cheap as much as Falstaff or the Prince or join 
ing his own voice in' the boisterous glee of Sir Toby 
and Sir Andrew. . . . But Measure for Measure 
breathes a sterner spirit than belongs to the pro 
ductions of either the earlier or the later periods. 
Dr. Johnson has said that its ' comic scenes are 

374 Life of Shakespeare 

natural and pleasing/ Their fidelity to nature can 
not, indeed, be denied. But if they please, they do 
so from their faithfulness of portraiture ; not, like 
the scenes of Bottom or Falstaff, and their compan 
ions, from their exuberance of mirthful sport, or 
their rich originality of invention and wit. They, 
as well as the loftier scenes of the piece, are but 
too faithful pictures of the degrading and harden 
ing influence of licentious passion, from the lighter 
profligacy of Lucio, the dissipated gentleman, to the 
grosser and contented degradation of the Clown ; 
and if these are all painted with the truth of 
Hogarth or Crabbe, they are depicted with no air 
of sport or mirth, but rather with that of bitter 
scorn. The author seems to smile like his own 
Cassius, <as if he mocked himself.'" 

Furnivall concisely and aptly describes Isabella 
as " ' a thing enskied and sainted, an immortal 
spirit,' Shakspere's first wholly Christian woman, 
steadfast and true as Portia, Brutus's wife, pure as 
Lucrece's soul, merciful above Portia, Bassanio's 
bride, in that she prays for forgiveness for her foe, 
not her friend ; with an unyielding will, a martyr's 
spirit above Helena's of All 's Well, the highest type 
of woman that Shakspere has yet drawn." 

Troilus and Cressida was first published, so far as 
we know, in 1609, when two quarto editions were 
printed from the same type, but with somewhat 
different title-pages. Both state that the play is 
"by William Shakespeare," and one refers to its 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 375 

having been "acted by the Kings Maiesties ser 
vants at the Globe." 

One of these editions differs from the other in 
having the following preface : 

" A neuer writer to an euer reader. 
" Newes. 

"Eternall reader, you haue heere a new play, neuer 
stal'd with the Stage, neuer clapper-clawd with the 
palmes of the vulger, and yet passing full of the palme 
comicall ; for it is a birth of your braine, that neuer 
under-tooke any thing commicall vainely : and were but 
the vaine names of commedies changde for the titles of 
commodities, or of playes for pleas, you should see all 
those grand censors, that now stile them such vanities, 
flock to them for the maine grace of their grauities ; espe 
cially this authors commedies, that are so fram'd to the 
life, that they serue for the most common commentaries 
of all the actions of our Hues, showing such a dexteritie, 
and power of witte, that the most displeased with playes 
are pleasd with his commedies. And all such dull and 
heauy-witted worldlings, as were neuer capable of the 
witte of a commedie, comming by report of them to his 
representations, haue found that witte there that they 
neuer found in themselues, and haue parted better- 
wittied then they came ; feeling an edge of witte set 
vpon them, more than euer they dreamd they had braine 
to grinde it on. So much and such sauord salt of witte 
is in his commedies, that they seeme (for their height of 
pleasure) to be borne in that sea that brought forth 
Venus. Amongst all there is none more witty then this ; 
and had I time I would comment vpon it, though I know 

376 Life of Shakespeare 

it needs not (for so much as will make you thinke your 
tester n well bestowd), but for so much worth, as euen 
poore I know to be stuft in it. It deserues such a labour, 
as well as the best commedy in Terence or Plautus : and 
beleeue this, that when hee is gone, and his commedies 
out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set vp a new 
English inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at 
the perill of your pleasures, losse, and iudgments, refuse 
not, nor like this the lesse for not being sullied, with the 
smoaky breath of the multitude ; but thanke fortune for 
the scape it hath made amongst you. Since by the 
grand possessors wills, I belieue, you should haue prayd 
for them, rather than beene prayd. And so I leaue all 
such to bee prayd for (for the states of their wits healths) 
that will not praise it. Vale" 

The play was not reprinted until it appeared in 
the folio of 1623, where it stands between the 
" Histories " and " Tragedies ; " and it is not men 
tioned at all in the "Catalogue," or table of con 
tents, at the beginning of the volume. The editors 
seem to have been puzzled to classify it. The 
"Tragedies" at first began with Coriolanus, fol 
lowed by Titles Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet. 
Troilus and Cressida was evidently intended to 
come next, and was put in type and paged for that 
place ; but it was afterwards transferred to its pres 
ent /position, and Timon of Athens used instead. 
The numbers of the pages were cancelled, with the 
exception of the second and third, which were acci 
dentally left with the 79 and 80 of the original 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 377 

pagination. The only reason that can be imagined 
for this change is that the editors were in doubt 
whether the play was a " tragedy " or a " history," 
and therefore decided to put it between the two, 
and to evade the responsibility of cataloguing it in 
the table of contents. The writer of the prologue, 
whoever he may have been, treats it as a comedy. 

The date of the play cannot be determined with 
any certainty. In 1599 Dekker and Chettle were 
preparing a play on the same subject, and an entry 
in the Stationers' Registers, dated February 7, 
1602-3, proves that a Troilus and Cressida had 
been acted by Shakespeare's company, the Lord 
Chamberlain's Servants. This may possibly have 
been an early draught of Shakespeare's play. In 
ternal evidence is partly in favour of a date as 
early as this, and partly of one some five or six 
years later. Some critics have therefore decided 
that the play was written as early as 1602 or 1603, 
while others put it as late as 1608 or 1609. More 
likely, as Verplanck, White, and others believe, it 
was first written as early as 1602, and revised and 
enlarged somewhere between 1606 and 1609. 

If Shakespeare did not draw his materials from 
some earlier play, he probably took "the love- 
story" from Chaucer's Troilus and Cresseide, and 
" the camp story " from the Reeuyell of the kistoryes 
of Troye, translated and drawen out of frenshe into 
englishe by W. Caxton, 1471 (from Raoul le Fevre's 
Reeueil des Histoires de Troyes), or Lydgate's 

378 Life of Shakespeare 

Hy story e, Sege and dystruccyon of Troye, 1513, 
1555 (from Guido di Colonna), or both. Thersites, 
or at least a hint of the character, seems to be 
taken from Chapman's Iliad, the first seven books 
of which appeared in 1597. 

Troilus and Cressida has been a perplexing sub 
ject for many of the ablest critics. Coleridge 
remarks: "There is no one of Shakspeare's plays 
harder to characterize. The name, and the remem 
brances connected with it, prepare us for the repre 
sentation of attachment no less faithful than fervent 
on the side of the youth, and of sudden and shame 
less inconstancy on the part of the lady. And this 
is, indeed, as the gold thread on which the scenes 
are strung, though often kept out of sight, and out 
of mind by gems of greater value than itself. But 
as Shakspeare calls for nothing from the mau 
soleum of history, or the catacombs of tradition, 
without giving, or eliciting, some permanent and 
general interest, and brings forward no subject 
which he does not moralize or intellectualize, 
so here he has drawn in Cressida the portrait of 
a vehement passion, that, having its true origin and 
proper cause in warmth of temperament, fastens 
on, rather than fixes to, some one object by liking 
and temporary preference. This Shakspeare has 
contrasted with the profound affection represented 
in Troilus, and alone worthy the name of love 
affection, passionate indeed, swollen with the conflu 
ence of youthful instincts and youthful fancy, and 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 379 

growing in the radiance of hope newly risen, in 
short enlarged by the collective sympathies of 
nature ; but still having a depth of calmer element 
in a will stronger than desire, more entire than 
choice, and which gives permanence to its own act 
by converting it into faith and duty. Hence with 
excellent judgment, and with an excellence higher 
than mere judgment can give, at the close of the 
play, when Cressida has sunk into infamy below 
retrieval and beneath hope, the same will which 
had been the substance and the basis of his love, 
while the restless pleasures and passionate long 
ings, like sea-waves, had tossed but on its surface 
this same moral energy is represented as snatch 
ing him aloof from all neighbourhood with her 
dishonour, from all lingering fondness and languish 
ing regrets, whilst it rushes with him into other 
and nobler duties, and deepens the channel which 
his heroic brother's death had left empty for its 
collected flood. . . . 

" To all this, however, so little comparative pro 
jection is given nay, the masterly group of 
Agamemnon, Nestor, and Ulysses, and, still more 
in advance, that of Achilles, Ajax, and Thersites, 
so manifestly occupy the foreground that the 
subservience and vassalage of strength and animal 
courage to intellect and policy seems to be the 
lesson most often in our poet's view, and which 
he has taken little pains to connect with the former 
more interesting moral impersonated in the titular 

380 Life of Shakespeare 

hero and heroine of the drama. But I am half 
inclined to believe that Shakspeare's main object, 
or, shall I rather say, his ruling impulse, was to 
translate the poetic heroes of paganism into the 
not less rude, but more intellectually vigorous, 
and more featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry, 
and to substantiate the distinct and graceful 
profiles or outlines of the Homeric epic into the 
flesh and blood of the romantic drama in short, 
to give a grand history-piece in the robust style 
of Albert Durer." 

In an article " On Reading Shakespeare " (in The 
Galaxy, for February, 1877), Grant White has 
some admirable comments on this play, some 
passages from which may well supplement those 
from Coleridge : 

" Troilus and Cressida is Shakespeare's wisest 
play in the way of worldly wisdom. It is filled 
choke-full of sententious, and in most cases slightly 
satirical revelations of human nature, uttered with 
a felicity of phrase and an impressiveness of 
metaphor that make each one seem like a beam 
of light shot into the recesses of man's heart. 

"The undramatic character of Troilus and Cres 
sida appears in its structure, its personages, and its 
purpose. . . . There is also a singular lack of that 
peculiar characteristic of Shakespeare's dramatic 
style, the marked distinction and nice discrimina 
tion of the individual traits, mental and moral, 
of the various personages. Ulysses is the real 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 381 

hero of the play; the chief, or, at least, the great 
purpose of which is the utterance of the Ulyssean 
view of life; and in this play Shakespeare is 
Ulysses, or Ulysses Shakespeare. In all his other 
plays Shakespeare so lost his personal conscious 
ness in the individuality of his own creations that 
they think and feel, as well as act, like real men 
and women other than their creator, so that we 
cannot truly say of the thoughts and feelings which 
they express, that Shakespeare says thus or so; for 
it is not Shakespeare who speaks, but they with 
his lips. But in Ulysses, Shakespeare, acting upon 
a mere hint, filling up a mere traditionary outline, 
drew a man of mature years, of wide observation, 
of profoundest cogitative power, one who knew all 
the weakness and all the wiles of human nature, 
and who yet remained with blood unbittered and 
soul unsoured a man who saw through all shams, 
and fathomed all motives, and who yet was not 
scornful of his kind, not misanthropic, hardly 
cynical except in passing moods; and what other 
man was this than Shakespeare himself? What 
had he to do when he had passed forty years, but 
to utter his own thoughts when he would find words 
for the lips of Ulysses? And thus it is that 
Troilus and Cressida is Shakespeare's wisest play. 
If we would know what Shakespeare thought of 
men and their motives after he reached maturity, 
we have but to read this drama drama it is, but 
with what other character, who shall say? For, 

382 Life of Shakespeare 

like the world's pageant, it is neither tragedy nor 
comedy, but a tragi-comic history, in which the 
intrigues of amorous men and light-o'-loves and 
the brokerage of panders are mingled with the 
deliberations of sages and the strife and the death 
of heroes. . . . And why, indeed, should Ulysses 
not speak for Shakespeare, or how could it be other 
than that he should? The man who had written 
Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, if he 
wislied to find Ulysses, had only to turn his mind's 
eye inward; and thus we have in this drama 
Shakespeare's only piece of introspective work." 

Although these three " comedies " that are not 
comedies appear to form a natural group, and indi 
cate that Shakespeare's interest was changing from 
comedy to tragedy, it is not necessary to suppose 
that they were written or revised in immediate 
succession and apart from other work. Two of 
them All 's Well and Troilus and Cressida we 
have seen to be early plays which were taken up at 
this time for revision or reconstruction; and some 
critics (see page 321 above) believe that Troilus and 
Cressida was connected with the " War of the 
Theatres," though this is highly improbable. That 
the prevailing tone of these plays, as Hallam, 
Verplanck, Dowden, and others assume, was not due 
merely to a change in taste or an inclination to try 
a new experiment in dramatic composition, but was 
connected in some way with Shakespeare's personal 
experiences, can hardly be doubted; though this 

Transition from Comedy to Tragedy 383 

view is vehemently opposed by some excellent 
critics, who insist that he simply wrote what 
theatrical managers wanted, whether comedy or 
tragedy. "If a comedy was called for," they ask, 
" would he have declined to furnish it on the ground 
that he was in his tragic period ? " Probably not ; 
but it would have proved to be a comedy like All 's 
Well or Measure for Measure rather than As You 
Like It or Twelfth Night. 



THE earliest edition of Hamlet, so far as we 
know, appeared in quarto form in 1603; and the 
title-page informs us that it had "beene diverse 
times acted by his Highnesse servants in the Cittie 
of London, as also in the two Vniversities of Cam 
bridge and Oxford, and elsewhere." 

In 1604, a second quarto was published, claiming 
to be "newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as 
much againe as it was, according to the true and 
perfect Coppie." 

A third quarto, reprinted from the second, ap 
peared in 1605 ; a fourth in 1611 ; and later a fifth, 
which is undated. No other has been discovered 
that was issued during the life of Shakespeare or 
previous to the publication of the folio of 1623. 

The text of the folio varies considerably from 
that of the quartos, and it has been thought that it 
might be derived from "some hitherto unknown 
quarto." It is not impossible that there may have 
been such a quarto. No copy of the quarto of 1603 
was known until 1823, when one was found by Sir 
Henry Bunbury. A second was picked up in 1856 


The Great Tragedies 385 

by a Dublin bookseller, who paid a shilling for it. 
The former, which lacks the last page, was after 
wards sold to the Duke of Devonshire for 230; 
the latter, which wants the title-page, was bought 
by Halliwell-Phillipps for 120, and is now in the 
British Museum. If the folio text was not from 
a lost quarto, it was probably from a manuscript 
obtained by the editors from the theatre. The 
standard text of the play is chiefly made up by a 
collation of the second quarto and the folio. 

The relation of the first quarto to the second has 
been much disputed. Collier, White, and some 
other critics believe that the former is merely an 
imperfect report of the play as published in the 
latter; that it was printed, either from short-hand 
notes taken at the theatre, or from a stage-copy cut 
down for representation and perhaps corrupted by 
the insertion of stuff from an earlier play on the 
same subject. The second quarto, on the other 
hand, was an authorized edition of the play from 
"the true and perfect copy." 

Other critics among whom are Caldecott, 
Knight, Staunton, and Dyce believe that the 
first quarto represents, though in a corrupt form, 
the first draught of the play, while the second gives 
it as remodelled and enlarged by the author. It 
is not necessary to suppose that the former was 
written near the time when it was published; it 
was more likely an early production of the poet. 
After the revision the original copy could be more 

Life of Shakespeare 

easily obtained for surreptitious publication, and it 
may have been printed in haste to "head off" an 
authorized edition of the remodelled play. 

Another theory, and a very plausible one, is that 
of Messrs. Clark and Wright, brought out in the 
"Clarendon Press" edition of the play; namely, 
" that there was an old play on the story of Hamlet, 
some portions of which are still preserved in the 
quarto of 1603; that about the year 1602 Shake 
speare took this and began to remodel it, as he had 
done with other plays; that the quarto of 1603 
represents the play after it had been retouched by 
him to a certain extent, but before his alterations 
were complete ; and that in the quarto of 1604 we 
have for the first time the Hamlet of Shakespeare." 

There was certainly an old play on the subject of 
Hamlet, and some critics believe that it was an 
early work of Shakespeare's. The first allusion to 
it that has been discovered is in an Epistle "To 
the Gentleman Students of both Universities," by 
Thomas Nash, prefixed to Greene's Menaphon, 
printed in 1589. Kef erring to the playwrights of 
that day, Nash says : "It is a common practice now 
a daies amongst a sort of shifting companions, that 
runne through every arte and thrive by none to 
leave the trade of Noverint whereto they were 
borne, and busie themselves with the indevours of 
art, that could scarcelie latinize their necke-verse 
if they should have neede ; yet English Seneca read 
by candle-light yeeldes manie good sentences, as 

The Great Tragedies 387 

Bloud is a begger, and so f oorth : and if you intreate 
him faire in a frostie morning, he will affoord you 
whole Hamlets, I should say Handfulls of tragical 

In Henslowe's Diary the following entry occurs : 
"9 of June, 1594, Kd at hamlet . . . viiij 8 " Five 
lines above the entry is this, memorandum : " In the 
name of God Amen, beginninge at Newington, my 
Lord Admeralle and my Lorde chamberlen men, as 
foloweth, 1594." At this date, Shakespeare was 
one of the company of actors known as " the Lord 
Chamberlain's men/ 7 

Again, in Lodge's Wits miserie and the Worlds 
madnesse, published in 1596, we have an allusion to 
" y e ghost which cried so miserally \siti] at y e thea- 
tor, like an oisterwife, Hamlet reuenge" 

It is impossible to say what use Shakespeare 
made of this old English play (it cannot be a 
youthful production of his own), as it seems to be 
hopelessly lost. Of another source from which he 
probably derived his material we have better knowl 
edge : namely, The Hystorie of Hamblet, translated 
from the Histoires Tragiques of Francis de Belle- 
forest. The story of Hamlet is found in the fifth 
volume, which was printed at Paris in 1570. The 
English version was probably made soon after, 
though the only edition now extant is that of 

The poet has followed the Hystorie in some of its 
main incidents the murder of Hamlet's father by 

388 Life of Shakespeare 

his uncle, the marriage of his mother with the mur 
derer, his feigned madness, his killing of Polonius, 
his interview with his mother, his voyage to Eng 
land, his return, and his revenge but not in the 
denouement. In the Hystorie Hamlet, after his 
uncle's death, becomes King of Denmark, visits 
England again, marries two wives, by one of whom 
he is betrayed into the power of his maternal 
uncle, Wiglerus, and is finally slain in battle. 

It may be added that Belleforest got the story 
from the Historia Danica of Saxo Gramrnaticus, 
written about the close of the 12th century, though 
the earliest existing edition of it is that of Paris, 

The mere bibliography of the literature of Ham 
let would fill a volume. The amount that has been 
written about the play far exceeds that on any 
other of Shakespeare's works. Furness does not 
exaggerate when he says in the preface to his mon 
umental edition: "No one of mortal mould (save 
Him < whose blessed feet were nailed for our advan 
tage to the bitter cross ? ) ever trod this earth, com 
manding such absorbing interest as this Hamlet, 
this mere creation of a poet's brain. No syllable 
that he whispers, no word let fall by any one near 
him, but is caught and pondered as no words ever 
have been, except of Holy Writ. Upon no throne 
built by mortal hands has ever 'beat so fierce a 
light' as upon that airy fabric reared at Elsinore." 

Of the countless attempts to pluck out the heart 

The Great Tragedies 389 

of Hamlet's mystery, that of Goethe (in Wilhelm 
Meister) is one of the most famous, and has met 
with considerable favour among more recent critics. 
The gist of it may be stated very briefly. After 
quoting the ejaculation of the Prince at the close of 
his interview with the Ghost (i. 5. 189, 190), 

" The time is out of joint ; O cursed spite, 
That ever I was born to set it right ! " 

Goethe continues thus: "In these words, I imag 
ine, is the key to Hamlet's whole procedure, and to 
me it is clear that Shakespeare sought to depict a 
great deed laid upon a soul unequal to the perform 
ance of it. In this view I find the piece composed 
throughout. Here is an oak-tree planted in a costly 
vase, which should have received into its bosom 
only lovely flowers ; the roots spread out, the vase 
is shivered to pieces. 

"A beautiful, pure, and most moral nature, with 
out the strength of nerve which makes the hero, 
sinks beneath a burden which it can neither bear 
nor throw off; every duty is holy to him, this 
too hard. The impossible is required of him, 
not the impossible in itself, but the impossible to 
him. How he winds, turns, agonizes, advances, and 
recoils, ever reminded, ever reminding himself, and 
at last almost loses his purpose from his thoughts, 
without ever again recovering his peace of mind." 

A more common view is that Hamlet's will is 
paralyzed by excess of intellect. This theory origi- 

390 Life of Shakespeare 

nated with Coleridge, who says: "We see a great, 
an almost enormous intellectual activity, and a 
proportionate aversion to real action consequent 
upon it, with all its symptoms and accompanying 
qualities. Hamlet is brave and careless of death; 
but he vacillates from sensibility, and procrasti 
nates from thought, and loses the power of action 
in the energy of resolve." 

A far more satisfactory theory has been advanced 
more recently in Germany, to which Furness refers 
in the preface to his edition as follows : 

"The last theory of Hamlet's character which has 
arrested special attention in Germany by the bold 
and animated way in which it has been set forth by 
its chief est expounder, Werder, was first proposed 
in strong terms by Klein. It sweeps aside every 
vestige of Goethe's explanation, with all theories 
akin to it. It affirms Hamlet to be a man of action, 
never at a loss, never wavering, taking in at once 
the position of affairs, adjusting himself thereto 
with admirable sagacity, and instantly acting with 
consummate tact as occasions require." 

As Furness adds, "A theory so directly opposed 
to all accepted ideas of Hamlet claims a full expo 
sition ; " and he therefore gives more than sixteen 
pages of fine print to a translation of passages from 
Werder's Vorlesungen uber Shakespeare's Hamlet 
(Berlin, 1875). It is to be regretted that the entire 
work is not accessible in English. 

This theory is fully accepted by Furness himself, 

The Great Tragedies 391 

as by not a few of the recent editors and critics. 
Hudson, who in the first edition of ShakespearJs 
Life, Art, and Characters (1872) had taken the 
ground that insanity was the real explanation of 
the character that, "in plain terms, Hamlet is 
mad; ... a derangement partial and occasional, 
paroxysms of wildness and fury alternating with 
intervals of serenity and composure " adopts the 
Klein- Werder theory in the revised edition of his 
book, published in 1882. After referring to the 
various changes his views of Hamlet had undergone 
in the course of thirty-eight years, he states that he 
became acquainted with Werder's discussion of the 
subject through Furness's edition of the play. He 
adds: "This essay seemed to me then, and seems 
to me still, altogether the j ustest and most adequate 
analytic interpretation of the character that criti 
cism has yet produced. I read the matter again 
and again, with intense avidity, and almost unal 
loyed satisfaction; feeling that there, for the first 
time, the real scope of the theme had been rightly 
seized and its contents properly discoursed." 

Sidney Lee, the latest of Shakespeare's biogra 
phers, adheres to Coleridge's theory, regarding 
Hamlet as "mainly a psychological effort, a study 
of the reflective temperament in excess." The hero, 
he adds, is " a high-born youth of chivalric instincts 
and finely developed intellect, who, when stirred to 
avenge a desperate private wrong, is foiled by intro 
spective workings of the brain that paralyze the will." 

Life of Shakespeare 

Othello was just published in quarto form in 
1622, with, the following preface : 

The Stationer to the Reader. 

To set forth a booke without an Epistle, were like to the 
old English prouerbe, A blew coat without a badge, & the 
Author being dead, I thought good to take that piece of 
worke upon mee : To commend it, I will not, for that 
which is good, I hope euery man will commend, without 
intreaty : and I am the bolder, because the Authors 
name is sufficient to vent his worke. Thus leaning euery 
one to the liberty of iudgement : I haue ventered to print 
this Play, and leaue it to the generall censure. 

Thomas VValkley." 

The next year it appeared in the first folio, where 
the text varies materially from that of the quarto, 
and was evidently printed from a different manu 
script of the play. 

Othello was formerly reckoned one of the latest 
of the plays, being dated by the editors and critics 
at various points between 1611 and 1614; but, ac 
cording to the Accounts of the Masters of the 
Revels (published in 1842) "The Moor of Venis" 
was performed " in the Bankettinge house att White 
hall " on " Hallomas Day being the first of Novem- 
bar," 1604. This and other similar entries were 
afterwards (1868) proved to be forgeries; but they 
have since been shown to be based on facts. Inter- 

The Great Tragedies 393 

nal evidence also, it is now generally agreed, proves 
that the play was written in or near 1604. Stokes 
(Chronological Order of Shakespeare's Plays, 1878) 
shows that it was written before 1606 by the fact 
that in the quarto of 1622 (i. 1. 4) we find the oath 
"'Sblood" (God's blood), while this is omitted in 
the folio. This indicates that the quarto was 
printed from a copy made before the act of Parlia 
ment issued in 1606 against the abuse of the name 
of God in plays, etc. So " Zounds " and " by the 
mass " (in ii. 3) are found in the quarto but not in 
the folio. 

It must, however, be borne in mind that at the 
date assumed for the production of Othello Shake 
speare was in the full maturity of his powers. He 
had already written Hamlet, and Macbeth and Lear 
were soon to follow. It seems fitting that these 
" four great tragedies " should be associated in their 
time of composition as in the pre-eminent rank they 
hold among the poet's works. There is no other 
such group in the literature of any country or any 

As to the position which Othello is to hold among 
the four, the best critics do not agree; but there 
have not been wanting those who assigned it the 
foremost place. Macaulay expresses the opinion 
that it "is perhaps the greatest work in the world." 
Wordsworth says: "The tragedy of Othello, Plato's 
records of the last scenes in the career of Socrates, 
and Izaak Walton's Life of George Herbert are 

394 Life of Shakespeare 

the most pathetic of human compositions j " and 
again, in one of his sonnets, referring to books, he 
says : 

There find I personal themes, a plenteous store, 
Matter wherein right voluble I am, 
To which I listen with a ready ear ; 
Two shall be named, pre-eminently dear, 
The gentle lady married to the Moor, 
And heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb.' 

The earliest known reference to the play is found 
in the MS. diary of Hans Jacob Wurmsser von 
Vendenhagen, who accompanied Louis Frederick, 
Duke of Wurtemberg-Mumpelgard, in a diplomatic 
mission to England in 1610 on behalf of the Protes 
tant German princes. In this little volume, pre 
served in the British Museum, we read under date 
of April 10, 1610: S. E. alia au Globe, lieu ordi 
naire ou Ton joue les commedies; y fut represent^ 
1'histoire du More de Venise." There can be little 
doubt that this refers to Shakespeare's play. . 

The story of the play appears to have been taken 
from the Hecatommithi of Giraldi Cinthio (see page 
370 above), published in 1565. The tale is short, 
not longer than a single act of Othello, and the fol 
lowing is an outline of it : 

There lived at Venice a valiant Moor, held in 
great esteem for his military talent and services. 
Desdemona, a lady of marvellous beauty, attracted 
not by female fancy (appetito donnesco), but by his 

The Great Tragedies 395 

high virtues, became enamoured of the Moor, who 
returned her love, and, in spite of the opposition of 
her relations, married her. They lived in great 
happiness in Venice until the Moor (he has no other 
name in the story) was chosen to the military com 
mand of Cyprus, whither his wife insisted on accom 
panying him. He took with him a favourite ensign, 
a man of great personal beauty, but of the most 
depraved heart a boaster and a coward. His wife 
is the friend of Desdemona. The ensign falls pas 
sionately in love with Desdemona, who, wrapped 
up in love of her husband, pays no regard to him. 
His love then turns to bitter hate, and he resolves 
to charge her with infidelity, and to fix the Moor's 
suspicions upon a favourite captain of his. Soon 
after, that officer strikes and wounds a soldier on 
guard, for which the Moor cashiers him. Desde 
mona endeavours to obtain his pardon; and this 
gives the ensign an opportunity of insinuating ac 
cusations against her, and rousing the Moor's jeal 
ousy. These suspicions he confirms by stealing 
from her a favourite wrought handkerchief, and 
leaving it on the captain's bed. Then the Moor 
and his ensign plot together to kill Desdemona and 
her supposed lover. The latter is waylaid and 
wounded in the dark by the ensign. Desdemona is 
beaten to death by him also " with a stocking filled 
with sand ; " and then the Moor and he attempt to 
conceal their murder by pulling down the ceiling, 
-and giving out that she was killed by the fall of a 

396 Life of Shakespeare 

beam. The Moor becomes almost frantic with his 
loss turns upon the ensign, whom he degrades 
and drives from him. The ensign revenges himself 
by disclosing the murder to the captain, upon whose 
accusation to the senate the Moor is arrested, tried, 
tortured, and then banished, and afterwards killed 
by Desdemona's relatives. 

Shakespeare owes to the tale only the general 
outline of his plot, and the suggestion of the 
character of Desdemona, which, however, he has 
elevated as well as expanded. He is also indebted 
to Cinthio for the artful insinuations by which 
lago first rouses the Moor's suspicions. But all 
else is essentially the poet's own. Cinthio's savage 
Moor and cunning ensign have scarcely any thing in 
common with the heroic, the gentle, the terrible 
Othello, or with lago's proud, contemptuous intel 
lect, bitter wit, cool malignity, and "learned spirit." 
Cassio and Emilia owe to Shakespeare all their 
individuality: Eoderigo, Brabantio, and the rest, 
are entirely his creation. 

Coleridge was the first to point out what some 
of the earlier, and indeed, some of the later critics 
needed to be reminded of that the passion of 
Othello is not altogether jealousy, but rather a 
"solemn agony" that the woman who had been 
to him the ideal of purity should prove to be 
a wanton. Jealousy, in the strict sense, has its 
origin in the man's own suspicious nature, and 
is generally groundless or based upon " trifles light 

The Great Tragedies 397 

as air" that are misconceived and magnified by 
foul surmise. It is nourished, as Massinger says, 

" with imagined food, 
Holding no real ground on which to raise 
A building of suspicion she was ever 
Or can be false ; " 

or, as Hunter says, in commenting upon lago's 
description of it as 

" the green-eyed monster which doth mock 
The meat it feeds on" 

(not "make" it, as some alter the reading, though 
that is also true enough): "Jealousy mocks the 
person who surrenders his mind to her influence, 
deluding him perpetually with some new show of 
suspicion, sporting with his agonized feelings, just 
as the feline tribe sport with the prey which they 
have got into their power." Ford, in the Merry 
Wives, and Leontes, in The Winter's Tale, are jeal 
ous ; the one with only comical, the other with almost 
tragical results, but both without the shadow of 
reason for their suspicions. But Othello, as he 
himself says, is "not easily jealous;" and when 
lago tells him he is which he would not have 
done if he had not known it was a lie Othello, 
with honest indignation, replies : 

Why, why is this ? 

Think 'st thou I 'd make a life of jealousy, 
To follow still the changes of the moon 

39 8 Life of Shakespeare 

With fresh suspicions ? No ; to be once in doubt 

Is once to be resolved : exchange me for a goat, 

When I shall turn the business of my soul 

To such exsufflicate and blown surmises, 

Matching thy inference. *T is not to make me jealous 

To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company, 

Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well ; 

Where virtue is, these are more virtuous : 

Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw 

The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt, 

For she had eyes and chose me. No, lago I 

I'll see before I doubt, when I doubt prove ; 

And on the proof there is no more but this, 

Away at once with love or jealousy I " 

And it is not until lago does make him " see " what 
seems to be " proof," and adds his own lying testi 
mony concerning Cassio's talk in his sleep and 
other falsehoods no less incriminating, that he is 
compelled to believe Desdemona guilty. The evi 
dence furnished by " honest lago " would have con 
victed her of infidelity in a court of law. 

