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and therefore multiplied the luces to "a dozen," instead of stating the true number. We believe that “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was written before 1600, though not acted until afterwards, among other reasons, because Shakespeare was too generous in his nature to have carried his resentment beyond the grave, and to have cast ridicule upon a dead adversary, whatever might have been the poet's sufferings from a living one.
Malone has attacked the story of deer-stealing on the ground that Sir Thomas Lucy never had any park at Charlcote or elsewhere, but it admits of an easy and immediate answer; for, although Sir Thomas Lucy had no park, he may have had deer, and that his successor had deer, though no park, can be proved, we think, satisfactorily. Malone has remarked that Sir Thomas Lucy never to have sent the corporation of Stratford a buck. This may be so, and the fact may be accounted for on several grounds, connected with the ancient grudge and hostility to which we have already adverted; but that the Sir Thomas Lucy, who succeeded his father in 1600, made such gifts, though not perhaps to the corporation of Stratford, is very certain. When Lord Keeper Egerton entertained Queen Elizabeth at Harefield, in August 1602, many of the nobility and gentry, in nearly all parts of the kingdom, sent him an abundance of presents to be used or consumed in the entertainment, and on that occasion Sir Thomas Lucy contributed “a buck," for which a reward of 6s. 8d. was given to the bringer". This single circumstance shows that, if he had no park, he had deer, and it is most likely that he inherited them from his father. Thus we may pretty safely conclude that the Sir Thomas Lucy, who resided at Charlcote when Shakespeare was in his youth, had venison to be stolen, although it does not necessarily follow that Shakespeare was ever concerned in stealing it:
8 See “ The Egerton Papers," printed by the Camden Society, 4to, 1840, pp. 350. 355. The editor of that volume observes : “Many of these (presents] deserve notice, but especially one of the items, where it is stated that Sir Thomas Lucy (against whom Shakespeare is said to have written a ballad) sent a present of a “buck.' Malone discredits the whole story of the deer-stealing, because Sir Thomas Lucy had no park at Charlcote : 'I conceive (he says) it will very readily be granted that Sir Thomas Lucy could not lose that of which he was never possessed. We find, however, from what follows, that he was possessed of deer, for he sent a present of a buck to Lord Ellesmere, in 1602.” The son gave “a buck," because he had bred it himself, and because it was perhaps well known that he kept deer; and he would hardly have exposed himself to ridicule by buying a buck for a present, under the ostentatious pretence that it was of his own rearing. Malone thought that he had triumphantly overthrown the deer-stealing story, but his refutation amounts to little or nothing. Whether it is nevertheless true is quite a different question.
The question, whether he did or did not quit Stratford for the metropolis on this account, is one of much importance in the poet's history, but it is one also upon which we shall, in all probability, never arrive at certainty. Our opinion is that the tradition related by Rowe, and mentioned in Fulman's and in Oldys' MSS. (which do not seem to have originated in the same source) was founded upon an actual occurrence; but, at the same time, it is very possible that that alone did not determine Shakespeare's line of conduct. His residence in Stratford may have been rendered inconvenient by the near neighbourhood of such a hostile and powerful magistrate; but perhaps he would nevertheless not have quitted the town, if other circumstances had not combined to produce such a decision. What those circumstances might be it is our business now to inquire.
