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time, and applicable to any recent period, were forthcoming. Lord Ellesmere, therefore, we may conclude, was opposed to the claim of the city.
Failing in this endeavour to expel the King's players from their hold by force of law, the corporation appears to have taken a milder course, and negociated with the players for the purchase of the Blackfriars theatre, with all its properties and appurtenances. To this negociation we are probably indebted for a paper, which shows with great exactness and particularity the amount of interest then claimed by each sharer, those sharers being Richard Burbage, Laurence Fletcher', William Shakespeare, John Heminge, Henry Condell, Joseph Taylor, and John Lowin, with four other persons not named, each the owner of half a share.
We have inserted the document entire in a note?,
| These transactions most probably occurred before September, 1608, because Laurence Fletcher died in that month. However, it is not quite certain that the “ Laz. Fletcher," mentioned in the document, was Laurence Fletcher: we know of no person named Lazarus Fletcher, though he may have been the personal representative of Laurence Fletcher. ? It is thus headed “ For avoiding of the Playhouse in the Precinct of the Blacke Friers.
£. 8. d. Imp. Richard Burbidge oweth the Fee, and is alsoe a sharer
therein. His interest he rateth at the grosse summe of 10001. for the Fee, and for his foure shares in the summe of
933l. 6s. 81. . . . . . . . . . . 1933 6 8 Item. Laz, Fletcher oweth three shares, which he rateth at 7001.,
that is, at seven yeares purchase for each share, or 33l. 6s. 8d.,
one yeare with another . . . . . . . . 700 00 Item. W. Shakespeare asketh for the wardrobe and properties
of the same playhouse 5001., and for his 4 shares, the same as his fellowes, Burbidge and Fletcher; viz. 9331. 68. 8d. . . 1433 6 8 Item. Heminge and Condell eche 2 shares . .
933 6 8 Item. Joseph Taylor I share and an halfe
350 00 Item. Lowing also one share and an halfe.
350 00 Item. Foure more playeres with one halfe share to eche of them 466 13 4
Moreover, the hired men of the Companie demaund some recompence for their great losse, and the Widowes and Orphanes of Players, who are paide by the Sharers at divers rates and proportions, so as in the whole it will cost the Lo. Mayor and the Citizens at least 70001."
and hence we find that Richard Burbage was the owner of the freehold or fee, (which he no doubt inherited from his father) as well as the owner of four shares, the value of all which, taken together, he rated at 1933l. 6s. 8d. Laurence Fletcher (if it be he, for the Christian name is written “ Laz,”) was proprietor of three shares, for which he claimed 7001. Shakespeare was proprietor of the wardrobe and properties of the theatre, estimated at 5001., as well as of four shares, valued, like those of Burbage and Fletcher, at 331. 6s. 8d. each, or 9331. 6s. 8d., at seven years' purchase: his whole demand was 1433l. 6s. 8d., or 5001. less than that of Burbage, in as much as the fee was considered worth 10001., while Shakespeare's wardrobe and properties were valued at 5001. According to the same calculation, Heminge and Condell each required 4661. 13s. 4d. for their two shares, and Taylor 3501. for his share and a half, while the four unnamed half-sharers put in their claim to be compensated at the same rate, 4661. 13s. 4d. This mode of estimating the Blackfriars theatre made the value of it 61661. 13s. 4d, and to this sum was to be added remuneration to the hired men of the company, who were not sharers, as well as to the widows and orphans of deceased actors: the purchase money of the whole property was thus raised to at least 70001.
Each share, out of the twenty into which the receipts of the theatre were divided, yielded, as was alleged, an annual profit of 33l. 6s. 8d.; and Shakespeare, owning four of these shares, his annual income, from them only, was 1331. 6s. 8d.: he was besides proprietor of the wardrobe and properties, stated to be worth 5001.: these, we may conclude, he lent to the company for a certain consideration, and, reckoning wear and tear, ten per cent. seems a very low rate of payment; we will take it, however, at that sum, which would add 501. a year to the 1331, 6s. 8d. already mentioned,
making together 1831. 6s. 8d., besides what our great dramatist must have gained by the profits of his pen, upon which we have no data for forming any thing like an accurate estimate. Without including any thing on this account, and supposing only that the Globe was as profitable for a summer theatre as the Blackfriars was for a winter theatre, it is evident that Shakespeare's income could hardly have been less than 3661. 13s. 4d. Taking every known source of emolument into view, we consider 4001. a year the very lowest amount at which his income can be reckoned in 1608.
