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houses.* In 1597 he purchased The Great House at Stratfordupon-Avon, described as "one messuage, two barns, two gardens, and two orchards, with appurtenances.' The same year his father, formerly in declining circumstances, applied for a grant of arms, and passed from the condition of a yeoman to that of a gentleman; and the same year he filed a bill in Chancery against the son of the mortgagee who unjustly detained Ashbies, the hereditary property of the poet's mother.f Next year the poet is assessed for a tenement in the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, valued at 5l., and is asked by his friend Richard Quiney for the loan of 301.
From this year, until 1602, when the fertility of his invention poured forth some of the grandest of his productions, and popular judgment placed him far above all his contemporaries, his progress to wealth and fame was equally rapid. In 1602 he purchased 107 acres of arable land in Stratford for the sum of 3201., somewhat more than 10001. in modern computation ; five months after, in the same year, one Walter Getley surrendered a house to the poet in Dead Lane, Stratford ; at Michaelmas term, William Shakspeare, gentleman, as he is now generally styled, bought from Hercules Underhill, for 601., a property consisting of a messuage with two orchards, two gardens, two barns, and their appurtenances. In May, 1603, when James I. came to the crown, a privy seal was granted by the king to his servants • Laurence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Philippes, John Hemmings, Henry Condell,' and the rest of their associates, “to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies, histories, interludes, morals, pastorals, stage plays, and such other, like as they have already studied, or hereafter shall use or study,' in their usual house, the Globe, or elsewhere within the king's dominions. And James, who was by no means the fool that posterity represents him to have been, showed his discrimination by
No account is to be made of the document which professes to describe Shak. speare as holding a share in the theatre as early as 1596. With that falls to the ground the whole modern hypothesis that as sbarer or manager his time was employed in patching up the productions of other dramatists, older or contemporary, and fitting them for the stage. What with sonnets, poems, plays of his own, once a year, and acting in his own plays and those of his contemporaries, what room, occasion, need, or opportunity could Shakspeare have had for such an employment?
+ In the grant he is called 'John Shakspeare, now of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the co. of Warwick, gent., whose parent, great-grandfather and late antecessor, for his faithful and approved service to the late most prudent prince Henry VII., of famous memory, was advanced and rewarded with lands and tenements given to him in those parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some descents in good reputation.'
frequently frequently commanding Shakspeare's plays to be acted at court. In 1605 the poet added to his property at Stratford by purchasing the unexpired lease of the tithes of Stratford and the adjoining hamlets for the sum of 4401. sterling; in modern computation 14001.
It is not known at what period he retired from the stage and settled finally in Stratford. By the spring of 1613 he had lost his father, his mother, and his only son. Two daughters remained : Susanna, married, in 1607, to Dr. Hall, a physician at Stratford ; and Judith, married to a vintner named Quiney, of the same place, in 1616. During the last three years of his life notices of his purchases and employments become more rare. In 1613 the Globe Theatre was burnt, and it is gratuitously assumed that many of the poet's manuscripts perished in the flames. Had it been so, we should hardly have failed of finding some notice of such a disastrous loss in the preface and dedication to the first collected edition of his works. "Nor, considering the poet's immature death, his various employments, and the number of his plays which have come down to us, is it probable that any considerable portion of his writings has perished. The manner of his death is uncertain.
