// /V ;
The Stratford Bust
The Droeshout Engraving
The Presentment of the Two Discrepant (hemispherric)
WILLIAM HALL CHAPMAN
BY THE AUTHOR
W. H.. CHAPMAN
"Shakespeare" "Shake-Speare" "Shak-
spere" "Shaksper." The name is spelled sev-
eral ways. In this work I find it convenient
to write the name Shakspere where I am writ-
ing about authenticated matter of fact, in no
way connected with Plays or Poems, and
"Shakespeare" where I am speaking of the su-
preme dramatist and poet of our modern
world, whomsoever he was.
The spelling of the name involves no as-
sumption as to authorship.
In quotations I follow the originals.
I have employed the descriptive term
"Stratfordian" merely to point out to those
who hold that William Shakspere of Strat-
ford, was the author of the Plays and Poems,
without disparagement to any or all of those
who hold such belief.
I have also given some account of the con-
spicuous events connected with the literary
history of England, which took place in the
Elizabethan age; and likewise considerable
prominence to the resourceful and irrepress-
XIV PREFATORY NOTE
ible personalities of Ben Jonson, Robert
Greene and George Chapman, the three Eliz-
abethan poets now most conspicuously in the
midst of Shakespearean criticism, showing
their traits of mind and personal phase.
Personality is the only thing about William
Shakspere of Stratford, which the researches
of inquirers have not exhausted, as is shown
by the discovery of new things about him
which the inquirers are unearthing, but which
his conventional biographers do not care to
disclose unless the fresh views of things ac-
cord with their bias or prejudice.
You have never really known a man until
you have seen all sides of him; in fact, the
most engaging inquiry for the human race is
the particular man.
The writer has endeavored to perform his
task with freedom from bias, both in the nar-
rative and criticism, and does not hesitate to
affirm that a detailed statement of the precise
circumstances under which the "cursed-
blessed" epitaph was chiseled on William
Shakspere's tomb is essential in order to pre-
sent the man as he is disclosed by the results
of the long struggle, from the autumn of 1614
to the winter of 1618, with the corporation of
PREFATORY NOTE XV
Stratford-on-Avon, over the enclosure of the
common fields on the outskirts of the town.
Nothing is included in the volume which
cannot be readily traced by reference to the
Miscellaneous Documents in the Archives of
the Stratford Corporation, (Wheler Collec-
tion Stratford-on-Avon), "Camden Society
Papers." The new documentary information
lately discovered among the Belvoir papers
and in the Public Record Office, also the
standard works on the drama and obvious
sources in literature and history of the Eliza-
It is possible that through inadvertency I
have not marked all passages which are not
original or new, by inverted commas.
The present writer has endeavored to keep
out of the old rutted pathway of conventional
biography, based upon Spurious tradition,
and has sought to blend interest with instruc-
tion. And in giving to his account a fresh
and pleasing arrangement. W. H. C.
Los Angeles, California
Prefatory Note -------- xiii
I. Facts About Shakespeare and Their Significance - 3
II. An Account of the True Personality of the Man
William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, as
Shown by the Recorded Facts of His Life - - 101
III. Shake-speare Shakespeare The Literary Aspect - 179
IV. Shakespeare the Master-Mind with Some Account
of Several Elizabethan Authors - 241
Ben Jonson and Shakespeare ------- 941
Who Was Shake-Scene? (the object of Robert Greene's
censure) ---------- 281
"That Old Man Eloquent" (George Chapman) "A bet-
ter spirit" 372
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE STRATFORD BUST THE DROESHOUT
ENGRAVING ----- Frontispiece
THE HEM1SPHERED PRESENTMENT OF TWO
DISCREPANT SHAKESPEARES - Frontispiece
AN EXACT REPRODUCTION OF THE ENTRY IN
THOMAS GREENE.'S DIARY ON THE 23RD
DECEMBER, 1614 ------- 48a
PORTRAIT OF THOMAS GREENE - - - - 63
SHAKSPERE EPITAPH ------- 33
THE GROUND BEFORE LONDON WAS BUILT - 76a
FIRST PAGE OF ORIGINAL EDITION OF HAM-
LET --------- I76a
SHAKESPEARE IN UMBRA - * - - - - 1766
AN EMBLEM IN ART, SCIENCE AND LITERA-
TURE - - -----
BEN JONSON --------
THE POETS' CORNER SPENSER, MILTON
AND BEN JONSON ----- 280a
WILLIAM KEMP DANCING THE MORRIS - - 327
A GROUP OF LONDON AUTHORS OF THE XVII 100
CENTURY - 2806
AUTOGRAPH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH - - - 366
CRESCENT ARMS OF CHAPMAN - - - - 372a
PORTRAIT OF GEORGE CHAPMAN - - - 386a
FACSIMILE RECEIPT FOR 40S. PAID FOR A
"PASTORAL ENDING IN A TRAGEDY"
FROM CHAPMAN TO PHILIP HENSLOWE 388a
CHAPMAN'S TOMB IN ST. GILES CHURCH - - 394
TO THE READER
"Pray thee, take care, that tak'st my book in
To read it well, that is to understand."
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE"
AND THEIR SIGNIFICATION
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE"
AND THEIR SIGNIFICATION.
E believe that if "the greatest genius of
our world" were now living he would
wish to be known as he was, so as to qualify for
identification with the person who wrote the
immortal "Plays." There is only one cele-
brated man in history called Homer, about
whom, in connection with his reputed literary
work there is so little known, or concerning
whom there is so great diversity of opinion
among persons eminent in many walks of life.
"Paint me as I am," said Oliver Cromwell,
shaking Sir Peter Lely, the artist, roughly by
the shoulder. "If you leave out the scars and
wrinkles I will not pay you a shilling." And
there on canvas in the Pitti Gallery it is, a
present from the many-sided and wondrous
Cromwell to the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The stern, rough face is marked with every
scar, wart and seam with nature, civil strife
or anxiety, public care or authority, had fea-
tured in the king uncrowned.
SHAKICSPEAEE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
But have we adequate materials which
show Shakespeare as he was? We cannot
build a biography of the person who wrote
the "Plays" without literary material. Hith-
erto the antiquarians have failed to unearth
facts which contribute to our understanding
or appreciation of Shakespeare. The ma-
terial in the Public Record Office and Munic-
ipal Archives involve no assumption whatever
as to authorship, except in so far as the ab-
sence of literary facts tend to disprove the
claim set up for the Stratford player. They
are the primitive and authoritative docu-
ments and may be always relied upon as an
unbiased record of fact unmixed with the
chaff of fiction, legend and spurious tradition.
William Shakepere of Stratford is indeed
an anomaly for there is no other person asso-
ciated with literature whose biography is so
completely devoid of authenticated literary
facts ; whose activities, so far as known, if not
mean are surely not creditable, to a man of
letters. Partly from idolatry of the author of
the "Plays" facts are omitted or distorted by
the conventional biographers of Shake-
speare, which in any way reflect on their
idol, except where the advantage to the sub-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 5
ject of their memoir seems to outweigh the
We have adequate material which shows
Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Chapman, Spencer,
Drayton and other Elizabethan poet as they
were. And the immortal author of the "Plays"
had the same opportunity but did not choose
to make himself known as he was.
Unfortunately for the biographers who had
not enough material on which to build a biog-
raphy of Shakespeare, the author of "Rich-
ard II" was not discovered at the time of the
Essex-Southampton Conspiracy. In 1601, on
the afternoon of the day preceding the insur-
rection, Sir Gilly Merrick, one of the conspir-
ators, had procured to be played as an encour-
agement to rebellion, the play of the deposing
of "Richard the Second." The actor who
provided the play was Augustine Phillips, a
member of the Globe Theatre, the same per-
son who bequeathed by his Will in 1605, "to
my fellow William Shakespere a thirty shil-
ling piece of gould." He was also one of
twenty-three persons who, with William
Shakespere of Stratford, was charged with ob-
taining "heraldic honours by fradulent rep-
6 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
It is abundantly evident that the "Age of
Shakespeare" was the age of craft, of crime,
of grief and judicial cruelties. The Court of
High Commission, the Star Chamber and the
Privy Council, were names of fear and terror.
The simplest expression was liable to be re-
garded as seditious and treasonable, subject-
ing the writer before conviction, to imprison-
ment and torture.
In 1599, Sir John Heywood was impris-
oned and threatened with torture for the dedi-
cation to Essex of a history of the First Part
of the Life and Reign of "King Henry IV,"
which contained an account of the deposition
of "Richard II." Ben Jonson and Samuel
Daniel were severely censured by authority
for supposed expressions of sympathy with
Essex, contained in "Sejanus" and "Philatas."
Queen Elizabeth denounced the performance
of the play "Richard II," as an "act of trea-
son." The Queen's fears were well grounded
for not long before the Essex rebellion, an
edict (1570) was issued by a foreign potentate
inciting her subjects to rebellion. When Peter
Lombard, the Keeper of the Records in the
Tower, was showing Her Majesty his rolls, on
coming to the reign of "Richard II," the
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 7
Queen suddenly exclaimed: "I am 'Richard
II,' known ye not that?" She told Lombard
how the tragedy "was played forty times in
open streets and houses" at the time of the Es-
sex insurrection. Loyalty was intentionally
undermined and the assassination of the
Queen was countenaced. If the fiery, pas-
sionate daughter o f "the pontiff-king."
(Henry VIII) "the untamed heifer" as the
Puritans called her, had discovered the
author of Richard II she would have laid
him by the heels. For as things were in Tudor
English days if the rebellion had gathered
force, and Eseex lost control of his followers
(the London mob), the Queen would in all
probability have been deposed and murdered.
The players were interrogated and it was
proved that the performance of "Richard II"
was by request. Nevertheless students of
Elizabethan literature, when they take up
Shakespearean criticism, find it difficult to un-
derstand why the author of the play "Richard
II" escaped punishment for committing an of-
fense much more serious than any of the au-
thor's literary contemporaries, and for which
they were imprisoned.
Nash declares that for a twelvemonth he
8 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
published nothing for fear of (literary) cen-
sure; he had been imprisoned and banished
from London, the only place where a profes-
sional writer could hope to keep soul and
body together. "In 1599, when John Stubbs
and the publisher, Page, brought out a pam-
phlet against the French marriage they were
condemned to have the right hand struck off,
according to the barbaric Tudor practice, by
a blow from a butcher's knife."
No wonder with the dread of authority be-
fore him, the author of "Richard II" should
have remained in seclusion after his "report
what toucheth the deposing of a king."
But there is not a grain of fact which tends
to prove that the principal person the au-
thor, (whatever his name), of "Richard II"
suffered for his rashness, or was made
known to a distrustful government by the pro-
fessional informers, called "State Deciphers"
vampires gorged with perjury and sottish
Yet at or before this time (1601), is the
supposed date of twenty-three plays and three
poems, which now issue under the name
"Shakespeare." The list is inclusive of
"Richard II" (1593).
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 9
Before or during the year 1603, there was
conferred upon the author of the immortal
"Plays" (known or unknown), an unusual
distinction, when the play "Hamlet" was
acetd in the two Universities. We also know
that "Volpone" received the same distinction
by the grateful acknowledgment of the au-
thor, Ben Jonson : "To the most noble and
equal Sisters, the two famous Universities, for
their love and acceptance shown to his po-
em (play) in the presentation." Thus ac-
knowledging the authorship of "Volpone" in
the dedication of it and himself.
Surely this would have been the time of
the Stratford Player's life had he written
"Hamlet," for the opportunity it gave him to
show himself without jeopardy, as he was,
and link his name and fame indissolubly as
the author of the immortal work, with the two
famous Universities. But most unfortunately
for the biographers and critics, the author-
poet's silence is prima facie evidence of con-
cealed authorship. The fact of the matter is
the pseudonymous author could not dedicate
both "Hamlet" and himself without disclos-
ing his identity. However, the manner of
man he was cannot be discovered by an en-
10 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
deavor to identify the author with any of his
dramatic personages, although to the present
writer the name "Shakespeare denotes those
ageless and immortal "Plays" and almost
But we may pursue the examination of the
particulars of the life of one William Shaks-
pere of Stratford-on-Avon, for the reason
that many persons still believe that these par-
ticulars of the life of the Stratford Player
were identical with the author of "Hamlet"
and "King Lear," who in their opinion is still
one of the great personalities of the past.
Nevertheless there are many distinguished
persons who question the claim set up for the
Stratford Player to the personal authorship
of the "Plays" and poems associated with his
name, and who assert that critical acuteness
and antiquarian research have ousted him
from possession of the works called "Shake-
As the Greeks of the olden times failed to
establish the identity of the one Homer, au-
thor of our "Iliad" and "Odyssy" (according
to the traditional view), so the moderns are
having no better success in establishing the
identity of the one "Shakespeare" as author
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 11
of the "Plays" and whether or not the poems
and plays imputed to William Shakespeare
were really written by a person of that name.
The late Mr. Andrew Lang says, "I can-
not believe that the actual author "Shake-
speare" lived and died and left no trace of his
existence except his share in the "Works"
called "Shakespeare". But we know as in
the case of "Junius" it did happen, and who
Martin Mar, prelate, positively was has nev-
er been ascertained. Nor is the mystery likely
to be solved as to the authorship of the "Sibyl-
line Oracles". However, we reserve what is
to be said about pseudonymous authorship
for another place, but it may be noted in pas-
sing, that if a trace of the actual author of
the Plays is ever found it will bear the literary
mark or impress like the tracings of all lit-
erary men of the time, instead of the litigious
trace of the usurer.
William Shakspere of Stratford has been
traced, and it is this very tracing of him
deed by deed now here, now there, his ac-
tions and his ways, which prove the utter un-
doing of his reputation as the author of the
works called "Shakespeare". It is a very easy
matter to trace him in his endeavor to sieze
12 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the common fields ; in his falseness and venal-
ity in bribing the officers of Herald College to
issue a grant to his father, but do the notices
and particulars of the Stratford Player's
match-making intermediations, litigious and
common-field grabbing proclivity compli-
ment the works called "Shakespeare", as the
appurtenances of author-craft.
By way of contrast, see how in Beaumont,
Chapman, Drayton and Ben Jonson, individ-
uality and work are linked together; supply-
ing the consummation for their history is the
complement of poetry and author-craft, while
the converse instances in the history of the
Stratford actor are the complement of stroll-
ing player, money lender, speculator and the
like. "To be told that he played a deception
on a fellowplayer," the narration of which
would sully these pages, or that he died of a
drunken carousal, does not, says Hallam, "ex-
actly inform us of the man who wrote 'Lear'."
Emerson could not marry the Stratford
player's life to "Shakespeare's Verse," for the
actual facts of the Stratford Player's life add
opprobrium to his character the comple-
ment of what is called low activities.
"Into the dark," says Mr. Lang, "go one
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 13
and all, Shakespeare and the others." The
strictest scrutiny, however, fails to disclose the
truth of this statement. "Into the dark go one
and all" that is taking Spencer, Fletcher,
Drayton, Chapman, Beaumont, Ben Jonson
and several others; for in the literary particu-
lars of their lives they are most manifest. It
is not the fewness in the number of notices,
which must necessarily be small, that should
awaken comment, so long as the notices are
native and complemental to the character of
The late Mr. Andrew Lang is a writer who
was possessed of much more than miscellane-
ous and general erudition, and not so amateur-
ish in the matter of Elizabethan literary his-
tory as he would have his readers believe. For
we find him taking part in the scrimmage go-
ing on in the camp of the Stratfordians cudg-
eling professionally trained students of liter-
ary history, like Sir Sidney Lee and Mr.
Churton Collins of his own fellowship, on
points concerning "quartos," "The First Fo-
lio," and on "Shakespeare's" learning, al-
though his thrashing over the old straw in
connection with the illustrious "Verulam"
14 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
It is fine sport, however, to witness the
Stratfordians at odds among themselves, for
their divarication is plainly specified in the
use made of their knowledge, as professional-
ly trained students of Elizabethan literature,
in proving that the camp of the Stratfordians
divided against itself can stand almost any
amount of derisive laughter, on account of the
divergences of opinion touching Shake-
speare's learning. As as exemplification, Sir
Sidney Lee holding the opinion that "Shake-
speare" had no claim to rank as a classical
scholar, Mr. Andrew Lang and J. M. Rob-
ertson concurring. At the same time, that ir-
respressible Stratfordian, Mr. Churton Col-
lins, points out that the works of Shake-
speare evince the ripest scholarship, and Pro-
fessor Byness is of the opinion that he (Shake-
speare) was a trained classical scholar.
"Shakespeare's vocabulary," says Sidney La-
nier, "is wonderfully large. It does not seem
to have occurred to those who have thought
him an unlearned man that whatever words
he uses he must have read, for words are whol-
ly artificial products and cannot come by in-
tuition, no matter how divine may be our gen-
ius." The late Dr. Furness says of Shake-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 15
speare, that he must have been an "omnivor-
The "Shakespeare" Plays, according to
Walter Bagehot (1826-1877), "show not only
a very powerful but also a very cultivated
The upholders of the Stratfordian faith
feel the pressure and force of the evidence in
striving to off-set the obvious inference of il-
literacy in the Stratford Player by harping on
the inexact scholarship of the author of the
"Plays." However, very many students of
literary history assert that Shakespeare was
We cannot resist a shaking of the sides with
laughter in seeing the ardent J. M. Robertson
pitted against the members of his own school
(Stratfordians), "as cocks in a pit," over the
proposition as to the legal knowledge shown
in the Plays, and who, like the parson in
"Hudibras," strives to "prove his doctrine
orthodox by Apostolic (forensic) blows and
Happy thought! Why are the Shake-
speare classical scholars so irreconcilably at
variance in opinions of Shakespeare's learn-
ing if they are to be regarded as professional-
16 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ly trained students of literary history? How
delighted we all would be if Shakespeare
whomsoever the dramatist might be
could have collaborated in "Eastward Hoe"
with Chapman and Ben Jonson, and with
them committed to a vile prison and been in
danger of having his nostrils split, or at least
his ears clipped, for this would have disclosed
Shakespeare's identity. As one of the im-
prisoned poets he would doubtless have writ-
ten one or more of the Letters of Chapman
and Jonson concerning "Eastward Hoe," seek-
ing their release. George Chapman wrote to
His Majesty, King James I, also two letters
to the Lord Chamberlain. Ben Jonson wrote
to the Earl of Pembroke, to the Countess of
Rutland and the Earl of Salisbury.
The supposed date of "Eastward Hoe" is
1604, but the first quarto version of the play
the only one which contains the passage in
which the authors poke fun at the Scots ap-
peared in 1605, and for which George Chap-
man and Ben Jonson were cast into prison.
Those years also contained the supposed date
of "Othello," "Macbeth" and "Lear."
However, there is no ground for belief that
the author of the "Plays" (Shakespeare) al-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 17
ways a recluse from public notice would col-
laborate, for the conditions of anonymity are
irreconcilable with the certified authorship of
Chapman, Marston and Ben Jonson in "East-
The author of the immortal "Works" hid
his fame in silence, as if conspiring against an
illustrious name and wondrous renown.
"Shakespeare" is as impersonal and descrip-
tive as is Homer, and as misty and mythical
as is the name and personality of William
When the claim to authorship is chal-
lenged, as in the case of the Stratford Player,
the smaller the number of notices non-literary
the better for the one taken to be claimant.
But instead we find the notices of William
Shakspere, the Stratford Player, unconnected
with literary work, superabundant; traits and
actions not literary, by their excess and pre-
dominance tend to prove the literary delusion
associated with the Stratford actor's name, for
we have practically no authenticated literary
facts but are swamped with notices of him not
associated with literary work, such as we find
recorded by Shakespeare's biographers.
Degrading as many of them are, instancing
18 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the new discoveries unearthed by the anti-
quarians, they have placed the reflective Strat-
fordians in a quandary. For as late as 1613,
after all the immortal plays were written,
when the Stratford actor (whom many read-
ers still identify with The Great Unknown
p 1 a y w r i g h t the pseudonymous "Shake-
speare") was supposed to have returned to
Stratford, instead a Mr. Shakspeare" is dis-
covered at Belvoir Castle with Richard Bur-
bage, his yoke-mate and fellow-worker in and
about "My Lord's Impreso" or device.
In 1905 was discovered the Earl of Rut-
land's account book of household expenses in-
curred at Belvoir Castle, for the year begin-
ning August, 1612, and ending August, 1613.
It had lain concealed for more than three cen-
turies and contained an entry showing in the
year 1613 "Mr. Shakespeare" was engaged
with Richard Burbage to work at the Earl of
Rutland's new device or emblem, and that
each received a sum of forty-four shillings in
payment of their services.
Mrs. C. C. Stopes is unwilling to believe
that the Stratford actor, who in her opinion
was the author, was in 1613 engaged in work
in no way related to literature, and with Dr.
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 19
C. W. Wallace is struggling to relieve "Shake-
speare of the mingling of petty business with
the production of the noblest dramas of hu-
man life ever written."
Contrast "Mr. Shakspeare's" non-literary
employment at Belvoir Castle, the seat of the
Earl of Rutland, "about my Lord's 'Impreso,'
with that of George Peek, poet and drama-
tist, at Theobald, the seat of Lord Burleigh.
"Peele was employed to compose certain
speeches addressed to the Queen, for payment.
Also when the Earl of Northumberland pre-
sented him with a fee of three pounds for ad-
dressing literary tributes." Is it not wonder-
ful that the Shakespeare of the Plays, if
well known to such men as the Earl of Essex,
the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Rutland,
persons of aristocratic birth, with a position in
court circles as some Stratfordians assert
(without proof), that he did not mention the
name of any one of them, or the name of any
poet or author of his time?
William Shakspere of Stratford, we know
left behind him no literary correspondence,
his life history is non-literary; as an humble
actor his acts, and all that he did histrionical-
ly considered are compressed into scantiest
20 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
record. There were three hundred and thir-
ty-two contemporary poets, enumerating those
only whose works were published. Of all
these but five or six obscure writers refer to
"Shakespeare" as a personality, more or less
vaguely in the lifetime of the Stratford actor.
All other reference is to the "Shakespeare
Works," author unknown.
While Shakspere of the stage was living,
Ben Jonson maintained silence be it remem-
bered, not so much as the least commentary
upon him until he had lain for years in the
grave. But when Ben died in 1637 he left in
manuscript the statement that he "loved the
man" (Shakspere). Why not say so while
both are in the flesh if in the opinion of Ben
Will was the author.
However, Ben Jonson's panegyrics hyper-
bolizing Shakespeare in prose and verse are
to a great degree what the Stratfordians rely
"Though merely writ at first for fill-
To raise the volume's price a shill-
The plain, unvarnished truth of the matter is
the "Shakespeare" Plays were not thought
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 21
wonderful in the time of Queen Elizabeth and
King James I, and almost any perso'n in that
age could have been set up as claimant and
passed unchallenged, so little were dramatic
productions regarded. Plays were referred
to as "riff-raff" "lewd and lascivious plays."
However, the Stratford actor was not seri-
ously suspected during his lifetime of any
authorship whatever, so far as anyone knows
and can prove, but seemed always cherishing
the lust of gain. All the conventional writers
on the subject of Shakespeare have been put
into a quandary or puzzling predicament, by
the mean biographical facts and non-literary
environment during the entire life of the re-
puted author, disclosed by an unbiased view
of his whole career. As an instance, when he
as marriage-broker or intermediary, gave sup-
port to an old wig-maker in bilking his ap-
prentice; and when he, a pitiless money-
lender and usurer, without any tenderness for
his debtors, had the borrower sent to prison
for a picayunish sum of money; and when he,
with two other common field-land sharks,
strove to dispossess the poor people of their
rights in the tithe-paying land rights dear to
many a poor widow and her fatherless chil-
22 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
dren, struggling in their distress and need
against the buffeting of a pitiless world.
The reader's discernment perceives the for-
midable difficulties in, the way of the "Strat-
fordians," who believe the author of the
"Plays" to be the young man who came hik-
ing up from Stratford, who was thereafter a
shareholding actor in a London Playhouse,
and returned to Stratford in the very prime of
manhood; who never claimed to be the author
of the "Plays" or gave any directions for their
The Shakespeare Plays owe their per-
petuity chiefly to the student reader in the
closet and not to the stage, where the Plays
were mutilated and still bear the tracings of
histrionic savagery, perpetrated before and af-
ter the publication of the folio of 1623.
For eight and twenty years within the pre-
cincts of the Inner and Middle Temple, the
name and writings of Shakespeare were un-
known. "Whatever the cause," writes H. H.
L. Bellot, The Inner and Middle Temple, p.
196, "the fact remains that out of the twenty
plays produced in our Hall from the acces-
sion of Charles II to the flight of his brother
(James II), not one can claim Shakespeare
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 23
as its author. Beaumont and Fletcher are re-
sponsible for six." "The Twin" dramatic
stars were very distinctly marked in Jacobean
What have the legal craftsmen of the Inns
of Court found wanting in "Shakespeare?"
He touches all there is within the scope of hu-
"For his bounty there was no winter in't, an
autumn 'twas that grew the more by reaping."
Whatever the efficient cause the truth re-
mains, that the members of this great legal
University, successors to the illustrious Order
of the Knights Templar, knew little of the
Plays called "Shakespeare." And that little
is made manifest by the discovery in 1828,
among the Harlian manuscripts at the British
Museum, of the diary of a student of the Inn.
John Manningham, barrister-at-law and a
cultured man, on the 2nd of February, 1602,
writes: "At our feast we had a play called
Twelve Nights, or What You Will.' This
performance formed part of the revels which
immediately followed the Christmas revels."
There is contained in the diary or note book
the sole anecdote of Shakespeare (Shakspere)
known to have been recorded in the Stratford
24 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
actor's liftime. But like all other authenti-
cated notices of him it is non-literary. "How-
ever, the 'Wine and Woman' story contained
in the student's note book is very good evi-
dence of reputation," writes Sir George G.
Greenwood. About the authorship, Man-
ningham says nothing, which proves that the
Plays were not then conspicuously associated,
if at all, with the Stratford actor's name.
Among the fellow students of John Man-
ningham was John Pym, the celebrated states-
man and orator. "He is of a sweet behavior,
a good spirit and a pleasing discourse," writes
the diarist. Another fellow student, John
Ford the playwright, was admitted a fellow
of the Middle Temple in 1602; also the famed
poet, Dr. John Donne, educated at both Uni-
versities and at Lincoln's Inn; Francis Beau-
mont, the eminent dramatist, was admitted to
the law society on November 3, 1600, and
might have been present also when 'Twelfth
Night' was produced. Thomas Campion,
masque writer, was educated at Gray's Inn;
William Camden and William Dugdale, the
great and learned antiquaries, were both mem-
bers of Gray's Inn; Sir Philip Sidney was a
member of Gray's Inn; so were John Hamp-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 25
den, Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Middle-
ton, playwright. Sir Walter Raleigh, who
was admitted to membership of the Inn in
1575 ; James Shirley, the poet and play maker,
was a member of the Legal Inn.
Is it not very extraordinary that in an age
of great men and great deeds, and much epis-
tolary correspondence, there is no mention of
the actual author of the immortal Works, by
way of commentation, exposition or observa-
tion? While the Plays of Shakespeare
were subjects for stage representation in the
lifetime of the Stratford actor by illustrious
men, no effort was made to illustrate the indi-
vidual life by the eminent persons who may
well have been present to witness the plays
produced in this stately Hall of the honorable
societies of the "Inns of Court," and where for
many generations they lived and wrought in
literature, law and history within the pre-
cincts of this historic spot.
Is it possible that the great advocate, John
Seldon, Thomas Shackvill, Chancellor of Ox-
ford, the indomitable Sir Walter Raleigh,
Lord Chancellor Hatton, Sir Thomas Over-
bury, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Edward Coke,
Sir Francis Walsingham, or Henry Wriothes-
26 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ley, third Earl of Southampton, would not if
they had witnessed the presentation of Shake-
speare's Play as it left the author's hand un-
abridged, glorified him and it?
However, it is impossible not to recognize
the fact that Shakespeare was above the ca-
pacity of the playhouse loving, bear-baiting,
beer guzzling, rough-and-tumble, fighting
public of that day, of whom it was said "they
will eat like wolves and fight like devils." All
of which is to the meditative student, painful
With the play-reader, however, Shake-
speare is always at his best, for he gives his
readers all the delight which the music of his
words contained, and in his unaltered works
convey all the poetry of it. Every kind of
eloquence, ancient and modern, is present to
our mind in the reading.
But with the play-goer Shakespeare is at
his very worst for there is so much in him
which comes not within the sphere of acting
but may come under the province of histrion-
ical savigism, in the stage representation so
pawed over, abbreviated and bemuddled by
declamatory actors to please the general audi-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 27
The fact is they cut him then as they cut
him now, by the omission of many of the most
striking passages in the plays, but with this
difference, that in the olden time they ex-
punged the parts more frequently which alone
will be treasured to the latest ages. Such as
the Roman orations, Clarence's dream, Por-
tia's beautiful tribute to the quality of mercy,
and the many lines so richly jeweled by the
poet's "vision and faculty divine." Proof of
which is the omission in all acting editions of
the great speech in "Hamlet," Act IV, Scene
4, "the one especial speech," as Swinburne
phrased it, "in which the personal genius of
Shakespeare soars up to the very highest of its
height, and strikes down to the very deepest
of its depth." It was written, he says, not for
"the stage but for the study."
Shakespeare is very beautiful in the read-
ing but no dramatist-actor would cast such
pearls before the Tudor and Jacobin public
playhouse swine. We infer this from the fact
that no person in that age did set forth the
majesty and loftiness of Shakespeare's
thought. In fact, the "Shakespeare" Plays
were above the intelligence of the frequenters
of the public playhouse. No play was given
28 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
as Shakespeare wrote it, but a good deal ab-
breviated for stage production, and an
abridged version made for the stage retains all
the slang expressions and wanton interpola-
tions of the actors, who delight in the non-
sensical jargon of the punster. Much of this
"sad stuff" was placed under the immortal
author's nom de plume, "Shakespeare."
Is it not strange that there should be extant
the record of but two persons who ever wit-
nessed a presentation of a probable Shake-
speare Play? An astrologer, one Dr. Simon
Forman, noticed three, namely: "The Win-
ter's Tale" at the Globe Theatre, May 15th,
1611, "Cymbeline" (time and place not given)
and "Macbeth" at the Globe, April 20th,
1610; and "Twelfth Night" noticed by John
Manningham, a member of the Middle Tem-
ple, February 2nd, 1602. The name "Shake-
speare" is not contained in either of their note
books in connection with plays or poems.
Are we to infer that a well educated bar-
rister-at-law, a member of the Inns of Court,
would have been indifferent to its authorship
had he known that the writer of this mirth-
producing play, "Twelfth Night," was the
author who speaks from the mouth of An-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 29
tony above the body of Caesar? Are we to
understand that if the Roman play, "Julius
Caesar" a play which contains those splen-
did monuments of genius and eloquence, the
speeches of Brutus and Antony had been
presented on a stage at that time, or at any
time in the Hall of this ancient legal univer-
sity, that the benchers, barriers and students
of these law societies, would not have given in
their note books a more ample commentary?
" You all do know this mantel : I re-
The first time ever Caesar put it on
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his
That day he overcame the Nervii :
Look! In this place ran Cassius'
See what a rent the envious Casca
Through this the well-beloved Bru-
And as he plucked his cursed steel
Mark how the blood of Caesar fol-
When reading these immortal lines Emer-
son cast no beam on the "jovial actor and
Sharer." He says, "other admirable men have
30 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
led lives in some sort of keeping with their
thought, but this man in wide contrast. I can-
not marry this fact to his verse."
Shakspere the Stratford man is not in har-
many with "Shakespeare" the poet. The
player's life was never reflected in the poet's
works, as he led a life in wide contrast to the
poet's thought. Identifying the Stratford
player with the author of "Hamlet" is to give
the poet a character made up of incongruities
manifestly incompatible. It is the work that
is immortal, the personality of the author is
as mythical as is Homer.
Our belief in the pseudonymity of the auth-
or of the poems and plays called "Shakespear-
ean" is strengthened by the absence of verse
commemorative of concurrent events, such as
the strivings of his boldest countrymen in the
great Elizabethan age. There is from his pen
neither word of cheer nor sympathy with the
daring and suffering warriors and adventur-
ers of that time, although his contemporaries
versified eulogies to the heroes of those days
for their stirring deeds. There is in the poems
and plays no elegiac lay in memory of Eliza-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 31
beth "The glorious daughter of the illustri-
ous Henry," as Robert Greene called her, "and
that great queen of famous memory" is the
more exalted praise of Oliver Cromwell. Nor
is there one line of mourning verse at the
death of Prince Henry, the noblest among the
children of the king, by a writer who was al-
ways a generous and consistent supporter of
prerogative against the apprehension of free-
This is another evidence of the secrecy
maintained as to the authorship of the poems
and plays. We cannot discover a single laud-
atory poem or commendatory verse, or a linj
of praise, of any publication or writer of his
All this is in contrast with his contempor-
aries whose personalities are identified with
their literary work, and so liberal of commen-
dation were they that they literally showered
commendatory verses on literary works of
merit, or those thought to have merit. Of
these, thirty-five were bestowed on John
Fletcher, a score or more on Beaumont, Chap-
man and Ford, while Massinger received
Ben Jonson's published works contain thir-
32 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ty-seven pieces of commendation. His Ro-
man tragedy, "Sejanus, His Fall/' was ac-
claimed by ten contemporary poets. In praise
of his comedy "Volpone" there are seven
poems. The versified compliments bestowed
on him by his contemporaries embrace many
of the most celebrated names antecedent to his
death, which occurred in 1637.
Early in 1638 a collection of some thirty
elegies were published under the title of
"Jonsonus Virbius" or u The Memory of Ben
Jonson," in which nearly all the leading poets
of the day except Milton, were represented.
"How different," wrote Mr. J. A. Symonds,
"was the case of Shakespeare."
It must appear strange to the votaries of
Shakespeare, who make the player one with
the playwright, that Ben Jonson should have
received so many crowns of mourning verse
while for Shakspere of Stratford, the now re-
puted author of "Hamlet," "Lear," and
"Macbeth," there wailed no dirge. Not a sin-
gle elegaic poem written of him in the year
of his death, 1616. Already in that fatal year
there had been mourning for Francis Beau-
mont. Eight and forty days after the death of
Francis Beaumont all that was mortal of Wil-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 33
liam Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon was
buried in the chancel of his parish church, in
which as part owner of the tithes, and conse
quently one of the lay rectors, he had the right
of interment. Over the spot where his body
was laid there was placed a slab with the in-
scription in an odd and strange mixture of
small and capital letters, imprecating a curse
on the man who should disturb his bones:
GOOD FREND FOR ksvs JAKE FORBEARE,
TO D1CC TIE! DVST ENOLOASED KARE*.
BLEST BE f I^IAN i SPARES' THES STONES,
AND CVRST BE HE MOVES MY BONES
At any rate the words contained in this epi-
taph clearly identify Shakspere the player,
but manifestly not in the manner of "Shake-
speare" the playwright. For we know that
had the author of "Hamlet" written his own
epitaph it would have been as deathless as the
one over the Countess of Pembroke :
"Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse;
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother,
Death ere thou has slain another
Learned and fair and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee."
34 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
There was not the least danger that the ac-
tor's grave would be violated by the Puritans,
for Dr. John Hall, Shakspere's son-in-law,
was a Puritan. If he had had this warning
epitaph cut on the tomb it would have been
written in scholarly English. The doggerel
lines, rude as they are, satisfied doubtless the
widow and daughters as expressing a known
wish of their "dear departed." Themselves
ignorant they could not read the absurd and
ignorant epitaph on his tomb, so their hearts
were not saddened as they gazed upon an in-
scription of barbaric rudeness.
The tradition that William Shakspere of
Stratford wrote his own epitaph and com-
manded that it be engraved upon his tomb-
stone stands undisputed, for the very good rea-
son that his son-in-law, Dr. John Hall, a
Christian gentleman and scholar, consented to
the profanation of a sanctuary in having this
mean, ignorant and disgusting epitaph chis-
eled in the pavement of "that temple of silence
In the olden time the parochial authorities
of Trinity Church had no rights which the
wealthy tithe owner and lay rector, William
Shakspere, was "bound to respect."
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 35
In reading the four protective lines cut on
the tomb, which contain a warning, a bless-
ing and a curse, it is impossible to avoid see-
ing that the maledictory words point at the ex-
humationist of his own generation. Herein
the Stratford actor manifests h i s usual
shrewdness, for he had offended the good peo-
ple of Stratford in an endeavor to rob them of
their ancient rights in "the common fields."
In striving to snatch bread from the children
of the poor doubtless gave William Shakspere
an opprobrious name among the towns-people
of Stratford and he felt that his bones should
have all the protection that a malediction
could give. He was shrewd enough to pro-
vide, as he imagined, for any contingency,
hence he had his blessing for "the man that
spares these stones" and a curse for "he who
moves my bones."
Who wrote Shakspere's epitaph? We don't
know positively, but who should wish, or
would dare, or be permitted to imprint upon
Shakspere's tombstone a curse without his au-
thority "Aye There's the Rub?"
Mr. Holliwell-Phillipps tells us that these
lines "according to an early tradition were se-
lected by the poet himself for his epitaph."
36 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
He adds that "there is another early but less
probable statement that they were the poet's
If this "mean and vulgar curse" had been
traditionally handed down instead of having
been cut in stone and laid upon Shakspere's
grave it would have been rejected as spurious
by the Stratfordolaters. But there the curse-
inscribed stone rests and has apparently rested
on Shakspere's grave for more than three hun-
Seventy-eight years after Shakspcre's inter-
ment, William Hall an Oxford graduate, in
1694 stood beside the grave and after he had
read the rude, absurd, and ignorant epitaph,
wrote his Commentary contained in a letter
to his friend, Edward Thwaites, preserved in
the Bodleian Library. The letter has brought
to light the significant fact concerning the
depth of Shakspere's grave, "they have laid
him full seventeen feet deep, deep enough to
The execrative epitaph cut on his tomb is a
criminating memorial of his attempt to gain
possession of the Stratford Common lands.
No wonder Shakspere and family were
scared, for the years 1615-16 saw insurrection
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 37
and pitched battles. The townsmen were
struggling with the rioters to prevent the en-
closure of the Corporation tithing-lands,
while the riotous henchmen of the Combe
Shakspere land-grabbing Combination were
digging ditch-fences around the land they in-
tended to enclose, in defiance of the public
weal and "the law of the realm." Shakspere
knew how extremely bitter had been his fel-
low townsmen's state of mind, whom he had
oflended during the two years' struggle, he
was not "one of them," and of course loved
The people of his day were superstitious;
the epitaph was to them the voice of the dead.
Mr. Holliwell-Phillipps writes, "whatever
opinion may be formed respecting the author-
ship of the lines upon the stone there can
scarcely be a reasonable doubt that they are a
record of the poet's (actor's) own wishes."
However, there is much that is inexplicable
about Shakspere's interment. His name does
not appear upon the grave-stone pointed out
as his; there is no distinguishing inscription
on it nothing in fact but those execrative
The Countess de Chambrun writes "person-
38 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ally, I consider these lines (epitaph) almost
as much an exemplification of their author s
genius as more poetic works." When reading
these sentences of the talented lady, I feel con-
strained in Socratic phrase to address her
thus: "Best of Women, pardon me for asking
you to examine the miscellaneous documents
extant among the Stratford archives where are
disclosed the fact that these dreadful lines are
not an exemplification of their author's gen-
ius, but of their author's shrewdness in hav-
ing his grave guarded by a malediction after
having tried to rob his home town of its com-
mon field rights. In Stratford's dusty rec-
ords we may read about things done, deeds
that fit into the known facts of the life of Wil-
liam Shakspere of Stratford when and
where was Poet's bones."
"Spurned from hallowed ground
Flung like base carrion to the hound."
The Poets' tomb in every age are the object
How does this jibe with or exemplify,
Shakspere's traditional reputation so-called
for gentleness of spirit and good-will? With
his sympathies and winning disposition? That
it should have been found necessary to exert
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 39
a protecting influence in the village where he
was born and where he had lived all the time
of his youth, where his children were born,
where his father, mother and son were buried,
and where after life's short eventide they bore
him to that quiet resting-place in the chancel
of his parish church. That there should have
been so little respect shown, much less honor
and reverence, to those bones that were Shak-
spere's, if the immortalities were really writ-
ten by the Stratford actor.
Be the cause what it may, not one of the
three hundred and thirty-two contemporary
English poets sought shelter for his ashes un-
der the aegis of malediction.
If in pressing his claim the money lender
elects to be a tormentor and a common-field
vandal (1614-1616), his name will be exe-
crated while living and a hateful memory
when dead, so the curse-inscribed slab was
placed over Shakspere's grave as a shield to
protect his ashes from those who would not
hesitate to invade the tomb of one whose mem-
ory had become hateful to them.
One thing is evidenced by the maledictory
epitaph, that the one who wrote it was afraid
40 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the tomb might be vialoted by the removal of
Who were they that would most likely in-
vade Shakspere's tomb? Obviously the poor
people who regarded the Stratford actor as a
grasping usurer, a hard-hearted man who
pressed poor debtors with all the rigor of the
law, to enforce the payment of petty sums, the
man who had shown himself supremely selfish
in an attempt to enclose the Stratford common
lands, the man who would be made a gentle-
man by misrepresentation, fraud and false-
hood. However, the awful malediction
makes this fact known that the desecration of
Shakspere's grave was thought more than
probable, for he threatens his fellow-towns-
men with a curse should they disturb his bones
"you will be blest if you do not, but ac-
cursed if you do."
It seems an extraordinary anomaly to many
persons, who believe that the Stratford actor
was the author of the only instance of a poet
or author having his grave guarded by a mal-
ediction. "Lines which have in them," writes
Washington Irving, "something extremely
Go visit the sacred spots, "temples of silence
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 41
and reconciliation," where lie or are com-
memorated the poets in every land of song.
Some there were who mingled too strenuously
in the strifes of the day, like Dante and Mil-
ton, who might have thought that their ene-
mies would not let their bones rest in peace,
but nowhere do we find their dreamless dust
resting beneath a "stony register" imprecating
a curse on the man who should molest his
Away with all this nonsense about Puritans,
clerks and sextons snatching Shakspere's bones
out of his grave in the chancel and flinging
them into the bone yard! Why then, was
Shakspere haunted with the thought that the
exhumationist w r ould disturb his bones?
The reason why is disclosed in the "Cor-
poration Records," "Green's Diary," "Wheler
Collection Stratford-on-Avon." For here
may be found in dusty records the facts which
the biographers of Shakspere are striving to
shun, in order to keep "Shakespeare" as they
imagine, from going into the limbo of ex-
As a matter of fact, if William Shakspere
had died in the early months of the year 1614,
before the great excitement and riot at Strat-
42 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ford, respecting an attempted enclosure of the
neighboring common fields, the guardian lines
would never have been cut on his tomb, for
Shakspere could then have had no fear that
his tomb would be disturbed. But in the aut-
umn of the year Shakspere became implicated
and disgracefully involved with Combe and
Mainwaring in an attempt to enclose the com-
mon fields, which belonged to the Corporation
of Stratford. At the time of Shakspere's death
the strife was extremely bitter. Thirty-four
days before he closed his eyes, a petition was
sent up by the Corporation of Stratford to the
Lord Chief Justice, Sir Edward Coke, who
was on the Warwickshire Assize and a cham-
pion of popular rights, standing like a stone
wall against the contumacious resistance
which William Combe, William Shakspere
and Arthur Mainwaring were offering to the
authority of the Corporation. And in reply
the Chief Justice declared from the bench at
Warwick that no enclosure should be made
within the parish of Stratford for it was
against the law of the realm.
This order was confirmed on the same cir-
cuit two years afterwards. "By whose Char-
ter of Incorporation (Edward VI), the Coun-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 43
cillors and the Bailiff, Francis Smyth Sr., say
the common fields passed to the town for the
benefit of the poor, wherein live above seven
hundred poor which receive almes, whose cur-
ses and clamours will be poured out to God
against the enterprise of such a thing."
Nevertheless, the three land cormorants,
Combe, Shakespere and Mainwaring, were in
no complying mood and they proceeded in
defiance of their orders, to throw down the
banks and to cut up the four hundred acres
of corn land into pasture fields.
The Stratford common fields, known as
Stratford field, Bishopton field and Wilcombe
field, contained altogether about 1600 acres;
Wilcombe field contained about 400 acres.
Against the threatened invasion of the land
sharks the Corporation showed a splendid re-
sistance. "The town councillors of Stratford
were determined to preserve their inheritance,
they would not have it said in future times
they were the men who gave way to the un-
doing of the town all three fires were not so
great a loss to the town as the enclosure would
be as an injury to the town charities and
On December 23rd the Council drew up
44 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
two letters to be delivered in London, one ad-
dressed to Mainwaring, who resided in Lon-
don and was represented in Stratford by one
Replingham, and who like Combe and Shak-
spere knew all about the state of high excite-
ment and valiant commotion at Stratford; and
the other to Shakspere, who resided in Strat-
ford but was now in London part of the time.
But instead of assuming a protective attitude
toward the people Shakspere gave his fellow-
townsmen a stout resistance. It is recorded of
him that the latest moments of his life were
dedicated to the pursuit of the nefarious
scheme known as the enclosure of the Strat-
ford common fields in defiance of the public
In all that stands for the repression of pop-
ular rights William Shakspere of Stratford
showed himself to be as perverse as was his
confederate, William Combe, the new Squire
of Welcombe, who proclaimed his succession
to his father's lands and his power as a petty
magistrate by arbitrarily sending a person
(one Hicox) to Warwick jail, and refused
bail merely because he "did not behave him-
self with such respect in his presence it seem-
eth he looked for."
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 45
The matter contained in the subject of the
enclosure at Wilcombe set forth in the details
of the hard struggle, is preserved in the Strat-
ford Records, where it is represented in its
Notwithstanding the dark ways and vain
shuffling by conventional writers of "Shake-
speare's" so-called "Lives," the true personal-
ity of the Stratford man, Shakspere, is best
shown by the recorded facts of his life more
especially contained in the subject matter of
the attempted enclosures at Wilcombe, 1614-
1618 (Wheler Papers) Corporation Records.
The Charter granted by Edward VI to the
Corporation of Stratford-on-Avon settled on
it the tithes for the support of the refounded
school and almshouses. The year 1614 was
as direful as any in the history of the old,
thatched-roof town. For the third time in
twenty years Stratford had been "greatly ruin-
ated by fire."
There died in July that year (1614), just
about the time of the Great Fire July 9th
John Combe, the usurious money-lender and
notorious litigant, who for thirty years kept
the local court of record busy with suits to re-
cover small debts, who was Shakspere's espec-
46 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ial friend and to whom he left a legacy of five
The passing of a usurious money-lender in
"spacious time" when the law gave a gener-
ous advantage to the creditor and its vile pris-
on to the breadwinner of the poor man's fam-
ily, was very good cause for rejoicing, for then
life for the lowly became more nearly worth
living, for there was one tormentor the less.
Notwithstanding his litigious course John
Combe, a confirmed bachelor, was probably
the best member of a family of hard creditors.
Two brothers, a sister, many nephews, nieces,
cousins, uncles and aunts, were all bountifully
remembered in his will. However, the peo-
ple of Stratford derisively condemned his
then un-Christian practice of lending at the
rate of ten per cent, and his rigorism in the
pursuit of defaulting debtors.
"Here lyes ten in the hundred
In the ground fast ramn'd,
'Tis a hundred to ten
But his soul is damn'd."
(Camden's Remains 1614)
But it was John Combe's testamentary be-
quests which proved so trying to the souls of
the good people of Stratford. His nephew,
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 47
Thomas Combe, was his heir and residuary
legatee and he succeeded to a large part of his
uncle's vast property, and in connection with
his rantankerous brother, William Combe,
forthwith started enclosures at Welcombe.
The fours years' struggle that followed was
the bane of Stratford and the opprobrium of
Warwickshire, from the autumn of 1614 until
squelched by the Court's order in 1618. But
before starting these nefarious schemes of en-
closures, two months after their uncle's death
they had their henchmen inquire who were
most likely to be tempted (bribed).
Thomas Greene drew up a list of the "An-
cient freeholders" in Old Stratford and Wel-
combe. Shakspere heads the list and was one
of the chief holders of the tithes; his share was
worth sixty pounds a year. Shakspere, pre-
vious to the attempted enclosures at Wel-
combe, had purchased of the elder Combes
127 acres which joined the coveted common
fields, and in approving of the scheme of en-
closures and giving it a lift, Shakspere was
like the farmer who asserted, "I ain't greedy
'bout land, I only just want what j'ines mine."
The Corporation, depending on the com-
mon lands of Welcombe which were tithe
48 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
producing, for the maintenance of its seven
hundred poor who received alms, saw in this
scheme (the threatened enclosure), a reduc-
tion of tithes from which were endowed their
school and almshouses. No wonder the inva-
sion of popular rights was fervently resented
by the Corporation. It would only be through
the tithes that Shakspere might sustain loss as
his interest in the tithes may be depreciated.
So then, at the outset of the common land
grabbing scheme, William Combe, through
his "man Friday" one Replingham on Oc-
tober 28, 1614, drafted "Articles" guarantee-
ing Shakspere from prospective loss, and at
Shakspere's suggestion the terms were to in-
clude his cousin, Thomas Greene, Town
Clerk, although not told at the time but sub-
sequently he records in his Diary:
9 Ja (1614) Mr. Replyngham 28
October articled with Mr. Shak-
spear I was put in by T Lucas.
"The Miscellaneous Documents" and report
of the Council meetings at the Town Hall
give details of their actions (Wheler Papers
at Stratford, 1806).
