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Of this paper it is not necessary for our purpose to say more; but the answer to it, on the part of the association of actors, is a very valuable relic, inasmuch as it gives the names of the eight players who were the proprietors of the theatre or its appurtenances, that of Shakespeare being fifth in the list. It will not have been forgotten, that in 1589 no fewer than sixteen sharers were enumerated, and that then Shakespeare's name was the twelfth ; but it did not by any means follow, that because there were sixteen sharers in the receipts, they were also proprietors of the building, properties, or wardrobe : in 1596 it is stated that Thomas Pope, (from whose will we have already given an extract) Richard Burbadge, John Heminge, Augustine Phillips, William Shakespeare, William Kempe, (who withdrew from the company in 1601) William Slye, and Nicholas Tooley, were “owners ” of the theatre, as well as sharers in the profits arising out of the performances. The fact, however, seems to be that the sole owner of the edifice in which plays were represented, the proprietor of the freehold, was Richard Burbadge, who inherited it from his father, and transmitted it to his sons; but, as a body, the parties addressing the privy council (for the “petition " appears to have been sent thither) might in a certain sense call themselves owners of, as well as sharers in, the Blackfriars theatre. We insert the document in a note, observing merely, that the original is preserved in the State Paper Office, and that, like many others of a similar kind, it is without signatures :
4 “ To the right honourable the Lords of her Majesties most honourable Privie Councell.
“The humble petition of Thomas Pope, Richard Burbadge, John Hemings, Augustine Phillips, William Shakespeare, William Kempe, William Slye, Nicholas Tooley, and others, servaunts to the Right Honorable the Lord Chamberlaine to her Majestie.
“ Sheweth most humbly, that your Petitioners are owners and players of the private house, or theatre, in the precinct and libertie of the Blackfriers, which hath beene for many yeares used and occupied for the playing of tragedies, commedies, histories, enterludes, and playes. That the same, by reason of its having beene so long built, hath fallen into great decay, and that besides the reparation thereof, it has beene found necessarie to make the same more convenient for the entertainment of auditories coming thereto. That to this end your Petitioners have all and eche of them put down sommes of money, according to their shares in the said theatre, and which they have justly and honestly gained by the exercise of their qualitie of stage-players ; but that certaine persons (some of them of honour), inhabitants of the said precinct and libertie of the Blackfriers, have, as your Petitioners are informed, besought your honourable Lordshipps not to permitt the said private house any longer to remaine open, but hereafter to be shut
The date of the year when this petition of the actors was presented to the privy council is ascertained from that of the remonstrance of the inhabitants which had rendered it necessary, viz. 1596 ; but by another paper, among the theatrical relics of Alleyn and Henslowe at Dulwich College, we are enabled to show that both the remonstrance and the petition were anterior to May in that year. Henslowe (step-father to Alleyn’s wife, and Alleyn's partner) seems always, very prudently, to have kept up a good understanding with the officers of the department of the revels; and on 3rd May, 1596, a person of the name of Veale, servant to Edmond Tylney, master of the revels, wrote to Henslowe, informing him (as of course he must take an interest in the result) that it had been decided by the privy council, that the Lord Chamberlain's servants should be allowed to complete their repairs, but not to enlarge their house in the Blackfriars: the note of Veale to Henslowe is on a small slip of paper, very clearly written; and as it is short, we here insert it :
“Mr. Hinslowe. This is to enfourme you that my Mr., the Maister of the revelles, hath rec. from the Ll. of the counsell order that the L. Chamberlen's servauntes shall not be distourbed at the Blackefryars, according with their petition in that behalfe, but leave shall be given unto theym to make good the decaye of the saide House, butt not to make the same larger then in former tyme hath bene. From thoffice of the Revelles. this 3 of maie, 1596.
“ Rich. VEALE."
Thus the whole transaction is made clear: the company, soon after the opening of the Globe, contemplated the repair and enlargement of the Blackfriars theatre : the inhabitants of the precinct objected not only to repair and enlargement, but to any dramatic representations in that part of the town: the company petitioned to be allowed to carry out their design, as regarded the restoration of the edifice, and the increase of its size; but the privy council consented only that the building should be repaired. We are to conclude, therefore, that after the repairs were finished, the theatre would hold no more spectators than formerly; but that the dilapidations of time were substantially remedied we are sure, from the fact that the house continued long afterwards to be employed for the purpose for which it had been originally fitted up, or constructed '.
up and closed, to the manifest and great injurie of your petitioners, who have no other meanes whereby to maintain their wives and families, but by the exercise of their qualitie as they have heretofore done. Furthermore, that in the summer season your Petitioners are able to playe at their new built house on the Bankside calde the Globe, but that in the winter they are compelled to come to the Blackfriers; and if your honorable Lordshipps give consent unto that which is prayde against your Petitioners, they will not onely, while the winter endures, loose the meanes whereby they now support them selves and their families, but be unable to practise themselves in anie playes or enterludes, when calde upon to performe for the recreation and solace of her Matie and her honorable Court, as they have beene heretofore accustomed. The humble prayer of your Petitioners therefore is, that your honorable Lordshipps grant permission to finish the reparations and alterations they have begun; and as your Petitioners have hitherto been well ordered in their behaviour, and just in their dealings, that your honorable Lordshipps will not inhibit them from acting at their above namde private house in the precinct and libertie of the Blackfriers, and your Petitioners, as in dutie most bounden, will ever pray for the increasing honor and happinesse of your honorable Lordshipps."
