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exercise of his liberality he measured the poet by his deserts, and “used him after his own honour and dignity,” by bestowing upon him a sum worthy of his title and character, and which his wealth probably enabled him without difficulty to afford. We do not believe that there has been any exaggeration in the amount, (although that is more possible, than that the whole statement should have been a fiction) and Lord Southampton may thus have intended also to indicate his hearty good will to the new undertaking of the company, and his determination to support it'.
The opening of the Globe theatre, on the Bankside, in 1595. Union of Shake
speare's associates with the Lord Admiral's players. The theatre at Newington Butts. Plays acted there with titles similar to Shakespeare's. Projected repair and enlargement of the Blackfriars theatre: opposition by the inhabitants of the precinct. Shakespeare's rank in the company in 1596. Petition from him and seven others to the Privy Council, and its result. Repair of the Blackfriars theatre. Shakespeare a resident in Southwark in 1596: proof that he was so resident from the papers at Dulwich College.
We have concluded, as we think we may do very fairly, that the construction of the new theatre on the Bankside, subsequently known as the Globe, having been commenced soon after the signature of the bond of Burbadge to Streeť, on 22nd Dec. 1593, was continued through the year 1594: we apprehend that it would be finished and ready for the reception of audiences early in the spring of 1595. It was a round wooden building, open to the sky, while the stage was protected from the weather by an overhanging roof of thatch. The number of persons it would contain we have no means of ascertaining, but it was certainly of larger dimensions than the Rose, the Hope, or the Swan, three other edifices of the same kind and used for the same purpose, in the immediate vicinity. The Blackfriars was a private theatre, as it was called, entirely covered in, and of smaller size; and from thence the company, after the Globe had been completed, was in the habit of removing early in the spring, perhaps as soon as there was any indication of the setting in of fine cheerful weather 8.
“ Her dainty hand addrest to daw her dear,
Her roseal lip allied to his pale cheek,
How on his sensless corps she lay a crying,
As if the boy were then but new a dying.” The sight of these stanzas, printed four years anterior to the appearance of Shakespeare's “ Venus and Adonis,” might possibly put him in mind of the subject, as well as of the form of verse in which it ought to be treated; but in that case we must conclude that the production was composed some time after our poet quitted Stratford, and there are those who are of opinion that the rural descriptions it contains might be the result of earlier impressions on the poet's mind.
7 After the Globe had been burnt down in June, 1613, it was rebuilt very much by the contributions of the king and the nobility. Lord Southampton in 1594 may have intended the 10001., in part, as his contribution to this, enterprise, through the hands of an individual whom he had good reason to distinguish from the rest of the company.
Before the building of the Globe, for the exclusive use of the theatrical servants of the Lord Chamberlain, there can be little doubt that they did not act all the year round at the Blackfriars : they appear to have performed sometimes at the Curtain in Shoreditch, and Richard Burbadge, at the time of his death, still owned shares in that playhouse'. Whether they occupied it in common with any other association is not so clear; but we learn from Henslowe's Diary, that in 1594, and perhaps at an earlier date, the company of which Shakespeare was a member had played at a theatre in Newington Butts, where the Lord Admiral's servants also exhibited. At this period of our stage-history the performances usually
8 We know that they did so afterwards, and there is every reason to believe that such was their practice from the beginning. Dr. Forman records, in his Diary in the Ashmolean Museum, that he saw " Macbeth” at the Globe, on the 20th April, 1610 : “Richard II.” on the 30th April, 1611, and “The Winter's Tale” on the 15th May, in the same year. See the Introductions to those several plays; and the deposition of Augustine Phillips, Vol. iii. p. 214.
9 The same was precisely the case with Pope, the celebrated comedian, who died in Feb. 1604. His will, dated 22nd July, 1603, contains the following clause : “ Item, I give and bequeath to the said Mary Clark, alias Wood, and to the said Thomas Bromley, as well all my part, right, title, and interest, which I have, or ought to have, in and to all that playhouse, with the appurtenances, called the Curtain, situate and being in Holywell, in the parish of St. Leonard's in Shoreditch, in the county of Middlesex; as also my part, estate, and interest, which I have, or ought to have, in and to all that playhouse, with the appurtenances, called the Globe, in the parish of St. Saviour's, in the county of Surrey."
“ Lives of the principal Actors," &c. printed by the Shakespeare Society in 1846, p. 126.
Richard Burbadge lived and died (in 1619) in Holywell-street, near the Curtain theatre, as if his presence were necessary for the superintendence of the concern, although he had been an actor at the Blackfriars for many years, and at the Globe ever since its erection. Shakespeare also, at one time, had an interest in a theatre in Shoreditch, and, perhaps, resided in the parish ; but it is not known that any one of his plays was erer performed there.
