صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]


Excepting by mere tradition, we hear not a syllaEducation of William Shakespeare: probably at the free

ble regarding William Shakespeare from the time school of Stratford. -At what time, and under what of his birth until he had considerably passed his circumstances, he left school. -- Possibly an assistant in eighteenth year, and then we suddenly come to one the school, and afterwards in an attorney's office.--His of the most important events of his life, established preliminary bond given by Fulk Sandells and John Rich upon irrefragable testimony: we allude to his marardson.-Birth of Susanna, the first child of William riage with Anne Hathaway, which could not have Shakespeare and his wife Anne, in 1583. --- Shakespeare's taken place before the 28th of November, 1582, opinion on the marriage of persons of disproportionate because on that day two persons, named Fulk Sanage.-His domestic circumstances.

dells and John Richardson, entered into a preliminary Ar the period of the sale of their Snitterfield bond, in the penalty of £40 to be forfeited to the property by his father and mother, William Shake- bishop of the diocese of Worcester, if it were therespeare was in his sixteenth year, and in what way after found that there existed any lawful impediment he had been educated is mere matter of conjecture to the solemnization of matrimony between William That his father and mother could give him no instruc- Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, of Stratford. It tion is quite certain from the fact that neither of is not known at what church the ceremony was perthem could write ; but this very deficiency might formed, but certainly not at Stratford-upon-Avon, to render them more desirous that their eldest son, at which both the parties belonged, where the bondsleast, if not their children in general, should receive men resided, and where it might be expected that the best education circumstances would allow. The it would have been registered. The object of the

free grammar-school of Stratford afforded an oppor- bond was to obtain such a dispensation from the '1

tunity of which, it is not unlikely, the parents of bishop of Worcester as would authorize a clergyman William Shakespeare availed themselves.

to unite the bride and groom after only a single pubAs we are ignorant of the time when he went to lication of the banns; and it is not to be concealed, school, we are also in the dark as to the period when or denied, that the whole proceeding seems to indihe left it. Rowe, indeed, has told us that the pov-cate haste and secresy. However, it ought not to erty of John Shakespeare, and the necessity of em- escape notice that the seal used when the bond was ploying his son profitably at home, induced him, at executed, although damaged, has upon it the initials an early age, to withdraw him from the place of R. H., as if it had belonged to R. Hathaway, the instruction. Such may have been the case; but, in father of the bride, and had been used on the occaconsidering the question, we must not leave out of sion with his consent. view the fact, that the education of the son of a Considering all the circumstances, there might be member of the corporation would cost nothing; so good reasons why the father of Anne Hathaway that, if the boy were removed from school at the should concur in the alliance, independently of any

period of his father's embarrassments, the expense regard to the worldly prospects of the parties. The I of continuing his studies there could not have en- first child of William and Anne Shakespeare was

tered into the calculation: he must have been taken christened Susanna on 26th of May, 1583. Anne away, as Rowe states, in order to aid his father in was between seven and eight years older than her the maintenance of his family.

young husband, and several passages in ShakeAubrey has asserted positively, in his MSS. in the speare's plays have been pointed out by Malone, Ashmolean Museum, that "in his younger years and repeated by other biographers, which seem to Shakespeare had been a schoolmaster in the coun- point directly at the evils resulting from unions in try;" and the truth may be, though we are not which the parties were “misgraffed in respect of aware that the speculation has ever been hazarded, years." The most remarkable of these is certainly that being a young man of abilities, and rapid in the the well-known speech of the Duke to Viola, in acquisition of knowledge, he had been employed by “Twelfth Night," (act ii. sc. 4) where he says, Jenkins (the master of the free grammar-school from 1577 to 1580, if not for a longer period) to aid An elder than herself: so wears she to him; him in the instruction of the junior boys.

