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and he had been before so described in 1602, when he bought the 107 acres of William and John Combe, which he annexed to his dwelling of New Place.
A spurious edition of “Hamlet” having been published in 1603, a more authentic copy came out in the next year, containing much that had been omitted, and more that had been grossly disfigured and misrepresented. We do not believe that Shakespeare, individually, had anything to do with this second and more correct impression, and we more than doubt whether it was authorized by the company, which seems at all times to have done its utmost to prevent the appearance of plays in print, lest, to a certain extent, the public curiosity should thereby be satisfied.
The point is, of course, liable to dispute, but we have little doubt that “Henry VIII.” was represented very soon after the accession of James I., to whom and to whose family it contains a highly complimentary allusion; and “Macbeth,” having perhaps been written in 1605, we suppose to have been produced at the Globe in the spring of 1606. Although it related to Scottish annals, it was not like the play of “Gowry's Conspiracy” (mentioned by Chamberlaine at the close of 1603), founded, to use Von Raumer's words, upon “recent history;" and instead of running the slightest risk of giving offence, many of the sentiments and allusions it contains, especially that to the “two-fold balls and treble sceptres,” in A. iv. sc. 1, must have been highly acceptable to the King. It has been supposed, upon the authority of Sheffield Duke of Buckingham, that King James with his own hand wrote a letter to Shakespeare in return for the compliment paid to him in “Macbeth :" the Duke of Buckingham is said to have had Davenant's evidence for this anecdote, which was first told in print in the advertisement to Lintot's edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1710? Rowe says nothing of it in his “Life," either in 1709 or 1714, so that, at all events, he did not adopt it; and it seems very improbable that James I. should have so done, and very
? That the story came through the Duke of Buckingham, from Davenant, seems to have been a conjectural addition by Oldys in his MSS. : the words in Lintot's advertisement are these :—"That most learned Prince, and great patron of learning, King James the First, was pleased with his own hand to write an amicable letter to Mr. Shakespeare; which letter, though now lost, remained long in the hands of Sir William Davenant, as a credible person now living can testify.” Dr. Farmer was the first to give currency to the notion, that the compliment to the Stuart family in “Macbeth was the occasion of the letter.
probable that the writer of Lintot's advertisement should not be very scrupulous. Had the fact been that the King with his own hand had written such a letter to Shakespeare, all his friends and companions would have known it, and we should certainly not have heard of it for the first time in 1710, when a not very reputable bookseller wished to give an accidental interest to the volume he was publishing. We may conjecture, that a privy seal under the sign manual, (then the usual form of proceeding) granting to the King's players some extraordinary reward on the occasion, has been misrepresented as “an amicable letter” from the King to the dramatist.
Malone speculated that “Macbeth” had been played before King James and the King of Denmark, (who arrived in England on 6th July, 1606) but we have not a particle of testimony to establish that a tragedy, relating to the assassination of a monarch by an ambitious vassal, was ever represented at court: we should be surprised to discover any proof of the kind, because such incidents seem usually to have been carefully avoided.
The eldest daughter of William and Anne Shakespeare, Susanna, having been born in May, 1583, was rather more than twenty-four years old when she was married, on 5th June, 1607, to Mr. John Hall, of Stratford : he is styled “gentleman ” in the register", but he was a professor of medicine, and subsequently practised as a physician. There appears to have been no reason on any
side for opposing
the match, and we may naturally infer that the ceremony was performed in the presence of our great dramatist, during one of his summer excursions to his native town. About six months afterwards he lost his brother Edmund', and his mother in the autumn of the succeeding year.
There is no doubt that Edmund Shakespeare, who was not twenty-eight at the time of his death, had embraced the profession of a player, having perhaps followed the fortunes of his brother William, and attached himself to the same
8 The terms are these :
“ 1607. Junii 5. John Hall gentlemā & Susanna Shaxspere.” 9 He was buried at St. Saviour's, Southwark, in the immediate vicinity of the Globe theatre; the registration being in the following form, specifying, rather unusually, the occupation of the deceased :
“ 1607, Dec. 31. Edmund Shakespeare, a player." In the “ monthly accounts” of the same parish the additional information is given, that the body was “buried in the Church, with a forenoon knell of the great bell."
company. We, however, never meet with his name in any list of the associations of the time, nor is he mentioned as an actor among the characters of any old play with which we are acquainted. We may presume, therefore, that he attained no eminence : perhaps his principal employment might be under his brother in the management of his theatrical concerns, while he only took inferior parts, when the assistance of a larger number of performers than usual was necessary.
