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days lived at Stratford, and supplied the stage with two plays every year, and for it had an allowance so large, that he spent at the rate of 10001. a year, as I have heard.” (p. 183.) We only adduce this passage to show what the opinion was as to Shakespeare's circumstances shortly after the Restoration '. We take it for granted that the sum of 10001. (equal to nearly 50001. now) is a considerable exaggeration, but it may warrant the belief that Shakespeare lived in good style and port, late in life, in his native town. It is very possible, too, though we think not probable, that after he retired to Stratford he continued to write; but it is utterly incredible that subsequent to his retirement he “supplied the stage with two plays every year.” He might not be able at once to relinquish his old and confirmed habits of composition; but such other evidence as we possess is opposed to Ward's statement, to which he himself appends the cautionary words, have heard." Of course he could have known nothing but by hearsay forty-six years after our poet's decease: he might, however, easily have talked with inhabitants of Stratford who well recollected Shakespeare, and, considering the opportunities he possessed, it strikes us as very singular that he collected so little information.
We have already adverted to the bounty of the Earl of Southampton to Shakespeare, which we have supposed to have been consequent upon the dedication of “Venus and Adonis,” and “Lucrece," to that nobleman, and coincident in point of date with the building of the Globe theatre. Another document has been handed down to us among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, which proves the strong interest Lord Southampton still took, about fifteen years afterwards, in Shakespeare's affairs, and in the prosperity of the company to which he was attached : it has distinct reference also to the pending, and unequal struggle between the corporation of London and the players at the Blackfriars, of which we have already spoken. It is the copy of a letter subscribed H. S. (the initials of the Earl) to some nobleman in favour of our great dramatist, and of the chief performer in many of his plays, Richard Burbadge; and recollecting what Lord Southampton had before done for Shakespeare, and the manner in which from the first he had patronized our stage and drama, it seems to us the most natural thing in the
9 Mr. Ward was appointed to the vicarage of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1662. VOL. I.
world for him to write a letter on behalf of parties who had so many public and private claims. We may conclude that the original was not addressed to Lord Ellesmere, or it would have been found in the depository of his papers, and
, not merely a transcript of it; but a copy of it may have been furnished to the Lord Chancellor, in order to give him some information respecting the characters of the parties upon whose cause he was called upon to decide. Lord Ellesmere stood high in the confidence of his sovereign : he had many important public duties to discharge besides those belonging to his great office; and notwithstanding he had shown himself at all times a liberal patron of letters, and had had many works of value dedicated to him, we may readily imagine that, although he must have heard of Shakespeare and Burbadge, he was in some degree of ignorance as to their individual deserts, which this communication was intended to remove. That it was not sent to him by Lord Southampton, who probably was acquainted with him, may afford a proof of the delicacy of the Earl's mind, who would not seem directly to interpose while a question of the sort was pending before a judge, (though possibly not in his judicial capacity) the history of whose life establishes that, where the exercise of his high functions was involved, he was equally deaf to public and to private influence.
We have introduced an exact copy of the document in a note!, and it will be observed that it is without date; but the subject of it shows beyond dispute that it belongs to this period, while the lord mayor and aldermen were endeavouring to expel the players from a situation where they had been uninterruptedly established for more than thirty years. There can be no doubt that the object the players had in view was attained, because we know that the lord mayor and his brethren were not allowed, until many years afterwards, to exercise any authority within the precinct and liberty of the Blackfriars, and that the King's servants continued to occupy the theatre there long after the death of Shakespeare.
1 The copy was made upon half a sheet of paper, and without address : it runs as follows :
“My verie honored Lord. The manie good offices I haue receiued at your Lordship's hands, which ought to make me backward in asking further favors, onely imbouldeneth me to require more in the same kinde. Your Lordship will be warned howe hereafter you graunt anie sute, seeing it draweth on more and greater demaunds. This which now presseth is to request your Lordship, in all you can, to be good to the poore players of the Black Fryers, wbo call them selves by authoritie the servaunts of his Majestie, and aske for the protection of their most gracious Maister and Sovereigne in this the tyme of their troble. They are threatened by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, never friendly to their calling, with the distruction of their meanes of livelihood, by the pulling downe of their plaiehouse, which is a priuate theatre, and hath neuer giuen occasion of anger by anie disorders. These bearers are two of the chiefe of the companie; one of them by name Richard Burbidge, who humblie sueth for your Lordship's kinde helpe, for that he is a man famous as our English Roscius, one who fitteth the action to the word, and the word to the action most admirably. By the exercise of his qualitye, industry, and good behaviour, he hath be come possessed of the Blacke Fryers playhouse, which hath bene imployed for playes sithence it was builded by his Father, now nere 50 yeres agone. The other is a man no whitt
Warrant to Daborne, Shakespeare, Field, and Kirkham, for the Children of the
Queen's Revels, in Jan. 1610. Popularity of juvenile companies of actors. Stay of Daborne's warrant, and the reasons for it. Plays intended to be acted by the Children of the Queen's Revels. Shakespeare's dramas between 1609 and 1612. His retirement to Stratford, and disposal of his property in the Blackfriars and Globe theatres. Alleyn's investment in the Blackfriars in 1612. Shakespeare's purchase of a house in the Blackfriars from Henry Walker in 1613, and the possible cause of it explained. Shakespeare described as of Stratford-upon-Avon.