As Ulrici remarks, " Othello nowhere gives utter 
ance to jealousy before he is excited and spurred 
on to it by lago. Not a word of anxiety, of un 
easiness, or of suspicion passes his lips, not a 
thought of the possibility of Desdemona's infidelity 
is in his heart. Even lago's assertions are by no 
means trusted at once; Othello demands proofs, 
striking, irresistible proofs. It is only when he 
thinks that he has the evidence clearly in his hands 

The Great Tragedies 399 

that there first springs forth that jealousy which 
had hitherto existed but as a germ ; being, however, 
matured by his hot blood, by his excitable feelings, 
and the glowing power of his imagination, it spreads 
like wild-fire. ... But the man who has reasons 
for being jealous is himself not actually jealous. 
The nature of the passion consists rather in the 
fact that it invariably seeks for something where 
nothing is to be found. The passion of pain and 
anger about actual infidelity is as justifiable as that 
excited by any other moral offence committed by 
the one we love. Nevertheless Othello's pain and 
rage have externally the appearance of jealousy, 
partly on account of the vehemence with which he 
expresses himself, partly because the proofs are as 
yet proofs only for him, in reality no proofs, or 
because it is his misfortune to be inexpressibly 
belied and deceived." 

It may be added that lago is not only the most 
intellectual, but also one of the most voluble of 
Shakespeare's villains. He speaks 1117 lines 
("Globe" numbering) or almost exactly one-third 
of all (3317) in the play. Only two characters in 
other plays exceed his record: Hamlet, with 1569 
lines, and Eichard III., with 1161. Henry V., 
with his 1063 lines, is the only other character, 
male or female, who has more than a thousand 

Whether Macbeth or King Lear was the next of 
the great tragedies is a disputed question. Both 

400 Life of Shakespeare 

were probably written in 1606 and 1607, but it is 
impossible to determine with absolute certainty 
which was the earlier. 

Macbeth was first printed in the folio of 1623, 
having been registered in the books of the Station 
ers' Company as one of the plays "not formerly 
entered to other men." It must have been written 
between 1604 and 1610; the former limit being 
fixed by the allusion to the union of England and 
Scotland under James I. (iv. 1. 120), and the latter 
by the manuscript Diary of Dr. Simon Forman, 
who saw the play performed on the 20th of April, 
1610. His account of it is as follows : 

"In Mackbeth at the Glob, 1610, ths 20 of Aprill, 
Saturday, ther was to be observed, firste, howe Mackbeth 
and Bancko, two noble men of Scotland, ridinge thorowe 
a wod, the 8 stode before them three women feiries or 
nimphes, and saluted Mackbeth, sayinge three tyms 
unto him, Haille, Mackbeth, King of Codon; for thou 
shall be a kinge, but shall beget no kinges, etc. Then 
said Bancko, what all to Mackbeth, and nothing to me ? 
Yes, said the nimphes, haille to thee, Banko, thou shall 
beget kinges, yet be no kinge ; and so they departed and 
cam to the courte of Scotland to Dunkin, King of Scotes, 
and yt was in the dais of Edward the Confessor. And 
Dunkin bad them both kindly wellcom, and made Mack 
beth forthwith Prince of Northumberland, and sent him 
horn to his own castell, and appointed Mackbeth to 
provid for him, for he wold sup with him the next dai 
at night, and did soe. And Mackebeth contrived to kill 

The Great Tragedies 401 

Dunkin, and thorowe the persuasion of his wife did that 
night murder the kinge in his own castell, beinge his 
guest ; and ther were many prodigies seen that night and 
the dai before. And when Mack Beth had murdred the 
kinge, the blod on his handes could not be washed of by 
any means, nor from his wives handes, which handled 
the bluddi daggers in hiding them, by which means they 
became both moch amazed and affronted. The murder 
being knowen, Dunkins two sonns fled, the on to Eng 
land, the (other to) Walles, to save them selves. They 
beinge fled, they were supposed guilty of the murder 
of their father, which was nothinge so. Then was Mack- 
beth crowned kinge ; and then he, for feare of Banko, his 
old companion, that he should beget Kinges but be no 
kinge him self, he contrived the death of Banko, and 
caused him to be murdred on the way as he rode. The 
next night, beinge at supper with his noble men whom 
he had bid to a feaste, to the which also Banco should 
have com, he began to speake of noble Banco, and to 
wish that he wer ther. And as he thus did, standing up 
to drinck a carouse to him, the ghoste of Banco came and 
sate down in his cheier be-hiud him. And he, turninge 
about to sit down again, sawe the goste of Banco, which 
fronted him so, that he fell into a great passion of fear 
and fury, utteringe many wordes about his murder^ by 
which, when they hard that Banco was murdred, they 
suspected Mackbet. Then Mack Dove fled to England to 
the kinges sonn, and soe they raised an army and cam 
into Scotland, and at Dunstonanyse overthrue Mackbet. 
In the mean tyme, whille Macdove was in England, 
Mackbet slew Mackdoves wife and children, and after in 
the battelle Mackdove slewe Makcbet. Observe also howe 
Mackbetes quen did rise in the night in her slepe, and 

402 Life of Shakespeare 

walke and talked and confessed all, and the docter noted 
her wordes." 

The old physician and astrologer is not accurate 
in regard to some of the details of the plot; but 
lie could hardly have been mistaken in stating that 
Macbeth and Banquo made their first appearance 
on horseback, a curious testimony to the rude en 
deavours of the stage-managers of the day to invest 
their representations with something of reality. 
The weird sisters were personated by men whose 
heads were disguised by grotesque periwigs. Eor- 
man's narrative decides a question, which has fre 
quently been raised, as to whether the Ghost of 
Banquo is a true apparition or only the product 
of Macbeth' s imagination. There is no doubt that 
the Ghost was personally introduced on the early 
stage as well as long afterwards, when the tragedy 
was revived by Davenant ; but as it was the common 
belief in Shakespeare's day that spirits were gener 
ally visible only to those connected with their 
object or mission, an artificial stimulus to credulity 
in that direction was unnecessary in theatrical 

Some critics have thought that the play must 
have been a new one, since otherwise Forman 
" would scarcely have been at the pains to make an 
elaborate summary of the plot;" but this merely 
shows that the play was new to him, and that the 
story made a deep impression upon him. 

The Great Tragedies 403 

It is probable that the tragedy was written in 
1606 or 1607. The accession of James made Scot 
tish subjects popular in England, and the tale of 
Macbeth and Banquo would be one of the first to be 
brought forward, as Banquo was held to be an 
ancestor of the new king. A Latin " interlude " 
on this subject was performed at Oxford in 1605, 
on the occasion of the king's visit to the city; 
but there is no reason for supposing, as Farmer 
did, that Shakespeare got the hint of his tragedy 
from that source. 

It is barely possible that there was an earlier 
play on the subject of Macbeth. In the Eegisters 
of the Stationers' Company, under date of August 
27, 1596, there is the entry of a "Ballad of Makdo- 
beth," which was not improbably a drama, rather 
than a "ballad" properly so called. The same 
piece seems to be referred to in Kemp's Nine Days' 
Wonder (1600), where it is called' a "miserable 
stolne story," the work of " a penny Poet." 

Steevens maintained that Shakespeare was in 
debted, in the supernatural parts of Macbeth, to 
The Witch, a play by Thomas Middleton, which 
was discovered in manuscript towards the close of 
the eighteenth century. Malone at first took the 
same view of the subject, but afterwards came to 
the conclusion that Middleton' s play was the later 
production, and that he must therefore be the 
plagiarist. The Clarendon Press editors take the 
ground that there are portions of Macbeth which 

404 Life of Shakespeare 

Shakespeare did not write; that these were inter 
polated after the poet's death, or at least after he 
had ceased to be connected with the theatre; and 
that " the interpolator was, not improbably, Thomas 
Middleton." Fleay believes that the part of Hecate 
(which cannot be Shakespeare's) was supplied by 
Middleton; and also that the play as we have it is 
" abridged for the stage in an unusual degree." 

The brevity and the imperfections of the play 
are more satisfactorily explained by the haste with 
which it was written. Grant White remarks : " It 
exhibits throughout the hasty execution of a grand 
and clearly conceived design. But the haste is that 
of a master of his art, who, with conscious com 
mand of its resources, and in the frenzy of a grand 
inspiration, works out his composition to its minut 
est detail of essential form, leaving the work of 
surface finish for the occupation of cooler leisure. 
What the Sistine Madonna was to Raphael, it seems 
that Macbeth was to Shakespeare a magnificent 
impromptu ; that kind of impromptu which results 
from the application of well-disciplined powers and 
rich stores of thought to a subject suggested by 
occasion. I am inclined to regard Macbeth as, for 
the most part, a specimen of Shakespeare's unelab- 
orated, if not unfinished, writing, in the maturity 
and highest vitality of his genius. It abounds in 
instances of extreniest compression and most daring 
ellipsis, while it exhibits in every scene a union of 
supreme dramatic and poetic power, and in almost 

The Great Tragedies 405 

every line an imperially irresponsible control of 
language. Hence, I think, its lack of completeness 
of versification in certain passages, and also some 
of the imperfection of the text, the thought in 
which the compositors were not always able to 
follow and apprehend." 

Shakespeare drew the materials of his plot from 
Holinshed's Chronicles, the first edition of which 
appeared in 1577, and the second in 1586-87. As 
he used the latter edition in writing Richard II. (see 
page 184 above) he doubtless used it also for Mac 
beth, which was written later. The main incidents 
are taken from Holinshed's account of two separate 
events the murder of Duncan by Macbeth, and 
that of King Duffe, the great-grandfather of Lady 
Macbeth', by Donwald. Shakespeare has deviated 
in other respects from the chronicle, especially in 
the character of Ban quo. 

Although " the interest of Macbeth is not an his- 
torical interest," so that it matters little whether 
the action is true or has been related as true, it 
may be added that the story of the drama is almost 
wholly apocryphal. Sir Walter Scott says : 

"Macbeth broke no law of hospitality in his 
attempt on Duncan's life. He attacked and slew 
the king at a place called Bothgowan, or the Smith's 
House, near Elgin, in 1039, and not, as has been 
supposed, in his own castle of Inverness. The act 
was bloody, as was the complexion of the times; 
but, in very truth, the claim of Macbeth to the 

406 Life of Shakespeare 

throne, according to the rule of Scottish succession, 
was better than that of Duncan. As a king, the 
tyrant so much exclaimed against was, in reality, a 
firm, just, and equitable prince. Apprehensions of 
danger from a party which Malcolm, the eldest son 
of the slaughtered Duncan, had set on foot in 
Northumberland, and still maintained in Scotland, 
seem, in process of time, to have soured the temper 
of Macbeth, and rendered him formidable to his 
nobility. Against Macduff, in particular, the pow 
erful Maorrnor of Fife, he had uttered some threats 
which occasioned that chief to fly from the Court 
of Scotland. Urged by this new counsellor, Siward, 
the Danish Earl of Northumberland, invaded Scot 
land in the year 1054, displaying his banner in 
behalf of the banished Malcolm. Macbeth engaged 
the foe in the neighbourhood of his celebrated castle 
of Dunsinane. He was defeated, but escaped from 
the battle, and was slain at Lumphanan in 1056." 

In the way of concise general comments on the 
tragedy I know of nothing better than the follow 
ing passage from the introduction to Mr. George 
Fletcher's discussion of it in his Studies of Shake 
speare (London, 1847), unfortunately long out of 
print : 

"Macbeth seems inspired by the very genius of 
the tempest. This drama shows us the gathering, 
the discharge, and the dispelling of a domestic and 
political storm, which takes its peculiar hue from 
the individual character of the hero. It is not 

The Great Tragedies , 407 

in the spirit of mischief that animates the ' weird 
sisters/ nor in the passionate and strong-willed 
ambition of Lady Macbeth, that we find the main 
spring of this tragedy, but in the disproportioned 
though poetically tempered soul of Macbeth him 
self. A character like this, of extreme selfishness, 
with a most irritable fancy, must produce, even in 
ordinary circumstances, an excess of morbid appre- 
hensiveness; which, however, as we see in him, is 
not inconsistent with the greatest physical courage, 
but generates of necessity the most entire moral 
cowardice. When, therefore, a man like this, ill 
enough qualified even for the honest and straight 
forward transactions of life, has brought himself to 
snatch at an ambitious object by the commission of 
one great sanguinary crime, the new and false posi 
tion in which he finds himself by his very success 
will but startle and exasperate him to escape, as 
Macbeth says, from 'horrible imaginings' by the 
perpetration of greater and greater actual horrors, 
till inevitable destruction comes upon him amidst 
universal execration. Such, briefly, are the story 
and the moral of Macbeth. The passionate ambi 
tion and indomitable will of his lady, though agents 
indispensable to urge such a man to the one deci 
sive act which is to compromise him in his own 
opinion and that of the world, are by no means 
primary springs of the dramatic action. Nor do 
the ( weird sisters' themselves do more than aid 
collaterally in impelling a man, the inherent evil of 

408 Life of Shakespeare 

whose nature and purpose has predisposed him to 
take their equivocal suggestions in the most mis 
chievous sense. And, finally, the very thunder 
cloud which, from the beginning almost to the 
ending, wraps this fearful tragedy in physical 
darkness and lurid glare, does but reflect and har 
monize with the moral blackness of the piece." 

King Lear was first, published in quarto form in 
1608, with the following title-page: 

"M. William Shak-speare: His True Chronicle,. 
Historic of the life and death of King Lear and 
his three Daughters. With the vnfortunate life of 
Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster, 
and his sullen and assumed humor of Tom of Bed 
lam: As it was played before the Kings Maiestie 
at Whitehall vpon S. Stephans night in Christinas 
Hollidayes. By his Maiesties seruants playing 
vsually at the G-loabe on the Bancke-side. Lon 
don, Printed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be 
sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the signe 
of the Pide Bull neere St. Austins Gate. 1608." 

A second quarto edition was issued by the same 
publisher in the same year, the title-page of which 
is similar, except that it omits " and are to be sold 
... St. Austins Gate." 

The text of the folio of 1623 is generally regarded 
as better than that of the quartos, and appears to 
have been printed from an independent manuscript. 
Each text, however, is valuable as supplying the 
deficiencies of the other. The quartos, according 

The Great Tragedies 409 

to Furness, contain about two hundred and twenty 
lines that are not in the folios, and the folios fifty 
lines that are not in the quartos. One entire scene 
(iv. 3) is omitted in the folios. This discrepancy 
in the texts has been the subject of much investiga 
tion and discussion ; and the critics differ widely in 
their explanations of it. 

The date of the play cannot be earlier than 1603 
nor later than 1606. The former limit is fixed by 
the publication of Dr. Harsnet's Declaration of 
Popish Impostures, from which Shakespeare got 
the names of some of the devils mentioned by 
Edgar in iii. 4 ; and the latter by the entry of the 
play in the Stationers' Registers, dated November 
26, 1607, which states that it was performed "be 
fore the kinges maiestie at Whitehall vppon Sainct 
Stephens night at Christmas Last," that is, upon 
the 26th of December, 1606. 

The story of King Lear and his three daughters 
is one of the oldest in English literature. It is 
told by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia 
Britonum, by Layamon in his Brut, by Robert of 
Gloucester, by Fabyan in his Chronicle, by Spenser 
in the Faerie Queene, by Holinshed in his Chronicle, 
by Camden in his Remaines, in the Mirrour for 
Magistrates, in Warner's Albions England, and else 
where in prose and verse. It had also been drama 
tized in the Chronicle History of King Leir, which 
is probably the same play that was entered in the 
Stationers' Registers in 1594, and that was reprinted 

4i o Life of Shakespeare 

in 1605 possibly on account of the success of 
Shakespeare's Lear, then just brought out. The 
author of this old play probably took the story 
from Holinshed, and Shakespeare drew either from 
the same source or from the old play. The portion 
of the plot in which Gloster figures was derived 
from Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia. But the -poet's 
real debt to his predecessors is so insignificant that 
it is scarce worth tracing or recording. As Furness 
well says, "the distance is always immeasurable 
between the hint and the fulfilment ; what to our 
purblind eyes is a bare, naked rock, becomes, when 
gilded by Shakespeare's heavenly alchemy, encrusted 
thick all over with jewels. When, after reading 
one of his tragedies, we turn to what we are 
pleased to call the ( original of his plot,' I am re 
minded of those glittering gems, of which Heine 
speaks, that we see at night in lovely gardens, and 
think must have been left there by kings' children 
at play; but when we look for these jewels by day 
we see only wretched little worms which crawl pain 
fully away, and which the foot forbears to crush only 
out of strange pity." 

The old play of King Leir is not so poor a thing 
as some of the critics have represented. Though 
almost infinitely below Shakespeare's tragedy, it 
has some features that place it above the average 
of contemporary dramatic productions. Campbell 
the poet, who was an excellent critic, calls it " simple 
and touching." He adds: "There is one scene in 

The Great Tragedies 411 

it, the meeting of Cordelia with, her father in a 
lonely forest, which, with Shakespeare's Lear in my 
heart, I could scarcely read with dry eyes." Never 
theless, as Campbell says, Shakespeare "has subli 
mated the old tragedy into a new one by an entire 
originality in the spiritual portraiture of its per 
sonages. . . . Wherever Shakespeare works on old 
materials, you will find him, not wiping dusted 
gold, but extracting gold from dust, where none but 
himself could have made the golden extraction." 

One scene in the old play reminds me of Long 
fellow's Miles Standish, and Priscilla's " Why don't 
you speak for yourself, John ? " The King of France 
and one of his nobles, disguised as pilgrims, fall in 
with Cordelia after her father has cast her off. 
They tell her that the King, whom she has not 
seen, is a suitor for her hand. But Cordelia says 
that she will not have him, adding with character 
istic frankness : 

" Then be advised, palmer, what to do : 
Cease for thy king, seek for thyself to woo. 

King. Your birth's too high for any but a king. 

Cordelia. My mind is low enough to love a palmer." 

The King soon reveals himself, and Cordelia gets a 
royal husband after all. 

If Lear was a historical character, he is supposed 
to have lived in the eighth century, and that may 
well be the time of the dramatic action. Shake 
speare appears to have purposely taken us back 

412 Life of Shakespeare 

into heathen and barbarous times. The whole at 
mosphere is pagan. There is not a single deliber 
ate reference to Christianity or its institutions. 
Occasionally, as in the Roman plays, we meet with 
a careless or accidental allusion to something asso 
ciated with Christian times like the mention of a 
" godson " but this is simply an illustration of 
the poet's unscholarly habits, which often lead him 
into anachronisms. They do not make the play 
Christian any more than the allusion to "holy 
churchyards" in Coriolanus or to nunneries in the 
Midsummer-Night's Dream. Lear himself is a bar 
barian monarch ; Goneril, Began, and Edmund are 
savages. The plucking out of Gloster's eyes is a 
piece of savagery in keeping with the times. Even 
the better characters, like Kent, have a certain un 
civilized impetuosity about them. The gods of the 
play are heathen gods. Astrology, though Edmund 
sneers at it, being an atheist, is a part of the gen 
eral faith. As Kent says, 

" It is the stars, 
The stars above us, govern our conditions." 

Lear swears by 

" the sacred radiance of the sun, 
The mysteries of Hecate and the night, 
By all the operations of the orbs, 
From whom we do exist and cease to be." 

It is also the Celtic race that we have to deal 
with, not the Saxon a race " highly inflammable, 

The Great Tragedies 413 

headstrong, flushed with sudden angers, and break 
ing out into wild violences, but also, in its better 
children at least, of a deep tenderness and sincerity ; 
in short, a highly emotional race, quickly stirred to 
good and to evil ; swift to love, swift to hate ; bless 
ing and cursing with the same breath ; with eyes, 
now full of a gentle solicitude and regard, now 
flashing into an intolerable frenzy of detestation ; a 
blind, hysterical race, if not wisely counselled and 
judiciously led; but under good auspices springing 
forward with a splendid vivacity to the highest 
prizes of glory and honour." Lear himself is the 
very type of this race ; so is Kent ; so is Corn 
wall : 

" You know the fiery quality of the duke, 
How unremovable and fixed he is 
In his own course." 

And in Cordelia we see the same Celtic impulsive 
ness. She cannot control the indignation kindled 
in her soul by the false protestations of her sisters. 
But to presume to comment upon Lear seems 
little short of profanity. One cannot but agree 
with Hazlitt, who says, in his Characters of Shake 
speare's Plays : " We wish that we could pass this 
play over and say nothing about it. All that we 
can say must fall far short of the subject, or even 
of what we ourselves conceive of it. To attempt to 
give a description of the play itself, or of its effect 
upon the mind, is mere impertinence ; yet we must 

414 Life of Shakespeare 

say something. It is, then, the best of all Shake 
speare's plays, for it is the one in which he was 
the most in earnest. He was here fairly caught in 
the web of his own imagination. The passion which 
he has taken as his subject is that which strikes its 
root deepest into the human heart, of which the 
bond is the hardest to be unloosed, and the cancel 
ling and tearing to pieces of which gives the great 
est revulsion to the frame. This depth of nature, 
this force of passion, this tug and war of the ele 
ments of our being, this firm faith in filial piety, and 
the giddy anarchy and whirling tumult of the 
thoughts at finding the prop failing it; the contrast 
between the fixed, immovable basis of natural affec 
tion and the rapid, irregular starts of imagination, 
suddenly wrenched from all its accustomed holds 
and resting-places in the soul this is what Shake 
speare has given, and what nobody else but he could 

* Coleridge remarks : " In the Shakespearian drama 
there is a vitality which grows and evolves itself 
from within, a key-note which guides and controls 
the harmonies throughout. What is Lear? It is 
storm and tempest the thunder at first grumbling 
in the far horizon, then gathering around us, and 
at length bursting in fury over our heads suc 
ceeded by a breaking of the clouds for a while, a 
last flash of lightning, the closing-in of night, and 
the single hope of darkness." 

Antony and Cleopatra, first printed in the folio 

The Great Tragedies 415 

of 1623, belongs to this same period, having been 
written probably in 1607 or early in 1608. There 
can be little doubt that it is the Anthony and Cleo 
patra entered on the Stationers' Registers, May 
20th, 1608, by Edward Blount, one of the publishers 
of the folio. As no edition was brought out, it was 
re-entered by Blount as one of the plays in the 
folio " not formerly entered to other men." 

For this, as for the other Roman plays, the poet 
drew his materials from Sir Thomas North's trans 
lation of Amy of s Plutarch, which he followed very 
closely. To earlier plays on the same subject 
(Daniel's Cleopatra, the Countess of Pembroke's 
Tragedie of Antonie, etc.) he evidently owed noth 

Coleridge remarks : " The highest praise, or rather 
form of praise, of this play, which I can offer in 
my own mind, is the doubt which the perusal al 
ways occasions in me, whether the Antony and Cleo 
patra is not, in all exhibitions of a giant power in 
its strength and vigour of maturity, a formidable 
rival of Macbeth, Lear, Hamlet, and Othello. Fell- 
citer audax is the motto for its style comparatively 
with that of Shakspeare's other works, even as it is 
the general motto of all his works compared with 
those of other poets. . . . There is not one in which 
he has followed history so minutely, and yet there 
are few in which he impresses the notion of angelic 
strength so much perhaps none in which he im 
presses it more strongly. This is greatly owing to 

4i 6 Life of Shakespeare 

the manner in which the fiery force is sustained 
throughout, and to the numerous momentary flashes 
of nature counteracting the historic abstraction. As 
a wonderful specimen of the way in which Shak- 
speare lives up to the very end of this play, read 
the last part of the concluding scene. And if you 
would feel the judgment as well as the genius of 
Shakspeare in your heart's core, compare this aston 
ishing drama with Dryden's All for Love" 

Compare what Campbell the poet says of the 
play, and particularly the comparison with Dry- 

" In Cleopatra, we can discern nothing materially 
different from the vouched historical sorceress ; she 
nevertheless has a more vivid meteoric and versatile 
play of enchantment in Shakespeare's likeness of 
her than in a dozen of other poetical copies in 
which the artists took much greater liberties with 
historical truth : he paints her as if the gypsy her 
self had cast her spell over him, and given her own 
witchcraft to his pencil. At the same time, play 
fully interesting to our fancy as he makes this en 
chantress, he keeps us far from, a vicious sympathy. 
The asp at her bosom, that lulls its nurse asleep, 
has no poison for our morality. A single glance at 
the devoted and dignified Octavia recalls our hom 
age to virtue ; but with delicate skill he withholds 
the purer woman from prominent contact with the 
wanton queen, and does not, like Dryden, bring the 
two to a scolding-match. The latter poet's All for 

The Great Tragedies 417 

Love was regarded by himself as his masterpiece, 
and is by no means devoid of merit; but so inferior 
is it to the prior drama as to make it disgraceful to 
British taste for one hundred years that the former 
absolutely banished the latter from the stage. . . . 
Dryden's Mark Antony is a weak voluptuary from 
first to last. Not a sentence of manly virtue is ever 
uttered by him that seems to come from himself; 
and whenever he expresses a moral feeling, it ap 
pears not to have grown up in his own nature, but 
to have been planted there by his friend Ventidius, 
like a flower in a child's garden, only to wither and 
take no root. Shakespeare's Antony is a very dif 
ferent being. ... A queen, a siren, a Shakespeare's 
Cleopatra alone could have entangled Mark Antony, 
while an ordinary wanton could have ensnared 
Dryden's hero." 

Mrs. Jameson says of Cleopatra : " She has fur 
nished the subject of two Latin, sixteen French, six 
English, and at least four Italian tragedies; yet 
Shakspeare alone has availed himself of all the in 
terest of the story, without falsifying the character. 
He alone has dared to exhibit the Egyptian queen 
with all her greatness and all her littleness all 
her frailties of temper all her paltry arts and 
dissolute passions yet preserved the dramatic 
propriety and poetical colouring of the character, 
and awakened our pity for fallen grandeur, without 
once beguiling us into sympathy with guilt and 

4i 8 Life of Shakespeare 

Coriolanus probably followed hard upon Antony 
and Cleopatra, the date generally agreed upon by 
the critics being 1607 or 1608, though some make it 
1609 or 1610. It was first printed in 1623, being 
one of the sixteen plays in the folio recorded as not 
previously "entered" to other publishers. As al 
ready stated, the historical materials were derived 
from North's Plutarch ; and, as in the other Roman 
plays, Shakespeare followed his authority closely, 
often adopting even its phraseology. Some expres 
sions in the fable told by Menenius (i. 1. 89 fol.) 
may have been suggested by the version in Cam- 
den's Remains (1605) ; but if Shakespeare was 
really indebted to that author, the obligation was at 
best but a trifling one. 

Of the period in Shakespeare's career as a dram 
atist which has been considered in the present 
chapter, Baynes remarks: "During this period 
Shakespeare gained a disturbing insight into the 
deeper evils of the world, arising from the darker 
passions, such as treachery and revenge. But it is 
also clear that, with the larger vision of a noble, 
well-poised nature, he at the same time gained a 
fuller perception of the deeper springs of goodness 
in human nature, of the great virtues of invincible 
fidelity and unwearied love; and he evidently re 
ceived not only consolation and calm but new 
stimulus and power from the fuller realisation of 
these virtues. The typical plays of this period 
thus embody Shakespeare's ripest experience of the 

The Great Tragedies 419 

great issues of life. In the four grand tragedies 
the central problem is a profoundly moral one. It 
is the supreme internal conflict of good and evil 
amongst the central forces and higher elements of 
human nature, as appealed to and developed by sud 
den and powerful temptation, smitten by accumu 
lated wrongs, or plunged in overwhelming calamities. 
As the result, we learn that there is something 
infinitely more precious in life than social ease or 
worldly success nobleness of soul, fidelity to truth 
and honour, human love and loyalty, strength and 
tenderness, and trust to the very end." 



THE transition from the tragedies to the plays 
that follow is most remarkable. From the gloom 
and horror of Othello, Macbeth, and Lear, the poet 
emerges into the genial sunshine that irradiates the 
scenes of Cymbeline, The Tempest, and The Winter's 
Tale. Inexorable retribution for sin is no longer 
the keynote of his dramas, but charity, forgiveness, 
reconciliation, benignity almost divine. Dowden 
aptly calls these last plays "Komances." "In all 
there is a beautiful romantic background of sea or 
mountain. The dramas have a grave beauty, a sweet 
serenity, which seem to render the name < comedies ' 
inappropriate ; we may smile tenderly, but we never 
laugh loudly, as we read them." 

Cymbeline was first printed in 1623, and is the 
last play in the folio. The earliest allusion to it 
that has been discovered is in Dr. Forman's Diary, 
which belongs to the year 1610 and 1611. His 
sketch of the plot (not dated) is as follows : 

" Remember also the storri of Cymbalin king of Eng 
land, in Lucius tyme, howe Lucius Cam from Octavus 
esar for Tribut, and being denied, after sent Lucius with 


The Romances 421 

a greate Arme of Souldiars who landed at milford haven, 
and Aifter wer vanquished by Cimbalin, and Lucius taken 
prisoner, and all by means of 3 outlawes, of the which 2 
of them were the sonns of Cimbalim, stolen from him 
when they but 2 yers old by an old man whom Cymbalin 
banished, and he kept them as his own sonns 20 yers 
with him in A cave. And howe [one] of them slewe 
Clotan, that was the quens sonn, goinge To milford 
haven to sek the love of Innogen the kinges daughter, 
whom he had banished also for lovinge his daughter, 
and howe the Italian that cam from her love conveied 
him selfe into A Cheste, and said yt was a chest of plate 
sent from her love and others, to be presented to the 
kinge. And in the depest of the night, she being aslepe, 
he opened the cheste and cam forth of yt, And vewed 
her in her bed, and the markes of her body, and toke 
a-wai her braslet, and after Accused her of adultery to 
her love, etc. And in thend howe he came with the 
Remains into England and was taken prisoner, and after 
Reveled to Innogen who had turned her self into mans 
apparrell and fled to mete her love at milford haven, and 
chanchsed to fall on the Cave in the wodes wher her 2 
brothers were, and howe by eating a sleping Dram they 
thought she had bin deed, and laid her in the wodes, and 
the body of cloten by her in her loves apparrell that he 
left behind him, and howe she was found by lucius, etc." 

The play was probably a new one when Form an 
saw it in 1610 or 1611. The critics generally date 
it in 1609 or 1610. The. internal evidence of style 
and metre indicates that it was one of the latest of 
the plays. 

422 Life of Shakespeare 

Shakespeare took the names of Cymbeline and his 
two sons from Holinshed, together with a few his 
torical facts concerning the king ; but the story of 
the stealing of the princes and their life in the 
wilderness appears to be his own. 

The story of Imogen, which is so admirably inter 
woven with that of the sons of Cymbeline, was 
taken, directly or indirectly, from the Deeamerone 
of Boccaccio, in which it forms the ninth novel of 
the second day. No English translation of it is 
known to have been made in Shakespeare's time. A 
version appeared in a tract entitled Westward for 
Smelts, which was published in 1620. Malone speaks 
of an edition of 1603 ; but this is probably an error, 
as the book was not entered upon the Stationers' 
Registers until 1619-20. This translation, more 
over, lacks some important details which the play 
has in common with the Italian original. 

Dr. Johnson says of Cymbeline : " This play has 
many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and 
some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the 
expense of much incongruity. To remark the folly 
of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the con 
fusion of the names and manners of different times, 
and the impossibility of the events in any system 
of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting 
imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, 
and too gross for aggravation." 

