صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Globe, but whether he was also the owner of the same species of property there, as at the Blackfriars, we can only speculate. We should think it highly probable that, as far as the mere wardrobe was concerned, the same dresses were made to serve for both theatres, and that when the summer season commenced on the Bankside, the necessary apparel was conveyed across the water from the Blackfriars, and remained there until the company returned to their winter quarters. There is no hint in any existing document what became of our great dramatist's interest in the Globe; but here again we need not doubt, from the profit that had always attended the undertaking, that he could have had no difficulty in finding parties to take it off his hands. Burbage we know was rich, for he died in 1619' worth 3001. a year in land, besides his personal property, and he and others would have been glad to add to their capital, so advantageously employed, by purchasing Shakespeare's interest.

It is possible, as we have said, that Shakespeare continued to employ his pen for the stage after his retirement to Stratford, and the buyers of his shares might even make it a condition that he should do so for a time; but we much doubt whether, with his long experience of the necessity of personal superintendence, he would have continued a shareholder in any concern of the kind over which he had no control. During the whole of his life in connexion with the stage, even after he quitted it as an actor, he seems to have been obliged to reside in London, apart from his family, for the purpose of watching over his interests in the two theatres to which he belonged: had he been merely an author, after he ceased to be an actor, he might have composed his dramas as well at Stratford as in London, visiting the metropolis only while a new play was in rehearsal and preparation; but such was clearly not the case, and we may be confident that when he retired to a place so distant from the scene of his triumphs, he did not allow his mind to be encumbered by the continuance of professional anxieties.

i We have already inserted an extract from an epitaph upon Burbage, in which the writer enumerates many of the characters he sustained. The following lines in Sloane MS. No. 1786, (pointed out to us by Mr. Bruce) are just worth preserving on account of the eminence of the man to whom they relate.

“ An Epitaph on Mr. RICHARD BURBAGE, the Player.
“ This life's a play, scean’d out by nature's art,
Where every man has his allotted parte.
This man hath now, as many men can tell,
Ended his part, and he hath acted well.
The play now ended, thinke his grave to bee
The retiring house of his sad tragedie;
Where to give his fame this be not afraid :-

Here lies the best Tragedian ever play'd." From hence we might infer, against other authorities, that what was called the “tiring room” in theatres, was so called because the actors retired to it, and not attired in it. It most likely answered both purposes, but we sometimes find it called “the attiring room” by authors of the time.

It may seem difficult to reconcile with this consideration the undoubted fact, that in the spring of 1613 Shakespeare purchased a house, and a small piece of ground attached to it, not far from the Blackfriars theatre, in which we believe him to have disposed of his concern in the preceding year. The documents relating to this transaction have come down to us, and the indenture assigning the property from Henry Walker, “ citizen of London and minstrel of London,” to William Shakespeare, “ of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gentleman,” bears date 10th March, 1612-132: the consideration money was 1401.; the house was situated “ within the precinct, circuit, and compass of the late Blackfriars," and we are farther

2 It was sold by auction by Messrs. Evans, of Pall Mall, in 1841, for 1621. 158. The autograph of our poet was appended to it, in the usual manner. In the next year the instrument was again brought to the hammer of the same parties, when it produced nearly the sum for which it had been sold in 1841. The autograph of Shakespeare, on the fly-leaf of Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays, folio, 1603, (which we feel satisfied is genuine) had been previously sold by auction for 1001., and it is now deposited in the British Museum. We have a copy of the same book, but it has only upon the titlepage the comparatively worthless signature of the reigning monarch.

wall.

informed that it stood “right against his Majesty's Wardrobe.” It appears to have been merely a dwelling-house with a small yard, and not in any way connected with the theatre, which was at some distance from the royal wardrobe, although John Heminge, the actor, was, with Shakespeare, a party to the deed, as well as William Johnson, vintner, and John Jackson, gentleman.

Shakespeare may bave made this purchase as an accommodation in some way to his “ friend and fellow" Heminge, and the two other persons named; and it is to be remarked that, on the day after the date of the conveyance, Shakespeare mortgaged the house to Henry Walker, the vendor, for 60l., having paid down only 801. on the 10th March. It is very possible that our poet advanced the 801. to Heminge, Johnson, and Jackson, expecting that they would repay him, and furnish the remaining 601. before the 29th September, 1613, the time stipulated in the mortgage deed; but as they did not do so, but left it to him, the house of course continued the property of Shakespeare, and after his death it was necessarily surrendered to the uses of his will by Heminge, Johnson, and Jackson?.

