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We apprehend likewise, as we have already remarked, that the confirmation of arms in 1596; obtained, as believe, by William Shakespeare, had reference to the permanent and substantial settlement of his family in Stratford, and to the purchase of a residence there consistent with the altered circumstances of that family-altered by its increased wealth and consequence, owing to the success of our great poet both as an actor and a dramatist.
The removal of the Lord Admiral's players, under Henslowe and Alleyn, from the Rose theatre on the Bankside, to their new house called the Fortune, in Golding-lane, Cripplegate, soon after the date to which we are now referring, may lead to the opinion that that company did not find itself equal to sustain the rivalship with the Lord Chamberlain's servants, under Shakespeare and Burbadge, at the Globe. That theatre was opened, as we have adduced reasons to suppose, in the spring of 1595: the Rose was a considerably older building, and the necessity for repairing it might enter into the calculation, when Henslowe and Alleyn thought of trying the experiment in a different part of the town, and on the Middlesex side of the water. Theatres were at this date merely wooden structures, and if much frequented, they would soon fall into decay, especially in a marshy situation like that of the Bankside: so damp was the soil in the neighbourhood, that the Globe was surrounded by a moat to keep it dry; and, although we do not find the fact any where stated, it is most likely that the Rose was similarly drained. The Rose was in the first instance, and as far back as the reign of Edward VI., a house of entertainment, or inn, with that sign, and it was converted into a theatre, by Henslowe and a grocer of the name of Cholmley, about the year 1584; but it seems to have early required considerable reparations, and they might be again necessary prior to 1599, when Henslowe and Alleyn resolved to abandon Southwark. However, it may be doubted whether they would not have continued where they were, recollecting the convenient proximity of Paris Garden, (where bears, bulls, &c. were baited, and in which they were also jointly interested,) but for the success of the Lord Chamberlain's players at the Globe, which had been in use four or five years'. Henslowe and Alleyn seem to
We may be disposed to assign the following lines to about this period, or a little earlier : they relate to some theatrical wager in which Alleyn, of the Lord Admiral's players, was, for a part not named, to be matched against Kempe, of
have found, that neither their plays nor their players could stand the competition of their rivals, and they accordingly removed to a vicinity where no play-house had previously existed.
The Fortune theatre was commenced in Golding-lane, Cripplegate, in the year 1599, and finished in 1600, and thither without delay Henslowe and Alleyn transported their whole dramatic establishment, strengthened in the spring of 1602 by the addition of that great and popular comic performer, William Kempe?. The association at the Globe was thus left in almost undisputed possession of the Bankside: there were, indeed, occasional, and perhaps not unfrequent, performances at the Rose, (although it had been stipulated with the public authorities that it should be pulled down, if leave were given for the construction of the Fortune,) as well as at the Hope and the Swan, but not by the regular associations which had previously occupied them; and after the Fortune was opened,
the Lord Chamberlain's servants. By the words “Will's new play,” there can be little doubt that some work by Shakespeare was intended; and we know from Heywood's “ Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels,” 1635, p. 206, that Shakespeare was constantly familiarly called “Will.” The document is preserved at Dulwich, and it was first printed in the “ Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," p. 13.
“ Sweete Nedde, nowe wynne an other wager
For thine old frende, and fellow stager.
All sides shall brave Ned Allin saye.” By “Roscius Richard " the writer of these lines, who was the backer of Alleyn against Kempe, could have meant nobody but Richard Burbadge. It will be recollected that, not very long afterwards, Kempe became a member of the association of which Alleyn was the leader, and quitted that to which Shakespeare and Burbadge were attached. It is possible that this wager, and Kempe's success in it, led Alleyn and Henslowe to hold out inducements to him to join them in their undertaking at the Fortune. Upon this point, however, we have no other evidence, than the mere fact that Kempe went over to the enemy.
2 After his return from Rome, where he was seen in the autumn of 1601.
the speculation there was so profitable, that the Lord Admiral's players had no motive for returning to their old quarters '.
The members of the two companies belonging to the Lord Chamberlain and to the Lord Admiral appear to have possessed so much influence in the summer of 1600, that (backed, perhaps, by the puritanical zeal of those who were unfriendly to all theatrical performances) they obtained an order from the privy council, dated 22nd June, that no other public playhouses should be permitted but the Globe in Surrey, and the Fortune in Middlesex. Nevertheless, the privy council registers, where this order is inserted, also contain distinct evidence that it was not obeyed, even in May 1601; for on the 10th of that month the Lords wrote to certain magistrates of Middlesex requiring them to put a stop to the performance of a play at the Curtain, in which were introduced “ gentlemen of good desert and quality, that are yet alive,” but saying nothing about the closing of the house, although it was open in defiance of the imperative command of the preceding year. We know also, upon other testimony, that not only the Curtain, but theatres on the Bankside, besides the Globe, (where performances were allowed,) were then in occasional use.