It was hardly necessary for Drake, in his Shak- 
speare and his Times (1817), to express astonishment 

The Romances 423 

at this " sweeping condemnation," and to add : " Of 
the enormous injustice of this sentence nearly every 
page of Cymbeline will, to a reader of any taste or 
discrimination, bring the most decisive evidence. 
. . . Imogen, the most lovely and perfect of Shak- 
speare's female characters the pattern of connu 
bial love and chastity, by the delicacy and propriety 
of her sentiments, by her sensibility, tenderness, 
and resignation, by her patient endurance of perse 
cution from the quarter where she had confidently 
looked for endearment and protection irresistibly 
seizes upon our affections. . . . When compared 
with this fascinating portrait, the other personages 
of the drama appear but in a secondary light. Yet 
are they adequately brought out and skilfully, di 
versified : the treacherous subtlety of lachimo ; the 
sage experience of Belarius; the native nobleness 
of heart and innate heroism of mind which burst 
forth in the vigorous sketches of Guiderius and 
Arviragus; the temerity, credulity, and penitence 
of Posthumus; the uxorious weakness of Cymbe 
line; the hypocrisy of his Queen; and the comic 
arrogance of Cloten, half fool and half knave, 
produce a striking diversity of action and senti 

Malone decided that The Tempest was the last of 
Shakespeare's plays, and several of the more recent 
critics have agreed with him. Campbell, the poet, 
in 1838, said that the play had " a sort of sacredness 
as the last work of the mighty workman ; " and 

424 Life of Shakespeare 

Lowell thought that in it "the great enchanter" 
was "bidding farewell to the scene of his tri 
umphs." It is probable, however, that The Wi'nr 
ter's Tale followed rather than preceded The 
Tempest, though both were quite certainly written 
in 1610 or early in 1611, and both were first printed 
in the folio of 1623. 

The Tempest was acted before King James at 
Whitehall on the 1st of November, 1611, the forged 
record in the Accounts of the Revels at Court being 
founded upon correct information. 

In 1610 Silvester Jourdan published a pamphlet 
entitled "A Discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise 
called the He of Divels: by Sir Thomas Gates, 
Sir George Sommers, and Captayne Newport, with 
divers others. London, 1610." This pamphlet tells 
of the tempest which scattered the fleet commanded 
by Somers and Gates, and the happy discovery, by 
some of the shipwrecked, of land which proved to 
be the Bermudas. It alludes to the general belief 
that these islands "were never inhabited by any 
Christian or heathen people," being "reputed a 
most prodigious and enchanted place," adding that, 
nevertheless, those who were cast away upon them, 
and lived there nine months, found the air temper 
ate and the country "abundantly fruitful of all fit 
necessaries for the sustentation and preservation of 
man's life." Prosperous command to Ariel to "fetch 
dew from the still-vexed Bermoothes" proves that 
his island was not one of the Bermudas, but the 

The Romances 425 

reference to them appears to have been suggested 
by Jourdan's narrative. 

The plot of The Tempest, though it has not been 
traced to any foreign source, may have been bor 
rowed from some old Italian or Spanish novel. 
Collins the poet told Thomas Warton that he had 
seen such a novel, with the title of Aurelio and Isa 
bella, and that it was " printed in Italian, Spanish, 
French, and English, in 1588 ; " and Boswell says 
that a friend of his assured him that, some years 
before, he had "actually perused an Italian novel 
which answered to Collins's description." But Col 
lins was insane when he made the statement, and 
Boswell's friend may have been mistaken ; at any 
rate, the romance has not yet been found. There is 
an early German play (published in 1618) called 
Die Schone Sidea, by Jacob Ayrer, a notary of 
Nuremberg, the plot of which has been imagined 
by several critics to be like that of The Tempest, 
and this has led them to suppose that the two were 
drawn from the same source ; but the resemblance 
is far too slight to justify the conclusion. 

As Ayrer died in 1605, he cannot have borrowed 
from Shakespeare ; and it is highly improbable that 
Shakespeare could have been acquainted with the 
German play. For a full discussion of the matter, 
together with a complete translation of Die Schdne 
Sidea, see Furness's u New Variorum " ed. of The 
Tempest, pp. 324-343. 

The Tempest is one of the shortest of the plays. 

426 Life of Shakespeare 

It contains but 2065 lines (" Globe " reckoning), a 
trifle more than half as many as Hamlet, which has 
3930 lines. The only late play about as short is 
Macbeth (2108 lines), and the only shorter one is 
the very early Comedy of Errors (1778 lines). Some 
critics have thought that a part of The Tempest 
may have been lost, but its brevity appears to be 
chiefly due to the simplicity of the plot. It is diffi 
cult to see where additional scenes or parts of scenes 
could be appropriately introduced. Some scenes, in 
deed (ii. 1, for instance), seem to be somewhat " spun 
out," so to speak, that the play may be long enough 
for the stage ; and the classical interlude may have 
been inserted for the same reason. The closing 
scene does not appear to be hastily finished, as in 
some of the plays, but is worked out with ample 
elaboration for theatrical effect. The play could 
hardly be lengthened unless by superfluous "pad 

The Tempest is also remarkable for being con 
structed with strict regard to the " unities " of place 
and time. The scene is one small island, and the 
whole period of the action does not much exceed 
three hours, as Shakespeare has indicated by three 
distinct references to the time in the last scene. 
The only other play in which these unities are 
observed is The Comedy of Errors, where the scene 
is confined to Ephesus, and the time is limited to 
the forenoon and afternoon of a single day. 

In The Tempest the magic power of the poet is 

The Romances 427 

strikingly shown in the variety of character and 
incident presented within these narrow limits of 
space and time ; and this, too, without any violation 
of dramatic propriety or probability indeed, with 
such extreme simplicity of plot that, when our 
attention is called to it, we are surprised to see how 
slight the story is, and how clearly its course is 
foreshadowed from almost the beginning. 

Shakespeare has managed the supernatural part 
of the play in strict accordance with the theories of 
that day concerning magic, while at the same time 
he has avoided everything that was ridiculous or 
revolting in the popular belief. He thus exercises, 
as it were, a magic power over the vulgar magic, 
lifting it from prose into poetry ; and while doing 
this he has contrived to make it so entirely con 
sistent with what we can imagine to be possible to 
human science and skill that it seems as real as 
it is marvellous. It is at once supernatural and 
natural. It is the utmost power of the magic art, 
and yet it all goes on with no more jar to our 
credulity than the ordinary sequence of events in 
our everyday life. 

Some of the critics, particularly those who take 
The Tempest to be the last of the plays, believe that 
Shakespeare intended to identify himself with Pros- 
pero, and in making him abjure his "rough magic" 
to indicate the close of his own career as a drama 
tist. But though Prospero seems more like the 
impersonation of Shakespeare than any other of his 

428 Life of Shakespeare 

characters, I cannot believe that he had any thought 
of self-portraiture in the delineation, or that the 
princely magician in breaking his staff and drown 
ing his book represents the poet hinting at a pur 
pose of ceasing to write. If the play was written in 
1611, Shakespeare was then only forty-seven years 
old. He was in the maturity of his powers, and 
more favourably situated for exercising them in his 
chosen field of authorship than ever before. If he 
had not then left London for Stratford, he was on 
the point of escaping from the cares and distractions 
of his life in the metropolis, and retiring with a 
well-earned competency to the loved home of his 
youth. He seems to have been disposed to rest for 
a time after the labours and anxieties of the preced 
ing twenty-five years, and apparently wrote no 
plays after returning to Stratford ; but had he not 
been suddenly cut off at the very threshold of his 
fifty-third year, I believe we should have found that 
his magic staff was not broken nor the list of his 
enchanted creations completed. 

It may be added that, although Prosperous refer 
ences to giving up magic may lend a certain support 
to this notion that he speaks for Shakespeare, his 
closing speeches are not in keeping with that theory. 
If he is not older than the poet was when he wrote 
the play, his experiences have been more painful 
and more exhausting. Now that the welfare of his 
daughter is assured by her prospective union with 
Ferdinand, and the wrongs he had suffered are all 

The Romances 


set right, he feels that the work of his life is 
accomplished ; and he says : 

" In the morn 

I '11 bring you to your ship, and so to Naples, 
Where I have hope to see the nuptial 
Of these our dear-beloved solemnized ; 
And thence retire me to my Milan, where 
Every third thought shall be my cfrave" 

We cannot imagine Shakespeare saying this when 
he returned to Stratford to settle down at New 

The Winter's Tale was apparently first printed in 
the folio of 1623, where it is the last of the "Com 
edies," as The Tempest is the first. 

Malone found a memorandum in the Office Book 
of Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels, 
which he gives as follows : 

"For the king's players. An olde playe called 
Winter's Tale, formerly allowed of by Sir George 
Bucke, and likewyse by mee on Mr. Hemmings his 
worde that there was nothing profane added or re 
formed, thogh the allowed booke was missinge, and 
therefore I returned it without a fee, this 19 of 
August, 1623." 

Malone also discovered that Sir George Buck did 
not obtain full possession of his office as Master of 
the Bevels until August, 1610; and he therefore 
conjectured that The Winter's Tale "was originally 
licensed in the latter part of that year or the begin- 

43 o Life of Shakespeare 

ning of the next." This date is confirmed by the 
Diary of Doctor Forman, who writes about the 
play thus : 

In the Winter's Talle at the Glob, 1611, the 15 of 
Maye, Wednesday, observe ther howe Lyontes, the 
Kinge of Cicillia, was overcom with jelosy of his wife 
with the Kinge of Bohemia, his frind, that came to see 
him ; and howe he contrived his death, and wold have 
had his cupberer to have poisoned, who gave the King of 
Bohemia warning therof and fled with him to Bohemia. 
Remember also howe he sent to the orakell of Appollo, 
and the aunswer of Apollo that she was giltles, and 
that the king was jelouse, &c. ; and howe, except the 
child was found againe that was loste, the kinge shuld 
die without yssue, for the child was caried into Bohe 
mia, and there laid in a forrest, and brought up by a 
sheppard, and the Kinge of Bohemia his sonn maried 
that wentch ; and howe they fled into Cicillia to Leontes, 
and the sheppard, having showed the letter of the noble 
man by whom Leontes sent a ... was that child, and 
the Jewells found about her, she was knowen to be 
Leontes' daughter and was then 16 yers old. Remember 
also the rog that cam in all tottered like Coll Pipci ; and 
howe he feyned him sicke, and to have bin robbed of 
all that he had ; and howe he cosoned the por man of all 
his money, and after cam to the shep-sher with a pedler's 
packe, and ther cosoned them again of all their money ; 
and howe he changed apparrell with the Kinge of 
Bohemia his sonn; and then howe he turned courtiar, 
&c. Beware of trustinge feined beggars or fawninge 

The Romances 431 

The play was also performed at Whitehall on the 
5th of November the same year (1611). The entry 
in the Accounts of the Revels, like similar ones con 
cerning The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice and 
other plays of Shakespeare, is a forgery, but has 
been shown to be founded on fact. 

The story of The Winter's Tale is taken from 
Robert Greene's History of Dorastus and Fawnia, 
which appeared first in 1588, under the title of 
Pandosto, and passed through several editions. 
Shakespeare follows the novel in most particulars, 
but varies from it in a few of some importance. 
For instance, in the story as told by Greene, Bel- 
laria (Hermione) dies upon hearing of the loss of 
her son ; and Pandosto (Leontes) falls in love with 
his own daughter, and is finally seized with a kind 
of melancholy or madness, in which he kills himself. 
The poet appears to have changed the denouement 
because he was writing a comedy, not a tragedy. 

It is hardly necessary to add that the poet's in 
debtedness to the novelist, as in so many other cases 
of the kind, is really insignificant. " Whatever the 
merits of Greene's work and it is a good tale of 
its sort and its time, though clumsily and pedant 
ically told they are altogether different in kind 
(we will not consider the question of degree) from 
the merits of Shakespeare. In characterization of 
personages the tale is notably coarse and common 
place, in thought arid and barren, and in language 
alternately meagre and inflated ; whereas there are 

432 Life of Shakespeare 

few more remarkable creations in all literature than 
Hermione, Perdita, Autolycus, Paulina,) not to notice 
minor characters; and its teeming wealth of wis 
dom, and the daring and dainty beauty of its 
poetry, give the play a high place in the second 
rank of Shakespeare's works. Briefly, it is the old 
story over again : the dry stick that seems to bloom 
and blossom is but hidden by the leafy luxuriance 
and floral splendour of the plant that has been 
trained upon it." 

Every reader of the play will heartily endorse 
what Furnivall says of it : 

"Though Mamillius tells us that <a sad tale's 
best for winter, 7 yet, notwithstanding all Hermione' s 
suffering, and the death of her gallant boy, who 
used to frighten her with goblin stories, we cannot 
call Shakspere's Winter's Tale sad. It is so fra 
grant with Perdita and her primroses and violets, 
so happy in the reunion and reconciliation of her 
and her father and mother, so bright with the sun 
shine of her and Florizel's young love, and the 
merry roguery of that scamp Autolycus, that none 
of us can think of The Winter's Tale as a ' sad tale ' 
or play. 

" The last complete play of Shakspere's as it is, the 
golden glow of the sunset of his genius is over it, 
the sweet country air all through it ; and of few, if 
any, of his plays is there a pleasanter picture in the 
memory than of Winter's Tale. As long as men can 
think, shall Perdita brighten and sweeten, Hermione 

The Romances 


ennoble, men's minds and lives. How happily, too, 
it brings Shakspere before us, mixing with his Strat 
ford neighbours at their sheep-shearing and country 
sports, enjoying the vagabond pedlar's gammon and 
talk, delighting in the sweet Warwickshire maidens, 
and buying them l fairings,' telling goblin stories to 
the boys, ' There was a man dwelt by a churchyard,' 
. opening his heart afresh to all the innocent mirth, 
and the beauty of nature around him. ... Its pur 
pose, its lesson, are to teach forgiveness of wrongs, 
not vengeance for them ; to give the sinner time to 
repent and amend, not to cut him off in his sin; 
to frustrate the crimes he has purposed. And as in 
Cymbeline, father and injured daughter meet again, 
she forgiving her wrongs; as there, too, friends 
meet again, the inj ured friend forgiving his wrongs, 
so here do lost daughter, injured daughter, and 
injuring father meet, he being forgiven; so injured 
friend forgiving meets injuring friend forgiven; 
while above all rises the figure of the noble, long- 
suffering wife Hermione, forgiving the base though 
now repentant husband who had so cruelly injured 
her. . . . Hermione is, I suppose, the most mag 
nanimous and noble of Shakspere's women; without 
a fault, she suffers, and for sixteen years, as if for 
the greatest fault. . . . Combined with this noble, 
suffering figure of Hermione, and her long-sundered 
married life, is the sweet picture of Perdita's and 
Florizel's love and happy future. Shakspere shows 
us more of Perdita than of Miranda ; and heavenly 

434 Life of Shakespeare 

as the innocence of Miranda was, we yet feel that 
Perdita comes to us with a sweeter, more earth-like 
charm, though not less endowed with all that is 
pure and holy, than her sister of the imaginary 
Mediterranean isle. . . . Not only do we see Shak- 
spere's freshness of spirit in his production of Per 
dita, but also in his creation of Autolycus. That, 
at the close of his dramatic life, after all the 
troubles he had passed through, Shakspere had yet 
the youngness of heart to bubble out into this merry 
rogue, the incarnation of fun and rascality, and let 
him sail off successful and unharmed, is wonderful. 
And that there is no diminution of his former comic 
power is shown, too, in his Clown, who wants but 
something to be a reasonable man." 



IT is now generally agreed that certain of the 
plays included in the standard editions of Shake 
speare are not wholly his, but are partly the work 
of other dramatists. The earliest plays of this 
class, belonging to the period of his dramatic ap 
prenticeship, when he was employed by theatrical 
managers to revise or touch up old pieces for a new 
lease of life on the stage Titus Andronicus and 
the three Parts of Henry VI. have been already 
considered; as well as the somewhat later Taming 
of the Shrew, in which he had a more important 
share. To these are to be added three plays of the 
last periods of his career Timon of Athens, Per 
icles, and Henry VIII. in all of which he certainly 
had a considerable share, though the critics differ 
more or less in their explanations of the divided 
authorship. The Two Noble Kinsmen is another 
play which some critics believe to be partly Shake 
speare's, and which is included in several of the 
more recent editions. 

Timon of Athens was first printed in 1623, having 
been entered upon the Stationers' Eegisters in 


43 6 Life of Shakespeare 

November of that year, by the publishers of the 
folio, among the plays "not formerly entered to 
other men." 

The critics are almost unanimous in deciding that 
the play is Shakespeare's only in part, but they do 
not agree as to its probable history. Knight, the 
Cambridge editors, and a few others believe that 
the dramatist revamped an earlier play, parts of 
which, for some reason or other, he retained with 
slight alteration. On the other hand, the majority 
of editors, including Gollancz and Herford, the 
latest, regard it as an original work of Shake 
speare's, which he laid aside or left unfinished, and 
which was completed by an inferior writer. There 
are difficulties in either theory, but the latter is by 
far the more probable. 

There is little difficulty in separating Shake 
speare's part of Timon from that of the other writer, 
and there would be less or none were it not that 
in some scenes we have the work of the two hands 
mixed, the finisher of the play having attempted to 
rewrite portions of it, but blending more or less of 
the original gold with his own baser metal. We 
can see that the gold is there, but cannot separate 
it from the alloy. Fleay has edited what he believes 
to be Shakespeare's Timon for the New Shakspere 
Society, and it may be found in their Transactions 
for 1874. 

The date of Shakespeare's part of the play can be 
fixed only by the internal evidence of style, measure, 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 437 

etc. This appears to put it not earlier than 1606, 
nor later than 1608. The date of the completion of 
the work cannot be fixed even approximately. 

Shakespeare was acquainted with the story of 
Timon through Paynter's Palace of Pleasure, from 
which he had taken the plot of All 's Well, and 
through a passage in Plutarch's Life of Antonius, 
which he had used in Julius Ccesar and Antony and 
Cleopatra. An earlier play on the same subject has 
come down to our day in manuscript ; though in 
the opinion of Dyce (who edited the piece for the 
Shakespeare Society in 1842) this was never per 
formed in London, being intended solely for an 
academic audience, and it is improbable that Shake 
speare ever saw it. The writer who completed the 
play seems to have been acquainted with Lucian's 
Dialogue on Timon, which had not then, so far as 
we know, been translated into English ; but he may 
have got this part of his material through some ver 
sion of the story (possibly a dramatized one) that 
has been lost. Allusions to Timon are rather fre 
quent in writers of the time. Shakespeare himself 
refers to "critic Timon" in Love's Labour's Lost 
(iv. 3. 170), one of his earliest productions. 

Pericles, Prince >of Tyre, was first published in 
quarto in 1609, with the following title-page : - 

"The Late And much admired Play called Per 
icles, Prince of Tyre ; with the true Eelation of the 
whole Historic, aduentures, and fortunes of the said 
Prince; as also, The no lesse strange and worthy 

43 ^ Life of Shakespeare 

accidents in the Birth and Life of his Daughter 
Mariana, as it hath been diuers and sundry times 
acted by his Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe on the 
Banck-side. By William Shakespeare." 

Other quartos were published in the same year, 
and in 1611, 1619, 1630, and 1635. 

The play was not included in either the first or 
the second (1632) folio, but was reprinted, with six 
plays wrongly attributed to Shakespeare, in the 
third folio (1664) and the fourth (1685). The folio 
text is from the quarto of 1635. 

Rowe included Pericles in both his editions (1709 
and 1714), but it was rejected by Pope and subse 
quent editors down to the time of Malone, who put 
it in his Supplement to Steevens's edition of 1778, 
and in his own edition of 1790. Steevens followed 
his example in 1793, and has been followed by all 
the recent editors except Keightley. 

It is now generally agreed by the critics that the 
first two acts of the play, together with the brothel 
scenes in the fourth act, were written by some other 
author than Shakespeare. " What remains is the 
pure and charming romance of Marina, the sea-born 
child of Pericles, her loss, and the recovery of both 
child and mother by the afflicted prince." Whether 
the poet enlarged and reconstructed an earlier play, 
or some other writer or writers filled out an un 
finished work of his, we cannot positively decide, 
but the latter seems by far the more reasonable 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 439 

The date of the play in its present form is prob 
ably about 1607. It was first printed, as we have 
seen, in 1609, but it was entered on the Stationers' 
Registers on the 20th of May, 1608. If, as Fleay 
tells us, the second scene of the third act is " pal 
pably imitated in The Puritan (iv. 3)," which was 
acted in 1606, the date of Pericles cannot be later 
than that year. 

The story upon which the play is founded is 
given in Laurence Twine's Patterne of Paineful 
Aduenters, first published in 1576, and in the tale of 
Appolinus the Prince of Tyr, which forms a part 
of Gower's Confessio Amantis. Twine's novel is 
said to have been merely a reprint of the English 
translation (printed in 1510) of the French version 
of the story by Robert Copland. It was taken 
originally from the Gesta JZomanorum, but the nar 
rative there was only one of three Latin versions, 
all of which appear to have been based on a Greek 
tale of the fifth or sixth century of the Christian 
era. Gower acknowledges his indebtedness to 

" a cronique in daies gone, 
The wich is cleped Panteon ; " 

that is, the Latin Pantheon of Godfrey of Viterbo, 
who wrote in the latter half of the 12th century. 

In 1608 George Wilkins published a novel which 
was avowedly based on the acted play. The title- 
page was as follows : 

"The Painful Aduentures of Pericles Prince of 


Life of Shakespeare 

Tyre. Being The true History of the Play of Per- 
ides, as it was lately presented by the worthy and 
ancient Poet lohn Gower." 

We may fairly infer from the language of this 
title-page that the play was then a comparatively 
new one, and that the date given above (1607, or 
possibly 1606) cannot be far astray. 

During the seventeenth century there is abun 
dant contemporary evidence that Pericles was in 
deed, as its title-pages assert it to have been, a 
"much-admired play." Ben Jonson growled at it 
as "a mouldy tale," made up of " scraps out of 
every dish." But this was when, prematurely old, 
poor, and mortified at public injustice, he poured 
forth his "just indignation at the vulgar censure of 
his play, by malicious spectators ; " and in doing so 
he bears strong testimony that the public judgment 
as to Pericles was the reverse of his own that it 
"kept up the play-club," and was the favourite 
dramatic repast to the exclusion of his own " well- 
ordered banquet," in what he denounced (in his Ode 
to Himself) as " a loathsome age," when 

" sweepings do as well 
As the best-ordered meal ; 
For who the relish of such guests would fit, 
Needs set them but the alms-basket of wit." 

Ben's frank and friendly admonitor, the moralist 
Owen. Feltham, replies by reminding him that there 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 441 

were scenes and jokes in his own unfortunate play 
(the New Inn), that 

" throw a stain 

Through all the unlucky plot, and do displease 
As deep as Pericles; " 

thus giving an additional testimony that the faults 
of Pericles did not escape the critical eye, while 
they pleased the many. Thus the play kept posses 
sion of the stage to the days of Addison, when 
Pericles was one of the favourite parts of Betterton. 
Dryden, who lived near enough to the author's time 
to have learned the stage tradition from contem 
poraries, while he evidently perceived the imper 
fections of this piece, never doubted its authenticity, 
and accounted for its inferiority to the greater 
tragedies, by considering them the consequences of 
the author's youthful inexperience (Prologue to 
Davenant's Circe, 1675) : 

" Shakespeare's own muse her Pericles first bore ; 
The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor : 
'Tis miracle to see a first good play ; 
All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas day." 

This was in 1675, and the play continued to be 
regarded as Shakespeare's until 1709, when Rowe, 
as already stated, included it in his edition. But, 
instead of apparently regarding it as a youthful 
production of the dramatist, as Dryden had done, 
he said that " it is owned that some part of Pericles 

44 2 Life of Shakespeare 

was written by him, particularly the last scene," 
implying that the rest was by some inferior play 
wright. Pope, in his preface, said he had "no 
doubt that these wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, 
Sir John Oldcastle, etc., etc., cannot be admitted as 
his." His successors who excluded it did so with 
out comment, and until the time of Malone the 
critics and writers upon the English drama treated 
it only as a play once erroneously attributed to 
Shakespeare. Malone declared that it was "the 
entire work of Shakespeare, and one of his earliest 
compositions." Steevens, on the other hand, said of 
it : " The drama contains no discrimination of man 
ners (except in the comic dialogues), very few 
traces of original thought, and is evidently desti 
tute of that intelligence and useful knowledge that 
pervade even the meanest of Shakespeare's undis 
puted performances." After analyzing the plot 
at some length, he concludes by expressing his 
belief "that our great poet had no share in con 
structing it." This decision long remained un 
questioned. Hallam, indeed, thought that many 
passages in it were more in Shakespeare's man 
ner than that of any contemporary writer, but that 
it was " full of evident marks of an inferior hand." 
Gifford rejected it and called it "the worthless 

Godwin, in his Life of Chaucer (1803), incident 
ally referring to Pericles, terms it "a beautiful 
drama, which in sweetness of manner, delicacy of 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 443 

description, truth of feeling, and natural ease of 
language, would do honour to the greatest author 
that ever existed." Mr. B. W. Procter ("Barry 
Cornwall ") insists that " the merit and style of the 
work sufficiently denote the author/ 7 who "was 
and is, beyond all competition, the greatest poet 
that the world has ever seen." 

Verplanck (in 1847), after referring to the theory 
that Pericles was one of the very earliest of Shake 
speare's plays, "perhaps an almost boyish work," 
was inclined to adopt the theory that " the original 
Pericles was by some inferior hand, perhaps by a 
personal friend of Shakespeare's, and that he, 
without remodelling the plot, undertook to correct 
and improve it, beginning with slight additions, and 
his mind, warming as he proceeded, breaking out 
towards the close of the drama with its accustomed 
vigour and abundance." 

The fatal objection to this hypothesis is that the 
first two acts of the play are so uniformly and so 
abominably bad that we cannot imagine Shakespeare 
undertaking to revise such a play and leaving two 
entire acts in their original condition. 

There is the same insuperable objection to the 
theory that Pericles was written by Shakespeare 
and another writer working together a theory 
which, strangely enough, has been revived by Mr. 
Lee, who says that Shakespeare " reverted in the 
year following the colossal effort of Lear (1607) 
to his earlier habit of collaboration, and with 

444 Life of Shakespeare 

another 's aid composed two dramas Timon of 
Athens and Pericles." Is it conceivable that the 
author of Lear would collaborate with one who 
could write the first two acts of Pericles, or that 
after allowing his partner to write those acts with 
out aid or advice from himself (for there is not a 
line in them which he could have written or even 
retouched) he accepted or approved them, and then 
began work himself on the third act in the grand 
style of that period in his own career ? 

This theory, moreover, as well as the theory that 
Shakespeare finished or revised a play by somebody 
else, assumes, as Fleay has said, that the dramatist 
" deliberately chose a story of incest, which, having 
no tragic horror in it, would have been rejected by 
Ford or Massinger, and grafted on this a filthy story, 
which, being void of humour, would even have been 
rejected by Fletcher." 

The one theory that explains all the facts in the 
case, and also the perplexity that these facts have 
caused the critics, is thus stated by Fleay : " Shake 
speare wrote the story of Marina, in the last three 
acts, minus the prose scenes and the Gower. This 
gives a perfect artistic and organic whole, and, in 
my opinion, ought to be printed as such in every 
edition of Shakespeare : the whole play, as it stands, 
might be printed in collections for the curious, and 
there only. But this story was not enough for fill 
ing the necessary five acts from which Shakespeare 
never deviated ; he therefore left it unfinished, and 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 445 

used the arrangement of much of the later part in 
the end of The Winter's Tale, which should be care 
fully compared with this play. The unfinished play 
was put into the hands of another of the < poets ' 
attached to the same theatre, and the greater part of 
the present play was the result ; this poet having used 
the whole story as given in Gower and elsewhere." 

It is not necessary to assume that this hypothesis 
is correct in all its details. The essential point is 
that an unfinished play of Shakespeare's was fin 
ished by somebody else; not that he finished or 
revised a play by somebody else. 

We may be sure, however, that Shakespeare had 
nothing whatever to do with the completion of the 
play. It is inconceivable that he could have con 
sented to its being completed by such a person as 
did it or in the way in which he did it. 

Delius and Fleay agree that the person who 
wrote acts i. and ii. and the Gower matter was 
George Wilkins, who wrote the novel based on the 
play. Fleay believes that the offensive prose scenes 
were the work of W. Rowley. He discovered that 
about the time when Pericles was written Wilkins, 
Eowley, and John Day collaborated in writing The 
Travels of the Three English brothers, Sir Thomas, 
Sir Anthony, and Sir Robert Shirley, an Historicall 
Play, printed in 1607. 

In the discussion that followed the reading of 
Fleay's paper on Pericles before the New Shak- 
spere Society, May 8th, 1874, Furnivall said : - 

446 Life of Shakespeare 

" I hope the fact I am going to mention will ren 
der all further discussion as to the Shakspere part 
of the Pericles unnecessary. When I first saw Mr. 
Tennyson last winter after many years' occasional 
correspondence he asked me, during our talk, 
whether I had ever examined Pericles with any 
care. I had to confess that I'd never read it, as 
some friends whom I considered good judges had 
told me it was very doubtful whether Shakspere 
wrote any of it. Mr. Tennyson answered, ' 0, that 
won't do! He wrote all the part relating to the 
birth and recovery of Marina, and the recovery of 
Thais. I settled that long ago. Come up-stairs, 
and I '11 read it to you.' Up-stairs to the smoking- 
room in Seamore Place we went, and there I had 
the rare treat of hearing the poet read in his deep 
voice with an occasional triumphant 'Isn't that 
Shakspere ? what do you think of it ? ' and a few 
comments the genuine part of Pericles. I need 
not tell you how I enjoyed the reading, or how 
quick and sincere my conviction of the genuineness 
of the part read was." 

The parts read by Tennyson were almost exactly 
the same that Fleay had marked as Shakespeare's ; 
and, as Furnivall adds, "the independent confir 
mation of the poet-critic's result by the met 
rical-test-worker's process is most satisfactory and 

Henry VIII., under the title of "The Famous 
History of the Life of King Henry the Eight," 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 447 

was first published in the Folio of 1623, where it 
is printed with remarkable accuracy. 

The date of the play has been the subject of much 
discussion. The earlier editors and commentators, 
with the single exception of Chalmers, believed that 
it was written before the death of Elizabeth (March, 
1603), and that the allusion to her successor, "Nor 
shall this peace sleep with her," etc. (v. 5), did not 
form a part of Cranmer's speech as originally com 
posed, but was interpolated by Ben Jon son after 
James had come to the throne. But, as White re 
marks, " the speech in question is homogeneous and 
Shakespearian ; the subsequent allusion to Elizabeth 
as ' an aged princess ' would not have been ventured 
during her life ; and the exhibition of Henry's self 
ish passion for Anne Bullen, and of her lightness 
of character, would have been hardly less offensive 
to the Virgin Queen, her daughter." 

In the Stationers' Registers, under date of 
February 12th, 1604 [-5], we find the following 
memorandum: "Nath. Butter] Yf he get good 
allowance for the Enterlude of K. Henry 8th before 
he begyn to print it, and then procure the wardens 
hands to yt for the entrance of yt, he is to have the 
same for his copy ; " and some editors have thought 
that the entry refers to Shakespeare's drama. It is 
more probable, however, that the reference is to a 
play of Samuel Bowley's, " When you See me you 
Know me, or the Famous Chronicle History of King 
Henry the Eighth," which was published in 1605. 

448 Life of Shakespeare 

Knight, White, and Hudson believe that the play 
was written at Stratford in 1612 or 1613, and that 
it was the poet's last work. The weight of evidence, 
both external and internal, seems to be in favour of 
this opinion. 