Such may have been the nature of the transaction; and if it were, it will account for the apparent (and, we have no doubt, only apparent) want of means on the part of Shakespeare to pay down the whole of the purchase-money in the first instance: he only agreed to lend 80l., leaving the parties whom he assisted to provide the rest, and by repaying him what he had advanced (if they had done so) to entitle themselves to the house in question.

Shakespeare must have been in London when he put his signature to the conveyance; but we are to recollect, that the circumstance of his being described in

3 By his will he left this house, occupied by a person of the name of John Robinson, to his daughter Susanna.

VOL. I.

it as “ of Stratford-upon-Avon” is by no means decisive of the fact, that his usual place of abode in the spring of 1613 was his native town: he had a similar description in the deeds by which he purchased 107 acres of land from John and William Combe in 1602, and a lease of a moiety of the tithes from Raphe Huband in 1605, although it is indisputable that at those periods he was generally resident in London. From these facts it seems likely that our great dramatist preferred to be called “ of Stratford-upon-Avon," contemplating, as he probably did through the whole of his theatrical life, a return thither as soon as his circumstances would enable him to do so with comfort and independence. We are thoroughly convinced, however, that, anterior to March, 1613, Shakespeare had taken up his permanent residence with his family at Stratford.

CHAPTER XIX.

Members of the Shakespeare family at Stratford in 1612. Joan Shakespeare

and William Hart: their marriage and family. William Shakespeare's chancery suit respecting the tithes of Stratford ; and the income he derived from the lease. The Globe burnt in 1613: its reconstruction. Destructive fire at Stratford in 1614. Shakespeare's visit to London afterwards. Proposed inclosure of Welcombe fields. Allusion to Shakespeare in the historical poem of “ The Ghost of Richard the Third,” published in 1614.

The immediate members of the Shakespeare family resident at this date in Stratford were comparatively few. Richard Shakespeare had died at the age of forty', only about a month before William Shakespeare signed the deed for the purchase of the house in Blackfriars. Since the death of Edmund, Richard had been our poet's youngest brother, but regarding his way of

· The register of Stratford merely contains the following among the deaths in the parish :

“ 1612. Feb. 4. Rich. Shakspeare."

n

life at Stratford we have no information. Gilbert Shakespeare, born two years and a half after William, was also probably at this time an inhabitant of the borough, or its immediate neighbourhood, and perhaps married, for in the register, under date of 3rd February, 1611-12, we read an account of the burial of Gilbertus Shakspeare, adolescens,” who might be his son. Joan Shakespeare, who was five years younger than her brother William, had been married at about the age of thirty to William Hart, a hatter, in Stratford; but as the ceremony was not performed in that parish, it does not appear in the register. Their first child, William, was baptized on 28th August, 1600, and they had afterwards children of the names of Mary, Thomas, and Michael, born respectively in 1603?, 1605, and 1608'. Our poet's eldest daughter, Susanna, who, as we have elsewhere stated, was married to Mr. John, afterwards Dr. Hall, in June, 1607, produced a daughter who was baptized Elizabeth on 21st February, 1607-8; so that Shakespeare was a grandfather before he had reached his forty-fifth year; but Mrs. Hall had no farther increase of family.

By whom New Place, otherwise called “the great house,” was inhabited at this period, we can only conjecture. That Shakespeare's wife and his youngest daughter Judith (who completed her twenty-eighth year in February, 1612,) resided in it, we cannot doubt; but as it would be much more than they would require, even after they were permanently joined by our great

? It appears by the register that Mary Hart died in 1607. When Shakespeare made his will, a blank was left for the name of his nephew Thomas Hart, as if he had not recollected it; but perhaps it was merely the omission of the scrivener. The Harts lived in a house belonging to Shakespeare.

3 It has been generally stated that Charles Hart, the celebrated actor after the Restoration, was the grand-nephew of Shakespeare, son to the eldest son of Shakespeare's sister Joan, but we are without positive evidence upon the point. In 1622 a person of the name of Hart kept a house of entertainment close to the Fortune theatre, and he may have been the son of Shakespeare's sister Joan, and the father of Charles Hart the actor, who died about 1679.

« السابقةمتابعة »