The document upon which this calculation is founded is preserved among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, but a remarkable incidental confirmation of it has still more recently been brought to light in the State-paper office. Sir Dudley Carlton was ambassador at the Hague in 1619, and John Chamberlaine, writing to him on 19th of March in that year, and mentioning the death of Queen Anne, states that “ the funeral is put off to the 29th of the next month, to the great hinderance of our players, which are forbidden to play so long as her body is above ground: one speciall man among them, Burbage, is lately dead, and hath left, they say, better than 3001. land.”
Burbage was interred at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on 16th March, 1619, three days anterior to the date of Chamberlaine's letter, having made his nuncupative will four days before his burial : in it he said nothing
3 This new and valuable piece of information was pointed out to us by Mr. Lemon, who has been as indefatigable in his researches as liberal in the communication of the results of them.
4 The passage above quoted renders Middleton's epigram on the death of Burbage (Works by Dyce, vol. v. p. 503) quite clear :
« Astronomers and star-gazers this year
Hath made a visible eclipse of playing." It has been conjectured that “their staying” referred to a temporary suspension of plays in consequence of the death of Burbage; but the stay was the prohibition of acting until after the funeral of Queen Anne.
Tipy about the amount of his property, but merely left his is the wife Winifred his sole executrix. There can be no mit doubt, however, that the correspondent of Sir Dudley ingCarlton was correct in his information, and that Bur
bage died worth “better than” 3001. a year in land, ENTE besides his “goods and chattels :" 3001. a year at that pear date was about 15001. of our present money, and we 354 have every reason to suppose that Shakespeare was nie? quite in as good, if not in better circumstances. Until int the letter of Chamberlaine was found, we had not the
slightest knowledge of the amount of property Burbage und had accumulated, he having been during his whole life enke merely an actor, and not combining in his own person 07 the profits of a most successful dramatic author with És those of a performer. Nevertheless, it must not be
forgotten, that although Shakespeare continued a large sharer with the leading members of the company in
1608, he had retired from the stage about four years one before; and having ceased to act, but still retaining his to shares in the profits of the theatres with which he was y connected, it is impossible to say what arrangement he te may have made with the rest of the company for the
regular contribution of dramas, in lieu perhaps of his own personal exertions.
In a work published a few years ago, containing extracts from the Diary of the Rev. John Ward, who was vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon, and whose memoranda extend from 1648 to 1679", it is stated that Shakespeare “ in his elder days lived at Stratford, and supplied the stage with two plays every year, and for it had an allowance so large, that he spent at the rate of 10001, a year, as I have heard.” We only adduce this passage to show what the opinion was as to Shakespeare's circumstances shortly after the Restoration.
Diary of the Rev. John Ward, &c. Arranged by Charles Severn, M.D. London, 8vo, 1839. * Mr. Ward was appointed to the vicarage of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1662.
We take it for granted that the sum of 10001. (equal to nearly 50001. now) is a considerable exaggeration, but it may warrant the belief that Shakespeare lived in good style and port, late in life, in his native town. It is very possible, too, though we think not probable, that after he retired to Stratford he continued to write, but it is utterly incredible that subsequent to his retirement he “supplied the stage with two plays every year.” He might not be able at once to relinquish his old and confirmed habits of composition; but such other evidence as we possess is opposed to Ward's statement, to which he himself appends the cautionary words, “as I have heard.” Of course he could have known nothing but by hearsay forty-six years after our poet's decease. He might, however, easily have known inhabitants of Stratford who well recollected Shakespeare, and, considering the opportunities he possessed, it strikes us as very singular that he collected so little information.
We have already adverted to the bounty of the Earl of Southampton to Shakespeare, which we have supposed to have been consequent upon the dedication of “ Venus and Adonis,” and “Lucrece,” to that nobleman, and coincident in point of date with the building of the Globe theatre. Another document has been banded down to us among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, which proves the strong interest Lord Southampton still took, about fifteen years afterwards, in Shakespeare's affairs, and in the prosperity of the company to which he was attached : it has distinct reference also to the pending and unequal struggle between the corporation of London and the players at the Blackfriars, of which we have already spoken. It is the copy of a letter subscribed H. S. (the initials of the Earl) to some nobleman in favour of our great dramatist, and of the chief performer in many of his plays, Richard Burbage; and recollecting what Lord Southampton