So sways she level in her husband's heart:
We decidedly concur with Malone in thinking

For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,

Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm, that after Shakespeare quitted the free-school, he More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn, HI

was employed in the office of an attorney. Proofs Than women's are." of something like a legal education are to be found Whether these lines did or did not originate in in many of his plays; and it may be safely asserted, the author's reflections upon his own marriage, they that they do not occur anything like so frequently are so applicable to his own case, that it seems imin the dramatic productions of his contemporaries, possible he should have written them without recal

We may presume that, if so employed, he was paid ling the circumstances attending his hasty union, ! something for his services; for, if he were to earn and the disparity of years between himself and his

nothing, his father could have had no other motive wife. The balance of such imperfect information

for taking him from school. That he wrote a good as remains to us, leads us to the opinion that Shake:' band we are perfectly sure, not only from the extant

specimens of his signature, when we may suppose "I remember the players have often mentioned it as an him to have been in health, but from the ridicule honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing (whatsoever he which, in “ Hamlet," (act v. sc. 2) he throws upon penned) he never blotted out line. My answer hath been, such as affected to write illegibly:

Would he had blotted a thousand ! which they thought a

malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for " I once did hold it, as our statists do,

their ignorance, who chuse that circumstance to commend A basertees to write fair."

their friend by, wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candor, for I loved the man, and do honor his

memory (on this side idolatry) as much as any. He was a It is certain also that Shakespeare wrote with great facil indeed honest, and of an open and free nature; had an ex ity, and that his compositions required little correction, cellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein This fact we have upon the indubitable nesertion of Ben he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary Jonson, who thus speaks in his “Discoveries," written in old he should be stopped. Suflaminandus erat, as Augustus snid age, when, as he tells us, his memory began to fail, and of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the uso printed with the date of 1641 :

of it had been so too !" ?

"Let still the woman take

[ocr errors]

speare was not a very happy married man. The that he was obliged to leave his business and famdisparity in age between himself and his wife from ily in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter him the first was such, that she could not "sway level self in London." in her husband's heart;" and this difference, for a We have said that Rowe is the oldest printed certain time at least, became more apparent as they source of this anecdote, his “Life of Shakespeare” advanced in years. To this may be added the fact having been published in 1709; but Malone pro(by whatever circumstances it may have been occa- duced a manuscript of uncertain date, anterior, howsioned, which we shall consider presently) that ever, to the publication of Rowe's “ Life," which Shakespeare quitted his home at Stratford a very gives the incident some confirmation. few years after he had become a husband and a In reflecting upon the general probability or imfather, and that although he revisited his native probability of this important incident in Shaketown frequently, and ultimately settled there with speare's life, it is not to be forgotten, as Malone rehis family, there is no proof that his wife ever re- marks, that deer-stealing, at the period referred to, turned with him to London, or resided with him was by no means an uncommon offence; that it is during any of his lengthened sojourns in the me- referred to by several authors, and punished by tropolis : that she may have done so is very possi- more than one statute. Neither was it considered ble: and in 1609 he certainly paid a weekly poor- to include any moral stain, but was often committed rate to an anount that may indicate that he occu- by young men, by way of frolic, for the purpose of pied a house in Southwark capable of receiving his furnishing a feasi, and not with any view to sale or family, but we are here, as upon many other points, emolument. If Shakespeare ever ran into such an compelled to deplore the absence of distinct testi- indiscretion, (and we own that we cannot entirely mony. We put out of view the doubtful and am- discredit the story) he did no more than many of biguous indications to be gleaned from Shake his contemporaries; and one of the ablest, most speare's Sonnels, observing merely, that they con- learned, and bitterest enemies of theatrical performtain little to show that he was of a domestic turn, ances, who wrote just before the close of the sixor that he found any great enjoyment in the society teenth century, expressly mentions deer-stealing as of his wife. That such may have been the fact we a venial crime of which unruly and misguided youth do not pretend to deny, and we willingly believe was sometimes guilty, and he couples it merely with that much favorable evidence upon the point has carousing in taverns and robbing orchards. been lost: all we venture to advance on a question It is very possible, therefore, that the main offence of so much difficulty and delicacy is, that what re- against Sir Thomas Lucy was, not stealing his deer, mains to us is not, as far as it goes, perfectly satis- but writing the ballad, and sticking it on his gate; factory.'

