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jurisdiction, and not only to forbid performances of every description, but “ so to deface" all places erected for theatrical representations, as they might not be employed again to such use.' This command was given just anterior to the production of Nash's “Isle of Dogs," which was certainly not calculated to lessen the objections entertained by any persons in authority about the Court.
The Blackfriars, not being, according to the terms of the order of the Privy Council, "a common play-house,” but what was called a private theatre, does not seem to have been included in the general ban ; but as we know that similar directions had been conveyed to the magistrates of the county of Surrey, it is somewhat surprising that they seem to have produced no effect upon the performances at the Globe or the Rose on the Bankside. We must attribute this circumstance, perhaps, to the exercise of private influence; and it is quite certain that the necessity of keeping some companies in practice, in order that they might be prepared to exhibit, when required, before the Queen, was made the pretext for granting exclusive “
licences to the actors of the Lord. Chamberlain, and of the Lord Admiral. We know that the Earls of Southampton and Rutland, about this date and shortly afterwards, were in the frequent habit of visiting the theatres : the Earl of Nottingham also seems to have taken an unusual interest on various occasions in favour of the company acting under his name; and to the representations of these noblemen we are, perhaps, to attribute the exemption of the Globe and the Rose from the operation of the order “to deface" all buildings adapted to dramatic representations in Middlesex and Surrey, in a manner that would render them unfit for any such purpose in future. We have the authority of the registers of the Privy Council, under date of 19th Feb. 1597-8, for stating that the companies of the Lord Chamberlain and of the Lord Admiral obtained renewed permission “to use and practise stage-plays,” in order that they might be duly qualified, if called upon, to perform before the Queen.
This privilege, as regards the players of the Lord Admiral, seems the more extraordinary, because that was the
8 See Vol. ii. p. 132 of the “ Sidney Papers," where Rowland White tells Sir Robert Sidney, My Lord Southampton and Lord Rutland come not to the court: the one doth but very seldom. They pass away the time in London merely in going to plays every day.” This letter is dated 11th October, 1599, and the Queen was then at Nonesuch.
pany which, only in the August preceding, had given such offence by the representation of Nash's " Isle of Dogs,” that its farther performance was forbidden, the author and some of the players were arrested and sent to the Fleet, and vigorous steps taken to secure the persons of other parties who for a time had rapidly made their exit. It is very likely that Nash was the scape-goat on the occasion, and that the chief blame was thrown
upon him, although, in his tract, before mentioned, he maintains that he was the most innocent party of all those who were concerned in the transaction. It seems evident, that in 1598 there was a strong disposition on the part of some members of the Queen's government to restrict dramatic performances, in and near London, to the servants of the Lord Chamberlain and of the Lord Admiral.
As far as we can judge, there was good reason for showing favour to the association with which Shakespeare was connected, because nothing has reached us to lead to the belief that the Lord Chamberlain's servants had incurred any displeasure: if the Lord Admiral's servants were to be permitted to continue their performances at the Rose, it would have been an act of the grossest injustice to have prevented the Lord Chamberlain's servants from acting at the Globe. Accordingly, we hear of no interruption, at this date, of the performances at either of the theatres in the receipts of which Shakespeare participated.
To the year 1598 inclusive, only five of his plays had been printed, although he had then been connected with the stage for about twelve years, viz. “Romeo and Juliet,” “Richard II.” and “Richard III.” in 1597, and “Love's Labour's Lost” and “Henry IV., Part I." in 1598'; but, as we learn from indisputable contemporaneous authority, he had written seven others, besides what he had done in the way of alteration, addition, and adaptation. The earliest enumeration of Shakespeare's dramas made its appearance in 1598, in a work by Francis Meres entitled “ Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury'.
9 It is doubtful whether an edition of “ Titus Andronicus" had not appeared as early as 1594 (see Vol. v. p. 4); but no older copy than that of 1600, in the library of the Earl of Ellesmere, is known. It is necessary to bear in mind, that the impression of “Romeo and Juliet” in 1597 was only a mangled and mutilated representation of the state in which the tragedy came from the hand of its author. (See Vol. v. p. 94.)