The Globe Theatre was burned down on the 29th 
of June, 1613, and we have several contemporary 
accounts of the catastrophe. A letter from John 
Chamberlain to Sir Ralph Winwood, dated July 
12th, 1613, describes the burning, and says that it 
" fell out by a peale of chambers " that is, a dis 
charge of small cannon. Howes, in his continuation 
of Stowe's Annales, written some time after the fire 
(since he speaks of the theatre as rebuilt " the next 
spring"), says that the house was "filled with 
people to behold the play, viz., of Henry the 
Eighth" There can be little doubt that the play 
in question was Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII., in 
which, according to the original stage direction (iv. 
1), we have " chambers discharged " at the entrance 
of the king to the "mask at the cardinal's house." 

The critics are now generally agreed that portions 
of Henry VIII. were written by John Fletcher. Mr. 
Roderick, in notes appended to Edwards's Canons of 
Criticism (edition of 1765), was the first to point out 
certain peculiarities in the versification of the play 
the frequent occurrence of a redundant or elev 
enth syllable, of pauses nearer the end of the verse 
than usual, and of "emphasis clashing with the 
cadence of the metre." More recently two critics, 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 449 

working independently, divided the play between 
Shakespeare and Fletcher in the same manner, 
assigning certain scenes to each author, on account 
of differences in the versification and diction ; and 
a study of the dramatic treatment and characteriza 
tion by these and other critics led to precisely 
the same results. Mr. James Spedding, who was the 
first (1850) to discuss the question at length, and 
to divide the play in this manner, afterward stated 
that the resemblance to Fletcher's style in parts of 
the play was pointed out to him several years 
before by Tennyson; and it is a curious fact that 
Ealph Waldo Emerson, in his lecture on Shake 
speare (published in 1850 before he could have seen 
the articles by Spedding and Hickson, the other 
critic who had divided the play, and written several 
years before it was published), also noted the evi 
dences of two hands in Henry VIII. He says, 
after referring to Malone's discussion of the double 
authorship of Henry VI. : " In Henry VIII. I think 
I see plainly the cropping out of the original rock 
on which his [Shakespeare's] stratum was laid. The 
first play was written by a superior, thoughtful man 
with a vicious ear. I can mark his lines, and know 
well their cadence. See Wolsey's soliloquy and the 
following scene with Cromwell, where, instead of 
the metre of Shakespeare, whose secret is that the 
thought constructs the tune, so that reading for 
the sense will best bring out the rhythm, here the 
lines are constructed on a given tune, and the verse 

45O Life of Shakespeare 

has even a trace of pulpit eloquence. But the play 
contains, through all its length, unmistakable traits 
of Shakespeare's hand, and some passages are like 
autographs." The passages which Emerson ascribes 
to the "man with a vicious ear" are all among 
those which Spedding and others decide to be 
Fletcher's. People with no ear or ears too long 
may sneer at verse tests as they please; but 
when poets like Tennyson and Emerson come to 
the same conclusions as the " metre-mongers " and 
other critics, we may safely assume that these con 
clusions are probably correct. 

As in the case of the plays already considered, 
various theories concerning the double authorship 
of Henry VIII. have been proposed. Some critics 
think that it was an instance of collaboration ; but 
it is more probable, as the majority believe, that 
Fletcher completed an unfinished play of Shake 
speare's. Three or four take the ground that 
Shakespeare was the sole author; one (Mr. Kobert 
Boyle, in the Transactions of the New Shakspere 
Society, for 1880-5) argues that the play was 
written by Fletcher and Massinger, and that Shake 
speare had nothing to do with it. 

Mr. Lee is inclined to ascribe Wolsey's famous 
" Farewell " to Shakespeare ; but, as Dowden says : 
" It is certainly Fletcher's, and when one has per 
ceived this, one perceives also that it was an error 
ever to suppose it written in Shakespeare's manner." 

The Two Noble Kinsmen was first printed, so far 

Play$ of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 451 

as we know, in 1634, in quarto form, and with the 
following title-page : 

"The Two Noble Kinsmen: Presented at the 
Blackfriers by the Kings Maiesties servants, with 
great applause : Written by the memorable Worthies 
of their time ; 

!M r John Fletcher* and ) _ 
TV/I-; WJ7- [ Gent." 

My William iShakspeare. } 

The play also appeared in the second (1679) edi 
tion of Beaumont and Fletcher's dramas, being one 
of " no fewer than seventeen plays more than were in 
the former " (the first folio, of 1647), as the preface 
tells us. It was not admitted to the third and 
fourth Shakespeare folios (published after the ap 
pearance of the play in 1634), nor to any other 
collected edition of Shakespeare until 1857. Some 
what earlier in the nineteenth century certain critics 
began to suspect a double authorship, and Lamb 
and Coleridge, among others, decided that the old 
title-page was correct in assigning a share in the 
work to Shakespeare. In 1833 Mr. William Spal- 
ding published an elaborate analysis of the play, 
allotting to Shakespeare and Fletcher their respect 
ive portions, and Hallarn, Dyce, and other critics 
and commentators became converts to his views. 
Dyce included the play in his edition, as Hudson 
did in his second edition, and as I did in mine. 
But Spalding in 1840 " weakened " considerably in 
his opinions concerning the play, and later declared 
the problem of its authorship insoluble. Other, 

452 Life of Shakespeare 

critics who at first agreed with, him have had a 
similar experience. For myself, at present I think 
it very doubtful whether Shakespeare had anything 
whatever to do with the play. Mr. Lee, however, 
decides that " frequent signs of Shakespeare's work 
manship are unmistakable." Some critics are of 
the opinion that Massinger wrote the parts that 
have been assigned to Shakespeare. 

Edward TIL is another play in which some critics 
believe that Shakespeare had a hand, if, indeed, as 
a few of them think, it is not wholly his. It was 
entered on the Stationers 7 Eegisters, December 1st, 
1595, and was published in quarto the next year, 
with the title, "The Raigne of King Edward the 
third : as it hath been sundrie times plaied about 
the Citie of London." Another edition was printed 
in 1599 ; and there is reason to believe that others 
appeared in 1597, 1617, and 1625, but no copies of 
these are now extant. 

It was ascribed to Shakespeare as early as 1656 
in a list of plays appended to Goff's Careless Shep 
herd ; but the list is in other respects so palpably 
inaccurate that no authority can be accorded to it. 
Capell, in 1760, published it in his Prolusiones as 
" a play thought to be writ by Shakespeare." That 
it was not recognized as such in the poet's day is 
evident from its not being mentioned in Meres's list 
in 1598, nor included in any of the four folio 

Collier in 1874 advocated the theory that the 

Plays of Mixed or Doubtful Authorship 453 

whole play is Shakespeare's, and some of the Ger 
man critics hold the same opinion. The larger 
number, however, ascribe to him only the episode 
of the King's love for the Countess of Salisbury, 
which occupies the latter half of act i. and the 
whole of act ii. This is awkwardly introduced, and 
interrupts the main action; and it is, moreover, so 
markedly superior to the rest of the play that it is 
quite certainly by another hand. It also contains 
(ii. 1. 451) a whole line, " Lilies that fester smell far 
worse than weeds," which occurs in Shakespeare's 
94th Sonnet, and the expression " scarlet ornaments " 
(ii. 1. 10), which is found in the 142d Sonnet 
applied there to lips, but in the play to cheeks. If 
the Sonnets were written in 1592 or 1593, as Mr. 
Lee supposes, the author of the play must have 
been the borrower; but if they were not written 
until 1597 or later, it must have been Shakespeare. 
Many parallelisms between Edward III. and Shake 
speare plays of later date (The Merchant of Venice, 
Hamlet, and Antony and Cleopatra, for instance) 
have also been pointed out, which prove that the 
great dramatist was well acquainted with the anon 
ymous play, whether he was the author of the love- 
episode in it or not. Probably he was not, for the 
episode is, after all, not in the manner of Shake 
speare. It is difficult, indeed, to ascribe it to any 
other dramatist of the time ; but, as Furnivall says, 
" there were doubtless one-play men in those days, 
as there have been one-book men since." 


Life of Shakespeare 

In the seven plays added to the folio of 1664, 
with the exception of Pericles, Shakespeare can have 
had no share whatever ; and the same may be said 
of Mucedorus, Fair Em, and sundry other plays 
assigned to him during his life by unscrupulous 
publishers, or afterwards by injudicious critics. 



DURING the latter half of the year 1606 the King's 
Company were playing in the provinces. They 
were at Oxford in July, at Leicester in August, 
at Dover in September, and on unrecorded dates 
at Maidstone, Saffron Walden, and Marlborough. In 
December they had returned to London, and in 
the Christmas holidays (December 26th) performed 
Lear before King James at Whitehall. 

The year 1607 was an eventful one in the poet's 
domestic annals. On the 5th of June his eldest 
daughter Susanna, then a little more than twenty- 
four years of age (baptized May 26th, 1583), was 
married at Stratford to Dr. John Hall, who after 
wards attained to considerable eminence as a physi 
cian. Little is known of his previous history except 
that he was born in 1575, and was probably con 
nected with the Halls of Acton, near London, 
where, according to his will of 1635, he owned a 
house which he bequeathed to his daughter. A 
John Hall of Acton was married there in September, 
1574, and his daughter Elizabeth was baptized in 
June, 1575. It is possible that Dr. John Hall's 


45 6 

Life of Shakespeare 

daughter was named for her; but Hall being an 
extremely common name in England, and Elizabeth 
being also very common, this coincidence may have 
been accidental. 

In his early days Dr. Hall had travelled on the 
Continent, and had become proficient in the French 
language. It is not known when he came to Stratford, 
but it was probably not long before his marriage, as 
no notice of him is found in the local records before 
that time. In 1611 his name occurs in a list of 
persons interested in a highway bill, and in 1612 
he leased from the corporation a piece of woodland 
on the outskirts of the town. Tradition says that 
he resided in the street known as Old Town, and a 
house still standing there is pointed out as the one 
he occupied. 

Late in this same year (1607) Shakespeare's 
brother Edmund died in London, and was buried on 
the 31st of December in the church of St. Saviour's, 
Southwark, "with a forenoone knell of the great 
bell." It may fairly be assumed, as Halliwell Phil- 
lipps remarks, that " the burial in the church, a mark 
of respect which was seldom paid to an actor, and 
which added very considerably to the expenses of 
the funeral, resulted from the poet's own affection 
ate directions; while the selection of the morning 
for the ceremony, then unusual at St. Saviour's, may 
have arisen from a wish to give some of the mem 
bers of the Globe company the opportunity of attend 
ance." Edmund is described in the parish register as 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 457 

"a player," and was in his twenty-eighth year (bap 
tized May 3d, 1580) at the time of his death. He had 
probably come to London and entered the theatre 
through his brother's influence, but no notice of 
him as an actor has been discovered. 

Elizabeth, the only child of the Halls, was bap 
tized on the 21st of February, 1608. The poet thus 
became a grandfather about two months before he 
was forty-four years old. She appears to have 
inherited his shrewd business ability, but nothing 
else is known of her character. As we shall see, 
she lived to be his last lineal descendant. 

In September, 1608, Shakespeare lost his mother. 
Her burial is recorded on the 9th of the month in 
the parish register thus: "Mayry Shaxpere, wy- 
dowe." The poet was probably in Stratford at the 
time of the funeral, and he may not have returned 
to London until after the 16th of October, when he 
was the principal godfather at the baptism of the 
William Walker to whom in 1616 he bequeathed 
" twenty shillings in gold." This child was the son 
of Henry Walker, a mercer and a local alderman. 

On the 29th of October the King's Company were 
playing in Coventry, thirteen miles from Stratford. 
At some other time in the year they were at Marl- 
borough, in Wiltshire. 

In 1610 Shakespeare added to his investments 
in real estate by the purchase of twenty acres of 
pasture land from the Combes, adding them to the 
107 acres he had bought from the same parties in 

45 8 Life of Shakespeare 

1602. In the same year the King's Company were 
at Dover in July, at Oxford in August, and at some 
unrecorded date at Shrewsbury. 

In February, 1612, the town council of Stratford 
resolved that plays were unlawful, and " the suffer 
ance of them against the orders heretofore made, 
and against the example of other well-governed 
cities and boroughs." It is therefore decided that 
the penalty of ten shillings imposed on players in 
an order of 1602 be raised to ten pounds. It is 
said that ten years later (1622) the King's Company 
were actually bribed by the council to leave the town 
without playing. The town records state that six 
shillings was " payd to the Kinges players for not 
playinge in the hall." This "was obviously the 
result of a deference to the Court, it being, no doubt 
considered imprudent to permit the royal servants 
to depart without a compensation for their uncere 
monious dismissal." They were evidently regarded 
as a privileged company, for at a Court Baron held 
in October, 1616, at the neighbouring town of Hen- 
ley-in-Arden, an order was unanimously passed by 
the leading inhabitants that no other actors should 
have the use of their town-hall. 

In the parish register at Stratford, under date 
of February 3d, 1612, we find the record of the 
burial of "Gilbertus Shakspeare, adolescens." It 
is doubtful whether this can refer to the poet's 
brother Gilbert, who was baptized October 13th, 
1566, and would therefore have been more than 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 459 

forty-five years old in February, 1612. He is de 
scribed in a record of 1597 as being a haberdasher 
in the parish of St. Bridget, London. In May, 1602, 
he was in Stratford, acting for his brother William 
in a conveyance of land. He is next heard of as a 
witness to a local deed of 1609, in which his signa 
ture is so well written as to indicate that he had 
been educated at the Grammar School in his native 
town. Nothing further is known about him, and 
he is not mentioned in the poet's will. Mai one, 
who seldom, if ever, makes a statement of the kind 
without substantial evidence, says that Gilbert " cer 
tainly died before his son;" but there is no record 
of his marriage or of the birth of a son, who, if 
living when the poet made his will, would probably 
have been mentioned in it. It is possible that the 
son was illegitimate, as some have supposed. But' 
it is also possible that the "adolescens" in the 
register is a slip of the scribe who made the entry 
from the sexton's notes ; for, as Halliwell Phillipps 
tells us, the entries in the book, were made from 
such notes, and "their accuracy officially therein 
certified, at frequent but unsettled intervals," the 
record being therefore " a copy or an abridgment of 
a note made at the time of the ceremony." It seems 
to me more probable that an error in a single word 
of an entry thus made at second hand may have 
occurred, than that several entries of marriage, birth, 
and death which we might expect to find in the 
register should have been omitted. I am therefore 

460 Life of Shakespeare 

inclined to believe that it was the poet's brother 
Gilbert, not a hypothetical nephew, who was buried 
in February, 1612. 

In February of the next year, Kichard, probably 
the last surviving brother of the poet, also died, in 
the thirty-ninth year of his age. He was baptized 
on the llth of March, 1574. His burial, according 
to the register, was on the 4th of February, 1613. 
Joan (baptized April 15th, 1569) was the only child 
of John and Mary Shakespeare, except William, who 
was now left. She married William Hart and sur 
vived her famous brother thirty years, dying in 
1646. She had three sons, who lived to be remem 
bered in the poet's will, and a daughter, who died 
in 1607, when four years old. 

In March, 1613, Shakespeare bought a house in 
London, the lower part of which was occupied as 
a haberdasher's shop. The property was very near 
the Blackfriars theatre, and the price was 140, of 
which 60 remained on mortgage. For some reason 
Shakespeare must have particularly wished to get 
possession of it, for the former owner, Henry Walker, 
a London musician, had paid only 100 in 1604, and 
it is improbable that it had materially increased in 
value since that time. Shakespeare soon leased the 
house to John Robinson, who was one of the per 
sons that had violently opposed the establishment 
of the neighbouring theatre. 

In June, 1613, a malicious bit of gossip was cir 
culating in Stratford with reference to Mrs. Hall,. 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 461 

Shakespeare's daughter, and one Ealph Smith. The 
rumour was traced to a person named Lane, who was 
accordingly summoned to tfye Ecclesiastical Court to 
answer for it. The case was opened in Worcester on 
the 15th of July, 1613, Robert Whatcot, a friend of 
the poet, being the chief witness on behalf of the 
plaintiff. Neither Lane nor his attorney ventured 
to appear in court, and in the end the lady's char 
acter was vindicated by the excommunication of 
Lane on the 27th of July. 

The precise date of Shakespeare's return to Strat 
ford to take up his residence at New Place is un 
known ; but it was probably as early as September, 
1611, when his name appears in a list of subscri 
bers (including the leading inhabitants of the town) 
to a fund raised " towards the charge of prosecuting 
the bill in parliament for the better repair of the 

The Globe theatre in London was destroyed by 
fire on the 29th of June, 1613 (page 448 above). 
Shakespeare was probably in Stratford at the time, 
as he had already taken up his residence there, 
and his name is not mentioned in any of the notices 
of the catastrophe. Some of the actors had a 
narrow escape from death in the conflagration. 
The theatre was rebuilt the next year. 

In the spring of 1614, when Shakespeare was 
residing at Stratford (though he may have been on 
a visit to London at that particular time) a Puritan 
preacher, who had been invited to the town by 

462 Life of Shakespeare 

the corporation, was hospitably entertained at New 
Place. An item in the town records reads : " For one 
quart of sack and one quart of clarett wine geven to 
a preacher at the New Place, xxd" Dr. Hall, who 
was a Puritan, may have been living with Shake 
speare at that time, and the preacher may have 
been invited to the house through his influence. If 
Shakespeare was at home, no doubt he found the 
bibulous Puritan an interesting study. 

On the 9th of July, 1614, a fire at Stratford des 
troyed no less than fifty-four houses, besides barns, 
stables, and other buildings. Fortunately the Shake 
speare birthplace in Henley Street and the poet's 
residence at New Place escaped the conflagration. 

In the summer of 1614, John Combe of Welcombe 
died, leaving 5 to Shakespeare in his will. This 
proves sufficiently that he had no ill feeling towards 
the poet on account of the mock epitaph which the 
latter is said to have written upon him. Bowe tells 
the story thus: "It happened that in a pleasant 
conversation amongst their common friends, Mr. 
Combe told Shak spear e in a laughing manner that 
he intended to write his epitaph, if he happened to 
outlive him; and since he could not know what 
might be said of him when he was dead, he desired 
it might be done immediately; upon which Shak- 
speare gave him these four lines : 

" * Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav'd ; 
'Tis hundred to ten his soul is not sav'd : 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 463 

If any man ask, who lies in this tomb ? 

Oh ! ho ! quoth the Devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.' " 

Rowe adds that Combe "never forgave it;" but it 
is more probable, from the biographer's own version 
of the story, that the squire took the epitaph in the 
" laughing manner " in which it was written. 

According to Aubrey, the epitaph was not written 
until after Combe's death; but it is highly improb 
able that the poet would thus satirize his old friend 
after his death and, least of all, before the fu 
neral. Both versions are very likely false. More 
over, there is no reason for believing that Combe 
was usurious ; and ten per cent was the legal and 
ordinary rate of interest until after Shakespeare's 

In the autumn of 1614 the good people of Strat 
ford were greatly excited by the attempt of William 
Combe, the squire of Welcombe, to enclose a large 
portion of the common fields near the town. The 
design was resisted by the corporation, on the ground 
that it would be an injury to the agricultural inter 
ests of the town, and would seriously diminish the 
tithes. Combe nevertheless spared no efforts to 
accomplish his object, coercing the poor and coaxing 
the rich to favour it. It seems probable that Shake 
speare was finally induced by Combe's agent to join 
that party, being assured that his personal interests 
should suffer no detriment. It is certain that he 
did not oppose the enclosures, for on the 23d of 

464 Life of Shakespeare 

December the corporation, addressed a letter of re 
monstrance to him on the subject, and another on 
the same day to Mr. Manwaring, who was person 
ally interested in the success of the scheme, and 
was acting in unison with Combe to promote it. 

Shakespeare was in London when the letter of 
the corporation was addressed to him, having gone 
thither on the 16th of November. It is unlikely 
that, in those days of tedious and difficult travel, 
he returned to Stratford in the interval. We are 
indebted for our knowledge of some of the details of 
the business to the diary of Thomas Greene, the 
town-clerk of Stratford, in which the following 
entries occur : 

" Jovis [Thursday], 17 No : my Cosen Shakspeare com- 
myng yesterday to towne, I went to see him howe he did. 
He told me that they assured him they ment to inclose 
noe further then to Gospell Bushe, and soe upp straight 
(leavyng out part of the Dyngles to the field) to the gate 
in Clopton hedge, and take in Salisburyes peece : and 
that they meane in Aprill to servey the Land, and then 
to gyve satisfaccion, and not before ; and he and Mr. 
Hall say they think ther will be nothyng done at all . 

"23 Dec. A hall. Lettres wryten one to Mr. Man- 
neryng, another to Mr. Shakspeare, with almost all the 
Companyes handes to eyther : I alsoe wrytte of myself 
to my Cosen Shakspear the Coppyes of all our [actes], 
then alsoe a not of the Inconvenyences wold grow by 
the Inclosure. 

9 Ja : [1615.] Mr. Replyngham, 28 Octobris, articled 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 465 

with Mr. Shakspeare, and then I was putt in by T. 

"On Wednesday being the xjth day [Jan. 1615] . . . 
Mr. Manyryng and his agreement for me with my Cosen 

'Sep. W. Shakspeare 

14 Aug. [1615] Mr. Barker. 


tellyng J. Greene that 
I was not able to beare 
the encloseyng of Wei- 

Greene was in London at the date of the first 
entry, and in Stratford at that of the second. Why 
the last observation should have been chronicled at 
all is a mystery ; but the note has a mournful inter 
est as giving us the latest recorded spoken words of 
the dramatist. 

Concerning this entry Halliwell - Phillipps re 
marks: "There is a singular obscurity which ren 
ders a correct interpretation of Greene's handwriting 
a matter of unusual difficulty. The pronoun in this 
entry is considered by Mr. Edward Scott of the 
British Museum, a very able judge, to be really 
the letter J, while Dr. Ingleby is of opinion 
that Greene, who was unquestionably a careless 
scribbler, intended to write he. But if Shakespeare 
had not favoured the enclosure scheme, why should 
the majority of the corporation have addressed one 
of their letters of remonstrance to him as well as to 
Manwaring, or why should Greene have troubled the 
former with < a note of the inconveniences ' that 

466 Life of Shakespeare 

would arise from the execution of the proposed 
design ? " Moreover, the articles of agreement be 
tween Shakespeare and Replingham are extant, se 
curing the former against loss by the enclosures, in 
order to induce him to favour the scheme. 

Dr. Ingleby, in his monograph on the subject of 
the enclosures (1885), in which he prints all the 
documentary evidence in the case, takes the ground 
(as stated above) that, though the / or J", in the 
expression " I was not able " in Greene's diary, is 
really / and not he, it was nevertheless a slip of the 
pen and meant for he. He admits that "this sup 
position would be strained unless we knew that 
Greene makes this substitution in other passages; 
and that is so." He cites several instances of this 
error in the diary, corrected by the writer. His 
summary of the matter is as follows: "The pro 
posed enclosure would have involved three radical 
changes: (1) conversion of tillage into pasturage; 
(2) alteration of boundaries ; (3) change of tenure 
and ownership. The first would have materially 
affected the value of the lease of the tithes, one 
moiety of which belonged to Shakespeare, and the 
other wholly or partially to Thomas Greene. Ac 
cordingly we may be sure that unless they received 
ample compensation in land or money they would 
have been opposed to the scheme. The large stake 
they had in it, and the probability that William 
Combe would, in his own interests, endeavour to 
purchase Shakespeare's co-operation, even at a very 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 467 

high, figure, fully account for the extraordinary 
efforts of the corporation to secure his opposition to 
the enclosure. Shakespeare, like Greene, seems 
to have temporized with both parties, when he 
might have treated with both, like an elector selling 
his vote to the highest bidder. That he abstained 
from assisting the scheme is, I think, a fair inference 
from the item on the last page of the original " 
that is, the entry in the diary which contains the 
disputed "I was not able." Dr. Ingleby objects to 
regarding I as what Thomas Greene meant to write, 
and therefore as referring to himself, because it 
implies that Shakespeare told J. Greene "a fact 
about Thomas, which, if true, must have been 
already known to him; and that Thomas Greene 
reverted to this as of sufficient importance to be 
recorded in the diary long after it had been posted 
up." This, as Dr. Ingleby adds, " is in the highest 
degree improbable." He therefore has no doubt 
whatever that " Shakespeare told J. Greene that 
he was not able to co-operate with William Combe 
and Manwaring in the proposed enclosure, and meant 
to imply that he preferred his moiety of the tithes 
to the compensation offered him. At the same 
time he must have known that the scheme was to 
the last degree unpopular with the inhabitants, who 
viewed it as likely to inflict on them even greater 
loss than the late fires, and were ready, if necessary, 
to oppose the enclosure vi et armis. No wonder, 
then, that Shakespeare shrank from helping on a 


Life of Shakespeare 

movement of so great danger to the peace of Strat 
ford and its surrounding districts. Anyhow, I feel 
confident that the words here imputed to him ought 
not to be understood as an expression of opinion on 
the subject of enclosures." 

It should be understood that this entry was made 
at some unknown time (though Dr. Ingleby says 
" five months ") after the one beside which it is put. 
It was apparently inserted in that blank space in 
the diary because the writer had been told that the 
conversation occurred in September of 1614, not 
of 1615. 

The attempted enclosure was not accomplished. 
On the 27th of March, 1615, an order prohibiting it 
was issued by Chief Justice Coke at the Warwick 
Assises. A portion of the disputed land, called 
in Greene's diary as now " the Dingles," is still un 
enclosed, and is one of the best points for getting 
a good view of Stratford and its neighbourhood. 

On Saturday, the 10th of February, 1616, Judith, 
the poet's younger daughter, who has been so 
charmingly idealized in Mr. Black's novel bearing 
her name, was married to Thomas Quiney, who was 
nearly four years her junior, having been baptized 
on the 26th of February, 1589. He was the son of 
Richard Quiney, whose correspondence with the 
poet in 1598 has been already noticed (page 300 
above). At the time of his marriage Thomas lived 
in a small house on the west side of the High 
Street, of which he had taken a twenty-one years' 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 469 

lease from the corporation in December, 1611. " The 
front of this house, which is near the corner of 
Wood Street, has been modernized, but much of the 
interior, with its massive beams, oaken floors, and 
square joists, remains structurally as it must have 
been in the days of Thomas Quiney." In the sum 
mer of 1616, he obtained the lease of a house, called 
the Cage (probably at one time a prison), from his 
brother-in-law, William Chandler, who gave it to 
him in exchange for his interests in the house on 
the other side of the way. He appears to have 
inhabited the Cage from the time it came into his 
hands until he removed from it shortly before 
November, 1652, when the lease was assigned to 
his brother Eichard of London, the premises being 
then described as "lately in the tenure of Thomas 
Quiney." The house has long been modernized, the 
only existing portions of the ancient building being 
a few massive beams supporting the floor above 
the cellar. 

Nothing is known concerning the career of young 
Quiney previous to 1611, but that he was an accom 
plished penman and acquainted with French may 
be inferred from the motto in that language and 
the elaborately flourished signatures with which he 
adorned an account delivered to the corporation in 
1623. At the time of his marriage or soon after 
wards he was in business as a vintner at the Cage, 
and was patronized by the corporation and the lead 
ing inhabitants. In 1617 he was elected a burgess, 


Life of Shakespeare 

and in 1621-1623 he acted as chamberlain. In 
1630 he retired from the council, and at the same 
time was involved in litigation, and making an at 
tempt to dispose of the lease of his house. On the 
21st of September, 1630, he was fined for swearing 
and for encouraging tipplers in his shop. His busi 
ness fell off, and about 1652 he abandoned it, and 
removed to London, where he seems to have died 
a few years later. His brother Eichard, who was a 
wealthy grocer, appears to have assisted him after 
he left Stratford. 

Thomas and Judith Quiney had three children, 
whose baptisms are recorded in the parish register 
at Stratford thus : 

Nov. 23, 1616. Shakspere filius Thomas Quyny 

"Feb. 9, 1617-8. Eichard filius Thomas Quinee." 

"Jan. 23, 1619-20. Thomas, fili. to Thomas 

The eldest child died a few months after his 
birth, his burial being thus recorded : 

"May 8, 1617. Shakspere fillius Tho. Quyny, 

In the Chamberlain's Accounts, for the year 1617, 
it is stated that the sum of Ad. was paid for having 
the great bell rung " at the death of Thomas Quynis 

The second son barely attained to the age of 
twenty, and the youngest was only eighteen at his 
death; but these brothers died within a month of 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 471 

each other, probably through some sickness prevail 
ing in the town. Their burials are thus re 
corded : 

1638. Jan. 28. Thomas filius Thomse Quiney." 
"1638. Feb. 26. Eichardus filius Tho. Quiney." 
Judith Quiney lived to the age of 76 years, a 
term much exceeding that attained, with the excep 
tion of her aunt Joan Hart, by other members of 
the family. Her burial is thus recorded : " 1661. 
Febu. 9. Judith uxor Thomas Quiney, Gent." 

There was some reason for hastening the marriage 
of Judith Shakespeare, for it took place without a 
license; an irregularity for which the couple were 
fined and threatened with excommunication by the 
ecclesiastical court at Worcester a few weeks after 
wards. It has been suggested that the failing 
health of the poet may explain the hurried nuptials, 
as no other cause is known or suspected. We 
know that his will was prepared in the latter part 
of January, 1616, under the direction of Francis 
Collins, a solicitor then residing at Warwick. 

It appears, from the original date in the super 
scription, and from some of the other erasures in 
the manuscript, that it was a corrected draft ready 
for the engrossed copy that was to be signed by 
the testator on Thursday, the 25th of January ; but, 
for some unknown reason, the appointment with the 
solicitor was postponed, at Shakespeare's request, 
and before Collins had ordered a fair copy to be 
made. The draft therefore remained in his custody 


Life of Shakespeare 

until the poet's condition became suddenly more 
serious, or the fever which is said to have caused 
his death supervened, when the lawyer was hur 
riedly summoned from Warwick. It was deemed 
unadvisable to wait for the preparation of a regular 
transcript of the will, and the document was signed 
after a few more alterations had been hastily 

The most peculiar interlineation in the will, and 
the one which has been the subject of the greatest 
discussion with reference to its probable bearing on 
the question whether the poet was happy in his 
domestic relations, is that in which he leaves his 
widow his "second-best bed with the furniture." 
Halliwell-Phillipps remarks : " The first-best bed was 
that generally reserved for visitors, and one which 
may possibly have descended as a family heirloom, 
becoming in that way the undevisable property of 
his eldest daughter. Bedsteads were sometimes of 
elaborate workmanship, and gifts of them are often 
to be met with in ancient wills. The notion of in 
difference to his wife, so frequently deduced from 
the above-mentioned entry, cannot be sustained on 
that account. So far from being considered of tri 
fling import, beds were even sometimes selected as 
portions of compensation for dower; and bequests 
of personal articles of the most insignificant descrip 
tion were never formerly held in any light but that 
of marks of affection. Among the smaller legacies 
of former days may be enumerated kettles, chairs, 

Domestic Matters, 1606-1616 473 

gowns, hats, pewter cups, feather bolsters, and cul 
lenders. In the year 1642 one John Shakespeare 
of Budbrook, near Warwick, considered it a suffi 
cient mark of respect to his father-in-law to leave 
him ' his best boots.' " 

It may be added that Coke, in his Commentary on 
Littleton (edition of 1629), says : " And note that in 
some places, chattels as heirloomes, as the best bed, 
table, pot, pan, cart, and other dead chattels move- 
able, may go to the heire, and the heire in that case 
may have an action for them at the common law." 