and for this Shakespeare may have been so “severely prosecuted" by Sir Thomas Lucy, as to ren

der il expedient for him to abandon Stratford " for CHAPTER V.

some time." a

Sir Thomas Lucy died in 1600, and

the mention of deer-stealing, and of the “dozen Shakespeare's twins, Hamnet and Judith, born in 1585.- white luces" by Slender, and of the dozen white

His departure from Stratford. — The question of deer. lowses" by Sir Hugh Evans, in the opening of stealing from Sir Thomas Lucy considered... Authorities "The Merry Wives of Windsor," seems too obvious Lucy-Other inducements to Shakespeare to quit Strat to be mistaken, and leads us to the conviction that ford. - Companies of players encouraged by the Corpora- the comedy was written before the demise of Sir tion. --Several of Shakespeare's fellow-actors from Strat- Thomas Lucy, whose indignation Shakespeare had ford.---The Princely Pleasures of Kenilworth.

incurred. In the beginning of 1585 Shakespeare's wife pro The question whether he did or did not quit Stratduced him twins-a boy and a girl-and they were ford for the metropolis on this account, is one of baptized at Stratford Church on the 2d of February, much importance in the poet's history, but it is one in that year, by the Christian names of Hamnet and also upon which we shall, in all probability, never Judith. Shakespeare's wife brought him no more arrive at certainty. Our opinion is that the tradichildren, although in 1585 she was only thirty years tions related by Rowe, and mentioned in Fulman's old.

and in Oldys' MSS. (which do not seem to have That Shakespeare quitted his home and his fam- originated in the same source) may be founded upon ily not long afterwards has not been disputed, but an actual occurrence; but, at the same time, it is no ground for this step has ever been derived from very possible that that alone did not determine domestic disagreements. It has been alleged that Shakespeare's line of conduct. His residence in he was obliged to leave Stratford on account of a Stratford may have been rendered inconvenient by scrape in which he had involved himself by stealing, the near neighborhood of such a hostile and poweror assisting in stealing, deer from the grounds of ful magistrate, but perhaps he would nevertheless Charlecot, the property of Sir Thomas Lucy, about not have quitted the town, had not other circumfive miles from the borough. As Rowe is the old- stances combined to produce such a decision. est authority in print for this story, we give it in his own words: “He had, by a misfortune common

Oldys preserved a stanza of this satirical effusion, which enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company ;

he had received from a person of the name of Wilkes : it and among them some, that made a frequent prac

runs thus:

* A parliament member, a justice of peace, tice of deer-stealing, engaged him more than once At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an asse; in robbing the park that belonged to Sir Thomas If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it, Lucy of Charlecot, nedr Stratford. For this he was

Then Lucy is lowsie, whatever befall it :

He thinks bimself great, prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, some

Yet an asse in his state what too severely; and, in order to revenge that We allow by his ears but with asses to mate. ill-usage, he made a ballad upon him. And though If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscall it, this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, What is called a complete copy of the verses," contained

Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it." yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it re in "Malone's Shakespeare, by Boswell," is evidently not doubled the prosecution against him to that degree, genuine.

What those circumstances might be it is our busi- had been bailiff, and was still head-alderman of ness now to inquire.

Stratford, was not a man of sufficient rank and imAubrey, who was a very curious and minute in- portance to be there in any official capacity; and vestigator, although undoubtedly too credulous, says he probably had not means to equip himself and his nothing about deer-stealing, but he tells us that son for such an exhibition. That Shakespeare Shakespeare was "inclined naturally to poetry and heard of the extensive preparations, and of the acting, and to this inclination he attributes his magnificent entertainment, there can be no doubt: journey to London at an early age. That this it was an event calculated to create a strong sensayouthful propensity existed there can be no dispute, tion in the whole of that part of the country; and and it is easy to trace how it may have been pro- if the celebrated passage in "A Midsummer-Night's moted and strengthened. The corporation of Strat- Dream" (act ii., scene 1), had any reference to it, ford seem to have given great encouragement to it did not require that Shakespeare should have companies of players arriving there. We know been present in order to have written it, especially from various authorities that when itinerant actors when, if necessary, he had Gascoyne's “ Princely came to any considerable town, it was their custom Pleasures of Kenilworth," and Laneham's "Letter," to wait upon the mayor, bailiff, or other head of the to assist his memory. corporation, in order to ask permission to perform, either in the town-ball, if that could be granted to them, or elsewhere. It so happens that the earliest record of the representation of any plays in Strat