Thomas Greene, Town Clerk, makes an en-
try in his Diary on the 23rd December, 1614:
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 49
"A (at the town) Hall Letters wryt-
ten one to Mr. Maneryng annother
to Mr. Shakspeare with about all the
Companys hands to either. I also
wryte of myself to my cosen Shak-
speare the coppyes of all our oathes
made then also a note of the incon-
veniences wold grow by the Inclos-
See insert page for the exact reproduction
of the entry in Thomas Greene's Diary on the
23rd December, 1614. ~h <f <*
"The inconveniences" about which Greene
wrote may be anything that disturbs comfort,
impedes progress, giving trouble or entailing
suffering. For enclosure would have caused
decay of tillage, penury, depopulation and the
subversion of homes. Both of the letters to
Shakspere have disappeared, that to Main-
waring has been preserved, for there is a con-
temporary copy in Thomas Greene's hand-
writing of the letter to Manwaring, doubtless
the counterpart of that to Shakspere is extant
among the Stratford archives. (Wheler Pa-
Thomas Greene was appointed steward of
the Court of Record, Stratford-on-Avon on
50 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
September 7th, 1603. There was no town
clerk then, the steward did the duties until
the office of town clerk was created in 1610.
He conducted the Addenbroke prosecution,
1608-9, at which time he was living in Shak-
spere's house New Palace. He was a Coun-
cillor of Middle Temple and a solicitor in
whose diary and correspondence we find allu-
sions to his cousin Shakspere, but nothing in
regard to Poets, Play-wrights, Poems o r
In November (1614), Thomas Greene,
Clerk of the Council, proceeded to London to
present a petition to the Privy Council. With-
in twenty-four hours of his arrival he called
upon "Cosin Shakspeare" and writes in his
"Jovis 17 Nov (1614) My Cosin
Shakspeare comyng yesterday to
town I went see him how he did He
told me that they assured him they
ment to enclose noe further then to
Gospell Bushe and soe upp straight
(leavyng out part of the Dyngles to
the Field) to the Gate in Clapton
hedge and take in Salisburyes piece
and that they mean in Aprill to sur-
vey the land and then to gyve satis-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 51
faction and not before and he and
Mr. Hall say they think ther will be
nothyng done at all."
The entry shows that Shakspere had a talk
about the enclosure with his son-in-law, Dr.
Hall, and the upshot of the matter was that
they had reached the conclusion that "ther
will be nothyng done at all."
Those who have read as many books as my-
self, called A Life of "Shakespeare," will not
be surprised to find this entry perverted by
the garbler of quotations by means of the con-
venient expedient of substituting "should" for
And then as though it were the correct read-
ing say that Shakespeare (Shakspere), "is tak-
ing things easy."
However, the Corporation had no such as-
surance for they were not permitted by the
Combe-Shakspere Camp "to take things easy"
as the attempted design of enclosure not only
incites public disturbance at home but stirs
What a time for "taking things easy!"
Eighty-five houses and many huts had of late
been burned and were still smoldering. In
the midst of extremest desolation hundreds of
52 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
people in his native village were without shel-
ter, depressed by the sickening sense of home-
lessness and children's cries, pinched with
want of food; fathers and mothers who had
shared the sports of his childhood evoking the
memories of home which years have no power
to stifle. Surely their cry of distress and need
should have been a check upon Shakspere's
greediness, whether or not he was the poet and
There is no reason to suppose that Shak-
spere was much of the time in Stratford while
its inhabitants were in a state of high excite-
ment, although he is supposed to have severed
all connection with the company at the Globe
(Theatre). But it seems probable that Shak-
spere, according to Dr. C. W. Wallace, retains
his lodging at the wig-maker's, one Mount-
joy, who lived at the corner of Silver and
Mugwell Streets, London. Although living
idly with the wig-maker in Silver Street "the
region of money," Shakspere had little incli-
nation to slip out of London and mingle with
his tumultuous and riotous confederates. He
is too prudent a man to do such a thing as
that; he means to deprive the people of their
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 53
rights in the common fields in such a way as
to keep his own person in perfect safety.
During the struggle a brave fearlessness
distinguished the faithful town clerk, Thomas
Greene, as a champion of popular rights who
records in his Diary how the one who drew up
the "Articls" tempted him:
"On Wednesday being the llth day
(January) At night Mr. Repling-
ham supped with me and Mr. W.
Barnes was to beare him company
when he assured me before Mr.
Barnes that I should be well dealt
withall confessing former promesses
by himself Mr. Manynyng and his
agreement for me with my Cosen
Mr. Mainwaring referred to, like Shak-
spere, co-operated with Combe Brothers, and
writes Halliwell-Phillips, "had been practi-
cally bribed by some land arrangement at
Welcombe." How about Shakspere?
Inasmuch as the Aldermen in those letters
to Mainwaring, which is doubtless a coun-
terpart of the one to Shakspere under date De-
cember 23, 1614, say: "We here that some
land is conveyed to you in Welcombe and that
you intend enclosure."
54 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Bribed or not Combe, Mainwaring and
Shakspere "were acting in unison when re-
strained by the Court's order against them."
In such a juncture had Shakspere been a man
of the people "one of them" it is certain
the Corporation would never have addressed
a letter of remonstrance to him on the subject
of enclosures, for he would not have counte-
nanced an attempted enclosure of the common
fields; but instead should have brought an ac-
tion on his own account against Combe broth-
ers, not only for trespass but for the deprecia-
tion of his profits as tithe-owner legally due
him, for he had bought the 32-years lease of
part of Stratford tithes, and also a suit against
them in the Star Chamber for riots. But in-
stead Shakspere showed a stubborn resistance
in his opposition to his fellow-townsmen in
their struggle to preserve their inheritance,
and a determination to "feather his own nest"
by making conditions with Mainwaring and
Replingham (who were acting for Combe),
which secured himself from all possible loss
by approving of, and helping forward a
scheme to fleece poor people of Stratford of
their ancient common fields.
Shakspere and Mainwaring it seems, were
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 55
fighting the Corporation on a contingent fee,
but Combe and his coterie having lost the case
they got nothing for the land arrangements
at Welcombe, if any were promised, were
never fulfilled. But nevertheless, had it not
been for their great wealth the four rapacious
disturbers of the public tranquility, William
and Thomas Combe, William Shakspere and
Arthur Mainwaring, would have received in
all probability a good sousing in the Avon
for their attempt to strip the town of its rights
in the common fields by starting an insurrec-
tion, and a jail sentence to boot.
In the time of Elizabeth the Great and
James the little they had a summary and cruel
way of dealing with poor men, and a pro-
tracted and tender way of dealing with rich
men. The bailiff, Francis Smyth, Senior, and
the Counselors, in the letter on December 23,
1614, to Mainwaring, which is say writers
in no wise partial to heresy the counterpart
of that to Shakspere.
"We here that some land is conveyed to you
in Welcombe and that you intend enclosure.
We entreat you to call to mind the manifold
great and often miseries the B rough hath sus-
tained by casualties of fires fresh in memory
56 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
and now of late one dying in the ashes of deso-
lation" (and beseech you Mr. Mainwaring)
"in your Christian meditation to bethink you
that such inclosure will tend to the great dis-
abling of performence of those good meanings
of that godly King (Edward VI) to the ruyn
of this brough wherein live above seven hun-
dred poor which receive almes whose curses
and clamours will be poured out to God
against the enterprise of such a thing." (Whe-
When the dreadful fire took place in 1614,
Shakspere was fifty years of age, and his
memory unfolded the succession of frightful
fires, 1594-1598-1614, all within the short time
of twenty years. His kinsman, Thomas
Greene, Clerk to the Aldermen, amidst these
distressful scenes of desolation wrote a private
letter to "my Cosen Shakspere." The cold,
raw wind w r ailed mournfully on that drear
Christmas morning of 1614, when amid pres-
ent gloom he kindled Shakspere's mind with
the memories of a terrible past. How that for
the third time the Corporation was forced to
petition the Queen for the remission of taxes,
the homeless people calling for shelter and
food. And now the Corporation is asking to
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 57
be relieved of the care of their seven hundred
poor which received alms, and if the riotous
Combe, Mainwaring and Shakspere are not
restrained by order of Court the Corporation
will be forced to petition the Queen for per-
mission to collect for their poor in the neigh-
boring towns and counties. For enclosures at
Welcombe meant decay of tillage in the com-
mon fields, a reduction of tithes from which
were endowed their school and almshouses
and repair of bridge.
The year 1615 saw the storm of battle rise
with pitiless fury. Just at that time the leader
of the band of rioters, Mr. William Combe,
had been made High Sheriff of the County,
charged with the conservation of the peace
and the execution of the mandates of the
courts. But instead, the very officer commis-
sioned by the Crown to prevent riots, was him-
self engaged in a riot and had the audacity to
question my Lord Chief Justice's authority.
No wonder that in the petition of the 27th of
March, 1615, the Corporation asked that the
High Sheriff should be restrained. Thomas
Greene says in his Diary on the 5th Decem-
ber, that six of the company (himself among
them) were to "go to Mr. Combe and present
58 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
their loves and desire he would be pleased to
forbeare the enclosing. They went on the 9th.
Mr. Thomas Combe said 'they were all currs'
and spoke of spitting one of the dogs."
Thomas Greene writes "that on 7th Janu-
ary William Combe had told Baylis that some
of the better sort ment to go and throw down
the ditches," (ditch fences), round the land
Combe, Mainwaring and Shakspere attempt-
ed to enclose, and added, "I would they
durst in a threatening manner with very great
passion and anger." Nevertheless, some of
the corporation went themselves to prevent a
breach of the peace and filled in the ditches.
They were personally maltreated by the gang
of rioters, Stephen Sly, a servile assistant
among them, said that "if the best in Stratford
were to go there to throw the ditch down he
would bury his head at the bottom." William
Combe said, "They were a company of fac-
tious knaves they were puritan knaves and un-
derlings in the colour and he will do them all
the harm he can." However, while the battle
raged the remainder of the ditches were being
filled in by women and children.
On the 12th of January (1614-15) Mr.
Replingham, spokesman for Combe, Main-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 59
waring and Shakspere, came to the hall hop-
ing to bring over the company to give consent
to their wicked scheme, but the bailiff said he
would never agree to their nefarious scheme
as long as he lived. Then Mr. Replingham
wanted him to bind some of the inhabitants
over to good behaviour. Thomas Greene said
he would not bind them for all his Clerk's
fees. The sturdy honesty of the Town Clerk
is here manifest.
On the 25th of January Mr. Chandler and
Mr. Daniel Baker went to London for the
Corporation to take an attorney's opinion as
to legal action, and on the 24th of February
they took Chief Justice Coke's opinion. On
the 22nd of March Mr. Chandler, for the
Corporation, did present a petition to the Lord
Chief Justice at Coventry and William
Combe, leader of these disturbers of the pub-
lic peace, called him (Chandler) a knave and
a liar to his face.
The Lord Chief Justice bade Chandler re-
mind him of the case when he came to War-
wick on the 27th (1615). When reminded by
Chandler, and in reply to a petition from the
Town Council on March 27, 1615, the Chief
Justice, Sir Edward Coke, declared from the
60 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
bench at Warwick that the enclosures set at de-
fiance the law of the realm: "that noe enclos-
ure shall be made within the parish of Strat-
ford for that yt is agynst the Lawes of the
Realme neither by Mr. Combes nor any
On the 12th April Mr. Alderman Parsons
reported that he had been beaten by Mr.
Combe's men and the tenants complained that
they had been railed at by Mr. Combe for
plowing on their own land within the intended
enclosure. The Corporation told Mr. Combe
that they desired his good-will but they would
ever withstand the inclosure for, said they,
"We are all sworn men for the good of the
Borough and to preserve their inheritance
therefor they would not have it said in future
time they were the men which gave way to the
undoing of the town and that all three fires
were not so great a loss to the town as the en-
closures would be."
On 21 February, 1615-16, the Corporation
agreed that the charges to preserve their in-
heritance should be defrayed out of the reve-
nue. The Corporation had been forced into
great expense? They sent the Town Clerk,
Thomas Greene, often to Warwick and to
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 61
London and all because of William Combe
and William Shakspere's rapacious greed and
insatiate money-hunger. William Shakspere
was the only one of the four persons conspicu-
ously engaged in the struggle to wrongfully
dispossess the Corporation of its rights in the
common fields, in defiance of the Court's or-
ders who was a native of Stratford-on-Avon.
Mainwaring resided in London, the Combes
came to Stratford from North Warwickshire.
There were as many as thirty tithe owners,
the largest, Richard 'Lane, having an interest
worth eighty pounds to Shakepere's sixty
pounds Shakspere having the next largest
share. But unlike Shakspere, Lane was
friendly to the cause of popular rights; this
may be inferred inasmuch as the Corporation
addressed no letter of remonstrance to him on
the subject of enclosures.
Thomas Greene, Town Clerk, says in his
Diary that the "Company had written through
him to Mr. Mainwaring and to Mr. Shak-
spere." Unlike "my cousin Shakspere," the
Town Clerk, Thomas Greene, took prompt
and effective action in behalf of the townsmen
who had reposed trust in him, in refusing to
approve or help the land-grabbing scheme
62 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
forward, "and <was much excepted to for his
The exceptioners were the disturbers of the
public peace, Combe, Mainwaring and Shak-
spere, for they defied the law of the realm in
their nefarious attempt to enclose the common
fields "within the parish of Stratford." The
faithful Town Clerk's "opposition" may ac-
count for the fact that his lawyer cousin,
Thomas Greene, was not remembered i n
It should be noted 'when Shakepere set
about making his Will his kinsman, Thomas
Greene, a well-informed lawyer who held the
office of Town Clerk, and who acted as solic-
itor and counselor for the Corporation, be-
came Judge of the Stratford Court of Record
and Clerk to the aldermen who had recently
acted as his (Shakspere's) legal adviser in the
matter of the Stratford enclosures at Wei-
combe. Advice which Shakspere we know did
not accept. He was manifestly wrathful and
sought the services of Francis Collins who
was practicing at Warwick, and was much in
the esteem of the Combe family. Note the
fact that Thomas Greene, who gave Shak-
spere legal assistance in the Addenbroke and
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE"
iarker suits was still residing in Stratford at
the time of the making of Shakspere's Will,
but his services were not sought in the draft-
ing and he was not a legatee under Shak-
spere's Will as was Francis Collins.
Thomas Greene, Shakspere's lawyer cousin,
was counselor at law of the Middle Temple,
was admitted to that Inn on November 20,
1595, and was called to the bar on October 29,
1600, but did not quit Stratford till 1617, a
year after his kinsman William Shakspere's
death, when he became identified with Lon-
don and attained considerable eminence at the
metropolitan bar, becoming autumn reader of
64 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
his Inn in 1621 and treasurer in 1629. (Mid-
dle Temple Branch Book).
We are not surprised that no mention was
made in his will of his cousin Thomas Greene,
who was still vigorously opposing Shakspere's
attempt to enclose the common land of the
town, at the very time the document was
signed, March 25, 1616, by William Shak-
spere of Stratford in the presence of five
Nor is it a matter of surprise that Thomas
Combe, hot from the field of strife at Wei
combe, enraged at the resistance shown by the
townsmen, was commemorated by Shakspere
in his Will: "To Mr. Thomas Combe, my
sword." With energy he was still pressing
his own and Shakspere's pretended right to
enclose the borough's common lands adjoin-
ing the town. The Thomas Combe who was
William Shakspere's especial friend and con-
federate, the domineering adversary of the
townsmen, who when asked by the aldermen
and the Town Clerk "to for bear the enclos-
ing", said "they were all curs" (cowardly
What became of Shakspere's sword? Its
legatee, Mr. Thomas Combe, directed his ex-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE"
ecutor by his Will, dated June 20, 1656, to
convert all his personal property into money
and to lay it out in the purchase of land.
It has never been a matter of surprise to me
that Thomas Combe, an old brother in arms,
should have received Shakspere's trenchant
blade, for it is not strange that Shakspere
should not recall the history of trials, priva-
tions, sacrifices and bloodless scenes, through
which he knew Thomas Combe, the younger
nephew of his old friend John Combe, the no-
torious usurer and litigant, had passed at Wei-
There was still room for the execution of
heroic deeds for there was hope that the wo-
men and children, who were then busy with
shovel and hoe filling in the ditches, might be
made to falter and blench, while they on the
contrary, quailed not but laughed at the shak-
ing of Shakspere's sheeny sword.
However, Thomas Combe's Will shows
that the legatee, forty years after his benefi-
cent friend's death did not highly regard
Shakspere's bequest. Why? Surely no con-
firmation here of the identification of the
Stratford man's non-literary personality with
the supreme poet of our modern world.
66 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
William Shakspere bequeathed sums of
money wherewith to buy memorial rings for
four townsmen and three "fellows" or play-
ers, but did not extend his testamentary
benefactions to his wife's relations, the
Hathaways. The slightness of his regard
for his wife's family is marked by his con-
temptible remembrance a paltry legacy to
her by an interlineation of his second-best
bed, with the furniture. No Will except
Shakspere's is known in which a bed forms
the wife's sole bequest. He had also barred
her dower under the terms of the Will, he
had excluded her from the enjoyment of
ownership after his death of her home.
Although Shakspere scattered pieces of
money pretty freely by his Will among his
friends and acquaintances, only one ungen-
erous bequest, the rich man's mite, the sum
of ten pounds "unto the poor of Stratford."
But not a single bequest to poet or play-
maker under the Will. This fact taken in
connection with many other pregnant facts
in which more is implied than penned, speak
negatively of Shakspere's association with
Thomas Greene, Town Clerk, notes in his
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE'
Diary, (September, 1615): "Mr. Shaks-
peare telling J. Greene that I was not able
to beare the enclosing of Welcombe."
J. Greene was the Town Clerk's brother
John, to whom were spoken the latest re-
corded words which Shakspere gave expres-
sion to in September, 1615, a little while be-
fore he went down to the grave.
There is a class of writers who read into
this entry in Greene's Diary in, "I was not
able" as, "he," to suit their predetermination
to read Shakspere into the record as a cham-
pion of popular rights. They read into
Shakspere not the things he really did but
the things they thought should fit into a
poet's life, assuming the thing they vainly
endeavored to prove.
Why the September entry should have
been chronicled at all, writes Halliwell-
Phillips, is a mystery. We see nothing puz-
zling or hard to understand in the last ob-
servation September, 1615. The wording
of the entry implies that Shakspere told John
Greene that his brother, Thomas Greene, the
writer of the Diary, was against the enclos-
ures. Shakspere had learned of the Town
Clerk's continued hostility to the nefarious
68 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
scheme from Mr. Replingham, the agent of
the combine, who could doubtless have been
heard telling Shakespere, Mainwaring and
the Combes parties to an association of four
persons to commit an unlawful act, all
about Thomas Greene's continued opposition
to the scheme of enclosure and how he was
schemingly tempted; how much excepted to
for his opposition to the scheme of enclosure
by the land vandals (1614-18) ; and how he
spurned the price of corruption.
Nevertheless, the Town Clerk could not
be swerved the breadth of a hair from the
line of his defense of the town. The alder-
men had reposed trust in him, surely the Cor-
poration must have been proud of their
bribe-less Clerk, who notes in his Diary:
a At Warwick Assisses in Lent 1615-
1616 my Lord Justice willed him
(W Combe) to sett his heart at rest
he should neyther enclose nor lay
down any earrable nor plow any an-
Rowe, Shakspere's first biographer, who
had not read the Miscellaneous Documents
at Stratford-on-Avon, and, of course, knew
very little about the subject of his memoir,
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE'
observes that "His pleasurable Wit and
Good-nature engaged him in the acquaint-
ance and entitled him to the friendship of the
Gentlemen of the neighborhood amongst
them it is a story almost still remembered in
that Country that he had a particular Inti-
macy with a Mr. Combe, an Old Gentleman
noted thereabouts for his Wealth and
We learn from the Records at Stratford
that Shakspere had a particular intimacy also
with two of the old gentleman's nephews,
William and Thomas Combe, disturbers of
the local peace; who play the autocrat, who
torment and bully the poor and who flatter
and bribe the rich. The nature of which dis-
closed by the entries in Greene's Diary and
the Corporation Records:
"7th April, 1615, being Goodfryday
Mr. Barber comyng to Colledge to
Mr. T. Combe about a debt he stood
surety for Miss Quyny, W Combe
willed his brother to shew Mr. Bar-
ber noe favour and threatened him
that he should be served upp to Lon-
don within a fortnight (and so yt fell
70 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Mrs. Quinley failed to meet the obligation.
Thomas Barber had become surety for the
loan and asked for some time in order to meet
the liability. Combe Brothers, however,
would show Mr. Barber no favour but
threatened to send him to jail. The cruel
prosecution here noted by the Town Clerk
crushed Mr. Barber's fortunes, his health was
shattered and his wife was buried August 10,
1615.. Broken-hearted he followed her to the
grave five days later.
On September Sth, Green's Diary shows
that Shakspere sent for the executors of Mr.
Barker (Barber), "to agree as ye said with
them for Mr. Barber's interest."
I fail to see in Shakspere's action a philan-
thropic intent, "but instead a Speculator's in-
tent," and not, as Sir Sidney Lee puts it,
"benevolently desirous of relieving Barber's
estate." But more especially to help his
friend and militant associate, Thomas Combe,
secure the repayment of the loan which he
had made Mrs. Quiney and which Barber be-
came surety for, expediting with the least pos-
sible loss in time and money.
Thomas Greene notes in his Diary,
"Charges of Mr. Barber and Mr. Jeffrey in
PACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 71
riding to London for search in the rolles for
my Lord of Essex's patent." The Town
Clerk's entry notes the fact that Thomas Bar-
ber, who was described as a gentleman of
Shattery and was thrice bailiff of Stratford,
in 1578, 1586 and 1594, had done work of im-
portance for the Corporation.
The eminent and indefatigable Mrs. C. C.
Stopes writes, "It had always been a matter
of surprise to me that Thomas Greene, who
mentioned the death of Mr. Barber, did not
mention the death of Shakespeare." (Shaks-
pere). It is a matter of surprise indeed, see-
ing that his kinsman, Thomas Greene, had
been his legal advisor for so many years,
whether "cousin Shakspere" was or was not
the poet in question.
Is it not also a matter of surprise that
Thomas Greene Shakspere's cousin never
alludes to him as poet or dramatist. In fact,
no one among his many Stratford friends,
neighbors and relations ever did. The omis-
sion of Shakspere's name in his son-in-law's
(Dr. Hall) book of "Cures" is a matter of
surprise. "This was the one great failure of
his life," says Mrs. Stopes (Shakspere's Fam-
ily p. 82). Dr. Hall never alludes to his
72 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
wife's father as poet or dramatist.
Mr. Stevenson's discovery of the Steward's
book of the household expenses incurred at
Belvoir, by Earl of Rutland, from Aug., 1612,
to Aug., 1613, is also matter of surprise and
disappointment to the scholarly Mrs. Stopes,
because "Mr. Shakspeare" is discovered in a
situation inconsistent with the activities of a
poet, who instead of writing sublimest songs
and immortal plays was engaged with Dick
Burbage working at the Earl of Rutland's
new device a mere triviality for a paltry
sum of forty-four shillings.
"It did not quite fit into the known facts
of the poet's career," says Mrs. Stopes, when
the fact is it fitted to a Tee into "the known
facts" of the life of "him who sleeps by
Avon." There is nothing puzzling in the en-
try when read as written in the Account of
Thomas Screven, the Earl of Rutland's clerk:
"1613, Item 31 Mortii, to Mr. Shak-
speare in gold about my Lord's im-
press XLIII JS; to Richard Bur-
bage for paynting and making yt in
gold XLII JS LIVII JS."
The practice of substituting "poet" for the
name Shakspere of Stratford by the Strat-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 73
fordians in their writings when referring to
the Stratford "Miscellaneous Documents,"
Greene's Diary, Wheler Papers, contained in
the Stratford Archives, is as reprehensible
as was the amplifications of Jordan and the
fabrications of Steevens in a vain attempt to
prove a Stratfordian authorship. No Strat-
ford record contemporaneous with him con-
tains a reference to Shakspere as a poet or
When the Greeks of the olden time spoke
of Homer they did not at all times call him
by name. They said the poet. We might
thus speak with as much assurance when the
author of the immortal plays, "Shakespeare,"
and the author of the great Greek epics,
"Homer" who are about equally shadowy
and about equally pre-eminent are allowed
to take rank under pseudonymous names.
William Combe, the chief rioter, continued
to live a long time. He died at Stratford on
January 30, 1666-7, at the age of eighty, nearly
fifty years after his defeat, and was buried in
the Parish Church where his co-militant
friend, William Shakspere, lies buried; where
a monument commemorates him also, but not
fearfully guarded by the calling down of
74 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
curses. However, William Combe was for-
tunate in the time of his death, half a century
after he sued for pardon, but withal most
fortunate in making money, which enabled
him to keep out of prison on paying a fine of
four pounds and the expense of restoring the
lands to the condition in which they were in
the summer of 1614.
If William Combe was fortunate in the
time of his death when his warfare with his
neighbors was over, then his friend and con-
federate, William Shakspere, was unfortunate
in the time of his death in the midst of the
struggle. It is true that Shakspere dying in
1616, was spared the humiliation of a sum-
mons to appear before the Privy Council for
contumacy. On the other hand, Combe's fam-
ily and friends were spared the necessity of
having to chisel an opprobrious epitaph on
the tomb to prevent distinterment. For had
William Combe made his exit from this
world when William Shakspere did in 1616,
or at any time during the struggle from the
autumn of 1614 to the beginning of 1619, in
order to preserve his tomb from desecration,
his family like the Shakspere family, would
probably have inscribed on it a maledictory
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 75
epitaph though not in the Stratford-Shakspere
doggerel. For unlike the Shakspere family
the Combe family was versed in scholastic
learning. William Combe had entered the
Middle Temple on October 17, 1602, though
not called to the bar.
Unlike William Combe, who journeyed all
the length of life's long eventide, taking the
last slow steps with staff and crutch, William
Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, when the
end came had passed but a little way beyond
the noon-time of life. Yet he had lived too
long. Had he died in the early months of the
year 1614, before the riot, the opprobrious
doggerel epitaph would never have been cut
on Shakspere's tomb.
This was the life Shakspere chose to live
when he strove to deprive the little thatched-
roofed town were he was born, of rights
reaching back beyond the memory of tradi-
In the autumn of the year 1615, when the
end was near at hand, Thomas Greene,
Shakspere's attorney and kinsman, penned his
last note in connection with the subject of en-
closures. Shakspere then had but seven
months to live before he saw the last of earth
76 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
on April 23, 1616, a few months after the
Lord Chief Justice, Sir Edward Coke, had
reiterated his warning.
The contemptuous expressions of the people
may have been audible in the death chamber
at New Place, since William Shakspere of
Stratford chose to live in a way that gave of-
fense to the poor of his native village, so that
they manifested hatred towards him. We are
warranted in believing that his remains were
followed to the grave by some persons having
a desire for revenge, and it must needs be that
his bones should have all the protection that
a mean and coarse epitaph in a superstitious
age could give.
So then, in order to preserve Shakspere's
grave from desecration, the Church Wardens
permitted the profanation of his parish church
by a malediction. And for the same reason
Shakspere's scholarly, Puritanical son-in-law,
Dr. John Hall, permitted this rude, ignorant
and boorish epitaph to be engraved on the
tomb, said by certain persons of the "Strat-
fordian faith" to have been written by Shaks-
Surely Shakspere could have no fear that
his grave would be violated by the Puritans,
THE GROUXD BEFORE LOXDOX WAS BUILT
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 77
or by clerks and sextons. But that this haunt-
ing fear shown in his epitaph was imparted by
the lowly dwellers in hovels, who although
heavily burdened with poverty, show a con-
stant determination to resist Shakspere's inva-
sion of their rights.
In Mr. M. R. B. Wheler's "History and
Antiquities of Stratford, 1806," "The Strat-
ford Corporation Records" and "Green's
Diary," are contained the salient particulars
of the life of William Shakspere of Stratford,
which his biographers dare not relate or his
votaries chisel on Shakspere's stone. How the
months of that f atal* year was spent, how he
and his confederates spared no effort to despoil
the dwellers in huts where the ills of life upon
the poor are heaviest,
"A shattered roof a naked floor,
A table a broken chair,
And a wall so blank, their shadow
- they thank
For sometimes falling there."
I call to remembrance my first introduction
to "Shakespeare," in my earlier days "a long
time gone." It seems but a little while ago
78 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
when at a book-stall I exchanged a piece of
money for a volume containing all the Plays
usually published under the name "Shakes-
peare." Beginning with Hamlet, I read
the Plays for the first time and marveled at
the wealth of literature contained in them, the
author's singular mastery of general erudi-
tion, prodigious intellect and transcendent in-
telligence, and felt constrained to read the
Life of the supreme poet of our modern world
and learn the facts of his career recorded by
his supposed biographers. These should
clearly interpret his character to us and make
Shakspere's life harmonize with "Shakes-
peare's" Works, and in this manner establish
the identity of the Stratford Player with the
Playwright. So I began the search in the
pages of his earliest narrator, Nicholas Rowe,
who tells us out of the mouth of Thomas Bet-
terton, the actor, all that he knew about
Shakspere personally, in less than five thous-
and words mere prattlement of no bio-
graphic interest of a literary kind, unless the
mean doggerels about a usurious person, one
Combe, be regarded as such.
The seventeenth century biographer, who
was himself a dramatist and poet-laureate to
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 79
Queen Anne says "I must owe a Particular
Obligation to him (Betterton) for the most
considerable part of the passages relating to
his (Shakspere's) Life, which I have here
transmitted to the Public, his veneration for
the memory of Shakespear having engaged
him to make a journey into Warwickshire on
purpose to gather up what remains he could,
of a Name for which he had so great a Value."
In the latter years of Queen Anne, Thomas
Betterton "is the chief glory of the stage."
Now what were the gleanings gathered
from the sheaves of the actor which places
Rowe under "particular obligation"? Rowe,
the mouthpiece of Betterton, told the after-
date tattle of his day more than a century of
years after date. That "He (Shakspere)
had by a misfortune 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 Strat-
"For this he was prosecuted by that gentle-
man, to that degree that he was obliged to
80 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
leave his business and family in Warwick-
shire and shelter himself in London."
Notwithstanding young Shakspere seemed
to be struggling with the meanest necessities
of life, still I cannot agree with his first bio-
grapher that Will was a game thief, or as
Archdeacon Davies says, was "much given to
all unluckiness in stealing venison and rab-
bits, particularly from Sir Thomas Lucy, who
had him oft whipped and sometimes im-
Now is it a fact that getting into scrapes
is common enough to young fellows like
Shakspere that had been three years married,
who was about twenty-one years old and the
father of three children? However, the
abandonment of wife and children should
have been more bitter and grievous to him
than the accusation of game thief.
That the deer-stealing yarn has a solid basis
of fact, or that it accords with attendant con-
ditions, is I think groundless.
However, we realize the seriousness in the
position of one who finds himself the father
of three children, the two youngest twin-born,
he himself still a minor (under age), and des-
titute of money. Withal, his father in danger
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 81
of arrest for debt, no mistake whatever the
cause. Will was in a desperate situation when
he went hiking up to London shortly after the
baptism of the twins. In connection with, and
apart from Shakspere's improvident marriage,
we gather from subsequent events the facts
which clearly interpret his character to us;
facts however, which do not embrace the deer-
stealing story and which is now with many
writers on the subject of Shakespeare an ad-
junct of Shakespeare's biography, a settled be-
lief with them which does not they say, ad-
mit of a reasonable doubt. But does it make,
or help to make an obscure and profane life,
to harmonize with the immortal verse? The
passage in "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
was probably the source of the fiction instead
of a reference to the fact. Getting into scrapes
by robbing a deer park, an orchard, a melon-
patch or hen-roost, does not furnish a motive
strong enough to induce young Shakspere to
forsake his wife and children, and all this un-
der no severer penalty than three months' im-
Most all the biographers of Shakspere con-
done the game stealing of his younger days,
but several of them fail to see anything that
82 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
imparts a moral obliquity when Shakspere in
his elder days strove to practice land-grabbing
in the enclosures of the Common fields.
'Tis bad enough in man or woman,
To steal a goose from off a Common
But surely he's without excuse
Who steals the Common (field)
from the goose."
Sir George G. Greenwood however, tells us
that "Deer were animals ferae naturae, and as
such were not the subjects of larceny at the
Common law. It was criminal to take them
in a royal forest, but of that there is no ques-
tion here. Further there were statutes which
made it an offense to kill deer in a park im-
paled." (See 5 Eliz. C. 21). We know that
for many generations the students of Oxford
had been the most notorious game-thieves in
all Britain. Sir Philip Sydney's MAY LADY
terms deer-stealing, "a pretty service," and
B aeon says, "It is a sport proper to the no-
bility and men of better rank, and it is to keep
a difference between the gentry and the com-
The law of Shakspere's day (5 Eliz. C 21),
punished deer-stealers with three months' im~
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" S3
prisonment and a payment of thrice the
amount of the damage done.
About forty years after Rowe's first effort
to illustrate Shakspere's individual life was
given to the public in 1709, George Steevens,
the game-cock of commentators, plunged into
Shakespearean criticism and gave the public
that digest of biography, his wee-little life of
Shakspere, which was the second attempt, if
so it may be called. Notwithstanding Steevens
erudite accomplishments and antiquarian
knowledge, he was not inquisitive in the mat-
ter of Shakespeare's personal history, so the
material for its composition (Shakspere
memoir), was drawn from facts in the main
recorded by Rowe, and it consists of the fol-
lowing forty-five words:
"All that is known with any degree of cer-
tainty concerning Shakspere is that he was
born at Stratford-on-Avon, married and had
children, then went to London where he com-
menced actor and wrote poems and plays, re-
turned to Stratford, made his will, died and
On the other hand later biographers require
hulky bulky volumes to record their spurious
traditions and idle conjectures.
84 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Steevens does not repeat the so-called poach-
ing story, which is said to have occasioned
Will's flight to London, or the satirizing tom-
foolishness about a "Mr. Combe, an old gen-
tleman noted for his wealth and usury"; nor
is there any allusion to that old chestnut (the
thousand pound tale) , which has become fishy ;
no bolstering up the Southampton-Shakes-
peare fellowship, although now a feature in
all fanciful Shakespearean biography.
But whenever this irrepressible literary "er-
rant-knight" found the antiquaries and profes-
sionally trained students of literary history
priding themselves on unusual discernment or
critical acumen he hoaxed them unmerci-
And furthermore, it is creditable to
Steevens that he strove to facilitate the atten-
tion of Shakspere's biography by cutting out
much of the guess-work and such stuff as the
manufactured biographic legends, although
his effort in this direction was offset in part by
his own hoaxings.
Rowe says: "The later part of his
('Shakespeare's') life was spent as all men of
sense will wish theirs may be, in ease, retire-
ment and the conversation of his friends."
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 85
Now the fact is Rowe knew nothing about the
way the latter part of Shakespeare's life was
spent and who his friends really were. How-
ever, in recent years the antiquarians have got-
ten in their work on the subject of Rowe's
memoir by unearthing facts which show how
"the latter part of Shakspere's (the Stratford
actor's) life was spent" and who his associates
were, and show the texture of character the
stuff Shakspere's life was made of, and have
made us see that the life he chose to live a
man of letters would not care to live. Rowe
did not know that two of Shakspere's friends
were the brothers Combe, notorious disturbers
of the public peace. And yet these were the
very men with whom Shakspere in retirement
held conversation, during the latter part of
his life, which resulted in a combination to
take possession of the Stratford Common
Fields by trespassers and land-grabbers, called
the "Vendals of 1615," composed of William
Combe, William Shakspere and Arthur
Mainwaring. This invasion of popular rights
was resented. The struggle at Stratford
waged and the townsmen were still in a riotous
state of resistance at the time of Shakspere's
86 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
When Rowe wrote "Some Account of the
life of Mr. William Shakspere" in 1709, the
Shakespeare deposition and attached signature
"Willm Shaks," or Shak'p in the Public Rec-
ord Office had not been the subject-matter of
antiquarian research. No one prior to Pro-
fessor Charles William Wallace' researches
before 1904, "had ever examined them in the
course of three centuries," which, according
to Dr. Wallace bring to view. The family
with whom Shakspere lived, one Mountjoy-
Wigmaker, consisted of the head of the house,
Christopher Mountjoy; Madame Mountjoy
and their daughter, Mary; also Stephen Bel-
lott and William Eaton, who were boarding
there as apprentices to learn the trade of wig-
making; also Joan Johnson, servant, who
speaks of him as "one Mr. Shakespeare that
lay in the house" (he had lodgings there).
So then we are made acquainted with six
more of Shakspere's friends in the latter part
of his life, with whom Shakspere must have
had almost daily conversation, for they were
all living under the same roof with him when
he dwelt there with a wig-maker in Silver
Street, London, from 1598 to 1604, and had
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 87
known the wig-maker and family about thir-
Nevertheless in regard to the matter of au-
thorship, Dr. Wallace struggles to satisfy a
non-literary situation which his own re-
searches had disclosed by conjecturing that
here in these illiterate, rude and base sur-
roundings the supreme poet wrote ten of his
deathless Plays, including "Hamlet," "Julius
Caesar," "As You Like It," "Macbeth" and
"Othello," etc. A mere supposition that has
no basis in recorded fact. This is another of
the many baits cast to lure the reader.
The partisans of the Stratfordian faith
manifest an irrepressible desire to represent
Shakspere as a champion of popular rights,
but the evidences show that Shakspere in the
latter part of his life was dead set against the
popular side and during the last months of his
life set at defiance the rights of the people.
Shakspere's federation with Combe and
Mainwaring in the land-grabbing scheme, the
inclosure of Stratford Common-fields, was due
to his avidity for wealth, to an intense money-
hunger and not to aristocratic pretensions.
This is shown by his long sojourn with the
wig-maker, whose house and shop were under
88 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
one roof. However, Shakspere was not like
Combe, arogant in temper; nevertheless we
are pretty certain of one thing that William
Shakspere's (of Stratford) personal history
cannot be brought within the scope of literary
Why press the pursuit further when all
their researches have failed to unearth the
grains of literary fact, when the caviling crit-
ics seeks to mingle authenticated non-literary
facts with the chaff of fiction.
The two greatest names of all the forepast
centuries, called Homer and Shakespeare,
should be placed side by side inasmuch as the
authorship of the immortal Plays and the au-
thorship of the great Greek Epics, the "Iliad"
and the "Odyssey" are about equally in doubt,
and the great unknown authors about equally
pre-eminent. Shelley in speaking of them
says, "As a poet Homer must be acknowledged
to excel 'Shakespeare,' in the truth, the har-
mony, the sustained grandeur and the satisfy-
ing completeness of his images."
There is a school of critics who have a very
convenient practice of writing biography to
suit their whimsical impressions, and who read
into Shakespeare manufactured tradition
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 89
merely "for filling", or whatever else is grati-
fying according to their desire; that is, it rep-
resents William Shakspere of Stratford, not as
he was but as they thought "Shakespeare" the
immortal poet, should be, a practice inconsis-
tent with rectitude. They are guilty of falsi-
fying the subject of their biography.
However, with a divided personality there
is nothing to restrain, but in the opinion of
very many critics the Stratford player and the
immortal poet are under the same hood an
We are enjoined by critics of Stratfordian
faith to read the story of Shakespeare's life
in Shakespeare's Works. Although the Plays
have been interpolated by others, the alloy is
considerable running through all Shakes-
peare's Plays, so that the genuine fiber of the
poet's life cannot be extracted. And supposing
the Works contained the story of the poet's
life it would be found incongruous to the ma-
terial we know the Stratford player's life was
Nevertheless, some critics amuse themselves
in seeking vainly to deduce the story of the
poet ("Shakespeare") life from his Works,
They give us the suppositions they themselves
90 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
receive from specific sentences in the Plays un-
til there are as many "Shakespeares" as there
"The life of Shakspere is a fine mystery and
I tremble every day lest something should
turn up." Charles Dickens.
Since the great novelist journeyed on into
the other life in 1870, the diligent antiquaries
have turned up something that should jar him
were he now living, and make all things Strat-
fordian quaky. That matter I later refer to.
Nevertheless, the critics and commentators
read into "Shakespeare" their guesses fan-
tastic tricks of the imagination.
In no other biography but "Shakespeare"
so-called, do we find writers indulging so often
in reveries and guess-work, which unfortun-
ately have seduced the historian and misled
the reader, by their statement of them as
proven facts. I hold in my hand a copy of the
more recent of these books of fictitious bio-
graphy called "A Life of William Shakes-
peare. v: We are not surprised at anything in
Shakespearian biography but we receive a
sudden, violent shock from the historian of
"A Short History of the English People" (p.
431) when he jolts the reader, saying, "Rob-
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 91
ert Greene speaks bitterly of him (Shakes-
peare), under the name of "Shakescene."
And that a fellow-playwright, Chettle, ans-
wered Greene's attack on him in words of hon-
est affection." Rather queer that a grave, and
in the main reliable historian, should have
been fooled by the Stratfordians into stating
their worthless conjectures as proven facts.
The critics and commentators having
sneaked "Shakespeare's" name into the
"Shakescene" passage, endeavor vainly to
fool the reader. But as a matter of fact
neither Greene nor Chettle ever named Shake-
speare or any of his Plays. Nevertheless the
Stratfordians are leading the reader to believe
that Greene and Chettle in authenticated rec-
ord make mention of "Shakespeare."
Not perceiving the difference between proof
and opinion, Sir Sidney Lee audaciously as-
sumes the point he endeavors vainly to prove.
It signifies little or nothing how the Stratford
actor spelled his name, although as a matter
of fact he never adopted the literary form
"Shakespeare", but always spelled his name
after the rustic fashion "Shakspere" or "Shaks-
per." "The vulgar pronunciation," according
to Mr. Malone and Mr. Garnett, says William
92 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Shakespeare or (Shakspere) of Stratford, was
a rustic. Mr. Garnett, by the way, is thor-
oughly orthodox. And now if a Stratford
rustic is to be advanced as possessing this pro-
digious intellect and mastery of general erudi-
tion, which in five short years is to begin the
authorship of Plays which belong to the su-
preme rank of literature, there should be some
indication of his activity on or before 1592, for
he should by this time be cramming his life
with the stuff which the life of a maker of
plays is made of. Therefore in order to iden-
tify the Stratford actor, William Shakspere
with the pseudonymous author "Shakespeare,"
whose Plays were coming out anonymously,
Green's Groatworth Shakes-scene letter is
pressed into service in the hope that the Strat-
ford actor (young Shakspere) may be divined
as the author of the Poems and Plays. And
furthermore no account of William Shakspere
has ever been printed since Thomas Trywhitt's
time (1730-85), of which the Groatworth
Shake-scene allusion of Robert Greene is not a
feature. That Shake-scene is meant for
"Shakespeare", or if you like "Shakspere", is
the contention of almost all who hold the
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 93
opinion that William Shakspere of Stratford
was the author of the Plays and Poems.
That position I later contend against. The
attribution was primarily the tentative conjec-
ture of Thomas f werhitt but has now become
the banner-cry of the Stratfordians. The
bulk of all recent biography called "A Life
of William Shakespeare", consists chiefly of
by-gone guess-work stated conjecturally by old
time writers. But when stated as proven fact,
as is usually the case by modern biographers,
is clearly a willful perversion of history, and
in several instances disclose the biographers'
falsification of ancient documents so as to give
them a meaning unlike to that which they bore.
A sample of arrogant Stratfordian audacity is
the substitution of "he" for "I", when read into
the diary of Thomas Green, clerk of the Strat-
That Shakespeare was the object and reci-
pient of Robert Greene's censure (an aver-
ment that has no foundation in fact, a mere as-
sumption without proof). And Chettle's sup-
posed allusion to "Shakespeare" is also mere
guess work. For George Peele "was excellent
in the quality he professes" and surely did pos-
sess "facetious grace in writing." And there
94 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
were also several other persons having actorial
repute who wrote for the stage.
It matters little at whom Greene aimed so
long as "Shakespeare" was not the object of
the aimer. However, the "only Shake-scene"
allusion contained in Greene's letter written to
three poets of his own fellowship, is an earn-
est, heartfelt dissuasive from the practice of
making Plays, which many writers who hold
the Stratfordian faith regard as "A pruning
attack on Shakespeare," and forthwith attack
Greene by foul aspersions, extremely bitter in
tone, bespattering his memory with abuse.
This it seems to me is setting a high value
on mere guess-work. But then we should keep
in mind that the Stratfordians are in desperate
straits. At the time Greene wrote his cele-
brated letter the Plays were anonymous, not
one of the Shakespeare Plays of the period are
of certified authorship. No poem was pub-
lished under the name of "Shakespeare" or un-
der any similar name till 1593; no Play till
1598; no edition of the Sonnets till 1609.
The votaries of "Shakespeare" posing as his
biographers, in the urgency of their desire to
remove doubts which had existed respecting
Shakspere's early London career, prior to the
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 95
year 1592, crave some notation of literary ac-
tivity in the young man who went up from
Stratford to London in 1587 (probably). As
the immortal Plays were coming out anony-
mously and surreptitiously there is a very
strong desire to appropriate "the only Shake-
scene" (dance-scene) reference. For in the
similarity and sound of the compound word
"Shake-scene," consisting of two monosyllabic
words joined so as to be one word, in one of
its elements there is that which fits it to re-
ceive a Shakespearean connotation, thus catch-
ing the popular fancy of the critics and aca-
demic commentator. The use of the compound
word "Shake-rags" by William Kemp, the
great comic actor and jig-dancer, which he
used derisively and as tauntingly as Greene
had used "Shake-scene." The first syllable in
the compound word "Shake-scene" and
"Shake-rags" is as a term of reproach about
Not all Stratfordians hold with Sir Sidney
Lee that the allusion to "Shake-scene" in
Greene's Groatworth of wit is meant for
"Shakespeare". Professor Churton Collins
says, "it is at least doubtful whether this sup-
posed allusion to Shakespeare has any refer-
96 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ence to him at all". However, the coupling
of the only "Shake-scene" allusion in Greene's
"Groatsworth of Wit" with the "facetious
grace in writing" intimation in Chittle Preface
to the "Kind-Hart's Dreame" is still the idle
fancy of some critics. Here again there are
divergencies of opinion among themselves.
All writers who hold the "Stratfordian faith"
do not hold that the person reported to have
"facetious grace in writing" can be identified
with Shakespeare." The distinguished Strat-
fordian critics who maintain that the identifi-
cation is impossible are Mr. Castle, K. C., Mr.
E. K. Chambers, Mr. Fleay, Mr. Howard
Staunton, and Professor George Saintsbury
writes, "Chettle's supposed apology is abso-
lutely, and it would seem studiously anony-
The gentle Andrew Lang not relying on
Chittle's remarks relating to Greene's letter
written to "divers play-makers," proceeds
summarily to throw Chittle's apology so-
called, to "Shakespeare," out through the back
door into the appendix.
However, the critics who are of the Strat-
fordian faith manifest a strong desire to cut
out certain recorded facts which the Stratford
FACTS ABOUT "SHAKESPEARE" 97
actor had put into his life of fifty-two years.
And no wonder the brain of the plucky Mrs.
Stopes reels when she struggles to identify
"Mr. Shakespeare" with one John Shake-
speare, bit-maker. She is balked at the do-
ings of Belvoir Castle in 1613, which disclose
the employment of a supposed great dramatist,
an immortal poet ("Shakespeare"), when at
the utmost height of his fame engaged with
Dick Burbage, "about my Lord's impreso," a
thing (device) of little value or consequence.
Will and Dick each received the picayunish
sum of forty-four shillings, an unlikely kind
of activity to say the least, if Will was the au-
thor of the immortal Plays.
A GROUP OF LONDON AUTHORS OF THE XVI CENTURY
Sylvester, Selden, Beaumont (standing)
Camden, Earl of Dorset, Fletcher, Sir Francis Bacon (seated)
AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRUE
PERSONALITY OF THE MAN
WILLIAM SHAKSPERE OF
SHOWN BY THE RECORDED
FACTS OF HIS LIFE.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRUE PER-
SONALITY OF THE MAN WILLIAM
SHAKSPERE OF STRATFORD-ON-AVON,
As SHOWN BY THE RECORDED FACTS
OF His LIFE.
HPILL about the middle of the 19th century
it was the current belief that it is as cer-
tain as any truth of physical science, that the
most intellectual of the human race was born
at or near Stratford-on-Avon. Till then nc
person is known to have said that the "War-
wickshire provincial" could not have been the
author of "Hamlet", "Lear" and "Othello".
And notwithstanding all that has been written
there is a feeling of unrest as to "Shakespeare"
in the public mind. This restlessness is due in
the main to antiquarian research resulting in
an assemblage of things, such as the unearth-
ing of non-literary facts in the Municipal
Archives, which Mr. Hallowell Phillips has
given in part in his "Outlines." The new,
non-literary discoveries by Charles William
Wallace, in the Public Record Office, also the
102 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
brand new discoveries in 1905, among the
Belvoir papers about trivial fancy work
The absence of any reference to the Shakes-
peare Plays by Sir Thomas Bodley, in a letter
to the librarian of the Bodleian Library. Note
the fact the founder of the Library is writing
about plays, play-books and baggage-books
when Shakespeare was at the meridian splen-
dor of his fame (1600). The fact that the
plays of Shakespeare were unnoticed by this
eminent man of letters (Sir Thomas Bodley),
is due probably, to their anonymity, and to
what Professor Masson designates as the as-
tonishing characterization of Shakespeare ex-
pressed by the words "reticence", "non-con-
cern" and "non-participation".
Whomsoever, the great dramatist was
"whose definition or use of a word, all the Dic-
tionaries, all the Scholars in the world regard
as final", could not have been a provincial rus-
tic. However, we are again reminded of Dr.