began at three o'clock in the afternoon; for the citizens transacted their business and dined early, and many of them afterwards walked out into the fields for recreation, often visiting such theatres as were opened purposely for their reception. Henslowe's Diary shows that the Lord Chamberlain's and the Lord Admiral's servants had joint possession of the Newington theatre from 3rd June, 1594, to the 15th November, 1596; and during that period various pieces were performed, which in their titles resemble plays which unquestionably came from Shakespeare's pen. That none of these were productions by our great dramatist, it is, of course, impossible to affirm; but the strong probability seems to be, that they were older dramas, of which he subsequently, more or less, availed himself. Among these was a “Hamlet,” acted on 9th June, 1594: a “Taming of a Shrew,” acted on 11th June, 1594; an “Andronicus,” acted on 12th June, 1594; a “Venetian Comedy," acted on 12th Aug. 1594; a “Cæsar and Pompey," acted 8th Nov. 1594; a “Second Part of Cæsar," acted 26th June, 1595; a “Henry V.," acted on 28th Nov. 1595; and a “Troy," acted on the 22nd June, 1596. To these we might add a "Palamon and Arcite,” (acted on 17th Sept. 1594) if, as we suppose, Shakespeare had a hand in writing “The Two Noble Kinsmen;" and an "Antony and Vallea,” (acted on the 20th June, 1595) as it is called in the barbarous record, which may possibly have had some connexion with “Antony and Cleopatra '.” We have no reason to think that Shakespeare did not aid in these representations, although he was, perhaps, too much engaged with the duties of authorship, at this date, to take a very busy or prominent part as an actor.
The fact that the Lord Chamberlain's players acted at Newington until November, 1596, may appear to militate against our notion that the Globe was finished, and ready for performances, in the spring of 1595; and it is very possible that the construction occupied more time than we have imagined. Malone was of opinion that the Globe might have been opened even in 1594’; but we postpone that event until the following year, because we think the time too short, and because, unless it were entirely completed early in 1594, it would not
1 See the Index to “ The Diary of Philip Henslowe,” as printed by the Shake. speare Society in 1845, from the original MS. in Dulwich College. These and many other plays are there mentioned.
2 “Inquiry into the Authenticity,” &c. p. 87.
be required, inasmuch as the company for which it was built seems to have acted at the Blackfriars in the winter. Our notion is, that, even after the Globe was finished, the Lord Chamberlain's servants now and then performed at Newington in the summer, because audiences, having been accustomed to expect them there, assembled for the purpose, and the players did not think it prudent to relinquish the emolument thus to be obtained. The performances at Newington, we may presume, did not however interfere with the representations at the Globe; but if any members of the company had continued to play at Newington after November 1596, we should, no doubt, have found some trace of it in Henslowe's Diary.
Another reason for thinking that the Globe was opened in the spring of 1595 is, that very soon afterwards the sharers in that enterprise commenced the repair and enlargement of their theatre in the Blackfriars, which had been in constant use for twenty years. Of this proceeding we shall have oocasion to say more presently.
We may feel assured that the important incident of the opening of a new theatre on the Bankside, larger than any that then stood in that or in other parts of the town, was celebrated by the production of a new play. Considering his station and duties in the company, and his popularity as a dramatist, we may be confident also that the new play was written by Shakespeare. In the imperfect state of our information, it would be vain to speculate which of his dramas was brought out on the occasion ; but if the reader will refer to our several Introductions, he will see which of the plays, according to such evidence as we are acquainted with, may appear to have the best claim to the distinction. Many years ago we were strongly inclined to think that
Henry V.” was the piece: the Globe was round, and the “wooden 0” is most pointedly mentioned in that drama; so that, at all events, we are satisfied that it was acted in that theatre: there is also a nationality about the subject, and a popularity in the treatment of it, which would render it peculiarly appropriate ; but on farther reflection and information, we are unwillingly convinced that “Henry V.” was not written until some years afterwards.
We frankly own, therefore, that we are not in a condition to offer an opinion upon the question, and we are disposed, where we can, to refrain even from conjecture, when we have no ground on which to rest speculation.
Allowing about fifteen months for the erection and completion of the Globe, we may believe that it was in full operation in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1595. On the approach of cold weather, the company would of course return to their winter quarters in the Blackfriars, which was enclosed, lighted from within, and comparatively warm. This theatre, as we have stated, at this date had been in constant use for twenty years, and early in 1596 the sharers directed their attention to the extensive repair, enlargement, and possibly, entire reconstruction of the building. The evidence that they entertained such a design is very decisive; and we may perhaps infer, that the prosperity of their new experiment at the Globe encouraged them to this outlay. On the 9th Jan. 1596 (1595, according to the then mode of calculating the year) Lord Hunsdon, who was Lord Chamberlain at the time, but who died about six months afterwards, wrote to Sir William More, expressing a wish to take a house of him in the Blackfriars, and adding that he had heard that Sir William More had parted with a portion of his own residence “to some that mean to make a playhouse of it”.
The truth, no doubt, was, that in consequence of their increased popularity, owing, we may readily imagine, in a great degree, to the success of the plays Shakespeare had produced, the company which had occupied the Blackfriars theatre found that their house was too small for their audiences, and wished to enlarge it; but it appears rather singular that Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, should not be at all aware of the intention of the players acting under the sanction of his name and office, and should only have heard that some persons “meant to make a playhouse” of part of Sir William More’s residence. We have not a copy of the whole of Lord Hunsdon's letter-only an abstract of it-which reads as if the Lord Chamberlain did not even know that there was any theatre at all in the Blackfriars. Two documents in the State Paper Office, and a third preserved at Dulwich College, enable us to state distinctly what was the object of the actors at the Blackfriars in 1596. The first of these is a representation from certain inhabitants of the precinct in which the playhouse was situated, not only against the completion of the work of repair and enlargement, then commenced, but against all farther performances in the theatre.
3 See “ The Loseley Manuscripts,” by A. J. Kempe, Esq., 8vo,. 1835, p. 496 : a very curious and interesting collection of original documents.