CHAPTER VI. ford-upon-Avon, is dated in the year when John John Shakespeare removed from his situation as alderman Shakespeare was bailiff: the precise season is not of Stratford, and its possible connection with William stated, but it was in 1569, when “the Queen's Shakespeare's departure for London in the latter end of Players" (meaning probably, at this date, one com

1586. - William Shakespeare, a sharer in the Blackfriars

Thentre in 1589.-Complaints against actors : two company of her "Interlude Players,” retained under panies silenced. - Certificate of the sharers in the Black that name by her father and grandfather) received friars.--Shakespeare, in all probability, a good actor : our 98. out of the corporate funds, while the Earl of

older dramatists often players.-Shakespeare's earliest Worcester's servants in the same year obtained

compositions for the stage. His Venus and Adonis"

and Lucrece" probably written before he came to Lononly 12d. Various companies are also known to don. have exhibited at Stratford, under the encouragement of the corporation, at intervals from 1573 to tist abandoned his native town for London, we think

In reference to the period when our great drama1587.

that sufficient attention has not been paid to an imIt is to be remarked that several of the players, portant incident in the life of his father. John with whom Shakespeare was afterwards connected, Shakespeare was superseded as alderman of Stratappear to have come originally from Stratford or its ford in the autumn of 1586. On the 6th September, neighborhood. It is very distinctly ascertained that 1586, the following memorandum was made in the James Burbage, the father of the celebrated Richard register by the town clerk: Burbage, (the representative of many of the heroes in the works of our great dramatist,) and one of the chosen to be aldermen, in the place of John Wheler, and

" At this hall William Smythe and Richard Courte are original builders of the Blackfriars theatre, migra- John Shaxspere; for that Mr. Wheler doth desyer to be put ted to London from that part of the kingdom, and out of the companye, and Mr. Shaxspere doth not come to the name of Thomas Greene, who was indisputably the halles, when they be warned, nor hath not done of a from Stratford, will be familiar to all who are ac

long tyme." quainted with the detailed history of our stage at According to this note, it was Wheler's wish to that period. Malone supposed that Thomas Greene be removed from his situation of alderman, and had might have introduced Shakespeare to the theatre, such also been the desire of John Shakespeare, we and at an early date he was certainly a member of should, no doubt, have been told so: therefore, we the company called the Lord Chamberlain's ser- must presume that he was not a consenting, or at all vants. If any introduction to the Lord Chamber- events not a willing, party to this proceeding; but lain's servants had been necessary for Shakespeare, an inspection of the ancient books of the borough he could easily have procured it from several other proves that he had ceased to attend the halls, when quarters.

they were “warned" or summoned, from the year The frequent performances of various associations 1579 downward. This date of 1579 is the more of actors in Stratford and elsewhere, and the taste important, because it was the same year in which for theatricals thereby produced, may have had

the John Shakespeare was so distressed for money, that effect of drawing not a few young men in War- he disposed of his wife's small property in Snitterwickshire from their homes, to follow the attractive field for £4. and profitable profession; and such may have been We have thus additional reasons for thinking, that the case with Shakespeare, without supposing that the unprosperous state of John Shakespeare's pecudomestic differences, arising out of disparity of age niary circumstances had induced him to abstain from or any other cause, influenced his determination, attending the ordinary meetings of the corporation, or that he was driven away by the terrors of Sir and finally led to his removal from the office of Thomas Lucy.