Ingleby saying that "the bard of our admira-
tion was unknown to the men of that age". It
was this saying that woke up my thoughts
when reading again the Table Talk of John
Selden (1584-1654), antiquarian, scholar and
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 103
jurist, a contemporary of the world's very
greatest poet should not he have left records
>f him contained in his Table Talk, which was
recorded and published by his amanuensis,
Richard Milward, who lived with him for
When the Stratford actor, William Shaks-
pere died in 1616, John Selden was 32 years
of age. The Folio of 1623, the first collected
edition of the "Shakspeare" Plays, gave Sel-
den a fine opportunity of studying this prodi-
gious intellect in his greatness, for when Sel-
den died on the 30th of November, 1654, the
Folio of 1623 had been in print thirty-one
years. He had a very choice library of books,
as well in M. S. as printed, but not a single
one from Shakespeare, as the eight thousand
volume gift to the Bodleian Library attest. He
wrote in his books "Above all things Liberty".
But this great man who was usually styled the
great dictator of learning of the English na-
tion, is silent about "Shakespeare" in his cele-
brated Table Talk. There are a great variety
of subjects discussed, including "Authors,"
"Books", "Philosophy", and under the head of
poetry we read, "Ovid was not only a fine
poet but as a man may speak, a great canon
104 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
lawyer, as appears in his 'Fasti', where we
have more of the festivals of the old Romans
than anywhere else ; Tis pity the rest are lost".
To the famous John Selden's legal mind
it seems that Ovid was not only a fine poet but
a great lawyer. It is to be regretted that the
great scholar and jurist had never read in all
probability the immortal Plays, and, of course
could not deal with Shakespeare's legal attain-
ments, if any such there were.
The Table Talk of John Selden contains,
according to Coleridge, "more weighty bul-
lion sense" than he had ever found in the same
number of pages of any uninspired writer".
Selden not only bearded tyranny but he kept,
says Aubry, a plentiful table and was never
without learned company, frequently that of
Jonson, Drayton, Chapman and Camden.
Drayton's first edition of the "Poly-olbion"
was enriched by the notes and illustrations of
the poet's "learned friend", John Selden. Sel-
den was introduced to King James I by Ben
Jonson. Selden, with Camden, attended the
banquet given by Ben after his and Chapman's
release from prison.
William Shakspere or Shaksper, the first
son and third child of John Shakspere, is sup-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 105
posed to have been born at a place on the chief
highway or road leading from London to Ire-
land, where the road crosses the river Avon.
This crossing was called Street-ford or Strat-
ford. This at any rate was the place of his
baptism in 1564, as is evidenced by the Parish
register, where the name is writen Jonnis
The name was not made up of Shake and
Speare, there is no E in the first syllable and
no A in the last, according to the way the
Stratford actor spelled his name, when he
signs himself "Shakspere" there are no excep-
tions in his autographs. Arranged in chrono-
logical order, they are, (1) the abbreviated
signature Shak'p to the deposition in the Bel-
lott-Mountjoy suit, 11 May 1612. (2) Signa-
ture to the purchase deed of a house in the
Blackfriars, 10 March 1613. (3) Signature
to the mortgage deed of same March, 1613,
and the three autograph signatures severally
written on three sheets of the Will, March
The next proven fact is that of his marriage
in 1582, when he was little more than eigh-
teen years old. Before this event nothing is
known in regard to him.
106 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
John Shakspere, the father, apparently, of
William Shakspere, is first discovered and de-
scribed as a resident of Henley Street, Strat-
ford, where our first glimpse is had of him in
April, 1SS2. In that year he was fined the sum
of twelve pence for violation of sanitary regu-
lations. The number of petty suits for debt in
which he was implicated, show a litigious dis-
position. Nothing is known in regard to the
place of his birth and nurture, nor in regard
to his ancestry. John Shakspere seems to have
been a chapman, trading in farm produce.
In 1557 he married Mary Arden, the sev-
enth and youngest daughter of Robert Ar-
den, who had left to her fifty-three acres and
a house called Asbies at Wilmcote. She also
acquired an interest in two messuages at Smit-
terfield. This step gave John Shakspere a
reputation among his neighbors of having
married an heiress, and he was not slow to take
advantage of it. His official career com-
menced at once by his election, in 1557, as an
ale taster, "to see to the quality of bread and
ale". He was amerced as a punishment the
same year for not keeping his gutters clean.
In 1568 he was elected High Bailiff of
Stratford. John Shakspere was the only mem-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 107
:r of the Shakspere family that was honored
r ith civic preferment and confidence, serving
ic corporation for the ninth time in several
functions. However, the time of his declina-
tion was at hand, for in the autumn of 1577,
'the wife's property at Asbies was mortgaged
for forty pounds. The money subsequently
tendered in repayment of the loan was refused
until other sums due to the same creditor were
John Shakspere was deprived of his alder-
manship, September 6th, 1586, because he did
not come to the hall when notified. On March
29th, 1577, he produced a writ of habeas cor-
pus which shows he had been in prison for
debt. Notwithstanding his inability to write,
he had more or less capacity for official busi-
ness, but so managed his private affairs as to
wreck his own and his wife's fortune. At the
time of the habeas corpus matter, William
Shakspere was thirteen years old. "In all
probability", says his biographer, "the lad was
removed from school, his father requiring his
assistance". There was a grammar school in
Stratford which was reconstructed on a pre-
Reformation foundation by Edward VI. No
Stratford record nor Stratford tradition says
108 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
that Shakspere attended the Stratford gram-
mar school. But had the waning fortune of
his father made it possible, he might have been
a student there from his seventh year the
probable age of admission until his improvi-
dent marriage when little more than eigh-
teen years old. However, a provincial gram-
mar school is a convenient place for the lad
about whose activities we know nothing, and
whose education is made to impinge on con-
jecture and fanciful might-have-been.
We are told that William Shakspere must
have been sent to the grammar school at Strat-
ford, as his parents and all the relatives were
unlearned persons, and there was no other pub-
lic education available ; nevertheless it was the
practice of that age to teach the boy no more
than his father knew.
One thing is certain, that the scholastic
awakening in the Shakspere family was of
short duration, for it began and ended with
William Shokspere, whose youngest daughter
Judith, was as illiterate as were her grand-
parents. She could not even write her name,
although her father, the now putative author,
at the time of her school age, had become
wealthy. When Judith Shakspere was invited
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
in December, 161 1, to be a subscribing witness
to two instruments, in both instances her at-
testation was executed with marks. Judith
had then attained the age of twenty-six years,
and his eldest daughter, "the little premature
Susanna" as De Quincy calls her, could barely
scrawl her name, being unable to identify her
husband's (Dr. John Hall's) handwriting,
which no one but an illiterate could mistake.
Her contention with the army surgeon, Dr.
James Cook, respecting her husband's manu-
'scripts, is proof that William Shakspere was
true to his antecedents by conferring illiteracy
upon his daughters.
William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon
was not exceptionally liberal and broad-
minded in the matter of education in contrast
with many of his contemporaries, notably
Richard Mulcaster (1531-1611) who says that
"the girl should be as well educated as her
While the real author of the immortal plays
had written, "There is no darkness but ignor-
ance". "This house is as dark as ignorance,
though ignorance were as dark as hell"
(Twelfth Night) "seeing ignorance is the
curse of God" (2 Henry VI) "O, thou monster
110 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ignorance, how deformed dost thou look".
(Love's Labor Lost).
William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon
we know, was born to ignorant parents, nur-
tured in a bookless home which his unlettered
father gave him from necessity, and not from
choice. But why should the home of this
wealthy son be as illiterate and as bookless as
that which he had provided for his own chil-
dren? "Dull unfeeling barren ignorance"
Wealth had brought no change in the en-
vironment of the Shaksperes of Stratford in
the matter of education. However, it was not
the least of John Shakspere's misfortunes that
in November, 1582, his oldest son, William,
added to his embarrassment by premature and
forced marriage. It is the practice of Shaks-
pere's biographers to pass hurriedly over this
event in the young man's life, for there is noth-
ing commendable in his marital relations.
There is expressed in it, irregularity of con-
duct and probable desertion on his part. Pres-
sure was brought to bear on the young man
by his wife's relations, and he was forced to
marry the woman whom he had wronged.
Who can believe that this marriage was a
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 111
happy one, when the only written words con-
tained in his will are not words expressive of
connubial endearment such as "Dear wife" or
"Sweet wife 1 ' but "My wife". He had for-
gotten her, but, by an interlineation, in the
final draft of his Will, she received his second
best bed with its furniture. This was the sole
bequest made to her.
Mr. Charles Elton, Q. C., informs us
through Sir Sidney Lee (p. 274) that "Shaks-
pere barred the dower". We agree with Sir
Sidney Lee "that the bar was for practical pur-
poses, perpetual, and disposes of Mr. Halli-
well-Phillipp's assertion that Shakespeare
(Shakspere's) wife was entitled to dower from
all his real estate".
We are by no means sure of the identity of
lis wife in the absence of any entry of the mar-
riage. We do not know that she and Shaks-
)ere ever went through the. actual ceremony,
inless her identity is traceable through Anne
Vhately, as a regular license was issued for
he marriage of William Shakspere and Anne
Vhately of Temple Grafton, November 27th,
582, the day preceding that of William
lhagspere and Anna Hathaway, according to
he marriage bond of November 28th, 1582.
112 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Richard Hathaway of Shottery, the reputed
father of Shakspere's wife, Anne, in his will
dated September 1st, 1581, bequeathed his
property to seven children, his daughters be-
ing Catherine, Margaret and Agnes. No
Anna was mentioned. The first published
notice of the name of William Shakspere's
(supposed) wife appears in Rowe's Life of
Shakspere (1709) wherein it is stated that she
"was the daughter of one Hathaway, said to
have been a substantial yeoman in the neigh-
borhood of Stratford."
This was all that Thomas Betterton, the ac-
tor, "Rowe's informant, could learn at the time
of his visit to Stratford-on-Avon. The exact
time of this visit is unknown, but it was prob-
ably about the year 1690. This lack of knowl-
edge in regard to the Hathaways shows that
the locality of Anne Hathaway's residence or
that of her parents was not known at Strat-
ford. The house at Shottery, now known as
Anne Hathaway's cottage, may have been the
home of Anne Hathaway (supposed) w r ife of
William Shakspere, before her marriage, but
of this there is no proof. Shakspere was mar-
ried under the name "Willm Shagsper" but
the place of marriage is unknown as his place
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 113
of residence is not mentioned in the bond. Al-
though Shottery is in the parish of Stratford,
no record of Shakspere's marriage to Anne or
Agnes, the supposed daughter of Richard
Hathaway has been found in the parish regis-
ter. However, "in the registry of the bishop
of the diocese (Worcester) in the Edgar
Cower is contained a deed wherein Sandells
id Richardson, husbandmen of Shottery,
make themselves responsible in the sum of
forty pounds on November 28th, 1582, to free
the bishop of all liability should any lawful
impediment by reason of any pre-contract
or consanguinity be disclosed subsequently.
"Provided that Anne obtained the consent of
her friends the marriage might proceed with
nee asking of the bannes of matrimony be-
The wording of the bond shows that
despite the fact that the bridegroom was a
ninor by nearly three years", the consent of
lis parents was neither called for nor obtained
'though necessary for strictly legalized pro-
:edure". The bondsmen, Sandells and Rich-
irdson, representing the lady's family, ignored
he bridegroom's family completely. In hav-
ng received the deed they forced Shakspere
114 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
to marry their friend's daughter in order to
save her reputation, "having apparently done
his best to desert her before his marriage."
Soon afterwards within six months, a
daughter was born. Moreover, the whole
circumstances of the case render it highly
probable that Shakspere had no present
thought of marriage, for the waning fortune
of his father made him acquainted with the
"cares of bread". He was a penniless youth,
not yet of age, having neither craftsmanship
nor means of livlihood, and was forced by her
friends into marrying her, a woman eight
years older than himself. But bye and bye, he
will have his revenge upon his wife's relations
by not remembering any of them in his last
will and testament. Even the mother of his
children is forgotten "for Shakspere barred
In 1585 she presented him with twins, when
he left Stratford for London. We do not know
positively, but the advent of the twins is the
approximate date. of the young man's flight.
He lived apart from his wife many years, ap-
parently from the time he left Stratford (date
not positively known) until probably 1596, the
death year of his son, Hamnet. The breath
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
of slander never touched the good name of
Anne (or Agnes) the neglected wife of Wil-
liam Shakspere. "There is prima facie evi-
dence that the player wife fared in his absence
no better than his father and mother", who,
dying intestate in 1601 and 1608 respectively,
were buried somewhere by the Stratford
church, but there is no trace of any sepulchral
monument or memorial. If anything of the
kind had been set up by their wealthy son,
William Shakspere, it would certainly have
been found by some one. "The only contem-
porary mention, writes Sir Sidney Lee, made
of the wife of Shakspere between her marriage
in 1582 and her husband's death in 1616, was
as the borrower, at an unascertained date of
forty shillings from Thomas Whittington, who
had formerly been her father's shepherd. The
money was unpaid when Whittington died in
1601, and his executor was directed to recover
the sum from Shakspere and distribute it
among the poor of Stratford". As though in
mockery of what might have been looked for
in the wealthy husband.
There is disclosed in this pecuniary transac-
tion, coupled with the slight mention of her
in the will, and the barring of the dower,
116 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
prima facie evidence of William Shakspere's
indifference to and neglect of, if not dislike
for his wife. How often in the long years of
her loneliness, there came to her in memory,
the ill-boding words from the lips of "Suf-
olk" (1 Henry VI).
"For what is wedlock forced but
An age of discord and continual
Whereas that the contrary bringeth
And is a pattern of celestial peace."
All this is in striking contrast with the con-
duct of Sir Thomas Lucy, whom the uphold-
ers of the "Stratfordian faith" have attempted
to disparage, and whose endearment for his
wife is so feelingly expressed in the inscrip-
tion on her tomb:
"All the time of her lyfe a true
and faithful servant of her good God,
never detected of any crime or vice,
in religion most sound, in love to her
husband most faithfull and true. In
friendship most constant To what in
trust was committed to her most
secret in wisdom excelling in gov-
erning her house and bringing up
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 117
youth in the fcare of God that did
converse with her most rare and
singular, a great maintainer of hos-
pitality, greatly esteemed of her bet-
ters, misliked of none unless the envi-
ous. When all is spoken that can be
said a woman so furnished and gar-
nished with Virtue as not to be bet-
tered and hardly to be equalled of
any, as she lived most virtuously, so
she dyed most godly. Set down by
him that best did know what hath
been written to be true".
In order to shield Shakspere from the
charge of having deserted his family, his biog-
raphers find it convenient to set the young
man to deer stealing so that he may make his
flight to London in order to escape from the
grasp of his reputed prosecutor, Sir Thomas
Lucy, leaving wife and children a burden
upon his poverty-stricken father.
The probable source of the fiction is the
supposed reference contained in "The Merry
Wives of Windsor". The malicious libel was
worked after the opening scene, a fictitious
narrative of an event that never happened,
and first made current about one hundred
118 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
years after the death of William Shakspere of
The fabricator of the story could not have
been a native of Warwickshire for he would
have known the arms borne by the Charlicote
Lucys were three luces, and could not have
been mistaken for the dozen white luces on
Justice Shallows' ancient coat. It shows how
Sir Thomas Lucy, a very sagacious and good
man, may be calumniated by perverse mytho-
mania. Still the Lucys of a later day were
not anxious to lose the reputation of having
spanked Shakspere for poaching on the an-
There is very little likelihood that the
young husband, with a wife and three babies
to support, would voluntarily place himself
in a position where he would have to flee from
Sir Thomas Lucy's prosecution, thereby bring-
ing disgrace upon himself, his wife and chil-
dren, while his parents in straightened circum-
stances were struggling to keep the wolf from
the door. Moreover, deer were not subject
to the crime of larceny at the common law.
There were statutes which made it an offense
to kill deer in a park impaled. The records
show that Sir Thomas Lucy had no park im-
paled. The poaching yarn, having no histori-
cal basis, was not traditionally preserved by
the descendants of Sir Thomas Lucy. Unfor-
tunately, all the traditions about Shakespeare
or however you spell the name, are non-liter-
ary and of a degrading character.
It was in company with Richard Burbage
and William Kempe that William Shakspere
is first introduced to our notice as an actor.
The treasurer's account shows that "Will
Kemp, Will Shakspere, and Rich Burbage"
received payment for two comedies played at
Court on 26th and 28th December, 1594.
They were all share-holding actors. But we
do not known that all or either of them ap-
peared before the Queen in person at any
rate, a matter of no importance, because first,
second and third-rate actors often played be-
fore the Queen.
The last reference made by the Burbages to
Shakspere is contained in a memorial address
to the Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty's
household by Cuthbert Burbage, who gave an
account of the building of the Globe Theatre,
In this letter reference is made to William
Shakspere. "To ourselves", he says, "we
joined those deserving men, Shakspere, Hem-
120 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ings, Condall, Philips and others, partners in
the profits of that they call the House" and he
adds, "that when he and his brother Richard
took possession of the Blackfriars Theatre in
1609, they placed in it men players which
were Heming, Candall, Shakspere, etc., as
successors to the children of the Chapel".
This is the way the now reputed author of
the immortal plays is described by the Bur-
bages, the principal owners of the theatre, to
whom the manscripts must have been sub-
mitted. They surely must have known all
'about player Shakspere of Stratford-on-
Avon for they were in daily intercourse with
him, "a man-player, a deserving man". This
is all that has come down to us concerning
Shakspere's long association with the Bur-
bages after twenty-five years of intimacy.
This reference was made in 1635, nineteen
years after player Shakspere's death (1616)
and twelve years after the publication of the
first folio edition of 1623. This then is Bur-
bage's appraisement of this yoke-fellow, Will
Shakspere. The fact is the Burbages hadn't
any literary history of their "man-player and
deserving man" to record, and were not per-
sonally responsible for the literary delusion as-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 121
sociated with his name, although without an
intention of mischief. But the tangibility of
William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon is
very much in evidence along pecuniary lines,
especially as money lender, land owner, specu-
lator, and litigant. In 1597 he bought New
Place in Stratford for sixty pounds. Also
mentioned in a letter of Abraham Sturley a
purposing to buy the Stratford tithes. The
following entry is in Chamberlain's account
at Stratford, 1598: "Paid to Mr. Shaxpere
for one lode of stone Xd".
In the same year, Richard Quiney writes
to William Shakspere, a letter for a loan of
thirty or forty pounds. This letter is the only
>ne addressed to Shakspere which is known to
t. In 1599 Shakspere acquires shares in
rlobe Theatre. "In May, 1602, Shakspere
bought one hundred and seven acres of arable
land at Stratford for three hundred two
pounds (in his absence the conveyance was
given to his brother Gilbert) in the same year
he bought a house with barns, orchards and
gardens from Hercules Underbill for sixty
pounds, also a cottage close to his house at
In 1605 he bought the thirty-two-year lease
122 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
of half Stratford tithes for four hundred and
The same year, Augustine Phillips, a
brother "player" leaves Shakspere a thirty
shilling piece of gold in his will. "In 1613
Shakspere bought a house near Backfriars
Theatre, London, for one hundred and forty
pounds, and mortgaged it the next day for
sixty pounds. In 1612, Shakspere is men-
tioned in a law suit, brought before Lord El-
lismere about Stratford tithes."
There is no evidence to show that Shaks-
pere ever visited Stratford from the time he
left it (date not positively known, probably
in 1 586) to the time he returned to it, the exact
date unknown. We are constrained to be-
lieve, however, that the father was in Strat-
ford at the burial of his only son, Hamnet,
claimed early by the covetous grave in his
twelfth year, August llth, 1596, in whom for
eleven years lay the hopes of primogenitive
succession. The father set up no stone to tell
where the boy lay.
Stratford-on-Avon then contained about
fourteen hundred inhabitants. "The most
dirty, unseemly, ill-paved, wretched-looking
town in all Britain", is David Garrick's un-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 123
sanitary description of Stratford at the time
of the Jubilee, 1769. In Shakspere's day, cot-
tages in Stratford consisted of rough walls and
thatched roofs. Mr. Halliwell-Phillips says
"at this period and for many generations aft-
erwards, the sanitary conditions of Stratford-
on-Avon were simply terrible. The streets
were narrow, irregular and without crossways,
full of refuse and lively with pigs, poultry
and ravenous birds".
I "From dirty illiterate Stratford", says Mr.
ang, "we can expect nothing more and noth-
ing better than we receive."
But in Mr. Lang's statement, I find much
to support my own opinion of the illiterate
condition of Stratford in Shakspere's day. But
I cannot share in his opinion in regard to the
transmission of inherited traditions. For with
notables it is by no means the case. The fact
is, William Shakspere of Stratford did not at-
tain to much histrionic eminence, and was al-
ways a stranger to the avocations of political
life. All those who were coetaneous did not
regard him as a person of any consequence
apart from his wealth. There is not the faint-
est shadow of credited evidence to warrant the
assumption that Shakspere at the time of his
124 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
retirement to Stratford-on-Avon was received
by his fellow townsmen as a poet or man of
genius. But instead in the very year of his
return (inferentially) to his native place in
1611-1612, the Town Council had carried a
resolution that no play should be presented
in the Guild Hall. But what became of the
family traditions? These surely would have
been preserved by immemorial custom were
he a person of note or distinction. Family
tradition is fossil history. The amber in which
the noblest achievements, the tenderest senti-
ments have been securely embedded and pre-
However, as a matter of fact, there were no
inherited traditions of a literary kind to pre-
serve; not a single particle of authenticated
evidence to connect the family of the Stratford
Shakspere with the author of the immortal
plays and poems.
But Mr. Lang is asking us to keep in mem-
ory the fact that society in Stratford was not
only not literary, but was terribly illiterate.
Halliwell-Phillips says, "There were cer-
tainly not more than two or three dozen books,
if so many in the whole town".
Reader, does it not jar you a little when
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 125
made to understand that New Place, the
largest house in the town, the home of the
wealthy William Shakspere, who in the prime
of life was living with his illiterate wife and
daughter in a bookless home and they with
the now reputed author of Hamlet, Lear and
It seemed to Prince Bismarck incredible
that a person "so intimate with all the social
courtesies and refinements of thought who had
written what was attributed to Shakespeare
could of his own free will, whilst still in the
prime of life, have retired to such a place as
Stratford-on-Avon, and lived there for years,
cut off from intellectual society and out of
touch with the world". And, we may add,
without leaving in Stratford history or society
a single trace of his existence as a poet or
From the absence of all reference to books
in the will of 1616, it may be safely inferred
that the Stratford Shakspere was not the owner
>f books or manuscripts. But Warwickshire
r as not altogether bookless, for we read that
>ir Thomas Lucy in a will drawn up in the
rear 1600, speaks of "all my French and
talian books". In the will of John Florio,
126 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
we find bequeathed his English books and all
his other goods to his beloved wife, Rose
We also find that poets who are not inti-
mately acquainted with the "cares of bread"
were book owners, although not so wealthy as
William Shakspere of Stratford; for 1627 is
the date of William Drummond of Haw-
thornden 1585 1649 munificient gift of about
five hundred volumes to the library of Edin-
burg University, although particularly rich
in the English poets, only one from Shaks-
peare's works, "Love's Labor Lost."
Robert Burton, a contemporary, was the
owner of a large library which he bequeathed
to the Bodleian Library.
Ben Jonson was also a great book lover, and
the possessor of one of the largest private li-
braries in England, although often depleted by
his necessities, having sold them for bread.
But there are still many copies of his books
extant, which he presented to his friends. But
neither Burton nor Jonson seem to have been
the owners of a single volume of Shakspeare.
This much we know, that in Tudor and Ja-
cobin times, John (father), Mary (mother),
Joan (sister), Judith (daughter) of William
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 127
Shakspere of illiterate Stratford-on-Avon,
were all illiterate, and not a single fragment of
his own letters, books or manuscripts have yet
been discovered. Still, the upholders of the
Stratford delusion claim for "him who sleeps
by Avon" identification with the author of the
immortal plays, although there is not a vestige
of the literary remains of poet or author, nor
has anything ever been discovered amongst the
family effects of any of those who bore mari-
For instance, Shakspere's son-in-law, Dr.
John Hall and Thomas Quiney, and there was
also Thomas Nash and Sir John Barnard, first
and second husband of his grand-daughter,
Elizabeth Hall. All these were persons of
education and property, and may be trusted
to transmit Shakspere's letters, manuscripts,
books and family literary traditions. But they
have not done so, presumably because there
was nothing of a literary character to preserve
and transmit. How inexplicable if he was the
author of the plays and poems.
All through the seventeenth century, Joan
Hart, the actor's sister and her descendants in-
habited the birthplace, so-called from the time
of his death (1616) to the year 1646, and his
128 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
younger daughter lived at Stratford-on-Avon
until her death in 1661.
Then there were Hathaways, who were
memhers (inferentially) of his wife's family,
residing in Chapel Street from 1647 to 1696;
also his godson, William Walker, who died in
the same town in 1680. The whole period
covered by Shakspere's life and that of his
descendants was 105 years from 1564 to 1669,
or to the death of his grand-daughter Eliza-
heth Hall. In kinship, she was cognate to her
mother's father, William Shakspere, whose
reputed authorship of poems and plays was
not traditionally handed down by those to
whom he gave lineal descent, or by any person
or persons coetaneous with him for that matter
in the village where he had lived the half of
his life time.
It may be feared, says Mr. Lang, that
Shakspere's daughter, Judith (twin with
Hamnet) "brought up in that very illiterate
town of Stratford under an illiterate mother,
was neglected in her education." Why, may
we ask, did this very wealthy husband and
father compel his wife and daughter to re-
side in that very illiterate town of Stratford,
instead of bringing them to London and ab-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 129
seating himself for so many years, thereby
shirking all responsibility in the matter of the
education of his children, leaving the dis-
charge of every parental and social duty to the
lonely wife and illiterate mother of his off-
Mr. Halliwell-Phillips, the most candid
and therefore the most reliable orthodox
Stratford relator has shown that "By the
spring of 1602 at the latest, he had acquired a
secure and definite competence, and yet eight
years afterwards in 1610 he (Shakspere) is
discovered playing in company with Burbage
and Hammings at the Blackfriars Theatre, al-
though very much ashamed of the actor's voca-
tion, according to the upholders of the Strat-
ford-Shakspere delusion. Then why not hike
back to Stratford-on-Avon? Why longer re-
main a "vagabond under the Act" which be-
spoke for him an intense money-hunger, to say
"Shakspere's occupation", says Mr. Phil-
lips, "debarred him from the possibility of his
sustaining even an approach to a continu-
ous domestic life" moonshine wherein did
Shakspere's occupation differ from those of
Alleyn, Hemming, Condall, Burbage and
130 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
other players like himself, share-holding ac-
tors, who under precisely the same or very
similar conditions sustained family or domes-
tic relations in London.
The former, Edward Alleyn, famous as an
actor, and the founder of Dulwich College,
who lived with his wife in London and called
her "sweet mouse". The latter, Burbage, in
the same place with the wife whom he made
his sole executrix. Shakspere's abandonment
of his wife and children was from choice, not
And implies the assumption that he was not
an affectionate husband, a kind and loving
father; who could not have mourned for his
child whom he had not seen since his in-
fancy, the son who could have no remem-
brance of his father.
Are we to believe that the author of the
"Winter's Tale" and "Midsummer Nights
Dream" actually divorced his own daughters
from the socialities and refinements of London
life, from the pursuit of knowledge under his
immediate direction, from access to that great
store house of learning, the immortal plays
which contain the treasures of the rarest in-
telligence, the children of his own brain
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
who wrote of Woman "tender as infancy and
"Eyes that do mislead the morn".
Hermione, Isabella, Juliet, Cordelia, Des-
iemona, Perdita, Miranda, Helena, Imogen
and Constance weeping for her lost son, Ar-
thur, while grief "stuffs out his vacant gar-
ments with his form". Glorious sisterhood
e fairest, the sweetest bevy of women this
orld of sadness, gladness, joy and tears has
ver known in them; the true, the beautiful
nd the good are born.
Shakspere is thought to have been penurious
:or his litigious striving point in that direc-
tion, but this feature of his character was not
iisclosed in 1596 and 1599 when he sought to
lave his family enrolled among the gentry as
lown by his extravagance in bribing the offi-
:ers of the Herald College to issue a grant of
.rms to his father, "a transaction which in-
volved", says Dr. Farmer, "the falsehood and
'/eriality of the father, the son and two Kings-
it-arms, and did not escape protest, for if ever
coat was cut from whole cloth, we may be
jure that this coat-of-arms was the one".
132 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
William Shakspere himself was not in a
position to apply for a coat-of-arms, "a vaga-
bond under the Act" stood far too low in the
social scale for the notice of heraldry. Sir
William Dethick Garter King-at-arms is
charged with unlawfully conceding arms to
Shakspere and twenty-three other "base and
ignoble persons". We know that the Strat-
ford Shaksperes did not belong to the armi-
gerous part of the population, and that they
stood somewhat lower in the social scale than
the Halls, Nashs, Bernards or Quineys who
bore marital relations with them.
Sir Sidney Lee in commentation on two re-
cently discovered manuscript books, written
Circa, 1599, he states, "The censors general
allegation is that men of low birth and un-
dignified employment were corruptly suffered
by the heralds to credit themselves with noble
or highly aristicratic descent, and to bear in
considerations of large money payments coat
armour of respectable antiquity."
(LEE, A Life of Shakespeare).
A long list of the surnames of these pre-
tenders are given. The fourth name in the
list is that of Shakspere.
On June 5th, 1607, Dr. John Hall was mar-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKJSPERE 133
led at Stratfordon-Avon to William Shaks-
>ere's eldest daughter, Susanna. He was an
linent physician of the French Court school
id was opposed to the indiscriminate process
of bleeding. He was summoned more than
once to attend the Earl and the Countess of
Northampton at Ludlow Castle.
Dr. John Hall died on November 25th,
1635. With the death of his only daughter,
Elizabeth, in the year 1669-70-, terminated the
On February 10th, 1616, Shakspere's
ounger daughter, Judith, married Thomas
Quiney, a liquor dealer of Stratford, four
years her junior. They were married without
a license, or proclaiming of the banns, an ir-
regularity for which they were fined and
threatened with excommunication by the ec-
clesiastical court at Worcester. Quiney was
fined in the year 1631 for "swearing and for
encouraging tipplers in his shop" (groggery).
In the year 1652, he removed to. London,
having deserted his wife after the death of all
their children. Judith survived her sister,
sons and husband, although forsaken and
alone, continued to live to the ripe age of
134 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
From the Quiney family is a letter, the only
letter addressed to Shakspere, which is known
to exist, and is one which asks for a loan of
thirty pounds. Even his learned kinsman,
the Quineys, like the illiterate Shaksperes, saw
him only hoarding money instead of writing
No wonder such eminent votarist of
Shakespeare as Hallam Dyce and Emerson
are disappointed and perplexed, for while the
record concerning the life of the player,
money lender, land owner speculator and liti-
gant are ample, they disclose nothing of a lit-
erary character, but the pecuniary litigation
evidence, growing out of Shakspere's devotion
to money getting in London and Stratford
does unfold his true life and character, the
records do not furnish a single instance of
friendship, kindness or generousity, but upon
the delinquent borrower of money, he rigidly
evoked the law, which gave a generous ad-
vantage to the creditor and its vile prison to
Shakspere with Shylock insistence in 1600
brough action against John Clayton for seven
pounds and got judgment in his favor. In
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAK'SPERE 135
.ugust, 1608, Shakspere prosecuted John Ad-
inbroke to recover a debt of six pounds.
Dr. Charles William Wallace is querying
the fact, "Did Shakespeare sell malt?" It was
in 1604 that William Sexpere sued Philip
Rogers to recover a balance of 35s. lOd. due
for malt. But there seems to have been at
least six other William Shaksperes living in
Stratford and vicinity. Dr. Wallace is anx-
ious to relieve William Shakspere, the Strat-
ford actor, in whose opinion was the dra-
matist, of the stigma on his name from his
supposed connection with the brewing busi-
ness, a degrading kind of activity. And it is
creditable to Dr. Wallace that he strives to
disassociate the name and fame of the Author
of the Plays, from the liquor traffic. Al-
though the most deeply rooted of all the vices
of mankind from primeval ages, still among
the most advanced communities, it is now in
the course of extinction.
In the opinion of Dr. Wallace, the docu-
ment in the Stratford Court of Record does
not apply to Shakspere, but to some un-
known petty brewer or malster of Stratford,
who was prosecuting Rogers for these pica-
yunish debts for malt; because Shakspere
136 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
could not have been in both places, London
and Stratford, at once. While Dr. Wallace
sees exigency in Shakspere's affairs in the
Rogers case, requiring his immediate personal
attention, Halliwell-Phillips of the same
school, sees nothing which required the pres-
ence of the litigeous money lender or malster
He says, "It must not be assumed that the
great dramatist attended personally to these
matters, although, of course, the proceedings
were carried on under his instructions."
Where we would write Shakspere (player),
he uses "Shakespeare" and means the undi-
vided personality of Author and Player.
However, we are .not asked to believe
Shakspere slipping out of London into Strat-
ford, selling malt, then travel back to London
to join the King's players, then shortly after-
wards journey back again to Stratford in or-
der to prosecute Rogers for these petty debts
for malt. For the Addenbroke suit is actu-
ally a presumption against such contention for
"The precepts as appears from memoranda in
the originals were issued by the poet's
(player) cousin, Thomas Green, who was then
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 137
residing under some unknown conditions at
While Shakespeare, the Author of the
Plays was according to supposed date, writing
"Coriolanus," we know and can prove that
William Shakspere, the Stratford player was
a professional money-lender at Stratford and
London; the same William Shakspere who
sued one John Clayton in March, 1600, at
London to recover a debt of 7L. But was he
the same Shakspere who sued Philip Rogers
to recover a balance due for malt?
And as to the stigma on his name referred
to, is there anything to show in Shakspere's
Stratford life or during his whole sojourn with
the wigmaker Mountjoy in Silver Street, Lon-
don, that he would have regarded the busi-
ness of a small brewer or malster as a stigma
on his name? For we find his name associated
with at least two whiskey soaked traditions
(so-called) and that one of the thirty grog-
shops in Stratford was run by Shakspere's own
son-in-law, Thomas Quiney, "who was fined
for swearing, and for keeping a disorderly
Mr. J. M. Robertson, a stalwart Stratford-
ian, chides Mr. Andrew Lang of his own fel-
138 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
lowship, because he pronounced one William
Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, a "hard
creditor" and to his thinking, "Shakspere's
four law suits to recover small debts are very
inadequate proof of such a charge." The pres-
ent writer is of the opinion that one such law
suit of the like kind that William Shakepere
u ran with" his neighbor, John Addenbroke
adequate proof of such a charge, for is it
conceivable that a rascally debtor even would
suffer imprisonment in one of those jacobin
cess pools called a jail, in order to shun the
payment of a paltry sum. But, by the way,
there is no proof that Shakspere even found
one of his debtors dishonest. Now the pre-
sumption is that the poor man was poverty
stricken, unable to make both ends meet, for
his hard and relentless creditor Shakspere,
kept up the pursuit for one year until he left
the town. A professional money lender or
usurer, he never misses an opportunity to pur-
sue an impoverished debtor into prison, di-
vesting him of the ability to maintain himself
and his family. "The pursuit of an improver-
ished man for the sake of imprisoning him and
depriving him, both of the power of paying
his debts and supporting his family, grate
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERB
ipon our feelings," says Richard Grant White,
ind adds this eminent orthodox Shakspearian
;cholar, "We hunger and we receive these
lusks; we open our mouths for food and we
)reak our teeth against these stones."
We may be sure that there was left in the
mpoverished home of the debtor, little more
palatable than husks and stones when the
: ather fled to escape from the clutches of his
nsistent creditor (Shakspere) while his chil-
Iren are clamorous for bread, the wolf of
lunger from every crevice glaring.
Contrast these scenes in the life of William
Shakspere with the restoration of the widow's
on by Abraham Lincoln. Poorly clad
ind weeping, she said to him, "Mr. President,
[ had three sons and a husband in the army.
Vly husband has just been killed and I come
o ask back my oldest boy." He granted the
equest. She took the order, went to the field,
)nly to see that oldest son die from his wounds.
She went again to the President with the state-
nent of the facts by the surgeon. Mr. Lincoln
ead the backing on the order, and said, "I
enow what you want, you need not ask for it.
[ will give you your next son," saying as he
vrote, "you have one and I have one, that is
140 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
about right." The poor woman standing by
him smoothed his hair with her hands, saying,
while her tears fell upon his head, "God bless
you, Mr. President, may you live a thousand
years and be the head of this great nation."
Ever the same in the White House, as he had
been in the log cabin, Abraham Lincoln's cal-
loused palms never slipped from the poor
In contrast also, some letters to Edward Al-
leyn, which have been preserved, prove that
Thomas Dekker, playwright, was several
times befriended by that open-handed actor,
the "famous Ned Allen." He appears to have
had no relations with Shakspere, the Strat-
The paltry suits brought to recover debts
do not tend to disclose this Shakspere's "radi-
ant Temperament" or fit him to receive the
adjective "gentle" except in contumely for his
claim to coat-armour. It is not known that
Shakspere ever gave hospitality to the neces-
sities of the poor of his native shire, for whom
it appears there beat no pulse of tenderness.
A man of scanty sensibilities he must have
been. The poor working people of Stratford,
we may be sure, shed no tear at this Shaks-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 141
:re's departure from the world. We do not
mvy the man who can regard these harsh pe-
:uniary practices in Shakspere as commend-
ible traits of his worldly wisdom, for he was
hrewd in money matters, and could have in-
Bested his money in London and Stratford, so
is not to have brought sorrow and distress
ipon his poor neighbors.
These matters are small in appearance, but
hey suggest a good deal for they bear witness
sorrow stricken mothers, hungry children
ind fathers in loathsome prisons, powerless to
)rovide food, warmth and light for the home.
>hakspere's loans became a matter of court
ecord only when his debtors failed to pay.
The diary or note book of Philip Henslowe,
he theatrical manager and play broker, shows
hat Henslowe was himself a very penurious
md grasping man, who taking advantage of
tarving play makers' necessities, became very
William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon as
1 sharer "in the profits of that they call the
^ouse" became rich also, but his note book
las not been preserved, so nothing is known
)f his business methods in dealing with the
>oor play makers, but the antiquarians by ran-
142 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
sacking corporations records and other public
archives have proven that player Shakspere
was very much such a man as the old pawn-
broker and play broker, Philip Henslowe, of
a rival house.
The biographers should record these facts,
and not strive to shun them for the literary
antiquaries have unearthed and brought them
forward, and they tell the true story of Shaks-
pere's life, though we do not linger lovingly
over them, for like Hallam, "We as little feel
the power of identifying the young man who
came up from Stratford, was afterward an
indifferent player in a London theatre, and
retired to his native place in middle life with
the author of Macbeth and Lear/' For the
Stratford records are as barren of literary mat-
ter as the lodgings in Silver Street, London.
Not a crumb for the literary biographer in
One of the results of Dr. Charles W. Wal-
lace's research in the Public Record Office is
the new Shakspere signature attached to his
deposition in an abbreviated form, and shows
how the Stratford player spelled the first
syllable of his surname, "Willm Shaks" or
"Shak'p" is not Shake Shakspere-Shaksper-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAK'SPERE 143
lhaks, this is the spelling of his name and
there are no exceptions in his autograph.
Nevertheless the Stratfordians usually reject
the spelling of the owner of the name and
adopt the spelling printed on the title page
of the plays and poems, "Shakespeare" (a
pseudonym), to indicate that the Stratford
player, in the opinion of the Stratfornians was
the author of the plays.
Furthermore, Dr. C. W. Wallace had the
good fortune in his research to discover the
whereabouts of this certain individual, who
in 1612, signs himself "Willm Shaks" or
Shak'p and has succeeded in locating his
lodgings in 1604 at the house of one Mountjoy,
a wigmaker, at the corner of Muggell and
Silver Streets, London, as "one Mr. Shakes-
peare that lay in the house," and who lodged
there from 1598 to 1604. How much longer
he continued to sojourn in Silver Street, "the
region of money and a good seat for an
usurer," as Ben Jonson describes it, is uncer-
tain; but he seems to have known the wig-
maker's family about thirteen years, exceeding
in number the years he had lived with his own
family. (See Dr. Charles William Wallace's
article, "New Shakespeare Discoveries,"
144 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Harper's Monthly Magazine for March,
However, Dr. Wallace has brought forth
from obsurity one "Mr. Shakespeare," who
in 1604, succeeded in securing a husband for
the daughter of a match-making mamma, but
absolutely nothing whatever relating to liter-
From the fact that he (Shakspere) is dis-
covered at the corner of Muggell and Silver
Streets, bringing about a marriage in 1604,
the supposed date of "Othello," it cannot be
assumed that he wrote the play here or else-
where, as there is not a crumb of evidence
Dr. C. W. Wallace has failed to discover
Shakspere, the Stratford player as an author.
The witnesses in their deposition speak of him
as "one Mr. Shakespeare," never as poet or
author. The witnesses were persons of various
employments and varied accomplishments,
from the scholarly Daniel Nicholas, son of a
former Lord Mayor, to the illiterate Joan
Johnson, who like the Stratford player's wife
and daughter, could not write her name. All
of them, near neighbors, saw nothing in one,
"Mr. Shakespeare," who had lodgings in the
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 145
wig-maker's house and shop in 1604-1612,
which distinguished him from the throng.
Prima-facie evidence that he never had any
literary celebrity and one of many proofs also
of his fictitious reputation. For when the
twelve depositions were taken in the case of
Bellott vs. Mountjoy, and signed by his neigh-
bors of the parish of St. Olave in 1612, all of
the "Shakespeare" plays were then written,
according to supposed dates.
The Stratford player had then protracted
his sojourn in London to twenty-six years, dur-
ing which time there came into his life, as the
;sult of a quarrel, an incident of the com-
lonest kind trifles which reveal the true
:haracter of the Stratford player and pro-
:laim him as one affiliated to insignificant men
These non-literary facts were unearthed by
'rofessor Charles William Wallace in the
tatter of Shakspere's deposition in the case
>f Bellott vs. Mountjoy, and which he dis-
:overed in the Public Record Office, but that
in no way contributed to a literary biography.
The truth is that with all their industry, the
Antiquarians have in this regard, not brought
to light a single proven fact to sustain the
146 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
claim that this William Shakspere, the Strat-
ford actor was the author of either poems or
This wee bit of new knowledge gives us a
glimpse of one William Shakspere as an eva-
sive witness, having a conveniently short
memory. The depositions disclose his inter-
mediation in the matter of making two hearts
happy, but not the faintest glimpse of the au-
thor of poems or plays. When the claim of
authorship is challenged, new particulars of
the life of Shakspere, such as this and others
which have been unearthed by antiquarians,
whether in the Public Record Office or Cor-
poration Archives are alike worthless as far
as establishing the Author- Poet, Shakespeare's
identity, or any connection between Player and
There are no family traditions, no books
or manuscripts; there are no letters addressed
to him known to exist, but the letter in which
Richard Quiney asked him for a loan of
money, or by him to poet, peer or peasant.
The credible evidence supplied by contem-
poraneous and antiquarian research, does not
identify player and householder of Stratford
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
; Hamlet," "Lear" and
with the author of
While on this subject the reader's indul-
gence is requested a little longer. Dr. Charles
Wallace, in rummaging the Public Rec-
archives, searching through musty docu-
icnts which belong to the Court of Requests,
found one case at court in which Shakspere is
involved. "There are twenty-six documents
in the case, nine mention Shakespeare by
name. In the entire list his name occurs
twenty-four times. One is his own deposition
signed by his own hand" (in all probability).
The body of the signed deposition is not in
the hand writing of the deponent, who is
described by the clerk as "William Shakes-
peare of Stratford upon Avon in the Countye
of Warwicke gentleman," who when required
to "perfect and subscribe his deposition," does
not recognize that form of the name but signs
himself "Willm Shak'p."
In these depositions, according to Dr. C. W.
Wallace, "we have for the first time met
Shakespeare (Shakspere) in the flesh and that
the acquaintance is good." How so? Would
you care to become acquainted with a man,
who as intermediary, lured by persuasion a
148 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
poor young man into marriage, and then when
summoned to be his star witness played for-
getter? Young Bellott swallowed the bait of
promised dower "they (wear) made suer by
Mr. Shakespeare and agreed to marrye."
Furthermore, Dr. Wallace tells us, out of
the new evidence on Shakspere now before us,
that the family with whom Shakspere lived
was named Mountjoy. They were French,
doubtless refugee Hugenots. The Mountjoy
home was situated at the corner of Silver and
Mugwell Streets, London, where Christopher
Mountjoy was engaged in the making of head-
dresses and wigs, assisted by one Stephen Bel-
lott, an apprentice; also by the master's daugh-
ter and only child, Mary, who was a dabster
in that art.
From the records in the present case at
court, in which Shakspere is involved, and
which Dr. Wallace has unearthed in the Pub-
lic Record Office, we read that "Madam
Mountjoy told Shakespeare that if he could
bring the young man, Stephen Bellott, to make
a proposal of marriage, a dower should be
settled upon them at marriage." This was
the snug sum of fifty pounds in money of that
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
r, or approximately four hundred pounds,
icarly $2000, in money of today."
Shakspere was then living in the Mountjoy
lome house and shop under one roof. "So
went to Stephen Bellott, then at the end
if his sixth year of apprenticeship, and told
tim if he would make the offer of marriage
lere was good hope that Mary would accept
>nd the old folks (shall promise to give) with
the" daughter a dowry of fifty pounds on the
[ay of marriage." Daniel Nicholas, a near
neighbor, testifies: "]VJr. Shakespeare had
told him they should have a sum of money for
portion from the father. They were made
iure of this by Mr. Shakespeare by giving
their consent and agreeing to marry, so he
(Bellott) and the membefs of the family had
several conferences concerning the marriage.
Shakspere was present at some of these con-
ferences, according to his own testimony. All
letails were arranged and the marriage was
solemnized November 19th, 1604."
But disputes in families are as common as
California poppies in April.
In 1612, trouble with Mountjoy and his son-
in-law took Shakspere as witness into court,
'here we are told by what acts Shakspere got
150 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
into the case. No one would now have
dreamed, as we shall see presently, of making
such a shifty fellow as William Shakspere wit-
ness in the further examination, after his
answer to the fourth question in behalf of
Bellott's set of interrogatories, when ex-
amined in court May 7th, 1612. For the de-
positions of the near neighbors as well as his
own, prove how elusive and unreliable was his
testimony. He cannot remember any of the
important details concerning the dower
promised, the talk had with Mountjoy, "that
the defendant (Mountjoy) promised to give
the said complainant (Bellott) a portion in
money with Mary, his daughter, but what cer-
tain portion, he (Shakspere) remembereth not
nor when to be paid."
On June 19th the court ordered the further
examination. "The question of chief concern
to the parties involved and to the court, was
what promises of dower did Shakspere, as in-
termediary, make. Witnesses were again sum-
moned, chief of whom was Shakspere," who
was summoned (inferentially) for the sole
purpose of retrieving a lost memory.
But notwithstanding, the plaintiff, who had
Shakspere summoned to answer the first set
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
if questions, May 7th, refused through his
Lttorney, to have him summoned to answer the
xond set of questions which had been pre-
>ared for him on June 19th. "For the rec-
irds show no summons issued to him and his
lame does not appear in the court list of wit-
lesses for Bellott on that day. But the plain-
tiff (Bellott) was constrained to call in his
>wn behalf other witnesses to prove what
ihakspere had said to them concerning the
lower promised and the talk had with Mount-
|oy." "A fearful example of hearsay evi-
lence," says Sir George G. Greenwood.
Daniel Nicholas is again summoned as a
itness to show that Shakspere harbored no
:orgetfulness when he talked with him about
the promised dower, for he had also in like
lanner talked over the question of dower in
the presence of Joan Johnson and William
laton, as they both testify.
In the third and fourth interrogatory the
r itness shows unmistakably that Bellott was
the victim of connubiality through the inter-
lediation of one Mr. Shakespeare. This view
:ems to have been entertained by the court.
"or "on June 3rd, the court issued an unusual
rder referring the whole matter at variance
152 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
to the French Church (Hugenots) of London
and making the decision there the final decree
of the court." The Church (Hugenots) de-
cided in Bellott's favor.
Daniel Nicholas, a near neighbor, in his de-
position, discloses the fact that Bellott was
suspicious of Shakspere, fearful that he may
be influenced by the old man's (wigmaker)
money bags, for he asked Daniel Nicholas,
son of Ambrose Nicholas, former Lor
Mayor, "to go to Shakespeare (Shakspere),
with his wife and find out what it was tha
the defendant (Mountjoy) had promised t
give his daughter if she married with th
Bellott takes this precaution before he su
his father-in-law for the recovery of the su
promised at the time of marriage. Daniel
Nicholas avers "that he did go to Shaksper
and that Shakspere of Stratford, but sojourne
with the wigmaker, told him that the defend-
ant had promised the plaintiff fifty pounds
or thereabouts with his daughter." But whe
Shakspere was summoned he had forgotten
or pretended to forget the sum which the de-
fendant, Mountjoy, promised to give hi
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 153
The first French Church in London was es-
tablished in 1550. Churches were subse-
quently founded by successive emigrations.
The Edict of Nantes was revoked on the 22nd
of October, 1685. It is estimated that nearly
eighty thousand French Hugenots established
themselves in England during the ten years
which preceded and followed the Revocation,
and about one-third of them settled in Lon-
don. They carried with them the arts by
which they had enriched their own country.
These refugee people, having a strong feeling
of fraternity, were disposed to cling together.
They were forbidden to carry their fortunes
abroad, but they came to uphold the suprem-
acy of conscience and there was ultimately an
ilmost absolute fusion, both of race and name.