As to the omission of any other reference to the 
widow in Shakespeare's will than the interlined 
bequest of the " second-best bed," it is sufficient to 
say that she was amply provided for by virtue of 
her rights of dower, and that it was by no means 
uncommon to omit all reference to the widow 
in wills of the time when she was thus pro 
vided for. The gift of the bed was doubtless a 
mark of personal regard, and not the deliberate 
insult it would otherwise have been an insult 
we cannot imagine William Shakespeare as inflict 
ing on the mother of his children. 

On the 17th of April, 1616, William Hart, who 
had married Joan Shakespeare, and who was carry 
ing on the business of a hatter at the birthplace in 
Henley Street, was buried at Stratford. 

Shakespeare himself died the very next week 
on Tuesday, April 23d. According to the Eev. John 
Ward (see page 12 above), in the latter part of 

474 Life of Shakespeare 

March the poet was visited by his friends, Dray- 
ton and Ben Jonson ; and at a " merry meeting " of 
the three at a Stratford tavern, they "drank too 
hard, for Shakospear died of a feavour there con 
tracted." But the story probably had no other 
foundation than the popular notion of the time 
that fevers were generally due to some excess in 
eating or drinking. It is more likely, as Halliwell- 
Phillipps suggests, that the disease in Shakespeare's 
case was induced by the wretched sanitary condi 
tions of the immediate neighbourhood of New Place 
an explanation that would not have occurred even 
to the medical men of that day. Chapel Lane, which 
bounded one side of the estate, was one of the filthi 
est thoroughfares of the town. A streamlet ran 
through it, the water of which turned a mill, al 
luded to in the local records of that period. This 
watercourse gradually became "a shallow fetid 
ditch, an open receptacle of sewage and filth." It 
continued to be a nuisance for at least two centuries 
more. A letter written in 1807, in connection with 
a lawsuit, describes it as " very obnoxious at times," 
being " always full of mud." In 1774 it was said 
to be " a wide dirty ditch choked with mud, and all 
the filth of that part of the town ran into it." Mid 
dens, piggeries, and other nuisances abounded in the 
lower part of the lane and in the rear of Shake 
speare's garden. 

The funeral of "Will. Shakspere, gent.," accord 
ing to the parish register, occurred on the 25th of 

Domestic Matters, 1606- 1616 475 

April. His remains were deposited in the chancel of 
the church, that being the legal and customary place 
for the interment of the owners of the tithes. 

The grave is near the northern wall of the chan 
cel, covered with a slab bearing this inscription : 


According to a tradition, dating to the latter part 
of the seventeenth century, the lines were selected, 
and "ordered to be cut" on the gravestone, by 
Shakespeare ; but the parish-clerk told Dowdall in 
1693 that they were made by the poet himself, " a 
little before his death." Neither Dugdale in 1656, 
nor Rowe in 1709, ascribes them to him, and it is 
hardly possible that they were his composition. If 
he desired that the verses, or something like them, 
should be put on the stone, it was doubtless from 
an aversion to having his bones removed at some 
future time to the ancient charnel-house which ad 
joined the chancel wall near his grave. A visitor 
to Stratford in 1777 referred to this as follows: 
"At the side of the chancel is a charnel-house al 
most filled with human bones, skulls, etc. the 
guide said that Shakespeare was so much affected 
by this charnel-house that he wrote the epitaph for 
himself to prevent his bones being thrown into it." 

476 Life of Shakespeare 

Dr. John Hall was in London in June, 1617, and 
on the 22d of the month proved Shakespeare's will 
at the Archbishop of Canterbury's registry. He 
also presented an inventory of the poet's household 
effects, but the document has been lost or destroyed. 

The monument to Shakespeare in the parish 
church was erected at some time previous to 1623, 
when it was mentioned in the verses by Leonard 
Digges, prefixed to the folio published in that 
year : 

" Shake-speare, at length thy pious fellows give 

The world thy Workes : thy Workes, by which, out-live 

Thy Tombe, thy name must : when that stone is rent, 

And Time dissolves thy Stratford Moniment, 

Here we alive shall view thee still." 

The monument was placed on the north wall of 
the chancel, and consists of an ornamental niche 
enclosing a life-sized bust, which tradition says was 
copied from a posthumous cast of the poet's face. 
The sculptor was Gerard Johnson, the son of a 
native of Amsterdam who had settled in England 
as a " tombe-maker " in the reign of Elizabeth. The 
bust was originally painted, the eyes being light 
hazel and the hair and beard auburn. The doublet 
was scarlet, the gown black, the collar and wrist 
bands white. In 1749 the monument was repaired 
and repainted ; but in 1793, at Malone's instigation, 
the bust was covered with a coat of white paint, 
which remained until 1861, when the original col- 

Domestic Matters, 1606- 1616 477 

curing was carefully restored. The following hit at 
Malone's iconoclastic proceeding is found in the 
Visitors' Book at Stratford : 

Stranger, to whom this monument is shown, 
Invoke the poet's curses on Malone, 
Whose meddling zeal his barbarous taste betrays, 
And daubs his tombstone as he marr'd his plays." 

The bust has no merit as a work of art, but as a 
portrait of the poet we must suppose that it was 
considered tolerable enough to be accepted by his 
surviving relatives. 

The following lines are engraved on a tablet 
beneath the bust : 








^ETATIS 53 DIE 23 AP. 

That the verses could not have been written by 
a resident of Stratford, or by any one who knew 

47 8 Life of Shakespeare 

where they were to be placed, is proved by the 
words, " within this monument." They were prob 
ably written by some friend in London, where the 
monument was made. The entire expense of the 
memorial is said to have been defrayed by Mrs. 

Shakespeare's widow survived him for more than 
seven years. The record of her burial is thus given 
in the parish-register, under the date of August, 

~ ( Mrs. Shakespeare. 

( Anna Uxor Kichardi James." 

This bracketed entry has led a few commentators to 
suspect that she was re-married to Richard James. 
"This conjecture is altogether at variance with the 
terms of her monumental inscription, and brackets 
of a like description are to be seen in other parts of 
the register, no fewer than six occurring in the list 
of baptisms for the year in question, 1623. The 
matter, however, is placed beyond all doubt by the 
record of the two funerals as it thus appears in a 
contemporary transcript of the original notes that 
were made on the occasion : 

'August 8. Mrs. Ann Shakespeare. 

8. Ann, wyfe to Richard James. 

and in an enumeration of ( persons remarkable/ 
whose names were to be noticed in the Stratford 
register, which was added to the volume towards 

Domestic Matters, 16061616 479 

the close of the seventeenth century, there is in 
cluded the memorandum, '1623, one Mrs. Shake- 
spere was buried ? " (Halliwell-Phillipps). 

Tradition says that she earnestly desired to be 
laid in the same grave with her husband. Her 
tombstone is beside his, and bears the following 
inscription : 

" Here lyeth interred the Body of Anne, wife of Will 
iam Shakespeare, who depted this Life the 6th Day of 
Augu : 1623, being of the age of 67 yeares. 

Ubera tu mater, tu lac, vitamque dedisti : 
Vse mihi, pro tanto munere, saxa dabo. 

Quam mallem, amoveat lapidem bonus angelus ore, 
Exeat, ut Christi corpus, imago tua ; 

Sed nil vota valent ; venias, cito, Christe, resurget, 
Clausa licet tumulo, mater et astra petet." 



THE Halls, who were the executors and the chief 
legatees of Shakespeare's will, made New Place their 
residence soon after his death. In the Vestry notes 
of October, 1617, Dr. Hall is mentioned as living in 
the Chapel Street Ward ; and in a town record dated 
February 3d, 1617-18, he is alluded to as "Mr. 
Hall at Newplace." He gained a high reputation 
as a practitioner, his advice being sought far and 
wide. He was summoned several times to attend 
the Earl and Countess of Northampton at Ludlow 
Castle, more than forty miles off no trifling jour 
ney in those days. We learn a good deal about his 
medical practice from a book concerning it, pub 
lished in London in 1657, and entitled, " Select 
Observations on English Bodies, or Cures both 
Empericall and Historicall performed upon very 
eminent Persons in desperate Diseases, first written 
in Latine by Mr. John Hall, physician, living at 
Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, where he 
was very ^famous, as also in the counties adjacent, 
as appeares by these Observations drawn out of sev- 

The Poet's Family after His Death 481 

erall hundreds of his as choysest; now put into 
English for common benefit by James Cooke, prac 
titioner in Physick and Chirurgery." A second 
edition appeared in 1679, re-issued in 1683 with 
merely a new title-page. In the original small 
octavo manuscript used by Cooke much of the 
Latin is obscurely abbreviated, and some of 
the translations 'appear to be paraphrased. The 
eases were selected from a large number of pre 
vious notes, and being mostly undated, without 
a chronological arrangement, it is impossible to be 
certain that some of them are not to be referred 
to the time of the poet. The earliest one to which a 
date can be assigned seems to be that of Lord Comp- 
ton, who was attended by Hall previously to his 
lordship's departure with the King for Scotland in 
March, 1617. Hall was evidently held in much 
esteem by the Northampton family, whom he at 
tended at Compton Wynyates as well as at Ludlow. 
Dr. John Bird, in his Prolusions (1657), says of 
him : " The learned author lived in our own times, 
and in the county of Warwick, where he practised 
many years, and in great fame for his skill, far and 
near. Those who seemed highly to esteem him, 
and whom, by God's blessing, he wrought those 
cures upon, you shall find to be, among others, per 
sons noble, rich, and learned. And this I take to be 
a great sign of his ability, that such who spare not 
for cost, and they who have more than ordinary 
understanding, nay such as hated him for his relig- 

482 Life of Shakespeare 

ion, often made use of him." He was an earnest 
Puritan, and interested himself in all that related 
to the services of the parish church, to which he 
presented a costly new pulpit. He was exceedingly 
intimate with the Rev. Thomas Wilson, the vicar, 
"a thorough-going Puritan, who was accused of 
holding conventicles, and of having so little eccle- 
siological feeling that he allowed his swine and 
poultry to desecrate the interior of the Guild 
Chapel." They were such great friends that the 
vicarial courts were sometimes held at New Place. 
Of Hall's religious sincerity we may form an opinion 
from a memorandum written after his recovery 
from a serious illness in 1632: "Thou, Lord, 
which hast the power of life and death, and drawest 
from the gates of death, I confesse without any art 
or counsell of man, but only from thy goodnesse 
and clemency, thou hast saved me from the bitter 
and deadly symptomes of a deadly fever, beyond the 
expectation of all about me, restoring me, as it 
were, from the very jaws of death to former health, 
for which I praise Thy name, most Mercif ull God, 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying thee 
to give me a most thankfull heart for this great 
favour, for which I have cause to admire thee." 

He died on the 25th of November, 1635, the " ring 
ing of the great bell " attending his obsequies in the 
chancel of the parish church on the following day. 
Favour was shown in the permission to bury him 
there, his share of the tithe-lease having been dis- 

The Poet's Family after His Death 483 

posed of in 1624. The concession was perhaps due 
to the influence of his son-in-law, Thomas Nash, 
who was one of the tithe-owners. 

The will of Dr. Hall is short and quaint, as 
quoted by Malone : " The last Will and Testament 
nuncupative of John Hall of Stratford-upon-Avon, 
in the county of Warwick, Gent., made and deliv 
ered the five and twentieth of November, 1635, Im 
primis, I give unto my daughter Nash my house in 
Acton. Item, I give unto my daughter Nash my 
meadow. Item, I give my goods and money unto 
my wife and my daughter Nash to be equally di 
vided betwixt them. Item, concerning my study of 
books, I leave them, said he, to you, my son Nash, 
to dispose of them as you see good. As for my 
manuscripts, I would have given them to Mr. Boles 
if he had been here, but forasmuch as he is not 
here present, you may, son Nash, burn them, or do 
with them what you please." 

The "books" may have included any that the 
poet had at New Place, but we have no reason to 
suppose that there were many of these. 

The inscription on HalFs tombstone is as fol 
lows : 

" Heere lyeth the body of John Hall, Gent. : Hee 
marr : Svsanna the daughter and coheire of Will : Shake 
speare, Gent. Hee deceased Nove r 25, A 1635, aged 60. 

Hallius hie situs est, medica celeberrimus arte ; 
Expectans regni gaudia Iseta Dei ; 

4 8 4 

Life of Shakespeare 

Dignus erat meritis, qui Nestora vinceret annis ; 

In terris omnes sed rapit sequa dies ; 
Ne tumulo quid desit, adest fidissima coniux, 

Et vitse comitem nunc quoque mortis habet." 

Of Susanna Hall we get one interesting personal 
glimpse after her husband's death. About the year 
1642, a surgeon named James Cooke (see page 481 
above), attending in his professional capacity on a 
detachment of soldiers stationed at Stratford, was 
invited to New Place to examine the books which 
the doctor had left behind him. " After a view of 
them," he observes, "Mrs. Hall told me she had 
some books left by one that professed physic with 
her husband for some money ; I told her, if I 
liked them, I would give her the money again ; 
she brought them forth, amongst which there was 
this [the medical case-book], with another of the 
author's, both intended for the press; I, being 
acquainted with Mr. Hall's hand, told her that one 
or two of them were her husband's, and showed 
them her ; she denied ; I affirmed, till I perceived 
she began to be offended ; at last I returned her 
the money." As we have seen, he afterwards trans 
lated and published the book. It is curious that 
she should not have been sufficiently acquainted 
with Hall's hand-writing to know that the manu 
script was his. She herself was able to write, at 
least to the extent of affixing her signature to a 
legal document. 

Mrs. Hall died on the llth of July, 1649, and her 

The Poet's Family after His Death 485 

grave is beside that of her husband in the chancel, 
inscribed thus : 

" Heere lyeth the body of Susanna wife to lohn Hall, 
gent : the daughter of William Shakespeare, gent : shee 
deceased the llth of July, A 1649, aged 66. 

Witty above her sexe, but that's not all, 
Wise to salvation was good Mistris Hall ; 
Something of Shakespere was in that, but this 
Wholy of him with whom she's now in blisse. 
Then, Passenger, ha'st ne're a teare 

To weepe with her that wept with all, 
That wept, yet set her selfe to chere 

Them up with comforts cordiall. 
Her love shall live, her mercy spread, 
When thou ha'st nere a teare to shed." 

The inscription was erased about the year 1707, 
giving place to the memorial of " a person named 
Watts; but having been preserved by Dugdale, it 
was restored in 1836. 

Elizabeth Hall (baptized February 21st, 1608) was 
twice married. Her first husband, Thomas Nash 
(to whom she was married April 22, 1626), was a 
respectable inhabitant of Stratford, and had been a 
student of Lincoln's Inn, London. He was the eld 
est son of Anthony Nash of Welcoinbe, to whom the 
poet in his will gave 26s. 8d., and the same sum to 
his brother, John Nash, to "buy them ringes." 
Thomas Nash was fourteen years older than his 
wife, having been baptised at Stratford, June 20th, 


Life of Shakespeare 

1593. They had no children. He died April 4th, 
1647, and was buried in the chancel of the parish 
church. Two years later (June 5th, 1649) his 
widow married John Barnard (or Bernard), Esquire, 
of Abington Manor, near Northampton. The mar 
riage took place at Billesley, about three miles from 
Stratford. No children were born to them; and 
Lady Barnard (her husband having been knighted 
by Charles II., November 25th, 1661) died and was 
buried at Abington, February 17th, 1669. No monu 
ment of any kind records the memory of this last 
descendant of the poet. 

In the month of July, 1643, when Mrs. Hall was 
in possession of New Place, Queen Henrietta Maria 
was entertained there in the course of her trium 
phant march from Newark to Keinton. This fact, 
which there is no reason to dispute, rests upon a 
tradition told by Sir Hugh Clopton to Theobald, 
according to whom the Queen "kept her Court for 
three weeks in New Place." She was, however, at 
Stratford only three days, arriving there on July 
llth with upwards of two thousand foot and a thou 
sand horse, about a hundred wagons and a train of 

In April, 1647, at the very time of her husband's 
death, Mrs. Nash had soldiers quartered upon her 
at New Place, one of whom was implicated in deer- 
poaching from the park of Sir Greville Verney, 
which occurred on the 30th of April. 

Thomas Nash was buried in the chancel of the 

The Poet's Family after His Death 487 

church at Stratford, with the Shakespeares, and his 
gravestone bears this inscription : 

" Heere resteth the body of Thomas Nashe, esq. He 
mar. Elizabeth, the daug : and heire of lohn Halle, gent. 
He died Aprill 4, A. 1647, aged 53. 

Fata manent omnes, hunc non virtute carentem, 

Vt neque divitiis, abstulit atra dies, 
Abstulit, at ref eret lux ultima ; siste, viator, 

Si peritura paras per male parta peris. " 

How long his widow continued to reside at New 
Place after her marriage to John Barnard we do 
not know ; but the mansion is mentioned as in his 
tenure in 1652. His usual place of residence dur 
ing the latter years of their lives was at Abington, 
where they both died. 

Lady Barnard made her will at Abington, in 
which she directs that after the death of her hus 
band New Place shall be sold to the best bidder, the 
first offer of it being made to Edward Nash. As he 
did not purchase it, it was sold to Sir Edward 
Walker, who had been Secretary of War to Charles 
I. and afterwards Garter King at Arms. On his 
death in 1677 he devised it to his daughter Bar 
bara, wife of Sir John Clopton, for her life, after 
which it was to go to his eldest grandson, Edward 
Clopton. Barbara died in 1692, when the estate 
came into the possession of Edward Clopton. In 
November, 1698, he transferred it to his father, Sir 

488 Life of Shakespeare 

John Clopton, who soon afterward demolished the 
original mansion and built a new* one on a some 
what different plan. This house, when finished 
in 1703, was occupied by Hugh Clopton, another 
son of Sir John. He died in 1751, and New Place 
was then bought by the Eev. Francis Gastrell, who 
pulled down the house in 1759, on account of a 
quarrel he had had with the corporation about poor 

There is a well-authenticated tradition that Shake 
speare had planted with his own hands in the gar 
den of New Place the first mulberry-tree that had 
ever been brought to Stratford. This was probably 
in the spring of 1609, when a Frenchman named Ver- 
ton distributed a large number of young mulberry- 
trees in the midland counties. He did this by the 
order of James I., who encouraged the cultivation 
of the tree, in the hope that silk might become a 
staple product of the country. 

Gastrell cut the mulberry-tree down in 1758, to 
the great indignation of Stratford folk. The late 
E,. B. Wheler was told by his father that, when a 
boy, he assisted in breaking the clergyman's win 
dows in revenge for the destruction of the tree. 
Tradition says that he cut it down because he was 
annoyed by the number of travellers who came to 
see it; but Halliwell-Phillipps suggests that he 
may have had a better reason for the act. " Several 
accounts agree in stating that it had attained a 
great magnitude with overhanging boughs, the 

The Poet's Family after His Death 489 

trunk being in a state of decay, and indeed it is 
most probable that a tree of a century and a half's 
growth would have been of a very considerable size, 
the mould of Stratford being peculiarly favourable 
to the luxuriant growth of the mulberry. If 
planted at all near the house, its boughs would cer 
tainly have overshadowed some of the rooms at the 
back. Davies, in his Life of Garrick, the first edi 
tion of which appeared in 1780, expressly asserts 
that 'the mulberry-tree planted by the poet's own 
hand became an object of dislike to this tasteless 
owner of it because it overshadowed his window, 
and rendered the house, as he thought, subject to 
damps and moisture.' Here is one plausible reason 
given for the removal, and the evidences of decay 
may have been another. It would seem, at all 
events, that he was not indifferent to the poetical 
association, for that he kept relics of it in his own 
hands may be inferred from his widow's having 
presented one to the Lichfield Museum. In a cata 
logue of that museum (1786) is the following entry : 
' An horizontal section of the stock of the mulberry- 
tree planted by Shakespear at Stratf ord-upon-Avon ; 
this curiosity was presented to the museum by Mrs. 
Gastrel, August 19th, 1778.' " 

The large mulberry-tree now standing in the 
grounds of New Place is said to be a lineal descend 
ant of the one planted by Shakespeare. 

It is absolutely certain that Lady Barnard was 
the last surviving descendant of the poet, though at 

490 Life of Shakespeare 

one time and another persons have claimed to be 
directly descended from him. His sister Joan, who 
married William Hart (see page 460 above) had four 
children, only one of whom, Thomas Hart, married 
and had offspring, and their descendants have been 
traced by French (Genealogica Shakespeareana) 
down to the present time. None of the other chil 
dren of John Shakespeare are certainly known to 
have had issue ; and Gilbert (see page 458 above) 
is the only one who has been suspected of having 



THE EARLY QUARTOS. Before the publication 
of the folio of 1623 seventeen of Shakespeare's plays 
had appeared in quarto form at various times: 
Richard II., Richard III., Romeo and Juliet, Love's 
Labour's Lost, 1 Henry IV., 2 Henry IV., Henry 
V., The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer-Night's 
Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus, 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, King Lear, 
Troilus and Cressida, Pericles, and Othello; also 
Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, The Sonnets (with A 
Lover's Complaint), and The Passionate Pilgrim, 
a small portion of which was Shakespeare's. Of 
these none but the Venus and Adonis and the 
Lucrece were published by the author or with his 
consent, all the others being piratical ventures. The 
chronology of the quartos during the poet's life, or 
to the year 1616, is as follows : 

Venus and Adonis was the earliest published work 
of Shakespeare's, the first edition having appeared 
in 1593. 

In 1594, Titus Andronicus (according to Lang- 
toaine), Lucrece, and the second edition of Venus and 
Adonis were published. 



Life of Shakespeare 

In 1596, the third edition of Venus and Adonis. 

In 1597, the first editions of Romeo and Juliet, 
Richard II., and Richard III. 

In 1598, the second editions of Lucrece, Richard 
II., and Richard III., and the first of Love's Labour's 
Lost and 1 Henry IV. 

In 1599, the fourth edition of Venus and Adonis, 
the second of Romeo and Juliet and 1 Henry IV., 
and the first of The Passionate Pilgrim. 

In 1600, the fifth edition of Venus and Adonis ; 
the third of Lucrece ; the first and second of 2 
Henry IV., A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and The 
Merchant of Venice ; the second of Titus Andronicus 
and The Passionate Pilgrim ; and the first of Henry 
V. and Much Ado About Nothing. 

In 1601, The Phoenix and the Turtle appeared in 
Chester's Love's Martyr. 

In 1602, the sixth and seventh editions of Venus 
and Adonis, the third of Richard III., the second 
of Henry V., and the first of The Merry Wives of 

In 1603, the first edition of Hamlet. 

In 1604, the third of 1 Henry IV. and the second 
of Hamlet. 

In 1605, the fourth of Richard III. and the third 
of Hamlet. 

In 1607, the fourth edition of Lucrece. 

In 1608, the fourth edition of 1 Henry IV., the 
third of Richard II. and Henry V., and the first 
and second of King Lear. 

Bibliography 493 

In 1609, the third and fourth editions of Romeo 
and Juliet (undated, but probably belonging to this 
year) ; the first and second of Troilus and Cressida 
and Pericles ; and the first of the Sonnets (includ 
ing A Lover's Complaint). 

In 1611, the fourth edition of Hamlet, and the 
third of Titus Andronicus and Pericles. 

In 1612, the fifth edition of Richard III. and the 
third of The Passionate Pilgrim. 

In 1613, the fifth edition of 1 Henry IV. 

In 1615, the fourth edition of Richard II. 

In 1616, the fifth edition of Lucrece. 

After the death of Shakespeare the following 
quartos were published before the folio appeared : 

In 1617, the eighth edition of Venus and Adonis. 

In 1619, the fourth edition of Pericles and the 
second of The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

In 1620, the ninth edition of Venus and Adonis. 

In 1622, the sixth edition of Richard III. and 
1 Henry IV. and the first of Othello. 

THE FOUR FOLIOS. The folio of 1623 was nom 
inally edited by John Heming and Henry Condell, 
two of Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, and 
was brought out by a syndicate of five publishers 
and printers, William and Isaac Jaggard, William 
Aspley, John Smethwick, and Edward Blount. The 
Jaggards were printers, the others publishers or 
booksellers. William Jaggard had printed The 
Passionate Pilgrim in 1599. 


Life of Shakespeare 

The folio is a volume of 906 pages, including the 
page facing the title and occupied by Ben Jonson's 
verses in praise of the portrait of Shakespeare on 
the title-page. It contains thirty-six of the thirty- 
seven plays commonly ascribed to Shakespeare (Peri 
cles being omitted), arranged, as in the majority of 
modern editions, under the heads of "Comedies," 
"Histories," and "Tragedies." These three divi 
sions are paged separately, but have no special 
headings, except in the table of contents, in which 
Troilus and Cressida is omitted. 

Of the thirty-six plays in the volume it will be 
seen that only sixteen had been already published 
in quarto. The other twenty, including many of 
the best works of Shakespeare, were these: The 
Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Measure 
for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like 
It, All >s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, The 
Taming of the Shrew, The Winter's Tale, King John, 
the three Parts of Henry VI., Henry VIII., Corio- 
-lanus, Timon of Athens, Julius Ccesar, Macbeth, 
Antony and Cleopatra, and Cymbeline. 

The typographical execution of the volume de 
mands particular attention, on account of the con 
fused and contradictory descriptions of it given by 
some of the editors and commentators and the use 
that the Baconians have made of it. 

According to Donnelly and the Baconians gen 
erally, the folio was edited by Bacon, being a collec 
tion of his plays carefully revised, corrected, and 

Bibliography 495 

put into the shape in which he desired to hand 
them down to posterity. 

Shakespearian critics, on the other hand, assume 
that the folio is just what it purports to be a 
collection of the plays supposed to be written by 
William Shakespeare, made seven years after his 
death by two of his fellow-actors, who had no skill 
or experience in editing, and whose share in bring 
ing out the book appears to have been limited to 
putting into the hands of the publishers the best 
copies of the plays they could get ; these being 
partly manuscripts used in the theatre, and partly 
the earlier quarto editions of single plays, which 
had also been used by the actors in learning their 
parts. These critics believe that internal evidence 
shows, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the 
plays in the folio could not have been carefully re 
vised or seen through the press by any person who 
had had experience in editing, printing, or publish 
ing. That Francis Bacon could have edited them 
or supervised their publication is inconceivable 
except to a fool or a Baconian. 

The typographical execution of the volume, ac 
cording to Collier (as quoted by Donnelly) "does 
credit to the age," being " on the whole, remarkably 
accurate." He adds : " So desirous were the editors 
and printers of correctness that they introduced 
changes for the better even while the sheets were 
in progress through the press." These corrections, 
however, are few and far between, and they are 

496 Life of Shakespeare 

mostly of such palpable errors of the type as might 
catch the eye of the printer while working off the 
sheets. It should be understood, moreover, that 
Collier, like other Shakespeare editors, assumes 
that the folio had no editing worthy the name, and 
that the "copy" furnished to the printers was 
mutilated manuscripts and poorly-printed quarto 
editions used in the theatre. The typographical 
faults and defects of the volume were due to the 
"copy" rather than to the printer. 

Craik, in his English of Shakespeare, says : " As a 
typographical production it is better executed than 
the common run of the English popular printing of 
that date. It is rather superior, for instance, in 
point of appearance, and very decidedly in correct 
ness, to the second folio, produced nine years later. 
Nevertheless, it is obviously, to the most cursory 
inspection, very far from what would now be called 
even a tolerably-printed book. There is probably 
not a page in it which is not disfigured by many 
minute inaccuracies and irregularities, such as never 
appear in modern printing. The punctuation is 
throughout rude and negligent, even where it is not 
palpably blundering. The most elementary pro 
prieties of the metrical arrangement are violated in 
innumerable passages. In some places the verse is 
printed as plain prose ; elsewhere prose is ignorantly 
and ludicrously exhibited in the guise of verse. 
Indisputable and undisputed errors are of frequent 
occurrence, so gross that it is impossible they could 

Bibliography 497 

have been passed over, at any rate in such numbers, 
-if the proof-sheets had undergone any systematic 
revision by a qualified person, however rapid. They 
were probably read in the printing-office, with more 
or less attention, when there was time, and often, 
when there was any hurry or pressure, sent to press 
with little or no examination. Everything betokens 
that editor or editing of the volume, in any proper 
or distinctive sense, there could have been none. 
The only editor was manifestly the head workman 
in the printing-office." 

Craik goes on to state some of the evidences 
which a " closer inspection " reveals that the volume 
not only had no proper editing, but was put in type 
from imperfect " copy " obtained from the theatre. 
There are errors which cannot " be sufficiently ac 
counted for as the natural mistakes of the com 
positor," and which " can only be explained on the 
supposition that he had been left to depend upon a 
manuscript which was imperfect, or which could not 
be read." It is a significant fact that " deformities 
of this kind are apt to be found accumulated at one 
place; there are, as it were, nests or eruptions of 
them; they run into constellations; showing that 
the manuscript had there got torn or soiled, or 
that the printer had been obliged to supply what 
was wanting in the best way he could, by his own 
invention or conjectural ingenuity." l 

l ln an article on "The Text of Shakespeare" in The 
North British Eeview for February, 1854, Craik has shown 

Life of Shakespeare 

But the case of the folio is in some respects even 
worse than Craik makes it out. He says, for ex 
ample, that "in one instance at least we have 
actually the names of the actors by whom the play 
was performed prefixed to their portions of the 
dialogue, instead of those of the dramatis personce ; " 
and that this " shows very clearly the text of the 
play in which it occurs (Much Ado About Nothing) 
to have been taken from the playhouse copy, or 
what is called the prompter's book." In this play, 
a stage direction in ii. 3 reads thus in the folio: 
" Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and lacke Wilson." 
Jack Wilson was evidently the singer who took the 
part of Balthasar. Again, in iv. 2, we find " Kemp " 
nine times and " Kem" three times prefixed to Dog 
berry's speeches, and " Cowley " twice and " Couley " 
once to the speeches of Verges. William Kemp (see 
page 351) and Richard Ccwley are known to have 
been actors of the time in London. 

There are other instances of the kind apparently 
not known to Craik. In 3 Henry VI., i. 2, we find, 
" Enter Gabriel," instead of " Enter Messenger," and 
" Gabriel " is the prefix to the speech that follows. 
Again, in iii. 1, of the same play, we read "Enter 
Sinklo and Humfrey, ivith Crossebowes in their 
hands" where the modern editions have "Enter 

that the number of readings in the folio which " must Toe 
admitted to be clearly wrong, or in the highest degree sus 
picious, probably amounts to not less than twenty on a page, 
or about twenty thousand in the whole volume." 