alderman. What connection this last event may It has been matter of speculation whether Shake- have had with William Shakespeare's determination speare visited Kenilworth Castle, when Queen Eliza- to quit Stratford cannot be known, but in point of beth was entertained there by the Earl of Leicester date the events seem to have been coincident. in 1575, and whether the pomp and pageantry he Malone "supposed " that our great poet left Stratthen witnessed did not give a color to his mind, ford "about the year 1586 or 1587," but it seems and a direction to his pursuits. Considering that more likely that the event happened in the former, he was then only in his eleventh year, we own, that than in the latter year. His twins, Hamnet and we cannot believe he found his way into that gor- Judith, were baptized, as we have shown, early in geous and august assembly. Kenilworth was four- February, 1585, and his father did not cease to be teen miles distant: John Shakespeare, although he an alderman until about a year and seven months

afterward. The fact, that his son had become a that “ he did act exceedingly well;" and we are player, may have had something to do with the convinced that the opinion, founded chiefly upon a lower rank his brethren of the bench thought he statement by Rowe, that Shakespeare was a very ought to hold in the corporation; or the resolution moderate performer, is erroneous. It seems likely of the son to abandon his home may have arisen out that for two or three years he employed himself of the degradation of the father in his native town; chiefly in the more active duties of the profession but we cannot help thinking that the two circum- he had chosen; and Peele, who was a very practised stances were in some way connected, and that the and popular play-wright, considerably older than period of the departure of William Shakespeare, to Shakespeare, was a member of the company, withseek his fortune in a company of players in the out saying anything of Wadeson, regarding whom metropolis, may be fixed in the latter end of 1586. we know nothing but that at a subsequent date he

Nevertheless, we do not hear of him in London was one of Henslowe's dramatists; or of Armyn, until three years afterward, when we find him a then only just coming forward as a comic performer. sharer in the Blackfriars theatre. It had been con- While Peele remained a member of the company structed upon part of the site of the dissolved mon- of the Lord Chamberlain's players, Shakespeare's astery, because it was beyond the jurisdiction of the service as a dramatist may not materially have interlord mayor and corporation of London, who had fered with his exertions as an actor; but afterwards, always evinced. decided hostility to dramatic repre- when Peele, about 1590, had joined a rival estabsentations. The undertaking seems to have been lishment, he may have been more frequently called prosperous from the commencement; and in 1589 upon to employ his pen, and then his value in that no fewer than sixteen performers were sharers in department becoming clearly understood, he was less it, including, besides Shakespeare and Burbage, frequently a performer. Thomas Greene of Stratford-upon-Avon, and Nicho

Out of the sixteen sharers of which the company las Tooley, also a Warwickshire man: the associa- he belonged to consisted in 1589, (besides the usual tion was probably thus numerous on account of the proportion of " hired men," who only took inferior flourishing state of the concern, many being desirous characters) there would be more than a sufficient to obtain an interest in its receipts. In 1589 some number for the representation of most plays, without general complaints seem to have been made, that the assistance of Shakespeare. He was, doubtless, improper matters were introduced into plays; and soon busily and profitably engaged as a dramatist; two bodies of players, those of the Lord Admiral and this remark on the rareness of his appearance and Lord Strange, had been summoned before the on the stage will of course apply more strongly in lord mayor, and ordered to desist from all perform- his after-life, when he produced one or more dramas ances. The silencing of other associations would every year. probably have been beneficial to that exhibiting at His instructions to the players in “Hamlet” have Blackfriars, and if no proceeding of any kind had often been noticed, as establishing that he was adbeen instituted against James Burbage and his part- miråbly acquainted with the theory of the art, and ners, we may presume that they would have con- if, as Rowe asserts, he only took the short part of tinued quietly to reap their augmented harvest. the Ghost in this tragedy, we are to recollect that We are led to infer, however, that they also appre- even if he had considered himself competent to it, hended, and experienced, some measure of restraint, the study of such a character as Hamlet, (the longand feeling conscious that they had given no just est on the stage as it is now acted, and still longer ground of offence, they transmitted to the privy as it was originally written) must have consumed council a sort of certificate of their good conduct, more time than he could well afford to bestow upon asserting that they had never introduced into their it, especially when we call to mind that there was a representations matters of state and religion, and member of the company who had hitherto representthat no complaint of that kind had ever been pre-ed most of the heroes, and whose excellence was as ferred against them. This certificate passed into the undoubted, as his popularity was extraordinary. To hands of Lord Ellesmere, then attorney-general, and Richard Burbage was therefore assigned the arduit has been preserved among his papers,

