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the senior of her husband.25 Her father, in all probability, was Richard Hathaway,26 whose !! family have held property at Shottery from the middle of the sixteenth century to the present day.27
The first offspring of this union, Susanna, was born in May 1583.28 The only other issues were Hamnet and Judith, twins, who were baptized Feb. 23. 1584–5.29
Shortly after the birth of these children, it seems to be agreed, that Shakespeare quitted his home and family ; and there is a well-known tradition, that this important step was owing to his being detected, with other young men, in stealing deer from the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote. For this indiscretion,30 he is said to have been severely punished, and to have retorted with a lampoon so bitter, that Sir Thomas redoubled his persecution and compelled ! him to fly 31
What degree of authenticity the story possesses will never probably be known. Rowe i derived his version of it no doubt through Betterton ; but Davies makes no allusion to the source from which he drew his information, and we are left to grope our way, so far as this important incident is concerned, mainly by the light of collateral circumstances. These, it must be admitted, serve in some respects to confirm the tradition. Shakespeare certainly quitted Stratford-upon-Avon when a young man, and it could have been no ordinary impulse which drove him to leave wife, children, friends, and occupation, to take up his abode among strangers in a distant place. Then there is the pasquinade,32 and the unmistakeable identification of Sir Thomas Lucy as Justice Shallow in the Second Part of Henry IV. and in the opening
25 She died, according to the brass plate over her grave in Stratford church, on “the 6th day of August, 1623, being of the age of 67 yeares."
26 Two precepts of the Stratford Court of Record exhibit Jobn Shakespeare as the surety of Richard Hathaway in 1566; and prove an early connexion between the two families.
27 A house still existing in the hamlet, though now divided into three cottages, has always passed as that in which the poet's wife resided in her maiden years. Having no evidence to the contrary, we may still look upon that habitation as the scene of Shakespeare's courtship.
redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire, for some time, and shelter himself in London."
Aubrey is silent on the subject. He only says, “ This William, being inclined naturally to poetry and acting,
divided into three cottaong in the hamlet, though now 1 Stenli to London I guess about eighteenstry and acting
May 26. Susanna daughter to William Shaks pere."
29 The record in the register runs thus :-" 1581. Feb. 2. Hamnet and Judeth sonne and daughter to Willia Shakspere.”
They were doubtless christened after Hamnet Sadler, and Judith his wife; the former a baker at Stratford, to whom the poet bequeathed 36s, and 8d. to purchase a ring.
30 Deer stealing, in Shakespeare's day, was regarded only as a youthful frolic. Antony Wood (Athen. Oxon. i. 371), speaking of Dr. John Thornborough, who was admitted a member of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1570, at the age of eighteen, and was successively Bishop of Limerick in Ireland, and Bishop of Bristol and Worcester in England, informs us, that he and his kinsman, Robert Pinkney, “seldom studied or gave themselves to their
boks. but spent their time in the fencing-schools and dancing-schools, in stealing deer and conies, in hunting the hare, and wooing girls."
31 The story is first told in print by Rowe, Life of Shakspeare:-“He bad, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company, and, amongst them, some that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely; and, in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon him. And though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it
stealing freak and its consequences are narrated more
32 According to Rowe, the ballad on Sir Thomas Lucy was lost. According to Oldys, as quoted by Steevens : “ There was a very aged gentleman living in the neighbourhood of Stratford (where he died fifty years since) who had not only heard from several old people in that town of Shakspere's transgression, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his acquaintances, he preserved it in writing, and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communicated to me :
A parliemente member, a justice of peace,
He thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor. The genuineness of the former may be doubted; but the ridicule in the plays betokens a latent hostility to the Lucy family which is unaccountable except upon the supposition that the deer-stealing foray is founded on facts.
Whatever the motive,-fear, distress, or ambition, Shakespeare, it is believed, left Stratford about 1586, and found employment at some theatre in London ; 33 but we have no direct proof of the year when he left his home, or of that in which he took up his abode in the metropolis. According to a document introduced by Mr. Collier, as discovered in Lord Ellesmere's muniments, he was a sharer in the Blackfriars Theatre in 1589, but this memorial, like the rest of the Shakesperian papers from the same collection, has been shown to be a rank
1592, when Green alludes to him in A Groatsworth of Wit, &c. his history is a blank.
It does not come within the scope of this brief memoir to enter at large into the subject of the Elizabethan theatre, but a few words respecting it are indispensable. Shakespeare in all likelihood originally joined the company playing at the Blackfriars Theatre. This company afterwards (in 1594) built another theatre, called The Globe, on the south bank of the Thames; using the latter, which was partially open to the air, in summer; and the former, which was de private or enclosed house, for winter performances. The Blackfriars playhouse stood in an Cpening still called Playhouse Yard, between Apothecaries' Hall and Printing-house Square. Besides these two, there were several theatres in London during Shakespeare's residence there. The principal appear to have been, The Theatre (so denominated probably from being the first building erected specially for scenic performances) and The Curtain, in Shoreditch; The Paris Garden, The Rose, The Hope, The Swan, on the Bankside, Southwark; The Fortune, in Golden Lane, Cripplegate ; The Red Bull, St. John Street, Smithfield; The Whitefriars, near to where the gas works now stand, between the Temple and Blackfriars Bridge; and a summer theatre at Newington Butts. 35
33 Rowe says, “He was received into the company 34 It is as follows:-" These are to sertifie yor right then in being, at first in a very mean rank ;" and this honorable Ll that he Mates poore playeres, James Burbidge, tallies with the statement made by Dowdall in 1693 (See Richard Burbidge, John Laneham, Thomas Greene, Robert P. xx.),
Wilson, John Taylor, Anth. Wadeson, Thomas Pope, In a work entitled, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain George Peele, Augustine Phillippes, Nicholas Towley,
William Shakespeare, William Kempe, William Johnson, for the first time, we meet with the incredible tradition Baptiste Goodale, and Robert Armyn, being all of them of his having held the horses of gentlemen who visited sharers in the blacke Fryers playehouse, have never giuen the play:
cause of displeasure, in that they haue brought into their “I cannot forbear relating a story which Sir William | playes maters of state and Religion, vnfitt to be handled Davenant told Mr. Betterton, who commu
them or to be presented before lewde spectators ; neither Rowe; Rowe told it to Mr. Pope, and Mr. Pope told it to hath anie complainte in that kinde ever beene preferred Dr. Newton, the late editor of Milton, and from a gentle | against them or anie of them. Wherefore they trusto man who heard it from him, 'tis here related. Concerning moste humblie in yor Ll consideracon of their former good Shakespear's first appearance in the playhouse. When bebaiuour, beinge at all tymes readie and willing to he came to London, he was without money and friends, and yeelde obedience to anie comaund whatsoever your Ll in being a stranger, he knew not to whom to apply, nor by your wisedome maye thinke in such case meete, &c. what means to support himself. At that time, coaches
"Novr. 1589." not being in use, and as gentlemen were accustomed to 35 The Phonix, which had formerly been a Cockpit, in ride to the playhouse, Shakespear, driven to the last Drury Lane, was not converted into a playhouse until necessity, went to the playhouse door, and pick'd up a after Shakespeare's retirement from London. little money, by taking care of the gentlemen's horses Edmund Howes, in his Continuation of Stow's chronicle, who came to the play: he became eminent even in that gives a curious summary of playhouse incidents extending profession, and was taken notice of for his diligence and over the whole of Shakespeare's time. After describing skill in it; he had soon more business than he himself | the burning of the Globe in 1613, the destruction of the could manage, and at last bired boys under him, who Fortune by a like accident four years after, the rewere known by the name of Shakespear's boys. Some of building of both, and the erection of “a new fair playthe players, accidentally conversing with him, found him house near the Whitefriars," he says, writing in 1631, so acute, and master of so fine a conversation, that, struck “And this is the seventeenth stage, or common playhouse, therewith, they (introduced] and recommended him to the which hath been new made within the space of three scoro house, in which he was first admitted in a very low station, years within London and the suburbs, viz. five inns, or but he did not long remain so, for he soon distinguished common hostelries turned to playhouses, one cockpit, St. himself, if not as an extraordinary actor, at least as a | Paul's singing school, one in the Blackfriars, one in the fino writer."
| Whitefriars, which was built last of all, in the year one
Before the erection of established theatres, and long afterwards, plays were also acted in the yards of certain inns, such as the The Bell Savage, on Ludgate Hill; The Cross Keys, in Gracechurch Street; and The Bull, in Bishopsgate Street. .
With respect to the regular theatre we are not very intimately acquainted with the details of its structure, but the interior economy appears to have resembled that of the old inn yards, and it was evidently provided with different accommodation to suit different classes of visitors. There were tiers of galleries or scaffolds, and small rooms beneath, answering to the modern boxes. There was the pit, as it was called in the private theatres, or yard, as it was named at the public ones. In the former, spectators were provided with seats ; in the latter they were obliged to stand throughout the performance.36 The critics, wits, and gallants were allowed stools upon the stage, for which the price was sixpence or a shilling each, 37 according to the eligibility of the situation, and they were attended by pages, who supplied them with pipes and tobacco; smoking, drinking ale, playing cards, and eating nuts and apples, always forming a portion of the entertainment at our early theatres.
The stage appliances were extremely simple. At the back of the stage there was a permanent balcony, about eight feet from the platform, in which scenes supposed to take place on towers or upper chambers were represented.38 Suspended in front of it were curtains, and these were opened or closed as the performance required. 39 The sides and back of the stage, with the exception of that part occupied by the balcony, were hung with arras tapestry, and sometimes pictures, and the internal roof with blue drapery, except on the performance of tragedy, when the sides, back, and roof of the stage were covered with black.40 The stage was commonly strewed with rushes, though on particular occasions it was matted over.
The performance commenced at three o'clock, in the public theatres, the signal for beginning being the third sounding or flourish of trumpets. 41 It was customary for the actor who spoke the prologue to be dressed in a long velvet cloak. In the early part of Shakespeare's theatrical career, the want of scenery appears to have been supplied by the primitive expedient of hanging out a board, on which was written the place where the action was to be understood as taking place. Sometimes when a change of scene was requisite, the audience were left to imagine that the actors, who still remained on the stage, had removed to the spot mentioned.42 During the performance, the clown would frequently indulge in extemporaneous buffoonery.
thousand six hundred and twenty nine. All the rest not | piece, addressing themselves to the balcony, and regardnamed were erected only for common playhouses, besides less of the spectators in the theatre, to whom their backs the new-built Bear Garden, which was built as well for must have been turned during the whole of the performplays, and fencer's prizes, as bull-baiting ; besides one ance."--Historical Account of the English Stage, p. 108. in former time at Newington Butts. Before the space of 39 I am of opinion that during Shakespeare's time there three score years above said [i.e. before 1571, when were no curtains across the proscenium. Shakespeare was seven years of age] I neither knew, heard, 40 The covering of the internal roof, or the roof itself, nor read of any such theatres, set stages, or playhouses, was technically termed the heavens. See note (1), p. 332. as have been purposely built within man's memory."
Vol. II. 36 Hence they are termed groundlings by Shakespeare, 41 There was an interval of some minutes between each and understanding gentlemen of the ground by Ben Jonson. sounding. See the Induction to Ben Jonson's Poctaster and
37 According to Malone, but there is much uncertainty Cynthia's Revels. on the point, the prices of admission to the best rooms, or 42 “ The simplicity of the old stage in this respect, may boxes, was, in Shakespeare's day, a shilling; that to the also be clearly shown by a reference to R. Greene's Pinner
leries and pit, in the chief theatres, sixpence, in the of Wakefield, printed in 1599, where Jenkin is struck inferior ones, twopence, and sometimes only a penny. by the Shoe-maker in the street. Jenkin challenges him
38 “ It appears,” says Malone, “ from the stage to come to the towns-end to fight it out ; and, after some directions given in The Spanish Tragedy, that when a play | farther parley, the professor of the gentle craft' reminds was exhibited within a play (if I may so express myself), Jenkin of his challenge :as is the case in that piece and in Hamlet, the court or
* Come, sir, will you come to the town's-end now? audience before whom the interlude was performed sat in
"Jenkin. Aye, Sir, come.'the balcony, or upper stage already described ; and a curtain or traverse being hung across the stage, for the
and in the very next line he adds, nonce, the performers entered between that curtain and
Now we are at the town's-end.' the general audience, and on its being drawn, began their
History of English Dramatic Poetry, &c. iii. 68
There was always music between the acts, and sometimes singing and dancing. And at the end of the play, after a prayer for the reigning monarch, offered by the actors on their knees, 43 the clown would entertain the audience by descanting on any theme which the spectators might supply, or by performing what was called a jig, a farcical doggrel improvisation, accompanied by dancing and singing.
During the reign of Elizabeth, plays were acted every day in the week, 44 but in the time of James I., though dramatic entertainments on Sundays were allowed at court, they were prohibited in the public theatres. As there were two sorts of theatres, there were two classes of actors. There were the regular companies, acting in the name and under the auspices of the Crown or of a man of rank and influence, such as the Queen's servants (of whom Shakespeare was one), 45 the Earl of Leicester's players ; those of Lord Warwick, Lord Worcester, Lord Pembroke, &c. There were also certain private adventurers who acted without official licence, and were the subjects of prohibitory enactments. The Act of the 14th of Elizabeth (1572) operated as a protective law to the authorized companies. It was entitled an act “ for the punishment of vagabonds, and for the relief of the poor and impotent.” One of its provisions extends the meaning of rogues and vagabonds to “all fencers, bearwards, common-players in interludes, and minstrels, not belonging to any Baron of this realm or towards any other honorable personage of greater degree ; all jugglers, pedlars, tinkers, and petty chapmen, which said fencers, bearwards, common-players in interludes, minstrels, jugglers, pedlars, tinkers, and petty chapmen shall wander abroad, and not have licence of two justices of the peace at the least, whereof one to be of the quorum, where and in what shire they shall happen to wander.” This act effected no material restriction on the number of actors, for, while its provisions were evaded by numerous jugglers, minstrels, and interlude players, various companies were enrolled in the service of the nobility. The growing Puritanism of the time occasioned many attempts to be made at suppressing the drama on the part of civic authorities, both in London and elsewhere, 46 but the theatre maintained its ground through the reign of Elizabeth and for many years afterwards.
43 “At the end of the piece, the actors, in noblemen's Lord Chamberlain, dated March 2d, 1573, refusing their houses and in taverns, where plays were frequently per consent to his lordship's request in favour of a Mr. Holmes, formed, prayed for the health and prosperity of their that he should be allowed to appoint places for plays and patrons; and in the publick theatres, for the king and interludes within the city; and intimating that some queen. This prayer sometimes made part of the epilogue. previous applications of the same kind had met with a Hence, probably, as Mr. Steevens has observed, the similar refusal. addition of Vivant rex et regina to the modern play bills.”
[Cart. Cott. xxvi. 41.] -MALONE,
“ To the right honorable our singular good Lord the Erle 44 In 1580, the magistrates of the city of London of Sussex, Lord Chamberlan of the Quenes Matics most obtained from the queen a prohibition against plays on honorable household. the Sabbath, which seems, however, to have continued in Our dutie to yor good L. humbly done, where yor L. force but a short time.
hath made request in favor of Mr. Holmes, for our assent Comedians and stage-players of former time were that he might have the apointement of places for playes very poor and ignorant in respect of these of this time; and entreludes within the citie. It may please yor L. to but being now (1583) growne very skilfull and exquisite receive undouted assurance of or redinesse to gratifie in actors for all matters, they were entertained into the any thing that we reasonably may, any persone whome service of divers great lords: out of which companies yor L. shal favor and comend. Howbeit this case is such there were twelve of the best chosen, and, at the request and so nere touching the governance of this citie in one of Sir Francis Walsingham, they were sworn the queene of the greatest maters therof. namely the assemblies of servants, and were allowed wages and liveries as groomes multitudes of the Quenes people; and in regard to be of the chamber : and until this year 1583, the queene had had to sondry inconveniences wherof the peril is conno players. Among these twelve players, were two rare tinually upon everie occasion to be foreseen by the rulers men, viz. Thomas Wilson, for a quicke, delicate, refined, of this citie, that we can not with our duties, byside the extemporall witt, and Richard Tarleton, for a wondrous president farr extending to the hart of our liberties, well plentifull pleasant extemporall wit, he was the wonder of assent that the sayd apointement of places be comitted his tyme. He lieth buried in Shoreditch Church."--Stow's to any private persone. For which and other resonable Chronicle, sub 1583, ed. 1615.
consideracons, it hath long since pleased yor good L., 46 A few years ago, Sir Frederic Madden published the among the rest of her Maties most honorable counsell, to following interesting illustration of the pertinacity with rest satisfied with our not graunting the like to 'such which the authorities of the city of London resisted the persone as by their most honorable lettres was heretofore admission of stage-players within the city. It is an in like case comended unto us. Byside that if it might original letter, preserved among the Cottonian charters, with reasonable convenience be graunted, great otires froin the Mayor and Alderman to the Earl of Sussex, I have ben and be made for the same, to the relefe of the poore in the hospitalles, which we hold us assured that, and liberties of the same, as elsewhere, but the latter yor L. will well allow that we preferre before the benefit (dated three days afterwards, viz. 10 May, 1574), omits of any private persone. And so we comitt yor L. to the this paragraph; and we need entertain little doubt that tuition of Almighty God. At London, this second of it was excluded at the instance of the Corporation of March, 1573.
The “fellowship” which Shakespeare is supposed to have joined was originally attached to the Earl of Leicester. In 1574, it was distinguished by more illustrious patronage, a writ being issued that year to the Keeper of the Great Seal, 47 commanding him to set forth letters patent addressed to all justices of the peace, licensing and authorizing James Burbadge, John Perkyn, John Lanham, William Johnson, and Robert Wylson, servants of the Earl of Leicester, “to use, exercise and occupie the art and faculty of playeing comedies, tragedies, enterludes, stageplayes, and such other like as they have alredy used and studied, as well for the recreacion of our loving subjects, as for our solace and pleasure, when we shall think good to see them as well within our Cyty of London and the liberties of the same as throughout the realm of England.” This admonition was opposed by those charged with the liberties of the City of London, and in 1575 the Common Council passed what in civic language was called an “ Act,” in which they saddled their licence with a condition, that the players should contribute half their receipts to
Leicester, through the powerful influence of their patron, obtained a patent for the erection of a theatre at Blackfriars ; close to the city wall, though beyond the jurisdiction of the city authorities. Shortly afterwards they took some large premises in the precinct of the dissolved Black-friars monastery, and in spite of a vigorous opposition on the part of the inhabitants in the neighbourhood, converted them into the very theatre of which it is presumed Shakespeare became a fellow, not long after his arrival in London.
Shakespeare's first connexion with the company in the Blackfriars was probably as an actor. Of his qualifications and line of performance in this art, scarcely anything is known, though, according to Aubrey, “ he did act exceedingly well.”:48 Rowe says, “His name is printed, as the custom was in those times, amongst those of the other players, before some old plays, but without any particular account of what sort of parts he used to play; and though I have inquired, I could never meet with any further account of him this way, than that the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet.” 49
Downes, the writer of the Roscius Anglicanus, who was prompter at one of the London theatres in 1662, speaking of Sir William Davenant's theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, between 1662 and 1665, remarks, “The tragedy of Hamlet, Hamlet being performed by Mr. Betterton. Sir William having seen Mr. Taylor of the Blackfryars company act it, who being instructed by the author, Mr. Shakespear, taught Mr. Betterton in every particle of it; which, by his exact performance of it, gained him esteem and reputation superlative to all other players."
In like manner he speaks of Betterton's having been instructed by Sir William to play Henry VIII., after the fashion of “old Mr. Lowen,” who had been taught by Shakespeare
London, always opposed to theatrical performances."Yor L. humble
COLLIER. Life of Shakespeare.
48 Mus. Ashmol. Oxon. John Ryvers, Mayor.
49 Life of Shakspeare. Capell, 1779, relates that “a
Wyllym Bond. John Branche. William Allyn, Alderman,
traditional story was current some years ago about Strat
• John Olyffe. Anthony Gamage. Leonell Duckett, Alder.
ford, that a very old man of that place, of weak intellects,
Rychard Pype. Wyllm Rymptone. Janys Hawys, Aldarman.
being asked by some of his neighbours what he remember'd
Wm. Box. Wolstan Dixe. Ambrose Nichas, Ald.
about him, answer'd that he saw him once brought on the Jhon Langley, All."
stage upon another man's back, which answer was applied 47 “ There is a material difference between the warrant
by the hearers to his having performed in this scene (Sc. under the privy seal, and the patent under the great seal,
7, Act II. of As You Like It) in the part of Adam.” For granted upon this occasion : the former gives the players
a more circumstantial account of the same legend, see the a right to perform as well within the city of London
Introduction to As You Like It, Vol. II. p. 125.