We hear of an Edward Shakespeare for the first time in the parish registers of St. Giles, Cripplegate, in 1607. On the 12th of August in that year “Edward, sonne of Edward Shackspeere, Player" was buried, and the additional information is supplied that the child was “ base-born,” but the name of the mother is not stated. Unless we suppose that we have here the record of a Shakespeare never before mentioned, and of whose origin and history we of course know nothing, we must conclude that the parish clerk made a mistake, and wrote Edward for Edmund; and that the “base-born ” child was the offspring of some intrigue in which Edmund Shakespeare had been concerned. His own death followed rather more than four months after the decease of the child, and it is to be remarked that the father (supposing Edmund Shakespeare to have been so was buried in Southwark, and the child in Cripplegate. After all, Edward Shakespeare may have been an entirely different person, but his name never occurs again on the records of Cripplegate: we have examined those records, for the purpose of tracing Edward Shakespeare, from considerably before the date when the Fortune theatre was built in the parish until after the Restoration.
Mary Shakespeare survived her son Edmund about eight months, and was buried at Stratford on the 9th Sept. 1608 . There are few points of his life which can be stated with more confidence, than that our great dramatist attended the funeral of his mother: filial piety and duty would of course impel him to visit Stratford on the occasion, and in proof that he did so, we may mention that on the 16th of the next month he stood godfather there to a boy of the name of William Walker. Shakespeare's mother had probably resided at New Place, the house of her son ; from whence, we may
10 The following is a copy of the register :
“ 1608, Septemb. 9. Mayry Shaxspere, Wydowe."
presume also, the body of her husband had been carried to the grave seven years before. If she were of full
when she was married to John Shakespeare in 1557, she was about 72 years old at the time of her decease.
The living reputation of our poet as a dramatist seems at this period to have been at its height. His “King Lear” was printed three times for the same bookseller in 1608; and in order perhaps to increase its sale, (as well as to secure the purchaser against the old “ King Leir,” a play upon the same story, being given to him instead) the name of "M. William Shake-speare was placed very conspicuously, and most unusually, at the top of the title-page. The same observation will in part apply to “Pericles,” which came out in 1609, with the name of the author rendered particularly obvious, although in the ordinary place. “Troilus and Cressida," which was published in the same year, also has the name of the author very distinctly legible, but in a somewhat smaller type.
In both the later cases, it would likewise seem, that there were plays by older or rival dramatists upon the same incidents. The most noticeable proof of the advantage which a bookseller conceived he should derive from the announcement that the work he published was by our great poet, is afforded by the title-page of the collection of his dispersed sonnets, which was ushered into the world as “Shakespeare's Sonnets,” in very large capitals, as if that mere fact would be held a sufficient recommendation.
In a former part of our memoir (p. 66) we have alluded to the circumstance, that in 1609 Shakespeare was rated to the poor of the Liberty of the Clink, in a sum which might indicate that he was the occupant of a commodious dwellinghouse in Southwark. The fact that our great dramatist paid sixpence a week to the poor there, (as high an amount as anybody in that immediate vicinity was assessed at) is stated in the account of the Life of Edward Alleyn, printed by the Shakespeare Society, (p. 90) and there it is too hastily inferred that he was rated at this sum upon a dwelling-house occupied by himself. This is very possibly the fact; but, on the other hand, the truth may be, that he paid the rate not for any habitation, good or bad, large or small, but in respect of his theatrical property in the Globe, which was situated in the same district'. The parish register of St. Saviour's
| The account (preserved at Dulwich College) does not state that the parties enumerated (consisting of fifty-seven persons) were rated to the poor for dwellingijd ob. Mr. Jubye
establishes, that in 1601 the churchwardens had been instructed by the vestry “to talk with the players ” respecting the payment of tithes and contributions to the maintenance of the poor; and it is not very unlikely that some arrangement was made under which the sharers in the Globe, and Shakespeare as one of them, would be assessed.
As a confirmatory circumstance we may add, that when Henslowe and Alleyn were about to build the Fortune play-house, in 15991600, the inhabitants of the Lordship of Finsbury, in the parish of Cripplegate, petitioned the privy council in favour of the undertaking, one of their reasons being, that “the erectors were contented to give a very liberal portion of money weekly towards the relief of the poor.” Perhaps the
houses, but merely that they were rated and assessed to a weekly payment towards the relief of the poor, some for dwelling-houses, and others perhaps in respect to different kinds of property : it is thus entitled :
“A breif noat taken out of the poores booke, contayning the names of all thenhabitantes of this Liberty, which are rated and assessed to a weekely paiment towardes the relief of the poore. As it standes now encreased, this 6th day of Aprill, 1609. Delivered up to Phillip Henslowe, Esquior, churchwarden, by Francis Carter, one of the overseers of the same Liberty." It cominences with these names :Phillip Hepslowe, esquior, assessed at weekely
iiijd The account is in three divisions; and in the first, besides the above, we find the names of Mr. Langworthe
ijd and twenty-one others. The next division includes a list of nineteen names, and at the head of it we find,
John Burret and all the rest pay a rate of either 2įd or 11d, including the following actors :Mr. Toune
vjd vjd vjd
jd ob. Richard Hunt
jd ob. Simon Bird The third division consists of seven persons who only paid one penny per week, and among them we perceive the name of no individual who, according to other evidence, appears to have been in any way concerned with theatres : Malone (see his “ Inquiry,” p. 215) had seen this document, but he mis-states that it belongs to the year 160', and not 1609.