Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

were the real authors of the play ; but we have no means of speaking decisively upon the point, and the step may have been in some way connected with the objection taken by living members of the Oldcastle family to a name, which had been assigned by Shakespeare in the first instance to Falstaff ®. No change beyond the title was made in the drama, which has manifestly reached us in a very incomplete and corrupted shape.

A circumstance of considerable interest, connected with an event of great public importance, occurred near the commencement of the year 1601: we allude to the trial and execution of the Earl of Essex on the 25th Feb. for rebellion and treason. Some of his partisans in this ill judged and worse executed enterprise, in order, it should seem, to influence the popular mind, procured the company acting at the Globe to represent a play in which the deposition and death of Richard II. formed prominent incidents. In our Introduction to Shakespeare's historical drama upon the events of that reign we have inserted the original examination of Augustine Phillips, who appears to have been the spokesman of the players on the occasion, and whose name alone is introduced, which examination was taken before the Chief Justices of the Queen's Bench and Common Pleas, and Mr. Justice Fenner 10. We have there remarked upon the fact that neither Sir Gilly Merrick, nor Cuffe (the Secretary of the Earl of Essex) was present at the interview with the actors, and we have since been fortunate enough to meet with the deposition of Merrick, which speaks, not of the agreement between the partisans and the players for the representation of the drama in question, but of the performance itself at the Globe, and of the parties who attended it. Inasmuch as it refers to the same transaction, and throws additional light upon it, we subjoin it: like the examination of Augustine Phillips, it is in the hand-writing of Popham, C. J., and we give it literally, as a very curious and interesting document.

8 See the Introduction to “ Henry IV., Part I.,” Vol. iii. p. 316. Mr. J. O. Halliwell published a separate tract upon this point.

9 It is reprinted in Malone's “Supplement,” Vol. ii. p. 265. We will instance one misprint, because it tends to confirm (if it needed confirmation) an emend. ation in “ Richard II.,” A. ii. sc. I (Vol. iii. p. 247), where “wives” is misprinted lives : in “Oldcastle " " wife" is misprinted life, where Tom tells Murley that Lawrence means to leave his life behind him," when he ought certainly to say that he “means to leave his wife behind him.” A. iii. sc. 2, p. 312.

10 See Vol. iii. p. 214. We have spoken of Sir E. Anderson as if he were only a puisné judge, but (as we are reminded by our friend, Mr. Edward Foss, author of The Lives of the Judges "') he was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas at the time, and Mr. Justice Fenner, one of the puisné judges of the Court of Queen's Bench, and not, as we erroneously imagined, Queen's Serjeant.

“The exam. of Sr. Gelly Meryke, taken the xvijth of February, 1600. “ He sayeth that, upon Saterday last was sennyght, he dyned at Gunters in the company of the L. Montegle, Sr. Christoffer Blont, Sr. Charles Percy, Ellys Jones & Edward Bushell, and who else he remembreth not; and after dynner that day, and at the motion of Sr. Charles Percy and the rest, they went all together to the Globe, over the water, where the L. Chamberlen's men use to playe, and were there sum what before the playe began, Sr. Charles tellyng them that the playe wold be of Harry the iiijth. Whether Sr. John Davyes wer ther, or not, this examinant can not tell, but he sayed he wold be ther, yf he cold. He can not tell who procured that playe to be played at that tyme, except yt was Sr. Charles Percy; but, as he thynketh, yt was Sr. Charles Percy. There he was at the same playe, and cam in sumwhat after yt was begone; and the playe was of Kyng Harry the iiijth and the kyllyng of Kyng Richard the Second, played by the L. Chamberlens players.

" GELLY MEYRICKE. “ Exd.

“Jo. Popham,

“ Edward Fenner." Here we learn that the title of the play was “Henry IV.," but it included the deposition and killing of Richard II., and must have been a historical drama entirely different from that of Shakespeare, and an old play when A. Phillips, on behalf of the company, consented to accept forty shillings for its revival'. The name of Shakespeare never occurs in the transaction, and at this date he was, doubtless, more engaged in writing than in acting. Nevertheless, Phillips states in his examination that other players were present at the interview, and we should like to have seen their names, but they do not appear in any of the extant papers'.