ous character of the Prince, while the author took In this document we see the important fact, as the brief, but important part of the Ghost, which reregards the biography of Shakespeare, that in 1589 quired person, deportment, judgment, and voice, he was, not only an actor, but a sharer in the under- with a delivery distinct, solemn, and impressive. Ali taking at Blackfriars; and whatever inference may the elements of a great actor were needed for the due be drawn from it, we find that his name, following performance of “the buried majesty of Denmark.” eleven others, precedes those of Kempe, Johnson, It may be observed, in passing, that at the period Goodale, and Armyn. The situation in the list of our drama, such as it existed in the hands of which the name of Shakespeare occupies may seem Shakespeare's immediate predecessors, authors were to show that, even in 1589, he was a person of con- most commonly actors also. Such was the case with siderable importance in relation to the success of the Greene, Marlowe, Lodge, Peele, and others: the sharers in Blackfriars theatre. In November, 1589, same practice prevailed with some of their succeshe was in the middle of his twenty-sixth year, and sors, Ben Jonson, Heywood, Webster, Field, &c.; in the full strength, if not in the highest maturity, but at a somewhat later date dramatists do not of his mental and bodily powers.

usually appear to have trodden the stage. We can have no hesitation in believing that he It is impossible to determine, almost impossible originally came to London, in order to obtain bis to guess, what Shakespeare had or had not written livelihood by the stage, and with no other view. in 1589. That he had chiefly employed his pen in Aubrey tells us that he was "inclined naturally to the revival, alteration, and improvement of existing poetry and acting;" and the poverty of his father, dramas we are strongly disposed to believe, but that and the difficulty of obtaining profitable employment in the country for the maintenance of his family, * From a MS. Epitaph upon Barbage, (who died in 1619,) without other motives, may have induced him readily we find that he was the original Hamlet, Romeo, Prince to give way to that inclination. Aubrey, who had Henry, Henry, V., Richard Ill., Macbeth, Brutus, 'Coriola

nus, Shylock, Lear, Pericles, and Othello, in Shakespeare's probably taken due means to inform himself, adds, Plays.

he had not ventured upon original composition it after he joined the Blackfriars company, the author would be much too bold to assert. “The Comedy may possibly have added parts, (such, for instance, of Errors," and the three parts of " Henry VI." we as the long and minute description of the siege of take to be pieces, which, having been first written Troy in the tapestry) which indicate a closer acby an inferior dramatist, were heightened and amend-quaintance with the modes and habits of society; ed by Shakespeare, perhaps about the date of which but even here no knowledge is displayed that might we are now speaking, and “Love's Labor's Lost," not have been acquired in Warwickshire. As he or “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona," may have had exhibited the wantonness of lawless passion in been original compositions brought upon the stage " Venus and Adonis," he followed it by the exaltaprior to 1590. We also consider it more than prob- tion of matron-like chastity in " Lucrece;" and able that “Titus Andronicus" belongs even to an there is, we think, nothing in the latter poem earlier

period; but we feel satisfied, that although which a young man of one or two and twenty, so Shakespeare had by this time given clear indications endowed, might not have written. Neither is it at all of powers superior to those of any of his rivals, he impossible that he had done something in connexcould not have written any of his greater works un- ion with the stage while he was yet resident in his til some years afterwards. With regard to produc- native town, and before he had made up his mind tions unconnected with the stage, there are several to quit it. If his "inclination for poetry and actpieces among his scattered poems, and some of his ing,", to repeat Aubrey's words, were so strong, it sonnets, that indisputably belong to an earlier part may have led him to have both written and acted. of his life. A young man, so gifted, would not, and He may have contributed temporary prologues or could not, wait until he was five or six and twenty epilogues, and without supposing him yet to have before he made considerable and most successful possessed any extraordinary art as a dramatist-only attempts at poetical composition; and we feel mor to be acquired by practice,-he may have inserted ally certain that“ Venus and Adonis" was in being speeches and occasional passages in older plays: anterior to Shakespeare's quitting Stratford. It he may even have assisted some of the companies bears all the marks of youthful vigor, of strong pas- in getting up, and performing the dramas they repsion, of luxuriant imagination, together with a force resented in or near Stratford. We own that this and originality of expression which betoken the conjecture appears to us at least plausible; and the