This disposes of the Reverend Richard
'avis' assertion in 1708, ninety- two years after
hakspere of Stratford's death, that he "dyed
Papist." It is clear that the Stratford player
:ould not have been a Catholic, but the ques-
tion still remains what was the religious faith
f the author of the Plays?
Dr. Wallace says, "the fact that Shakspere
ind Wilkins are associated as witnesses in this
:ase is highly suggestive, and thinks 'Shakes-
154 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
peare' as a pseudonym would be difficult t<
explain how he and Wilkins were intereste<
in this suit." Dr. Wallace means the undi-
vided personality of player and playwright
and always uses the word "Shakespeare."
In looking the matter through we fin<
nothing that is highly suggestive and difficult
to explain, save to those only who stand fast
in the Stratfordian faith, which identifies the
Player with the Playwright.
We fail to see why "one Mr. Shakespean
tlrat lay in the house" boarded there an<
George Wilkins, victualer, should not both be
come interested in this suit in behalf of youn<
Bellott. One George Wilkins, an inn-keeper,
where Bellott and his wife "came to dwell ii
one of his chambers," and "one Mr. Shakes-
peare, as intermediary in making two hearl
happy." Wilkins, in his deposition, gave hii
occupation as an Inn-keeper. There is no dif-
ficulty about the matter, and nothing to ex-
plain, except that here the dispute about th<
name involve? a dispute about the man. L
there anything presumptuous in our conten-
tion that when the author of "Venus an<
Adonis" signed the dedication to the Earl o1
Southampton with the name "Shakespeare/ h<
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 155
adopted as a pseudonym the militant form of
the name which the Stratford Player never
made use of?
Stephen Bellott in 1605, after having quar-
relled with his father-in-law, who then com-
pelled him to go in search of rooms to let, oc-
cupied a chamber with one George Wilkins.
That Shakspere, in his deposition, did not
give his business is a matter of regret. What
On May 7th, 1612, the court issued a
peremptory summons to William Shakspere
and George Wilkins, in behalf of Bellott, to
answer questions prepared for them. The
only question of importance before the court
was what promise of dower did Shakspere, as
intermediary, make. Shakspere failed to
satisfy the court in his answer against the
fourth question, the essential cause of action,
the gist of the issue. The testimony of George
Wilkins was not of importance, having ref-
erence only to the value of a few household
goods, "and to the fact that Bellott and wife,
after leaving their father in 1605, came to
dwell in one of his chambers."
We have known nothing about Wilkins per-
sonally before, and know nothing about him
156 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
now, except that he was a victualer and inn-
keeper, having a license to sell alcoholic
The conjecture of Delius that 'Shak<
peare" (the author's pen name), and Wilkins,
a had-i writer for the stage, wrote two plays
together is mere guesswork. For this state-
ment we have no basis of proof.
Granting the collaboration of the play-
wrights does not connect the Stratford Player
(Shakspere), "one Mr. Shakespeare," with
literary works or with acts of dramatic com-
position. Neither does it give so much as a
basis for presumption, much less proof of
identification of the Stratford player with the
playwright, or any bearing with the pseudony-
mous literature produced under a fictitious
Dr. Wallace holds our inquisitive attention
when he asserts that these documents in the
case of Bellott vs. Mountjoy, confirm him
(Shakspere) as being the author of the Plays
that bear the name "Shakespeare." The truth
is that all the documentary evidence unearthed
by Dr. Wallace tends to show that the Strat-
ford player was unknown in literary circles.
What fact or facts confirm him the Strat-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 157
ford actor, Shakspere, as being the author of
[e Plays called "Shakespeare"?
However, with the Professor, it would seem
hen dealing with Shakespeare, no proposi-
tion is too absurd to be believed, for he asserts
that Shakespeare "honours his host by raising
him in the play (Henry V) to the dignity of
a French Herald under his own name of
Whereas, in truth and in fact, the imper-
sonal and official name of a French Herald
"Mountjoy" is contained in Holinshed, where
fe author of Henry V found it.
The Chronicles were published in 1577,
twenty-one years before "one Mr. Shakespeare
that lay in the house" (lived there), with a
French wig-maker, one Mountjoy in Silver
The embarrassed Stratfordians have long
been seeking for some explanation of the chief
source of William Shakspere's wealth, and
now after more than three hundred years, Dr.
Charles W. Wallace discovers William
Shakspere of Stratford in Silver Street, Lon-
don, "the region of money, a good seat for an
userer" as Ben Jonson described it in "The
Staple of News."
158 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
1604, the year of Shakspere's match-mak-
ing intermediation, was also the year of the
famous actor, Ned Alleyn's last recorded ap-
pearance on the stage, he having secured the
post of master of the rayol game of bears,
bulls and mastiffs, of the bating house at Paris
Garden in Southwark. This was doubtless
the chief source of Alleyn's great wealth, as
interest-mongering in Silver Street, London,
one of the centers in which speculative en-
terprises were conducted was in all proba-
bility the chief source of the Stratford actor's
(Shakspere's) wealth. (The usurious Shak-
spere practicing usury when the lending at in-
terest was accociated with cruelty and was
branded as immoral).
To link the interest-monger's name and pei
sonality with that of the author of the Plays
is to debase our conception of the writer of that
fadeless and imperishable drama, "The Mer-
chant of Venice."
After reading all the evidence in the case
submitted by Dr. Wallace, we are convinced
that Shakspere's statement before the Court
of Requests was evasive and shifty, for his own
deposition is a strong confirmation of the truth
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 159
of our assertion. "He gave himself so bad a
character in it.'
tDr. Charles William Wallace, by never-tir-
ig industry and indomitable energy, assisted
by the gracious Lady, his wife, has examined
"some million" of documents in the Public
Record Office, London.
Although I cannot agree with Dr. Wallace
n all his inferences with respect to Shakspere
of Stratford, nevertheless I gladly accord him
The foregoing facts, the legal and municipal
evidence bound up in dusty records, a bogus
coat-of-arms and a rude epitaph, tell the true
story of the life of William Shakspere of Strat-
There is no record of any pretended living
likeness of Shakspere better representing him
tan the Stratford bust. This bust is erected
the north side of the wall of Holy Trinity
'hurch at Stratford-on-Avon. On the floor
)f the chancel, in front of the monument, are
te graves of Shakspere and a portion of his
lily his father, mother, youngest daughter
id son lie in unmarked graves. We have no
leans of ascertaining when the monument and
>ust were erected.
160 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
The first folio edition of his reputed works
was published in 1623. It contained words
from Leonard Diggs prefatory lines: "And
time dissolves thy Stratford monument,"
monument being used interchangeably witl
tomb, but these words do not prove that th<
bust was set up before 1623.
It is the bladder-like expression in the
physiognomy of the image which drew the ex
clamation, "that never wrote this," from
great artist standing before it and looking u]
at Shakspere's bust, with an open volume o1
Shakespeare's works in hand. His image wa<
rudely cut, sensual and clownish in appear-
England was called in those days "Th<
Toper's Paradise," and tradition (so-called)
informs us that Shakspere was one of the Bed-
ford topers. However, we should not info
from this that William Shakspere, a shewc
man of business, was a drunken sot, although
from his retirement or withdrawal from the-
aterian activity, he may have "drunk too
Now we have no basis for proof, only a pre-
sumption that this is the reason why Dr. John
Hall, Shakspere's son-in-law, made no men-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERB 161
tion of his father-in-law's death in his book of
"Cures" in the restrospect as in the case of
In Shakspere's time Stratford contained
thirty grog-shops. The diary of Thomas
Greene, (Shakspere's cousin) contains nothing
on the subject of his kinsman's death, per-
haps he also was ashamed of the manner of it.
But it may jar the reader when told that the
diarist has nothing to say about cousin Shaks-
pere's poems and plays. He did not seem to
;gard him as an author or person of much
The new information found in the Public
.ecord Office by Dr. Wallace, suggests an
lendment to the gossipy, commonplace book
:ompiled in 1662 by the Rev. John Ward. He
ills the story, forty-six years after date, of
: the merrie meeting" at the carousing board
>f Shakspere, Drayton and Ben Jonson, and
it seems "drank too hard for Shakspere died
f a fevor then contracted."
Evidently the Vicar of Stratford did not
;now enough about the external life of the
idividual man, Shakspere, to amend the local
jossip for the sake of credibility and the in-
lerent likelihood of the alleged facts. It
162 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
could not have been for the convenience and
accommodation of Michael Drayton and Ben
Jonson who must take a three days' journe]
to Stratford, through mud and mire, ovei
roads infested with highwaymen, merely ii
order to sacrifice at the shrine of Bacchus
when they could have had their swill in Lon-
don at the public house kept by George Wil-
kins, of the parish of St. Sepulchres.
The Wilkins travern would have beei
chosen doubtless by the bibacious Ben foi
convenience and time saving, for he was han
at work bringing forth the great folio 161'
edition of his works. "We have known noth
ing about Wilkins individually" before his
deposition in the case of Bellott vs. Mountjo]
was found by Dr. Wallace in the Public Rec-
ord Office. But his vocation as inn-keeper, hav-
ing a license to sell alcoholic liquors, mak<
it highly probable that he was a votary oi
Bacchus. However, the inventor of the yan
could have known but very little of the ex-
ternal life of Michael Drayton, always as
"sober as a judge," decorous and undefiled,
and could hardly have been a member of a
Scottish party. There is not a hint from
Ben Jonson, in conversation with Drummond
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 163
Hawthornden in 1618-19, of his "having
tad a merry meeting in 1616." So soon after
the great fire of 1614 when a large part of
Stratford lay in ashes.
At this time, be it remembered, Silver
Street and vicinity, the region Shakspere chose
for residence, swarmed with French refu-
gees, Hugenots. Some of them, perhaps,
met Shakspere, the Stratford player, with his
money bags, and found him holding with Shy-
lock insistence to the letter of the law, "al-
though the taking of interest was at that time
regarded as forbidden to a Christian." ,
There is not a tittle of evidence adduced
to show that a knowledge of Shakspere's puta-
tive authorship of poems and plays was cur-
rent at Stratford, when the first folio edition
of his reputed works was published in 1623.
The records attest that Shakspere's fame re-
putatively as writer, is posterior to this event.
How strange it must seem to those who claim
for Shakspere an established reputation as poet
and dramatist of repute, anterior to the first
folio edition in 1623, that Dr. John Hall him-
self an author, and most advantaged of all
the heirs by Shakspere's death, should fail to
164 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
mention his father-in-law in his "cure book"
The earliest dated cure is 1617, the year fol-
lowing Shakspere's death, but there are un-
dated ones. In "Obs. XIX," Dr. Hall men-
tions without date, an illness of his wife, Mrs.
Hall, and we find him making a note long
afterwards in reference to his only daughter,
Elizabeth, who was saved by her father's skill
and patience. "Thus was she delivered from
death and deadly diseases, and was well for
The illness of Michael Drayton is recorded
without date in "Obs. XXII" with its wee bit
of a literary biography and he is referred to
as "Mr. Drayton, an excellent poet." Had
Shakspere received a like mention as a poet
or writer by one who knew him so intimately,
what a delicious morsel it would have been to
all those who have followed the literary anti-
quarian through the dreary barren waste of
Shakespearean research. We have found
nothing but husks, and these eulogists of
Shakespeare Hallam and Emerson refuse
For more than three centuries, the Stratford
archives have contained all matters concerning
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 165
:spere's life and character, and have given
full knowledge of the man. Nothing has
Deen lost seemingly but of his alleged literary
L ife, there is not a crumb; no family traditions,
10 books, no manuscripts, no letters, no com-
nendatory poems, plays, masques or antha-
The biographers of William Shakspere of
3tratford-on-Avon have none of the material
)ut of which poets and dramatists are made,
Dut only those facts which are congruous with
noney lenders, land speculators, play brokers,
ictors and public land sharks. Also a good
assortment of apocryphal stories and gossipy
farns, which have become traditional cur-
Not having found the slightest trace of
Shakespeare in 1592, as writer of plays, or as
idapter or elabtorator of other men's work,
except conjecturally, his advent into literature
nust have been at a later date, if at all. In
159.S " Venus and Adonis" appeared in print
with a dedication to Lord Southampton and
signed "William Shakespeare." Bear in mind
hat the dedicator of a book need not in those
days to be its author.
In 1594 appeared another poem "Lucrece"
166 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
also with a dedication to Lord Southampton.
The poems bore no name of an author on the
title page. Here is literary tangibility, but
does it establish the identity of their author,
or attest the responsibility of the young Strat-
ford man for the poems which were published
under the name of "Shakespeare?" This was
the first mention of the now famous name.
Was it a pseudonym or was it the true name
of the author of the poems? Every person of
fair erudition and common sense has a right
to his own opinion, but the present writer can
see no strong and valid evidence of any per-
sonal connection with the Stratford Shakspere
in the works called Shakspearean, which were
produced in the main, under a fictitious name,
and should be characterized as our greatest
anonymous and pseudonymous literature.
Furthermore, the enthusiastic reception of
the poems awakens a suspicion when we learn
that their popularity was due to a belief in
their lasciviency, and that the dedicate" was
the dissolute self-willed Henry Wriothesley,
third Earle of Southampton, and that the
name of the dedicator "Shakespeare" was one
of a class of nick-names which in 1593 still re-
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 167
ined in some measure that which was deri-
r e in them.
A student of Merton College, Oxford,
:hanged his own name of Hugh Shakspere
nto Saunders, because he considered it too
expressive and distinctive of rough manners,
md significant of degradation and as such was
anwilling to aid in its hereditary trasmission,
when all that is derisive in the name Shaks-
pere vile reputation remained fixed and fos-
silized in the old meaning. Primarily the
lame has no militant signification.
Sir Sidney Lee admits that the Earle of
Southampton is the only patron of Shakes-
peare that is known to biographical research
(p. 126). By what fact or facts, may we ask,
is the authenticity of the Earle' friendship or
patronage attested? Southampton was the
standing patron of all the poets, the stock dedi-
catee of those days. It was the fashion of the
times to pester him with dedications by poets,
grave and gay. They were after a piece of
money, five or six pounds which custom con-
strained his Lordship to yield for having his
name enshrined in poet's lines.
Almost all the poets of that age were de-
pendents, and there is, with few exceptions,
168 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the same display of Pharisaic sycopyhan<
greediness, and on the part of dedicatee, an in-
ordinate desire for adulation. Every student
of Elizabethan literature and history should
known that the so-called Southampton-Shakes-
peare friendship cannot be traced biographi-
'cally. The Earle of Southampton was a volu-
minous correspondent, but did not bear wit-
ness to his friendship for Shakespeare.
A scrutinous inspection of Southampton
papers contained in the archives of his family
descendants and contemporaries, yields noth-
ing in support of the contention that South-
ampton's friendship or patronage is known to
biographical research! and it is as attestative
as that other apocryphal story out of the sup-
posable mouth of Sir William D'Avenant and
preserved by Nicholas Rowe, that my Lord
Southampton at one time gave him (Shaks-
pere) "a thousand pounds to enable him to
go through with a purchase which he heard
he had a mind to." D'Avenant gave out that
he was a son of Shakspere. One thousand
pounds in 1596 was equal to at least twenty
thousand dollars today. The magnitude of
the gift discredits the story, nevertheless, the
startled Rowe is the first to make it current,
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 169
3ut does not give his readers the ground for
lis assurance. Be it what it may, he could
lardly satisfy the modern reader that this man
(D'Avenant) a son, who insinuatingly defiles
:he name and fair fame of his own mother,
s a credible witness, for in degrading his
nother, "he did but annul the legitimacy of
lis own birth."
The truth is, the social rules of Tudor and
facobin times did not permit peer and peasant
o live on terms of mutual good feeling. In
:hose times they had a summary way of deal-
ng with humble citizens. A nobleman to
/indicat; rank, brought an action in the Star
Chamber against a person who had orally
iddressed him as Goodman. Morley, Chap-
nan and Jonson were imprisoned for having
lispleased the King by a jest in a play "East-
vard Ho," all on account of John Marston's
ocularity, who was associated with them, and
>f the arbitrary attitude of the crown.
The literati of those days found in scholas-
ic learning neither potency nor promise to
abrogate class distinction by giving a passport
o high attainment in literature, science, poetry
md high art. Ben Jonson says, "The time was
vlicn men were had in price for learning, now
170 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
letters only make men vile. He is unbraid-
ingly called a poet, as if it was a contemptible
Edmund Spencer endeavored to propitiate
Lord Burleigh, minister of state, by offering
an apology for being a poet. Thus we are
made acquainted with the socialities of every-
day life in that "long gone time" and also how
little some persons know who write books to
uphold the Stratford delusion, more especially
when they assert that such men as the Earl of
Essex, the Earl of Southampton and Sir Wal-
ter Raleigh were Shakspere's intimate ac-
But we are on safe ground when we claim
for him yoke fellowship with the actors, for
Shakspere's will attests the fact that Burbage,
Heming and Condell were his yoke mates.
"I give and bequeath to my fellows, John
Heming, Richard Burbage and Henry Cun-
dell, twenty-six shillings, eight pense apiece
to buy them rings."
Ben Jonson and the poets were not remem-
bered in Shakspere's will. Why?
But according to the upholders of the Strat-
ford Faith, Shakspere in his life time is made
to associate with Drayton and Ben Jonson, by
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 171
r hat Mr. Phillips calls "a late but appar-
itly genuine tradition," who in the fullness
>f their desire to discover Shakspere, the
itratford actor in affiliation with poets, make
the subject of their memoir die from the ef-
fcts of a drunken carousal.
Sir Henry Irving in his address at the Uni-
versity of Oxford, says, "Richard Burbage was
the first great actor that England ever saw,
(and adds) unfortunately, we have no record
of the intercourse between Shakspere and Bur-
bage. But there must have existed a close
friendship. We differ with the learned
Thespian, for fortunately or unfortunately, we
have a wee little record of the intercourse be-
tween Shakspere and Burbage. The only story
recorded during player Shakspere's life time
and is contained in the note book of the Eng-
lish Barrister, John Maningham, a student of
the Legal Inn. It savors strongly of the
tavern, criminating player Shakspere's morals
the transcription of which would sully
these pages. The barrister had made an entry
in his note book. 2 February of the same year
1601, giving a brief abstract of a play which
he had witnessed, called "Twelve Night,"
ind in recording the story six weeks later, fails
172 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
to confirm the players identification with the
author of "Twelfth Night."
"Love's Labor Lost" was performed at the
house of the Earl of Southampton for the
amusement of Anna of Denmark in 1604, but
Burbage alone is mentioned. No coupling of
the names of Southampton and Shakspere as
a testimony of their friendship. Sir Walter
Cope had spent a whole morning in hunting
for "players, jugglers and such kind of crea-
tures" as Sir Walter styles them in writing to
Lord Cramborne. Sir Sidney Lee tells us that
"the state papers and business correspondence
of Southampton were enlivened by references
to his literary interest and his sympathy with
the birth of English drama." (p. 382).
However, the Southampton papers and let-
ters contain no reference to Shakespeare.
There is nothing to show that he was ac-
quainted with the author of the plays or the
Stratford player, notwithstanding he was pres-
ent at the performance of "The Comedy of Er-
rors" at Grays Inn in 1594, when the Stratford
player Shakspeare was an acting member of
the "company of base and common fellows."
Southampton zest for the drama is based
on the statement contained in the "Sidney
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 173
'apers" 1599. "My Lord Southampton and
>rd Rutland come not to the court. The one
>th but very seldom they pass away the tyme
London merely in going to plays every
"When a new library for his old college, St.
ohns, was in course of construction, South-
ampton collected books to the value of three
hundred and sixty pounds wherewith to fur-
nish it." However, Southampton's literary
tastes and sympathy with the drama cannot be
drawn from his gift to the library, for it con-
sisted largely of legends of the saints and me-
diaeval chronicles. Manifestly this is the way
the Earl cherished his passion for literature
during the closing years of his life. Had the
benefaction contained but one Shakespeare
play, it would now be more highly prized by
the authorities of the University on the river
Cam than all this mediaeval lore, which may
still be seen on the shelves of the College li-
brary. And, furthermore, this would be some
proof of the fascination the drama had for
Southampton, and serve in some slight meas-
ure to rescue the reputed Southampton Shakes-
peare friendship and patronage from limbo.
When and where did Shakespeare acknowl-
174 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
edge his obligations to the only patron of the
dramatist, according to Sir Sidney Lee, who
is known to biographical research, not one of
the Shakespeare plays was dedicated to
Southampton. The name Shakespeare is con-
spicuously absent from among the distin-
guished writers of his day.
Who in panegyrical speech and song ac-
claimed Southampton's release from prison in
1603? Sir Sidney Lee says, "Every note in
the scale of adulation was sounded in South-
ampton's honor in contemporary prose and
verse." That is true for every hungry
weary Willy (poet) of the Muse is repre-
sented in "the scale of adulation." And Sir
Sidney Lee has excerpted many lines from the
poets in proof of Southampton's literary pre-
delictions. But not a single line from Shakes-
peare. Why? Because there is nothing cap-
able of being extracted.
Still we find this earnest Stratfordian en-
gaged in an effort to unmask Peer and Poet
in (No. CVII) of the enigmatical "Shake-
Speare Sonnets." Tom Nash makes a bid for
the Earl's patronage in the hope of making
money, as he admitted, in those days, literary
men died of hunger. However, his note in the
THE MAN, WILLIAM SHAKSPERE 175
leak of adulation" is contained in a coarse
love poem, dedicated to Southampton. "A
lew brain he vociferates, a new soul will I get
ne to canonize your name to posterity." In
:he same absurd fashion, Nash adulated Sir
Philip Sidney, "the least syllable of whose
lame sounded in the ears of judgment is able
:o give the meanest line he writes a dowry of
In an adulatory sonnet, Barnabe Barns tells
is that Southampton "hand is thrice sacred
md his eyes, those heavenly lamps which give
he Muses light that holy fire-
But Gervase Markham sounded a blasphe-
nous note when he asserted that Southamp-
on's sweet voice hushed the music of the
Spheres" and delighted the ear of Almighty
The Tragicall Hiftorie of
Prince of Denmarke. '
f tiffM tfiiiC i
Enter two cntttlt. \ ^-^-, / r ,* < ( 5
1 . O Tand : who is tfeat?
1 . _O you-cotac raofl carefully vpon your watch,
The partnersof my watch, bid them make hade,
I. 1 will : Sec who goes there.
Her. friends to this ground.
M*r. And Icegemcn to the Dane,
O farewell honcft fouldier, who hath releeued you?
1 . B Amur do hath ray place, giue you good night.
M&r* Holla^ Rtmardo.
2. Say, is Heratie there?
a. Welcome Hor*tio t welcome good MtrctUiu*
M*r. What hath this thing appcar'd agaioc to night.
2. I hauc fcene nothing.
M*r. Horttie faycs tis but our fantafic,
And wil not let bcliefctakc hold of him,
Touching this drea Jed fight twice fccnc by vr,
First page of Original Edition of "Hamlet"
THE LITERARY ASPECT
Let Schollers bee as thriftie as they may.
They will be poore ere their last dying
Learning and povertie
Will ever kisse.
Parnassus Trilogy (1597-1601).
THE LITERARY ASPECT
1RST literary form of Name A Pseudo-
nym, nom de plume. The vocabulary of
the Author of the Plays show what books he
read and the company he kept. By the study
of words he became a mine of thoughts and by
constant 'reading accumulated his astonishing
vocabulary, the storehouse of language which
furnishes his characters with apt expressions
in which his thoughts enshrine his genius.
The sublime conceptions which are displayed
in his dramatic writings confirm him to be the
greatest writer the world ever saw.
That there were two "Shakespeares"
"Shake-speare" the Author and Shakespeare
the Player, I would disabuse every reader of
such an absurdity. My contention is that the
immortal Plays were written by a man whose
true name was not Shakespeare, however, the
name is spelled Shake-speare, (a mask
name nom de plume.}
180 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
The name, we are told, was spelled soi
twenty or thirty different ways, but the Playei
himself uinformly w T rote "Shakspere," and tl
form "Shakespeare" or "Shake-speare" was
never recognized by him. However, I am not
concerned about the variants of the Stratford
Player's name, inasmuch as my contention is
not buttressed by the spelling. Neverthele<
as he wrote it "Shakspere" and as some un-
known other wrote the Author's (pen-name)
as "Shakespeare," must have been pronounced
differently, as implied by the spelling, more
especially when printed with a hyphen in thii
form "Shake-speare," an excellent nom de
plume. Possibly suggested to the Author of
the Plays by the noted inventor of mask-names
and signer of dedications, Edward Kirk, who
was the editor and commentator of Spencer's
earliest work, and who may have performed a
like service for the Author of the Plays and
poerns. The true name of the man who pub-
lished under the pen-name of Shake-speare or
Shakespeare was never revealed.
Francis Meres, a student in Divinity, pre-
tender to superior knowledge, author of God's
Arithmetic, had his Palladis Tamia (Wit's
Treasury) registered September 7th, 1598
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 181
id published shortly after. Meres says:
.s the Greek tongue is made famous and elo-
tent by Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, Aeschy-
is, Sophocles, Pindanus, Phocyledes, and Ar-
jtophanes, and the Latin tongue by Virgil,
Quid, Horace, Silius, Italicus, Lucanus, Lu-
cretius, Ansonius and Claudianus, so the Eng-
lish tongue is mightily enriched and gorgeous-
ly invested in rare ornaments and resplend-
ent abiliments by Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser,
Daniel Drayton, Warner, Shakespeare, Mar-
low and Chapman." Meres writes of the mel-
lifluous and honey tongued Shakespeare of
his "Venus and Adonis" his "Lucrece" and
his sugared sonnets. Among his private
friends, the "book called Shakespeare's Son-
nets" was published in 1609, eleven years af-
ter the Meres reference in 1598, and in the
next year, two of them (138 and 144) were
printed in "The Passionate Pilgrim." Mr.
Hallam expressed a doubt whether these were
fe sonnets mentioned by Meres.
However, Meres enumerated twelve plays,
seven of which had been published anony-
mously; one only "Love's Labour Lost" has
been published with Shakespeare's name.
Nevertheless, Meres, Carew and Weever,
182 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
hack writers all, write tritely of the hone
tongued, the honey sweet and the "sugared"
With Francis Meres everything written i
mellifluent, but who this "Shakespeare" was
he does not claim to know any more than his
contemperories knew about the real name and
personality of "Martin Mar-Prelate", whose
identity was never revealed, and is still a mys-
tery as deep as ever "Junius" was. In fact, n<
contemporary made the slightest effort to il-
lustrate "Shakespeare" the author-poet's indi-
As a chronicler, Meres is unreliable; all
modern commentators reject his list of Shake-
sperean plays. Meres asserted that Ben Jon-
son was one of our best authors for tragedy,
vwhen at that time, 1598, Jonson had not writ-
ten a single tragedy, and but one corned]
Meres mentions Chapman as one of the best
of our poets for both tragedy and comedy, al-
though at this period, Chapman had publish-
ed but one drama.
William Gager is also included in Men
list of 1598 of the chief dramatist of the da 1
among writers of comedy, when the fact
with the exception of his single comedy "Ri-
vals" no longer extant, they were Latin trage-
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 183
dies. Before we transcribe in part "Palladis
Tamia" by Francis Meres, we ask the reader's
pardon for the abuse of their patience, for
Meres merely repeats names of Greek, Latin
and modern play makers.
"As the tragic poets flourished in Greece,
Aeschylus, Euripedes, Sophocles, Alexander,
Aetolus, Achaens, Erithriaens, Astydama,
Atheninsis, Apollodorus, Torsennis, Nico-
machus, Phygius, Therpis, Atticans and
Timon, Appolloniates; and then among the
Latins, Accim, M. Attilius, Pomponiys, Se-
cundus and Seneca. So these are our best for
tragedy; the Lord Buckhurst, Doctor Legge
of Cambridge, Doctor Edes of Oxford;
Maister Edward Ferris the author of the
Mirrour for Magistrates; Marlow, Peele,
Watson, Kyd, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chap-
man, Decker and Benjamin Johnson."
The best poets for comedy (Meres pro-
ceeds with his enumeration, naming sixteen
Creeks and ten Latins, twenty-six in all).
"So the best for comedy amongst us be Ed-
ard Earle of Oxford, Doctor Gager of Ox-
ford, Maister Rowley, once a rare Scholler of
learned Pembrook Hall in Cambridge; Mais-
:r Edwards, one of her Majesties Chappell
184 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
eloquent and wittie John Lily, Lodge, Gas
coyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash,
Thomas Heywood, Anthony Munday. Our
best ploters are Chapman, Porter, Wilson,
Hathway and Henry Chettle."
Francis Meres does not seem to have con-
sidered it necessary to read before review-
ing. Had he done so he would not have
placed the name of Lord Buckhurst first in
his list, giving primacy to this mediocrist and
the author of Romeo and Juliet, whoever he
was, ninth in his enumeration of dramatic
poets which he considered best among the
English for tragedy, nor would he have named
for second place on the list, Dr. Legge of
Cambridge instead of the author of "The
Tragical History of Dr. Faustus" (Mar-
What has Dr. Edwards of Oxford, whose
name stands fourth in the Meres list, written
that he should have been mentioned in the
same connection with the author of "The
White Devil" (Webster) or the author of
that English classic, "The Conspiracy and
The Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron"
(Chapman). Why this commingling of such
insignificant writers as Edward, Earl, Thomas
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 185
r otson and Lord Buckhurst with the giant
irotherhood. The fact is so far as attesting
the responsibility of anybody or anything, the
Meres averments are as worthless as a musty
nut. What was said of John Aubury is also
true of Francis Meres: "His brain was like
a hasty pudding, whose memory and judgment
and fancy were all stirred together." Yet this
is the writer that many Shakespearean com-
mentators confidently appeal to in part, and
whose testimony in part they with equal un-
animity reject. The fact is the modern
Shakespearean commentators have torn the
Meres list into tatters. Andronicus is univer-
sally rejected. Mr. Lowell denies the total
authenticity of Richard III for Shakespeare,
he says, "never wrote deliberate nonsense."
Mr. Fleay finds in the Romeo and Juliet
traces of George Peele and Samuel Daniel,
and that there are grave doubts as to Shakes-
peare's hand in "The Comedy of Errors."
Most modern commentators doubt if the "Two
Gentlemen of Verona" could have been writ-
ten by Shakespeare. King John mentioned
by Meres was doubtless the old play of "The
Troublesome Reign of King John," first
printed in 1591, and was three times published
186 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
before the first printing of Shakespeare's
King John in the folio of 1623, which was
worked after the old play. There is no such
play as "Love's Labour Won."
Not finding Shakespeare in the anthology of
his day, the most natural inference would be
that all those who wrote under the name
"Shakespeare," wrote "incognito " We know
that many writers of that day wrote anony-
mously for the stage. Many of the anony-
mous and pseudonymous writings have been
retrieved. Much remains still to be reclaimed
from the siftings of what are named "Early
Comedy," "Early History" and "Pre-Shakes-
pearean Group of Plays."
Mr. Spedding had the good fortune to be
the first to demonstrate the theory of a divided
authorship of "Henry VIII," to reclaim for
John Fletcher Wolsley's Farewell to all his
greatness. A majority of the best critics now
agree with Miss Jane Lee in the assignment of
the second and third part of Henry VI to Mar-
low, Greene and perhaps Peele.
Many writers of that age were communis-
tic in the use of the "Shakespeare" as a
descriptive title, standing for the collocuted
works of not one but several playmakers. In
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 187
the list before me there are twelve plays which
were not included in the folio of the collected
works of William Shakespeare in 1623. Al-
though resting upon title page proprietorship
and in the absence of certified authorship, The
Yorkshire Tragedy and Hamlet, Prince of
Denmark are equally tenable. So thought the
printers as we learn by their frequent use of
the pseudonymous name of the author of "Ve-
nus and Adonis," a sensual poem which had
been very popular.
The plays referred to which bore the im-
printed name of "Shakespeare" were these:
Arthur of Eversham, The London Prodigal
Loarine, Sir John Oldcastle, Thomas Lord
Cromwell, Edward III, The Birth of Mer-
lin, Mucedonis, Merry Devil of Edmonton,
Yorkshire Tragedy, Arraignment of Paris,
Puritan, Widow of Watling Street.
The difficulty of identifying Shakespeare
the author poet with the young man who came
up from Stratford, has induced Shakespearean
scholars to question the unity of authorship.
Sir Sidney Lee admits that Shakespeare
"drew largely" on the Hamlet, referred to
by Nash in 1589, which he has ascribed to
Kyd (p. 221).
188 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
It is scarcely possible, says Mr. Marshall,
"to maintain that the play referred to as well
known in 1589 could have been by Shakes-
peare (Shakspere) the "Stratforder." Surely
not. We see the question of the unity of au-
thorship involves the question of his identity,
for according to Shakespearean scholarship,
the "Works" in part at least are a batch of
anonymous plays worked over and labeled
There is strong presumptive proof that
printers and publishers in Elizabethan and
Jacobin times were in the habit of selecting
names or titles that would best sell their books,
and it mattered not to publishers if the name
printed on the title page was a personal name
or one impersonal. Title pages were not even
presumptive proof of authorship in the time
of Queen Elizabeth and King James. The
printers chose to market their publications un-
der the most favorable conditions and some
writers and printers chose the incognizable
name "Shakespeare" which had been at-
tached to the voluptuous poem "Venus and
Adonis," 1593, which had a wide popularity
resting on its supposed dissoluteness.
This was the first appearance of the name
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 189
"Shakespeare" in literature, being the mask-
name doubtless of the writer who gave this
erotic poem to the world "the first heir of my
Certified authorship in that age as to the
great body of the works produced is the excep-
tion, rather than the rule, for many writers
of that age wrote anonymously and pseudony-
mously. Edmund Spencer until the begin-
ning of 1580 wrote and published under an
assume name "Immerito"
The authorship of the Shepherd's Calen-
dar was not formally acknowledged or certi-
fied to until after it had gone through several
editions by "the unknown poet" as he is called
by the old commentator. After the certifica-
tion by the author of the work, after seven
years, the critics referred to Spencer as "the
late unknown poet or the person who wrote
"The Shepherd's Calendar."
In 1586 William Webbe published his "Dis-
course of English Poetrie." In this the au-
thor of "The Shepherd's Calendar" is spoken
of by the mask name "Immerito," given by
its editor E. K. (Edward Kirk) a friend and
fellow student of the author at Pembroke, who
r as the editor and commentator of Spencer's
190 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
earliest work, the pseudonymous "Shepherd's
Calendar." It was praised by a contemporary
poet, George Whitstone, himsef a friend of
Spencer, as the reputed work by Sir Philip
Sidney. Raleigh, Lodge, Drayton, Nash and
Sidney paid homage to Spencer.
Spencer wrote nine comedies, but every
trace has perished. Not one in fifty of the
dramas of this period according to Holli-
well-Phillipps having descended to modern
The plays contained in the first and second
folio, (1647-1679) of Beaumont and Fletch-
er's comedies and tragedies number fifty-
three; but only three were published in Beai
mont's lifetime, and that on none of thei
does Beaumont's name appear as authoi
Fletcher survived his partner nine years.
Robert Burton (1576-1649), author of the
Anatomy of Melancholy, maintained his in-
cognito for a time, he avers, because it gave
him greater freedom.
John Marston (1575-1634) applied his own
mask-name "Kimayder" to his antagonist and
purposely ridicules himself.
Michael Drayton (1563-1631) also had
written at this period under the pseudonym
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 191
of Rowland. At about this time likewise in
France, Jean Baptiste (Popuelin), (1622-
73) preferred to be known as Moliere, whose
original manuscripts are not to be found, but
as one of the great identities of his age, are
not essential to illustrate his individual life,
He was the particular personal favorite of
Louis XIV, who bestowed lavishly his benefits
upon Moliere. He had given him a pension
of seven thousand livres and a position near
the King as groom-of-the-chamber. The great
monarch had been delighted to stand god-
father to one of his children, to whom the
Duchess of Orleans was godmother.
In consequence of failing health, his sad-
dened friends on the 17th of February, 1673,
entreated him not to have any play. "What
would you have me do/' he replied, "there
are fifty poor workmen who have but their
day's pay to live upon. What will they do if
we have no play? I should reproach myself
with having neglected to give them bread for
one single day if I could really help it."
How beautifully Moliere's benevolent ac-
tions blend with his sweet words. He was
ever mindful of the pressure with which the
common ills of life fall upon the poor.
192 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
In more recent times, Francois Marie
Aronet (1694-1778) won enduring fame as
Voltaire. Montesquieu's Esprit des Lois was
disguised on its appearance in 1748.
The famous work "Eikon Basilike" which
appearing soon after the execution of Charles
First as his work, was a potent factor in that
reaction which culminated in the Restoration
of the House of Stuart. Burnet says it had
"the greatest run in many impressions of any
book of the age."
Many years after its first appearance, John
Gauden, Bishop of Exeter in 1660, laid claim
to its authorship. Sir Walter Scott main-
tained his incognito as the great unknown for
years like "Junius" whose secret was intrusted
to no one, and was never to be revealed. Sir
Walter preserved his secret until driven to the
brink of financial destruction.
We believe that the author of "Hamlet,"
"Lear" and "Macbeth" chose to sheath his pri-
vate life and personality as a man of letters
in an impenetrable incognito the nothing-
ness of a name.
The author (Puttenham) of "The Arts of
English Poesie," an anonymous work pub-
lished in 1589, says, "I know very many
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 193
notable gentlemen in the court that have writ-
ten commendably, and suppressed it agayne,
or else suffered it to be publisht without their
owner's name to it, as if it were a discredit for
a gentleman to seeme learned and to show
himself amorous of any good Arte."
As these things were so, does it jar you or
you to discover a cultured nobleman, the Earl
of Derby, writing plays for the common play-
ers in the year 1599, the same year in which
his Lordship or some unknown other wrote
Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing.
Mr. James Greenstreet had the good fortune
to discover the intercepted dispatch written
by a foreign ambassador to his home govern-
ment. This piece of information was dis-
covered by accident in the place in which the
English Public Records are kept. The cour-
tier's reason for concealment was to shun the
presumption of living by his pen. For the
Elizabethan notable gentleman-poet scorned
the professional poet and considered publish-
ing stage poetry a degradation. It is ridi-
culous, says the great Advocate John Selden
(1584-1654), "for a lord to print verses; 'tis
well enough to make them to please himself,
but to make them public is foolish." So we
194 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
see that plain people were not the only on
who wrote plays in this great poetic age.
But the upper classes great folks, had
taken a hand in writing plays "on the sly."
Robert Greene in his introductory address to
the gentlemen students of both universities,
refers to certain devotional poets "which from
their calling and gravities being loath to have
any profane pamphlets pass under their hand,
get some Batillus to set his name to their
verses. Thus is the ass made proud by this
underhand brokerie. And he that cannot
write true English without the help of clerks
of parish churches will needes make him
selfe the father of interludes."
What do we know about the individual life
of the author of the plays, who among all the
great men of his age was the greatest answer-
nothing that can be authenicated. The
Stratfordians deny the truth of this statement,
and in their attempt at refutation, point to
the Shakespeare-Southampton dedication of
Venus and Adonis as a memorable poem
which they allege is proof of certified author-
But are we to accept it (Venus and Adonis)
as a memorable poem? Surely not in an age
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 195
when printers wrote dedications. When edi-
tors invented and signed the mask name while
the author maintained an impenetrable in-
cognito as in the case of Edmond Spencer.
When the Shepherd's Calendar was printed
pseudonymously by the editor E. K., who in-
vented and signed Spencer's pen name.
No reputed play bore the name "Shakes-
>eare" on the title page until 1598. Thomas
>dge (1556-1625) in his prose satire "Wits
Misery," dated 1596, enumerates the wits of
I the time. Shakespeare is not mentioned.
Peter Heylin was born in 1599 and died in
1662, thus being seventeen years old when
Shakspere, the Stratford player died in 1616.
.n reckoning up the famous dramatic poets
if England, he omits "Shakespeare."
Philip Henslow, the old play broker, also
in writing his note book from 1591 to 1609,
loes not even mention "Shakespeare," al-
though he records the title of no fewer than
270 plays. Henslow was in theatrical part-
nership with the famous "Ned Allen" in con-
nection with the Rose and Fortune Theatres;
Edward Alleyn personated in "Leir the
Moore of Venis," "Romeo, Pericles and
Henry VIII," "as appears from his inventory
196 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
of his own theatrical wardrobe." Henslowe
records in his Diary on June 9th, 1594, that
Hamlet was performed by his company (p.
180). Both Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps and Sir
Sidney Lee say that Shakespeare began his
career as a dramatist by writing plays for the
manager, Philip Henslowe at the Rose The-
atre. And yet Henslowe makes no mention
of Shakespeare, (p. 24-8).
According to Henslow's Diary (note book),
Henry the Sixth was performed as a new play
in March, 1591. This is conjectured to be
the play referred to by Nash, acted by "Lord
Strange's men" at the Rose in 1592. This was
not the company to which Shakspere the Strat-
ford player belonged.
Milton's poem on Shakespeare (1630) was
not published in his works in 1645. This
eulogy was prefixed to the folio edition of
Shakespeare (1632) but without Milton's $
name. It's pedigree was not at all satisfac-
tory. Milton's acquaintance with Shakes-
peare's verse must have been very slight, as
shown by the lines,
"Or sweetest Shakespere fancy's
Warbles his native wood nttes wild,"
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 197
r had he read "Venus and Adonis," so clas-
sical and formal, he would agree with Walter
lavage Landor that no poet was ever less a
rarbler of "wood.nttes wild."
Now in fact, after the publication of the
irst folio edition in 1623, all the later testi-
tonies are repetitious, suggestions inspired by
ten Jonson's famous ascription to Shakes-
;are, which he wrote for the syndicate of
irinters and publishers, with a view to the
tie of the work in 1623.
The slight mention of Shakespeare by the
idicious Webster, as Hazelt calls him, com-
prehends no more than that he mistook a
pseudonymous author for one of the hack-
writers of the day. "Detraction is the sworn
friend to ignorance, for mine own part, I have
ever truly cherished my good opinion of other
mens' worthy labors, especially of that full and
heightened style of Master Chapman, the la-
bored and understanding works of Master
Jonson, the no less worthy composures of the
both worthily excellent masters Beaumont and
Fletcher, and lastly (without wrong last to be
named) the right happy and copious industry
of Master Shakespeare, Master Dekker and
198 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
These words written by the second greatest
English tragic poets are very significant, for
Shakespeare's distinctive characteristics are
not individualized from those of Dekker and
Heywood, while those of Chapman, Jonson,
Beaumont and Fletcher are.
In the last four named is perfect interlace-
ment of personality with authorship, but not
so in Shakespeare, for industry is the only dis-
tinguishing mark which he must share with
Dekker and Heywood, hack writers for the
stage. Dekker's many plays attest his copious
industry, when we remember that this writer
spent seven years in prison, and Heywood's in-
dustry cannot be doubted for he claimed to
have had a hand or main finger in two hundred
and twenty plays. Bear in mind when the
preface to Webster's tragedy, "The White
Devil," which contains this slight mention of
Shakespeare was printed in 1612, after all the
immortal plays were written and the now re-
puted author had returned to Stratford, prob-
ably in 1611-1612 in his forty-seventh year,
where he lived in idleness for five years before
his death from the effect of a drunken carou-
sal, according to a so-called late tradition,
which some Stratfordians employ, not as an
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 199
jpersion, but merely to show that the Strat-
actor lead a jolly life.
John Webster possessed a critical faculty
id an independent judgment, but the way he
lakes mention of Shakespeare shows that he
lew nothing about the individual man or
the works called "Shakespeare."
The generous reference to "the labored and
understanding works of Master Jonson," gives
a clear idea of the main characteristics of the
work of Ben Jonson who, not having reached
the fruition of his renown in 1612, but in the
after time came into Dryden's view as "The
greatest man of the last age, the most learned
and judicious writer any theatre ever had."
John Webster writes also of the "no less
worthy composures of Beaumont and
Fletcher." Thus in the morning of life they
present an excellent type for purity of vocabu-
lary and neatness of expression, and were of
"loudest fame; Two of Beaumont and
Fletcher's plays were acted to one of Shakes-
peare's or Ben Jonson's" in Dryden's time
John Webster's judgment of his fellow
dramatist was just. "I have ever truly cher-
ished my good opinion of other men's worthy
SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
labors." Webster never conceals or misrepre-
sents the truth by giving evasive or equivocat-
ing evidence. He reveals the judicial trait of
his character in placing Chapman first among
cognizant poets then living, assuming the
name "Shakespeare" was used as an assumed
name, masking the true name of the greatest
English poet. Sidney Marlowe and Spencer
had then descended to the tomb.
The play actor, William Shakspere in his
life time was not publicly credited with the
personal authorship of the plays and poems
called "Shakespeare," except possibly by three
or four poeticules such as Freeman, Barnfield,
Weever and Meres, who follow each other in
the iteration and reiteration of the same in-
sipid and affected compliments, not one of
them implying a personal acquaintance with
the author, but who erroneously take one per-
son for another, thus identifying the wrong
individuality. Some few persons may have
believed that the player and playwright were
one and the same person and were deceived
into so believing. This much we do know
that the Stratford actor never openly sanc-
tioned the identification, although he may have
been accessory to the deception and in this
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 201
mnection, it should be borne in mind also
iat no poet was remembered in Shakspere's
r ill as were the actors.
Of the thirty-six plays assigned by the folio
1623, not one had received the acknowledg-
tent of their reputed author (Shakespeare).
Not a single line in verse or prose assented
to for comparison and identification, and in
the absence of credible evidence of (the auth-
or's true name) his authorship of certain
poems, there can be no authoritative sanction
of the assignment. No person writing on the
subject of "Shakespeare" can write a literary
life of the individual man, for player Shak-
spere of Stratford-on-Avon does not offer a
single point of correspondence to the activities
*f a literary man or scholar.
The fantastical critics profess to read the
story of the author's life in his works. This is
an absurdity, for dramatic art is mainly char-
acter creation and cannot be made to disclose
a knowledge of his private life.
Forty-six years after the death of William
Shakspere of Stratford, "The gentle-hum-
ored" Thomas Fuller in his "Worthies," pub-
lished posthumously in 1662, wrote "Many
were the wit combats betwixt him and Ben
202 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanis
great galleon and an English man of
Master Jonson, like the former, was built fai
higher in learning solid, but slow in his pe:
formance, Shakespere with the English mi
of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing,
could turn with all tides, tack about and take
advantage of all winds by the quickness of his
wit and invention."
Fuller being born in 1608 was only eight
years old when player Shakspere of Stratford
died and but two years old when he quit Lon-
don. If this precocious youngster beheld the
"wit combats" of the two, he could only have
beheld them as he lay "mewling and puking
in his nurse's arms."
The facts are when the quaint and witty
Fuller was six years old, his father was rector
of St. Peter's in Aldwinkle. The boy was
sent to school in his native village and con-
tinued at that school for four years. It's not
likely that the lad was in London during
player Shakspere's lifetime.
Shakespeare's contemporaries had nothing
to say, in fact, and in criticism of either au-
thor or works of any consequence during the
life time of the Stratford player. All the great
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 203
ien of his time were strangers to him. No
ige, no statesman, no orator, no man of lit-
irary eminence whatever left any description
>f "Shakespeare's" manner as a writer. Is it
>ssible that the great men of that age, John
n, Sir Walter Raleigh, Inigo Jones,
>rayton, Hobbes, Spencer, Daniel, Chapman,
(en Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher could
lave read the immortal plays and not have
(receded Mr. James Spedding in handing
lown to posterity something about Shakes-
peare. "Close packed expression, the same life
ind reality and freshness, the same rapid and
ibrupt turnings of thought, so quick that lan-
lage can hardly follow fast enough." So
transcendent was Shakespeare's genius for ex-
No wonder Dr. Ingleby is led to say that "it
is plain that the bard of our admiration was
inknown to the men of that age."
But Sir Sidney Lee boldly asserts (p. 586),
lat at Shakespeare's death "no mark of honor
r as denied his name." There is no intimation
>f the truth of any such an assertion in the
records of integrity. This is only one of the
Stratfordian assertions without proof.
However, the matter of fact to be accentu-
204 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ated is that the contemporaries of the writer
of the immortal plays did not know positively
*<who wrote them. We do not know positively
who wrote them, and our latest posterity, when
holy Trinity's monuments, turrets and towers
shall have crumbled and commingled with the
shrined dust of "him who sleeps by Avon,"
may not know who wrote them.
Suppose now we go to Parnassus Hill for
perfect vision above the mists of fabulation
and spurious traditions, and examine the "Par-
nassus Trilogy." We shall see that the aim
of the Cambridge dramatist is to exhibit the
trials and sufferings of poor scholars; the sel-
fishness and haughty demeanor of the com-
mon players who are made sport of in the
later scene of Part III of The Return. The
University writer introduces Burbage and
Kemp, two actors of repute who are made to
appear as professionals, tutoring candidates
for the common stage, saying one thing and
meaning the opposite.
The Cambridge ironist seems to praise that
which he really means to condemn and in
mockery, conveys an insult in the form of a
compliment, when Kemp the Morris dancer
of the professional stage is made to observe
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 205
jfore an academic audience, that university
days imbibe too much odor of the schools.
r e see the Morris-dancer (Kemp) brought
irward as the type of ignorance in the pro-
issional player who thinks that Metamorpho-
is is a writer. When these words were spoken
Clare Hall, St. John's College, Cambridge,
the very headquarters of stagecraft, when
e chronic clashing between town and gown
s at its height, the gray old walls of the
follege Hall must have resounded with a roar
: derisive laughter.