Bibliography 499 

two Keepers" etc.; and in the dialogue following 
we have " Sink." five times, " Sinklo " twice, and 
" Sin." once for the 1st Keeper, and "Hum." eight 
times for the 2d Keeper. The same Sinklo appears 
also in The Taming of the Shrew, scene 1 of induc 
tion, " Sincklo" being the prefix to the speech of 
one of the Players (" I think 'twas Soto," etc.). The 
1600 Quarto of 2 Henry IV. has also, in v. 4, " Enter 
Sincklo and three orfoure officers" He was evidently 
an actor of subordinate parts, and nothing else is 
known of him except that he played in The Seven 
Deadly Sins and in The Malcontent in 1604. In 
the Midsummer-Night's Dream, v. 1, the folio has 
" Tawyer with a Trumpet before them " where the 
actors in the clowns' interlude first enter. Collier, 
Grant White, Dyce, and others suspected Tawyer 
to be the name of the actor who filled the part of 
" presenter " and introduced the characters of the 
play ; and it has been proved that they were right. 
There is another class of irregularities in the folio 
which I do not remember to have seen classified, 
though the separate facts are referred to by many 
editors. The Tempest, the first play in the volume, 
is divided throughout into acts and scenes. We 
have "Actus primus, Scena prima," " Scena Se- 
cunda," "Actus Secundus. Sccena Prima," and so on 
to the end. The next three plays, The Two Gentle^ 
men of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and 
Measure for Measure, are similarly divided. Then 
come five plays divided only into acts, though the 


Life of Shakespeare 

first heading in two of them is " Actus primus, Scena 
prima " The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado, Love's 
Labour's Lost, A Midsummer - Night' s Dream, and 
The Merchant of Venice. As You Like It, which 
follows, has acts and scenes. In The Taming of 
the Shrew, the induction is not marked, the play 
beginning with " Actus primus. Sccena Prima" 
The next heading is " Actus Tertia" [sic\ in the 
proper place ; and further on we find " Actus Quar- 
tus. Scena Prima" and " Actus Quintus." All 's 
Well is divided only into acts; The Winter's Tale 
into acts and scenes. The "Histories" are all 
divided in full, except Henry V. (acts), 1 Henry VI. 
(decidedly " mixed "), 2 Henry VI. and 3 Henry VI. 
(not divided at all). In 1 Henry VI., acts i. and ii. 
are not divided into scenes; act iii. is rightly 
divided ; " Actus Quartus. Scena prima." covers 
the first four scenes of act iv. ; " Scena secunda " 
corresponds to scene 1 of act v. ; " Sccena Tertia " 
includes scenes 2, 3, and 4 ; and only the fifth scene 
is put under the heading " Actus Quintus." 

Of the " Tragedies," Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, 
and Julius Ccesar are divided only into acts ; Mac 
beth, Lear, Othello, and Cymbeline, into acts and 
scenes; Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet, 
Timon of Athens, and Antony and Cleopatra, into 
neither. In Hamlet, three scenes of act i. and two 
of act ii. are marked, the remainder of the play 
having no division whatever. 

The only plays in the folio which have lists of 

Bibliography 501 

dramatis personce (in every instance at the end) are 
The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Meas 
ure for Measure, The Winter's Tale, 2 Henry IV., 
Timon of Athens, and Othello. In 2 Henry IV. and 
Timon a full page, with ornamental headpiece and 
tailpiece, is given to this list of "The Actors 
Names." The omission in the twenty-nine other 
plays cannot be due to want of space, as an exam 
ination of the book will show. In several instances 
an entire page is left blank at the end of a play. 

The wretched editing or want of editing in 
the folio is also shown in the retention of mat 
ter for which the author had substituted a revised 
version. We can easily see how this might result 
from the use of old stage manuscripts for "copy" 
in the printing-office. The revised passages were 
inserted in the manuscript, but the original form 
was allowed to remain. It may have been retained 
for the benefit of an actor who had already learned 
it, the later and longer version being the one which 
a new actor would learn. The two may have been 
distinguished by arbitrary marks in the margin, in 
telligible to the actors, but liable to be overlooked 
or misinterpreted by the compositor. 

A notable example of such duplication of matter 
occurs in Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 3 (see page 163 
above). In this instance the blunder of the com 
positor was committed in "setting up" the quarto 
of 1598, which, as the repetition of sundry typo 
graphical errors proves, was used as "copy" for 

5 02 

Life of Shakespeare 

the folio. The title-page of the quarto describes 
the play as " newly corrected and augmented," and 
there are many indications of revision besides the 
one mentioned. 

Again, in the last scene of Timon of Athens, the 
epitaph of the misanthrope reads thus (except in 
spelling) in the folio : 

" Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft ; 
Seek not my name. A plague consume you wicked 

caitiffs left! 

Here lie I, Timon, who, alive, all living men did hate ; 
Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay not here thy 


We have here the two epitaphs given in North's 
Plutarch as follows : 

"Now it chanced so, that the sea getting in, it 
compassed his tomb round about, that no man could 
come to it; and upon the same was written this 
epitaph : 

Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft : 
Seek not my name : a plague consume you wicked 
wretches left.' 

It is reported that Timon himself when he lived 
made this epitaph; for that which is commonly 
rehearsed was not his, but made by the poet Calli- 
machus : 

< Here lie I, Timon, who alive all living men did hate : 
Pass by and curse thy fill ; but pass, and stay not here thy 
gait.' " 

Bibliography 503 

Shakespeare cannot have meant to use both epitaphs. 
He seems to have written both in the manuscript 
while hesitating between them, and afterwards to 
have neglected to strike one out. 

The printing of words and phrases from foreign 
languages in the folio indicates wretched editing or 
proof-reading, or both. Latin is given with tolerable 
accuracy, though we meet with cruces like that in 
Love's Labour's Lost, i. 1, where Holofernes is rep 
resented as saying : " Borne boon for boon preseian, a 
little scratcht, 'twil serue." This is in reply to 
Nathaniel's " Laus deo, bene intelligo," which Theo 
bald conjectures to be misprinted for " Laus deo, bone, 
intelligo ; " with the response : [ ( Bone ! bone for 
bene ! Priscian a little scratched ; 'twill serve ; " 
that is, Holofernes takes Nathaniel's bone (which he 
means to be the vocative of the adjective) as a slip 
for bene, the adverb which is natural enough, 
bene intelligo being a common phrase. Some edi 
tors, however, retain the bene intelligo in the pre 
ceding speech, and put the reply of Holofernes into 
French, thus : " Bon, bon, fort bon, Priscian ! " etc. 
But the pedant does not elsewhere use French, and 
Latin would be more natural here. 

French, Spanish, and Italian are almost invari 
ably misprinted in the folio, sometimes ridiculously 
so. In the Merry Wives, for instance (i. 4), "un 
boitier vert " appears as " unboyteene vert ; " and 
" Ma foi, il fait fort chaud : je m'en vais a la cour 
la grande affaire " (Eowe's emendation), as " maifoy, 


Life of Shakespeare 

il fait fort chando, Je man voi a le Court la Grand 
affaires;" and " un garqon " (v. 5) as "oon gar- 
soon" In Henry V. (iv. 5) " Seigneur ! le 
jour est perdu, tout est perdu I " is perverted into 
" sigueur le iour et perdia, toute et perdie" The 
Italian capocchia of Troilus and Cressida (iv. 2) be 
comes chipochia y " mercatante" in The Taming of 
the Shrew (iv. 2), " marcantant ; " and in Love's 
Labour's Lost (iv. 2) " Venetia, Venetia, chi non ti vede 
non tipretia" (as it appears in HowelFs Letters and 
in some modern editions, though, others give it some 
what differently) is rendered "vemchie, vencha, que 
non te vnde, que non te perreche" which exactly fol 
lows the quarto of 1598, showing that neither the 
folio printer nor the editor or proof-reader made 
any attempt to correct the fearful distortion of the 
Venetian proverb in the earlier edition used as 
"copy." Whether the " Fortuna delarguar" of 
the same play (v. 2) is corrupt Spanish for fortuna 
de la guerra, or del agua, or de la guarda, the editors 
cannot decide ; but it is probably the first, though 
it does not exactly suit the context. 

It would take too much space to illustrate, even 
in this brief way, all the faults and defects of the 
folio, regarded solely from the printer's or proof 
reader's point of view, but the facts already given 
are certainly enough to show that the book had no 
editing worthy of the name. Heming and Condell 
doubtless did the work as well as they could, but 
not as Shakespeare, if he had lived, would have done 

Bibliography 505 

it, or as Bacon, if the book had been his, would have 
done it. 

The folio contains a dedicatory letter addressed 
thus : 

" To the Most Noble and Incomparable Paire of Brethren. 
William, Earle of Pembroke, fyc. Lord Chamberlaine to the 
Kings most Excellent Maiesty. and Philip, Earle of Mont 
gomery, &fc. Gentleman of his Maiesties Bed-Chamber . Both 
Knights of the most Noble Order of the Garter, and our 
singular good Lords" 

The dedication is followed by the preface of the 
player-editors, which is partly as follows : 

"It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have 
bene wished, that the Author himself e had liv'd to have 
set forth and overseen his owne writings ; But since it 
hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed 
from that right, we pray you do not envie his Friends, 
the office of their care, and paine, to have collected and 
publish'd them ; and so to have publish'd them, as where 
(before) you were abus'd with diverse stolne, and surrep 
titious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and 
stealthes of injurious impostors, that expos'd them : even 
those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect of 
their limbes ; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers 
as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator 
of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind 
and hand went together : And what he thought, he uttered 
with that easinesse, that wee have scarse received from 
him a blot in his papers." 


Life of Shakespeare 

Next comes " The Names of the principal Actors 
in all these Plays," twenty-six in number, headed 
by "William Shakespeare" and "Richard Bur- 
badge." The editors, " John Hemmings " and 
" Henry Condell," are also included in the list. 

Then follow commendatory poems by Ben Jonson, 
Leonard Digges, " I. M." (probably James Mabbe, a 
fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, described by 
Anthony Wood as " a learned man, good author, and 
a facetious conceited wit"), and Hugh Holland (a 
Welshman, fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, 
and author of some poor verse). 

The second folio (1632) was a reprint of the first, 
with few changes for the better except (as Prof. C. 
Alphonso Smith, of the Louisiana State University, 
has shown in the Leipsic Englische Studien for Dec. 
1901) in syntactical corrections, the majority of 
which "are to be found in the concord of subject 
and predicate, and especially in the change of a 
singular predicate into the plural." 

The commendatory poems of the first folio are 
reprinted, with three additional poems. The first, 
which is anonymous, reads thus : 

" Upon the effigies of my worthy friend, the author, Master 
William Shakespeare and his works. 

Spectator, this Life's Shaddow is ; To see 
The truer image and a livelier be 
Turne Reader. But, observe his Comicke vaine, 
Laugh, and proceed next to a Tragicke straine, 

Bibliography 507 

Then weepe ; So when them find'st two contraries, 
Two different passions from thy rapt soule rise, 
Say (who alone effect such wonders could) 
Rare Shake-speare to the life thou dost behold." 

The second is Milton's well-known "Epitaph on 
the admirable dramatic poet, W. Shakespeare." 
The third is a much longer piece (77 lines), of great 
merit, "On worthy Master Shakespeare and his 
poems," signed "The friendly admirer of his en 
dowments, I. M. S.," who has not been positively 
identified. No poet or other person of that time 
whose initials were I. M. S. is known who could 
have written the lines. They have been ascribed 
to Chapman, to "John Marston (Student)," to 
"Jasper Mayne (Student)," and "John Milton 
(Senior)," or "John Milton (Student)." It has 
also been suggested that the initials stand for, " In 
Memoriam Scriptoris." 

The third folio, a reprint of the second with few . 
variations of any value or interest, was first pub 
lished in 1663. It was re-issued the next year with 
this statement on the title-page: "Unto this im 
pression is added seven Playes never before printed 
in folio, viz. : Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The London 
Prodigall. The History of Thomas Ld. Cromwell. 
Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham. The Puritan 
Widow. A Yorkshire Tragedy. The Tragedy of 
Locrine." Pericles (see page 454 above) is the only 
one of these plays in which Shakespeare could have 
had any hand. 


Life of Shakespeare 

The fourth folio (1685) was a reprint of that of 
1664 (including the seven plays just mentioned), 
with the spelling somewhat modernized but no 
other change. 

MODERN EDITIONS. After the publication of the 
fourth folio in 1685 no collected edition of Shake 
speare's works appeared until 1709, when Nicholas 
Kowe's, in six octavo volumes, was brought out. It 
followed the text of the fourth folio, the plays being 
arranged in the same order. The poems were not 
included. A second edition was issued in 1714, in 
eight volumes, and a ninth volume containing the 
poems was added. E-owe made some corrections of 
the text, and modernized the spelling and punctu 
ation, besides prefixing a list of dramatis personce to 
each play. His Life of Shakespeare, which appeared 
in this edition, has been described above (page 8). 

Among other complete editions that are of any 
critical value, the following may be named: A. 
Pope's (6 vols., 1723-25; other eds. in 1728, 1735, 
and 1768); Louis Theobald's (7 vols., 1733; other 
eds. in 1740, 1752, etc.); Sir Thomas Hanmer's (6 
vols., 1744); Bishop Warburton's (8 vols., 1747); 
Dr. Samuel Johnson's (8 vols., 1765); Edward 
Capell's (10 vols., 1768); George Steevens's revi 
sion of Johnson's ed. (10 vols., 1773 ; 2d ed. 1778) ; 
Isaac Reed's revision of the preceding (10 vols., 
1785); Edmund Malone's (10 vols., 1790); Stee- 
vens's with Boydell's illustrations (9 vols., 1802; in 

Bibliography 509 

parts, 1791-1802); Reed's (first ed. with his name, 
21 vols., 1803; 2d ed. 1813); Alexander Chalmers's 
10 vols., 1805) ; the Variorum of 1821, edited by 
James Boswell from a corrected copy left by Malone 
(21 vols.) ; S. W. Singer's (10 vols., 1826) ; Charles 
Knight's Pictorial ed. (8 vols., 1838-43); J. P. 
Collier's (8 vols., 1842-44; 2d ed. 6 vols., 1858); 
G. C. Verplanck's (3 vols., 1844-47) ; H. N. Hud 
son's (11 vols., 1851-56) ; J. O. Halliwell's, after 
ward Halliwell-Phillipps's (16 vols. folio, 1853-65 ; 
only 150 copies printed) ; Singer's 2d ed. (10 vols., 
1856); E. Grant White's (12 vols., 1857-66); 
Alexander Dyce's (6 vols., 1857; 2d ed. 9 vols., 
1864-67; 3d ed. 9 vols., 1875); Howard Staunton's 
<3 vols., 1858-60); the Cambridge ed., by W. G. 
Clark and W. Aldis Wright (9 vols., 1863-66 ; 2d 
ed., by W. A. Wright, 1891-93) ; Charles and Mary 
Cowden-Clarke's ed. (3 vols., 1863-66); W. J. 
Eolfe's (40 vols., 1870-83; Friendly ed. 20 vols., 
1884); Horace Howard Furness's New Variorum 
ed. (13 vols. issued, 1871-1901); Clarke and 
Wright's Globe ed. (the standard for line-numbers, 
1874) ; H. N. Hudson's Harvard ed. (20 vols., 1880- 
81); E. G. White's Eiverside ed. (6 vols., 1883); 
the Henry Irving ed., by Sir Henry Irving and F. 
A. Marshall (8 vols., 1888-90) ; the Bankside ed., by 
Appleton Morgan et al. (20 vols., including the 
twenty plays of which early quartos exist, 1888-92) ; 
the Temple ed., by Israel Gollancz (40 vols., 
1894-96 ; reprinted later in 12 vols.) ; the Leopold 

510 Life of Shakespeare 

ed. (1 vol., 1877, with Delius's text, and a biograph 
ical and critical introduction by F. J. Furnivall); 
W. J. Craig's Oxford ed. (1 vol., 1894); C. H. Her- 
ford's Eversley ed. (10 vols., 1899). 

Editions of single plays and series of plays 
(mostly for educational use) are too numerous to be 
catalogued here. The Clarendon Press and Rugby 
series, and Charles Wordsworth's Shakespeare's His 
torical Plays (3 vols., 1883), are noteworthy among 
those which have some critical value. Shakespeare's 
Comedies, illustrated by E. A. Abbey (4 vols., 1896), 
deserves special commendation. 

The POEMS and SONNETS are included in most of 
the recent standard editions. The first complete edi 
tion of both was issued in 1709 (see page 221 above). 
An incomplete edition appeared in 1640 (page 221). 
The SONNETS were first collected in 1609 (page 
328). The best modern edition is Edward Dow- 
den's larger ed. (1881). Another important one is 
Thomas Tyler's (1890). G. Wyndham's Poems of 
Shakespeare (1898) is also valuable. 

The first complete American edition of the works 
(with life, glossary, and notes by Dr. Johnson) was 
published in 8 vols. in 1795-96, at Philadelphia. 
The first Boston edition (including only the plays) 
was in 8 vols., 1802-04. Three editions of this 
appeared, each reset, stereotyping being then un 
known. An edition in 17 vols. was published at 
Philadelphia in 1809, and one in 7 vols. (edited by 
0. W. B. Peabody, though his name does not appear 

Bibliography 511 

in it) in Boston in 1836 (reprints of Keed's text 
had been issued in 1813 and 1814). An edition of 
the plays in 10 vols. (Reed's text) appeared in New 
York in 1821, and again in 1824 The first Ameri 
was published at New York, in 1848. 

LIFE, BIRTHPLACE, ETC. S. Neil, Shakespeare, a 
Critical Biography (1861) ; Halliwell-Phillipps, Out 
lines of the Life of Shakespeare (7th ed. 1887) ; F. 
G. Fleay, Life and Works of Shakespeare (1886) ; 
D. W. Wilder, Life of Shakespeare (1893); T. S. 
Baynes, Shakespeare Studies (1894); 0. M. Ingle- 
by, Shakespeare, the Man and the Book, parts i. 
and ii. (1877-81) ; C. Knight, Biography of ShaJc- 
spere (in Pictorial ed., but also published sepa 
rately); G. B,. French, Shakespeareana Genealogica 
(1869; on the Shakespeare and Arden families, 
persons and places in Warwickshire mentioned by 
Shakespeare, and characters in the historical plays) ; 
T. F. Ordish, Early London Theatres (1894), and 
Shakespeare's London (1897); G. W. Thornbury, 
Shakespeare's England (1856); J. E. Wise, Shake 
speare, his Birthplace and its Neighbourhood (1861) ; 
Karl Elze, Life of Shakespeare (English Translation, 
1888) ; Sidney Lee, Stratford-on-Avon (1890) ; J. L. 
Williams, Homes and Haunts of Shakespeare (su 
perbly illustrated, 1891-93); C. D. Warner, The 
People for whom Shakespeare Wrote (1891); W. 
Winter's Shakespeare's England (illustrated ed. 

512 Life of Shakespeare 

1893); and Old Shrines and Ivy (1894); E. S> 
Boas, Shakespeare and His Predecessors (1895) ; 
A. W. Ward's History of English Dramatic Litera 
ture (revised ed. 1899) ; J. Walter's Shakespeare's 
True Life (1890; copiously illustrated, but not 
always trustworthy) ; W. J. Rolf e, Shakespeare the 
Boy (1896); H. Snowden Ward's Shakespeare's 
Town and Times (illustrated, 1896) ; John Leyland's 
Shakespeare Country (illustrated, 1900) ; Sidney 
Lee's Life of Shakespeare (1898; also in abridged 
form, 1899); H. W. Mabie's William Shakespeare 
(1901); Georg Brandes, William Shakespeare 
(English translation, 1898; of unequal merit); 
Mrs. C. C. Stopes, Shakespeare's Warwickshire 
Contemporaries (1897) and Shakespeare's Family 

A. Schmidt, Shakespeare Lexicon (2d ed. 1886); 
Dyce's Glossary (vol. ix. of ed. of Shakespeare pub 
lished separately); E-. Nares, Glossary (revised ed. 
1859); Charles and Mary Cowden-Clarke, Shake 
speare Key (1879); J. Bartlett, Concordance to 
Shakespeare (1895 ; includes both plays and poems, 
and supersedes all earlier works of its class) ; Mrs. 
H. H. Eurness, Concordance to the Poems of Shake 
speare (1874; gives every instance of every word); 
E. A. Abbott's Shakespearian Grammar (1873) ; W. 
S. Walker's Shakespeare's Versification (1854) and 
Critical Examination of Text of Shakespeare (1860) j 

Bibliography 513 

A J. Ellis' s Early English Pronunciation (part iii. 
published separately); E. Dowden's Shakspere 
Primer (1877; small, but invaluable), or his In 
troduction to Shakespeare (1894); The Shakespeare 
Library (for the sources of the plays; revised ed. 
6 vols., 1875); W. G. B. Stone, Shakspere's Holin- 
shed (for English historical sources, 1896) ; W. W. 
Skeat, Shakespeare's Plutarch (for sources of Roman 
plays, 1875) ; L. Booth's facsimile reprint of Folio 
ofl62S (1864), or H. Staunton's photo-lithographic 
reproduction of the same (1866), and the Griggs 
facsimiles of the early quartos, valuable for the 
original texts (for twenty of the plays see also 
Bankside ed. of Shakespeare) ; F. Douce, Illustra 
tions of Shakespeare (1807; new ed. 1839); G. L. 
Craik, The English of Shakespeare (American ed. by 
W. J. Eolfe, 1867); H. P. Stokes, Chronological 
Order of Shakespeare's Plays (1878); T. F. T. 
Dyer, Folk-lore of Shakespeare (American ed. 1884) ; 
H. N. Ellacombe, Plant-lore of Shakespeare (1878; 
new ed. 1896) ; J. E. Harting, Ornithology of Shake 
speare (1871); E. Phipson, Animal-lore of Shake 
speare (1883); D. H. Madden, The Diary of Master 
William Silence (a " study of Shakespeare and Eliz 
abethan Sport," 1897) ; Lord Campbell, Shakespeare's 
Legal Acquirements (1859); F. F. Heard, Shake 
speare as a Lawyer (1883); J. C. Bucknill, Medical 
Knowledge of Shakespeare (1860); and Mad Folk 
of Shakespeare (2d ed. 1867); C. Wordsworth, 
Shakespeare's Knowledge of the Bible (3d ed. 1880); 

514 Life of Shakespeare 

J. H. Morison, Great Poets as Religious Teachers 
(1886); Shakespeare Sermons, preached at Stratford 
(1901); W. A. Wright, Bible Word-book (2d ed. 
1884; contains many illustrations from Shake 
speare); J. P. N orris, Portraits of Shakespeare 
(1885; exhaustive); A. Roffe, Handbook of Shake 
speare Music (1875); fuller treatment in List of 
Songs, etc., by Shakspere, set to Music, published by 
New Shakspere Society, (1884); E. W. Naylor, 
Shakespeare and Music (1896); L. C. Elson, Shake 
speare in Music (1901) ; S. Hartmann, Shakespeare 
in Art (1901). The Papers of the Shakespeare 
Society (1844-49) and the Transactions and other 
publications of the New Shakspere Society (from 
1874 onward) contain much valuable textual, crit 
ical, and illustrative matter. 

Notes on Shakespeare (in eds. of his works); Mrs. 
Charlotte Lennox, Shakespeare Illustrated (the first 
critical work on Shakespeare by an American ; 
3 vols., 1753-54); A. W. Schlegel, Lectures on 
Dramatic Art (translated by Black, 1815 ; revised 
by Morrison, 1876); Mrs. A. Jameson's Character 
istics of Women (1832; American ed. 1866), also 
published with the title, Shakespeare Heroines; 
N. Drake, Shakespeare and his Times (1817) ; Joseph 
Hunter, New Illustrations of Shakespeare (1845) ; 
H. Giles, Human Life in Shakespeare (1868); G. 
Fletcher, Studies of Shakespeare (1847) ; W. Haz- 


litt, Characters of Shakespeare's Plays (1817; new 
ed. by Bonn, with, the Lectures on Age of Elizabeth, 
1870) ; E. Dowden, Shakspere : his Mind and Art 
(American ed. 1881) ; H. K. Hudson, Life, Art, and 
Characters of Shakespeare (revised ed. 1882) ; E. G. 
White, Shakespeare's Scholar (1854) and Studies in 
Shakespeare (1886) ; J. Weiss, Wit, Humour, and 
Shakespeare (1876) j D. J. Snider, System of Shake 
speare's Dramas (1877) ; Lady Martin, Some of 
Shakespeare's Female Characters (1884) j L. Lewes, 
Women of Shakespeare (1895) ; Mrs. F. A. Kemble, 
Notes on Shakespeare's Plays (1882); K. G. Moul- 
ton, Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist (3d ed. 1893) ; 
B. E. Warner, English History in the Plays of Shake 
speare (1894); B. Wendell, William Shakespeare 
(1895) ; A. C. Swinburne, Study of Shakespeare 
(1880) ; T. P. Courtenay, Commentaries on the His 
torical Plays of Shakespeare (1840) ; J. W. Hales, 
Essays and Notes on Shakespeare (1892) ; B. Ten 
Brink, Five Lectures on Shakespeare (1895) ; G. G. 
Gervinus, Shakespeare Commentaries, translated by 
F. E. Bunnett (new ed. 1875); H. Ulrici, Shake 
speare's Dramatic Art, translated by L. D. Schmitz 
(1876) ; H. Cor son, Introduction of Study to Shake 
speare (1899) ; T. E. Lounsbury, Shakespeare as a 
Dramatic Artist (1902); L. A. Sherman, What is 
Shakespeare ? (1902). 

MISCELLANEA. E. Farmer, Essay on the Learn 
ing of Shakespeare (2d ed. 1767; several times re- 

516 Life of Shakespeare 

printed) ; L. M. Griffiths, Evenings with Shakespere 
(1889; very useful in Shakespeare reading-clubs); 
Charles and Mary Lanib, Tales from Shakespeare 
(many editions ; one with notes by W. J. Eolfe, 
2 vols., 1890); Mary Cowd en-Clarke, Girlhood of 
Shakespeare's Heroines (best ed. 5 vols., 1891); 
C. M. Ingleby et al., Shakespeare's Centurie of 
Prayse (references to Shakespeare between 1591 
and 1693; 2d ed. 1879, published by New Shak- 
spere Society); M. R. Silsby, Tributes to Shake 
speare (1892); W. Andrews, Bygone Warwickshire 
(1893); W. Black, Judith Shakespeare (1884; a 
novel, but a careful study of the scene and the 
times) ; J. Bennett, Master Skylark (1897) ; Imogen 
Clark, Will Shakespeare's Little Lad (1897) ; C. E. 
Phelps, Falstaffand Equity (1901); J. A. Symonds, 
The Predecessors of Shakespeare (new ed. 1900) ; 
E. J. Dunning, Genesis of Shakespeare's Art (1897) ; 
J. J. Jusserand, The English Novel in the Time of 
Shakespeare (1890), and Shakespeare in France under 
the Ancien Regime (1899) ; F. G. Fleay, Biographical 
Chronicle of the English Drama, 1559-1642(1891); 
W. H. Fleming, How to Study Shakespeare (2 vols. 
1898, 1899), and Shakespeare's Plots (1902). 

For the " Collier controversy " concerning the 
emendations which J. P. Collier asserted that he 
had found in a copy of the second (1632) folio, see 
A. Dyce's Strictures on Collier's New Edition of 
Shakespeare (1858); 1ST. E. S. A. Hamilton's En 
quiry into the Genuineness of the Ms. Corrections in 

Bibliography 517 

Collier's Shakespeare (1860) ; S. W. Singer's The 
Text of Shakespeare Vindicated, etc. (1853); and 
C. M. Ingleby's Complete View of the Shakespearian 
Controversy (1861). 

For the Baconian theory of the authorship of the 
plays and poems, see W. H. Wyman's Bibliography 
of the Bacon- Shakespeare Controversy (1884), and 
supplements to the same in the magazine Shake- 
speariana. The most important work on the Bacon 
ian side is N. Holmes's Authorship of Shakespeare 
(3d ed. 2 vols., 1886; sufficiently answered by J. 
Spedding's letter to the author, printed in the 
appendix, pp. 612-618); and on the other side 
Mrs. C. C. Stopes's The Bacon-Shakspere Question 
Answered (2d ed. 1889) ; Charles Allen's Notes on 
the Bacon- Shakespeare Question (1900 ; valuable also 
for its discussion of Shakespeare's legal attain 
ments); Miss E. Marriott's Bacon or Shakespeare? 

BIBLIOGRAPHIES. For these see Lowndes's Li 
brary Manual (Bohn's ed.) ; Franz Thimm's Shake- 
speariana (1864 and 1871) ; the Encyclopedia 
Britannica (9th ed.) ; and the British Museum Cat 
alogue, the Shakespeariana of which (3680 titles) 
was published separately in 1897. The Catalogue 
of the Barton Collection (Boston Public Library) 
will also be found particularly useful. 



PAGE 8. Betterton the actor. Thomas Betterton was 
born in Westminster in 1635, and appeared on the stage 
at the Cockpit in Drury Lane in 1660. He attained to 
great eminence in his profession, but lost the first collec 
tion of his well-earned savings through a commercial 
enterprise in 1692. In 1700 he acted in Rowe's first 
tragedy, which may have led to his acquaintance with 
that dramatist. He died in London in April, 1710, hav 
ing nearly completed his seventy-fifth year. The precise 
time of his visit to Stratford-on-Avon is unknown, but it 
is not likely to have occurred in his declining years. 

PAGE 22. Spenser's allusion. The quotation is from 
Colin Clout's Come Home Again (1594), and the entire 
passage reads thus : 

" And there, though last not least is Action, 
A gentler shepheard may no where be found : 
Whose Muse, full of high thoughts invention, 
Doth like himself Heroically sound." 

Some have doubted whether the reference is to Shake 
speare, but " no other heroic poet (that is, historical 
dramatist, or chronicler in heroic verse) had a surname 
of heroic sound." Other writers have similar allusions 
to the poet's warlike name. Aetion is a Greek proper 
name, borne by the father of Cypselus of Corinth and by 


Life of Shakespeare 

two famous artists. It is derived from der6$, an eagle, 
and is therefore appropriate to one of " high thoughts " 
and heroic invention. 

PAGE 39. Garrick's Jubilee. This was a series of 
entertainments at Stratford in 1769 devised and arranged 
by Garrick, ostensibly to do honour to Shakespeare. 
The opening of the celebration having been duly an 
nounced in early morn by a cannonade, the lady visitors 
were serenaded in rotation by young men attired in 
fancy costume, and Garrick was presented by the cor 
poration with a medal and a wand, both made from 
relics of the famous mulberry-tree. Then there were 
public feasts, more serenading, an oratorio at the church, 
elaborate processions, a masquerade, balls, illuminations, 
fireworks, horse-races, etc. Garrick also recited an ode 
in praise of the dramatist in a large wooden theatre that 
had been erected for the occasion on the Bancroft. 

PAGE 40. Designs of an unpatriotic character. The 
allusion is'to the rumour that Barnum wanted to buy the 
Birthplace and remove it to this country. 

PAGE 57. Advanced her Bear. Alluding to the " bear 
and ragged staff," the badge of the Earls of Warwick. 

PACE 58. Milton's ll woodnotes wild." Grant White 
and other critics who have found fault with this charac 
terization of Shakespeare appear to have forgotten that it 
is his comedies, and especially the rural comedies (As You 
Like It, for example), that are referred to, and from the 
point of view of L' Allegro, the cheerful man, who goes 
to the theatre as on his morning walk, for innocent 
recreation, not as a dramatic critic. 

Mr. Edwin Reed says: "Milton was a Puritan, and 
probably never soiled his fingers with a copy of these 
wicked works ; " but Milton's familiarity with Shake- 

Notes 523 

speare is proved by many passages in his poems which 
are distinct echoes of the dramatist. That he knew and 
admired Shakespeare's works is, moreover, clear from his 
noble Epitaph, written some years earlier than L' Allegro 
and first printed in the Shakespeare folio of 1632. 