first efforts of a great mind, not always well regula- Lord Chamberlain's servants may have experienced 1 ted in its taste : it seems to have been written in his utility in both departments, and may have held

the open air of a fine country like Warwickshire, out strong inducements to so promising a novice to with all the freshness of the recent impression of continue his assistance by accompanying them to natural objects; and we will go so far as to say, London. that we do not think even Shakespeare himself What we have here said seems a natural and easy could have produced it, in the form it bears, after way of accounting for Shakespeare's station as a

he had reached the age of forty. It was quite new sharer at the Blackfriars theatre in 1589, about 1 in its class, being founded upon no model either three years after we suppose him to have finally

ancient or modern: nothing like it had been at- adopted the profession of an actor, and to have tempted before, and nothing comparable to it was come to London for the purpose of pursuing it. produced afterwards. Thus in 1593 he might call it

, in the dedication to Lord Southampton, “ the first heir of his invention," not merely because it was the first printed, but because it was the first written

CHAPTER VII. of his productions.

The information we now possess enables us at once The earliest allusion to Shakespeare in Spenser's “ Tears of to reject the story, against the truth of which Malone

the Muses," 1591. - Proofs of its applicability. - What

Shakespeare had probably by this date written. - Edmund elaborately argued, that Shakespeare's earliest em

Spenser of Kingsbury, Warwickshire.--No other dramaployment at a theatre was holding the horses of tist of the time merited the character given by Spenser. noblemen and gentlemen who visited it, and that Greene, Kyd, Lodge, Peele, Marlowe, and Lyly, and their he had under him a number of lads who were

several claims: that of Lyly supported by Malone.-Tem

porary cessation of dramatic performances in London.known as “Shakespeare's boys." Shiels, in his Probability or improbability that Shakespeare went to "Lives of the Poets," (published in 1753 in the name of Cibber,) was the first to give currency to this idle invention : it was repeated by Dr. John. Shakespeare as a dramatist; and although his sur

We come now to the earliest known allusion to son, and has often been reiterated since; and we should hardly have thought it worth notice now, if name is not given, we apprehend that there can be it had not found a place in many modern accounts contained in Spenser's “ Tears of the Muses,” a

110 hesitation in applying what is said to him: it is of our great dramatist. The company to which he attached himself had not unfrequently performed in poem printed in 1591. The application of the pas Stratford, and at that date the Queen's Players and the difficulty in our mind is, how the lines are to be

sage to Shakespeare has been much contested, but the Lord Chamberlain's servants seem sometimes explained by reference to any other dramatist of the to have been confounded in the provinces, although time, even supposing, as we have supposed and bethe difference was well understood in London ; some of the chief members of it had come from his lieve, that our great poet was at this period only own part of the country, and even from the very will first quote the lines, literatim, as they stand in

rising into notice as a writer for the stage. We town in which he was born; and he was not so low the edition of 1591, and afterwards say something in station, nor so destitute of means and friends, as of the claims of others to the distinction they confer. to have been reduced to such an extremity.

Besides having written “ Venus and Adonis” be " And he the man, whom Nature selfe hnd made fore he came to London, Shakespeare may also have To mock her selle, and Truth to imitate, composed its counterpart, " Lucrece," which first With kindly counter under Mimick shade,

Our pleasant Wiliy, ah! is dead of late : appeared in print in 1594. It is in a different stan

With whom all joy and jolly, meriment za, and in some respects in a different style ; and Is also deaded, and in dolor drent.


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »