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third in 1596, a fourth in 1600, and a fifth in 1602': there may have been, and probably were, intervening impressions, which have disappeared among the popular and destroyed literature of the time. We may conclude that this admirable and unequalled production first introduced its author to the notice of Lord Southampton; and it is evident from the opening of the dedication, that Shakespeare had not taken the precaution of ascertaining, in the first instance, the wishes of the young nobleman on the subject. Lord Southampton was more than nine years younger than Shakespeare, having been born on 6th Oct., 1573.
We may be sure that the dedication of “ Venus and Adonis” was, on every account, acceptable, and Shakespeare followed it up by inscribing to the same peer, but in a much more assured and confident strain, his “Lucrece" in the succeeding year. He then “ dedicated his love” to his juvenile patron, having “a warrant of his honourable disposition” towards his “ pamphlet” and himself. “ Lucrece” was not calculated, from its subject and the treatment of it, to be so popular as “ Venus and Adonis,” and the first edition having appeared from Field's press in 1594, a reprint of it does not seem to have been called for until after the lapse of four years, and the third edition bears the date of 1600.
It must have been about this period that the Earl of Southampton bestowed a most extraordinary proof of his high-minded munificence upon the author of “Venus and Adonis” and “ Lucrece.” It was not unusual, at that time and afterwards, for noblemen, and others to whom works were dedicated, to make presents
9 Malone knew nothing of any copy of 1594. The impression of 1602 was printed for W. Leake. We mention the fact here, because in the Introduction to “ Venus and Adonis,” (Vol. viji. p. 369) it is erroneously stated, that no impression with the name of William Leake upon the title-page is known. Only a single copy of the edition of 1602 has come down to our day: it had been entered by W. Leake as early as 1596.
of money to the writers of them; but there is certainly no instance upon record of such generous bounty, on an occasion of the kind, as that of which we are now to speak': nevertheless, we have every reliance upon the authenticity of the anecdote, taking into account the unexampled merit of the poet, the known liberality of the nobleman, and the evidence upon which the story has been handed down. Rowe was the original narrator of it in print, and he doubtless had it, with other information, from Betterton, who probably received it directly from Sir William Davenant, and communicated it to Rowe. If it cannot be asserted that Davenant was strictly contemporary with Shakespeare, he was contemporary with Shakespeare's contemporaries, and from them he must have obtained the original information. Rowe gives the statement in these words :
“ There is one instance so singular in the munificence of this patron of Shakespeare's that, if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William Davenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his (Shakespeare's] affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted; that my Lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to.”.
No biographer of Shakespeare seems to have adverted to the period when it was likely that the gift was made, in combination with the nature of the purchase Lord Southampton had heard our great dramatist wished to complete, or, it seems to us, they would not have thought the tradition by any means so improbable as some have held it.
The disposition to make a worthy return for the dedications of “ Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece” would of course be produced in the mind of Lord Southampton by the publication of those poems; and we are to recollect that it was precisely at the same date that the Lord Chamberlain's servants entered upon the project of building the Globe Theatre on the Bankside, not very far to the west of the Southwark foot of London Bridge. “ Venus and Adonis” was published in 1593; and it was on the 22nd Dec. in that year that Richard Burbage, the great actor, and the leader of the company to which Shakespeare was attached, signed a bond to a carpenter of the name of Peter Street for the construction of the Globe. It is not too much to allow at least a year for its completion; and it was during 1594, while the work on the Bankside was in progress, that “Lucrece” came from the press. Thus we see that the building of the Globe, at the cost of the sharers in the Blackfriars theatre, was coincident in point of time with the appearance of the two poems dedicated to the Earl of Southampton. Is it, then, too much to believe that the young and bountiful nobleman, having heard of this enterprise from the peculiar interest he is known to have taken in all matters relating to the stage, and having been incited by warm admiration of “Venus and Adonis” and “ Lucrece,” in the fore-front of which he rejoiced to see his own name, presented Shakespeare with 10001., to enable him to make good the money he was to produce, as his proportion, for the completion of the Globe?
| The author of the present Life of Shakespeare is bound to make one exception, which has come peculiarly within his own knowledge, but of which he does not feel at liberty to say more.
We do not mean to say that our great dramatist stood in need of the money, or that he could not have deposited it as well as the other sharers in the Blackfriars?; but Lord Southampton may not have thought it necessary to inquire, whether he did or did not want
? Neither are we to imagine that Shakespeare would have to contribute the whole sum of 10001, as his contribution to the cost of the Globe : probably much less; but this was a consideration which, we may feel assured, never entered the mind of a man like Lord Southampton.
it, nor to consider precisely what it had been customary to give ordinary versifiers, who sought the pay and patronage of the nobility. Although Shakespeare had not yet reached the climax of his excellence, Lord Southampton knew him to be the greatest dramatist this country had yet produced; he knew him also to be the writer of two poems, dedicated to himself, with which nothing else of the kind could bear comparison; and in the exercise of his bounty he measured the poet by his deserts, and “used him after his own honour and dignity,” by bestowing upon him a sum worthy of his title and character, and which his wealth probably enabled him without difficulty to afford. We do not believe that there has been any exaggeration in the amount, (although that is more possible, than that the whole statement should have been a fiction) and Lord Southampton may thus have intended also to indicate his hearty good will to the new undertaking of the company, and his determination to support it?.
The opening of the Globe theatre, on the Bankside, in 1595. Union of Shakespeare's associates with the Lord Admiral's players. The theatre at Newington Butts. Projected repair and enlargement of the Blackfriars theatre: opposition by the inhabitants of the precinct. Shakespeare's rank in the company in 1596. Petition from him and seven others to the Privy Council, and its result. Repair of the Blackfriars theatre. Shakespeare a resident in Southwark in 1596 : proof that he was so from the papers at Dulwich College.
We have concluded, as we think we may do very fairly, that the construction of the new theatre on the Bankside, subsequently known as the Globe, having been commenced soon after the signature of the bond of Burbage to Street, on 22d Dec. 1593, was continued through the year 1594: we apprehend that it would be finished and ready for the reception of audiences early in the spring of 1595. It was a round wooden building, open to the sky, while the stage was protected from the weather by an overhanging roof of thatch. The number of persons it would contain we have no means of ascertaining, but it was certainly of larger dimensions than the Rose, the Hope, or the Swan, three other edifices of the same kind and used for the same purpose, in the immediate vicinity. The Blackfriars was a private theatre, as it was called, entirely covered in, and of smaller size; and from thence the company, after the Globe had been completed, was in the habit of removing in the spring, perhaps as soon as there was any indication of the setting in of fine cheerful weather?
3 After the Globe had been burned down in June, 1613, it was rebuilt very much by the contributions of the king and the nobility. Lord Southampton may have intended the 10001., in part, as a contribution to this enterprise, through the hands of an individual whom he had good reason to distinguish from the rest of the company.
Before the building of the Globe, for the exclusive use of the theatrical servants of the Lord Chamberlain, there can be little doubt that they did not act all the year round at the Blackfriars: they appear to have performed sometimes at the Curtain in Shoreditch, and Richard Burbage, at the time of his death, still had shares in that playhouse? Whether they occupied it
1 We know that they did so afterwards, and there is every reason to believe that such was their practice from the beginning. Dr. Forman records, in his Diary in the Ashmolean Museum, that he saw “Macbeth” at the Globe, on the 20th April, 1610 ; “ Richard II.” on the 30th April, 1611, and “ The Winter's Tale" on the 15th May, in the same year. See the Introductions to those several plays.
? The same was precisely the case with Pope, the celebrated comedian, who died in Feb. 1604. His will, dated 22d July, 1603, contains the following clause : “ Item, I give and bequeath to the said Mary Clark, alias Wood, and to the said Thomas Bromley, as well all my part, right, title, and interest, which I have, or ought to have, in and to all that playhouse, with the appurtenances, called the Curtain, situate and being in Holywell, in the parish of St. Leonard's in Shoreditch, in the county of Middlesex ; as also my part, estate, and interest, which I have, or ought to have, in and to all that playhouse, with the appurtenances, called the Globe, in the parish of St. Saviour's, in the county of Surrey."-Chalmers' Supplemental Apology, p. 165.
Richard Burbage lived and died (in 1619) in Holywell-street, near the Curtain