PAGE 94. The poaching tradition. Whether this tradi 
tion had any foundation in fact or not, we have abundant 
proof in even the earliest of Shakespeare's works that in 
his youth, if not later, he had some experience of country 
sports, such as hunting, hawking, coursing, fowling, and 
the like. The famous description of the horse in Venus 
and Adonis (259 fol.) shows his thorough knowledge of 
the animal ; and the vivid sketch of hare-hunting in the 
same poem (679 fol.) must have been based on actual 
experience in the sport. Professor Baynes remarks : 
< Many of these sports were pursued by the local gentry 
and the yeomen together ; and the poet, as the son of a 
well-connected burgess of Stratford, who had recently 
been mayor of the town and possessed estates in the 
county, would be well entitled to share in them, while 
his handsome presence and courteous bearing would be 
likely to ensure him a hearty welcome. . . . However 
this may be, it is clear from internal evidence that the 
poet was practically familiar with the field sports of his 

His love for dogs and horses is illustrated by many 
passages in his works. There was never a more graphic 
description of hounds than he puts into the mouth of 
Theseus in the Midsummer-Night's Dream (iv. 1. 108 
fol.) : " My love shall hear the music of my hounds," 
etc. The talk of the hunters about the dogs in The 
Taming of the Shrew (ind. i. 16 fol.) is in the same vein. 

In The Merry Wives of Windsor (i. 1. 96 fol.) Page 

Life of Shakespeare 

defends his greyhound against the criticisms of Slender, 
and Shallow takes his part : 

" Slender. How does your fallow greyhound, sir ? I heard say he 
was outrun on Cotsall. 

Page. It could not be judged, sir. 

Slender. You '11 not confess, you '11 not confess. 

Shallow. That he will not. 'Tis your fault, 'tis your fault; 'tis 
a good dog. 

Page. A cur, sir. 

Shallow. Sir, he 's a good dog, and a fair dog : can there be more 
said ? he is good and fair." 

That Shakespeare was familiar with " Cotsall " the 
Cotswold downs in Gloucestershire, celebrated for cours 
ing and for other rural sports has been shown by Mr. 
D. H. Madden (see page 513 above), as also the poet's 
"knowledge of the most intimate secrets of woodcraft 
and falconry, and, above all, of the nature and dispo 
sition of the horse." The same writer remarks : " Every 
lover of the horse who is a student of Shakespeare must 
have been struck by the number and appropriateness of 
his references to horses and to horsemanship ; " and he 
shows that some passages that seem obscure become 
clear, and others gain a new significance when we get a 
thorough knowledge of the old-time language of the 
management and use of the animal. 

Bacon, by the way, seems to have had no taste for 
sport and little knowledge of it. To him the country 


" a den 
Of savage men," 

as he calls it in the one piece of tolerable verse which he 
is said to have written, and which the Baconian heretics 
are in the habit of quoting to prove that he really was a 

Notes 525 

PAGE 100. The Bidford challenge." That Shake 
speare was a " teetotaller " of course no one supposes. 
He would not have refused to help the Puritan preacher 
(page 461) dispose of those quarts of sack and claret, 
and he may sometimes have drank more than was good 
for him; but that he was intemperate, judged by the 
strictest standards of the time, I do not believe. Again 
and again he goes out of his way to denounce drunken 
ness and to show up its evil results, or to commend the 
opposite virtue with its wholesome fruits; and when 
moral lessons are introduced in that unnecessary manner 
by Shakespeare, we cannot doubt that they are intro 
duced for their own sake. For example, the long speech 
of Hamlet (i. 4. 17 fol.) on the " heavy-headed revel " of 
the Danes has no direct bearing upon the action of the 
play. It is purely episodical, and its only conceivable 
raison d'etre is its indirect moral significance. So in As 
You Like It (ii. 2. 47) when Adam says " Though I look 
old, yet I am strong and lusty," there was no imaginable 
reason except this moral one for his adding : 

" For in my youth I never did apply 
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood, 
Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo 
The means of weakness and debility ; 
Therefore my age is as a lusty winter, 
Frosty, but kindly." 

This is not said to Orlando, who was in no need of the 
admonition it involves, but to the London audience for 
whom the play was written ; and it is Shakespeare who 
speaks, as surely as when he acted the part of Adam on 
the stage. 

Similarly in Twelfth Night (i. 5. 123) Olivia asks Feste, 
"What 's a drunken man like, fool?" and he replies: 

526 Life of Shakespeare 


" Like a drowned man, a fool, and a madman. One 
draught above heat makes him a fool ; the second mads 
him ; and a third drowns him." 

Note also the comments of Caesar on the drunken revel 
in Antony and Cleopatra (ii. 7. 95 fol.) : 

" Pompey. This is not yet an Alexandrian feast. 

Antony. It ripens towards it. Strike the vessels, ho ! 
Here is to Caesar ! 

Ccesar. I could well forbear 't. 

It 's monstrous labour, when I wash my brain, 
And it grows fouler. 

Antony. Be a child o' the time. 

Ccesar. Possess it, I '11 make answer ; 
But I had rather fast from all four days 
Than drink so much in one." 

Even more striking, from the same point of view, is 
Cassio's bitter remorse for his drunkenness (Othello >, ii. 3. 
254 fol.) It is not so much the loss of his office that 
he laments as the personal degradation and disgrace : 

" Cassio. Reputation, reputation, reputation ! O, I have lost 
my reputation ! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what 
remains is bestial. My reputation, lago, my reputation ! 

logo. As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some 
bodily wound ; there is more sense in that than in reputation. . . . 

Cassio. O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to 
steal away their brains ! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, 
and applause, transform ourselves into beasts ! . . . 

lago. Come, you are too severe a moraler. . . . 

Cassio. I will ask him for my place again ; he shall tell me I am 
a drunkard! Had I as many mouths as Hydra, such an answer 
would stop them all. To be now a sensible man, by and by a fool, 
and presently a beast ! O, strange ! Every inordinate cup is unblest, 
and the ingredient is a devil." 

No one who observes how much space is given to these 
self-reproaches of Cassio will regard them as the mere 
conventional work of a playwright on a minor incident 
of his plot. There is a deeper ethical meaning in them. ' 

Notes 527 

PAGE 100. John Jordan He will be chiefly remem 
bered for his forgery of the so-called "will" of John 
Shakespeare ; l but his Original Collections on Shakespeare 
and Stratford-on-Avon and Historical Accounts of the 
Families of Shakespeare and Hart (both published about 
1780) contain much other matter that is more or less 

Other Shakespearian forgeries that have been the 
source of no little trouble and vexation to biographers 
and editors may be briefly mentioned here. In 1796 
William Henry Ireland published a volume of forged 
matter under the title of Miscellaneous Papers and Legal 
Instruments under the Hand and Seal of William Shake 
speare, etc. His father, Samuel Ireland, seems to have 
been a partner in the fraud. The son wrote a tragedy 
in blank verse, entitled Vortigern, which he pretended to 
have found among the dramatist's manuscripts. It was 
produced at Drury Lane Theatre and afterwards printed. 
The forgeries were exposed by Malone, and young Ire 
land in 1805 acknowledged them in his Confessions. 

John Payne Collier, an editor and critic who had done 
much excellent work on Shakespeare, was guilty of a 
series of forgeries between 1835 and 1849 which for 
a time deceived many of his critical contemporaries, but 
were subsequently exposed by Hamilton, Ingleby, Wheat- 
ley, and others. For a list of the more important of the 
forged papers, see the appendix to the Life of the drama- 

1 This was really what purported to be a long confession of faith, 
dictated (for it could not have been written) by " John Shakespear, 
an unworthy member of the Holy Catholick religion." According 
to Jordan in 1784, " it was found by Mr. Joseph Mosely, a brick 
layer of this town [Stratford] some years ago under the tileing of 
the house where the poet was born." Investigations made by Malone 
and others proved beyond a doubt that it was spurious. 


Life of Shakespeare 

tist in vol. i. of Dyce's third edition of Shakespeare, or 
Sidney Lee's Life of Shakespeare (pp. 367-369). For 
fuller information the books mentioned in the Bibliog 
raphy (p. 516 above) may be consulted. 

PAGE 105. Shakespeare and the Puritans. Shake 
speare's allusions to the Puritans are few and slight. 
In AlVs Well (i. 3. 56, 98) the Clown says, in substance, 
that both Puritan and Papist are liable to be cuckolded, 
and again that "honesty" is "no Puritan." In* The 
Winter's Tale (iv. 3. 46) the Clown refers to the psalm- 
singing of Puritans. The passage in Pericles (iv. 6. 9), 
" She would make a Puritan of the devil," is not Shake 
speare's. In Twelfth Night (ii. 3. 152) Malvolio is not 
meant to be a Puritan, as many editors and commenta 
tors have assumed. Maria says that " sometimes he is 
a kind of Puritan," that is, somewhat like a Puritan; 
but when Andrew and Toby take her to mean that he is 
one, she denies it : " The devil a Puritan that he is, or 
anything constantly but a time-pleaser." In the same 
play (iii. 2. 34) Andrew says, " I had as lief be a Brown- 
ist as a politician." These are the only allusions to the 
sect in the plays, and they are all put into the mouths of 
clowns or a fool worse than the clowns. In 1 Henry IV. 
(ii. 4) Falstaff mimics a Puritan when he plays the part 
of the King lecturing Prince Hal. Malvolio never talks 
like one. 

PAGE 129. Richard Field. Another person with 
whom Shakespeare may have become acquainted during 
his early days in London was John Florio, the most 
celebrated teacher of Italian in that time. After leaving 
Magdalen College, Oxford, he lived for many years in 
London, engaged in teaching and in literary work, and 
was intimate with most of the eminent men of letters 



and their noble patrons. The Earl of Southampton was 
one of his pupils in Italian, and to him (in connection 
with the Earl of Rutland and the Countess of Bed 
ford) Florio, in 1598, dedicated his Italian-English 
dictionary entitled A Worlde of Wordes. After the 
accession of James he was made tutor to Prince Henry, 
and became the friend and favourite of Queen Anne, 
to whom he dedicated the second edition of the Worlde 
of Wordes. 

PAGE 149. Greene and Chettle. Most of the editors 
and commentators have followed Malone in assuming 
that Greene refers to Shakespeare both as an actor and 
as an author, and this may be admitted. It is generally 
agreed that "beautified with our feathers" alludes to 
acting, though some regard it as insinuating plagia 
rism ; but " bombast out a blank verse " (which, taken 
by itself, might refer to declaiming verse on the 
stage) appears from the context to mean the writing 
of such verse. The words, "as the best of you," are 
evidently addressed to the dramatists, who, though they 
may all have been actors at some time in their lives, 
are here viewed by Greene as authors. The " Jo 
hannes Factotum" also indicates that Shakespeare is 
alluded to in some other capacity than that of a mere 

The critics, almost without exception, believe that the 
" other " of the two persons who, as Chettle says, were 
offended by Greene's attack, was Shakespeare, though 
the reference, on the face of it, seems to be to one of the 
three playwrights whom Greene addresses. Fleay be 
lieves that Chettle " apologizes for the offence given to 
Marlowe in the Groatsworih of Wit. To Peele he makes 
no apology, nor indeed was any required. Shakespeare 


Life of Shakespeare 

was not one of those who took offence ; they are ex 
pressly stated to have been two of the three authors 
addressed by Greene, the third (Lodge) not being in 
England." Dr. Ingleby also doubts whether Chettle 
refers to Shakespeare, if we take his words as they stand. 
A writer in the Aihenceum (February 7, 1874) contends 
that the two who took offence were Marlowe and Nash. 
He regards it as certain that " Shakespeare was not one 
of them." 

A careful scrutiny of the whole passage, however, in 
dicates that Shakespeare is the " other " one meant. The 
person is complimented first upon his acting (the inter 
pretation that all give to "the qualitie he professes"), 
and the reference to his " facetious [felicitous] grace in 
writing " comes in at the end of the passage as a part of 
the credit accorded to him by " divers of worship." It 
is quite certain that Chettle would not refer in that way 
to Marlowe or any other of Greene's three dramatists, 
all of whom had established their reputation as authors. 
It would be damning them with faint praise, but it was 
no slight compliment to the 'prentice work of Shake 
speare, who, after retouching old plays for the stage, 
was only just beginning to try his hand at original 
dramatic composition. The " qualitie he professes " 
clearly suggests that acting was the regular profession, 
or occupation, of the person referred to, and this was not 
true of Marlowe, Peele, or Lodge. At that time they 
would have regarded it as anything but a compliment to 
be included among the " puppets " at whom Greene had 
sneered as noteworthy merely for being beautified with 
our feathers." 

PAGE 150. Quum inscrutabilia, etc. The misprint 
of " Quum " for " Quam " is probably in the original 

Notes 53 1 

-work, as it appears in Halliwell-Phillipps's careful re 
print, which is followed here. 

PAGE 170. The shortest of the plays. Writers on 
Shakespeare often give inaccurate and conflicting state 
ments concerning the length of the plays. Sidney Lee, 
in his Life of Shakespeare, says that Hamlet is the longest 
" except Antony and Cleopatra, which exceeds it by sixty 
lines." Hamlet is almost 900 lines longer than Antony 
and Cleopatra, having 3930 lines (" Globe " numbering) 
while that has only 3063. This error dates back to 
Fleay's tables in the Transactions of the New Shakspere 
Society, 1874-76, and was repeated in Fleay's Manual, 
1878. He corrected it in 1881, but its frequent reap 
pearance since that time illustrates the persistent vitality 
of misprints. Mr. Lee also says that The Tempest is the 
shortest of the plays except Macbeth and The Two Gentle 
men of Verona', and elsewhere he calls Macbeth the 
"shortest of all Shakespeare's plays." The Two Gentle 
men of Verona has 2294 lines, being longer than A Mid 
summer-Night's Dream (2180). 

PAGE 197. Lodge's poem. Baynes alludes to Lodge's 
tale of Glaucus and Sylla, which Professor Minto sug 
gested as the probable model of Shakespeare's Venus and 
Adonis. Lodge's poem was probably the earlier of the 
two, but I doubt whether Shakespeare was indebted 
to it. 

PAGE 232. Francis Meres. He was born in Lincoln 
shire in 1565, and died in 1647. He was a clergyman 
and author. He graduated at Pembroke College, Cam 
bridge, became rector of Wing, Rutland, and kept school 
there. His Palladis Tamia, or Wits Treasury (1598) was 
his most important work. It contains notices of about 
125 English authors, painters, musicians, etc. 


Life of Shakespeare 

PAGE 238. Henry V. It is proper to state that por 
tions of the comments on this play were originally con 
tributed without my name to an edition of Shakespeare, 
published in England about fifteen years ago. 

PAGE 295. Value of money in Shakespeare's day 

The purchasing power of money in the Elizabethan age 
is variously stated as from seven to twelve times what it 
is at present. Of course it varied much with different 
classes of commodities. Some articles cost as much in 
money then as now ; others were much more than twelve 
times cheaper. Sidney Lee is probably about right in 
making the average value eight times what it is at 

PAGE 386. The trade of Noverint. The profession 
of law ; alluding to the beginning of legal documents in 
Latin: " Noverint universi per presentes," etc. ("Know 
all men by these presents," etc.). 

The " neck-verse " mentioned a few lines below refers 
to the old English "benefit of clergy," by which the 
clergy were exempted from criminal process before a 
secular judge. This privilege came to be extended, for 
many offences, to all laymen who could read ; and then- 
ability to read was tested by means of a verse from some 
Latin book. 

PAGE 394. S. E. That is, Son Eminence, or His 

PAGE 468. Quiney. The name was pronounced 
Qutn-ny, not Qui-ny. 

PAGE 472. The document was signed. Aside from the 
three signatures of the poet on the sheets of his will, 
the only autographs of indisputable authenticity are his 
signatures to the indenture relating to the Blackfriars 
purchase in 1613 (see p. 460 above), and to the mort- 

Notes 533 

gage -deed connected with the same transaction. The 
former document is in the Guildhall Library, London, 
the latter in the British Museum. A copy of Florio's 
Montaigne in the Museum has Shakespeare's name on the 
fly-leaf, but whether he wrote it is uncertain. Another 
possible autograph was discovered in 1889 in a copy of 
North's Plutarch (1603) on a sheet of paper which had 
been used as a part of the filling of the back in bind 
ing the volume. It is in the Public Library, Boston, 

PAGE 473. Her rights of dower. Sidney Lee says: 
"Her right to a widow's dower that is, to a third 
share for life in freehold estate was not subject to 
testamentary disposition, but Shakespeare had taken 
steps to prevent her from benefiting at any rate to 
the full extent by that legal arrangement. He had 
barred her dower in the case of his latest purchase of 
freehold estate, namely, the house at Blackfriars. Such 
procedure is pretty conclusive proof that he had the in 
tention of excluding her from the enjoyment of his pos 
sessions after his death." But the London property was a 
very small part of Shakespeare's real estate. Moreover, 
it was conveyed to Shakespeare and three other per 
sons as joint tenants, and therefore, according to author 
ity quoted by Mr. Lee, "the dower of Shakespeare's wife 
would be barred unless he were the survivor of the four 
bargainees," which "was a remote contingency," and 
Shakespeare " always retained the power of making an 
other settlement when the trustees were shrinking." 
But if the dower had been absolutely barred in this 
particular instance, it cannot be regarded as " conclusive 
proof" that Shakespeare intended to exclude his wife 
from the enjoyment of his far more valuable possessions 

534 Life of Shakespeare 

in Stratford and its vicinity, concerning which no such 
bar was made. 

Mr. Lee, however, thinks it probable that, so far as 
the poet may have barred the dower, it was because his 
wife's " ignorance of affairs and the infirmities of age (she 
was past sixty) combined to unfit her in his eyes for the 
care of property, and, as an act of ordinary prudence, he 
committed her to the care of his elder daughter," who 
seems to have inherited "some of his own shrewdness, 
and had a capable adviser in her husband." 

PAGE 477. A portrait of the poet. The bust and the 
engraved portrait in the folio of 1623, though both poor 
from an artistic point of view, are the only counterfeit 
presentments of the poet that can be ascribed to a time 
within a few years of his death. The folio portrait was 
the work of Martin Droeshout, who was only fourteen 
years old when Shakespeare died and twenty-one when 
he made the engraving. It is probable that he copied it 
from a painting, and that the latter is now in the Shake 
speare Memorial at Stratford-on-Avon. Experts are con 
fident that the painting is a work of the early part of the 
seventeenth century, and that it was anterior to the en 
graving, not based upon it. Nothing is known of its 
history previous to its discovery in 1840, but the critical 
evidence in its favour is remarkably strong. Artistically 
it is superior to the engraving. 

Of the many other painted portraits the so-called " Ely 
House portrait," now in the Birthplace at Stratford, is the 
only other one that particularly resembles the Droeshout 
engraving or the bust on the monument. Another famous 
one is the Chandos portrait," now in the National Por 
trait Gallery, London, which was once the property of 
Sir William Davenant. According to Oldys, it was 



painted by Burbage the actor, but it is better than any 
authenticated painting by him. It varies in its details 
from the bust and the Droeshout engraving, and was 
probably painted some years after Shakespeare's death 
from descriptions given by persons who had known him, 
but was more or less influenced by the imagination of 
the artist. 

The " Jansen portrait " has a history dating back to 
1770, and is a pleasing picture, but quite unlike those of 
better authority; and the same may be said of the 
"Felton portrait," which is inscribed " Gul. Shakespear 
1597, R. B." (Richard Burbage), but has no pedigree 
earlier than 1792. 

A portrait bust of black terra-cotta was found in 1845 
in a wall on the site of the Duke's Theatre in London, 
built by Davenant. It is supposed to have belonged to 
the theatre. It appears to be an idealized representation 
of the poet, based on the early portraits. 

The Kesselstadt death-mask, found in a junk-shop in 
Mayence in 1849, is one that we could fain believe to 
have been taken from the poet's face, but the evidence in 
its favour is unfortunately insufficient. 

For fuller information the curious reader may be 
referred to Sidney Lee's Life, and particularly to Mr. 
J. P. Norris's Portraits of Shakespeare (p. 514 above), 
the most complete and best illustrated of the special 
works on the subject. 

PAGE 482. He was an earnest Puritan. There is no 
doubt concerning Dr. Hall's religious views, but biog 
raphers and critics have differed widely concerning 
Shakespeare's. Davies (see p. 15) says that " he died a 
papist ; " and Halliwell-Phillipps remarks : " That this 
was the local tradition does not admit of rational ques- 


Life of Shakespeare 

tion. . . . At the same time it is anything but necessary 
to conclude that the great dramatist had very strong or 
pronounced views on theological matters. If that were 
the case, it is almost certain that there would have been 
some other early allusion to them, and perhaps in him 
self less of that spirit of toleration for every kind of 
opinion which rendered him at home with all sorts and 
conditions of men, as well as less of that freedom from 
inflexible preconceptions that might have affected the 
fidelity of his dramatic work. . . . Assuming, as we 
fairly may, that he had a leaning to the faith of his 
ancestors, we may yet be sure that the inclination was 
not of a nature that materially disturbed the easy-going 
acquiescence in the conditions of his surrounding world 
that added so much to the happiness of his later days." 

Books and essays have been written to prove that, as 
Davies had asserted, he was a Roman Catholic, a good 
Churchman, and an infidel. They prove at least that he 
was no narrow or bigoted sectarian who could be easily 
labelled. He was no infidel, and his Christianity was 
too broad to be measured by the foot-rule of any sect. 
His references to religious subjects seem to me proof of 
genuine religious feeling. He was no saint, and no 
preacher ; but when he has occasion to deal with sacred 
things he shows a reverence and a depth of feeling which 
are evidently his own. They are not merely put into the 
mouths of his characters as in keeping therewith ; they 
are subjective and sympathetic. In many instances they 
are not necessary to the character. We should not miss 
them if they were omitted, and an irreligious man would 
have omitted them or, rather, they would not have 
occurred to him. 

Whatever may have been Shakespeare's personal sins 

Notes 537 

or weaknesses, his moral convictions were always sound 
and healthy. On human duty he speaks with no uncer 
tain accent. In his works there is no sophistical confu 
sion of the distinctions between right and wrong. It is 
to be noted, moreover, that " he habitually contemplates 
human duty and the better human feelings as sacred 
things, and invests with sanctity the natural and insti 
tuted relations of life." The paramount duty of living 
for others is often set forth ; but never perhaps more 
eloquently than in Measure for Measure (i. 1. 30-41), 
where the Duke is giving his commission to Angelo : 

" Thyself and thy belongings 
Are not thine own so proper as to waste 
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee. 
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do 
Not light them for themselves ; for if our virtues 
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike 
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd 
But to fine issues ; nor Nature never lends 
The smallest scruple of her excellence 
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines 
Herself the glory of a creditor, 
Both thanks and use." 

Henry Morley, in a criticism on As You Like It, 
speaks of Shakespeare's works as " a Lay Bible ; " and 
they are such, he believes, not by chance, but of set 
purpose. He says : " Shakespeare never allows evil to be 
overcome with evil; he invariably shows evil overcome 
with good, the discords of life healed only by man's love 
to God and his neighbour. Love God ; love your neigh 
bour ; do your work, making the active business of life 
subject to the commandments upon which hang all the 
law and the prophets Shakespeare's works contain no 
lessons that are not subordinate to these. Of dogmatism 


Life of Shakespeare 

he is free, of the true spirit of religion he is full ; and it 
is for this reason that his works are a Lay Bible." 

I may add what Keble, the saintly singer of The 
Christian Year, says of our poet in one of the lectures 
he delivered as professor of poetry at Oxford : " Recollect, 
I beseech you, how you each felt when you read these 
plays for the first time. Do you not remember that all 
along, as the drama proceeded, you were led to take the 
part of whatever good and worthy characters it con 
tained ; and more especially, when you reached the end 
and closed the book, you felt that your inmost heart had 
received a stimulus which was calculated to urge you on 
to virtue ; and to virtue not merely such as is apt, with 
out much reality, to warm and excite the feelings of the 
young, but such as consists in the actual practice of a 
stricter, purer, more upright, more industrious, more 
religious life? We need not hesitate, therefore, to con 
clude that he favoured virtue from his very soul ; more 
especially when we consider how widely different is the 
case with most of his contemporaries who devoted them 
selves, as he did, to writing for the stage." 

PAGE 493. John Heming. The name also appears 
in documents of the time as Hemings or Hemmings (see 
pages 298 and 325 above). In the folio we find Heminge 
in the signatures to the dedication and the preface, but 
Hemmings in the list of " the principall actors in all these 

I may add that in quotations, as a rule, I have 
followed the original spelling of Shakespeare's name 
and that of other proper names, titles of books, etc. 
In old letters, documents, etc., I have followed the 
best accessible authorities. 


A-B-C book, 44. 

Abbott, E. A., quoted, 24. 

Accidence, the school-book, 48. 

Actors: at Stratford, 41, 73; boy- 
companies, 309; adult compa 
nies, 309; incomes of , 293-295. 

Adam, in As You Like It, played 
by Shakespeare, 259. 

Addison, Joseph, 441. 

Ailwin, the Saxon sheriff, 26. 

Alba, Tofte's, quoted, 162. 

Albions England, 409. 

Alcester, 62. 

Allen, Charles, on law in Shake 
speare, 77. 

Alleyn, Edward, 21 (spelling of 
name), 310, 313. 

All for Love, Dryden's, 416. 

All 's Well That Ends Well, 366, 
369, 380, 437, 528. 

Amyot, Bishop, translator of 
Plutarch, 415. 

Anne and Agnes, interchange 
able, 78. 

Anne, Lady, in Richard III., 66. 

Antony and Cleopatra, 414-417, 
418, 437, 526, 531. 

Apollonius and Sylla (or Apolo- 
nius and Silla), 168, 270. 

Arcadia, Sidney's, 168, 410. 

Arden, a district of Warwick 
shire, 57. 

Arden, Agnes, 89, 109.. 

Arden, Edward, 104. 

Arden family, 26, 104. 

Arden, Mary. See Shakespeare, 

Arden, Robert, 25, 29, 89, 290. 

Arden, Thomas, 26. 

Ardens of Alvanley, 290. 

Ariodante and Ginevra, 261. 

Ariosto's I Suppositi, 252; Or 
lando Furioso, 261. 

Arms, Shakespeare's coat of, 

Armyn, Robert, 325. 

As You Like It, 58, 255, 256-260, 
272, 278, 323, 522, 525, 537. 

Asbies (or Ashbies), 26, 108, 110, 
283, 296. 

Ascham, Roger, 46. 

Aston, Cantlowe, 109. 

Aston, Edward, 99. 

Aubrey, John, 13, 14, 88, 463. 

Autographs of Shakespeare, 532. 

Aylesbury, 120. 

Ayrer, Jacob, 425. 

Avon, the river, 59, 100. 

Bacon and Shakespeare, 92, 494. 
Badger, John, 115. 
Banbury, 120. 

Bancroft, Thomas, quoted, 22. 
Bandello's Novelle, 174, 262. 
Baptista Mantuanus, 49. 
Bardsley, C. W., quoted, 19. 
Barnard, Lady. See Hall, Eliza 




Barnard, Sir John, 486. 
Barnes, Barnabe, 362. 
Barnet, battlefield of, 67. 
Barnfield, Richard, 220, 336. 
Barnum, P. T., 522. 
Bartholomew Fair, quoted, 161. 
Bartlett, John, his Concordance, 

Baynes, Thomas S., quoted, 55, 

68, 102, 113, 213, 418, 523, 531. 
Beauchamp, Richard, 66. 
Beaumont, Francis, 2, 74 (quoted). 
Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques, 

262, 387. 

Betrothal, or pre-contract, 86-92. 
Betterton, Thomas, 8, 131, 441, 521. 
Bibliography of Shakespeare, 491, 


Bidford challenge, 100, 525. 
Bird, Dr. John, quoted, 481. 
Birthplace, Shakespeare's, 37^0. 
Black, William, the novelist, 468. 
Blackfriars, Shakespeare's pur 
chase of house in, 460, 533. 
Blackfriars Theatre, 1, 281, 298, 

Blackstone, Sir William, quoted, 


Blades, William, quoted, 129. 
Blount, Edward, 493. 
Blurt, Master Constable, 167. 
Boaden, James, quoted, 23. 
Boar's Head Tavern, 127. 
Boccaccio, 422. 
Boisteau, Pierre, 174. 
Boswell, James, 425. 
Bosworth Field, 67, 69, 181. 
Boyle, Robert, quoted, 450. 
Brae, A. E., 366. 
Brewer, J. N., quoted, 102. 
Bright, B. H., 348. 
Brinsley, John, 50. 
British Magazine, quoted, 100. 
Brooke, Arthur, 174. 
Browning, Robert, quoted, 333. 

Bruce, spelling of the name, 21. 

Brut, Layamon's, 409. 

Buck, Sir George, 429. 

Bucklersbury, 127. 

Bull Theatre, 40, 228. 

Burbage, James, 135, 137, 139, 141, 

Burbage, Richard, 141, 181, 192, 

298, 321, 324, 535. 
Burghley, Lord, 113, 144, 352. 

Caldwell, G. S., 363. 

Camden, William, 409, 418. 

Campbell, Lord, on law in Shake 
speare, 77, 85 (quoted). 

Campbell, Thomas, quoted, 265, 
416, 423. 

Campeggio, Cardinal, 307. 

Canterbury Tales, 258. 

Capell, Edward, 452. 

Cartwright's Shakespeare and 
Ben Jonson, quoted, 323. 

Castle, William, 15, 135. 

Caxton, William, 377. 

Chalmers, Alexander, 447. 

Chamberlain, The Lord, his Com 
pany of Players, 226, 350. 

Chandler, William, 469. 

Chapel, Children of the, 309, 318. 

Chapman, George, 319, 362, 378. 

Charlecote Park, 94. 

Charles I., 5. 

Charles II., 259. 

Charles the Bold, 371. 

Chaucer, 2, 122, 189, 207, 210, 258, 

Chester, Robert, his Love's Mar 
tyr, 214. 

Chettle, Henry, 140, 153, 377, 529. 

Chipping Norton, 121. 

Cholmondeley, spelling of, 21. 

Cibber, Colley, 130. 

Cinthio, Giraldi, 370, 390. 

Clarke, Charles Cowden, quoted, 


Clayton, John, 299. 
Cleopatra, Daniel's, 415. 
Clopton, Edward, 487. 
Clopton, Sir Hugh (1), 117, 286. 
Clopton, Sir Hugh (2), 287, 486. 
Clopton, Sir John, 286, 487. 
Cobham, Lord, 231. 
Coke, Chief Justice, 468, 473. 
Cokes Tale of Gamelyn, The, 


Colbrand, the Saracen, 70. 
Coleridge, Hartley, 248, 369. 
Coleridge, S. T., quoted, 170, 175, 

185, 200, 201, 219, 378, 396, 414, 

415, 451. 
Collier, John Payne, quoted, 197, 

385, 452, 495, 499, 516, 527. 
Collins, Francis, 47. 
Collins, William, 425. 
Combe, John, 462. 
Combe, William, and the land 

enclosures, 463-468. 
Comedy of Errors, 125, 169, 187, 

191, 269, 426. 
Comus, quoted, 124. 
Condell, Henry, 298, 325, 349, 493. 
Constable, Henry, 335. 
Contention betwixt Yorke and 

Lancaster, The, 157, 159. 
Cook, Robert, 288. 
Cooke, James, 481, 484. 
Corbet, Bishop, quoted, 181. 
Coriolanus, 412, 418. 
Cotsall, or Cotswold, 524. 
Coventry, 17, 18, 70. 
Cowley, Richard, 325, 498. 
Cradle of Security, The, 42. 
Craik, G. L., 251, 276, 277, 366, 496. 
Crosby Hall, 127. 
Crosse, Henry, quoted, 296. 
Crown Inn, at Oxford, 123. 
Curtain Theatre, 136, 138, 141, 143, 

307, 311, 315. 
ymbeline, 185, 258, 278, 420-423, 


Cymbeline, King, 66. 
Cynthia's Revels, 317. 