Aubrey, who was a very curious and minute investigator, although undoubtedly too credulous, says nothing about deerstealing; but he tells us that Shakespeare was “inclined naturally to poetry and acting,” and to this inclination he attributes his journey to London at an early age. That this youthful propensity existed there hardly can be a dispute, and it is easy to trace how it may have been promoted and strengthened. The corporation of Stratford seem to have given great encouragement to companies of players arriving there. We know, from various authorities, that when itinerant actors came to any considerable town, it was their custom to wait upon the mayor, bailiff, or other head of the corporation, in order to ask permission to perform, either in the town hall, if that could be granted to them, or elsewhere. It so happens that the earliest known record of the representation of any plays in Stratford-upon-Avon, is dated in the very year when John Shakespeare was bailiff' : the precise season is not stated, but it was in 1569, when “the Queen's Players ” (meaning probably, at this period, one company of her “Interlude Players,” retained under that name by her father and grandfather) received 98. out of the corporate funds, while the Earl of Worcester's servants in the same year obtained only 12d. In 1573, just before the grant of the royal licence to them, the Earl of Leicester's players, of whom James Burbadge was the leader, received 6s. 8d.; and in the next year the companies acting under the names of the Earls of Warwick and Worcester obtained 17s. and 5s. 7d. respectively. It is unnecessary to state precisely the sums disbursed at various times by the bailiff, aldermen, and burgesses, but we may notice, that in 1577 the players of the Earls of Leicester and Worcester again exhibited ; and in 1579 we hear of a company in Stratford patronized by one of the female nobility, (a very unusual circumstance) the Countess of Essex '.
9 This circumstance may, for aught we know, be attributable to the fact, that our poet's father had a special liking for theatrical performances, which was fortunately inherited by the son.
“ Lord Strange's men” (at this date not players, but tumblers ?) also exhibited in the same year, and in 1580 the Earl of Derby's players were duly rewarded. The same encouragement was given to the companies of the Earls of Worcester and Berkeley in 1581 ; but in 1582 we hear only of the Earl of Worcester's actors having been in the town. In 1583 the Earl of Berkeley's players, and those of Lord Chandois, performed in Stratford, while, in the next year, three companies appear to have visited the borough. In 1586 " the players (without mentioning what company) exhibited ; and in 1587 no fewer than five associations were rewarded: viz. the Queen's Players *, and those of the Earls of Essex, Leicester, and Stafford, with “another company," the nobleman countenancing them not being named.
1 The widow of Walter Devereux, father of Robert, who was beheaded in 15991600. It is to be observed, that as early as 1482 the Earl of Essex had a company of players travelling under the protection of his name, and that on the 9th January Lord Howard, through one of his stewards, gave them a reward. This Earl of Essex was, however, of a different family, viz. Henry Bourchier, who was created in 1461, and who died in 1483. See the Household Book of John Lord Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, printed in 1844 at the expense of the Roxburghe Club, p. 149.
2 In the account of the cost of the Revels for the year 1581-2, we are told that “sundrey feates of tumbling and activitie were shewed before her Majestie on newe yeares night by the Lord Straunge his servauntes." See Mr. P. Cunningham's “ Extracts from the Revels Accounts,” p. 177.
3 Malone, who gleaned these particulars from the accounts of the Chamberlains of Stratford, mis-stated this date 1510 (see " Shakspeare; by Boswell,” Vol. ii. p. 151), but we have ascertained it to be 1580, as indeed seems evident.
4 This was most likely one of the companies which the Queen had directed to be formed, consisting of a selection of the best actors from the associations of several of the nobility, and not either of the distinct bodies of “interlude players" who had visited Stratford while John Shakespeare was bailiff.
It is to be remarked that several of the players, with whom Shakespeare was afterwards connected, appear to have come originally from Stratford, or its neighbourhood. A family of the name of Burbadge was resident in Stratford, and one member of it attained the highest office in the corporation : in the Muster-book of the county of Warwick in 1569, preserved in the State-paper office, we meet in various places with the names of Burbadge, Slye, and Heminge, although not with the same Christian names as those of the actors in Shakespeare's plays: the unusual combination of Nicholas Tooley is, however, found there ; and he was a well-known member of the company to which Shakespeare was attached o. It is very distinctly ascertained that James Burbadge, the father of the celebrated Richard Burbadge (the representative of many of the heroes in the works of our great dramatist), and one of the original builders of the Curtain and Blackfriars theatres, migrated to London from that part of the kingdom, and the name of Thomas Greene, who was indisputably of Stratford, will be familiar to all who are acquainted with the detailed history of our stage at that period. Malone supposed that Thomas Greene might have introduced Shakespeare to the theatre, and at an early date he was certainly a member of the company called the Lord Chamberlain's servants : how long he continued so we are without information, although we know that he became, and perhaps not long after 1589, an actor in the rival association under Alleyn, and that he was one of Queen Anne's Players when, on the accession of James I., she took a company under her patronage. If any introduction to the Lord Chamberlain's servants had been necessary for Shakespeare at an early date, he could easily have procured it from several other quarters”.
