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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 patronised by one of the female nobility, (a very unusual circumstance) the Countess of Essex ®. “ 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 only hear 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
8 The widow of Walter Devereux, whom Leicester very soon afterwards married. 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 146), and who died in 1483. See the Household Book of John Lord Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, printed in 1844 for the Roxburghe Club, p. 149.
9 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.
1 Malone, who gleaned these particulars from the accounts of the Chamberlains of Stratford, mis-stated this date 1510, (vol. ii. p. 151.) but we have ascertained it to be 1580, as indeed seems evident.
? 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.
“another company,” the nobleman countenancing them not being named.
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 Burbage was resident in Stratford, and one member of it attained the highest dignity 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 Burbage, 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*. It is very distinctly ascertained that James Burbage, the father of the celebrated Richard Burbage, the representative of many of the heroes in the works of our great dramatist) and one of the original builders of the Blackfriars theatre, 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
* 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 attraction 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."
• 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, which he only recently discovered in the public archives.
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".
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 gorgeous and 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, and of the magnificent entertainment, there can be no doubt: it was an event calculated to create a strong sensation in the whole of that part of the country; and if the celebrated passage in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” (act ii. sc. 1), had any reference to it, it did not require that Shakespeare should have been present in order to have written it, especially when, if necessary, he had Gascoyne's “ Princely Pleasures of Kenilworth” and Laneham’s “Letter” to assist his memory?.
5 It has been conjectured, but, we believe, upon no evidence beyond the following entry in the register of deaths at Stratford, that Greene was in some way related to Shakespeare:
“ 1589. March 6. Thomas Green, alias Shakspere.” This was perhaps the father of 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 T. Heywood, by which it appears 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 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.
6 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. 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 adopted by Dr. Drake: nevertheless, he afterwards seriously argues the matter, and arrives at the conclusion that Shakespeare was present in right of his gentry on both sides of the family. This appears to us even a more "pleasant conceit” than that of Percy, Malone, and Drake, who suppose Shakespeare to have gone to Kenilworth “under the wing” of Thomas Greene.
7 Gascoyne's “ Princely Pleasures,” &c. was printed in 1576, and Laneham's “ Letter" from Kenilworth in the preceding year. Gascoyne was himself a performer in the shows, and, according to Laneham, represented “a Savage Man,” who made a speech to the Queen as she came from hunting. Robert Laneham, the affected but clever writer of the “ Letter," was most likely (as is suggested in the Bridgewater Catalogue, 4to, 1837, p. 162) related to John Laneham, the player, who was one of the Earl of Leicester's players, and is named in the royal licence of 1574. “Robert Laneham," observes the compiler of that Catalogue, “ seems to have been quite as much a comedian upon paper, as John Lanehamn was upon the stage.”
John Shakespeare removed from his situation as alderman of Stratford, and
its possible connexion with William Shakespeare's departure for London in the latter end of 1586. William Shakespeare a sharer in the Blackfriars Theatre in 1589. Complaints against actors : two companies silenced for bringing Martin Mar-prelate on the stage. Certificate of the sharers in the Blackfriars. Shakespeare, in all probability, a good actor: our older dramatists often players. Shakespeare's earliest compositions for the stage. His “ Venus and Adonis” and “ Lucrece” probably written before he came to London.
In reference to the period when our great dramatist abandoned his native town for London, we think that sufficient attention has not been paid to an important incident in the life of his father. John Shakespeare was deprived of his gown as alderman of Stratford in the autumn of 1586 : we say that he was deprived of his gown, not because any resolution precisely warranting those terms was come to by the rest of the corporation, but because it is quite evident that such was the fact, from the tenor of the entry in the records of the borough. On the 6th Sept. 1586, the following memorandum was made in the register by the town clerk':
“At this hall William Smythe and Richard Courte are chosen to be aldermen, in the place of John Wheler, and John Shaxspere ; for that Mr. Wheler doth desyer to be put out of the companye, and Mr. Shaxspere doth not come to the halles, when they be warned, nor hath not done of a long ty me."
According to this note, it was Wheler's wish to be removed from his situation of alderman, and had such also been the desire of John Shakespeare, we should, no doubt, have been told so: therefore, we must presume that he was not a consenting, or at all events
i William Tyler was the bailiff of the year. See Malone's Shakspeare by Boswell, vol. ii. p. 164.