Daniel, P. A. quoted, 173. 
Daniel, Samuel, 317, 334, 335, 336, 

362, 415. 

Davenant, John, 123. 
Davenant, Sir William, 123, 130, 

441, 534, 535. 
Davies, John, of Hereford, 209, 

260, 334. 

Davies, Rev. Richard, 15, 95, 96. 
Davies, Sir John, 133, 274. 
Davies, Thomas, quoted, 489. 
Davison, Francis, 355. 
Day, John, 445. 
De Quincey, Thomas, quoted, 

36, 85. 

Decameron, The, 422. 
Dekker, Thomas, 316, 318, 377. 
Delius, Nikolaus, 157, 333, 445. 
Delia Corte, Girolamo, quoted, 


Dennis, John, 246. 
Derby, Earl of, his Company of 

Players, 148. 
Desdemona, derivation of the 

name, 48. 
Dethick, William, the herald, 


Diana, de Montemayor's, 167. 
Digges, Leonard, 281, 506. 
Donne, John, 274. 
Donnelly, Ignatius, 494. 
Dorastus and Fawnia, 431. 
Dover, 119. 

Dowdall, John, 15, 475. 
Dowden, Prof. Edward, quoted, 

24, 106, 161, 166, 176, 201, 223, 251, 

252, 323, 331, 334, 346, 362, 366, 

370, 382, 420, 450. 
Downes, John, quoted, 136. 
Drake, Nathan, quoted, 171, 422. 
Drayton, Michael, quoted, 56, 
124, 333, 362, 474. 



Droeshout, Martin, 534. 
Drummond of Hawthornden, 316, 


Dryden, John, 416, 441. 
Dugdale, Sir William, 12, 71, 475, 


Diirer, Albert, 380. 
Dyce, Alexander, quoted, 342, 

437, 451, 499, 528. 

Eastcheap, 127. 

Eastward Hoe, 181, 319. 

Editions of Shakespeare, Early 
American, 510; Folio, 493; 
Modern, 508; Poems and Son 
nets, 510; Quarto, 491; Vario 
rum, 509. 

Education of Shakespeare, 44. 

Edward I., 307. 

Edward II., 185. 

Edward III., 452. 

Edward VI., and the Stratford 
Grammar School, 45. 

Edward, Prince of Wales, son of 
Henry VI., 66. 

Eedes, Richard, 275. 

Emerson, R. W., quoted, 216. 

Elizabeth, Queen, 31, 64, 122, 183, 
192, 195, 225, 245, 248, 274, 286, 
324, 350, 363, 447, 455. 

Ellacombe, H. N., his Plant-lore 
of Shakespeare, 61. 

Ely House, 125. 

Elze, Friedrich Karl, quoted, 4, 
20, 28, 92, 132. 

Essex, Earl of, 184, 237. 

Evans, Sir Hugh, 48, 54. 

Every Man in His Humour, 255, 
260, 307. 

Every Man Out of His Humour, 

Evesham, battle of, 63. 

Fabyan, Robert, 409. 
Fair Rosamond, 122. 

Faire Em, 454. 
Falcon Tavern, 75, 126. 
Falstaff, 235, 245, 248. 
Farmer, Richard, 366. 
Faustus, Marlowe's, 180. 
Feldon, a district of Warwick' 

shire, 57. 

Felix and Philomena, 167. 
Feltham, Owen, 440. 
Feme, Sir John, 288. 
Fidessa, Griffin's, 219. 
Field, Henry, 129. 
Field, Richard, 129, 199, 295, 335. 
Fiorentino, Giovanni, 228, 250. 
Fire of London in 1666, 75. 
Fitton, Mary, 350. 
Fitton, Anne, 351. 
Fleay, F. G., quoted, 179, 223, 251, 

322, 366, 404, 436, 439, 444, 529. 
Fletcher, George, quoted, 406. 
Fletcher, John, 448, 450. 
Fletcher, Lawrence, 324. 
Florio, John, 528. 
Folio editions of Shakespeare, 


Forest of Arden, 57, 256. 
Forgeries, Shakespearian, 527. 
Forman, Dr. Simon, quoted, 98, 

184, 400, 420, 430. 
Fortune Theatre, 313, 315. 
French, G. R., quoted, 21. 
Frolicsome Duke, The, 253. 
Froude, J. A., quoted, 104. 
Fuller, Thomas, 12. 
Furness, Dr. Horace Howard, 

258, 269, 388, 390. 
Furness, Mrs. H. H., 24. 
Furnivall, Dr. F. J., quoted, 163, 

180, 202, 225, 240, 250, 266, 340, 

346, 362, 364, 374, 432, 445, 453. 

Gairdner's Houses of Lancaster 

and York, quoted, 69. 
Garrick Jubilee, 39, 522. 
Gascoigne, George, 21, 222. 



Gastrell, Rev. Francis, 488. 
Gawsworth Church, 351. 
Gentleman's Magazine, quoted, 


Geoffrey of Monmouth, 409. 
George, Duke of Clarence, 57. 
Gerard, John, 125, 136. 
Gervinus, G. G., quoted, 266, 276, 


Gesta Grayorum, quoted, 169. 
Gesta jRomanorum, 227, 439. 
Ghost in Hamlet, played by 

Shakespeare, 260. 
Gifford, William, quoted, 322, 


Gildon, Charles, 246. 
Glauciis and Sylla, Lodge's, 531. 
Globe Theatre, 5, 126, 138, 298, 

306, 313, 315, 325, 448, 461. 
Godfrey of Viterbo, 439. 
Godwin, Parke, 363. 
Godwin, William, quoted, 442. 
Goethe on Hamlet, 389. 
Goff , Thomas, 452. 
Golding, Arthur, translator of 

Ovid, 189, 199. 
Gollancz, Israel, quoted, 347, 349, 


Gosson, Stephen, 228, 275. 
Gower's Confessio Amantis, 439. 
Grammar School, the Stratford, 


Gray's Inn Hall, 127. 
Great St. Helen's, 128. 
Greek, Shakespeare's knowledge 

of, 47. 

Greene, Rev. Joseph, 79. 
Greene, Robert, 22, 149-157, 294, 

386, 431, 529. 
Greene, Thomas, town-clerk of 

Stratford, 464. 
Greenway, the Stratford carrier, 


Grendon Underwood, 15. 
Griffin, Bartholomew, 219, 336. 

Groatsivorth of Wit, Greene's, 

149, 294, 529. 
Guido di Colonna, 378. 
Guild, the Stratford, 45, 304. 
Guy of Warwick, 70. 

Hales, Prof. J. W., quoted, 2, 47. 

Hall, Elizabeth, 457, 483, 485-488. 

Hall, Dr. John, 20, 298, 455, 476, 
480-484, 535. 

Hall, Mrs. Susanna, 93; 455, 460, 

Hall, William, 354. 

Hallam, Henry, 382, 442, 451. 

Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O., quoted, 
3, 9, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22, 28, 32, 33, 
36, 40, 79, 92, 107, 111, 112, 123, 
132, 133, 135, 146, 179, 209, 217, 
261, 296, 297, 385, 457, 459, 465, 
474, 488, 535. 

Halls of Acton, 455. 

Hamblet, Hystorie of, 387. 

Hamlet, 72, 141, 185, 245, 260, 275, 
278, 310, 384-391, 426, 525, 531. 

Hamlet's Note-Book, 363. 

Hanmer, Thomas, 168. 

Harsnet, Samuel, 409. 

Hart, Mrs. Joan, 35, 460, 473. 

Hart, William, 362, 460, 470. 

Hathaway, Anne. See Shake 
speare, Anne. 

Hathaway Cottage, Anne, 79 fol., 

Hathaway, Richard, 78, 83. 

Hatton, Sir Christopher, 274. 

Hawthorne, quoted, 272. 

Haywarde, Sir John, 183. 

Hazlitt, William, 279, 413. 

Hecatommithi, Cinthio's, 370, 

Hector of Germanic, quoted, 98. 

Heming (or Hemings), John, 298, 
325, 326, 349, 493, 538. 

Heneage, Sir Thomas, 24. 

Henrietta Maria, Queen, 486. 



Henry TIL, 64. 

Henry IV. Part I., 185, 230-236, 528. 

Henry IV. Part II., 97, 185, 231, 

236, 278, 532. 

Henry V. at Kenilworth, 64. 
Henry V., 67, 72, 103, 138, 231, 237- 

245, 255, 278, 532. 
Henry V., The Famous Victories 

of, 231. 
Henry VI., Part I., 67, 125, 156, 

157, 176, 180, 191, 278, 435. 
Henry VI., Parts II. and III., 

156, 157, 176, 180, 191, 278, 435. 
Henry VII. , 67, 289. 
Henry VIII., 71. 
Henry VIII., 5, 255, 307, 367, 435, 

Henslowe, Philip, 156, 159, 227, 

306, 387. 
Heptameron of Civil Discourses, 

Whetstone's, 371. 
Herbert, Henry, 429. 
Herbert, Philip, Earl of Mont 
gomery, 349, 505. 

Herbert, William, Earl of Pem 
broke, 326, 348, 505. 
Herford, C. H., quoted, 436. 
Hero and Leander, Marlowe's, 

203, 257. 

Herod, in the old plays, 72. 
Hertzberg, W., 251, 366. 
Heywood, Thomas, 210, 218. 
High Wycombe, 123. 
Historia Britonum, 409. 
Historia Danica, 388. 
Histriomastix, 22, 317, 321. 
Holinshed's Chronicles, 96, 179, 

184, 225, 405, 409, 422. 
Holland, Hugh, 506. 
Holmes, Nathaniel, 363. 
Holofernes, 47, 49. 
Hosmer, Judge H. L., on the 

Sonnets, 363. 

Hudson, Rev. H. N., 391, 451. 
Hughes, William, 363. 

Humorous Day's Mirth, Chap 
man's, 167. 

Hundred Merry Tales, A, 98. 
Hunt, Thomas, 46, 82. 
Hunter, Rev. Joseph, 366, 397. 

Inganni, GV, 269. 
Ingannati, GV, 269. 
Ingeland, Thomas, quoted, 53. 
Ingleby, C. M., quoted, 465, 530. 
Ireland forgeries, 527. 
Ireland, Samuel, quoted, 81, 102. 
Iter Boreale, Corbet's, 181. 

Jack Drum's Entertainment, 309. 
Jaggard, Isaac, 493. 
Jaggard, William, 218, 335, 493. 
James I., 23, 125, 148, 247, 315, 319, 

324-327, 400, 424, 455, 488. 
Jameson, Mrs. Anna C., quoted, 

264, 267, 417. 

Jew of Malta, Marlowe's, 180. 
Jew, The, old play of, 228. 
John, King, 44, 192, 223. 
John, The Troublesome Raigne 

of King, 224, 225. 
Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 15, 131, 133, 

157, 422. 

Johnson (or Jansen), Gerard, 476. 
Jonson, Ben, 6, 22, 47, 74, 100, 161, 

215, 219, 236, 255, 260, 274, 281, 

307, 316, 318, 319, 321, 440, 447, 

Jordan, John, the forger, 100, 

131, 527. 

Jourdan, Silvester, quoted, 424. 
Judith Shakespeare, Black's, 468. 
Julius Ccesar, 274-282, 322, 437. 

Katherine of Arragon, 307. 
Keble, John, quoted, 538. 
Keightley, Thomas, 438. 
Kemp, William, 192, 294, 321, 351, 

403, 498. 
Kenilworth Castle, 63-65. 



Kind-Harts Dreame, Chettle's, 

140, 153. 
King's Players, The, 148, 315, 455, 


Kirke, Colonel, 371. 
Klein, J. L., on Hamlet, 390. 
Knight, Charles, quoted, 132, 157, 

160, 199, 367, 385. 
Knightes Tale, Chaucer's, 189. 
Kyd, Thomas, 161. 

Lcelia and GV Ingannati, 270. 

Lamb, Charles, 258, 451. 

Lambarde, William, 140, 183. 

Lambert, Edmund, 32, 283. 

Lambert, John, 32, 283. 

Lane, Edward W., 253. 

Lane, Nicholas, 110. 

Laneham, Robert, quoted, 64. 

Lang, Andrew, quoted and cor 
rected, 49. 

Langbaine, Gerard, 160. 

Laquei Ridiculosi, quoted, 294. 

Latin, Shakespeare's knowledge 
of, 47. 

Law, Shakespeare's knowledge 
of, 77. 

Layamon's Brut, 409. 

Lear, 21, 117, 399, 408-414, 420, 443, 

Lee, Jane, on Henry VI. plays, 

Lee, Sidney, Life of Shakespeare, 
16; quoted, 93, 184, 192,227, 288, 
295, 322, 335, 337, 351, 353, 355, 
359, 361, 362, 363, 391, 443, 451, 
453, 528, 531, 532, 533. 

LeFevre, Raoul, 377. 

Legende of Goode Women, 
Chaucer's, 189, 210. 

Leicester's Company of Players, 
137, 147, 148. 

Leicester, Robert Dudley, Earl 
of, 64, 148. 

Leir, King, the old play, 409. 

Lilly, William, his Latin Gram 
mar, 49. 

Lintot, Bernard, 222. 
Locrine, 442, 507. 

Lodge, Thomas, 58, 257, 317, 387. 
London in Shakespeare's time, 

74-76, 124-128. 

London Prodigal, The, 507. 
Longfellow, H. W., 411. 
Lover's Complaint, A, 213, 222, 

Love's Labour's Lost, 47, 49, 58, 72, 

162-167, 187, 191, 210, 220, 348, 356, 

437, 501, 503. 

Love's Labour's Won, 232, 366. 
Love's Martyr, Chester's, 215. 
Lowell, James Russell, quoted, 

178, 424. 

Lowndes, W. T., 221, 517. 
Lucian's Timon, 437. 
Lucrece, 13, 21, 129, 194, 199, 205, 

210, 296, 331, 335, 339. 
Lucy, Lady Joyce, epitaph of, 98. 
Lucy, Sir Thomas, 94-99, 103-106, 


Luddington, 47, 79, 82. 
Lydgate, John, 210, 377. 

Mabbe, James, 506. 
Macaulay, T. B., 371, 393. 
Macbeth, 185,258,400-408,420,426. 
Mackay, Charles, quoted, 20. 
Madden, Hon. D. H., 524. 
Malcontent, The, 319. 
Malone, Edmund, quoted, 13, 199, 

214, 403, 423, 429, 438, 476, 527. 
Manningham, John, his Diary, 


Mantuan, The, 49. 
Marlowe, Christopher, 2, 21, 152. 

158, 179, 180, 185, 203, 251, 257, 

336, 362, 529. 
Marston, John, 181, 215, 316, 317, 

318, 319. 
Martin, Richard, 274. 



Massey, Gerald, quoted, 352, 359. 
Massinger, Philip, 2, 397, 450, 452. 
Masuccio di Salerno, 174. 
Mauley, Lord, 292. 
Measure for Measure, 91, 327, 366, 

368, 370-374, 537. 

Mencechmi, Plautus's, 169, 269. 
Menaphon, Robert Greene's, 386. 
Merchant of Venice, The, 192, 226- 


Mercia, Kingdom of, 63. 
Meres, Francis, 232, 257, 261, 269, 

328, 334, 336, 452, 531. 
Mermaid Tavern, 74. 
Merrick, Sir Gilly, 184. 
Merry Devil of Edmonton, The, 

quoted, 97. 
Merry Wives of Windsor, The, 

48, 58, 72, 75, 97, 106, 126, 245-250, 

397, 523. 

Middle Temple Hall, 127, 272-274. 
Middleton, Thomas, 2, 403. 
Midsummer -Night's Dream, A, 

14, 58, 65, 186, 189-191, 203, 326, 

412, 523, 531. 
Miles Standish, Longfellow's, 


Milton, John, 58, 507, 522. 
Minto, Professor, quoted, 334, 


Mirror of Martyrs, quoted, 274. 
Mirrourfor Magistrates, 409. 
Money in Shakespeare's day, 295, 


Montemayor, Jorge de, 167. 
Montfort, Simon de, 63. 
More, Sir Thomas, 127, 179. 
Morgann, Maurice, on Falstaff, 

235, 249. 

Morley, Henry, quoted, 537. 
Mount Tabor, Willis's, quoted, 


Mucedorus, 454. 
Much Ado About Nothing, 14, 255, 

260-268, 272, 323, 339, 336. 

Mulberry-tree at New Place, 488. 
Munday, Anthony, 317. 

Nancy, used for Anne and Agnes, 

Nash, Anthony, 485. 

Nash, Edward, 487. 

Nash, John, 485. 

Nash, Thomas, husband of Eliza 
beth Hall, 8, 37, 483, 485. 

Nash, Thomas, the dramatist, 
154, 156, 362, 386. 

Neville, Richard, the "king 
maker," 63. 

New Place, 3, 6, 23, 62, 286, 296, 

Newdigate, John, 351. 

Newdigate - Newdegate, Lady, 

Newes out of Purgatorie, quoted, 
144, 250. 

Newington Butts Theatre, 306. 

Newton, Dr. Thomas, 131. 

Nicholson, Brinsley, quoted, 323. 

Nine Days' Wonder, Kemp's, 

Nine Worthies, The, 72, 163. 

Northampton, Mary, Countess 
of, 24. 

Northbrooke, Rev. John, 138. 

North British Review, quoted, 

North's Plutarch, 189, 276, 415, 
418, 502. 

Noverint, trade of, 532. 

Oberon, 65. 

O'Connor, W. D., on the Sonnets, 

Oechelhauser, W., on Richard 

III., 181. 
Oldcastle, Sir John, the original 

Falstaff, 231. 
Old St. Paul's, 127. 
Oldys, William, 259, 534. 



Ophelia, origin of name, 48. 
Othello, 323, 327, 370, 392-399, 420, 


Ovid, 129, 147, 189, 199, 211. 
Oxford, Shakespeare at, 123. 
Oxford students as poachers, 

97, 98. 

Painter (or Paynter), William, 
368, 437. 

Palladia Tamia, Meres's, 232, 
257, 261, 328, 531. 

Pandosto, Greene's, 431. 

Pappe with an Hatchet, quoted, 

Parasitaster, quoted, 181. 

Paris Garden, 126, 140. 

Parry, Dr., the conspirator, 104. 

Passionate Pilgrim, The, 217-221, 
328, 358, 363. 

Paul's, Children of, 309. 

Peachman, Henry, quoted, 45, 52. 

Pecorone, II, Giovanni Floren 
tine's, 228, 250. 

Peele, George, 152, 529. 

Pembroke, Countess of, 415. 

Pembroke, William, Earl of, his 
Players, 251. 

Penniman, J. H., quoted, 320. 

Pepys, Samuel, 371. 

Pericles, 435, 437-446, 507, 528. 

Petrarch, 361. 

Philipps, Thomas, 304. 

Phillips, Augustine, 298, 325. 

Phillips, Edward, quoted, 12. 

Phoenix and Turtle, The, 213-217, 

Pickt-hatch, in London, 127. 

Plague at Stratford, 40; at Lon 
don, 198, 308, 312, 315, 325, 326. 

Plant-lore of Shakespeare, Ella- 
combe's, quoted, 61. 

Plautus and The Comedy of Er 
rors, 169 ; Twelfth Night, 269. 

Plays, religious, 70. 

Plutarch, Sir Thomas North's, 
189, 276, 415, 418, 437, 502. 

Poaching tradition, 94-98, 523. 

Poems, Shakespeare's (1640), 221, 

Poems, Shakespeare's (1709), 221. 

Poetaster, Ben Jonson's, 274, 316, 

Polydoron, The, quoted, 19. 

Poly-Olbion, Drayton's, 56, 124. 

Pope, Alexander, 15, 246, 274, 438, 

Porto, Luigi da, and Romeo and 
Juliet, 174. 

Portraits of Shakespeare, 534. 

Prior, Matthew, 274. 

Procter, Bryan Waller ("Barry 
Cornwall "), 443. 

Promos and Cassandra, Whit- 
stone's, 370. 

Puritan, The, 439. 

Puritanism, 4, 105, 308-315 (oppo 
sition to the theatre), 461, 528. 

Puritan Widow, The, 507. 

Quartos, The early, 491. 

Queen's Company of Players, 41, 

Quiney, Adrian, 34, 302. 

Quiney, Elizabeth, 304. 

Quiney, Richard, 300-304, 468. 

Quiney, Thomas, husband of 
Judith Shakespeare, 20, 80, 305, 
468,532; his children, 470. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 363. 
Ralph Roister Doister, 53. 
Ratseis Ghost, 293. 
Ravenscroft, Edward, on Titus 

Andronicus, 160. 
Reed, Edwin, quoted, 522. 
Rehearsal, Buckingham's 274. 
Return from Parnassus, The, 294, 

320, 323. 
Reynolds, John, quoted, 97. 



Richard II., 182-186, 191, 223, 238, 

Richard III., 66, 126, 128, 170, 176- 
182, 191, 278. 

Richardson, John, 83, 93. 

Riche, Barnaby, 270. 

Robert of Gloucester, 409. 

Rogers, Philip, 299. 

Romeo and Juliet, 172-176, 191, 
334, 376. 

Romeus and Juliet, Arthur 
Brooke's, 174. 

Rosalynde, Lodge's, 58, 257. 

Rose Theatre, 306. 

Rowe, Nicholas, his Life of Shake 
speare, 8, 94, 133, 245, 260, 296, 307, 
462, 475; his edition of Shake 
speare, 438, 508. 

Rowley, Samuel, 447. 

Rowley, William, and Pericles, 

Ruskin, John, quoted, 48. 

Sackerson, the bear, 126. 
Sandells, Fulk, 83, 93. 
Satiromastix, 317, 318. 
Saxo Grammaticus, 388. 
Schlegel, A. W., quoted, 170. 
Schmidt, Alexander, 24, 267. 
Schoole of Abuse, Gosson's, 


Scott, Edward, 465. 
Scott, Sir Walter, quoted, 63, 65, 

Scourge of Folly, John Davies's, 


Scourge of Villanie, 181, 317. 
Sentential Pueriles, 48. 
Sevin, Adrian, 174. 
Shakespeare, the name of, 17-24. 
Shakespeare, Anne, the poet's 

sister, 107. 
Shakespeare, Mrs. Anne, 78, 82, 85, 

472, 478, 533. 
Shakespeare, Edmund, 107, 456. 

Shakespeare, Gilbert, 24, 107, 259, 

Shakespeare, Hamnet, 93, 286. 

Shakespeare, Henry, the poet's 
uncle, 25, 60, 286. 

Shakespeare, Joan (1), 35. 

Shakespeare, Joan (2). See Hart, 
Mrs. Joan. 

Shakespeare, John, 21, 25, 26, 30- 
35, 37-41, 65, 73, 107-114, 129, 283, 
291, 304, 305. 

Shakespeare, John, the shoe 
maker, 111. 

Shakespeare, Judith, 80, 93, 305, 
468, 470, 471. 

Shakespeare, Margaret, 35. 

Shakespeare, Mary (nee Arden), 
26-30, 35, 108, 109, 283, 291, 457. 

Shakespeare, Richard, the poet's 
brother, 107, 460. 

Shakespeare, Richard, the poet's 
grandfather, 25. 

Shakespeare, Susanna. See Hall, 
Mrs. Susanna. 

Shakespeare, Thomas, the poet's 
uncle, 25. 

Shakespeare, William (for his 
works see under their respect 
ive titles); his birth, 1, 36; 
infancy, 40; at school, 44 fol.; 
his homes, 55; Warwickshire 
education, 57 fol.; at Kenil- 
worth (?), 65; London educa 
tion, 74 fol.; marriage, 78 fol.; 
betrothal (?), 86 fol. ; birth of 
children, 93; poaching tradi 
tion, 94 fol.; journey to Lon 
don, 116 fol. ; the horse-holding 
tradition, 133-136; in the The 
atre, 135, 146; Greene's attack, 
149; Chettle's defence, 153; his 
first dramatic work, 156 fol.; 
his poems, 194 fol.; visits Strat 
ford in 1587 (?), 284; his son 
dies, 286; buys New Place, 286; 



the coat-of-arms, 288 fol.; his 
sources of income as actor and 
author, 292 fol.; purchases of 
land, etc., 296; investment in 
tithes, 297; interest in the 
Globe and Blackfriars Thea 
tres, 298; lawsuits, 299; corre 
spondence with Quiney, 300; 
death of his father, 305; plays 
at the Blackfriars, 307; acts 
before Elizabeth, 324; his com 
pany licensed by James I., 324; 
they play at Hampton Court 
and Whitehall, 326; loses his 
mother, 457 ; buys more land at 
Stratford, 457; buys house in 
London, 460; returns to Strat 
ford, 461 ; receives legacy from 
John Combe, 462; his connec 
tion with the plan for enclo 
sure of common fields, 463 fol. ; 
makes his will, 471; his death, 
473; funeral, 474; his mon 
ument, 476; autographs, 532; 
portraits, 534; a temperate 
man, 525; his religious views, 

Shallow, Justice, and Sir Thomas 
Lucy, 96, 104, 106. 

Shipton, 121. 

Shottery, 78, 107. 

8.,'I.M., 507. 

Sidney, Sir Philip, 97, 335. 

Sincklo, an actor, 499. 

Sir John Oldcastte, 442, 507. 

Sly, William, 325. 

Smethwick, John, 493. 

Smith, Prof. C. Alphonso, quoted, 

Smith, Ralph, 461. 

Snitterfield, 88, 109, 283. 

Somerset House, 125. 

Somerville, John, 104. 

Sonnets, Shakespeare's, 21, 205, 
206, 222, 267, 328-365. 

Southwark, 126. 

Southampton, Henry Wriothes- 

ley, Earl of, 195, 296, 337, 362. 
Spagnuoli, Giovanni Battista, 

the " Mantuan," 49. 
Spalding, William, 451. 
Spanish Tragedy, Kyd's, 161. 
Spenser, Edmund, 2, 22, 61, 261, 

362, 409, 521. 
Sport, Shakespeare's knowledge 

of, 523. 

St. Helen's, Bishopgate, 128. 
Staunton, Howard, quoted, 163, 

178, 262, 385. 
Steevens, George, 1, 15; quoted, 

1, 157, 438, 442. 
Stockwood, Rev. John, quoted, 


Stokes, H. P., quoted, 393. 
Stopes, Mrs. Charlotte C., quoted, 

18, 24, 26, 38, 93, 106, 111, 288, 291, 


Stow, John, quoted, 141, 448. 
Straparola, Giovanni Francesco, 

Stratford-on-Avon, 25, 60, 62, 72, 


Sturley, Abraham, 300, 302. 
Supposes, The, by Gascoigne, 252. 
Suppositi, I, 252. 
Sussex, Earl of, his company of 

players, 160. 
Swinburn, Thomas, quoted, 30, 

Swinburne, Algernon C., quoted, 

219, 333. 

Tabard Inn, The, 126. 
Tamburlaine, Marlowe's, 180. 
Taming of a Shrew, The, 251. 
Taming of the Shrew, The, 49, 

250-254, 366, 523. 
Tarlton, Richard, 144, 250. 
Tawyer, an actor (?) 499. 
Tempest, The, 170, 423-429, 531. 



Temple Gardens, 125. 
Temple Grafton, 92. 
Tennyson, quoted, 1, 71, 446. 
Terence, in Taming of the Shrew, 

Theatre, The (a playhouse), 136- 

146, 198, 306. 

Theatres in London, 136. 
Theatrum Poeticum, Phillips's, 

quoted, 12. 
Theobald, Lewis (or Louis), 287, 


Thomas, Lord Cromwell, 507. 
Thorpe, Thomas, publisher of the 

Sonnets, 328. 
Thousand and One Nights, The, 


Timon, Lucian's, 437. 
Timon of Athens, 323, 356, 376, 

435^37, 502. 
Titus Andronicus, 159-161, 191, 

376, 435. 

Tofte, Robert, quoted, 162. 
Tourneur, Cyril, 2. 
Tredici Piacevoli Notte, Le, 249. 
Troilus and Cressida, 321, 366, 

True Tragedie of Richard, Duke 

of York, 157, 159. 
Tu Quoque, Greene's, 295. 
Turnbull Street, London, 127. 
Tusser, Thomas, quoted, 52. 
Twelfth Night, 89, 127, 255, 269- 

274, 323, 367, 525, 528. 
Twine, Lawrence, 439. 
Two Gentlemen of Verona, The, 

59, 167-169, 191, 334, 531. 
Two Noble Kinsmen, The, 435, 

Tyler, Thomas, on the Sonnets, 

340, 345, 349. 

TJdall, Nicholas, 53. 

Ulrici, Hermann, 157, 367, 398. 

Upton, John, 168. 

Variorum editions of Shake 
speare, 16. 

Venesyon Comodey, The, 227. 

Venus and Adonis, 13, 129, 194- 
207, 296, 331, 335, 337, 523, 531. 

Vere, Lady Bridget, 350, 356. 

Vere, Lady Elizabeth, 352. 

Vernon, Elizabeth, 195, 352. 

Verplanck, G. C., quoted, 168, 186, 
190, 234, 246, 258, 265, 270, 368, 
372, 377, 443. 

Verstegan, quoted, 18. 

Vertue's Commonwealth, 296. 

Vortigern, 527. 

Vox Graculi, quoted, 139. 

Walker, Henry, 457. 

Walker, William, a godson of 

Shakespeare, 457. 
Walton, Izaak, 393. 
War, The Barons', 63. 
War of the Theatres, 316. 
War of the Theatres, Penniman's, 


Ward, Rev. John, 12, 299, 473. 
Warner, William, 409. 
Wars of the Roses, 63, 68. 
Warton, Thomas, 13, 425. 
Warwick Castle, 63, 70. 
Warwickshire, 56-73, 197. 
Watson, Bishop, quoted, 88. 
Watson, Thomas, 335. 
Webbe, Agnes, 27. 
Webbe, Robert, 283. 
Webster, John, 2. 
Weever, John, 274. 
Werder, Karl, on Hamlet, 390. 
Westward for Smelts, 250, 422. 
Whatcot, Robert, 461. 
Whately, Anne, 92. 
Wheler, R. B., quoted, 39, 81, 488. 
Whetstone, George, 370. 
White, Richard Grant, quoted, 

162, 175, 176, 187, 229, 248, 252, 

258, 377, 380, 404, 447, 499. 


55 1 

Wilhelm Meister, 389. 

Wilkins, George, and Pericles, 

439, 445. 

Willis, R., quoted, 41. 
Wilmecote, home of Mary Arden, 


Wilson, Jack, 498. 
Wilson, Rev. Thomas, vicar of 

Stratford, 482. 
Winter's Tale, The, 92, 397, 420, 

424, 429-434, 528. 
Wise, J. R., quoted, 60. 
Witch, The, Middleton's, 403. 
Wits Miserie, Lodge's, quoted, 


Wolsey, Cardinal, 307. 
Wood, Anthony, 13, 506. 

Woodstock, 122. 

Worcester, Earl of, his company 
of players, 41. 

Wordsworth, William, quoted, 
58, 333, 393. 

Wriothesley, Henry. See South 
ampton, Earl of. 

Wurmsser von Vendenhagen, 
Hans Jacob, 394. 

Wurtemberg-Mumpelgard, Duke 
of, 394. 

Wyndham, George, on Venus 
and Adonis, etc., 204-207. 

Yonge (or Young), Bartholomew, 

Yorkshire Tragedy, The, 507. 

* . i 



Rolfe, William James 

A life of William Shake- 



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