5 Malone attributes the following order, made by the corporation of Stratford many years after the date to which we are now adverting, to the growth of Puritanism ; but possibly it originated in other motives, and may even have been connected with the objectionable abduction of young men from their homes :
“ 17. Dec. 45 Eliz: 1602. At this Hall yt is ordered, that there shall be no plays or interludes played in the Chamber, the Guildhall, nor in any parte of the howse or courte, from hensforward, upon payne, that whoever, of the Baylif, Aldermen, or Burgesses of the boroughe, shall give leave or license thereunto, shall forfeyt for everie offence-X8."
6 Nicholas Tooley was of Burmington, and he is said to be possessed of 201., goods. We are indebted to Mr. Lemon for directing our attention to this document. Thomas Pope was also from Warwickshire.
? It has been conjectured, but upon no evidence excepting that Greene once 8 Upon this point we differ from the Rev. Mr. Halpin in his ingenious and agreeable “Essay upon Oberon's Vision,” printed by the Shakespeare Society in 1843. Bishop Percy, in his “ Reliques," was the first to start the idea that Shakespeare had been present at the entertainment at Kenilworth, and the Rev. Mr. Halpin calls it “a pleasant conceit," which had been countenanced by Malone, and
The frequent performances of various associations of actors in Stratford and elsewhere, and the taste for theatricals thereby produced, may have had the effect of drawing not a few young men in Warwickshire from their homes, to follow the attractive and profitable profession; and such may have been the case with Shakespeare, without supposing that domestic differences, arising out of disparity of age or any other cause, influenced his determination, or that he was driven away by the terrors of Sir Thomas Lucy.
It has been matter of speculation, and of mere speculation, for nobody has pretended to bring forward a particle of proof upon the question, whether Shakespeare visited Kenilworth Castle, when Queen Elizabeth was entertained there by the Earl of Leicester in 1575; and whether the pomp and pageantry he then witnessed did not give a colour to his mind, and a direction to his pursuits. Considering that he was then only in his eleventh year, we own, that we cannot believe he found his way into that august assembly. Kenilworth was fourteen miles distant: John Shakespeare, although he had been bailiff, and was still head-alderman of Stratford, was not a man of sufficient rank and importance to be there in any official capacity; and he probably had not means to equip himself and his son for such an expedition. It may be very well as a matter of fancy to indulge such a notion, but, as it seems to us, every reasonable probability is against it. That Shakespeare heard of the extensive preparations,
spoke of Shakespeare as his “ cousin,” and the following entry in the register of deaths at Stratford, that he was in some way related to our poet:
“ 1589. March 6. Thomas Green, alias Shakspere.” This was perhaps the father Thomas Greene, the actor, who was a comedian of great reputation and popularity, and became so famous in a character called Bubble, that the play of the “City Gallant" (acted by the Queen's Players), in which it occurs, with the constantly repeated phrase Tu quoque, was named after him. In the account of the Revels of 1611-12, it is called first “the City Gallant,” and afterwards Tu quoque : it was printed in 1614, under the double title of “Greene's Tu Quoque, or the City Gallant,” preceded by an epistle from Thomas Heywood, by which we learn that Greene was then dead. A piece in verse, called
A Poet's Vision and a Prince's Glory," 1603, was written by a Thomas Greene, but it may be more than doubted, whether this were the comedian. The Greenes were a very respectable family at Stratford, and one of them was a solicitor settled in London.