What is of most importance in this proceeding, with reference to Shakespeare, is the circumstance upon which we have already remarked; that whereas his name, in 1589, stood twelfth in a list of sixteen sharers, in 1596 it was advanced to the fifth place in an enumeration of eight persons, who termed themselves “owners and players of the private house, or theatre, in the precinct and liberty of the Blackfriars." It is not difficult to suppose that the speculation at the Globe had been remarkably successful in its first season, and that the Lord Chamberlain's servants had thereby been induced to expend money upon the Blackfriars, in order to render it more commodious, as well as more capacious, under the calculation, that their receipts at the one house during the winter would be greater in consequence of their popularity at the other during the summer.
Where Shakespeare had resided from the time when he first came to London, until the period of which we are now speaking, we have little information ; but in July, 1596, he was living in Southwark, perhaps to be close to the scene of action, and more effectually to superintend the performances at the Globe, which were continued through at least seven months of the year. We know not whether he removed there shortly before the opening of the Globe, or whether from the first it had been his usual place of abode; but Malone tells us, “From a paper now before me, which formerly belonged to Edward Alleyn, the player, our poet appears to have lived in Southwark, near the Bear-garden, in 1596 o.” He gives us no
5 The ultimate fate of this playhouse, and of others existing at the same time, will be found stated in a subsequent part of our memoir.
6 “ Inquiry into the Authenticity,” &c. p. 215. He seems to have reserved particulars for his “ Life of Shakespeare,” which he did not live to complete, and which was imperfectly finished by Boswell.
farther insight into the contents of the paper ; but he probably
Fillpott and no more, and soe well ended." This is the whole of the fragment, for such it appears to be, and without farther explanation, which we have not been able to find in any other document, in the depository where the above is preserved or elsewhere, it is impossible to understand more, than that Shakespeare and other inhabitants of Southwark had made some complaint in July 1596, which, we may guess, was hostile to the wishes of the writer, who congratulated himself that the matter was so well at an end. Some of the parties named, including our great dramatist, continued resident in Southwark long afterwards, as we shall have occasion in its proper place to show. The writer seems to have been desirous of speaking derogatorily of all the persons he enumerates, but still he designates some as “Mr. Markis, Mr. Tuppin, Mr. Langorth, Mr. Barett, and Mr. Shaksper;" but “Phellipes', Tomson, Nagges, and Fillpott,” he only mentions by their surnames, while he adds the words “the pyper" and “the baude” after “Wilsone 8” and “Mother Golden," probably to indicate that any complaint from them ought to have little weight. All that we certainly collect from the memorandum is what Malone gathered from it, that in July 1596, (Malone only gives the year, and adds “near the Beargarden,” which we do not find confirmed by the contents of the paper) in the middle of what we have considered the second season at the new theatre called the Globe, Shakespeare was an inhabitant of Southwark. That he had removed thither for the sake of convenience, and of being nearer the spot, is not unlikely, but we have no evidence upon the point: as there is reason to believe that Burbadge, the principal actor at the Globe, lived in Holywell Street, Shoreditch, near the Curtain play-house', such an arrangement, as regards Shakespeare and the Globe, seems the more probable.
7 This may have been Augustine Phillips, who belonged to the company of the Lord Chamberlain's servants, and whose name stands fourth in the royal licence of May 1603. He died as nearly as possible two years afterwards, his will being dated on the 4th May, and proved on the 13th May, 1605. Among other
Chancery suit in 1597 by John Shakespeare and his wife to recover Asbyes : their
bill; the answer of John Lambert; and the replication of John and Mary Shakespeare. Probable result of the suit. William Shakespeare's annual visits to Stratford. Death of his son Hamnet in 1596. General scarcity in England, and its effects at Stratford. The quantity of corn in the hands of William Shakespeare and his neighbours in February, 1598. Ben Jonson's “ Every Man in his Humour," and probable instrumentality of Shakespeare in the original production of it on the stage. Henslowe's letter respecting the death of
Gabriel Spenser. We have already mentioned that in 1578 John Shakespeare and his wife, in order to relieve themselves from pecuniary
bequests to his friends and “fellows,” he gave a thirty-shillings piece of gold” to William Shakespeare. He was a distinguished comic performer, and the earliest notice we have of him is prior to the death of Tarlton in 1588. He was buried at Mortlake: he had previously resided in Southwark, where his children were baptized, as may be seen by the extracts from the Registers of St. Saviour's printed in “Memoirs of the principal Actors in the Plays of Shakespeare," published by the Shakespeare Society in 1846.
8 It is just possible that by “Wilsone the pyper" the writer meant to point out “Jack Wilson,” the singer of “Sigh no more, ladies,” in “ Much Ado about Nothing" (Vol. ii. p. 84), who might be, and probably was, a player upon some wind instrument. See also the “ Memoirs of Edward Alleyn” (printed by the Shakespeare Society), p. 153, for a notice of “Mr. Wilson, the singer," when he dined on one occasion with the founder of Dulwich College.
9 “ Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell,” iii. p. 182.