Still it is claimed by the Stratfordians that
this play clearly identifies Shakespeare, the
Poet and Shakspere the player. The point
is, says Mr. Lang, "that Kemp recognizes
Shakespeare as both actor and author." The
point which Mr. Lang has missed is that the
ironist is setting up Kemp, the clown, as the
type of ignorance and Shakspere the actor as
the type of imposition and pretention in the
The writer of the "Parnassus Trilogy" is
unknown, but whomsoever he may have been
was a very accurate and close observer of men
and events ; who makes us see the scholars of
those days after their graduation, struggling
SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
with the meanest necessities of life by the
disclosure of their woeful experience and the
miserable shifts to earn a livelihood leading
the life of tramps at home and adventurers
abroad, where they fare no better, convinced,
That it's as good to starve 'mongst
As in a forraine land to beg and
In "Pierce Penilesse" (1592) Thomas
Nash, the brilliant satirist and member of th<
University, utters a wail of anguish becaus<
of the wretchedness of the life of a man ol
letters; and Ben Jonson embittered by th<
woes of scholars, writes, "The time was whei
men were had in price for learning, now let-
ters only make men vile."
"Better is it among fiddlers to be
Than at a player's trench beg relief;
But is it not strange those mimic apes
Unhappy scholars at a hireling's rate.
Vile world that lifts them up to high
But treads us down in grovelling mis-
England affords those glorious vaga-
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 207
'hat carried erst their fardels on
Coursers to ride on through the gaz-
Icopping it in their glaring satin
.nd pages to attend their master-
r ith mouthing words that better
wits have framed
'hey purchase lands and now es-
quiries are made."
The reader should not lose sight of the fact
that the aim of the Cambridge dramatist is to
satirize the public taste for studies of amour-
ous passion by setting up Gullio, the lascivious
boaster, the pretender to learning, who com-
missions his lacky to rehearse amorous speech-
es, mainly variations on lines in "Venus and
Adonis," holding up to scorn this lustful poem
as the favorite of the lewd or unchaste class
of the population.
"Let this duncified world esteem of Spencer
and Chaucer, I'll worship sweet Mr. Shakes-
peare, and to honor him will lay his Venus
id Adonis under my pillow."
208 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
The Cambridge dramastist makes it plain
enough that the poem "Venus and Adonis"
was popular with the unchaste classes, but
there is nothing from the mouth of Gullio,
the braggadocio and professed libertine in the
second part where the ironist is satirizing
the public taste for amourous verse which re-
flect the individual life of the great Eliza-
bethan Junius (Shakespeare).
Or in the latter scene of Part III of the
Return where the Cambridge dramatist from
the mouth of Kemp in mockery is conveying
the opposite of what is said when Shakspere,
a strolling stage player is made a laughing
stock before the Gownsmen of the University.
This is made manifest when the St. John's
playwright in derision represents the common
players so ignorant that they think that Meta-
morphosis is a writer and that one Shakespeare
(Shakspere) of their fellowship, "puts Ben
Jonson and his fellow craftsmen all down, giv-
ing "Rare Ben" a purge that made him bewray
This passage so perplexing to the uphold-
ers of the Stratford Shakespere delusion was
well understood by the St. John's audience
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 209
hich was polar opposite to that now held by
Will Kemp, the jig and morris-dancer is
lade to exclaim "O, that Ben Jonson is a
estilent fellow." No wonder the common
[avers should consider Ben Jonson a trouble-
me fellow, for they were still smarting from
the severe chastisement he gave them in
The play was brought out at the Black-
friars a month or two before by the Children
of the Chappie in 1601, and in it Ben Jonson
undertook their castigation, for the players
had long provoked him on the stage with their
taunts, and in conjunction with his other ene-
mies, endeavored to put him down. There is
still another reason why the common player
should regard Ben Jonson pestiferous from
their point of view, and that is his taking the
part of the Children of the Chappie Royal in
their conflict with the adult actors of the pro-
fessional stage in the "War of the Theatres."
The Children of the Chappie were very popu-
lar, due to their habit of cleanliness and his-
trionic success. George Chapman and Ben
Jonson, writing for their stage, gave them the
upper hand in the fight that put the profes-
210 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
sional players down and out of business for
the popularity of the Children of the Chappie
Royal drew from the common playhouse, the
pleasure seeking public, who preferred them
to any company of adult actors. So the pro-
fessionals were compelled to close their play
house, glad to turn tramps and stroll from
town to town.
For be it remembered that the Lord Cham-
berlain's Company of which Shakspere was a
member were forced to leave London on or
before this time 1601-02 "with their fardels
(blankets) on their backs." By reason of hav-
ing been defeated in their conflict with the
Children of the Chappie, a courtier in Ham-
let has made us see that the children of the
Chappie have superseded the adult actors in
In answer to Hamlet's question, why the
common players travel when it was better both
for reputation and profit that they should stay
in the city, Rosecrantz replies that the theatre
going public were deserting the theatres in
which adults held the stage, and that their
itinerary has been caused by the "late innova-
A person in "Jack Drum's Enterment" is
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 211
tade to say of those who gave the Children
of the Chappie audience:
"I like the audience that frequenteth there,
ith much applause a man shall not be
;hocked to the barrny jacket of a beer brewer.'*
But in spite of bitterness and class distinc-
tion between the academic and professional
jtage, "the latter was constantly being re-
quited from graduates who had gained their
:arliest dramatic experience as spectators, ac-
irs and authors of college plays."
The collection called Shakespearean usually
ublished under the name "Shakespeare" are
lemorials of the University stage, and the leg-
it inns of court, many of them worked over by
the great unknown a greater Junius, "the
lagical hand which has never yet been suc-
;essfully imitated." The Shakespeare plays
.re academic (a part of them) in the sense
lat they were originally written in part and
tcted by University men within College walls,
dthough remodelled and interpolated for the
Tofessional stage. Still exhale the academic
fragrance of ancient literature and ancient
>hilosophy, all the classic odors from the land
>f flowery meads and purple sky, were per-
ceived by the great unknown, as all careful
212 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
students will perceive. For the author of the
Plays and Poems is saturated with the litera-
ture of ancient Greece and Rome, and there is
an ostentatious display of erudition in classi-
In an epistle by Thomas Nash, a gowns-
man of the College, to the gentlemen students
of both Universities, prefixed to Robert
Green's novel "Menaphon," printed in 1589,
there is an allusion to the "shifty play wright
who from English Seneca, if you entreat him
fair in a frostie morning, he will afford you
whole Hamlets, I should say handfulls of
tragical speeches." We know from the title
page of the first quarto of Hamlet (1603)
when the play is said to have been acted in
the two Universities, we also know that "Vol-
phone" received the same distinction by the
grateful acknowledgment of the author, Ben
However, the gownsmen would scarcely
recognize their work after its passage from
the academic to the professional stage, so
pawed over by actors and bemuddled for the
"gags" of the clowns. Of this we may be sure,
that so long as Hamlet retained an academic
environment, its scholar hero was not made
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 213
grotesquely ridiculous as in the pathetic scene
over the skull of Yorick, the gruesome relic
if his playmate in childhood, or by the inter-
polated slang expressions contained in Ham-
let's soliloquoy on ending the sorrows of life
in death. But we are safe in supposing that
Burbage and his "men players" knew what the
: requenters of the public play house wanted
ind did not hesitate at the employment of
slang phrases and sensational tricks, or the in-
troduction of anachronisms.
Philip Henslowe makes mention of a Ham-
let presented June 9th, 1594, which was an
>ld play (now lost), doubtless by Thomas
Kyd, one of the University bred men who
r rote stage plays which served for something
lore than as the basis for the "Shakespeare"
plays. It seems certain that the "great un-
known" found much that he turned to his own
account in remodelling Hamlet.
The Stratford mythomanic disturbance is
due to the fact that the plays were but little
read or discussed in the life time of the Strat-
ford player (Shakspere) or a considerable
time thereafter, as only about half of those
contained in the folio of 1623 were in print
214 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
previous to the folio edition, and all of them
When the folio of 1623 was published, the
plays attributed to William Shakspere, the
Stratford player, had been written many of
them for more than thirty years, having in all
this time attained no considerable repute or
celebrity. The Shakespeare tragedies were
very seldom played at court, only one during
the long reign of James the First. Twenty
plays were not even printed in quarto before
the folio of 1623, seven years after player
Shakspere's death. The name Shakespeare
was placed on the title page by printers and
publishers to mark the excess in producing
studies of amorous passion, and not because of
the popularity of any individual who may
have borne the amorously inspired name,
which derived nearly all of its commercial
value in connection with the erotic poem
"Venus and Adonis" of which before the end
of 1630, several quarto editions had appeared.
If the Shakespeare plays had been as popu-
lar as the Poems, twenty of them would not
have remained in manuscript, more especially
if the author, as is alleged, was a "partner in
the profits of what they call the house" for
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 215
he would not have sold them (the plays).
"In the strict sense, Ben Jonson managed to
retain the control of his dramas," and that too,
without property interest in the play house.
Why not the play actor from Stratford if the
author of the plays called "Shakespeare."
The title, so called, which is now assumed,
in favor of the Stratford Shakspere was not
recognizable then. The play houses were the
repository of the plays, the share holding ac-
tors the custodians, and the illiterate fre-
quenters of the public play house the critics,
who never thought it worth while to discuss
authorship. As for the literati, they would
not soil their hands with such riff-raff as play
The Poems which were most conspicuously
associated with the name Shakespeare are ab-
sent from the printed pages of the folio
(1623). The syndicate of printers and pub-
lishers seems to have known nothing of the
personal and literary life of the author of the
plays, as the folio of 1623 contains nothing
of a biographical history; not the slightest ef-
fort made to illustrate the individual life of
the Stratfordian fraudulently set up by the two
players Hemming and Condell, assuming, of
216 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
course, that they were not so ignorant as to
mistake the actor's copy for the original manu-
script, and that they did not believe that all
the preceding issues, the quarto texts upon
which the 1623 folio text "was founded in part
were stolen and surreptitious copies maimed
and deformed." While they actually reprinted
in part these deformed and stolen copies and
practised a fraudulent deception when they
announced that all the dramas were now pub-
lish "according to the original copies."
Many writers on the subject of Shakespeare
assert that the dramatist of that day did not
print and publish their plays because they had
sold them to the play houses a mistaken no-
tion. The authors could easily have secured
permission from the play brokers as there was
a new play coming out every eighteen days,
according to Henslowe's Diary. Ben Jonson
published his plays how we don't know, but
the play brokers Henslowe and Burbage
would (probably) have been glad to have
parted with plays they called old, although
of quite recent date, such as Richard II and
the like. The reason why the great mass of
dramatic literature was produced anony-
mously was due, in part, to the prevalence of
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 217
ie common informers, termed "State deci-
herers," "a most lewde and detestable profes-
ion," and the authors' desire to escape bodily
ffliction and not because their works were
For the play makers could in all probability
ave secured permission to publish. "Many
writers before there existed a reading public
wore the mask of a fictitious name and were
There is another stumbling block which
sends the upholders of the Stratford Shakspere
myth sprawling. We have reference to
Thomas Heywood's epistle before his "Apo-
logy for Actors" which contains his publicly
printed protest against the filching of two
poems from his Trioa Britannic a t which he
found printed in an anthology, entitled "The
Passionate Pilgrim," a collection of amourous
songs, published by William Jaggard, a pirate
publisher. The volume contained twenty
pieces in all and but five assigned to the dis-
guised author poet, whose mask name
(Shakespeare) was on the title page until re-
moved as the result of Heyw r ood protest. The
218 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
bulk of the volume was by Marlow, Barnfield,
Griffin, Heywood, Raleigh and various un-
known authors, not one of whom, Heywood
alone excepted, appear to have raised any pro-
test, and surely "Shakespeare," the pseudony-
mous poet, whose poems in the main they were
not, would not and did not raise any.
At the time the volume was issued in 1599,
the Stratford player (Shakspere) was alive,
living in London and could not have been
ignorant of the publication, had a "manifest
injury" been done him. It's an unwarrantable
assumption on the part of Dr. Ingleby and
other writers on the subject of Shakespeare to
say that Heywood's dedicatory epistle before
his "Apology for Actors" is a record of pro-
test on Shakespeare's part, a thing taken for
granted without proof, Heywood writes : "So
the author I know much offended with M.
Jaggard that altogether unknown to him pre-
sumed to be so bold with his name." And yet
the author whom Heywood claimed to have
known, suffered three editions of this spurious
work for twelve years to issue from the press,
and says Sir Sidney Lee, "This is the only
instance on record of a protest on Shakes-
peare's part against the many injuries which
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 219
suffered at the hands of contemporary pub-
jhers." (p. 183). This earnest Stratfordian
;s not perceive the difference between proof
id opinion. Shakespeare raised no protest
the fraud. Heywood merely says, "the au-
ir I know much offended," whomsoever he
ty have been.
But Heywood did not know even this much,
ior the volume is a mere compilement of
imourous rhymes which had been drawn from
various writers, a book without original re-
search, an anthology, and, of course, not au-
thored by Shakespeare, or any one of the vari-
ous contributors of the material for the com-
Had Heywood examined the Anthology, he
could not have been so blunderingly stupid
as to mistake compilation for authorism, more
especially if the title page bore the pseudony-
mous name "Shakespeare," and that notorious
plunderer and pickpocket of literary prop-
fty, William Jaggard.
Heywood in no way connects the play actor,
Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon with Shakes-
peare the author poet. He also knew that the
name "Shakespeare" on the title page is no
proof of authorship. But as the complaining
220 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
witness, Heywood himself has shown by the
detection of the fraud, actually a presumption
against it; for there are as many as fifteen
plays which commentators now admit that
Shakespeare the author poet did not write.
This is but one of the many abortive at-
tempts by the biographers and commentators
to establish personal relationship with Shaks-
pere or Shakespeare and his literary contem-
poraries, disclosing an irrepressible desire to
discover player and poet under the same hood.
There is therefore no prima facie reason
why we should not conceive a concealed author
poet, an elder Junius having a large share in
the work (Shakespeare). In an age of letter
writing, there is nothing in its epistolary cor-
respondence in regard to an author poet per-
sonal to "Shakespeare;" no trace is found in
its literary or social life of the individual man.
The Stratfordians much prefer to have a
definite name taken to be claimant as the au-
thor of the plays and poems by all those who
are against the "Stratforder" as the Stratford
arsenal contains no weapon for defensive war-
fare, and is therefore in a wretched state for
defense, which the professionally trained
students of literary history are unable to rem-
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 221
ly; for this reason the Stratfordians are so-
citious for a definite and famous name; a
aimant having a conspicious personality,
ore especially a character whom they regard
vulnerable most to the darts of the criticas-
, and one whose defense must necessitate
ie withdrawal of the enemy's fire in some
gree from Stratford.
But the present writer would prefer the
uch lighter task of bringing forward evi-
nce tending to prove the pseudonymity of
author. The obligation of furnishing evi-
nce to prove who that somebody was does
t lie upon those whose aim is to prove the
eudonymity and anomalousness of the
r orks. We know that the works called
Shakespeare" and the well-known fables
ailed ./Esopus, although, of course, not corn-
ed by ^Esop, as every one knows, for their
dernity is clearly established, are associated
th definite names, the one with that of an
glish actor, the other a Greek slave, whose
ividuality, however, is not more fabulous
d mythical than is the external life of the
thor of the works called "Shakespeare."
It is a very easy matter to show that people
the elder time did not share our admiration
222 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
for the Shakespeare plays, and there should be
some abatement of the notion that a false or
fictitious name may not baffle the most de-
termined inquiries for the Junius letters an
proof against any such assumption. For not-
withstanding all the discussion and excitemeni
caused by the publication, the writer was not
discovered, nor do we know positively wh<
wrote them. For the authorship of a junius,"
like the authorship of "Shakespeare" wj
never acknowledged either publicly or pri-
vately. The evidence for the authorship i<
thus wholly circumstantial, and the questioi
remains still undecided, and one of the most
noted examples of concealed authorship.
The first of the celebrated letters of Junii
appeared on the 21st of January, 1769, in th<
Public Advertiser, one of the leading news-
papers of the time and made by far the great-
est sensation in the political and literal
world. For lucidity and force there is nothinj
quite equal to them in our literature. Hii
sentences cut and sparkled like diamonds.
"King, Lords and commons are but the spoi
of his fury; his searching eye penetrate<
equally into the retired circles of domesti<
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 223
the cabinets of ministers and the closet of
-iis supreme ambition has been realized in
enmities, for he had, indeed, "preserved
perishable infamy of their names and made
m immortal." Sir Philip Francis has been
nted at as the "Man in the Mask" but when
letters of Junius were issuing from the
;ss of the Public Advertiser, Edmund
rke was thought by many distinguished per-
s to be the writer of the letters. Now
rybody knows that Burke did not write
Die Franciscan theory of Junius, as it is
led, is advanced by DeQuincy, Lord Ma-
ilay, and others, although Francis was never
ntioned in connection with the celebrated
ters until 1814, forty-five years after the
>t of the far-famed letters of Junius had ap-
ired. He (Francis) died in 1818, failing to
knowledge the identity of Junius with Fran-
, thence forward and forever more insuring
rpetual secrecy the immunity of dream-
But in this connection, our purpose is not
discover the author of the "Letters," but to
int out one of the most conspicuous ex-
224 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
amples of concealed authorship of the Eigh-
teenth Century. The remarkable volume en-
titled "Ecce Homo" is still more recent and
one of the most noted of uncertified author-
ship. Conditions were much more favorable
to the maintenance of secrecy in the literary
and political world in Shakespeare's time,
when perversion and deception is not only sub-
sidiary to Tudor and Jacobin philosophy, but
part and parcel of it. There could have been
no great mystery about the secrecy or pseu-
donymity of authorship of works that were
not even recognized by the Republic of Let-
ters, nor at Court, as plays of special eminency,
much less an epoch making work. There were
several motives for concealed authorship dur-
ing the struggle for constitutional freedom
against prerogative in the turbulent reign of
the Stuarts, which is one of the periods in Eng-
lish history when the acknowledgment of au-
thorship meant danger. In Tudor and Ja-
cobin times, works were published under a
false name with the distinct intention to in-
duce people to believe them the works of those
whose names they bore, or of works errone-
ously attributed to a wrong person.
Sir Thomas Brown complained that his
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 223
name was being used to float books that he
never wrote. We cannot agree with the up-
holders of the Stratford Shakespere myth
madness who say, "That the real authorship
could have been kept a secret, would be a
greater mystery, more inexplicable, than the
The English speaking people are peculiarly
liable to delusion or as the great American
'showman and hoaxer, Phineas T. Barnum
says, "The people like to be fooled" and some
people seem to think gullibility a blessing
Whether they love fooling or not, people are
fooled by delusion and tabulation, and seem
to favor hoaxing and have seldom been dis-
appointed for there has been no limit to Brit-
ish and American credulity, especially in the
elder time when falsehood rather than truth
determine the fate of mankind. When delu-
sion, tabulation and mythomania, so affluent
in the fruition of evil, had gained possession
of the confidence of the people, even amongst
the most progressive communities. English
and American credulity is chiefly responsible
for the perpetuity of the great literary hoax,
associated with the Stratford player's name,
226 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
giving support to later fabrication and nebul-
The reality of witchcraft has been accepted
without question. Not to believe in witch-
craft in Shakespeare's time was the greatest
of heresies. "Scarcely any human belief is
supported by so vast a quantity of recorded
testimony." Belief in that diabolical super-
stition was entertained by the great jurist, Sir
Matthew Hale, the famous physician; Sir
Thomas Browne, the celebrated Divine; Dr.
Bentley, and the great English advocate, John
However, to Reginal Scot, 1538-1599, an
English student and John Wier, 1515-1588,
the learned Flemish physician, the modern
world is indebted for the suppression of
witchcraft, for that most malicious and tena-
cious of all primeaval superstitions, for they
set the joy bells of Christendom ringing.
Myths, legends and fables have had an in-
calculable effect upon the activities and destiny
of mankind, and in some ways, some of them
a good effect. For instance, that of the mytho-
logical marksman, William Tell, whose stir-
ring deeds were celebrated by one of the great-
est poets and one of the most popular com-
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 227
posers of modern times, thus giving the legend
a world-wide fame. A Swiss writer calls the
William Tell story pure fable, but neverthe-
less proclaiming his belief in it because the
legend is so popular. But it was reserved for
Parson Uriel Frendenberge to show in an
anonymous pamphlet (1760) that the legend
of Tell had a Danish origin; the pamphlet
was publicly burned by order of the Govern-
ment of Uri. The legend, although localized
in Uri is an old Aryan myth. But the beauti-
ful story is a lesson of patriotism to the Swiss
mountaineer, nerving his soul to avenge the
wrongs of his country, the land of his fathers,
the shield of his infancy, the inspiration of his
children, who are to enshrine and celebrate
its hallowed memories in Odes and battle
Mankind seems to have practised, from the
beginning, every form of artifice and deceit.
This tendency to falsehood and fabulation so
characteristic of the age of Shakespeare, but
not peculiar to that or any period, for man-
kind have been hoaxed and befooled many
times before and since the age of Shakespeare.
For example, the great collection known as
the Collectio Pseudo-Isidoriana or "False De-
22S SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
cretals," published in Spain about (845).
These false decretals consist of about one hun-
dred spurious documents and contain also the
pretended Donation of Constantinc. No
suspicion attached to the Pseudo Isidore at
the time of its first appearance nor for more
than 500 years thereafter. "Not a whisper
of doubt, not a murmur of surprise;" on the
contrary, it was everywhere accepted without
question. "They enjoyed an undisputed au-
thority, an unsuspected title from their first
appearance about the middle of the Ninth
Century to the Fifteenth Century," when Car-
dinal Nicholas de Cusa disclosed their ficti-
The present writer's reference to the "Isi-
dorian Decretals" is not to show that they be-
came potent in their influence on the primitive
system of Church polity for the establishment
of a pure theoracy, but to call the reader's at-
tention to an early and one of the most noted
examples of concealed authorship and to the
fact that the unknown writer had changed the
course of human history, affecting the destinies
of nations, imposing upon the credulity of
mankind for more than five hundred years.
And be it noted that the unknown writer of
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT UJ9
the "Decretals," like the unknown writer of
the plays and poems called "Shakespeare," did
live and die without leaving in history or so-
ciety a single trace of his external life, except
his share in the works.
Believe or deny what you may in regard to
the claim of the Stratford actor's authorship
set up by the "Players," the open-minded
reader knows full well that it is not on each
particular fact or thing done taken separately,
but on all the facts taken consecutively that the
negative case must be judged.
I will now endeavor to summarize the con-
clusion of the subject matter which has grown
under my hand month after month. In the
view of those "spacious times" I have entered
thoroughly into the spirit and fiber of the
man Shakspere, (whether he was or was not
the author in question). "What sort of man
was he?"pithily put, is the subject of my in-
The records do not establish the identity of
the Supreme Poet, an assertion put in proof
by the silence of his compeers, which is dis-
closed by the irrepressible negative pregnants
from the ensemble of the facts such as the
striking example of the silence of Cuthbert
L>30 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHAB
Burbage, the brother of Richard, the famous
actor. When Cuthbert petitioned the Earl of
Pembroke in 1635, then Lord Chamberlain, in
the matter about certain theatres, "To our-
selves," he says, "we joined those deserving
men, Shakespeare, Hemings, Condall, Philips
and other partners, in the profits of that they
call the House," and he adds, "that when he
and his brother took possession of Blackfriars
in 1609, they placed in it man players, which
were Heming, Condall, Shakspeare, etc."
In this address to the Lord Chamberlain
came Cuthbert Burbage's opportunity to ad-
vantage his associates and himself, as a busi-
ness man and proprietor of the play houses.
To remind the Earl of the fact if fact it
was that "our fellow Shakspere," "a man
player," and a "deserving man," had been a
man of unsurpassed intelligence, whose works
are the highest creations of genius, whose
praise Ben Jonson in a panegyrical poem
(1623), blew into the trumpet of fame. But
in his memorial to Lord Pembroke, the house-
holder of the Globe Theatre did not resound
Shakspere's praise, but, instead, the reputed
author twelve years after the publication of
the Great Folio, is described to his Lordship
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 231
as merely a "man player and a deserving man,"
and nothing more.
The affirmative assertions, prefixed to the
Folio editions, published in 1623, and signed
by the players, "John Heminge" and "Henrie
Condall," cannot outweigh the negative evi-
dence of Cuthbert Burbage from silence in
1635 ; for in our grasp of the situation if Shaks-
pere is "Shakespeare," Cuthbert's silence is
The play houses were in need of all the sup-
port the mighty genius that glorious name
Shakespeare could give. This fact is made
manifest for in "The Actor's Remonstrance"
(1643), is contained the tarnishing evidence
of the admission of the abuse of the players'
vocation, and should be read when we are dis-
posed to be severe upon our Puritan ancestors
for their dislike of the common players. Why
speak of the most intellectual of the human
race, the wonder of mankind, in the same terms
as of the other actors "when their social posi-
tion was of the lowest." Would not Cuthbert
have been eager to say in his petition to Lord
Pembroke: We are called "the basest trade,"
vagabonds, under the Act, Eliz. xxxlx?
Nevertheless, our fellow Shakspere was the
232 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
author of the Plays contained in the Great Fo-
lio edition, published in 1623. Is it conceivable
that Cuthbert Burbage, if he positively knew
the immortal Plays were written by the Strat-
ford Player, that he would not have found
tongue to say on this occasion, "with cackle
and clatter," match him if you can. Why
classed simply with a batch of players if
Shakspere was "Shakespeare?"
Was it not because he (Cuthbert) was
aware that the Lord Chamberlain knew very
well that none of the men players named in
the petition, Hemings, Candall, Philips,
Shakspere, etc. had any profession but that
of actor? That Shakspere was a professional
actor we know, but the inference from Cuth-
bert's silence is, that Shakespeare was not a
literary gentleman and dramatist. By the
owner of the play houses, Shakspeare is placed
on the same footing as the other players, and
Cuthbert Burbage did not, in telling the his-
tory of the play houses, give Lord Pembroke,
the survivor of the "incomparable pair of
brethren," to whom the Folio was dedicated,
the slightest intimation that Shakspeare, a
"man player," had ever been a dramatic au-
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 233
thor, when the drama formed so important a
part of the literature of England.
The silence of Philip Henslowe is also very
good proof of anonymity in authorship. The
old householder's silence is due to the fact
that the Plays were not of certified author-
ship bearing no name.
Not until the fourth edition did the name
"Shakespeare" appear upon the title page of
"Romeo and Juliet." It is plain, to say the
least, that the anonymous aspect predominates
in the dramatic literature of the period, but
the reticence of the author of the Works now
called "Shakespeare," was in this regard, pe-
culiar among his contemporaries.
Inasmuch as the same titles or names of so
many plays found recorded in Henslowe's
Diary are identical with those of the Heminge
and Condall list in the Great Folio, they are
the strongest testimonials we have that this
author began his dramatic career by writing
plays for Henslowe as an anonymous writer,
and in all probability continued to write un-
der his pseudonym "Shakespeare" to the end
of his dramatic career.
During the twelve years beginning in Feb-
ruary, 1591, Henslowe's Diary records the
234 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
titles of no fewer than 270 pieces or plays
a new play about every eighteen days. How-
ever, it would seem that Henslowe and Al-
leyn at the Rose Theatre had knowledge of
the "Works," for the Diary or notebook of the
old manager, and the wardrobe of the famous
actor, Edward Alleyn, attest. But of the au-
thor, 'Shakespeare," they knew nothing ab-
solutely nothing, about him the Shakespear-
ian drama, and no shadow of a real name.
Dr. Furness, expressing his disappointment,
says: "Where the names of nearly all the
dramatic poets of the age are to be frequently
found we might certainly count on finding that
of Shakespeare, but the shadows in which
Shakespeare's early life was spent, envelop
him here too, and his name, as Collier says, is
not met with in any part of the manuscript."
That Shakspere of Stratford had lived a
literary life, whether early or late, and was en-
veloped by shadows has no foundation in re-
The negative evidence from the silence of
Philip Henslowe, I repeat, does prove that the
early plays called "Shakespeare," bearing no
name, were of unknown authorship, the works
of a reticent writer "The Great Unknown."
SHAKESPEARE, THE LITERARY ASPECT 235
Silence in the matter of authorship is the
course of "a concealed poet."
The silence of Henslowe and Alleyn, house-
holders of the Rose Theatre early in Shaks-
pere's career, coupled with the silence of the
Burbages, householders of the Globe Theatre,
does evidence anonymity in authorship.
The silence of John Manningham, barris-
ter-at-law of the Middle Temple, is still an-
other instance of the negative pregnant, who
under date of February 2, 1601, records the
story in his Diary criminating Shakspere's
morals, but who is not personally remembered
as a man of letters, a writer of plays, no hint of
the undivided personality of player and au-
Their never-ceasing silence and the author's
never-ceasing reticence is a fatal breach in the
claim set up for the player one William
Shakspere of Stratford to the personal au-
thorship of the Plays called by his name.
One comfort is that great men taken
up in any way are profitable company.
\Ve cannot look, however imperfectly,
upon a great man without gaining some-
thing by it. He is the living fountain of
life, which it is pleasant to be near. On
any terms whatsoever you will not grudge
to wander in his neighborhood for a
while. Heroes and Hero-Worship.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND
WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF SEV-
ERAL ELIZABETHAN AUTHORS
*-Z^J *-. /,
HYMN TO CYNTHIA
Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess, excellently bright.
Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heav'n to clear, when day did close:
Bless us, then, with wished sight,
Goddess, excellency bright.
Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever:
Thou that mak'st a day of night,
Goddess, excellently bright.
BEN JONSON AND SHAKESPEARE
"HPHE Mermaid" "the Apollo" the
* Club room of "the Devil" is here
imaged before us.
"Souls of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy Cavern
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?"
The great men were there, Raleigh and
Spencer, Drayton and Camden, Chapman and
Shirley, Selden and Field, Webster and How-
ell, Hobbes and Ford, Fletcher and the lion-
in-chief, "Rare Ben."
"I lye and dreamed of your full Mermaid
Wine," Francis Beaumont writing from the
country 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 whence
242 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Had meant to put his whole wit in a
And had resolved to live a fool the
Of his dull life."
In those stirring times rare times they
were of indomitable energy. With such men
for his contemporaries Ben Jonson was yet a
power in their day, and in the age in which we
live no mocking vision, but standing forth in
sharpest outline after the literary records and
personal history of even the greatest have
This remarkable man, like his namesake of
a later generation, was coarsely framed as his
own verse tells us: "His mountain-belly- and
his rocky face," seamed with scars of disease;
combative and prone to strange imaginations
and peculiar manifestations; his vast influence
on his own generation; the superiority of rep-
utation great as a writer in prose as well as
'in verse; the deference shown the leader of
this great literary club. No wonder Ben is
exacting that full homage which he believed
should be shown him, the acknowledged lit-
erary monarch of his day and generation.
Nevertheless, Ben Jonson is not one of the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 243
writers of those times whose works are the
studies of the aftertime, notwithstanding Ben
is more intimately known to posterity than any
of the brotherhood of poets contemporaneous
with him. Judged by the standard of con-
temporaneous work Chapman's "Homer" had
won a more enduring fame. In imagination
I can see him walking up and down in the
club room, his hands thrust into the two lateral
pockets of an old coachman's coat, inflamed by
strong drink and the recrimination of Dekker
and Marston. Ben never would let "sleeping
However, Ben Jonson would have been
more thoroughly known to posterity had there
been a Boswell at his elbow to report the
Table-Talk. A similarity of conduct may be
traced in Ben and his equally famous name-
sake, the Lexicographer, but asking questions
was not then all the rage. In fact, the only
chronic interviewer in Ben Jonson's day was
the Scotch poet, Drummond of Hawthornden,
who lived in a handsome home set above the
charming valley of Eskdale, far from the
Mermaid Tavern. But then there was James
Howell who lived in London, an inveterate
note taker and letter writer, who was usually
244 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
on the scent for suppers at the Apollo, and
could have reported Ben's table talk but un-
fortunately did not. In a letter dated from
Westminster, April 5, 1636, James Howell
describes a solemn supper given by Ben Jon-
son, at which he and Thomas Carew were
present. This letter to Thomas Hawkins is
evidence of the fact that Ben's utterances were
veraciously reported by the Scotch poet in his
notes, "Conversations of Ben Jonson in 1619,"
where reference is made to Ben's display of
self-worship and vilification of his brother
poets, and also of the truth and justice of the
criticism as resting on Ben's competency and
credibility as a witness.
Howell writes: "I was invited yesternight
to a solemn supper by B. J. whom you deeply
remember. There was good company excel-
lent Cheer Choise wines and jovial welcome
One thing intervened which almost Spoiled
the relish of the rest Ben began to engross all
the discourse to Vapour extremely of himself
and by vilifying others to magnify his own
muse Thomas Carew buzzed me in the ear
that Ben had barreled up a great deal of
Knowledge yet seeme he had not read the
'Etheques' which among other precepts of
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTERMIND 245
morality forbid Self-commendation But for
my part I am content to dispense with this
Roman infirmity of B's now that time has
snowed upon his pericranium."
However, we know Ben pretty much as he
was known to the men of his own generation.
The remarkable record of his sayings, re-
ported by William Drummond, the Laird of
Hawthornden, in 1619, when honored with a
visit from the great literary dictator of the
time, "great lover and praiser of himself,
contemner and scorner of others."
The Drummond notes show Ben Jonson to
be a person of rather doubtful veracity, one
whose testimony we view with suspicion or re-
ject altogether. And this is the witness whom
the Stratfordians chiefly depend upon as the
attestor for the works which are associated
with the Stratford actor's name. The Strat-
fordians say or one of them, a sylogizer, has
said if Shakspere of Stratford was not the
true author of the works of Shakespeare, then
Jonson was a liar. Jonson could not have been
a liar. Therefore, etc., the critics cannot per-
cieve the difference between proof and opin-
ion. By the way, the opinion of the most skil-
ful critics is, that the great unknown writer
246 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
(Junius), who for a hundred and fifty years
has been the subject of the closest scrutiny,
cannot be identified "Stat nominis umbra!'
Edmund Burke was generally supposed to
be Junius while the letters were issuing from
the press. Dr. Kelly of Finsbury Square,
published a tract in order to prove that Burke
was the author of Junius. So may we not as
glibly syllogize also without any real knowl-
edge of the identity of Junius. Thus, if Burke
was not the true author of the Junius letters
then Dr. Kelly was a liar. Dr. Kelly could
not have been a liar. Therefore, etc.
However, we now know that Burke did not
write the celebrated letters. Junius is no<w
classed under a pseudonym. Lies framed un-
consciously do not criminate the utterer of
The present writer having read all Ben
Jonson's hyperbolical utterances in prose, all
Ben's panegyrics in verse, and the whole of
his conversations with Drummond, is con-
vinced that Ben is unreliable and is therefore
not competent to confirm by his testimony the
Stratfordian authorship (so-called). Persons
who are unable to tell the truth, even when
there is no reason for falsification, are, in the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 247
parlance of alienists, termed "mythomaniacs,"
"which in the adult is always the indication of
a diseased condition, or at least of a certain
amount of mental disturbance." The study of
mythomania and of its various stages, shows
us how untrustworthy Ben Jonson's testimony
is. Mythomania in Ben usually takes the form
of vain-glorious boasting or of self-glorifica-
tion. But as the Drummond notes attest, Ben's
mythomaniac activity appears in accusation of
brother-poets as calumny detraction vilifi-
cation and defamation, framed unconsciously,
not wilful or perverse falsehood. Ben Jon-
son is also overflowing and hearty in his com-
mendation, shown in his readiness to congrat-
ulate and of excess in sympathy. But Ben's
compliments are to be regarded with suspic-
ion; in their converse lie more nearly the true
state of his mind, "especially after drink
which is one of the elements in which he liv-
Dr. Samuel Johnson's thoughts in reference
to wine bibbing are not opprobious to his bi-
bacious name-sake, at least not intentionally
so. "The maxim in vino veritas, a man who is
well warmed with wine will speak truth may
be an argument for drinking if you suppose
248 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
men in general to be liars Sir I would not keep
company with a fellow who lies as long as he
is sober and whom you must make drunk be-
tore you can get a word of truth out of him."
However, Ben Jonson was well received at
Hawthornden. On his approach Drummond
shouts: "Welcome, welcome, royal Ben!" to
which he immediately replied: "Thank ye,
thank ye, Hawthornden." Knowing what Ben
was he must have had a Bacchic time, assum-
ing, of course, that he brought his Tavern hab-
its with him and that Scotchmen, like Ken-
tuckians, take their whiskey straight. The
sort which inspired Ben, according to one of
Ben's "Sons" at the "Devil." With some al-
teration we read:
How could the conversations
heat and vigour lack,
When each sentence cost his host
a cup of sack?
Ben Jonson sojourned with Drummond
about three weeks. He bade him a most af-
fectionate farewell, but forthwith wrote,
"Oppressed with phantasy which hath ever
mastered his (Jonson's) reason a general dis-
ease in many poets."
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTERMIND 249
Ben Jonson's panegyric verse and carping
utterances in the opinion of the stalwart cham-
pions of conventional errors, lies the cogency
of the "Stratfordian" case, and assert that
"Rare Ben" is the Colossus of their faith.
We will now endeavor to concentrate the
interest of the reader chiefly in the attestation
of Ben Jonson for the works which are asso-
ciated with the name of "Shakespeare." It is
not pretended that the play actor, William
Shakspere made any claim to the works called
"Shakespeare" but is taken to be claimant by
some persons, who in the fullness of their de-
sire to sustain a fictitious character, have re-
course to fictitious biography, well stocked
with fanciful "maybes" and "might-have-
beens" and "could-have beens" and "must-
have-beens" and the conventional nonsense us-
ually apropriated to a life of "Shakespeare."
Ben Jonson was born in Westminster, Eng-
land, in 1572 or 1573 and was the son of a
clergyman. Regardless of poverty, he was
educated at Westminster School. William
Camden, antiquary and historian, was his in-
structor and benefactor "most reverend head."
Ben seems not to have gone to either univer-
sity, notwithstanding he later received degrees
250 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
from Oxford and Cambridge. He served as
a soldier in Flanders, where he distinguished
himself by killing one of the enemy in single
combat, but had a narrow escape in 1598 from
the gallows for killing an actor in a duel, one
Gabriel Spencer belonging to Henslowe's
John Aubrey of scandalmongery fame in
whose brain everything is confusion, in re-
cording the event, says, he (Ben Jonson)
killed "Mr. Marlowe, the poet, on Bunhill,
coming from the Green Curtain playhouse;"
but the fact is, Marlowe, "whose memory Jon-
son held in high esteem, met his untimely
death in 1593 in a tavern quarrel at Deptford,
five years before this period. Marlowe was
slain by Francis Archer, a serving man. So
Aubrey has muddled the whole affair as usual.
Writers on the subject of Jonson and Shake-
speare say that we have abundant tradition of
their close friendship. There are no credible
traditions of their close friendship. The man-
ufactured traditions so conspicuous in books
called "A Life of William Shakespeare" are
the dreams of fancy, fraud and fiction.
Notwithstanding it was the custom amongst
literary men of the day to belaud their friends
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 251
in verse or prose Shakespeare in the lifetime
of the Stratford player, was honored with no
mark. of Ben Jonson's admiration or friend-
ship. Not a single line of commendatory
verse was addressed to "Shakespeare" by Jon-
son, although so lavishly bestowed as to in-
clude almost every notable in literature and
.public life, .In fact, what shrimp was there
among hack writers who could not gain a
panegyric from his generous tongue?
The proven facts of the Stratford player's
(Shakspere) life are facts unassociated with
authorcraft; facts that prove the isolation and
divorcement of player and poet. The proven
facts of Ben Jonson's life are facts interlac-
ing man and poet. Almost every incident in
his life reveal his personal affection or bitter
dislike for his fellow poets; always ready for
a quarrel, arrogant, conceited, boastful and
vulgar. There is much truth in Dekker's
charge: "Tis thy fashion to flirt ink in every
man's face and then crawl into his bosom. Jon-
son maintained that he had liberty and license
to commend himself and abuse his comrades,
but if they commended themselves, this was
inflation, or if they abused him, this was de-
252 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Nevertheless, there was community of
friendship always. He was federated in a
comedy "Eastward Ho" with Chapman and
Marston, and was sent to prison with Chap-
man. (Marston, the real offender, beat a re-
treat), on complaint of Sir James Murray, a
northern carpet bagger of Scottish birth, new-
ly knighted. The satire on the needy Scots is
contained in the words "Who indeed are dis-
persed over the face of the earth" and the
wish that a hundred thousand of them were in
Virginia, where "we should find ten times
more comfort of them there than we doe
Ben Jonson's letter relating to the misfor-
tunes of the poets in the matter of Eastward
Excellentest of Ladies (Countess of Rutland),
And most honard of the Graces, Muses,
and me; if it be not a sinn to profane
your free hand with prison polluted paper, I
wolde entreate some little of youre ayde to the
defence of my innocence which is as clean as
this leaf was (before I stained it) of anything
halfe-worthye of this violent infliction. I am
commytted and with me a worthy Friend one
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 253
Mr. (George) Chapman, a man I cannot say
how known to your Ladishipp but I am sure
known to me to honor you: and Our offence a
Play so mistaken so misconstrued, as I do won-
der whether this ignorance or impudence be
most, who are our adversaries. It is now not
disputable for we stand on uneven basis, and
am course so unequally carried, as we are
without examining, without hearing, or with-
out any proofe but malicious Rumor, horried
to bondage and fetters; The cause we un-
derstand to be the King's indignation for
which we are hartelye sorie, and the more by
how much the less we have deserv'd it. What
our Sute is, the worthy employd Soliciter and
equall Adores of your Vertues can best inform
you. BEN JONSON
After their release, unharmed, Ben Jonson
"banqueted all his friends" among them Cam-
den and Selden, also Ben's old Spartan moth-
er, who it seems credited the report that her
famous son was in imminent danger of hav-
ing his nostrils slit or at least his ears lopped;
"drank to him and shew him a paper which
she had (if the sentence had taken execution)
to have mixed in the prison among his drink,
which was full of lustic strong poison, and
254 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
that she was no churle, she told she minded -to
have drunk of it herself."
Ben Jonson's personality and literary work
are inseparable. Drunk or sober, few have
served learning with so much pertinacity, and
fewer still have so successfully challenged ad-
miration even from literary rivals, with whom
at times he was most bitterly hostile, and at
other times indisputably open-handed and
Ben Jonson had a literary environment al-
ways, for there is perfect interlacement of man
and craft. He became one of the most pro-
lific writers of his age, occupying among the
lettered men of his day a position of literary
'His was a commanding personality, affili-
ated into courtly and public life. In the forty
years of his literary career, he collected a li-
brary so extensive that Gifford doubted wheth-
er any library "in England was so rich in "
scarce and valuable books."
From the pages of Isaac Disraeli, we read
"No poet has left behind him so many testi-
monials of personal fondness by inscriptions
and addresses in the copies of his works which
he presented to his friends."
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 255
Notwithstanding the depletion of his col-
lection of books by forced sales, and the burn-
ing of his library between the years 1621-22
which also prove that poverty stricken Jonson
had books and manuscripts to burn while the
rich William Shakspere of Stratford is not
known to have had anything of a literary des-
cription to burn, give away or bequeath.
But strange as it must seem to the votaries
of "Shakespeare" not a single copy of Jon*
son's works or testimonials is brought forward
to bear witness to his personal regard and ad-
miration, for Shakespeare before the Strat-
ford player's death in 1616; and we may add
that there is no testimonial by Shakespeare of
his regard and personal fondness for Ben Jon-
son, although many of the literary antiquari-
ans have unearthed in their researches, facts
and discoveries which they have brought for-
ward as new particulars of the life of William
Shakspere, the Stratford player. This, if not
incompatible with authorship is surely divorc-
ing Shakspere the actor from "Shakespeare"
the author of the plays. They but deepen the
mystery that surrounds the personality of the
author, "The shadow of a mighty name."
But at the same time they disclose the true
256 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
character of Shakspere the actor, match mak-
er, land owner, money lender and litigant,
which is affirmative of John B right's opinion,
that "any man who believes that William
Shakspere of Stratford wrote Hamlet or Lear
is a fool." The words of the great orator are
not emulative of the highest civility, but in-
stead the controversial "sweetmeats" such as
liar, loony, and of the like kind of honey-ton-
gued names of endearment then in vogue.
The student reader will perceive that Jon-
son's verse does not agree with his prose and
that his "Ode to Shakespeare" which Dryden
called "an insolent, sparing and invidious
panegyric" was not the final word of com-
ment, which is contained in Ben Jonson's
"Discoveries" (manuscript book) a prose ref-
erence in disparagement of the man whom he
may have believed was identifiable with the
playwright. We believe he was mistaken in
When Ben is least variable and most con-
stant as in the three references to Shakespeare,
to Drummond of Hawthornden in 1619, in
1623 in Commendatory verses to the folio; in
his manuscript book "Discoveries" from 1630-
1635, he seems to have had no information in
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 257
the subject as by observance, by reading, by
study or in conversation with lettered persons
about the author of the plays "Shakespeare. 1 '
An overweening admiration and supreme
regard for self made Ben an easy victim of
dupery or gullery. Was he hoaxed by the
players? Ben Jonson was vulnerable most in
his character as a witness. The reader will
therefore be indulgent if we make some re-
mark upon the credibility and competency of
this witness. The elder writers on the subject
of Jonson and Shakespeare before Gifford's
time (1757-1826) were always harping on
Ben Jonson's envy and jealously of Shake-
Since Gifford's day the antiquary has been
abroad in the land without having discovered
anything of a literary life of the play actor,
Shakspere, and as if by general consent, all re-
cent writers on the subject regard Ben Jon-
son's attestation or his metrical tribute "To
the memory of my beloved, the author, Mr.
William Shakespeare, and what he hath left
us," as an essential element in his biography
the title deed of authorship. Having made
him their star witness we should hear no more
of Jonson's jealousy and envy of Shakespeare.
258 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
However, Mr. Andrew Lang and Mr. J,
M. Robertson follow the elder writers, whose
pace was set by Ben Jonson's caveling words,
"And though thou hadst small Latin and less
Greek," are harping still upon Ben's jealous
rage, for whenever the statements of Ben Jon-
son upon whom the Stratfordians chiefly reply-
are not suitable to their belief in the Stratford
delusion, he is to be discredited, and therefore
Ben is straightway denounced as an angry
rival actuated by jealous spite.
But remembering Ben Jonson's metrical
panegyrics in the folio of 1623 which he wrote
for the syndicate of publishers straws, which
like drowning men they frantically catch at,
which they imagine will buoy up. The up-
holders of the Stratford delusion will surely
cling to Ben, for they say he never varies from
his identification of Shakspere the Stratford
player with "Shakespeare" the author of the
plays. Now we take all this for granted.
What then are we constrained by this opinion
from the settled belief that the moody Ben was
deceived or mistaken?
Abraham Lincoln says, "You can fool all
the people some of the time," and Ben seems
to have been among the number fooled, "and
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTERrMIND 259
some of the people" (Stratfordians) "all of
the time, but you cannot fool all of the people
all of the time."
Now we think that Ben Jonson really did
not know enough about "Shakespeare" he
having no settled judgment in regard to any
point, mere deduction drawn from hearsay,
tattle of gossiping players, themselves be-
fooled as is disclosed by his conversations with
Drummond of Hawthorndon in 1619, when
he said that "Shakespeare" "Wanted art" and
also in his posthumously published Discov-
eries he writes "Many times he (Shake-
speare) fell into those things, could not escape
laughter, as when he said in the person of Cae-
sar, one speaking to him, Caesar thou dost me
wrong, he replied Caesar did never wrong but
with just cause, which was ridiculous."
Again in 1623 in commendatory verses to
the folio which he wrote for the syndicate of
printers and publishers with an eye to the sale
of the book and, of course, will not repeat
what he said to Drummond in 1619, that
Shakespeare lacked art, and so Ben in his hy-
perbolical poem gave Shakespeare plenty of
it "well turned and true filled lines." But in
cold, passionless prose at a later date, he is to
260 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
express the wish "would he had blotted out a
King George III gave concurrence to this
opinion for His Majesty tells us that "a great
deal of Shakespeare is sad stuff, only one must
not say so." His Majesty, it seems, was not
aware that the work of "Shakespeare" had
been interpolated by wanton players and
botched by collaborating authors, and that the
work of others had been appropriated by
Shakespeare. So then these intruders coupled
With the older authors' inferior hand is held
responsible for all of the "sad stuff" contained
in the thousand lines referred to according to
Mr. James R. Lowell in an address on
Shakespeare's 'Richard III' which contained
his doubts about the authorship of the drama,
the result of his examination indicated that at
least two different hands had been engaged in
the making of 'Richard III,' a play he said,
'which "Shakespeare" adapted to the stage,
and proceeds to assign all the "sad stuff" as
unblotted lines, lack of art to the older author,
whoever he was, for said he "I believe it abso-
lutely safe to say of Shakespeare that he never
wrote deliberate nonsense."
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTERrMIND 261
Ben Jonson in his remarks "Of Shake-
speare, our fellow country-man" and his com-
mendation by the actors wrote, "I remember
the players have often mentioned it as an hon-
or to Shakespeare that (whatsoever he pen-
ned) he never blotted out a line. My answer
hath been Would he had blotted a thousand'
which they thought a malevolent speech. I
had not told posterity this, but for their ignor-
ance who choose that circumstance to com-
mend their friend by (that) wherein he most
We know that this statement by the players
"that in his writings (whatsoever he penned)
he, Shakespeare, never blotted a line," is
moonshine and proves that the players had not
access to the author's manuscript his orig-
inal draft; what they received were merely
fair copies in the handwriting of their yoke-
fellow, Will Shakspere, play house copyist or
transcriber, thus befooling the players with
his gullish waggery.
However, Ben Jonson could not have fore-
seen that Shakespeare's self-constituted liter-
ary executors of the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries would have blotted out not only a
thousand lines but many thousands, and would
262 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
decree that only the best part of his reputed
works should come down to the latest ages.
In the early years of the seventeenth cen-
tury the name "Shakespeare" was shadowy,
the plays variable. No one laid any claim to
\them on their first appearance, but in a subse-
quent time by the mere fiction of a name, an
actor (a vagabond under the Act) is taken to
be claimant. "Shakespeare" in Ben Jonson's
day held a title page proprietorship in as
many as sixty-four plays and Ben did not
know (doubtless) they were not wholly his
"The Yorkshire Tragedy" to give as an in-
stance, was in Ben Jonson's earlier years as
well authenticated as was "Hamlet," "The
Puritan," as was "Lear."
The same is true of the unlisted plays which
we now call "the doubtful plays" contained in
the third folio edition of the Shakespeare
plays in 1663-4. William Shakspere the Strat-
ford player never used the hyphen Shak-Spere
or an E in the first syllable of his name or an
A in the last. Now as every one knows the
only specimens of his handwriting that we
possess are the six signatures. In none of them
does the Stratford player recognize the liter-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 263
ary form of the name Shake-Speare and
Shakespeare. So far as any one knows his yoke
fellows never spelled their names on this wise :
Burb age. Con dell.
We find that the plays were issuing from
the press anonymously; for example, the old
edition of "Romeo and Juliet" do not bear the
name "Shakespeare" until after 1609, and
then in a way which strongly suggests its use
as a pseudonym for the name is hyphenated
thus, Shake-Speare on the title page. The copy
in the British Museum is without Shake -
Spere's name. It is found only in early copies
of the edition, having been suppressed before
the rest were printed. According to Halli-
well-Phillipps the name "Shake-Speare" was
so spelled on the title page of the earliest
known edition of "Hamlet" also in the 1609
edition of "The Sonnets."
The early and frequent appearance of a sig-
nature on the title page with a hyphen would
be understood doubtless at once as a pseudo-
nym, work thus produced under an assumed
or fictitious name, for real genuine names
were not spelled with a hyphen. But Shake-
Speare a mask name often was so spelled, but
so far as anybody knows, not one of the family
264 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
of dramatic poets was a hyphen used in spell-
ing his name. Who ever saw the like of this?
Mar-lowe, Dray-ton, Jon-son and Web-ster.
The word "Shakespeare" has been gradually
formed during successive generations and ren-
dered venerable by the act of adoration.
But an ultimate reflection will make clear
how little Ben Jonson is to be depended upon
as attesting the liability of the Stratford play-
er, for the works which were affiliated with
his name seven years after his death. There
is not a word or sentence in all Jonson's writ-
ings which bear witness to Shakespeare as a
writer of plays or poems anterior to the Strat-
ford player's death in 1616, as all reference to
Shakespeare in Jonson's verse and prose are
posterior to this event.
"Notes of Ben Jonson's conversations" re-
corded by William Drummond of Hawthorn-
den are of great literary and historical valu<
and are important also as bearing on Ben Jon-
son's competency and credibleness as a wit-
ness. The Drummond notes were first printed
by Mr. David Lang, who discovered them
among the manuscripts of Sir Robert Sibbald,
a well known antiquary. "Conversations" as
we have it on the evidence of Drummond is in
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 265
accord with almost. every contemporary refer-
ence to Jonson and internally they chime with
Ben's own manuscript book "Discoveries."
There should be no controversy in regard
to the justice of the Scottish poets' criticism as
recorded by Drummond, we learn "He (Ben
Jonson) is a great lover and praiser of him-
self, a condemner and scorner of others, espec-
ially after drink, which is one of the elements
in which he liveth."
The conversation noted by Drummond
took place when Jonson visited him at Haw-
thornden in 1618-19 and disclose the fact that
"Rare Ben" was a vulgar, boastful, tipsy
backbiter who blackguarded many of his fel-
Conversations in part from the notes re-
corded by William Drummond, Laird of
"He, Ben Jonson, is passionately kind and
angry, careless either to gain or keep vindica-
tive, but if he be well answered at himself
interprets best sayings and deeds often to the
worst; a dissembler of the parts which reign
in him, a bragger of some good that he
wanted, thinketh nothing well done but what
either he himself or some of his friends have
266 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
said or done. He was for any religion as be-
ing versed in both."
"His (Ben Jonson) censure of the 'English
poets was this: That Sidney did not keep a
decorum in making every one speak as well
as himself ; Spencer's stanza pleased him not
nor his matter. Samuel Daniel was a good
honest man, had no children, and was no poet
and that he had wrote the "Civil Wars" and
yet had not one battle in all his book and
was jealous of him.
That Michael Drayton's verses pleased
'him not. Drayton feared ; him and he es-
teemed not of 'him that Donne "Anniversary"
was profane and full of blasphemies . . .
that Donne for not keeping to accent deserved
Day Ddkker and Minshew were all
rogues; that Abram Francis in his English
hexameters was a fool. He said Shakespeare
wanted art, in one of his plays he brought in
a number of men, saying they had suffered
shipwreck in Bohemia where there is no sea
near by a hundred miles.
That Sir Walter Raleigh esteemed more
fame than conscience. The best wits in Eng-
land were employed in making his history; he
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 267
himself had written a piece to him of the
Punick War which he atlered and set in his
That Chapman and Fletcher were loved of
him. Sir Henry Watton's verses of a "Happy
Life" he hath by heart and a piece of Chap-
man's Translation of Homer's Iliad (Book
XIII). That next to himself only Fletcher
and Chapman could make a masque. He
esteemeth John Donne the first poet in the
world in some things; that Donne himself
for not being understood would perish.
That Francis Beaumont loved too much
himself and his own verse.
He had many quarrels with Marston, that
Gervase Markham was not of the number of
the faithful, and but a base fellow; that such
were Day and Middleton; Spencer died for
lack of bread in King Street.
That the King said Sir Philip Sidney was
no poet, neither did he see any verses in Eng-
land to the scullers."
According to Ben Jonson, His Sacred
Majesty, James the First, did not enjoy the
beauties of Sir Philip Sydney, contained in
his "Flowers of Poetry," but was diverted
with the "Scullers" (John Taylor, 1580-
268 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
1654, water poeticule) which title he owes
to his occupation on the river. So it was not
"Shakespeare" "that so did take Eliza and
our James" but instead a mere rhymester.
However, Sir William Alexander (1567-
1640) later Earl of Stirling, grumbled that
James I prefers his own (poetic work) to all
But, continues William Drummond, "the
Father of interviewers," "sundry times he
(Jonson) hath devoured his books, sold them
all for necessity. Of all his plays he never
gained 200 pounds; that the half of his come-
dies were not in print. He dissuaded me
(Drummond) from poetry, for that she had
beggared him, when he might have been a
rich lawyer, physician or merchant."
"An Epigram" on the "Court Pucelle" was
stolen out of his pocket by a gentleman who
drank him drow r sy. He had many quarrels
! with Marston, beat him and took his pistol
from him. He said to Prince Charles of
Inigo Jones that when he wanted words to
express the greatest villian in the world, he
would call him "Inigo." Jones having ac-
cused him for naming him behind his back a
fool. He denied it, but says he: I said he
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 269
was an arrant knave, and I avouch it. This
is the Ben who was trying to brow beat and
'bully the British architect, who first intro-
duced movable scenery and decorations for
the masque entertainments at Court. They
were not in use at the public playhouses at
any time during the reign of Queen Eliza-
beth and King James the First.
How very unfortunate in his temper Ben
Jonson must have been to war against his own
bread and butter. When these bitter words
were spoken, the great architect had personal
connection with almost every distinguished
person in literary and public life and had
sufficient influence to deprive him of employ-
ment at Court. Ben could have followed the
example set by his dearest friend, George
Chapman, who seems to have found it pos-
sible to live permanently at peace with Inigo
Jones under a similar connection (masque-
writer) by acceding to the stage architect's
desire of prefixing his own name before that
of the poet on the title page.
The great artificer showed extraordinary
industry and skill in contriving the architec-
tural decorations, and therefore thought him-
self the "biggest toad in the puddle." So on
270 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the title-page of "The Mask of the Middle
Temple and Lincoln's Inn" as it was per-
formed before James VI and I at Whitehall,
February 15th, 1613, at the celebration of the
Toyal nuptial of the Elector Platine, called
the "Winter King" and Elizabeth, Queen of
Bohemia, we read "Invented and fashioned
by our kingdomes most artful and ingenious
architect Inigo Jones. Supplied, applied, di-
gested and written by George Chapman."
But "Rare Ben" would not yield his right
to first place on the title-page. So two great
men were actually quarrelling about a trivial
matter. However, Jones seems to have had
no acquaintance with "Shakespeare" the au-
thor of the plays whose mask . was im-
The reader is not unmindful that the lan-
guage of Ben Jonson is sometimes grossly ap-
probrious, sometimes basely adulatory, while
his laudatory verses on Beaumont, Drayton,
Silvester, "Shakespeare" and other contem-
porary writers are in striking contrast to the
'discrepancy of testimony disclosed by his
; prose works and conversations.
In the memorial verses Jonson tells us that
the Shakespearian plays were "such that
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 271
neither man nor muse could praise too much."
The strictest scrutiny, however, into the life
and works of Ben Jonson fails to denote his
actual acquaintance with the works of "the
greatest genius of our world." What be-
comes of his enthusiastic eulogy of Shakes-
peare when "From my house in the Black-
Friars this llth day of February, 1607," Ben
Jonson writes his dedication "Volpone."
"To the most noble and most equal sisters,
the two famous Universities" which should
have disclosed his close friendship and ad-
miration for Shakespeare for the great dra-
matist was then at the zenith of his power.
The dedication of it (Volpone) and him-
self was written nine years before the death
of William Shakspere the player, when Jon-,
son declared, "I shall raise the despised head
of poetry again and stripping her out of those
rotten and base rags wherewith the times have
adulterated her form."
It should be remembered that at the time
of this sweeping condemnation of what he
terms dramatic or stage poetry, two-thirds of
the "Shakespearean" plays were then written.
All of the greatest, "Hamlet," "Macbeth,"
"Othello," "Lear," "Julius Ceasar," "Mer-
272 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
chant of Venice," "Romeo and Juliet" and
not less than twenty other Shakespearean
plays were in Jonson's estimation in 1607,
"rotten and base rags," while in 1623, six-
teen years after date in the verses prefixed
to the first folio edition published in 1623
for the syndicate of printers, Jonson tells us
that their author was "soul of the age."
In view of Ben Jonson's tardy apostrophe
to "Shakespeare," it is inconceivable that he
could have known the Stratford player as the
author of "Hamlet," "Lear" and "Othello"
and not have extolled him in commendatory
verse living and in death sighing mournful
requiem to his name.
Ben Jonson knew, doubtless, William
Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon as a share
holding actor of no considerable repute who
with other share holding actors purchased
and mounted plays written by other men, also
as a money lender, a very convenient man in
time of need, doubtless though the needy Ben
who had holes in his pockets. Therefore "of
Shapespeare our fellow countryman," he
says, "I loved the man and do honour his
memory on this side idolatry as much as any,"
Personal and not literary appreciation.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 273
Keep in mind that Ben Jonson's celebrated
note on Shakespeare was penned after his
poetical eulogy and shows that Ben did not
esteem Shakespeare very much. The cause
H3f the upholders of the Stratford delusion
must be desperate when they feel constrained
to discredit their own witness, Ben Jonson,
upon whose testimony the Shakspere delusion
Ben, they say, "on occasion spoke with two
voices/' one in which he bristles with spite
and envy against Shakespeare and then again
he sounds a note of highest praise. Thus the
Stratfordians discredit their own witness by
impugning his general character for veracity,
showing that "on occasion" he had made con-
To give as an instance, Ben Jonson's two
conflicting statements that Spencer "died for
want of bread" and that he refused Essex
gife of twenty pieces, saying he had no time
to spend them. However, Essex bore the cost
of Spencer's interment.
Now that Ben Jonson, as a witness hav-
ing been discredited by the party introducing
him, why is his evidence not ruled out?
Ben Jonson's egotism would, of course, pre-
274 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
elude a just jugment of the work of his fel-
low poets. He felt that his own writings
were immeasurably superior. Did Ben ever
read the Shakespeare plays?
For the affirmative of the proposition
there is not the faintest presumption of prob-
able evidence. Jonson often became the gen-
erous panegyrist of poets, whose writing in all
probability he never had read.
The Ode "To the Memory of my Beloved
Master William Shakespeare and what he
hath left us," is in Ben Jonson's hyperbolical
style of adulation and he writes with an eye
to the sale of the first folio edition (1623) by
the syndicate of printers and publishers. Giv-
ing send offs was the recreation and the de-
light of Ben's life. He took pleasure in com-
mending in verse the works of men not
worthy of his notice and in lauding and
patronizing poeticules like Filmer, Stephens,
Wright and Warre, also Master Joseph Rut-
ter Ben's dear son (in a lettered sense) and
right learned friend.
In his prefatory remarks to the reader in
"Sejanus," there is the same display of ex-
cess of commendation. Ben Jonson writes:
"Lastly I would inform you that this book
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 275
in all numbers is not the same with that which
was acted on the public stage wherein a sec-
ond pen had good share in place of which I
have rather chosen to put weaker and no
doubt less peasing of my own than to defraud
so happy a genius of his right by my loathed
According to Dryden, Ben Jonson's com-
pliments were left handed. Nevertheless, the
words "so happy a genius" have directed the
thoughts of commentators to Chapman and
Shakespeare. However, the person alluded
to is not Chapman or Shakespeare, but a very
inferior poet, Samuel Sheppard, who more
than forty years later claimed for himself
the honor of having collaborated in "Sejanus"
with Ben Jonson. Compliments bestowed o.-i
inferior men of the elder time are in later
times the reprisal of Stratfordian buccaneers.
While many of Jonson's versified paneygrics
on contemporary poets were retrieved by his
withering contempt for many of them orally
expressed or contained in his prose works
"Shakespeare," a pseudonymous author being
included among them, still to the club room
called "the Appollo of the Devil's Tavern,"
come many who were numbered amongst the
276 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
most distinguished men of the day outside of
literary circles as well as within who sought
his fellowship and would gladly be "sealed of
the tribe of Ben."
Cin.rendon tells us that u his conversations
were very good and with men of most note."
The Countess of Rutland favored him with
her friendship and patronage, but her hus-
band, the loathsome Roger Manners, fifth
Earl of Rutland, resented her encouragement
of literary men, he rushing in upon her one
day when Ben Jonson was dining with her
and with violence "accused her that she kept
table to poets." These harsh words were
spoken to and of the daughter of Sir Philip
Sidney by the Earl of Rutland, who in earlier
days with the Earl of Southampton used to
pass away the time "in London merely in go-
ing to plays every day.'
But for poets and playmakers Lord Rut-
land did not share Lord Southampton's lik-
ing for imaginative pleasure as "a dear lover
and cherisher as well of the lovers of poets
themselves." But instead thought it a de-
gradation to his Countess "that she kept table-
Elizabeth Sidney, Countess of Rutland,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 277
said Ben Jonson "was nothing inferior to her
father in poesie." In Beaumont's ear "every
word you speak is sweet and mild."
But Sidney's peerless daughter, the Coun-
tess of Rutland, was never discovered dining
with the play actor of Stratford. Why? May
they not then compare the Shakspere biogra-
phical data with the facts known concerning
Ben Jonson, whose name and personality is
(inseparably connected with subjects of gen-
eral literature, while more is known of the
Stratford player's life than the lives of the
But this availed not, because of the nihility
of literary facts in the life of the Stratford
Shakspere. What strikes the reader most is
the poverty of the so-called literary events of
the Stratford player's life. There is nothing
to show in the events that he ever wrote
poems or plays. All is mere supposition and
While there is comparatively a superabund-
ance of biographical material of the non-lit-
erary sort which contrast strikingly with the
activities of a poet, they do not compare with
the well-known literary facts in the life of
Ben Jonson, but denote a relation with land-
278 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
holder, money lender and share-holding ac-
tor, a relation which does not involve poet
I am convinced that Ben Jonson must have
had vast, native ability deeply rooted in classi-
cal literature. He had vast definite help from
the ancients. The best parts of what he wrote
Shakespeare would have been glad to own.
When Ben Jonson became inebrious he
would "carouse and swill like a Dutchman."
King James I, was also prone to such "belly
cheer." In fact, it was a stock situation with
His Majesty. We read, "When Christian IV
of Denmark was at the Court of James I on a
visit, there is extant an account of a court
masque in which the actors were too drunk to
continue their parts." But their Majesties
were in blissful ignorance of the fact as they
were both "half seas over," had drunk swin-
His Majesty was again "three sheets in the
wind" when Beaumont's masque which was
to have been performed at Whitehall on Tues-
day evening, February 16th, 1613, to celebrate
the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the
Elector Platine. The stage mechanism was
invented by Inigo Jones, who was also stage
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 279
architect for Chapman's rival masque, "The
Middle Temple and Lincoln Inn," presented
on February ISth, 1613.
Sir Francis Bacon is called "the chief con-
triver" of the Beaumont pageant, he permit-
ting no one to share the tremendous expense
with him. But the gentlemen masquers of
"The Inner Temple and Grays Inn" went by
water from Winchester House to Whitehall
seated in the King's royal barge. The Royal
family witnessed their approach. Chamber-
lain says, "They were received at the privie
stayres" but it seems got no further learning
that the King was "sleepie" (laid under the
table). They came home as they went with-
out doing anything, much discouraged, "and
our of countenance."
Ben was coarsely featured and his enemies
rudely insulted him. But the bulky English-
man could have answered in words very like
Woodrow Wilson's "favorite Limerick" that
runs as follows :
"For beauty I am not a star,
There are others more handsome by
But my face, I don't mind it,
For I am behind it;
280 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
It's the others in front that I jar."
Ben Jonson's love of wine bidding cannot
be denied, "drink was one of the elements in
which he lived," although he was not like
King James I, who often became what the
Satirist, Thomas Nash, called swine drunk,
heavy, lumpish and sleepy. Still this outer
condition was much the same, "When each
line oft cost Ben a cup of sack."
"Fetch me Ben Jonson's scull and fill't with
sack rich as the same he drank when the whole
pack of jolly sisters pledged and did agree
it was no sin to be as drunk as he."
These occasional infractions of sobriety by
Ben Jonson when he conversed with Drum-
mond at Hawthornden in 1618-19, became
habitual with him long before James Howell's
invitation to a solemn supper by B. J. in
It is truly lamentable to think on the last
days of Ben Jonson, subject to the brutifying
power of wine, forsaken by the great when
he stood most in need of friendship and good
will, stripped of all his honors, his place as
masque writer for the Kings' entertainments
at Court, "supplied by one Townsend." Con-
Campbell O Mrs. Pritchard
Pan Litlington Thomioa
Cary OF Bcnsoa Row
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 281
fined by want and a fatal malady of a paraly-
tic nature in a wretched lodging in an alley.
The weariness of waning years seemed long
and were dark and stormy.
And it is with a keen sense of pain and sor-
row, of pity and regret we read the mendicant
epistles addressed to several noblemen.
"He asked for bread" but when the sum-
mons came they bore him to the quiet resting
place under the shadow of the "Cloudcapt
Towers" of Westminster Abby and he re-
ceived a stone. "O Rare Ben Jonson."
WHO WAS SHAKE SCENE? (THE OBJECT
OF ROBERT GREENE'S CENSURE)
The prominence given to Robert Greene
in the manuals of our literature, is not to make
known the fact that he was one of the very
few poets and dramatic writers who in a li-
centious age, "left scarce a line that dying
he need have wished to blot," but instead, his
character as usually framed by the critic is
intended merely to cast obloquy on his mem-
282 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ory, and to reveal by the hot breath of relent-
less scorn the unfathomable bitterness an'd rag-
ing hate of the commentators.
Henry Chettle imagined the dead poet's
hand guiding his own in writing the following
sentence: "There is no glory gained by
breaking a dead man skull." When Chettle
wrote these words in 1592, Robert Greene was
dead, and, of course, could not reply to Ga-
brial Harvey's slurring aspersions. But his
defender, Thomas Nash, with his satirizing
pen, "possessed with Hercules furies," flamed
with invective against the earliest calumina-
tor of Greene's memory, and excruciated him
with a trenchant irony which few have ever
equalled, and probably no one has surpassed.
Robert Greene, like Marlowe, Burns and
Poe three among the "greatest inheritors of
unfulfilled renown," died in the dawn of his
manhood, distressed and neglected. Their
lives became a tragedy in the sun-dawn of
fame from habits of intoxication; they
wrecked themselves by strong drink while
the shadows still were inclining towards the
Robert Greene, although not a great world-
poet like Robert Burns and Edwin Markham
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 283
who could rouse the thought of the people,
still like them, he was the "poet of the com-
mon man," whose writings notwithstanding
the laxity of the age, are unusually clean. But
having an overpowering thirst for alcohol, he
seems never to have answered "NO" to his
evil, winebibber associates, so he fell a prey
to the brutifying power of strong drink.
"He had faults, perhaps had many,
But one fault above them all
Lay like heavy lead upon him,
Tryant of a patient thrall.
Tryant seen, confessed and hated,
Banished only to recall.
At his birth an evil spirit,
Charms and spells around him
And with well concocted malice,
Laid a curse upon his tongue ;
Curse that daily made him wretched
Earth's most wretched sons among.
He could plead, expound and argue,
Fire with wit with wisdom glow;
But one word forever failed him,
Sourse of all his pain and woe;
Luckless man! he could not say it,
Could not, dare not, answer No."
In this connection, without mincing mat-
ters, I wish to state a fact that you compre-
284 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
hend a man better after you know the sort of
things his enemies tell about him, and the
sort of things his friends tell about him.
There is always something divulging about
However, we would suggest that the critics
and commentators with-hold their critical cen-
sure until it is positively known who the per-
son was with a tiger's heart wrapped up in
the hide of a player, and who thought himself
the only "Shake-Scene" (jig dancer), before
they abuse young Greene on account of a fanc-
iful conjecture, by making his reputation a
prey for carrion literary crows to peck at.
Our critics and commentators attempt to
deduce his autobiography from passages
taken from his novels, contained in the main
in his reputed posthumous works. We know
that Greene's last illness was sudden and of
short duration, and he may have left a few
it not "many papers," as Chettle avers, "in
sundry booksellers hands." Among others,
(probably) The Black Books Messenger,
which was never finished as the death sum-
mons came before he could complete the
manuscript. However, a short time before
his death he had published a part of it,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 285
The Life and Death of Ned Browne, the sup-
posed confessions of one of the most notorious
cut-purses and scoundrels that ever lived in
England, a man of gentlemanlike appearance
who alternated between London and Fland-
ers. He was at last hanged for robbing a
church in France. The Black Book com-
pletely took in the public. Greene had planned
the Confessions of another malefactor, which
he intended to publish separately also but
the second Confession never came into view
though it seems to have been prepared. It
was the first thing he said which he intended
to publish after his recovery.
Mr. J. Churton Collins says, "that the Re-
pentance bears a suspiciously close resem-
blance to The Confessions of Ned Browne,
published by Greene a short time before and
may have been interpolated with passages tak-
en from that work," which Mr. Collins cites.
Compare the following excerptions out of
the Coney-Catching Pamphlets, Ned Browne
and The Repentance, by J. Churton Collins.
(The Plays and Poems, Vol. 1, p. 51).
( 1 ) My parents who for their gravitie and
honest life were well known and esteemed
amongst their neighbors. Repentance.
286 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
(2) Know therefore that my parents were
honest of good reporte and no little esteem
amongst their neighbors. Ned Browne.
(3) But as out of one selfsame clod of clay
there sprouts, boath stinking weeds and de-
lightful flowers, so from honest parents often
grow most dishonest children, for my father
had a care to have me in my nonage brought
up at school that I Repentance.
(4) (My parents) Sought of good nature
and education would have served to have me
made an honest man but as one self same
ground brings forth flowers and thistles, so of
a sound stock proved an untoward syon and of
a venturous father a most vicious sonne, it
bootes little to rehearse the sinnes of my non-
age. Ned Browne.
(5) Young yet in yeares though old in
wickedness, I began to resolve that there was
nothing bad in that was profitable whereupon
I grew rooted to all mischief that I had a
great delight in wickedness as sundres, both in
(6) For when I came to eighteen years old
what sinne was it that I would not commit
with greediness, why I held them excellent
qualities and accounted him unworthy to live
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 287
that could not or durst not live by such damn-
able practises. Ned Browne.
(7) So that by their foolish persuasion the
good and wholesome lessons I had learnt went
quite out of my remembrance and I fell again
with the dog to my old vomite. Repentance.
(8) So given over by God into a reprobate
sense, I had no feeling of goodness but with
the dog fell to my old vomit. Ned Browne.
The Repentance is probably the forging, in
part at least, of its publisher, Cuthbert Burby,
at that time a young man striving for bread
and prominence. For Greene's name at that
date was a name to conjure with, but Burby
is silent as to how it came into his possession.
The young publisher is the sole sponsor for the
work. Those who had no confidence in the
authenticity of The Repentance were Hazlitt,
Ulrici, Brodenstedit and Collier.
The outcome of my scrutiny was a clear
conviction that The Repentance^ as a whole,
is a soddy piece of rude forgery, more especi-
ally in passages where the pamphleteer in his
own person, asserts his identification with
Robert Greene by writing the name in full as
in the sentence "Robert Greene thou art
damned." It seems strange that so many of
288 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
our critics should have been the victim of this
Mr. Collier was not convinced of the gen-
uineness of the Groatsivorth of IV it (Life of
Shakespeare). We think these doubts well
founded and the critics faked by daring fabri-
cations. Accepting the very affecting letter
to the playwrights addressed by Greene, with
which the "Groats worth" concludes, we may
infer also that "Groatsivorth of Wit" may have
been compiled in part from certain papers,
"The Confessions" of another malefactor,
which Greene intended to publish upon re-
covery from sickness.
No wonder Burby and Chettle are in a
hurry to bring out two such publications as
The Repentance and Groatsworih of Wit, in
their attempt to trade on Greene's name. For
Greene was a very popular and many-sided
author, beloved by the people. The most
celebrated of the early pamphleteers, Francis
Meres, ranks Robert Greene among "the poets
who are the glory of England," also among
the best comedians. If Meres may be trusted
as a witness to the literary reputation of
"Shakespeare," why not as a witness to the
reputation of Greene's literary fame?
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 289
All doubt about the authorship of The Re-
pentance seems removed by an impartial com-
parison with the Confessions contained in The
Black Book. For the reputed deathbed pam-
phlet (The Repentance) bears a very close
analagy to the supposed Confessions of Dare-
devil Ned Browne, whose villainy is read into
Robert Greene's life by the fabricator of The
Repentance, who had taken advantage of
Greene's popularity with the reading public.
The critics manifest a very strong desire to
read into Greene's life the depraved and vil-
lainous characters contained in the reputed
autobiographical works, which are supposed
to personate him in the opinion of his de-
famers, and to characterize him under every
name known to knavery. In spite of that the
purity of his writings refute the slander, as
doth his sincere desire to serve the cause of
virtue in the interest of good citizenship by
his democratic sympathies.
He says: "Let thy children's nurture be
their richest portion, for wisdom is more pre-
cious than wealth."
The pamphlets of Greene gave the London
thieves and roughs a sudden scare and many
were seized with a panic, for he was contin-
290 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ually threatening to make known their names
and send them to the gallows. He often wrote
their initials with vacant spaces for inserting
names, with "I will not betray his name."
Greene tells us that he was in familiar inter-
course with the rascals whose ways and tricks
he describes, not as a comrade but as a secret
agent to detect their knavery. Greene tells us
also in the introduction, that he had in view
the confessions of still another coney-catcher
who had lately been executed at Newgate, but
on reconsidering changed his mind, "because
the man had died penitent." He had hoped,
he said, "to make out of the Newgate felon's
Repentance an edifying work which would
be worth the regard of every honest person,
which parents might present to their children
and masters to their servants."
Robert Greene was not "Lip-holy" or base
enough to sham, for he was utterly above pre-
tending to be what he was not, and could not
have been the monster of iniquity that his
enemies, drenched in hate, set forth after
Greene was dead and could not answer.
Robert Greene was conspicuous among the
writers of his day for versatility and quickness
in composition, and the power of turning his
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 291
mind with ease to various subjects exemplified
by, "A quaint dispute between Velvet-
breeches and Cloth-breeches." The dispute is
as to whether the courtier (Velvet-breeches),
or the tradesman (Cloth-breeches), is entitled
to the greater respect, and a jury of tradesmen
is summoned to make a decision.
Now we may notice in this connection that
the supposed Confessions of Browne and the
supposed "Last Speech and Dying" words of
Elliston, who was executed in 1722 for street
robbery in Dublin, are strictly analagous.
Dean Swift, in composing Elliston's pretended
dying speech, gave it the flavor of genuine-
ness. Scott says it was "received as genuine
by the bandits who had been companions of
his depredations. The threat which it held
out of a list containing their names, crimes and
places of rendezvous, operated for a long time
in preventing a repetition of their villanies."
Swift parallels Greene in his methods of war-
fare with the criminal classes and had the same
salutary effect in producing consternation
among the members of other gangs of these
desperadoes which infested the city of Dublin.
Greene's writings disclose his partiality to
"The Man with the Hoe," and reveal his
292 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
democratic sympathies that breathed into the
coney-catching series, the soul of brother-
hood, the spirit of civil humanity; in extend-
ing a brother's hand and a brother's heart to
the poorer classes in their struggle against
class distinction, social injustice; against the
minions of tragic greed who believed in the
"super-man" and against the doctrine of sel-
fishness, pride, arrogance and self-conceit.
The popularity of the pamphlet was re-
markable, it went through several editions in
English. In 1621 it was translated into Dutch
and published at Leyden, where it went
through several editions also.
Greene made it the glorious opportunity
when describing London's low-life to give
flunkyism, as expressed by the names of Ga-
briel and Richard Harvey, a sudden chill, the
Harvey Brothers, who had snubbed Greene
and always stood scornfully apart from him
and his circle. The second brother, Richard,
was well known, both as an astrologer and a
divine, who, according to Nash was "a notable
ruffan with his pen," and had furnished two
pamphlets to the "Martin Marprelate" dis-
cussion, as it was called, from the pen name.
In them he had spoken disdainfully of Greene
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 293
and his friends, calling them "peperly-make
plays and make-bates."
This it was which brought Greene into the
field after the Harveys had raised a swarm of
trouble for themselves unwittingly "to stir up
a hornet's nest," and the prodding and stinging
they got by 'hornet-like" Tom Nash was
dreadful in its causticness. "Let sleeping dogs
The Harvey Brothers were snobs. The
eldest, Gabriel's, strong desire was to worm
himself into favor among the aristocracy, to
cover up his antecedents from the lower rank,
and to treat his equals with derision and
haunghty disrespect. Of this there can be no
question, with all his faults there was noth-
ing of this weakness or snobbishness in Robert
Greene, who had himself sprung from the
common people though born to good condi-
Robert Burton, a contemporary, writing in
"The Spacious time of Great Elizabeth," says
that idleness was the mark of the nobility, and
to earn money in any kind of trade was de-
spicable. Gabriel Harvey flung in Greene's
face the fact that he made a living by his pen.
In one of these fanciful studies in Eliza-
294 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
bethan literature, which I now hold in my
hand, we may read that Greene has very vul-
garly libeled Harvey's ancestry, but when we
turn to Greene's book, we learn that the vul-
garity consists in calling Gabriel Harvey's
father a ropemaker. Only a snob would re-
gard any honest employment as a degradation ;
still the lines which so mortally offended Ga-
briel were suppressed by Greene. "How is he
(Gabriel's father) abused?" writes Nash.
"Instead of his name, he is called by the craft
he gets his living with."
Harvey was ostentatiously courting noto-
riety by the gorgeousness of his apparel, cur-
rying favor with the great, and aping Venetian
gentility after his return from Italy. His
inordinate vanity is best shown by his publica-
tion of everything spoken or written in com-
mendation of himself by his obsequious friends
and flatterers. Harvey writes, "Though Spen-
ser me hath ofte Homer term'd," Spenser is
here giving his college friend a send-off. But
it seems strange that Spenser should have writ-
ten the following line, "Ne fawnest for the
favour of the great" who was in effect as
flunkish as Spenser himself" "tarred with the
same brush," as Mr. J. C. Collins puts it.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 295
Robert Greene's account of the repentance
and reformation of a fallen woman is told in
a way that discloses the poet's kindness of heart
and fullness of humanitarian spirit and high
ideal of womanhood. He assured his readers
in the words of the woman herself, "that her y
false step gradually led her on to complete
ruin," so heavy burdened with grief and shame
that death seemed to her a benefaction and the
grave the only place for perfect rest. Not
a few there may have been who on reading
Greene's story of the reformation and redemp-
tion of the unfortunate woman, were started
on the path of regeneration.
I know not where to look for a word picture
more conducive to virtue and friendly to re-
claimed womanhood than this one framed by
Robert Greene. When the light of these lives
had been extinguished, the poor, unfortunate,
erring ones had found a friend and helper
not in a "fish-blooded," pharisaical critic, but
in a dissolute living man, he saved others,
himself he failed to save. Of all sad words,
the saddest to me are those from a fallen wom-
an : "I had no mother and we were so young."
In the manuals of our literature, great
prominence is given to the fact that Greene
296 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
led a dissolute or irregular life, as if the de-
bauchment of the author was transmitted by
his writings. There are no indecencies in his
works to attest the passage of a debauchee.
Like many persons born to, and nurtured by
religious parents, Greene doubtless exag-
gerated his own vices. It may truly be said
of him that in regard to all that pertains to
penitence and self-abasement, he spares not
himself, but like John Bunyan, he was given
to self-upbraiding. He (Bunyan) declares
it is true that he let loose the rein on the neck
of his lust, that he delighted in all transgres-
sions against the divine law and that he was
the ringleader of the youth of Elstow in all
vice. But when those who wished him ill, ac-
cused him of licentious amours, he called God
and the angels to attest his purity. No wom-
an, he said, in heaven, earth or hell could
charge him with having ever made any im-
proper advances to her. Blasphemy and Sab-
bath breaking seem to have been Bunyan's
onlv transgressions after all.
In Greene's writings we have the reverse
of "Herrick's shameful pleading, that if his
verse was impure, his life was chaste." Un-
like Herrick, Greene did not minister to the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 297
unchaste appetite of readers for tainted lit-
erature, either in his day or in the after time.
Powerless to condemn Greene's writings, de-
famers would desecrate his ashes.
Deplore as we must Robert Greene's disso-
lute living, it was of short duration, for he
went from earth at the age of two and thirty,
and the evil effects have been lost in Time's
abatement. His associates were probably as
dissolute as himself.
Nash wrote, "With any notorious crime I
never knew him tainted and he inherited more
virtues than vices."
Whatever," writes Collins, "his life had
been, he had never prostituted his pen to
coarseness and licentiousness. His writings
'had been Puritanic in their scrupulous ab-
Robert Greene expired on the third day of
September, 1592. When the dead genius was
in his grave, Gabriel Harvey gloated and
leered with ghoulish glee, and wrote of
Greene's "most woeful and rascal estate, how
the wretched fellow or shall I say the prince
of beggars, laid all to gage for some few shill-
ings and was attended by lice." This is one
of Harvey's malignant, vitroilic discharges in
298 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
his attempt to spatter the memory and dese-
crate the poet's tomb.
Francis Meres of Palladia Tamia fame, a
contemporary and ardent admirer of Greene,
thus alludes to the ghoulish instincts of Har-
vey "As Achilles tortured the deade bodie
of Hector and as Antonius and his wife Fulvia
tormented the lifeless corps of Cicero, so Ga-
briel Harvey hath shewed the same inhuman-
itie to Greene that lies full low in his grave."
(Palladius Tamia, 1598).
But why should the modern reader linger
over the irregularities of dissolute living au-
thors like Greene and Poe, whose writings
are exceptionally clean? The commentators
and pharisaic critics who have written con-
cerning Greene are mere computists of the
poet's vices. When loud-mouthed detraction
calls him bad-hearted, we should not forget
that this dissolute man could and did keep in-
violate the purity of his imagination. Few
have left a wealthier legacy in feminine
models of moral and physical beauty. Re-
member Robert Burns' noble words, "What
done we partly may compute but know not
In all the galleries of noble women,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 299
Greene's heroines deserve a foremost place, for
all the gracious types of womanhood belonged
to Greene before they became "Shakespeare."
His writings have assauged the sorrow of the
self-sacrificing mother who is always a queen
uncrowned, long-suffering and faithful.
There is no record extant of Robert
Greene's living likeness. Chettle gives this
pleasant description of his personal appear-
ance: "A man of indifferent years, of face
amiable, of body well proportioned, his attire
after the habit of scholarlike gentlemen, only
his hair was somewhat long, whom I supposed
to be Robert Greene, Master of Arts."
Nash notices his tawny beard, a jolly long
red peak like the spire of a steeple which he
cherished continually without cutting, where-
at a man might hang a jewel, it was so sharp
Harvey, who "was altogether unacquainted
with the man and never once saluted him by
name," says that 'He wore such long hair as
was only worn by thieves and cut-throats, and
taunts Nash with wearing the same 'unseemly
The habit of wearing- the hair long is not
unusual with poets. Milton and Tennyson
300 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
cherished the same "superfluity," as did also
the late Joaquin Miller. How dear to the
"poet of the Sierras" were his tawny tresses
resting on his shoulders, who could not be
moved by persuasive words to part with them
even from the lips of so worthy a friend as
Ina Coolbrith, Poet Laureate of California.
Very little is known with any degree of cer-
tainty concerning the personal life of Robert
Greene, and very little, if anything, in re-
gard to his family or ancestry, although much
prominence is given by imaginery writers to
the history of his person in the hand-books of
our literature. These writers attach an au-
tobiographical realty to their dreams of fancy.
They take advantage of Greene's unbounded
sincerity and his own too candid confession in
the address to the play writers, and of his own
irrepressible desire to sermonize, whether in
plays or pamphlets, with all the fervor of a
devout Methodist having a license to exhort.
Had young Greene lived a longer life with
all its wealth of bud and bloom, we should
now have in fruition a luxuriance of imagina-
tion and versatility of diction possessed by few.
With longer life he would probably have
gained command of himself, for there was in
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 301
the poet's strivings, during the last few years
of his life, the promise and prophecy of a
glorious future. His soul enlarged, he battled
for the common weal ; his heart was with the
lowly and his voice was for the right when
freedom's friends were few.
In his play, "Pinner of Wakefield," first
printed in 1599, Robert Greene makes a hero
and a very strenuous one, of a mere pound-
keeper who proudly refuses Knighthood at the
hands of the king. "In the first scene of the
play when Sir Nicholas Mannering appears
in Wakefield, with his commission from the
rebel Earl of Kendal, and demands victuals
for the rebel army, the stalwart pound-
keeper steps forward, makes the Knight eat
his words and then his seal. What, are you
in choler? I will give you pills to cool your
'stomach. Seest thou these seals? Now by my
father's soul, which was a yeoman's wheir he
was alive, eat them or eat my dagger's point,
proud Squire.' The Earl of Kendal and other
noblemen next appear in disguise and send
their horses into the Pinner's corn to brave
him. The pound-keeper approaches, and
after altercation, strikes the Earl. Lord Bon-
field says, 'Villain, what hast thou done?
302 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Thou hast struck an Earl.' Pinner answers,
'Why, what care I? A poor man that is true
is better than an Earl if he be false.' '
A yeoman boxing or cuffing the ear of an
Earl! This has all the breezy freshness of
The voice of the yeoman is often heard in
Greene's drama, not as buffoon and lackey, but
as freeman, whose voice is echoed at Naseby
and Marston's gory field of glory, where the
sturdy yeomanry of England strove to do and
to dare for the eternal right soldiers who
never cowered from "sheen of spear" nor
paled at flashing steel.
With Greene rank is never the measure of
merit. To peer and yeoman he gave equal
hospitality, for Robert Greene was as friendly
to the poor man's rags as to the purple robe
Greene in his popular sympathies is thor-
oughly with the working classes "the great
plain people of which Lincoln said that God
must have loved them for he made so many
of them." Greene never missed an opportun-
ity to testify to the fact that "the souls of em-
perors and cobblers are all cast in the same
mould." His heroes and heroines are taken
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 303
many of them from humble life. In the Pin-
ner of Wakefield, there is a very clear discern-
ment of democratic principle in the struggle
against prerogatives. Half of those plays of
Greene, which we still possess, are devoted
to the representation of the life of the great
plain people which gave lineage to Abraham
Lincoln, John Bunyan and Ben Franklin.
However, if we would understand the mat-
ter in hand thoroughly we must opncentrate
our attention and thought intently upon the
celebrated letter written by the dying hand of
Robert Greene, and addressed to three brother
poets, to whom he administers a gentle reproof
on account of their bygone and present
"faults," of which play-writing was most to
be shunned. This remarkable letter reveals
Robert Greene as the most tragc figure of his
time a sad witness of his ultimate penitence
and absolute confession, a character of pathe-
tic sincerity and weirdness, and charnel-like
gloom that chills the soul. This letter, so often
'referred to, and seemingly so little understood
is one of the most extraordinary pieces of writ-
ing in our literary annals. It has all the credi-
304 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
bility that a dying statement can give, but it
also evidences the fact that Robert Greene
had previously drawn the fire of the improvis-
ing actors who wrought the disfigurement of
the poet's work. There is one in particular
at whom he hurls a dart and hits the mark.
"Yes, trust them not; for their is an upstart
crow, beautified with our (poets) feathers,
that, with his Tygers heart, wrapt in a Players
hide, supposes he is well able to bombast out
a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an
absolute 'Johannes Factotum/ is in his own
conceit, the onely Shaks-scene in a countrie."
This sorrow-stricken man wrote these words
of censure with the utmost sincerity. Earlier
biographers made no attempt to read "Shakes-
peare" into these lines of reproof, but those
only of later times regard the allusion invalu-
able as being the first literary notice of Shakes-
peare and find pleasure in reading into
Shakespeare's life the alleged fact of his hav-
ing been satirized in 1592 under the name
"Shake-scene" used by Greene contumeliously.
The letter is contained in a little work en-
titled "Greene's Groats Worth of Wit,"
"Bought with a Million of Repentance," orig-
inally published in 1592, having been entered
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 305
at Stationers Hall on the 20th of September
in that year. "To those gentlemen his Quon-
dam acquaintance, that spend their wits in
"With thee (Marlowe) will 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 penetrating is His
power, His hand lies heavy upon me, He hath
spoken unto me with a voice of thunder and
I have felt He is a God that can punish ene-
mies. Why should thy excellent wit, His gift,
be so blinded that thou shouldst give no glory
to the giver?" * * *
"With thee I enjoyne young Juvenall,
'(Nash) that byting satyrist that lastlie with
mee together writ a comedie. Sweete boy,
might I advise thee, be advised, and get not
many enemies by bitter words . . . Blame
not schollers vexed with sharp lines, if they
reprove thy too much libertie of reproofe."
"And thou (Peele) no less deserving than
the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing
inferiour; driven (as myself e) to extreame
shifts, a little have I to say to thee ; and were
it not an idolatrous oath, I would swear by
306 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
sweet S. George thou art unworthie better
hap, sith thou dependest on so meane a stay,
(theatre). Baseminded men, all three of you,
if by my miseries ye be not warned; for unto
none of you, like me, sought those burrs to
cleave; those pupits, I meane, that speak from
our mouths, those anticks garnish in our col-
ours. Is it not strange that I, to whom they
all have been beholding, is it not like that you
to whom they all have beene beholding, shall,
were ye in that case that I am now, be both
at once of them forsaken? . . .
"But now I return againe to you three,
knowing my miserie is to you no news; and
let me heartily intreate you to be warned by
my harmes . . .For it is a pittie men of
such rare wits should be subject to the pleas-
ures of such rude groomes." (actors).
Those biographers and critics who have
written concerning Shakspere and Greene
misapprehensively compound and integrate
letter and pamphlet. It should be made clear
that Greene's letter to his fellow poets is not
an integral part of "Groats Worth of Wit,"
though appended towards the end of this
pamphlet. The letter is strikingly personal
and impressive, not a continuance of a pamph-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 307
let describing the folly of youth, but a mere
appendage not properly constituting a portion
of it. It was the classical commentator.
Thomas Tyrwhitt (1730-85) we believe, who
first made current the groundless opinion that
purports to identify "Shakespeare" as the one
pointed at, but most all recent biographers and
commentators state as a proven fact that Rob-
ert Greene was the first to bail Shapespeare
out of obscurity by the "reprehensive refer-
ence" to an "upstart crow," "Shake-scene."
The effect of conjectural reading is to raise a
tempest of depreciation by which "Shake-
speare's" biographers and commentators have
succeeded in handing down to posterity
Greene's reputation as a preposterous combi-
nation of infamy and envy, harping with
fiendish delight on the irregularities and de-
fects of Robert Greene's private life, which
were not even shadowed in his writings. The
writings of Greene "whose pen was pure" are
exceptionally clean. Why then this unmerited
abuse so malignant in disposition and passion?
We answer that it is because the biographers
of "Shakespeare" have been seduced from the
truth by a vagrant conjecture into the belief
that "Shakespeare" was the object and recipi-
308 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ent of Greene's censure. It is apparent that
the statement which affirms this is false, and
we shall endeavor to show that Robert
Greene's detractors are on the wrong trail.
Before Tyrwhitt's day it was wholly unsus-
pected to Shakespeare's biographers, editors
and commentators even by what Mr. George
Saintsbury designates as "the most perilous
process of conjecture" to what contemporary
person Greene alludes, and now after the lapse
of more than three hundred years after date,
there is no real evidence guesswork, pure
and undulterated. When Nicholas Rowe, the
first seventeenth century biographer and edi-
tor, gave his edition of Shakespeare to the
public in 1709, Greene's letter to "the gentle-
men, his quondam acquaintance" had been in
print for 118 years. Nevertheless, Rowe does
not find "Shakespeare" "satirized under the
The poet Pope, (1688-1744) was Shake-
speare's second editor, but does not find Shake-
speare's "literary pretensions ridiculed" by
Greene. Lewis Theobald, the third editor,
said nothing about Greene's "rancorous at-
tack" so called on Shakespere.
Sir Thomas Hanmer, (1677-1746) the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 309
fourth editor also says nothing about Shake-
scene as an allusion to Shakespeare, or that
he had been railed at by Greene.
In 1747, Bishop Warburton produced a re-
vised version of Pope's edition. The Bishop
failed to see in Greene's "only Shake-scene" a
denunciation of Shakespeare. Dr. Johnson,
(1709-83) the sixth editor is silent in regard
to this tirade so styled against "Shakespeare."
But Tyrwhitt, (1730-85) in guessing that
Shake-scene is "Shakespeare," gave the Strat-
ford delusion its highest flood, for his random
opinion was accepted as a proven fact by many
Stratfordians. We find the names of Malone,
Dyce, and Halliwell-Phillipps among the
dead; Sir Sidney Lee, Mr. Hamilton Wright
Mabie and the Countess de Chambrun among
the living. Not all Stratfordians hold that
^Shakespeare was Shake-scene," for Mr.
Fleay and Mr. Castle have shown that
"Shakespeare" cannot be "Shake-scene."
But Mr. Lang says "only one such success-
ful practicising actor-playwright is known to
us at this date (1592) and he is "Shakespeare."
Unless another such existed, Greene in 1592
alludes to William Shak (&c) as a player and
310 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
My answer is that another such did exist in
1592. In the list of names before me given by
Miss Phoebe Sheavyn "The Literary Pro-
fession in the Elizabethan Age" (p. 94) there
are as many as nine persons who combined the
two professions, the "equality" of player with
authorship. Her list includes the names of
Wilson, Munday, Rawley, Peele and Field.
And it seems according to a letter (W. P.
among Henslowe's papers at Dulwich Col-
lege) that Peele occasionally trod the boards.
Sir G. G. Greenwood writes, "As I have
shown George Peele was one of the play-
wrights addressed by Greene, and Peele was
a successful player as well as playwright, and
might quite truly have been alluded to, both as
having 'facetious grace in writing' and being
'excellent in the quality he professed' that is
as a professional actor."
And it is a very easy matter to prove that at
least one such successful practising actor-play-
wright is known to us at this date (1592) and
; he is Robert Wilson, senior, who did unite the
two professions as a player and playwright,
who collaborated in sixteen plays, and has one
or more ascribed to his sole authorship.
In 1598 a partnership was carried on be-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 311
tween Wilson, Dekker, Drayton and Chettle.
He was also a frequent collaborator with
Munday. In 1598, Meres names Wilson
among "our best for comedy." And still an-
other tribute ry comment. In 1581, Wilson,
one of Lord Leicester's men received an order
for a play which included "all sorts of mur-
ders, immorality and robberies."
Robert Wilson was a famous extemporising
clown actor; he was frequently called for after
the play was over, when he performed a jig.
He had license to introduce his own additions
in rhyme or in the "swelling bombast of a
bragging blank verse," as Nash called it.
Richard Tarlton and William Kemp were
great performers in interludes. But neither
Tarlton nor Kemp equalled Wilson as an au-
thor. In connection with extemporizing, Wil-
son's two interludes, "The Three Ladies of
London" and "The Three Lords and Three
Ladies of London," are excellent examples of
his remarkable facility as an improvising
According to Collier, Wilson was not only
an excellent performer, but also a talented
dramatist, especially renowned for his ready
repartee, and of his own anonymity says,
312 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
"Loth was I to display myself to the world but
for that I hope to dance under a mask and
bluster out like the wind, which, though every
man heareth yet none can in sight descrie."
The fantastic tricks and foolery of the ex-
temporizing clowns were the opprobrium of
the public playhouse. Hamlet felt it and
spake of it with regret in a well known pas-
sage; "And let those that play your clowns
speak no more than is set down for them; for
there be of them that will themselves laugh to
set on some quantity of barren spectators to
laugh too, though in the meantime, some nec-
essary question of the play be then to be con-
sidered : that's villianous and shows a most pit-
iful ambition in the fool that uses it." (Ham-
let, Act III, Scene II).
The extempore actors referred to by Ham-
let were Robert Wilson and William Kemp,
or clown actors of their own clique, who ac-
customed the public to jigs and merriment and
were the delight of the groundlings. But the
improvising clowns proved an impediment to
the development of higher dramatic composi-
tion, and were deservedly derided as "Shake-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 313
But nevertheless, are not all the conditions
of the problem satisfied by Wilson's identifi-
cation with Shake-scene, a hyphened com-
pound word, which is used as equivalent to
the performance of a jig dancer upon the stage
who was a clown actor and jester, who can
bombast out his own improvising in blank
verse and who was true to name Shake-scene.
So may not Robert Wilson, senior, be ad-
vanced for Robert Greene's reproof by all
persons who are of the opinion that Shake-
scene was both actor and playwright. Suppo-
sition says Kemp also wrote pamphlets and
plays, although at this time he had not given
his first and only work to the press. It matters
little at whom Greene aimed, Kemp or Wil-
son, so long as Shakespeare was not the object
of the aimer. We do not know positively who
the only Shake-scene was, but we have in Wil-
son a good Shake-scene, and a good "poet-
ape." "He takes up all makes, each man's wit
We know that Wilson was able to do all the
functions of Greene's Shake-scene, and pos-
sessed all the attributes that Chettle claimed
for the person who had "factitious grace in
writing." Wilson, however, is not equal to
314 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
both functions, as it was not possible for any
known or unknown other to have been, for if
heir to an opprobrious name (Shake-scene)
he cannot be the recipient of Chettle's com-
mendation, for his uprightness of dealing and
his "factitious grace in writing" even if Shake-
scene was a playwright-actor, "poet-ape," still
he would be one of those "puppets as Greene
says that speak from our mouths." In effect,
Greene is saying to three of his old college
chums, trust not the players for they "will
leave you all in the lurch." For Robert Wil-
son and Will Kemp are now both extemporiz-
ing their own recitative composings in blank
verse, and "their jiggings is much clapped at
on the stage," and every improvising line in
blank verse applauded, and one of these
"painted monsters supposes he is as well able
to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you,
and being an absolute 'Johannes Factotum'
(like Bob Wilson) is in his own conceit, the
only 'Shake-scene' (dance-scene) in a coun-
The present writer is of the opinion that
Kemp and_ Wilson are about equally identifi-
able with Shake-scene, for the true import of
Greene's words about an upstart crow done up
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 315
in a player's hide, should not be taken serious-
ly. Greene's meaning is that the player, beau-
tified with poet's feathers is bragging with a
view to self-commendation, and being a "fac-
totum" like all the other clown actors and jig
dancers, boasts of his ability to bombast out
blank verse by introducing his interpolated
foolery and jiggery while the play is in action.
Inasmuch as Shakespeare had never been a
clown player and jig dancer, his identification
with an approbrious name (Shake-scene)
seems to me impossible, and as the partizans
of Shakespeare agree that Shakespeare was
not one of Greene's quondam acquaintances
"that spend their wits in making plays" he
coculd not have been the recipient of Chet-
tle's approbation, and is, of course, excluded,
for Greene's letter was not written to him,
therefore Chettle offers no apology to Shake-
Young Hamlet and young Greene are in
perfect accord in their estimate of the
"groundlings who for the most part are cap-
able of nothing but dum-shows and noise."
And "those puppets also that speak from our
mouths, those apes garnished in our colors,"
for Hamlet is scarcely less censorious when
316 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
galled as is shown by his bitter reproof of the
extempore clown players for improvising mat-
ter of their own in rhyme or blank verse into
the poet's plays. We have already seen that
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, regards the ex-
temporizing clown and jig dancer as an inter-
loper as to dramatic composition, characteriz-
ing the additions of the improvising clown as
"villianous and shows a most pitiful ambition
in the fool that uses it."
Our prime object is to establish Wilson's
and Kemp's eligibility as claimants for
Greene's opprobrious "Shake-scene," thus
barring out Shakespeare.
The prominence of Robert Greene's name
in the manuals of our literature is due in the
main to the kind of lies his critics tell about
him in connection with "Groatworth Shake-
There now arises the crucial inquiry con-
cerning the charge that Shakespeare was thus
lampooned in 1592 by Robert Greene in his
celebrated address to those gentlemen of his
own fellowship that spend their wits making
plays inferentially, Marlowe, Nash and
Peek. The exigency of the case demands, in
the opinion of Shakespeare's modern biog-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 317
raphers, the appropriation of Greene's re-
proachful reference to Shakespeare (though
no name is mentioned.) The fanciful biog-
raphers of Shakspere rely on these words of
reproof and censure as being the initial notice
of his worth and work which was to lift him
from his place of obscurity in the year 1592.
The meaning of Greene's words in the idiom
of the times, as in their contextural and nat-
ural sense, yield nothing which is confirma-
tory of such contention; for "dance" is con-
noted under the term "shake," answering to
the first element in "Shake-scene," which in
the old meaning meant "dance," generic for
quick action; and "scene" meant "stage" for
the theaters were then in a state of absolute
nudity in other words, "Shake-scene" meant
a dancing performance upon the stage. In the
plain unobtrusive language of our day, as well
as in Elizabethan English, the word "shake"
the first syllable in "Shake-scene" is inter-
changeable with "dance," and, when given a
specialized meaning with a view to theatrical
matters in the year 1592, with Kemp and
Shakespeare claimants for Greene's reproof,
who could doubt that the name which was so
loudly acclaimed is identifiable with the spec-
318 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
tacular luminay of the times, Will Kemp, if
Robert Wilson was not?
Greene says, "In this I might insert two
more that boath have writ against these buck-
ram gentlemen." Can these be identified?
They cannot for there are no hints to supply a
clue. But Mr. Fleay makes a guess which
identifies the two as Wilson and Kyd; the for-
mer may have been one of the two "I might
insert," but Kyd is barred by the fact that he
had quit playwriting as early as 1589 "to leape
into a new occupation." As Nash in 1589 puts
it, he was in the service of a certain lord, (un-
named). We know that Lodge had also
thrown up play-making for in 1859 he vowed
to write no more for the public playhouse,
Greene following suit probably soon after. At
all events Kyd was not the object of the
Groatsworth reference, he being no longer
dependent on public stage hack work for a
Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) was educated at
Merchant Taylor's School, a fellow student
with Edmund Spenser. Marlowe and Kyd
were chums, at one time room-mates, helpful
to each other perhaps in making plays, for
Kyd excelled his more gifted and brilliant as-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 319
sociate in plot construction and in surprising
situations, but baneful to each other as cham-
bermates. For in consequence of this intimacy
the unfortunate Kyd was charged with athe-
ism, owing to the discovery of a Theistic or
Unitarian pamphlet among his papers, and is
put to the torture in Bridewell.
Concerning the incriminating document,
Kyd in writing to the Lord Keeper (Sir John
Puckering), says, "Some occasion of our
wryting in one chamber two years synce
(1591) some fragments of a disputation * * *
affirmed by Marlowe to be his were shufled
'with some of myne (unknown to me)." But
the informers called "State decipherers,"
while rummaging amongst these waste and
idle papers for compromising documents that
concerned the State was found the "disputa-
tion," in which the writer's profession of faith
is summed up in the words, "I call that true
religion which instructeth man's minds with
right faith and worthy opinion of God, and I
rail that right faith which doth creddit and
believe that of God which the Scriptures do
The document is not atheistic but theistic,
imbued with Socinianism. The writer rejects
320 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the doctrine of the Trinity, the diety of Christ,
but holds to the Unitarian or Socinian faith
as held by Joseph Priestly, who made the
epoch-making discovery of oxygen ; the relig-
ion of William Ellery Channing and Thomas
Star King, and their present representatives.
Kyd was arrested on suspicion May 12,
1593, of being guilty of a libel that concerned
the State; "some outcast Ishmael," to use his
own expression, puts authority upon the scent,
so Kyd's study was visited but the authorities
failed to find the libel that concerned the
State. Instead was found an unorthodox pa-
per which Kyd alleged to have been the prop-
erty of Marlowe, which was regarded as
prlma facie evidence of the "deadlie thing"-
A week after his arrest on May 18, 1593,
the Privy Council issued the warrant for the
arrest of Marlowe. In the M. S. Register of
the Privy Council we read, "This day (May
20) Ch. Marley of London, gent, being sent
for by warrant from their Lordships hath en-
tered his appearance accordinglie, for his in-
demnity therein and is commanded to give his
daily attendance on their Lordship till he
shall be licensed to the contrarie."
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND UUi
How long Kyd remained in prison after his
arrest on May 12, 1593, we do not know; how-
ever, the High Commission is much alarmed
at the spread of atheism. The "State deciph-
erers," gorged with perjury, have scented
Kyd, who in self-defense tarnished his own
fame by accusing Marlowe of heresy and blas-
phemy, an act of fear for which the modern
world has no pardon.
We now direct the attention of the reader
specifically to the arrogant and boastful com-
edian, Will Kemp. This man, according to
Robert Greene's view, was the personification
of everything detestable in the actor whose
profession he despised. We think the biog-
raphers and commentators have mistaken the
spectacularity of Will Kemp for the rising
sun of "Shakespeare," the author poet. In
the closing years of the sixteenth, and the early
years of the seventeenth century, there lived
in London the most spectacular comic actor
and clown of his day, the greatest "Shake-
scene" or dance-scene of his generation, Wil-
liam Kemp, the worthy successor of Dick
Tarlton. He had a continental reputation in
1S89. This year also Nash dedicated to Kemp
322 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
one of his attacks upon Martin Marpelate en-
titled "An Almond for a Parrot.''
There is ample contemporary evidence that
Kemp was the greatest comic actor of his time
in England, and his notoriety as a morris-dan-
cer was so great that his journeyings were
called dances. He was the court favorite, fam-
ous for his improvisation, and loved by the
public, but hated by academic play-writers
and ridiculed by ballad-makers. Kemp, in
giving his first pamphlet "The Nine Days'
Wonder" to the press in 1599, turned upon his
enemies and in retaliation called them "Shake-
rags," which he used derisively and as con-
tumeliously as Greene had used "Shake-
scene." The use of the word "Shake-rags" by
Kemp in his first and only published work is
prima-facie evidence that he also made use of
the same term, orally and in his usual acrim-
onious manner, either against Greene, or those
of his fellowship. The first element in the
compound words "Shake-scene" and "Shake-
rags" is governed by the same general law of
movement or rhythmic action exemplified in
dancing and rhyme ry. In 1640 Richard
Brown in his "Antipodes" refers to the prac-
tice of jesters, in the days of Tarlton and
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 3J3
Kemp, of introducing their own wit into poets'
plays. "Kemp, writing in 1600, asserts that
he spent his life in mad jigs and merry jests,"
although he was entrusted with many leading
parts in farce or broad comedy." His danc-
ing of jigs at the close of a play gave him his
chief popularity. "The jigs were performed
to musical accompaniment and included the
singing of comic words. One or two actors at
times supported Kemp in his entertainment,
dancing and singing with him. Some exam-
ples of the music to which Kemp danced are
preserved in a manuscript collection of John
Dowland now in the library of Cambridge
"The words were, doubtless, often impro-
vised at the moment, but, on occasions, they
were written out and published. The Station-
ers Register contains licenses for the publica-
tion of at least four sets of words for the jigs
in which Kemp was the chief performer."
By way of confirmation, we will now quote
in part, from the "Camden Society Papers,"
scenes in the life of Will Kemp.
According to Henslowe's Diary, Will
Kemp was on June 15th, 1592, a member of
the company of the Lord Strange players un-
324 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
der Henslowe and Alleyn, playing a principal
comic part in the "Knack to Know a
Knave," and introducing into it what is called
on the title page his "Applauded Merri-
ments," a technical term for a piece of theatri-
cal buffoonery. In 1593 Nash warned Gab-
riel Harvey "lest Will Kemp should make a
merriment of him."
As early as 1586, Kemp was a member of a
company of great importance which had ar-
rived at Elsinore where the king held court.
He remained two months in Denmark, and
received a larger amount of board money than
his fellow actors. In a letter of Sir Phillip
Sidney, dated Utrecht, March 24th, 1586, he
says: "I sent you a letter by Will (Kemp),
my Lord Leicester's jesting player."
It was after his return from these foreign
expeditions that we find Kemp uniting his ex-
ertions with those of Alleyn at the Rose and
Fortune theatres, as Prince Henry's servants.
During this whole period from his return in
1586 from Denmark, to the year 1598, he did
not stay uninterruptedly at the theatres of the
Burbages. From February 19th to June 22nd,
1592, a part of Lord Leicester's company
played under Henslowe and Alleyn. In 1602,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 325
Kemp was again in London, acting under
Henslowe and Alleyn as one of the Earl of
Worcester's men. We gather from Henslovve's
diary that on March 10th, he borrowed in
ready money twenty shillings.
Kemp was a very popular performer as
early as 1589. We shall see hereafter that he,
following the example of Tarlton, was in the
habit of extemporizing and introducing mat-
ter of his own that has not come down to us.
"Let those that play your clowns speak no
more than is set down for them." (Hamlet,
Act III, Scene II). These words were aimed
at Kemp, or one of his school, and it was about
this date, according to Henslowe's Diary, that
Kemp went over from the Lord Chamberlain
to the Lord Nottingham players. The most
important duty of the clown was not to appear
in the play itself, but to sing and dance his jig
at the end of it, even after a tragedy, in order
to soften the painful impression. (Camden So-
Kemp's jig of "The Kitchen Stuff Woman"
was a screaming farce of rude verses, some
spoken, others sung; of good and bad witti-
cism; of extravagant acting and dancing. In
the art of comic dancing Kemp was immoder-
326 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ately loved and admired. He paid profes-
sional visits to all the German and Italian
courts, and was even summoned to dance his
Morris-dance before the Emperor Rudolph
himself at Augsburg.
Kemp combined shrewdness with his rough
manner. With a view to extending his repu-
tation and his profits, he announced in 1599,
his intention of dancing a Morris-dance from
London to Norwich ; but to his annoyance, ev-
ery inaccurate report of his gambols was
hawked about in publication at the time by
book-sellers or ballad-makers, like " Kemp's
farewell to the tune of Kerry Merry Buff."
In order to check the circulation of false-
hood, Kemp offered, he tells us, his first
pamphlet to the press (though at the time he
was thought to have had a hand in printing the
Anti Morelist plays and pamphlets five
pieces erroneously attributed to his pen). The
only copy known is in the Bodleian Library.
The title ran " Kemp's Nine Days Wonder,"
the wonder referred to being performed in a
dance from London to Norwich then written
by himself to satisfy his friends. A woodcut
on the title page shows Kemp in elaborate cos-
tume with bells about his knees dancing to the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 327
accompaniment of a drum and tabor, which a
man at his side is playing. This pamphlet
William Kemp Dancing the Morris.
was entered in the Stationers Book, April 22,
1600. The dedicatory salutation to Anna
Fritton, one of her Majesty's maids of honor,
shows us how arrogant and conceited he must
Kemp started at seven o'clock in the morn-
ing on the first Monday in Lent, the starting
point being in front of the Lord Mayor's
house, and half London was astir to see the be-
ginning of the great exploit. His suite con-
sisted of his taborer, Thomas Sly; his servant,
William Bee; and his overseer or umpire,
George Sprat, who was to see that everything
was performed according to promise. Accord-
328 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
ing to custom, he put out a sum of money be-
fore his departure on condition of receiving
thrice the amount on his safe return. His own
fatigue caused him many delays and he did
not arrive in Norwich until twenty-three days
after his departure. He spent only nine days
in actual dancing on the road.
Kemp himself on this occasion contributed
nothing to the music except the sound of the
bells, which were attached to his gaiters. In
Norwich, thousands waited to receive him in
the open market-place with an official concert.
Kemp, as guest of the town, was entertained at
its expense and received handsome presents
from the Mayor who arranged a triumphal
entry for him. The freedom of the Mer-
chants' Adventures Company was also con-
ferred upon him, thereby assuring him a
share in the yearly income to the amount of
forty shillings a pension for life. The very
buckskins in which he performed his dance
was nailed to the wall in the Norwich Guild
Hall and preserved in perpetual memory of
the exploit, which was long remembered in
In an epilogue, Kemp announced that he
was shortly "to set forward as merily as I
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 329
may, whither, I myself know not," and beg-
ged ballad makers to abstain from disseminat-
ing lying statements about him. Kemp's
humble request to the impudent generation
of ballad makers, as he terms them, reads in
part: "My notable Shake-rags, the effect of
my suit is discovered in the title of my sup-
plication, but for your better understanding
for that I know you to be a sort of witless bet-
tle-heads that can understand nothing but
that is knocked into your scalp; so farewell,
and crosse me no more with thy rabble of
bold rhymes, lest at my return I set a crosse
on thy forehead that all men may know that
for a fool." It seems certain that Kemp kept
his word in exhibiting his dancing powers on
the continent. In Week's "Ayers" (1688),
mention is made of Kemp's skipping into
France. A ballad entitled, "An Excellent
New Medley" (dated about 1600), refers to
his returning from Rome. In the Eliza-
bethan play, "Jack Drum's Entertainment"
(1616), however, there is introduced a song
to which Kemp's morris dance is performed.
Heywood, writing at this period in his
"Apology for Actors" (1612), says Will
Kemp was a comic actor of high reputation,
330 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
as well in the favor of Her Majesty as in
the opinion of the general audience.
There is also a tribute from the pen of
Richard Rathway (1618); and Ben Jonson,
William Rowley and John Marston make
mention of him.
These facts and concurring events in the
life of Robert Wilson and Will Kemp, con-
vince us that Shakespeare was not, and that
Kemp or Wilson was the person at whom
Greene leveled his satire, by bearing witness
to their extemporizing power and haughty
and insolent demeanor in introducing im-
provisations and interpolations of their "own
wit into poet's plays."
From the foregoing, it is evident that, at the
time the letter was written, Will Kemp en-
joyed an unequaled and wide-spread notoriety,
and transient fame, extending not only
throughout England, but into foreign coun-
tries as well.
And further, by reason of his great
prominence, in a calling which Greene
loathed, and despised, he was brought easily
within the range of the latter's contemptuous
designation; of "upstart crow" and "Shake-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 331
We have now reached the crucial matter
of the address which, according to the specu-
lative opinion of many of Shakespeare's
biographers, contains all the words and
sentences which they hope, when racked, may
be made to yield support to their tramp con-
jecture that Robert Greene Was the first to
discover Shakspeare as a writer of plays, or
the amendor of the works of other poets. The
identifiable words, so called, are contained
in the following sentences: "Yes, trust them
not; for there is an upstart crow, beautified
with our feathers, that, with his Tygers heart
wrapt in a Player's hide."
"Upstart crow" in Elizabethan English,
meant in general one who assumed a lofty or
arrogant tone, a bragging, boastful, swaggerer
suddenly raised to prominence and power, as
was both Kemp and Wilson after the death
of Richard Tarlton (1589). In an epistle
prefixed to Greene's "Arcadia" (1587),
Thomas Nash speaks of actors "as a company
of taffaty fools with their feathers;" and "The
players decked with poets' feathers like
Aesop's crow" (R-B) and again, "That with
his Tyger's heart wrapt in a player's hide."
Tiger in the plain language of the day stood
332 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
for bully, a noisy insolent man, who habitu-
ally sought to overbear by clamors, or by
threats. These characteristics are identifiable
with Kemp; but the biographers of Shakes-
peare are content to conjecture that Robert
Greene's parody on the line, Oh Tygers heart
wrapt in a woman's hide" is not only a con-
tumelious reference to actor, William Shaks-
pere, but also a declaration of his authorial
integrity by their assignment of "Henry VI,
Part III," which was in action at the "Rose,"
when Greene's celebrated address was written.
There is prlma-facle evidence that Greene
authored the line, which he semi-parodied in
the address, which is found in two places. It
appears in its initial form, "Oh Tygers heart
wrapt in a serpent's hide" in the play called
"The Tragedy of Richard, Duke of" York,"
and "The Death of Good King Henry the
Sixth," and later with "woman," substituted
for "serpent;" again, it is found in the third
part of "Henry VI," founded on the true
tragedy, which was acted by Lord Pembroke's
company, of which, as Nash tells us, Greene
was chief agent, and for which he wrote more
than four other plays. "Henry VI, Part III,"
is generally admitted to be the work of
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 333
Greene, Marlowe and perhaps Peek.
Furthermore, the catchwords in the lines
parodied betray their author, which is a con-
firmatory fact. To borrow a citation from the
pages of Dr. A. Grosart, "Every one who
knows his Greene, knows that over and over
again he returns on anything of his that
'caught on, sometimes abridging and some-
And in semi-parodying his own lines wrapt
"Tygers heart" in several kinds of hides. "A
passage to his partiality could not appear too
often." It was "Shake-scene" (Kemp or Wil-
ton) the improvising jig-dancer with his
"Tygers heart wrapped in a player's hide,"
who bombasted orally his own improvisations
and interpolations out in blank verse; there-
fore not necessarily a Playwright-Actor, but
a brawling jaw-smith whom Greene wanted
In their great desire to discover Shakspere
as the author, the words "bombast out in
blank verse," are seized upon by Shakes-
peare's commentators with evident greediness.
But these words yield nothing in support of
author-craft, for bombast or bombastry, in the
idiom of the time, stood for high-sounding
334 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
words which might have proceeded from the
mouth of a buffoon, clown, jester, mounte-
bank or actor, whose profession was to amuse
spectators by low antics and tricks, and whose
improvisations and extemporizings were des-
titute of rhyme, but possessed of a musical
rhythm called "blank verse." The words
"blank verse" were doubtless intended for the
ear of Marlowe, the great innovator, who was
thus reminded that the notorius jig dancer
and clown, Bob Wilson or Will Kemp, de-
claimed their own improvisation and inter-
polations in "blank verse," and was an abso-
lute "Johannes Factotum in his own con-
ceit" that is, a person employed to do many
things. Who could do more "in his own con-
ceit" than Kemp, who spent his life in mad
jigs, as he says? Who but Kemp, the chief
actor in the low comedy scenes, who angered
the acedemic play-writers by introducing "his
own wit into their plays and make a merri-
ment of them?"
Greene's address to his felow playmakers
does not convey nor give color to, nor the
slightest circumstances for, the conjecture
that "Shakespeare's authorial career had been
begun as the amender of other poet's plays
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 335
anterior to the putative authorship of "Venus
Halliwell-Phillips, the most indefatigable
and reliable member of the Congress of
Speculative Biographers, says that not one
such play has been found revised, or amended,
by Shakespeare in his early career. Still in
their extremity, Shakespeare's commentators
give hospitality to stupid conjectures that are
not reasonable inference from concurrent
facts, and construe Greene's censure of Kemp
or Wilson (inferentially) as the first literary
notice of "Shakespeare." It shows, without
proof, an irrepressible desire to confer author-
ship upon Shakspere, the Stratford player.
The Shakespeare votaries cannot point to
a single word, or sentence, in this celebrated
address of Robert Greene which connects the
contumelious name "Shaks-scene" (dance-
scene) with the characteristics of either the
true, or the traditional, Shakspere.
The biographers of Shakespeare never grow
weary of charging Robert Greene with pro-
fessional jealousy and envy. The charge has
no argumentative value, even if granting
Shakspere's early productivity as a play-
maker, or the amender of the works of other
336 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
men, for Greene's activities ran in other
lines; play-making was of minor importance,
a sort of by-production of his resourceful and
versatile pen. The biographers of Shakes-
peare are unfortunate in having taken on this
impression, because there is prima-facie evi-
dence that Greene had forsworn writing for
the stage a considerable time before the letter
was written; thus he followed his friend
Lodge, who in 1589 "vows to write no more
of that whence shame doth grow." Greene
was a writer distinguished in several different
The biographers and commentators, agree-
ing in their asperities, charge Robert Greene
with envy, basing it conjecturally on the as-
sumption of Shakspere's proficiency as $
drama-maker, notwithstanding the sincere and
earnest words contained in his most pathetic
letter, addressed to three friends, in which
he counsels them to give up play writing,
which he regarded as degrading, placing their
very necessities in the power of grasping
shareholding actors, and rendering it no
longer a fit occupation for gentlemen. They
fail to see the dying should be granted im-
munity from this ignoble and base passion.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 337
Our own rule of law admits as good evidence
the testimony of a man who believes himself
to be dying, and so the letter states, "desirous
that you should live though himself be dy-
Robert Greene's charge against "upstart
crow" stands unshaken; Henry Chettle, the
hack writer, and self-admitted transcriber of
the letter, does not retract Greene's statement.
He denies nothing on behalf of an "upstart
crow," whoever he was, for the author of
kind "Hearts Dreams," does not identify
"Shake-scene" (dance-scene) with Shake-
speare, who was not one of those who took of-
fense. It is expressly stated that there were
two of the three fellow dramatists, addressed
by Greene (Marlowe, Nash and Peele).
Still we are told by Shakespearean writers
that the dying genius was pained at witness-
ing the proficiency of another in the very ac-
tivity (play-making) which he had come to
regard as congruous with strolling vagabond-
ism. He enjoined his friends to seek better
masters, "for it is a pittie men of such rare
wit should be subject to the pleasure of such
rude groomes," 'painted monsters, apes, burrs,
peasants, puppets," not playmakers, but ac-
338 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
tors, who had been beholden to him and his
fellow play-makers, whom he addressed.
There is another aspect in which the charge
of professional jealousy presents itself to the
mind of the reader; those who covet that
which another possesses, or envies success,
popularity or fortune. To charge Greene
with envy is most uncharitable by reason of
his versatility. Now what was there in the
possession of William Shakspere in 1592 that
could have awakened in the mind of Robert
Greene so base a passion as envy? The name
Shakspere or Shakespeare had no commercial
value in 1592, for the Shakspere of the stage
is described many years after this date as
merely a u man player" and "a deserving man."
Note this admission by Dr. Ingleby: "Assur-
edly no one during the century had any sus-
picion that the genius of Shakespeare was
unique. His immediate contemporaries ex-
pressed no great admiration for either him, or
his works." There is not a particle of evi-
dence to show that Robert Greene was envious
of any writer of his time; nor had he cause
to be ; but the way his contemporaries and suc-
cessors robbed and plundered him proves the
reverse to be true.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 33'J
"Nay, more, the men that so eclipst
Purloynd his plumes, can they deny
The fact is, "Shakespeare" the author,
passed through and out of life without hav-
ing attained the distinction, or celebrity, won
by Greene in his brief career of but nine short
years. The more truthful of Shakespeare's
biographers concede that the subject of their
memoirs was not, in his day, highly regarded,
and that his obscurity in 1592 is obvious.
There was not the least danger of the author
of "Hamlet," "driving to penury" the dean
of English novelists, Robert Greene, who was
supreme in prose romance, a species of litera-
ture which appealed to the better class of
the reading public. Rival-hating envy!
Robert Greene cannot be brought within the
scope of such a charge, for in 1592, he was
not striving to obtain the same object which
play writers were pursuing.
The fame of Robert Greene during his life-
time eclipsed that of his contemporaries. "He
was, in fact, the popular author of the day.
His contemporaries applauded the facility
with which he turned his talent to account."
340 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
"In a night and a day," says Nash, "would
he have yearked up a pamphlet as well as in
seven years, and glad was that printer that
might be so blest to pay him dear for the very
dregs of his wit." Even Ben Jonson, "the
greatest man of the last age," according to
Dryden, had no such assurance if we may
judge from his own account of his literary
life, which shows that he had to struggle for
a subsistence, as no printer was found glad,
or felt himself blest, to pay him dear for the
cream, much less the very "dregs of his wit."
He told Drummond that the half of his come-
dies were not in print, and that he had cleared
but 200 pounds by all his labor for the public
theatre. When not subsidized by the court
he was driven by want to write for the London
theatres; he lived in a hovel in an alley, where
he took service with the notorious play broker.
To such as he, reference was made by Hens-
lowe, who in his diary records "the grinding
toil and the starvation wages of his hungry
and drudging bondsmen," who were strug-
gling for the meanest necessities of life. This
Titan of a giant brood of playwrights, in the
days of his declension, wrote mendicant
epistles for bread, and, doubtless, in his ex-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 311
tremity recalled Robert Greene, the admon-
isher of three brother poets "that spend their
wits in making plaies."
"Oh, that I might entreate 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." Greene was a writer of greatest
discernment from the viewpoint of the people
of his time, "for he possessed the ability to
write in any vein that would sell." He only,
of all the writers of his time, gave promise
of being able to gain a competence by the pen
alone, a thing which no writer did, or could
do, in that day by writing for the stage alone.
"He (Shakespeare) is the first English author
who made a fortune with his pen," says the
Hon. Cushman K. Davis in "The Law of
Shakespeare." In the absence of credible
evidence, Mr. Davis assumes that the young
man who came up from Stratford was the au-
thor of the plays. The senator does not seem
aware of the fact that Shakspere the Stratford
player was a shareholding actor, receiving a
share in the theatre, or its profits, in 1599;
a partner in one or more of the chief com-
panies; a play broker who purchased and
342 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
mounted the plays of other men ; and that he,
like Burbage, Henslowe and Allen, specu-
lated in real estate. He was shrewd in money
matters and became very wealthy, but not by
writing plays. Suppose that William Shaks-
pere of Stratford-on-Avon had authored all
the plays associated with his name, that alone
would not have made him wealthy. The price
of a play varied from four to ten pounds, and
all poet Shakespeare's labors for the public
theatre would have brought no more than five
hundred pounds. The diary of Philip Hens-
lowe makes it clear that up to the year 1600
the highest price he ever paid was six pounds.
The Shakespeare plays were not exceptionally
popular in that day, not being then as now,
"the talk of the town." Not one of them
equalled in popularity Kyd's "The Spanish
Shakespeare was soon superseded by
Fletcher in popular regard. Only one of the
Shakespeare tragedies, one historical play, and
eight comedies were presented at the Court
of James First, who reigned twenty-two years.
Plays, written by such hack writers as Dear-
born, or Chettle, were quite as acceptable to
princes. We know that Shakespeare's fame
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 343
was thrown into the shade, hid from view,
before the end of the century by that of
several play makers. Nevertheless Shakes-
peare's rehabilitation during the eighteenth
century is to be ascribed to the closet and not
to the stage.
Robert Greene's romances were "a bower
of delight," a kind of writing held in high
favor by all classes. Sir Thomas Overbury
describes his chambermaid as reading
Greene's works over and over again. It is a
pleasure to see in the elder time Greene's writ-
ings in hands so full of household cares, since
he labored to make young lives happy. Robert
Greene's works express every variation in the
changing conditions of life. The poetry of
his pastoral landscapes are vivid word pic-
tures of English sylvan scenes. The western
sky on amorous autumn days is mantled with
sheets of burnished gold. The soft and gentle
zephyr blows over castled crag and fairy glen
fragrant with the freshness of new-made hay.
He was a graduate of both universities, a
man of genius, but did not live to do his tal-
ents full justice. A born story teller, like Sir
Walter Scott, he could do good work easily
344 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Students of Elizabethan literature know
that Robert Greene resisted the temptation to
write in the best paying vein of the age, that
of salaciousness, but who had like James
Thomson, "left scarcely a line that dying,
he need have wished to blot."
We glean the following from the pages of
"The English Novel in the Time of Shakes-
peare," by J. J. Jusserand; "Greene's prose
tale, 'Pandosto, the Triumph of Time/ had
an extraordinary success, while Shakespeare's
drama, 'Winter's Tale,' founded on Greene's
Pandosto was not printed, either in authentic
or pirated shape, before the appearance of the
1623 folio, while Greene's prose story was pub-
lished in 1588 and was renamed half a cen-
tury later, 'The History of Dorestus and
Fawnia.' So popular was it that it was printed
again and again. We know of at least seven-
teen editions, and in all likelihood there were
more throughout the seventeenth century, and
even under one shape or another throughout
the eighteenth. It was printed as a chap-book
during this last period and in this costume be-
gan a new life. It was turned into verse in
1672, but the highest and most extraordinary
compliment of Greene's performance was its
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 345
translation into French, not only once but
twice. The first time was at a moment when
the English language and literature were
practically unknown and as good as non-exist-
ent to French readers." In fact, everything
from Greene's pen sold. All of his writings
enjoyed great popularity in their day, and
which, after the lapse of more than three hun-
dred years, have been deemed worthy of re-
publication, insuring the rehabilitation of
Greene's splendid genius.
We are content to believe that almost all of
the so-called posthumous writings of Robert
Greene are spurious, and that but few genuine
chips were found in the literary work-shop of
the poet after his death. We accept the very
striking and impressive address to his brother
We would not set down as auto-biographical
the posthumuous pamphlets, even though of
unquestioned authenticity, for in "The Re-
pentance" is made to say, "I need not make
long discourse of my parents, who for their
gravitie and honest life are well known and
esteemed among their neighbors, namely in
the citie of Norwich where I was bred and
borne:" and then he is made to contradict all
346 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
this in "Groatsworth of Wit," where the fath-
er is called Gorinius, a despicable miser.
Greene is not known to have had a brother to
be the victim of his trickery.
As "there is a soul of truth in things er-
roneous," there may be a soul of truth in the
following letter, contained in "The Repent-
"Sweet wife, if ever there was any
good will or friendship between thee
and me, see this bearer (my host) sat-
isfied of his debt. I owe him tenne
pounds and but for him I had per-
ished in the streetes. Forget and
forgive my wrongs done unto thee
and Almight God have mercie on my
soule. Farewell till we meet in
Heaven for on earth thou shalt never
see me more.
This 2nd day of Sept., 1592.
Written by thy dying husband,
The reader will notice the statement in the
posthumed letter that the poet had contracted
a debt in the sum of ten pounds, but there is
nothing whatever about leaving many papers
in sundry booksellers hands which Chettle
averred in the address "To the Gentlemen
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 347
Readers Kind Hearts Dreame." If this were
a fact, the bookseller doubtless would have
been called upon; "see this bearer (my host)
satisfied of his debt" and sweet wife would not
have borne the burden while "booksellers felt
themselves blest to pay dear for the very dregs
of her husband's wit."
Those writers who express no doubt of the
authenticity of the posthumed pamphlets,
leave their readers to set down as auto-
biographical whatever portions of those pieces
he may think proper. At the same time the
trend of impulse is given the reader by the
critics that he may not fail to read the story
of the poet's life out of characters devoid of
all faith in honesty and in virtue, while the
author (Greene) is anxious evidently to point
a moral by them and reprove vice. These
forged pamphlets and so-called auto-biog-
raphical pamphlets make Greene accuse him-
self of crimes which he surely did not com-
mit. There is not an atom of evidence ad-
duced to show Francisco in "Never Too Late"
was intended by the author for a picture of
himself, and we do not believe that Greene
wrote the pamphlet in the main in which
348 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Roberto in "Groats Worth of Wit" is one of
the despicable characters.
Greene's non-dramatic works are the larg-
est contribution left by any Elizabethan
writer to the novel literature of the day. "He
was at once the most versatile and the most
laborious of literary men." Famous, witty
and brilliant, he was one of the founders of
English fiction, and is conceded to be the au-
thor of half a dozen plays for the theatre.
In them we have the mere "flotsam and jet-
sam" of his prolific pen.
There is an explanatory piece of writing
which should be read in connection with
Greene's letter to 'divers play-makers." We
refer to the preface to Kind Hearts Dreams,
written by Henry Chettle, which was regis-
tered December 8th, 1592. Chettle says:
"About three months since dide M. Robert
Greene, leaving many papers in sundry book-
sellers hands, among others his Groats-Worth
of Wit, in which a letter written to divers
play-makers is offensively by one or two of
them taken." It seems that by 'one or two'
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 349
Chettle means two. "I had only in the copy
this share it was ill-written licensed it must
be ere it could be printed, which could never
be if it might not be read. To be brief, I wrote
over and as nearly as I could follow the copy,
only in that letter I put something out, but
in the whole book not a word in, for I pro-
test it was all Greene's, not mine nor Master
Nashes as some unjustly have affirmed."
The letter in question is the astonishing and
affecting address of Robert Greene "To those
Gentlemen, his quondam acquaintance, that
spend thare wits in making Plays," with which
the Groatsworth of Wit concludes, originally
edited and published by Henry Chettle, three
months after Greene's death in 1592, having
been entered at Stationers' Hall on the 20th
of September in that year. But the earliest
known edition of this pamphlet was reprinted
Inasmuch as we have Chettle's admission
that "only in that letter I put something out,"
we can only speculate about the something put
out. Was it something written in connection
with the first object in Greene's letter? As
an implication, yes. Chettle writes: "For
the first whose learning I reverence and at the
350 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
purusing of Greene's book (letter) stroke out
what in conscience I thought he in some dis-
pleasure writ, or had it been true yet to pub-
lish it was intolerable."
And yet this man (Chettle), with such a
tender conscience, printed and published the
passage, charging Marlowe, or the object of
Greene's first reference whoever he was
with atheism. The very worst that could be
said of any person in the age of "Shakespeare"
is contained in the words, "diabolical athe-
ism," notwithstanding Chettle's statement that
he had mitigated Greene's charges. The pas-
sage in question seems to have been printed
in its entirety, nevertheless Chettle must have
had peculiar notions about offenses "intoler-
able," for while in the act of freeing the
letter from all objectionable matter, he fails
to omit the passage, "hath said in his heart
thare is no God."
However, Chettle's statement fits best with
the object of Greene's third reference (Peek)
"driven to extreme shifts"- -(to write for
the common players for a living), "dependent
on so mean a stay (theatre), a dissipated dra-
matist whose habits of intemperance are often
spoken of and may have furnished Chettle
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 351
matter for expurgation "I put something
There is much that is opprobrious in the
character of George Peele not disclosed in
the passage in the Groatsworth letter.
However, Chettle could and probably did
slash into the so-called Peele reference, for
Peele is known to have been "off color," and if
meant, affords Chettle a good chance to "put
something out," which was "true, yet to pub-
lish it was intolerable."
Greene who never spares himself, did not
we may be sure, fail to censure his friend
Peele for an infraction of the moral law.
Keep in mind that the earliest edition of
The Groatsworth of Wit was printed and
published in 1592, with the appended letter t
but not a single copy of this earliest impres-
sion has been preserved. The edition of 1617
-the critics only dependence may not agree
'with the first edition of 1592. I am of the
opinion that if we possessed a copy of the
earliest edition (1592) it would be found to
contain the matter which is "offensively by
one or two of them taken," and should supply
a clue and probably lead to identification, for
the letter if discrepant would then speak for
352 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
itself, and perchance disclose the identity of
the anonymous personage reported to have
"factitious grace in writing."
All of Shakespeare's biographers and com-
mentators aver that Shakespeare was not one
of the three persons addressed. How then
could Chettle's words bear witness to his
(Shakespeare's) civil demeanor or factitious
grace in writing? Mr. Fleay stated many
years ago (1886) that there was an entire mis-
conception of Chettle's language that Shakes-
peare was not one of those who took offense.
They are expressly stated to have been two
of the three authors addressed by Greene. The
fanciful biographers of Shakespeare have evi-
dently mistaken Chettle's placation of George
Peele, or either of the three play-makers ad-
dressed by Greene, it does not matter which,
for an apology to Shakespeare, who was not
the object of Greene's satire or Chettle's pla-
Christopher Marlowe, the first great dra-
matic poet, was the father of English tragedy
and the creator of English blank verse. He
is, by general consent, identified with the first
person address by Greene, "With thee will I
first begin, thou famous gracer of tragedians,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 353
who hath said in his heart there is no God.
Why should thy excellent wit, His gift, be so
blinded that thou should give no glory to the
giver?" The second person referred to is iden-
tifiable with Thomas Nash, "With thee I join,
young juvenall, that by ting satyrist," though
not with equal accord, as the first with Mar-
lowe, as some few persons prefer to name
Thomas Lodge. This predilection for Lodge
is based on their having been co-authors in
the making of a play ("That lastlie with me
together writ a comedie"). This fact, how-
ever, signifies very little, for it is generally
conceded that Marlowe, Nash, Peele, Lodge
and Greene mobilized their literary activities
in the production, in part at least, of not a
few of the earlier plays called Shakes-
However, the person reported to have "fac-
titious grace in writing," is not Nash, for
Chettle writes, "With neither of them that
take offense was I acquainted," but in writing
to Nash, he signs himself "your old composi-
tor." In 1589-90 Chettle set up N ash's tracts
against Mar-Prelate, so it seems Nash was an
old acquaintance, and therefore can't be
354 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
identified with the person reported to have
"factitious grace in writing."
We are convinced that Lodge was not the
person addressed by Greene as young juve-
nall. He was absent from England at the
date of Greene's letter, 1592, having left in
1591 and did not return till 1593. Moreover,
he had declared his intention long before to
write no more for the theatre. In 1589 he
vowed "to write no more for the stage." At
Christmas time in 1592 he was in the Straits of
Magellan. Born in 1550, Lodge led a vir-
tuous and quiet life. He was seventeen years
older than Nash, and four years older than
Greene, who would not, in addressing one
four years his senior, have used these words,
"Sweet boy, might I advise thee." The
youthfulness of Nash fits well. He was boy-
ish in appearance. Born in November, 1567,
he was seven years younger than Greene, and
was the youngest member of their fellowship.
The mild reproof "for his too much liberty
of speech," contained in the letter, justified the
belief that Thomas Nash was referred to as
"young juvenall, that byting satyrist, who had
vexed scholars with bitter lines."
Tom Nash was a great pet with the wil
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 355
of his day. He is referred to by contem-
porary writers; frequently one calls him "our
true English Aretine;" Others describe him
as "sweet Satyric Nash," "gallant juvenall,"
"his pen possessed with Hercules furies" and
as "Railing Nash."
"His style was witty, though he had
some gall ;
Something he might have mended,
so may all;
Yet this I say that for a mother's wit,
Few men have ever seen the like
The like accord and universal consent
which identifies the first with Marlowe,
identifies the third and last person, who had
been co-worker in drama making of the same
fellowship, with George Peele, "and thou no
less deserving than the other two, in some
things rarer, in nothing inferior," driven (as
myself) to "extreame shifts, a little have I to
say to thee." Chettle could, however, have
borne witness to Peele "his civil demeanor
and factitious grace in writing." Peele held
the situation of city poet and conductor of
pageants for the court. His first pageant
bears the date of 1585, his earliest known court
356 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
play, u The Arraignment of Paris," was acted
before 1584. "Peele was the object of patron-
age of noblemen for addressing literary trib-
utes for payment. The Earl of Northumber-
land seems to have presented him with a fee
of three pounds. In May, 1591, when Queen
Elizabeth visited Lord Burleigh's seat at The-
obalds, Peele was employed to compose cer-
tain speeches addressed to the Queen, which
excused the absence of the master of the house,
by describing in blank verse in his "Poly-
hymnia," the Honorable Triumph at Tilt.
Her Majesty was received by the Right Hon-
orable Earl of Cumberland."
In January, 1595, George Peele, Master of
Arts, presented his "Tale of Troy" to the
great Lord Treasurer through a simple mes-
senger, his eldest daughter, "necessities serv-
ant." Peele was a practised rhetorician, who
embellished his writings with elegantly-
adorned sentences and choice fancies. He
was a man of polished intellect and social gifts
and possessed of a very winsome personality.
"His soft, caressing woman voice" low, sweet
and soothing, may have had a considerable
effect upon Chettle, and could not have been
unduly honored by Chettle's apology in wit-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 357
nessing "his civil demeanor and factitious
grace in writing."
George Peele took his bachelor's degree at
Oxford in 1577. He was "a noted poet at
the University;" his affiliations seem to have
been with persons exalted in rank. He is dis-
covered writing a poem in 1593 to glorify the
installation of five Knights of the Garter; also
a stirring farewell to Sir Francis Drake, and
in the same year, 1589, a poem on the home-
coming of Essex.
"His celebrations of the completions of
thirty-second and thirty-seventh years of the
Queen's reign on the 17th of November, 1590
and 1595, seem to indicate relations of the
poet with the Court, and with the nobles of the
Court." No wonder that he was exalted in
character and regarded as excellent in the es-
sential quality which "divers of worship have
In his early use of blank verse, Peele be-
gan that reaction against the "jigging vein of
rhyming mother wits." Peele was pre-emi-
nently a poet of refined and amiable feeling,
and there is prima-facie likelihood that Chet-
tle saw in his demeanor no less civil than he
was excellent in the quality he professes; be-
358 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
sides "divers of worship have reported his up-
rightness of dealing which argues his honesty
and his factitious grace in writing that ap-
proves his art."
Peele's affiliation with "divers of worship"
(persons ranked by birth above the common
people) is a strong confirmation of the truth
of our contention that there is identity of per-
sonality with the person reported on the evi-
dence of "divers of worship."
Peele's identification with one of the three
to whom Greene addressed, seems to me prob-
able as the person to whom Chettle refers.
As Henry Chettle had been brought into
some discredit by the publication of Greene's
celebrated letter, and his admission that he
re-wrote it, we know that the letter must have
been surreptitiously procured as evidenced by
its contents. The letter is as authentic, doubt-
less, as any garbled or mutilated document
may be; but Chettle's foolish statement con-
tained in his preface to "Kind Hearts
Dreams" has awakened the suspicion, in re-
gard to the authorship of "Groats Worth of
Wit;" that, while the letter (or as much a*
Chettle chose to have published) is genuine,
"I put something out," the pamphlet, "Groats
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 359
Worth of Wit" is spurious, in the main and
evidently not the work of Robert Greene.
Who can be content to believe Chettle's state-
ment that Greene placed this criminating let-
ter in the hands of printers, or that it was left
in their hands by others at his request? A
private letter, written to three friends, who
have been co-workers in drama-making, call-
ing them to repentance, charging one (Mar-
lowe) with diabolical atheism! This was a
very serious charge in those times, when per-
sons were burnt at the stake for professing
their unbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity.
Chettle was the first to make current the
charge of atheism against Marlowe, the one
of them that took offense, and whose acquaint-
ance he (Chettle) did not seek. Chettle rev-
ernced Marlowe's learning, and would have
his readers believe that he did greatly mitigate
Greene's charge, but the contents of the letter
as transcribed by Chettle and printed by the
bookmakers, discredit Chettle's statement, as
the charge of diabolical atheism was not
struck out, and was, if proven, punishable by
There is no evidence adduced to show that
Marlowe was indignant because of Greene's
360 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
admonition, contained in a private letter writ-
ten to three play-makers of his own fellow-
ship, but resented the public charge of athe-
ism, for which he, Chettle, as accessory and
transcriber, was chiefly responsible in making
public. We know that Marlowe was charged
with atheism at the time of his death at Dept-
ford, for in May, 1593, following the publica-
tion of Greene's letter, printed at the end of
the pamphlet, "Groats Worth of Wit," the
Privy Council issued a warrant for Marlowe's
arrest. A copy of Marlowe's blasphemies,
so called, was sent to Her Highness, and en-
dorsed by one Richard Bame, who was soon
after hanged for some loathsome crime. But
a few days later, after Marlowe's apprehen-
sion, they wrote in the parish book at Dept-
ford on June 1st, "Christopher Marlowe slain
by Francis Archer."
At the age of thirty, he, "the first and great-
est inheritor of unfulfilled renown" went
where "Orpheus and where Homer are."
The loss to English letters in Marlowe's
untimely death cannot be measured, neverthe-
less, England of that day was spared the in-
f anmy of his execution. However, the zealots
of those days found a subject, in Francis Kett,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 361
a fellow of Marlowe's college, who was burnt
in Norwich in 1589 for heresy. He was a
pious, God-fearing man who fell a victim to
the strenuousity with which he maintained
his religious convictions. Another subject was
found in the person of Bartholmew Leggett,
who was burnt at the stake for stating his con-
fession of faith, which was identicial with the
religious belief of Thomas Jefferson and for-
mer President William Howard Taft. The
times were thirsty for the blood of daring
spirits. The shores of the British Isles were
strewn with the wreckage of the great Ar-
mada. In Germany, Kepler (he of the three
laws) was struggling to save his poor old
mother from being burnt at the stake for a
witch. In Italy, they burnt Bruno at the stake
while Galileo played recanter.
That Marlowe was one of the playmakers
who felt incensed at the publication of
Greene's letter admits of no doubt. He most
likely would have resented the public charge
of atheism. "With neither of them that take
offense was I acquainted (writes Chettle) and
with one of them (Marlowe) I care not if I
never be." In such blood bespattered times,
Chettle could and did write "for the first
362 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
(Marlowe) whose learning I reverence, and
at the perusing of Greene's book (letter)
struck out what in conscience I thought he in
some displeasure writ, or had it been true yet
to publish it was intolerable."
Chettle's conscience must have been a little
seared, for he omitted to strike out the only
statement of fact contained in the letter, which
it would seem could have imperiled the life of
Marlowe. The letter evidences the fact that
all of that portion referring to Marlowe was
not garbled, and that there was not any in-
tolerable something struck out, but instead, as
transcriber and publisher, he retained the ful-
minating passage, "had said in his heart, there
is no God."
Notwithstanding Chettle's statement, we
are of the opinion that the passage about Mar-
lowe was printed in its integrity.
Chettle's having failed to omit the charge
of diabolical atheism, reveals the strong per-
sonal antipathy he had for Marlowe. Few
there are who set up Marlowe as claimant for
Chettle's apology, and fewer still, who would
not regard him worthy of the compliment,
"factitious grace in writing," and whose ac-
quaintance Chettle did not seek, but whose
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 363
fascinating personality and exquisite feeling
for poetry was the admiration of Drayton and
Chapman, who were among the noblest, as
well "as the best loved of their time." George
Chapman was among the few men whom Ben
Jonson said he loved. Anthony Wood
described him as "a person of most reverend
aspect, religious and temperate qualities."
Chapman sought conference with the soul of
"Of his free soul whose living sub-
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood."
Henry Chettle's act of placation is offered
to one of two of the three play-makers ad-
dressed, and not to the actor referred to, who
was not one of those addressed ; therefore,
"Shake-scene" could not have been the re-
cipient of Chettle's apology, or placation, in
whose behalf ("upstart crow") Chettle re-
tracts nothing. The following reference is
to one of the offended play-makers, pointed at
in Greene's address, whom Chettle wishes to
placate. "The other whome at that time I
did not so much spare as since I wish I had
that I did not, I am as sorry as if the original
364 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
fault had been my fault, because myself have
seen his demeanor no less civil excellent in the
quality he professes; besides, diverse of wor-
ship have reported his uprightness of dealing,
which argues his honesty and his factitious
grace in writing that approves his art."
Chettle lost no time in transcribing the
posthumous letter. Doubts as to "Groats
Worth of Wit" were entertained at the time
of publication. Some suspected Nash to have
had a hand in the authorship, others accused
Chettle. Nash did take offense at the report
that it was his. Its publication caused much
excitement and the rumor went abroad that
the pamphlet was a forgery. "Other news I
am advised of," writes Nash, in an epistle pre-
fixed to the second edition of "Fierce-penni-
less," "that a scald, trivial, lying pamphlet
called "Greene's Groats Worth of Wit" is
given out to be of my doing. God never have
care of my soul, but utterly renounce me, if
the least word or syllable in it proceeded from
my pen, or if I were any way privy to the
writing or printing of it." We regard these
words confirmatory of the fact that "Groats
Worth of Wit" is not a work of unquestioned
authenticity, and furthermore, that Nash did
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 365
not believe it the work of Robert Greene.
Prlma facie, it is spurious, for Nash spoke in
high praise of Greene's writings. He neither
would, nor could, have used the words "scald,
trivial, lying" of a genuine work of Robert
Greene, whose writings were held in high
favor by all classes. Nash could not have
taken offense at the allusion of Greene, which
was rather complimentary though personal,
and not intended for publication; but it did,
however, contain some slight mixture of cen-
sure, "Sweet boy, might I advise thee, get
not many enemies by bitter words. Blame not
scholars vexed with sharp lines if they re-
prove thy too much liberty of reproof."
Nash was very angry, but only because
Greene's letter was given to the public by
Chettle. But wherefore persist in the search
if the person when found cannot be identified
with Shakespeare. For note this admission
by Mr. Lang himself "If we take Chettle to
have been a strict grammarian, by his words *a
letter, writen to diverse play-makers is offen-
sively by one or two of them taken,' William
Shakespeare or Shakspere or however you
spell the name, is excluded; the letter was
most assuredly not written to him." (Shake-
366 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
speare, Bacon and The Great Unknown, p.
AUTOGRAPH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.
The letter and pamphlet both in Greene's
handwriting would have been the best pos-
sible evidence of the genuineness of its con-
tents and legibility. Chettle's not offering in
evidence the original letter is strong presump-
tive proof of the commission of a forgery.
He, if not the chief actor in the offense, was
an accessory after the fact, and should, in
his appeal to the public in defense of his repu-
tation, have brought forward the pamphlet it-
self, embracing the whole matter, for exami-
nation and comparison; for we feel satisfied
that such an examination would prove that the
celebrated letter was authored and in the
handwriting of Robert Greene, and not so ill
written that it could not be read by the
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 367
printers, who must have been familiar with
the handwriting of the largest contributor of
the prose literature of his day. For ourselves,
what we have adduced convinces us that the
tract, "Groats Worth of Wit" was authored
and w r ritten by one of Phillip Henslowe's
hacks, presumably, Henry Chettle, an indig-
ent of many imprisonments, who was always
importuning the old play-broker for money.
Since the tract, "Groats Worth of Wit," was
in Chettle's own handwriting, he strove to fool
the printers by transcribing Greene's letter
and binding both together, through that "dis-
guised hood" to fool the public. Abraham
Lincoln is reputed to have said, "You may
fool all the people some of the time, and some
of the people all the time, but you cannot fool
all the people all the time."
It is possible that Chettle may have fooled
some of the people of his own generation some
of the time, but in later times, through the
misapprehension of his quoted words, he has
fooled many of the Stratfordians all of the
time. Chettle, however, would not permit the
letter to come forward in its integrity and
speak for itself, disclosing the nature of the in-
tolerable something "stroke out"
368 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
The fact of the whole matter appears to be
that Henry Chettle, wishing to profit finan-
cially by the great commercial value of
Robert Greene's name, was accessory to the
embezzlement and the commission of a forg-
ery, and was the silent beneficiary of the
fraud. The mutual connection of hack writer
and pirate publisher is so obvious that a jury
of discerning students, with the exhibits, pre-
sented together with the presumptive proofs
and inferential evidence contextured in both
letter and preface, should easily confirm our
opinion of the incredibility of Chettle's state-
ments contained in the preface to "Kind
Hearts Dreams." The evidence of their fals-
ity is, prima-facie, destitute of credible attesta-
We are made to see, in our survey of the
age of Elizabeth, much that is in striking con-
trast with the spirit and activities of our time.
There is a notable contrast between the public
play house of those days, where no respect-
able woman ever appeared, and with the the-
ater of our day the rival of the church as a
moral force. In the elder time "the perma-
nent and persistent dishonor attached to the
stage" and the stigma attached to the poets
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND UG'J
who wrote for the public play house, attached
in like manner to the regular frequenters of
public theaters, the majority of whom could
neither read nor write, but belonged chiefly
to the vicious and idle class of the population.
At all the theaters, according to Malone, it
appears that noise and show were what chiefly
attracted an audience in spite of the reputed
author. There was clamor for a stage reek-
ing with blood and anything ministering to
the unchaste appetites.
The spectacular actor and clown were
relatively advantaged, as he could say much
more than was set down for him. Kemp's
extemporizing powers of histrionic buffoon-
ery, gagging and grimacing, paid the running
expenses of the play house.
Phillips says: "It must be borne in mind
that actors then occupied an inferior position
in society, and that in many quarters even the
vocation of a dramatic writer was considered
scarcely respectable." In Ben Jonson's letter
to the Earl of Salisbury, we can see very
clearly that he regarded playwriting as a deg-
radation. We. transcribe it in part as follows :
"I am here, my honored Lord, unexamined
and unheard, committed to a vile prison and
370 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL, PHASE
with me a gentleman (whose name may have
perhaps come to your Lordship), one Mr.
George Chapman, a learned and honest man.
The cause (would I could name some
worthier, though I wish we had known none
worthy our imprisonment) is (the words irk-
me that our fortunes hath necessitated us to so
despise a course) a play, my Lord.
We see how keenly Jonson felt the disgrace,
not on account of the charge of reflecting on
some one in a play in which they had fede-
rated, for he protested his own and Chapman's
innocence, but he felt that their degradation
lay chiefly in writing stage poetry, for drama-
making was regarded as a degrading kind of
employment, which poets accepted who were
struggling for the meanest necessities of life,
and were driven by poverty to their produc-
tion, and to the slave-driving play-brokers,
many of whom became very rich by making
the flesh and blood of poor play-writers their
In looking into Philip Henslowe's old note-
book, we see how the grasping play-brokers
of the olden time speculated on the poor play-
writers necessities, when plays were not re-
garded as literature; when the most strenuous
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 371
and laborious of dramatic writers for the the-
atre could not hope to gain a competence by
the pen alone, but wrote only for bread ; when
play-writers were in the employ of the share-
holding actors, as hired men; and when their
employers, the actors, were social outcasts,
who, in order to escape the penalty for the in-
fraction of the law against vagabondage, were
nominally retained by some nobleman. In
further proof of the degradation which was
attached to the production of dramatic com-
position, "when Sir Thomas Bodley, about the
year 1600, extended and remodeled the old
university library and gave it his name, he
declared that no such riff-raff as play books
should ever find admittance to it." "When
Ben Jonson treated his plays as literature by
publishing them in 1616 as his works, he was
ridiculed for his pretensions, while Webster's
care in the printing of his plays laid himself
open to the charge of pedantry."
These facts and concurring events in the
life of Robert Wilson and Will Kemp, con-
vince us that Shakespeare was not, and that
Kemp or Wilson was the person at whom
Greene leveled his satire, by bearing witness
to their extemporizing power and haughty
372 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
and insolent demeanor in introducing impro-
visations and interpolations of their "own wit
into poets' plays."
A CONTENTED MIND
Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
The quiet mind is richer than a crown ;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
The poor estate scorns fortune's angry frown.
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss,
The homely house that harbours quiet rest;
The cottage that affords no pride nor care;
The mean that 'grees with country music best;
The sweet comfort of mirth and modest fare.
"THAT OLD MAN ELOQUENT" (GEO. CHAP-
MAN) "A BETTER SPIRIT"
It may not be unacceptable to our readers
for us to take this opportunity of presenting
them with a slight sketch of the life of the
great translator of Homer, George Chapman.
In miner's usage the Chapman lode is not a
continuous ore-bearing vein. His apotheg-
Crescent Arms of Chapman.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 373
matic sayings are disseminated through a
large mass of quartzless porphyry contained
in the early poems and in several of his plays;
although considerable rich ore has been ex-
tracted from all of his original work as dis-
tinguished from the main vein or mother-lode,
the bonanza poems comprising his Homeric
However, the students of English poetry
may find in every fissure or ledge in the grand
old poet's veins excerpts for a noble anthol-
ogy. George Chapman says, "Charles Lamb
is a writer in whom great faults are compen-
sated by great beauties."
That Professor Minto was correct in his
identification of Chapman with the rival poet
who supplanted the sonneteer (Shakespeare)
in his patron's estimation, is the conviction of
almost all sonnet critics. Chapman is thus
conjecturally connected with "Shakespeare,"
who "evidently admired" the elder poet.
A "better spirit" remarkable for "the full,
proud sail of his great verse," and notwith-
standing Shakespeare's manifestations of jeal-
ousy, was amongst the first of contemporary
poets to recognize the beauties of Chapman
genius. The statement "that the rivalry here
374 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
indicated was the outcome of bitter personal
resentment, and may be traced elsewhere in
the works of both authors," is essentially ab-
surd and false, for Chapman would not have
censured Shakespeare for his reference to him
as his rival in the Sonnets (80-86) ; he would
have regarded them as an appreciation.
Surely Shakespeare could not have been
glanced at in Chapman's preface to his trans-
lation of the Iliad, as a certain "envious wind-
sucker buzzing into every ear my detraction,"
for the elusive personality of "Shakespeare,"
author of the Poems and Plays is proof against
the assumption that Chapman was ever the
subject of "Shakespeare's" censure.
The terms in which George Chapman is
commonly described by his contemporaries
are of almost filial respect. He was among the
few men whom Ben Jonson said he loved, "a
person of most revered aspect, religious and
It may be justly claimed for Chapman that
he did his utmost to shun in all dedicatory
verse the slightest imputation of fawning ser-
vility, choosing for patrons personal friends.
Chapman as a literary personality is obvi-
ous enough to the understanding of the reader,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 375
for the poet and playwright lies directly in the
way of the student studying Elizabethan liter-
ature. On the literary side he is manifested
clearly in all his acts and deeds. Herein he
contrasts with Shakspere, the Stratford player
whose biographers are much troubled at the
scantiness of literary things that they can even
conjecturally identify personally with "Shake-
speare" author of the plays; while Chapman
is sufficiently supplied with literary material
and references adequate to the wants of his lit-
erary biographer, for there is no scantiness of
information about him of the literary sort
common personal facts of everyday life are
not the essentials in the lives of the poets.
We have the evidence of his own writings
that Chapman was born at or near Hitchens
in Herefordshire. The Hitchen Register only
commences with the year 1562, three years af-
ter the poet's birth. While under the spell of
his divine patron, Homer, who was "angel to
him, star and fate" in reply to the poet's in-
What may I reckon thee whose heavenly look
Shows not nor voice sounds. Man
I am said he that spirit Elysian
That in thy native ayre and on the hill
376 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Next HitcmVs left hand did thy bosom fill
With such a flood of soul that then wert faine
(With acclamations of her rapture then)
To vent it to the echoes of the vale ;
When meditating of me a sweet gale
Brought me upon thee and thou didst inherit
My true sense (for the time then) in my spirits
And I invisible went prompting thee
To those fayre greenes thou didst English me."
William Browne also in his Britannia Pas-
torals styles Chapman "The learned shepherd
of fair Hitchin Hill." And from the title
page of his Homer that his birth year was
1559. We do not know which of the several
different families or branches of the great
Chapman family he was connected with; we
do not know the baptismal name of his father,
nor the maiden name of his mother, or any
fact relative to her parentage, nor anything re-
lating to their domestic economy or occupa-
tion. We do not know that the poet ever mar-
ried. Anthony Wood describes him as "a per-
son of most reverend aspect, religious and tem-
perate qualities, rarely meeting in a poet." No
vile personal gossip sully his renown, a man
of grave character and regular life.
George Chapman's name has not received
due prominence in the modern hand books of
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 377
English literature, but he was a bright torch
and numbered by his own generation among
the greatest of its poets. He whom Webster
calls the "Princes Sweet Homer" and "My
Friend" was not unduly honored by the full
and heightened style which Webster makes
characteristic of him. "Our Homer-Lucan"
as he was gracefully termed by Daniel, is a
poet much admired by great men. Edmund
Waller ( 1605-1687) poet, orator and wit never
could read Chapman's Homer "without a de-
gree of transport."
Barry is reputed to have said that when he
went into the street after reading it, men
seemed ten feet high. Coleridge declares
Chapman's version of the Odyssey to be as
truly an original poem as the "Faery Queen."
He also avers that Chapman in his moral he-
roic verse stands above Ben Jonson, "there is
more dignity, more lustre and equal strength."
Translation was in those times a new power
in literature. By the indomitable force and
fire of genius, Chapman has made Homer
himself speak English by having chosen that
which prefers the spirit to the letter. It is in
his translation that the Homeric poems are
best read as an English work. Out of it there
378 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
comes a whiff of the breath of Homer. It is
as massive and majestic as Homer himself
would have written in the land of the Virgin
Chapman strives to transmute Homer's soul
into written words with unexampled energy
and sublimity, set forth with such wealth of
glorious eloquence and grandeur of thought.
He has added, says Swinburne "a monument
to the temple which contains the glories of
his native language, the godlike images and
the costly relics of its past." "The earnestness
and passion," says Charles Lamb, "which he
has put into every part of these poems would
e incredible to a reader of mere modern
translations. His almost Greek zeal for the
honor of his heroes is only paralleled by that
fierce spirit of Hebrew bigotry with which
Milton, as if personating one of the zealots of
the old law clothed himself when he sat down
to paint the acts of Samson against the uncir-
It was the reflected Hellenic radiance of the
grand old Chapman version to the lifted eyes
of Keats flooded with the light which "never
was on sea or shore." This younger poet sang :
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 379
"Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,
Round many western islands have I been,
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold;
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told,
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his de-
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and
bold." * * *
Chapman, though the recipient of patron-
age of Prince Henry and his Cynthian sister,
Elizabeth "Queen of Hearts," nevertheless,
no favor was shown him by the mob of syco-
phantic parasites at the Court of James. How-
ever, the old oligarchist was the first dramatic
writer to challenge the principle of monarchy
as a compliment to government in his declara-
tion of republican principle contained in the
daring words :
"And what's a prince? Had all been virtuous
There never had been prince upon the earth,
And so no subject: All men had been princes.
A virtuous man is subject to no prince,
But to his soul and honor, which are laws
That carry fire and sword within themselves,
Never corrupted, never out of rule;
What is there in a prince that his least lusts
380 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
Are valued at the lives of other men;
When common faults in him should prodigies
And his gross dotage rather loathed than
When these words were written, James VI
and I, had sat three years on the British
throne. His Majesty was a slobbering, dirty,
trembling, contemptible coward, an habitual
drunkard. He wrote a book upon that strange
delusion, witchcraft, in which he was a devout
believer, and ordered Reginald Scot's famous
work burned. Scot fortunately died during
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, thus escaping
burning at the stake.
The King's claim to freedom from all con-
trol by law or responsibility to anything but
his own royal will was tantamount to laying
the head of "Baby Charles" on the execution-
er's block and the final eclipse of the House of
Stuart, that fated race.
No wonder Chapman rather loathed than
soothes the King's gross dotage, for Ben Jon-
son and himself had been cast into a loathsome
prison in the previous year by this most loath-
some of British kings, merely because of Mar-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 381
stem's waggery in the matter of "Eastward
His Majesty had also, by way of exercising
his power as King by Divine right, hanged a
pickpocket on the journey from Edinburgh to
London without any trial a prelude to brave
Sir Walter Raleigh's death, and presageful of
the fate of "Faire Arabella (Stuart) Child of
Woe." "A fouler judicial murder never
stained the annals of any country," says John
Fiske). (Old Virginia, Vol. I, p. 200).
Sir Thomas Overbury of the Middle Tem-
ple was not so fortunate.
The Earl of Southampton, writing to Sir
R. Winwood on the 4th of August, 1613, says:
"A rooted hatred lyeth in the King's heart to-
ward him." (Rimbault Life of Overbury).
As to the King of England criminality :
James the First was, in matter-of-fact,
the principal figure in all of the "poisonous
and adulterous Villany Treachery blood and
shame" in connection with the poisoning of
The revelations disclosed by the annals of
that dark and foul reign point unerringly at
James the First, the sceptered murderer of Sir
382 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
But Chapman and Jonson finding them-
selves in imminent danger of having their nos-
trils slit or at least their ears clipped in order
to save their bodies from mutilation, addressed
seven letters to noteworthy persons. Chap-
man's letter to the King is reprinted from the
Athnaeum of March 30th, 1901. Mr. Bertram
Dobell took them from a quarto manuscript,
commonplace book of ninety leaves into which
they had been copied together with other let-
ters, petitions and documents dating between
1580 and 1613, says that "the writer or collec-
tor of the documents can have been no other
than George Chapman."
Nevertheless, three of the six letters seek-
ing release were written by Chapman. Two
he wrote to the Lord Chamberlain and one
To His Most Gratious Majestic:
"Vouchsafe, most excellent sovereign to
take merciful notice of the submissive and
amendfull sorrowes of your two most humble
and prostrated subjects for your Highnes dis-
pleasure, Geo. Chapman and Ben Jonson,
whose chief offenses are but two clauses and
both of them not our owne, much less the un-
naturall issue of our offenceless intents. I hope
your Majestie's universall knowledge will
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 383
daigne to remember that all authorities in ex-
ecution of justice, especiallie respects the man-
ners and lives of men commanded before it,
and according to their generall censures any-
thinge that hath scapt them in particular
which cannot be so disproportionable that one
being actuallie good the other should be in-
tentionallie ill; if not intentionallie (howso-
ever it may be subject to construcction) where
the whole founte of our actions may be justi-
fied from beinge in this kind offensive. I hope
the integrall parts will taste of the same loyall
and dutiful order which to aspire from your
most Cesar-like bounties, (who conquered
still to spare the conquered and was glad to of-
fences that he might forgive).
"In all dijection of never-inough itterated
sorrowe for your high displeasure and vowe
of as much future delight as of your present
anger, we cast our best parts at your Highness'
feet and our worst to Hell.
It appears that Chapman underwent a sec-
ond imprisonment with Ben Jonson shortly
after their release for a supposed reference to
some person in a play. We are unable to as-
384 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
certain any of the details of Chapman's life
unconnected with literature. We have
glimpses of him during his life in London.
But always in connection with literary work.
As a further illustration. In 1606 the
French Ambassador Beaumont, writes to his
master: "I caused certain players to be forbid
from acting "The History of the Duke of Bir-
on." When they saw, however, that the whole
Court had left town they persisted in acting
it, nay, they brought upon the stage the Queen
of France and Madame de Vernevil, the for-
mer having first accosted the latter with very
hard words, and gave her a box on the ear. At
my suit three of them were arrested but the
principle person, (Chapman) the author, es-
Christopher Marlowe while fleeing from a
warrant issued by the Privy Council summon-
ing him to trial on the discovery of an unorth-
odox paper in which some real or fancied of-
fense had been detected calls on his way (prob-
ably) to Deptford at the "harmless and pious
study" of his dear friend George Chapman
and persuades the elder poet to take up and
continue the lover's tale of "Hero and Lean-
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 385
The poet was not then living who could
have fitly completed the sublime fragment of
Marlowe "that can give new splendour to the
genius of Milton and of Shelley."
Chapman's command of English is some-
thing prodigious great in the descriptive and
in the simile and was the fittest to take charge
of an incomparable fragment. It would have
been hard to do better than he has done. Chap-
man's scholarship cannot be gauged by his
translations; men of letters whether in prose
or verse did not aim at severe correctness, fur-
thermore no Poet of the age but Shakespeare
has left us so many grave sentences or striking
detacched thoughts, so many quotable passages
of lofty eloquence.
Chapman's friendships are said to be the
strongest testimonials of his character the
devoted friend who when he "loved once,
loved for a lifetime."
And we may add Chapman's close fellow-
ship is Marlowe's best credential that he was
a man of good character. Let us his posterity
enshrine him who in that "long gon time."
" * * * moved such delight. That men
would shun their sleep in still dark night to
meditate upon his golden lines."
386 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
There is also a copy extant of Chapman's
memorable masque on the marriage of the
Palgrave and Princess Elizabeth corrected by
Chapman in his own hand. "But the errors
are few and not very important. It shows the
patient accuracy of the accomplished writer."
The Masque was performed at Whitehall
by the societies of Lincoln's Inn and Middle
Temple and mounted by Inigo Jones, Sur-
veyor General of the royal buildings, who was
employed in supplying the designs and deco-
rations of the Court masques.
The marriage of Princess Elizabeth took
place on the 14th of February, 1613, three
months after the death of Prince Henry. From
these ancestors his (present) Majesty George
V derives his hereditary title to the British
There is preserved a very fine copy of the
Hymns of Homer, with some presentation
verse with Chapman's autograph and an alter-
ation or two in the engraving made with his
pen. The engraved title by William Pass con-
taining a portrait of Chapman at an advanced
age. The engraving was designed, says Cole-
ridge, by no vulgar hand. "It is full of spirit
and passion." See portrait facing page 372.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 387
There is still extant a fine volume of the
Iliad of 161 1 in red morocco of the period. At
the back of the title is in Chapman's auto-
graph, "In witness of his best love so borne to
his best deserving friend, Mr. Henrye Jones.
George Chapman gives him theise fruites of
his best labors and desires love betwixt us as
long lived as Homer." The corrections are
merely three or four in the Preface. Chap-
man has run his pen through the word "plas-
ters" and substituted "plashes."
And still another interesting copy, 1608,
with Chapman's autograph the "Seven Books
of Homer's Iliads." In 1618 Chapman pub-
lished his "Translation of Musaeus." The
only known copy is in the Bodleian. It is
dedicated to his exceeding good friend, Inigo
Jones. He informs us in his poem that it is
a different work to the continuation of Mar-
lowe's poem. In 1618 appeared The Georgics
of Hesiod and is dedicated to Sir Francis Ba-
con, Knight Lord High Chancellor of Eng-
land. It had commendatory verses to My
Worthy and Honored Friend, Mr. George
Chapman, by Ben Jonson and Michael Dray-
Chapman's personal character stood very
388 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
high and as a writer for the stage he attained
great popularity in his day. The writings of
his contemporaries are full of allusion to him.
Much is known concerning Chapman's auth-
orship of poems and plays for the list of pas-
sages extracted from his writings in "Eng-
land's Parnassus or the Choicest Flowers of
Our Modern Poets" contains no less than
At the time of this publication (1600) he
had published but two plays and three vol-
umes of verse. "The proud full sail of his
great verse," (Chapman's Homer), had not
at this time been unfurled. In 161 1 he speaks
of his yet unfinished translation of Homer,
and we are told that the Prince of Wales had
commanded him to conclude. The entry in the
stationer's books is for this year. But the real
date of the printing of the complete Iliad was
doubtless the early part of 1612. In 1616 he
published the Iliads and Odysseys collected
into one volume, and then good old George
could look on his completed version of Homer
"The work that I was born to do is done."
There are frequent entries in Henslowe's
Diary relating to advances of money made to
Facsimile Receipt for 40s. paid for a "Pastorial Ending in a
Tragidy" from Chapman to Philip Henslowe.
British Museum, MSS. 3026^.
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 389
Chapman as playwright. We have sampled
this one: On the 23rd of October, 1598, in an
advance of 3 to Mr. Chapman on "his play
boocke;" of this date also is the following
memorandum in Henslowe's note-book, (page
"Be it known unto all men by these pres-
ents, that I, George Chapman of London, gen-
tleman, doe owe unto Mr. Phillip Henslowe
of the parish of St. Saviour, gentleman, the
sum of X Xs of lawfull money of England.
In witness whereof I have hereunto sett my
hand this xxiiij of October, 1598. Geo. Chap-
The records contain many references to
Chapman's works, but this is not a literary bi-
ography, so our needs do not require their
transcription for we now have at least the line-
aments of his character, his genuine self.
Among gnomic poets, Chapman is in the
front rank, a great master of English, a word
smith he stands pre-eminent. "There are
many more new words, says J. M. Robertson
in Chapman than in Shakespeare."
The death of Prince Henry is regarded as
the great crucial event of modern times, for
it gave Charles the First the right-of-way to
390 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
the British throne followed by the servile
minions of despotic rule which marked the
beginning of the struggle against absolute
monarchy, a death struggle between the up-
holders of royal prerogative and constitution-
al freedom. Although the pace had been set
for the party of passive obedience by King
James the First.
Chapman was patronized by Prince Henry
that noble youth of the royal line to whom he
was appointed server in ordinary and appears
to have promised him a pension, but he died
in 1612, in the nineteenth year of his age. His
Majesty, the father of this promising young
Prince was jealous of him, of course, by con-
sequence no laureating or patronage in the
Court of James for his old Homeric tutor and
counsellor, George Chapman.
Prince Henry's name is preserved in the
verses of sixteen poets, among them were
Chapman, Jonson, Webster, Drayton, Donne,
Daniel, Tounneur, Browne, Whither, Sylves-
ter, Alexander, Davies of Hereford and
Drummond of Hawthornden.
But not one line of mournful elegy from
"Shakespeare." Everything tends and con-
spires to strip this person whomsoever he was,
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 391
of all literary work whatsoever as a self-ac-
Prince Henry expired just before midnight
on the Sth of November, 1612. In the passing
of this youth at nineteen, of truly striking and
rare promise so fervent in his friendship for
Sir Walter Raleigh in his prison under sen-
tence of death, and often said "that no man
but his father would keep such a bird in such
Prince Henry dies, than which, says Gros-
art, "no death since Sidney's had so moved the
heart of the nation as none evoked such splen-
did sorrow from England's foremost names
with one prodigious exception and the one
prodigious exception is Shakespeare."
So warm in his love and admiration for
George Chapman, "The Prince's Sweet Hom-
er," teacher and counsellor, who in one of his
poems, the dedication of the Iliad to Prince
Henry poured forth the exaltation of his own
great art in his sublimest strain in such lines
"Free sufferance for the truth makes sor-
And mourning far more sweet than ban-
392 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
The Prince's death gave the good old poet
a fiercer pang than any he had felt through
years of struggle, well nigh of hunger now
feeling that the "pleasures of hope" were cut
off by death of his only patron of the house of
Stuart, the most magnanimous of them all.
"To all times future this times mark extend
Homer no patron found nor Chapman
Chapman's long life (1559-1634) over-
spread the whole of the Elizabethan Age of
literature. His life began in advance of that
golden age, before the dawn of English trag-
edy, with the rising sun of Marlowe, and lived
to see it decline into a long and mellow even-
tide which Shirley, "the last of a great age"
failed to stay. One of the most learned men of
his age, profoundly imbued with the Greek
militant spirit, and of its earliest and most he-
roic inspirations, he best knew how to make
Homer speak English. He gives a picture of
Achilles and Ulysses full of life and action.
"There did shine a beam of Homer's soul in
mine." This was the sovereign labour of his
life, a work which had won for him immor-
But before there had wailed a dirge for
SHAKESPEARE THE MASTER-MIND 393
Chapman. His life-long friends, Marlowe,
Beaumont, Drayton and Fletcher had in suc-
cession "passed the ivory gates." All these
heirs to immortal fame he outlived on earth-
George Chapman deserves a cenotaph in
Westminster Abbey, where his illustrious
friends lie or are commemorated. But it is to
be regretted also, that the walls of the old Ab-
bey do not enclose all that is mortal of John
Fletcher, "in their tender and solemn gloom."
Why should not the same roof cover all that is
mortal of Beaumont and Fletcher, "Twin
Stars" who in the morning of life had shared
its hopes and aspirations; their names are in-
divisible, why not their dreamless dust thence-
forward and forevermore.
In May, 1634, now nearly three centenaries
of years ago, in old St. Giles Churchyard,
"Chapman's revered ashes were rudely min-
gled with the vulgar dust." But strange as it
may seem William Habington's wish ex-
pressed in terms of filial veneration was never
realized no room is found "in the warm
Church to build him up a tomb."
394 SHAKESPEARE, THE PERSONAL PHASE
A MASTER SPIRIT PORTRAIT OF HIMSELF
Give me a spirit that on life's rough sea,
Loves to have his sails filled with a lusty wind,
E'en till his sail-yards tremble his mast crack,
And his wrapt ship runs on her side so low,
That she drinks water, and her keel ploughs
There is no danger to a man that knows
What life and death is: there's not any law
Exceeds his knowledge; neither is it lawful
That he should stoop to any other law:
He goes before them, and commands them all,
That to himself is a law rational.
Chapman's Tomb in St. Giles' Church.
Addenbroke, John, 136, 138.
Alleyn, Edward, 129, 130, 195, 234.
Archer, Francis, 250.
Ardeu, Mary, 106.
Aubrey, John, 185, 250.
Bacon, Sir Francis, 25, 279, 387.
Bagehot, Walter, 15.
Barnard, Sir John, 127.
liar nu in, Phineas T., 225.
Beaumont, Francis, 5, 12, 23, 31, 32, 199, 203, 241.
Bellet, H. H. L., 22.
Bellott, Stephen, 86, 155, 162.
Belvolr, 18, 19, 72.
Bentley, Dr., 226.
Betterton, Thomas, 79, 112.
Biamarck, Prince, 125.
Bodelian Library, 103, 126, 387.
Bodley, Sir Thomas, 102, 371.
Bo iv ia, Richard, 322.
Brown, Sir Thomas, 224, 226.
Browne, William, 376, 390.
Bunyan, John, 296, 303.
Burbage, Cuthbert, 119, 120, 230,, 231, 232.
Burbage, Richard, 18, 97, 119, 129, 130, 171.
Burke, Edmoml, 223, 246.
Bnrleigh, Lord, 170.
Burnet, Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury, 192.
Burns, Robert, 282, 298.
Burton, Robert, 126, 293.
Cainden, William, 24, 104, 241, 249.
Carew, Thomas, 244.
Castle, E. J. K. C., 96.
Chambrun, The Countess de, 37, 38, 309.
Chapman, George The Translatior of Homer, 372, 375, 376
Conjecturally connected with Shakespeare as his rival
(in Sonnets 80-86 "A better Spirit"), 373.
A Poet much admired by great men, 197, 198, 200, 377.
It is in his translation that the Homeric poems are best
read as an English Work, 243, 267, 377, 378, 392.
His command of English is something prodigious, 378,
As a writer for the Stage he attained great popularity
in his day, 209, 279.
There is no scantiness of information about him of the
literary sort, 203, 241, 374, 375.
Suffered from repression, 370, 383.
Imprisoned with Ben Jonson for reflections on the Kings
thirty pound carpet Knights of Scottish birth in
"Eastward Hoe", 169, 380.
He was among the few men whom Ben Jonson said he
loved, 267, 374.
His letter to King James the First, 382, 383.
His fellowship with Marlowe had a profound admira-
tion for, 363, 384, 385.
His Autograph and Facsimile Receipt, 389.
His appreciation of his mother-tongue, 373.
Familiar with several languages, 389.
The most Sententious of poets, 391,
"That Old Man Eloquent," 392.
Charles First. 192, 380, 389.
Chettlc, Henry, 91, 93, 96, 231, 282, 284, 299, 350, 351, 362.
Clarendon, Earl of, 276.
Clayton, John, 134, 137.
Coke, Edward, Lord Chief Justice, 25, 42, 59.
Coleridge, S. T., 243.
ColliuiH. Churton, 13, 14, 285, 294, 297.
Collier, J. P., 287, 311.
Combe, John the usurious money-lender, 45, 46.
Combe, Thomas, his heir, 47. 55, 64, 65.
Combe, William, 37, 42, 44, 48, 73, 75, 86.
Condall, Henry, 129, 170.
Cook, Dr. James, 109.
Coolbrith, Ina Poet Laureate of California, 300.
Corporation Stratford Records, 45, 77.
Cromwell, Oliver, 3, 31.
Dance Scene, 321.
Daniel, Samuel, 6, 185, 203, 377.
D'Avenant, Sir William, 168, 169.
Davis, Cushman K., 341.
Day, John, 267.
Dekker, Thoma, 197, 198, 243, 251.
Derby, Earl of, 193.
!>c thick. Sir William, 132.
Diuus. Leonard, 160.
Donations of Constantlne, 228.
Donne, Dr. John, 24, 267.
Dowland, John, 323.
Drake, Sir Francis. 25.
Drayton, Michael, 5, 12, 104, 161, 162, 164, 170, 190, 387.
Druminond, \Villhnii of Hawthornden, 126, 162, 243, 245, 246,
Dryden, John, 340.
Dyce, Dr., 134.
"Eastward Hoe," 16. 17.
Elizabeth, Queen, 6, 7, 21, 31, 55, 380.
Kl IN! more. Lord, 122.
Elton, Charles tl. < ., 111.
Emerson, R. W., 12, 29, 134, 164.
Essex, Earl of, 5, 6, 19, 170.
Farmer, Dr., 131.
Field, Nathaniel, 310.
Fleay, Dr.. 96, 185, 318.
Fletcher, John, 13, 23, 31, 186, 203, 241.
Florio, John, 125.
Ford, John, 24, 31, 241.
Forman, Dr. Simon, 28.
Francis, Sir Philip, 223.
Franklin, Ben, 303.
Fuller, Thomas, 201, 202.
Fume**, Dr., 14, 334.
Greene, Robert His partiality to "The Man with the Hoe,"
His democratic sympathies, 283, 292, 301.
The purity of his writings, 281, 289, 296.
He never prostituted his pen to courseness, 297, 298.
He appealed to the better class of readers, 303.
He was supreme in prose romance, 292.
A born story-teller, 300.
His versatility and quickness in composition, 303.
His literary fame, 288.
He was the popular author of the day, 292, 300.
His gracious types of womanhood, 295, 298, 299.
The salutory effect of his methods of warfare with the
criminal classes, 289, 290.
With him rank is never the measure of merit, 302.
"Not lip-holy," 290.
He was given to self-upbraiding, 296, 300.
He fell a prey to strong drink, 282, 283.
His character as usually framed by the critic, '282, 284,
289, 298, 307.
His opprobrious Shake-scene not Shakespeare, 308, 309,
313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 22, 330.
He counsels his friends to give up Play Writings as
He was one of the founders of English fiction, 285.
The great commercial value of his name, 288.
Greene, Thomas Represents the townsmen of Stratford-on-
Avon in their struggle with Combe, Manwaring and
Shakspere (the "Vandals" of 1614-18) the three par-
ties acting in unison in an attempted enclosure of a
large part of the adjacent Common fields, 41, 47, 48,
49, 63, 71, 75, 77, 160.
Greenwood, Sir George G. His work "Is There a Shake-
speare Problem?" cited, 82, 310.
Great Unknown, The, 366.
Greys Inn, 279.
Groats Worth of Wit, 92, 96, 348, 349.
Grosart, Dr. A. On Prince Henry's Death, 333, 391.
Garrick, David, 122.
Gauden, John, Bishop of Exeter, 192.
Hahlngton, William, 393.
Hale, Sir Matthew, 226.
Hall, Elizabeth, 127, 128, 164.
Hall, Dr. John Shakspere's son-in-law, 34, 71, 76, 109, 133,
160, 163, 164.
Hall, William an Oxford graduate, 36.
Hallam, Henry, 12, 134, 164.
Halliwell, Phillipps, 35, 37, 53, 111, 129.
Hammer, Sir Thoir.as, SOS.
Hamlet, 9, 315.
Hart, Joan, 127.
Hat ha way, Allies, 66, 113.
Hathaway, Anne, 66, 111, 112, 113, 128.
IIn11.avi ay, Richard, 113.
Hattoii, Lord Chancellor, 25.
Harvey, Gahrlel, 292, 293, 294, 297.
HeminxH, .John, 129, 170, 231.
Henslowe Blary, 195, 196, 216, 234.
Henslovve, Philip, 195, 216, 233, 234, 235.
High Commission, The Court of, 6.
Henry, Prince, 31, 379, 386, 389, 390, 391.
Herald College, 12, 131.
Herrlck, Robert, 296.
Heylin, Peter, 195.
Heywood, ThomaN, 198, 217, 219, 220.
Heywood, Sir John, 6.
Hobbes, ThomaN, 203, 241.
Homer, 3, 10, 30, 73, 88, 387.
Howell, James, 241, 243, 244, 280.
Ingleby, Dr., 203, 218, 338.
Inner Temple, 22, 279.
Irving, Sir Henry, 171.
Irving, Washington, 40.
Jagjerard, William, 217.
Jinn IM The First Prefers his own writings, 55, 104, 267, 280,
George Chapman's letter to, 382, 383.
His Demonology, 380.
Jefferson, Thomas, 361.
Jones, Inigo Great confidence placed in, 268, 278.
He was employed in arranging the scenery for the
masques of Beaumont, Chapman and Ben Jonson, 386,
JohimeiiN Factotum (See Robert Greene "A Groatsworth
Johnson, Dr. Samuel lexicographer and critic, 247, 309.
Jonsou, Ben He was born to poor condition in London, 249,
Educated at Westminister School, 249.
He served as a Soldier in Flanders, 250.
His appearance, 242, 243, 279.
Not sensitive, 280.
Quarrels with Marston Deekker and Inigo Jones, 243,
A combatant in the "War of the Theatres," 209, 210.
Ridiculed for including plays among his "Works," 198.
Strong in his friendships and enmitys, 241, 251, 252.
Never would let "Sleeping dogs rest," 254.
His poverty, 249, 269, 280.
Forced to sell library, 255, 268.
In the days of his adversity, wrote mendieant epistle
for bread, 281.
Vilification and commendation of brother poets, 244, 265.
Ridicules Drayton and Shakespeare, 266, 267, 271, 272, 275.
His literary compliments are to be received with sus-
picion, 247, 274, 275.
Spake disparagingly of Beaumont and Shakespeare, 256,
257, 270, 273.
His competency and credibility as a witness, 245, 246,
247, 257, 264, 273.
Notes of his conversations recorded by Drummond, 248,
265, 266, 267.
Who leaves the impress of his individuality, 242, 254.
The mass of literary detail respecting him, 254, 278.
Compared with the trifles and non-literary matter of no
consequence that we know of Shakspere, 242, 245.
His allusion to Elizabeth Countess of Rutland, 252, 253,
He collected a library rich in scarce and valuable books.
In this particular how unlike Shakspere, 254, 255.
The superiority of literary reputation, 242, 254.
He united in a comedy "Eastward Hoe" with Chapman
and Marston and was sent to prison, 252, 253.
His allusions to Shakespeare, 251, 258, 259, 261, 272, 273.
Junius Letters, 192, 222, 223.
Jusseraud, J. J. and Robert Greene, 344.
Keats, John, 378.
Keets, Francis, 360.
Kemp, William (Will), 119, 205, 208, 311, 313, 314, 322, 327.
Kind Hearts Dreams, 347, 348.
Kirk, Edward (E. K.), 189, E. K. 195, 180.
Kyd, Thomas, 213, 318, 319, 320.
Lamb, Charles, 243.
Lainer, Sidney, 14.
Landor, Walter Savage, 197.
Lang, Andrew, 11, 13, 14, 96, 123, 124, 128, 137, 205, 309, 310,
Lee, Jane, 186.
Lee, Sir Sidney, 13, 14, 91, 111, 167, 203.
Lincoln, Abraham, 139, 303.
Lincoln Inn, 279.
Lodge, Thomas, 190, 195, 354.
Lombard, Peter, 6, 7.
Lowell, James II., 185.
Lucy, Sir Thomas, 79, 116, 117, 118, 125.
llabie. Hamilton Wright, 309.
Macauley, Lord, 223.
Middle Temple, 22, 28, 63, 279.
31ainwarin;, Arthur one of the riators confederated with
Combe brothers and William Shakspere in an at-
tempted enclosure of the Common fields, 42, 53, 55,
Malom, Edmond quoted, 91, 309, 369.
Manuinghain, Joint diarist records anecdote of Shakspere,
23, 24, 28, 171, 235.
Marlowe, Christopher Was on terms of intimate friendship
with Chapman, 385.
Suffered from repression, 282, 320, 321.
His imputed atheism, 359, 360, 361.
His Violent end of life with a foreknowledge of his un-
timely death at the stake was his death self-admin-
istered? or was he slain by a serving-man one Fran-
cis Archer, which?
Miller, Joaquin, California poet, 300.
Marston, John, 169, 190, 243, 267, 268.
Mantson, Prof. David on Shakespeare's reticense, 102.
Markham, Edwin American poet, 282.
Martin, Marprilate a Mask-name, 292.
Manque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn, 386.
Meres, Francis, 180, 181, 182, 184, 185, 288, 298.
Mermaid Tavern Ben at. 241.
Merton College Oxford, 167.
Mlddilton, Thomas, 25, 267.
Milton, John, 32, 41, 196, 299, 378.
Minto, Prof. William, 373.
Mountjoy, Christopher, Wig-maker Prof. Wallace on, 86,
Mollere (Jean Baptiste Poquelin), 191.
Mulcaster, Richard, 109.
Munday, Anthony, 310.
Nash, Thomas Poet on informers, 196, 206, 212, 280, 297, 299,
Nash, Thomas marries Elizabeth Hall the grand-daughter
of William Shakspere, 127.
Nicholas, Cardinal de Cusa,
Nine Days Wonder, 327.
Norwich Kemp at, 322.
Northumberland, Earl of, 356.
Overhury, Sir Thomas Horribly murdered by poison Lady
Essex and James The First being the instigators, 343,
Ovid poet and a canon lawyer, 103, 104.
Peele, George, 19, 93, 185, 310, 351, 357.
Pembrook, Countess of, 33.
Pembrook, Earl of, 16, 19, 232, 231, 230.
Phillips, Augustine, 122.
Poe. Edgar Allen, 282, 298.
Pope, Alexander, 308.
Privy Council, 6, 74.
Public Record Office, 87.
Pym, John, 24.
Quiney, Richard, 121.
Quiney, Thomas, 127, 133, 137.
Qjuincy, Thomas, 109, 223.
Raleigh, Sir Walter, 25, 170, 190, 381, 391.
ItipliiiKltnm Combe's agent, 44, 48.
Richard II, 6, 7, 8, 216.
Robertson, J. M., 14, 15, 137, 389.
Rogers, Philip, 135, 137.
Rathwuy, Uiohard, 330.
Ro*ve. Nicholas, 68, 79, 83, 112, 168, 308.
Rowly, William, 310, 330.
Rutland, Countess of, 16, 276.
Rutland. Karl of, 14, 276.
It utter, Joseph, 274.
Salisbury, Earl of, 369.
Scot, Reginald, 226, 380.
Scott, Sir Walter, 343.
Selden John, 25, 102, 103, 104, 226, 241.
Shagrsper, Willm, 111, 112.
Shake-rage, 95, 322.
Shake-scene, 92, 94, 95, 284, 308, 314, 317.
Shake-Speare Shakespeare the author of the Plays a psen-
donymous Name first assumed in connection with the
Poems in 1593 in connection with the Plays in 1598
and in connection with the Sonnets in 1609, 17, 19, 77,
80, 101, 179, 180, 185, 186, 233, 262, 268, 299, 304.
Cannot be identified with Shakspere the Stratford Play-
er, 187, 188.
"The Poet" was anxious to mask his identity under the
name "Shakespeare" a pseudonym, why? Was he a
man of rank or of high position in society? 189, 200,
201, 203, 219, 234.
Not attack by Robert Greene, 91, 92, 93.
Shake-scene not allusion to, 92.
Ben Jonson's allusion to, 259, 268.
Chettle supposed allusion cannot be a reference to, 96.
Not a single commendatory verse was addressed to the
Poet on the production or publication of any of the
Shakespeare Plays, 189, 31, 32.
His vocabulary (see the Literary Aspect), 179.
A Summary of some of the negative pregnants, 229, 203.
Such as the silence of Ben Jonson not so much as the
least commentary upon the Author of the Plays until
the Stratford Player had lain for years in the grave,
Also the silence of the diarest Maningham, 27, 28, 235.
The Silence of Sir Thomas Bodley, 102.
The Silence of John Selden, 25, 203.
The Silence of Inigo Jones, 203.
The Silence of Philip Henslowe, 395, 234, 235.
The Silence of Edward Alleyn, 234, 235.
The Silence of Beaumont and Fletcher, 23, 31, 203.
The Silence of Chapman, 202, 203.
The Silence of Drayton, 202, 203.
Shakspere, William "Him who sleeps by Avon," 4, 5, 10, 11.
His parentage, 104.
Stratford-on-Avon His Supposed Birthplace, 101. 105
122, 124, 125, 128.
His Baptism And Nurture, 105.
Was he sent to school in boyhood? his biographers un-
able to tell, 107, 108, 109, 110.
Known Facts of his life, 121, 122, 142, 159, 171.
His improvident and irregular marriage, 105, 110, 111,
He hikes 'to London, 117, 118.
An actor, 205, 213, 218, 225, 229, 230, 231, 232, 245, 251,
Lived apart from his wife and children, 130.
A sojourner for many years in the house shop of a wig-
maker, 86, one Mountjoy in Silver Street, London, 143,
Was a witness for the plaintiff in the case Bellott vs.
Mountjoy. His testimony of little value to the party
calling him or to the Court of Requests, 146, 148, 150,
151, 152, 158.
Speculation in Real Estate, 121.
His harsh treatment of debtors, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141.
His litigious striving, 134, 135, 136, 140.
Conduct in money affairs, 160, 163, 121, 134, 157.
Becomes very wealthy, 108, 110.
His arrogant defiance of public interest shown by his
persistent invasion of popular rights, 44, 61.
Was one of the men who sought the oppression of the
townfolks by his attempt to seize the common lands
whom the Lord Chief-Justice Sir Edward Coke de-
clared from the bench "defied the law of the realm,"
41, 42, 43, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 74, 85.
TTie execrative epitaph cut on his tomb is a criminating
memorial of his attempt to gain possession of the
Stratford Common lands, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41,
42, 75, 76, 77.
Was charged with obtaining "heraldic" honours by
fraudulent representation, 5, 131, 132.
As a player takes unimportant parts in what are now
termed the "heavy business," 119, 120, 123, 205.
His literary contemporaries had no conception of the
actors intellectual supremacy if such he possessed, 103,
125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 144, 145, 163, 164, 165, 172, 200,
Was one of "those deserving men and one of the part-
ners in the profits of that they call the House" 119, 120.
His readiness to engage with Richard Burbage to work
at the Earl of Rutland's, frevolans device ."impreso"
in 1613 for the small sum of 44s, three years before
his death, 18, 19-
The spelling of his name not Spear-Shaking, 105, 142,
Never assumed the name of "Shakespeare" or the hy-
phenated Shake-Speare, 143.
Does not claim the "Shakespeare Plays," 9.
And his daughters, illiteracy, 108, 109.
The bust in the Stratford Church the most trustworthy
physical presentment of, 159, 160.
His Will, 63, 63, 66, 170.
Death and burial of.
Shakspere, John, 106, 126.
Shakspere, Judith, 108, 109, 126, 133.
Shakspere, Susanna. 109.
Sheavyn, Phoebe, 310.
Shirley, James, 25, 241.
Sidney, Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland, 276.
Sidney, Sir Philip, 24, 82, 267.
Southampton, Earl of, 26, 165, 167, 168, 170, 172, 173, 174.
Speddingr, James, 186, 203.
Spencer, Edmund, 5, 170, 189, 241, 267, 294.
Star Chamber, 6, 54, 169.
Stevens, George, 83, 84.
Stopes, Mrs. C. C., 18, 71, 72.
Stevenson, Mr., 72.
Stratford Bust (see Frontispiece).
Swift, Dean, 291.
Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 27.
Symouds, J. A., 32.
Taft, William Howard, 361.
Tarleton, Richard the player, 311, 321.
Tell, William, 226, 227.
Taylor, John, 267.
Thwaites, Sdward, 36.
Tyrwhltt, Thomas, 93, 308, 309.
Upstart, Crow, 92, 95.
Venus and Adonis, 165, 214.
Voltaire (Francis Aronet), 191.
AVallace, Dr. Charles William his Shakspere discoveries, 19,
52, 86, 87, 135, 136, 156, 137, 158, 159, 161, 162.
Wheler Collection, the Stratford-on-Avon 1806, 41.
White, R. G., 139.
Wilkins, eorge, 155.
Webster, John, 197, 198, 199, 200, 390.
Welcombe, 45, 53, 55.
Whateley, Anna, 111.
W'riathesley, Henry, Karl of Southampton, 5, 25, 165, 381.
Wilson, Woodrow, 279.
Wilson, Robert Senior, 310, 311, 313, 314, 330, 371.
Wood. Anthony, 376.
Worburton, Bishop, 309.
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