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of the paper our poet's father is called “Mr. John Shaksper,' and at the end we find his name as “ John Shaksper senior :” this appears to be the only instance in which the addition of “senior” was made, and the object of it might be to distinguish him more effectually from John Shakespeare, the shoemaker in Stratford, with whom, of old, perhaps, as in modern times, he was now and then confounded. The fact of the appraisement may be material in deciding whether John Shakespeare, at the age of sixty-two, was, or was not
aged, sick, or impotent of body” as to be unable to attend protestant divine worship. It certainly does not seem likely that he would have been selected for the performance of such a duty, however trifling, if he had been so apprehensive of arrest as not to be able to leave his dwelling, or if he had been very infirm from sickness or old age.
Whether he were, or were not a member of the protestant reformed Church, it is not to be disputed that his children, all of whom were born between 1558 and 1580, were baptized at the ordinary and established place of worship in the parish. That his son William was educated, lived, and died a protestant we have no doubt.
We have already stated our distinct and deliberate opinion that “ Venus and Adonis" was written before its author left his home in Warwickshire. He kept it by him for some years, and late in 1592 seems to have put it into the hands
, of a printer, named Richard Field, who was a native of Stratford, and the son of the Henry Field, whose goods John Shakespeare was employed to value in 1592'. It is to be
Of course, unless, as does not appear in this coeval copy, John Shakespeare made his mark, the document must have been subscribed “ John Shaksper, senior,” by some person on his behalf.
? This fact is established by the following memorandum extracted from the Registers of the Stationers' Company of London, where the names and addresses of the parties are given :
“10 Aug. 1579. Rychard Feylde, sonne of Henry Feilde, of Stratford upon Avon, in the countye of Warwick, tanner, bath put him selfe apprentis to George Bishop, citizen and stacioner of London, for vij yeres from Michaelmas next.”
By another entry it appears that it was agreed between Bishop and Vautrollier, another citizen and stationer, that Richard Field should serve the latter for the first six years of his time, and that for the seventh year only he should be with Bishop. His apprenticeship would terminate in 1586, and on the 7 Feb. 1591 (the year before his father died and when John Shakespeare took an inventory of the goods), Richard Field himself took an apprentice, that apprentice being his brother Jasper, who agreed to serve him for seven years.
We derive the above particulars, which are quite new, from Vol. iv. pp. 37, 38 of “The Shakespeare Society's Papers ;" and from another publication of the VOL. I.
recollected that at the time “ Venus and Adonis was sent to the press, while it was printing, and when it was published, the plague prevailed in London to such an excess, that it was deemed expedient by the privy council to put a stop to all theatrical performances. Shakespeare seems to have availed himself of this interval, in order to bring before the world a production of a different character to those which had been ordinarily seen from his pen. Until “ Venus and Adonis ” out, the public at large could have known him only by the dramas he had written, or by those which, at an earlier date, he had altered, amended, and revived. The poem was issued from Field's press in the spring of 1593, preceded by a dedication to the Earl of Southampton. Its popularity was great and instantaneous, for a new edition of it was called for in 1594, a third in 1596, a fourth in 1600, and a fifth in 1602' : there may have been, and probably were, intervening impressions, which have disappeared among the popular and destroyed literature of the time. Perhaps this admirable and unequalled production introduced its author to the personal notice of Lord Southampton; and it is evident from the opening of the dedication, that Shakespeare had not taken the precaution of ascertaining, in the first instance, the
same society—“Memoirs of the principal Actors in the Plays of Shakespeare (8vo, 1846, p. 223),
), -we learn that Richard Field, on the 12 Jan. 1588, married Jaqueline Vautrollier, the daughter of the master whom he had served during the first six years of his apprenticeship. It was in the year after bis father's death at Stratford that he printed and published Shakespeare's “ Venus and Adonis,” the poet having doubtless been directed to Field, as born in the same town, and very possibly as a boy in the same school. Field succeeded his father-in-law, Thomas Vautrollier, in business in Blackfriars, and continued to employ the same device, viz. an anchor supported by a hand from the clouds, intertwined with branches of laurel. It is placed upon the title-pages of the three earliest impressions of “ Venus and Adonis" and of the first impression of “ Lucrece."