1 The full title is this :--"Palladis Tamia. Wits Treasury, being the Second part of Wits Common wealth. By Francis Meres, Maister of Artes of both Universities.-Vivitur ingenio, cætera mortis erunt-At London Printed by
In a division of this small but thick volume (consisting of 666 8vo. pages, besides “The Table,”) headed “A comparative discourse of our English Poets, with the Greeke, Latine and Italian Poets,” the author inserts the following paragraph, which we extract precisely as it stands in the original, (fo. 282) because it has no where, that we recollect, been quoted quite correctly.
“As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latines : so Shakespeare among ye English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage ; for Comedy, witnes his Gētlemē of Verona, his Errors, his Loue labors lost, his Loue labours wonne, his Midsummers night dreame, & bis Merchant of Venice : for Tragedy his Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry the 4. King lohn, Titus Andronicus and his Romeo and Juliet ?."
P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be solde at his shop at the Royall Exchange. 1598." 12mo.
2 The following passages, in the same division of the work of Meres, contain mention of the name or works of Shakespeare.
“ As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to liue in Pythagoras, so the sweete wittie soule of Ouid lives in mellifluous and hony-tongued Shakespeare ; witnes his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred sonnets among his priuate friends &c.” fol. 281.
“ As Epius Stolo said, the Muses would speake with Plautus tongue, if they would speak Latin ; so I say the Muses would speak with Shakespeare's fine-filed phrase, if they would speak English.” fol. 282.
“And as Horace saith of his, Exegi monumentū ære perennius, Regaliq; situ pyramidum altius ; Quod non imber edax ; Non Aquilo impotens possit diruere, aut innumerabilis annorum series et fuga temporum ; so say I severally of Sir Philip Sidneys, Spencers, Daniels, Draytons, Shakespeares, and Warners workes.” fol. 282.
“ As Pindarus, Anacreon, and Callimachus among the Greekes, and Horace and Catullus among the Latines, are the best lyrick poets ; so in this faculty the best amog our poets are Spencer (who excelleth in all kinds) Daniel, Drayton, Shakespeare, Bretto." fol. 282.
“ As these tragicke poets flourished in Greece, Æschylus, Euripedes, Sophocles, Alexander Aetolus, Achaeus Erithriæus, Astydamas Atheniēsis, Apollodorus Tarsensis, Nicomachus Phrygius, Thespis Atticus, and Timon Apolloniates ; and these among the Latines, Accius, M. Attilius, Pomponius Secundus and Seneca ; so these are our best for tragedie ; the Lord Buckhurst, Doctor Leg of Cambridge, Dr. Edes of Oxford, Maister Edward Ferris, the Author of the Mirrour for Magistrates, Marlow, Peele, Watson, Kid, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chapman, Decker, and Beniamin Iohnson." fol. 283.
“ The best poets for comedy among the Greeks are these: Menander, Aristophanes, Eupolis Atheniensis, Alexis Terius, Nicostratus, Amipsias Atheniensis, Anaxādrides Rhodius, Aristonymus, Archippus Atheniēsis, and Callias Atheniensis; and among the Latines, Plautus, Terence, Næuius, Sext. Turpilius, Licinius Imbrex, and Virgilius Romanus ; so the best for comedy amongst us bee Edward Earle of Oxforde, Doctor Gager of Oxforde, Maister Rowley, once a rare scholler of learned Pembrooke Hall in Cambridge, Maister Edwards, one of her Maiesties Chappell, eloquent and wittie John Lilly, Lodge, Gascoyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash, Thomas Heywood, Anthony Mundye, our best plotter, Chapman, Porter, Wilson, Hathway, and Henry Chettle.” fol. 283.
Thus we see that twelve comedies, histories, and tragedies, (for we have specimens in each department) were known as Shakespeare's in the autumn of 1598, when the work of Meres came from the press '. It is a remarkable circumstance, evincing strikingly the manner in which the various companies of actors of that period were able to keep popular pieces from the press, that until Shakespeare had been a writer for the Lord Chamberlain's servants ten or eleven
years single play by him was published ; and then four of his first printed plays were without his name, as if the bookseller had been ignorant of the fact, or as if he considered that the omission would not affect the sale: one of them, “Romeo and Juliet,” was never printed in any early quarto as the work of Shakespeare, as will be seen from our exact reprint of the title-pages of the editions of 1597, 1599, and 1609, Vol. v. p. 92. The reprints of “Richard II.” and “Richard III." in 1598, as before observed, have Shakespeare's name for the first time on the title-pages, and they were issued, perhaps, after Meres had distinctly assigned those “histories” to him.
It is our conviction, after the most minute and patient examination of, we believe, every old impression, that Shake
“ As these are famous among the Greeks for elegie, Melanthus, Mymnerus Colophonius, Olympius Mysius, Parthenius Nicæus, Philetas Cous, Theogenes Megarenisis, and Pigres Halicarnasceus; and these among the Latines, Mecænas, Ouid, Tibullus, Propertius, T. Valgius, Cassius Seuerus, and Clodios Sabinus ; so these are the most passionate among us to bewaile and bemoane the perplexities of loue; Henrie Howard Earle of Surrey, sir Thomas Wyat the elder, sir Francis Brian, sir Philip Sidney, sir Walter Rawley, sir Edward Dyer, Spencer, Daniel, Drayton, Shakespeare, Whetstone, Gascoyne, Samuell Page sometime fellowe of Corpus Christi Colledge in Oxford, Churchyard, Bretton.” fol. 283.
3 It was entered for publication on the Stationers' Registers in September, 1598. Meres must have written something in verse which has not reached our day, because in 160] he was addressed by C. Fitzgeoffrey, in his Affaniæ, as a poet and theologian : he was certainly well acquainted with the writings of all the poets of his time, whatever might be their department. Fitzgeoffrey mentions Meres in company with Spenser, Daniel, Drayton, Ben Jonson, Sylvester, Chapman, Marston, &c. By the token-books preserved at St. Saviour's, Southwark, it appears that Francis Meares (so his name is there spelt) lived in the vicinity of the play-bouses, and was probably well acquainted with the poets and performers: this fact gives additional weight to his evidence. We also find that he must have been poor, for, according to the same authority, which we for the first time consulted, he owed 40s. for tithe. In 1601 he was residing in “ the Close,” perhaps, near the Bishop of Winchester's palace.
4 The same remark will apply to “ Henry V.” first printed in 4to, 1600, and again in 1602, and a third time in 1608, without the name of Shakespeare. However, this « history never appeared in anything like an authentic shape, such as we may suppose it came from Shakespeare's pen, until it was included in the folio of 1623: see Vol. iii. p. 536.
speare in no instance authorized the publication of a play: we do not consider even “Hamlet” an exception, although the edition of 1604 was probably intended, by some parties connected with the theatre, to supersede the garbled and fraudulent edition of 1603: Shakespeare, in our opinion, had nothing to do with the one, nor with the other. He allowed most mangled and deformed copies of several of his greatest works to be circulated for many years, and did not think it worth while to expose the fraud, which remained, in several cases, undetected, as far as the great body of the public was concerned, until the appearance of the folio of 1623. Our great dramatist's indifference upon this point seems to have been shared by many, if not by most, of his contemporaries; and if the quarto impression of any one of his plays be more accurate in typography than another, we feel satisfied that it arose out of the better state of the manuscript, or the greater pains and fidelity of the printer.
We may here point out a strong instance of the carelessness of dramatic authors of that period respecting the condition in which their productions came into the world : others might be adduced without difficulty, but one will be sufficient. Before his “Rape of Lucrece," a drama first printed in 1608, Thomas Heywood subscribed an address to the reader, informing him (for it was an exception to the general rule) that he had given his consent to the publication; but those who have examined that impression, and its repetition in 1609, will be aware that it is full of the very grossest blunders, which the commonest corrector of the press, much less the author, if he had seen the sheets, could not have permitted to pass. Nearly all plays of that time were most defectively printed, but Heywood's “ Rape of Lucrece," as it originally came out with the author's imprimatur, is, we think, the worst specimen of dramatic typography, if we may so speak, that ever met our observation.
5 It will be observed that we confine this opinion to the plays, because with respect to the poems, especially “ Venus and Adonis” and “ Lucrece," we feel quite as strongly convinced that Shakespeare, being instrumental in their publication, and more anxious about their correctness, did see at least the first editions through the press : R. Field, his townsman, was a good printer.
6 We cannot wonder at the errors in plays surreptitiously procured, and hastily printed, which was the case with most impressions of that day. Upon this point Heywood is an unexceptionable witness, and he tells us of one of his dramas,
" that some by stenography drew The plot, put it in print, scarce one word true.”