THERE is reason for believing that the important question of jurisdiction had been decided in favour of the King's
lesse deserving favor, and my especiall friende, till of late an actor of good account in the companie, now a sharer in the same, and writer of some of our best English playes, which, as your Lordship knoweth, were most singularly liked of Quene Elizabeth, when the companie was called uppon to performe before her Maiestie at Court at Christmas and Shrovetide. His most gracious Maiestie King James alsoe, sence his coming to the crowne, hath extended his royal favour to the companie in divers waies and at sundrie tymes. This other hath to name William Shakespeare, and they are both of one countie, and indeede allmost of one towne : both are right famous in their qualityes, though it longeth not of your Lo. grauitie and wisedome to resort-vnto the places where they are wont to delight the publique eare. Their trust and sute nowe is not to bee molested in their way of life, whereby they maintaine them selves and their wives and families (being both maried and of good reputation) as well as the widows and orphanes of some of their dead fellows.
“ Your Lo. most bounden at com., “ Copia vera.”
“ H. S.” H. S. (i. e. Lord Southampton) was clearly mistaken when he stated that the Blackfriars theatre had been built nearly fifty years : in 1608 it had been built about thirty-three years.
players before January, 1609-10, because we have an instrument of that date authorizing a juvenile company to exhibit at the Blackfriars, as well as the association which had been in possession of that theatre ever since its original construction. One circumstance connected with this document, to which we shall presently advert, may however appear to cast a doubt upon the point, whether it had yet been finally decided that the corporation of London was by law excluded from the precinct of the Blackfriars.
It is a fact, of which it may be said we have conclusive proof, that almost from the first, if not from the first, the Blackfriars theatre had been in the joint possession of the Lord Chamberlain's servants and of a juvenile company called the Children of the Chapel: they were also known as “her Majesty's Children,” and “the Children of the Blackfriars ;” and it is not to be supposed that they employed the theatre on alternate days with their older competitors, but that, when the Lord Chamberlain's servants acted elsewhere in the summer, the Children of the Chapel commenced their performances at the Blackfriars ?. After the opening of the Globe in 1595, we may presume that the Lord Chamberlain's servants usually left the Blackfriars theatre to be occupied by the Children of the Chapel during the seven months from April to October, if not longer.
The success of the juvenile companies in the commencement of the reign of James I., and even at the latter end of that of Elizabeth, was great; and we find Shakespeare alluding to it in very pointed terms in a well-known passage in “Hamlet,” which we suppose to have been written in the winter of 1601, or in the spring of 1602. They seem to have gone on increasing in popularity, and very soon after James I. ascended the throne, Queen Anne took a company, called “the Children of the Queen's Revels," under her immediate patronage. There is no reason to doubt that they continued to perform at the Blackfriars, and in the very commencement of the year 1610 we find that Shakespeare either was, or intended to be, connected with them. At this period he probably contemplated an early retirement from the metropolis, and might wish to avail himself, for a short period, of this new opportunity of profitable employment.
2 See “ Hist. Engl. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” Vol. iii. p. 275, where such is reasonably conjectured to have been the arrangement.
Robert Daborne, the author of two dramas that have been printed, and of several others that have been lost", seems to have been a man of good family, and of some interest at court; and in January, 1609-10, he was able to procure a royal grant, authorizing him and others to provide and educate a number of young actors, to be called “ the Children of the Queen's Revels." As we have observed, this was not a new association, because it had existed under that appellation, and under those of “the Children of the Chapel” and “the Children of the Blackfriars," from near the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth. Daborne, in 1609-10, was placed at the head of it, and not, perhaps, having sufficient means or funds of his own, he had, as was not unusual, partners in the undertaking: those partners were William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Field, (the celebrated actor, and very clever author) and Edward Kirkham, who had previously enjoyed a privilege of the same kind*. A memorandum of the warrant to “ Daborne and others," not there named, is inserted in the “Entry Book of Patents and Warrants for Patents,” kept by a person of the name of Tuthill, who was employed by Lord Ellesmere for the purpose, and which book is preserved among the papers handed down by his Lordship to his successors. In the same depository we also find a draft of the warrant itself, under which Daborne and his partners, therein named, viz. Shakespeare, Field, and Kirkham, were to proceed '; and it is a circumstance desery
3 “ The Christian Turned Turk," 1612, and “ The Poor Man's Comfort," 1655. In “The Alleyn Papers (printed by the Shakespeare Society in 1843), may be seen much correspondence between Daborne and Henslowe respecting plays he was then writing for the Fortune theatre. By a letter from him, dated 2nd August, 1614, it appears that Lord Willoughby had sent for him, and it is most likely that Daborne went to Ireland under this nobleman's patronage. It is certain that, having been regularly educated, he went into the Church, and had a living at or near Waterford, where, in 1618, he preached a sermon which is extant. While writing for Henslowe he was in great poverty, having sold most of the property he had with his wife. We have no information as to the precise time of his death, but his “Poor Man's Comfort” was certainly a posthumous production : he had sold it to one of the companies before he took holy orders, and, like various other plays, after long remaining in manuscript, it was published. His lost plays, some of which he wrote in conjunction with other dramatists, appear from “The Alleyn Papers ” to have been,-). “Machiavel and the Devil;” 2. “ The Arraignment of London ;" 3. “The Bellman of London ;" 4. “The Owl;" 5. “ The She Saint;" besides others, the titles of which are not given.
4 He was one of the masters of the Children of the Queen's Revels in 1603-4. See “ Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” Vol. i. p. 352.
5 It runs thus:“ Right trusty and welbeloved, &c., James, &c. To all Mayors, Sheriffs,