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to add to their capital, so advantageously employed, by purchasing Shakespeare's interest.
It is possible, as we have said, that Shakespeare continued to employ his pen for the stage after his retirement to Stratford, and the buyers of his shares might even make it a condition that he should do so for a time; but we much doubt whether, with his long experience of the necessity of personal superintendence, he would have continued a shareholder in any concern of the kind over which he had no control. During the whole of his life in connexion with the stage, even after he quitted it as an actor, he seems to have been obliged generally to reside in London, apart from his family, for the purpose of watching over his interests in the two theatres to which he belonged: had he been merely an author, after he ceased to be an actor, he might have composed his dramas as well at Stratford as in London, visiting the metropolis only while a new.play was in rehearsal and preparation; but such was clearly not the case, and we may be confident that, when he finally retired to a place so distant from the scene of his triumphs, he did not allow his mind to be encumbered by professional anxieties.
It may seem difficult to reconcile with this consideration the undoubted fact, that in the spring of 1613 Shakespeare purchased a house, and a small piece of ground attached to it, not far from the Blackfriars theatre, in which we believe him to have disposed of his concern in the preceding year. The documents relating to this transaction have come down to us, and the indenture, assigning the property from Henry Walker, “citizen of London, and minstrel of London,” to William Shakespeare, “of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gentleman," bears date 10th of March, 1612-13': the consideration money was 1401. ; the house was situated “ within the precinct, circuit, and compass of the late Blackfriars,” and we are farther informed that it stood “right against his Majesty's Wardrobe." It appears to have been
3 It was sold by auction by Messrs. Evans, of Pall Mall, in 1841, for 1621. 158. The autograph of our poet was appended to it, in the usual manner. In the next year the instrument was again brought to the hammer of the same parties, when it produced nearly the sum for which it had been sold in 1841. The autograph of Shakespeare, on the fly-leaf of Florio's translation of “Montaigne's Essays," folio, 1603 (wbich we feel satisfied is genuine), had been previously sold by auction for 1001., and it is now deposited in the British Museum. We have a copy of the same book, but it has only upon the title-page the comparatively worthless signature of the reigning monarch of England.
merely a dwelling-house with a small yard, and not in any way connected with the theatre, (which was at some distance from the royal wardrobe) although John Heminge, the actor, was, with Shakespeare, a party to the deed, as well as William Johnson, vintner, and John Jackson, gentleman.
Shakespeare may have made this purchase as an accommodation in some way to his “friend and fellow" Heminge, and the two other persons named; and it is to be remarked that, on the day after the date of the conveyance, Shakespeare mortgaged the house to Henry Walker, the vendor, for 601., having paid down only 801. on the 10th March. It is very possible that our poet advanced the 801. to Heminge, Johnson, and Jackson, expecting that they would repay him, and furnish the remaining 601. before the 29th September, 1613, the time stipulated in the mortgage deed; but as they did not do so, but left it to him, the house of course continued the property of Shakespeare, and after his death it was necessarily surrendered, to the uses of his will, by Heminge, Johnson, and Jackson “.
Such may have been the nature of the transaction; and if it were, it will account for the apparent (and, we have no doubt, only apparent) want of means on the part of Shakespeare to pay down the whole of the purchase-money in the first instance: he had only agreed to lend 801., leaving the parties whom he assisted to provide the rest, and by repaying him what he had advanced (if they had done so) to entitle themselves to the house in question.
Shakespeare must have been in London when he put his signature to the conveyance; but we are to recollect, that the circumstance of his being described in it as “of Stratfordupon-Avon” is by no means decisive of the fact, that his usual place of abode in the spring of 1613 was his native town: he had a similar description in the deeds by which he purchased 107 acres of land from John and William Combe in 1602, and a lease of a moiety of the tithes from Raphe Huband in 1605, although it is indisputable that at those periods he was generally resident in London. From these facts it seems likely that our great dramatist preferred to be called “of Stratford-upon-Avon,” contemplating, as he probably did through the whole of his theatrical life, a return thither as soon as his circumstances would enable him to do so with comfort and independence. We are thoroughly convinced, however, that, anterior to March, 1613, Shakespeare had taken up his permanent residence with his family in the borough where he was born.
4 By his will he left this house, then occupied by a person of the name of John Robinson, to his daughter Susanna.
Members of the Shakespeare family at Stratford in 1612. Joan Shakespeare and
William Hart: their marriage and family. William Shakespeare's chancery suit respecting the tithes of Stratford ; and the income he derived from the lease. The Globe burnt in 1613: its reconstruction. Destructive fire at Stratford in 1614. Shakespeare's visit to London afterwards. Proposed inclosure of Wel. combe fields. Allusion to Shakespeare in the historical poem of “The Ghost of Richard the Third,” published in 1614.
The immediate members of the Shakespeare family resident at this date in Stratford were comparatively few. Richard Shakespeare had died at the age of forty', only about a month before William Shakespeare signed the deed for the purchase of the house in Blackfriars. Since the death of Edmund, Richard had been our poet's youngest brother, but regarding his way of life at Stratford we have no information. Gilbert Shakespeare, born two years and a half after William, was also probably at this time an inhabitant of the borough, or its immediate neighbourhood, and was perhaps married, for in the register, under date of 3rd February, 1611-12, we read an account of the burial of“ Gilbertus Shakspeare, adolescens," who might be his son. Joan Shakespeare, who was five years younger than her brother William, had been married at about the age of thirty to William Hart, a hatter, in Stratford; but as the ceremony was not performed in that parish, it does not appear in the register. Their first child, William, was baptized on 28th August, 1600, and they had afterwards children of the names of Mary, Thomas, and Michael, born respectively in 1603 °, 1605, and 1608'. Our poet's eldest daughter, Susanna, who, as we have elsewhere stated, was married to Mr. John Hall, afterwards Dr. Hall, in June, 1607, produced a daughter, who was baptized Elizabeth on 21st February, 1607-8; so that Shakespeare was a grandfather before he had reached his forty-fifth year; but Mrs. Hall had no farther increase of family.