· There are two accounts of the trial of Essex in the State Trials, and in the second account, we find Sir Edward Coke using the following expressions in his speech as Attorney-General :-—" And the story of Henry IV. being set forth in a play, and in that play there being set forth the Killing of the King on the Stage; the Friday before Sir Gilly and some others of the earl's train having an humour to see a play, they must needs have the play of Henry IV. The players told them that was stale; they should get nothing by playing of that, but no play else would serve; and Sir Gilly gives 40 shillings to Philips, the player, to play this, besides whatsoever he could get.”

2 We cannot refrain from adding, although it may not directly contribute to the purpose we have in view—the illustration of the life and writings of Shakespeare,—the literatim copy of a fatal and cold-blooded note from the Lord Keeper, Lord Buckhurst, and Sir Robert Cecill for the introduction into the Tower, the night before the execution of Essex, of two headsmen, the one to be employed, if the other failed of his duty. It is indorsed by Cecill in his own hand-writing, “ 24 Feb. 1600. Letter for the execution of my Lo. of Essex;" and it was, of course, addressed to the Constable of the Tower in these terms :

>>

CHAPTER XIV.

ܙܙ

Death of John Shakespeare in 1601. Performance of “Twelfth Night” in Feb

ruary, 1602. Anecdote of Shakespeare and Burbadge: Manningham's Diary in the British Museum the authority for it. “Othell)," acted by Burbadge and others at the Lord Keeper's in August, 1602. Death of Elizabeth, and Arrival of James I. at Theobalds. Street-ballad mentioning Shakespeare and others by name. Chettle's “ England's Mourning Garment.” English actors in Scotland in 1589, and again in 1599, 1600, and 1601 : large rewards to them. The freedom of Aberdeen conferred in 1601 upon Laurence Fletcher, the leader of the English company in Scotland. Probability that Shakespeare never was in Scotland.

THE father of our great poet died in the autumn of 1601, and he was buried at Stratford-upon-Avon'. He seems to have left no will, and if he possessed any property, in land or houses, not made over to his family, we know not how it was divided. Of the eight children which his wife, Mary Arden, had brought him, the following were then alive, and might be present at the funeral :—William, Gilbert, Joan, Richard, and Edmund. The later years of John Shakespeare (who, if born in 1530 as Malone supposed, was in his seventyfirst year) were doubtless easy and comfortable, and the prosperity of his eldest son must have placed him beyond the reach of pecuniary difficulties.

“Becawse we woold first have these 2 persons secretly conveyed into your Lordships hands, and Mr. Lieutenants, within the tower, where when you have them, you are then to order them, and may with less suspition make them provide their bloody toole, whereof I woold there had never been occasion, we have sent these persons to you with Mr. Sheryfe, or his deputy. We send you two, becawse if one fayle, the other may performe it to him, of whose sowle almighty God have mercy. We will send you ere night som other directions, and her Majestys writts. Her Majesty will have some or 8 noble men, named by her, to be there, who shall bring our warrants to you; and thereupon it is fitt that you have som officer at the gates in the morning earely, to let them in, as also to let in som copple of devines, which also shall com with our letter, or the Archbisshop of Canterbury.

“ Your loving friends,

“ T. BUCKHURST,

“ Ro. CECILL. “Tho. Egerton, C.S.” The above has appeared in no account of the death of a gallant and accom. plished young nobleman, who, until he was driven to madness and desperation by reckless friends and malignant enemies, had been a most zealous and bountiful encourager of literature and the drama. Shakespeare has personally alluded to him in more than one of his plays : see especially Vol. iii. p. 628.

3 On the 8th September, as we find by the subsequent entry in the parish register :

“ 1601. Septemb". 8. M. Johanes Shakspeare."

Early in the spring of 1602, we meet with one of those rare facts which distinctly show how uncertain all conjecture must be respecting the date when Shakespeare's dramas were originally written and produced. Malone and Tyrwhitt, in 1790, conjectured that "Twelfth Night" had been written in 1614: in bis second edition Malone altered it to 1607, and Chalmers, weighing the evidence in favour of one date and of the other, thought neither correct, and fixed upon 1613*, an opinion in which Dr. Drake fully concurred'. The truth is, that we have irrefragable evidence, from an eye-witness, of its existence on 2nd February, 1602, when it was played at the Reader's Feast in the Middle Temple. This eye-witness was a barrister of the name of Manningham, who left a small Diary behind him, which has been preserved in the British Museum ; but as we have inserted his account of the plot in our Introduction to “Twelfth Night” (Vol. iii. p. 317), no more is required here, than a mere mention of the circumstance. In another part of the same manuscript', he gives an anecdote of Shakespeare and Burbadge, which we quote, without farther remark, than that it has been supposed to depend upon the authority of Nicholas Tooley', but on looking at the original record again, we doubt whether it came from any such

A “Mr. Towse" is repeatedly introduced as a person from whom Manningham derived information, and that name, though blotted, seems to be placed at the end of the paragraph, certainly without the addition of any Christian name. This circumstance may make some difference as regards the authenticity of the story, because we know not who Mr. Towse might be, while we are sure that Nicholas Tooley was a fellow-actor in the same company as both the individuals to whom the story relates. At the same time it was, very possibly, a mere invention of the “roguish players,” originating, as was often the case, in some older joke, and applied to Shakespeare and Burbadge, because their Christian names happened to be William and Richard

source.

5

4 “Supplemental Apology for the Believers,” &c. p. 467

“Shakspeare and his Times," Vol. ii. p. 262. 6 MS. Harl. No. 5353. 7 “Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” Vol. i. p.

331. 8 See “ Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” Vol. i. p. 331. The writer of In the memorandum ascertaining the performance of that work thus introduces the anecdote :—“If in the course of my inquiries, I have been unlucky enough (I may perhaps say) to find any thing which represents our great dramatist in a less favourable light, as a human being with human infirmities, I may lament it, but I do not therefore feel myself at liberty to conceal and suppress the fact.” The anecdote is this :

Elizabeth, from the commencement of her reign, seems to have extended her personal patronage, as well as her public countenance, to the drama; and scarcely a Christmas or a Shrovetide can be pointed out, during the forty-five years she occupied the throne, when there were not dramatic entertainments, either at Whitehall, Greenwich, Nonesuch, Richmond, or Windsor. The latest visit she paid to any of her nobility in the country was to the Lord Keeper, Sir Thomas Egerton, at Harefield, only nine or ten months before her death; and it was upon this occasion, in the very beginning of August, 1602, that “Othello'" (having been got up for her amusement, and the Lord Chamberlain's players brought down to the Lord Keeper's seat in Hertfordshire for the purpose) was represented before her. In this case, as in the preceding one respecting “Twelfth Night,” all that we positively learn is that such a drama was performed, and we are left to infer that it was a new play from other circumstances, as well as from the fact that it was customary on such festivities to exhibit some theatrical novelty, then attracting public attention. Hence we are led to believe, that "Twelfth Night" (not printed until it formed part of the folio of 1623) was written at the end of 1600, or in the beginning of 1601; and that “Othello (first published in 4to, 1622) came from the author's pen about a year afterwards.

Upon a tyme when Burbadge played Rich. 3, there was a citizen grew so farre in liking with him, that before shee went from the play, shee appointed him to come that night unto her, by the name of Rich. the 3. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained, and at his game ere Burbadge came. Then, message being brought, that Rich. the 3. was at the dore, Shakespeare caused returne to be made, that William the Conqueror was before Rich. the 3. Shakespeare's name Willm.”

This story may be a piece of scandal, but there is no doubt that Burbadge was the original Richard III. As to the custom of ladies inviting players home to supper, see Middleton's “ Mad World, my Masters,” A. v. sc. 2, in Dodsley's “Old Plays,” Vol. v. last edit.; or Dyce's “ Middleton," Vol. ii. The players, in turn, sometimes invited the ladies, as we find by Field's “ Amends for Ladies,” A. iii. sc. 4, in the supplementary volume to Dodsley's “Old Plays,” published in 1829, and edited by J. Payne Collier.

9 See the Introduction to “Othello," Vol. vii. p. 493. Also “The Egerton Papers,” printed by the Camden Society, 1840, p. 343.

« EdellinenJatka »