8 By the following order, derived from the Privy Council Registers :
“That for avoyding of great concourse of people, which causeth increase of the infection, it were convenient that all Playes, Bear-baytings, Cockpitts, common Bowling-alleyes, and such like unnecessarie assemblies, should be suppressed during the time of infection ; for that infected people, after their long keeping in, and before they be cleared of their disease and infection, being desirous of recreation, use to resort to such assemblies, where, through heate and thronge, they infect many sound personnes.”
In consequence of the virulence and extent of the disorder, Michaelmas term, 1593, was kept at St. Alban's. It was at this period that Nash's “Summer's Last Will and Testament” was acted as a private entertainment at Croydon.
9 Malone knew nothing of any copy of 1594. The impression of 1602 was printed for W. Leake; but only a single exemplar of it has come down to our day : it had been entered by W. Leake as early as 1596.
wishes of the young nobleman on the subject. Lord Southampton was more than nine years younger than Shakespeare, having been born on the 6th Oct. 1573.
We may be sure that the dedication of “ Venus and Adonis" was, on every account, acceptable, and Shakespeare followed it up by inscribing to the same peer, but in a much more assured and confident strain, his “Lucrece" in the succeeding year. He then “dedicated his love” to his juvenile patron, having “a warrant of his honourable disposition” towards his "pamphlet ” and himself. “Lucrece”
” was not calculated, from its subject and the treatment of it, to be so popular as “Venus and Adonis," and the first edition having appeared from Field's press in 1594, a reprint of it does not seem to have been called for until after the lapse of four years, and the third edition bears the date of 1600 1.
. It must have been about this period that the Earl of Southampton bestowed a most extraordinary proof of his high-minded munificence upon the author of “Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece." It was not unusual, at that time and afterwards, for noblemen, and others to whom works were dedicated, to make presents of money to the writers of them ; but there is certainly no instance upon record of such generous bounty, on an occasion of the kind, as that of which we are now to speak’: nevertheless, we have every reliance upon the authenticity of the anecdote, taking into account the unexampled merit of the poet, the overflowing liberality of the nobleman, and the evidence upon which the story has been handed down. Rowe was the original narrator of it in print, and he doubtless had it, with other information, from Betterton, who probably received it directly from Sir William Davenant, and communicated it to Rowe. If it cannot be asserted that Davenant was strictly contemporary with Shakespeare, he was contemporary with Shakespeare's con
1 It may be almost doubted whether W. S. mentioned by Henry Willobie in his poem called Avisa,” 4to, 1594, were not intended for the initials of William Shakespeare. Willobie terms W. S. his “familiar friend," and immediately afterwards employs so many theatrical expressions, that it seems as if the mention of him had led the author to the use of them : thus, he speaks of W. S. “playing his part better,” and “ viewing afar off the course of this loving comedy, determining to see whether it would not sort to a happier end for this new actor, than it did for the old player.” Afterwards he speaks of “the comedy, being like to have grown to a tragedy.” “ Lucrece" is praised in “ Avisa" by name.
2 The author of the present Life of Shakespeare is bound to make one exception, which has come peculiarly within his own knowledge, but of which he does not feel at liberty, even after the death of that noble patron, to say more.
temporaries, and from them he must have obtained the original information. Rowe gives the statement in these words :-
“There is one instance so singular in the magnificence of this patron of Shakespeare's that, if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William Davenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his [Shakespeare's] affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted ; that my Lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to 3."
No biographer of Shakespeare seems to have adverted to the period when it was likely that the gift was made, in combination with the nature of the purchase Lord Southampton had heard our great dramatist wished to “go through with,
” or, it seems to us, they would not have thought the tradition by any means so improbable as some have held it.
The disposition to make a worthy return for the dedications of “ Venus and Adonis ” and “Lucrece” would of course be produced in the mind of Lord Southampton by the publication of those noble and most original poems; and we are to recollect that it was precisely at the same date, that the Lord Chamberlain's servants entered upon the project of building the Globe Theatre on the Bankside, not very far to the west of the Southwark foot of London Bridge. “ Venus and Adonis ” was published in 1593; and it was on the 22nd Dec. in that very year that Richard Burbadge, the great actor, and the leader of the company to which Shakespeare was attached, signed a bond to a carpenter of the name of Peter Street for the construction of the Globe. It is not too much to allow at least a year for its completion; and it was during 1594, while the work on the Bankside was in progress, that “Lucrece"
came from the press. Thus we see that the building of the Globe, at the cost of the sharers in the Blackfriars theatre, was coincident in point of time with the appearance of the two poems dedicated to the Earl of Southampton. Is it, then, too much to believe that the young and bountiful nobleman, having heard of this enterprise from the peculiar interest he is known to have taken in all matters relating to the stage, and having been incited by warm admiration of “ Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece,” in the fore-front of which he rejoiced to see his own name, presented Shake
3 “Some Account,” &c. 1709, p. x. Perhaps in the above extract we ought to read “magnificence” munificence, and in modern times the latter word has ordinarily been substituted, and without notice of the variation from the original.
speare with 10001., to enable him to make good the money he was to produce, as his proportion, for the completion of the Globe theatre * ?
We do not mean to say that our great dramatist stood in need of the money, or that he could not have deposited it as well perhaps as the other sharers in the Blackfriars • ; but Lord Southampton may not have thought it necessary to inquire, whether he did or did not want it, nor to consider precisely what it had been customary to give ordinary versifiers, who sought the pay and patronage of the nobility. Although Shakespeare had not yet reached the climax of his excellence, Lord Southampton knew him to be the greatest dramatist this country had yet produced; he knew him also to be the writer of two poems, dedicated to himself, with which nothing else of the kind could bear comparison o; and in the
4 John Florio, in the Dedication to his “World of Words," an Italian and English Dictionary published in 1598, thus bears grateful testimony to the extraordinary bounty and benevolence of Lord Southampton :-“In truth, I acknowledge an entire debt, not only of my best knowledge, but of all; yea, more than I know or can, to your bounteous Lordship, most noble, most virtuous, and most honourable Earl of Southampton, in whose pay and patronage I have lived some years, to whom I owe and vowe the years I have to live.” From hence he proceeds to notice the “many more to whom “ the sunshine" of his generous patron had given “ light and life.” If Lord Southampton could thus reward Florio, for a dictionary, it requires no great stretch of imagination to suppose that he gave a thousand pounds to Shakespeare for the dedication to him of two such poems as “Venus and Adonis" and “Lucrece.”
5 Neither are we to imagine that Shakespeare would have to give the whole sum of 10001. as his contribution to the cost of the Globe: probably much less ; but this was a consideration which, we may feel assured, never entered the mind of a man like Lord Southampton.
6 Thomas Lodge was the poet of that day who may be said to have made the nearest, though still distant, approach to the excellence of Shakespeare in this department. He published his “ Scillae's Metamorphosis, interlaced with the unfortunate Love of Glaucus” in 1589 : it is in the same form of stanza as Sbakespeare's “ Venus and Adonis," and what is remarkable is, that it contains the following beautiful and brief description of the death of Adonis :
“ He that hath seen the sweet Arcadian boy
Wiping the purple from his forced wound,
The echoes ringing from the rocks his fall,
The trees with tears reporting of his thrall ;
Forcing her birds to haste her chariot on,
Whose beauty quail'd as doth the lillies droop,