5 The register of Stratford merely contains the following among the deaths in the parish :
“ 1612. Feb. 4. Rich. Shakspeare.” According to our supposition, he had been named after his grandfather of Snitterfield and Rowington, who made his will in Sept. 1591, and was dead before March 1592.
By whom New Place, otherwise called “the great house," was inhabited at this period we can only conjecture. That Shakespeare's wife and his youngest daughter Judith (who completed her twenty-eighth year in February, 1612) resided in it, we cannot doubt; but as it would be much more than they would require, even after they were permanently joined by our great dramatist on his retirement from London, we may perhaps conclude that Mr. and Mrs. Hall were joint occupiers of it, and aided in keeping up the vivacity of the family circle. Shakespeare himself only completed his fortyeighth year in April, 1612, and every tradition and circumstance of his life tends to establish not only the gentleness, but the habitual cheerfulness of his disposition.
Nevertheless, although we suppose him to have separated himself from the labours and anxieties attendant upon his theatrical concerns, he was not without his annoyances, though of a different kind. We refer to a chancery suit in which he seems to have been involved by the purchase, in 1605, of the remaining term of a lease of part of the tithes of Stratford. It appears that a rent of 271. 138. 4d. had been reserved, which was to be paid by certain lessees under peril of forfeiture, but that some of the parties, disregarding the consequences, had refused to contribute their proportions ; and Richard Lane, of Awston, Esquire, Thomas Greene, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Esquire, and William Shakespeare, “ of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman," were under the necessity of filing a bill before Lord Ellesmere, to compel all the persons deriving estates under the dissolved college of Stratford to pay their shares. What was the issue of the suit is not any where stated; and the only important point in the draft of the bill (formerly in the hands of the Shakespeare Society) is, that our great dramatist therein stated the value of his "moiety" of the tithes to be 607. per annum.
6 It appears by the register that Mary Hart died in 1607. When Shakespeare made his will, a blank was left for the name of his nephew Thomas Hart, as if he had not recollected it; but perhaps it was merely the omission of the scrivener. The Harts lived in a house belonging to Shakespeare.
7 It has been generally stated that Charles Hart, the celebrated actor after the Restoration, was the grand-nephew of Shakespeare, son to the eldest son of Shakespeare's sister Joan, but we are without positive evidence upon the point. In 1622 a person of the name of Hart kept a house of entertainment close to the Fortune theatre, and he may have been the son of Shakespeare's sister Joan, and the father of Charles Hart the actor, who died about 1679.
In the summer of 1613 a calamity happened which we do not believe affected our author's immediate interests, on account of the strong probability that he had taken care to divest himself of all theatrical property before he finally took up his residence in his birth-place. The Globe, which had been in use about eighteen years, was burned down on 29th June, 1613, in consequence of the thatch, with which it was partially covered, catching fire from the discharge of some theatrical artillery'. It is doubtful what play was then in a course of representation : Sir Henry Wotton gives it the title of “All is True," and calls it “a new play;" while Howes, in his continuation of Stowe's Annales, distinctly states that
8 The following document relating to this question has been preserved, but it throws no new light upon the subject: we only subjoin it for the sake of completeness, and because our great dramatist was one of the parties to it :
• Vicesimo octavo die Octobris anno Domini 1614. “ Articles of agreement indented and made between William Shackespeare of Stretford in the county of Warwick, gent. on the one party, and William Replingham of Great Harborow in the county of Warwick, gent. on the other party, the day and year abovesaid.
• Item the said William Replingham for him his heirs, executors, and assigns, doth covenant and agree with the said William Shackespeare, his heirs and assigns, that he the said William Replingham, his heirs or assigns shall, upon reasonable request, satisfy content and make recompence unto him, the said William Shackespeare, or his assigns, for all such loss, detriment and hindrance as he the said William Shackespeare, his heirs and assigns, and one Thomas Greene, gent. shall or may be thought, in the view and judgment of four indifferent persons, to be indifferently elected by the said William and William, and their heirs, and in default of the said William Replingham, by the said William Shackespeare, or his heirs only, to survey and judge the same, to sustain or incur for or in respect of the increasing of the yearly value of the tithes they the said William Shackespeare and Thomas do jointly or severally hold and enjoy in the said fields or any of them, by reason of any inclosure or decay of tillage there meant and intended by the said William Replingham : and that the said William Replingham and his heirs shall procure such sufficient security unto the said William Shackespeare and his heirs for the performance of these covenants, as shall be devised by learned Counsel. In witness whereof the parties abovesaid to these presents interchangeably their hands and seals have put, the day and year above written. “Sealed and delivered in the presence of us
“Tho. Lucas, Jo. ROGERS,
“AHTRONIE Nash, Mich. Olney." 9 John Taylor, the water-poet, was a spectator of the calamity (perhaps in his