It is fair to presume, therefore, that the order of the 22nd June, 1600, was never strictly enforced; and one of the most remarkable circumstances of the times is, the little attention, as regards theatricals, that appears to have been paid to the absolute authority of the court. It seems exactly as if restrictive measures had been adopted in order to satisfy the importunity of particular individuals, but that there was no disposition on the part of persons in power to carry them into execution. Such was probably the fact; because a year and a half after the order of the 22nd June had been issued it
) was renewed, but, as far as we can learn, with just as little effect as before *.
3 It was at the Fortune that Alleyn seems to have realized so much money in the few first years of the undertaking, that he was able in Nov. 1604 to purchase the manor of Kennington for 10651., and in the next year the manor of Lewisham and Dulwich for 50001. These two sums, in money of the present day, would be equal to at least 25,000l. ; but it is to be observed, that for Dulwich Alleyn only paid 20001. down, while the remaining sum was left upon mortgage. In the commencement of the seventeenth century theatrical speculations generally seem to have been highly lucrative: see “ The Alleyn Papers” (printed by the Shakespeare Society in 1843), Introd.
xiv. 4 See “ Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” Vol. i. p. 316, where the particulars, which are here necessarily briefly and summarily dismissed, are given in considerable detail.
Besides the second edition of “Romeo and Juliet” in 1599, (which was printed from some more authentic copy, if not from a play-house manuscript, being very different from the mutilated and manufactured impression of 1597) five plays by our great dramatist found their way to the press in 1600, viz. « Titus Andronicus,” (which, as we have before remarked, had probably been originally published in 1594,) “The Merchant of Venice," “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” “Henry IV.” part ii., and “Much Ado about Nothing." The last only is not mentioned by Meres in 1598; and as to the periods when we may suppose the others to have been written, we must refer the reader to our several Introductions, where we have given the existing information upon the subject. Chronicle History of Henry V.” also came out in the same year, but without the name of Shakespeare upon the title
5 The clothing of Snug the Joiner in a “lion's fell" in this play, A. v. sc. 1 (Vol. ii. p. 249), seems to have suggested the humorous speech to King James at Linlithgow, on 30th June, 1617, eight lines of which only are given in Nichols's “ Progresses of that monarch, Vol. iii. p. 326. The whole address, of twentytwo lines, exists in the State Paper Office, where was discovered by Mr. Lemon. It seems to have been the original MS. which was placed at the time in the hands of the king, and as it is a curiosity we subjoin it.
“A moveing engine, representing a fountaine, and running wine, came to the gate of the towne, in the midst of which was a lyon, and in the lyon a man, who delivered this learned speech to his majestie.
“ Most royall sir, heere I doe you beseech,
Who are a lyon, to hear a lyon's speech :
But words now failing, dare not, least I roare.”
page, and it is, if possible, a more imperfect and garbled representation of the play, as it was delivered from the author's pen, than the “Romeo and Juliet” of 1597. Whether any of the managers of theatres at this date might not sometimes be concerned in selling impressions of dramas, we have no sufficient means of deciding; but we do not believe it, and we are satisfied that dramatic authors in general were content with disposing of their plays to the several companies, and looked for no emolument to be derived from publication'. We are not without something like proof that actors now and then sold their parts in plays to booksellers, reciting them to scribes, and thus, by the combination of them and other assistance, editions of popular plays were surreptitiously printed.
We ought not to pass over without notice a circumstance which happened in 1600, and is connected with the question of the authorized or unauthorized publication of Shakespeare's plays. In that year a quarto impression of a drama, called “ The first part of the true and honourable History of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle, the good Lord Cobham," came out, on the title-page of which the name of William Shakespeare appeared at length. We find, by Henslowe's Diary, that this drama was in fact the authorship of four poets, Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, Robert Wilson and Richard Hathway?; and to attribute it to Shakespeare was evidently a mere trick by the bookseller, T[homas] P[avier], in the hope that it would be bought as his work. Malone remarked upon this fraud, but he was not aware, when he wrote, that it had been detected and corrected at the time; for, since his day, more than one copy of the “ First Part, &c. of Sir John Oldcastle” has come to light, upon the title-page of which no name is to be found, the bookseller apparently having been compelled to cancel the leaf containing it. From the indifference Shakespeare seems uniformly to have evinced on matters of the kind, we may, possibly, conclude that the cancel was made at the instance of one of the four poets who
6 It was a charge against Robert Greene, that, driven by the pressure of necessity, he had on one occasion raised money by making “a double sale" of his play called “ Orlando Furioso," 1594, first to the players and afterwards to the press. Such may have been the fact, but it was unquestionably an exception to the ordinary rule.
7 “Henslowe's Diary,” printed by the Shakespeare Society, p. 158, the memorandum being dated Oct. 1599. By an entry on p. 162 we find that in Dec. 1599 Doughton was paid 41. for the second part of this play; and in Aug. 1602 Dekker contributed "new additions in Oldcastle," and received 21. for them.