His will, still preserved in the Prerogative Office, is dated March 25, 1616. The poet's handwriting, never very good, if we may judge from the few signatures that have been preserved, and fifty years more antiquated than that of Sir Thomas Lucy, is feeble, shaky, and imperfect ; very little like what might have been expected from one whose practice in writing must have been considerable, and who had in his time filled many reams of manuscript. His death did not occur until the 23rd April following. It would seem, therefore, that his death was far from sudden; and this alone would suffice to invalidate the tradition, circulated fortyfive years after, that the poet died of a fever contracted at a merry meeting with Drayton and Ben Jonson. His bust in Stratford Church, his portrait by Droeshout prefixed to the first folio edition of his works, and the whole tenor of his life, contradict altogether the supposition that the poet was intemperate. If the
In the account of “The Revels at Court,' notices are found of the following: Othello,' 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' 'Measure for Measure,' Comedy of Errors, in 1604; 'Love's Labour's Lost,' • Henry V.,' Merchant of Venice,' twice in 1605; at Whitehall, 'King Lear,' which had already in 1608 passed through three editions ; in 1611, 'The Tempest' and “The Winter's Night's Tale. În 1613, on the marriage of James's daughter Elizabeth with the prince-palatine, the representation of Shakspeare's plays furnished a great part of the entertainment; among them are · The Tempest,' The Twins' Tragedy' (supposed to be the • Comedy of Errors '), Much Ado about Nothing,' "The Winter's Tale,' • Sir John Falstaff,' Othello,' and · Julius Cæsar.'
opinion opinion of competent judges may be taken, the bust was executed from a cast taken after death. It was certainly coloured after life, and until it was painted over by Malone-a greater crime to Shakspeare's memory than Mr. Gaskill's destruction of the famous mulberry tree—it represented the poet exactly as he appeared to his contemporaries. The eyes were a bright hazel, the hair and beard auburn; the doublet was scarlet, covered with a loose black sleeveless gown. As in Droeshout's portrait, the forehead is remarkably high and broad ; in fact, the immense volume of the forehead is its most striking feature. The predominant characteristic of the whole is that of a composed, self-possessed, resolute, and vigorous Englishman, of a higher intellectual stamp than usual, but not so far removed from the general national type as we should have been inclined to expect from his writings.
of the several works of Shakspeare-plays and poems there were prior to 1616 in circulation, in all, no fewer than between sixty and sixty-five editions. Some of these reached as many as six editions within a period of not more than twentyone years. This argues of itself an extensive popularity, especially when we reflect on the small number of the reading public of his day. If we take the lowest estimate of the editions (sixty), and suppose each issue to have consisted of the lowest possible paying number (300 say), we should have in circulation no fewer than 18,000 copies of the productions of the great dramatist in print during his lifetime.'* This ingenious computation applies only to the plays and poems printed before the first collected edition of Shakspeare's works in 1623. That folio contains thirty-six plays; one-half of these, so far as is known, never got beyond the footlights; and, therefore, we may presume, were printed by the editors of that volume from the author's manuscript. Among that number are to be found • Macbeth,' Timon of Athens,' 'Cymbeline,' “The Tempest, all the Roman plays, “Twelfth Night, and “The Winter's Tale.'t
Shakespere, a Critical Biography,' by Samuel Neil, p. 59. † The following is a list of the 4to. and their various editions, before the folio of 1623. The letter M is prefixed to those mentioned by Meres. M 1594. Titus Andronicus, entered at Stationers' Hall Feb. 6, 1594, first edition
not known to exist; 2nd ed. 1600; 3rd ed. 1611. 1595. Henry VI., Part III., 1595. M 1597. Romeo and Juliet, 1597, 1599, 1609 bis ? M Richard II., 1597, 1598, 1608 bis, 1615. M
Richard III., 1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1621 ? 1622.
Henry IV., Part I., 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622.
No collected edition of Shakspeare's dramatic works appeared until 1623, seven years after the poet's death. The volume was ushered into the world by two of his former dramatic associates, John Heminge and Henrie Condell, to whom in conjunction with Burbage, the famous actor, Shakspeare had left in his will • 26s. and 8d. a piece to buy them ringes.'
But Burbage died on March 16, 1619; † and if, as is not improbable, he had been originally associated with Heminge and Condell in preparing Shakspeare's dramatic works for the press, his death before the appearance of the volume prevented his name from being joined with theirs in their glorious task. Not one word appears in Shakspeare's will as to the disposal of his papers and manuscripts, or of his shares in the theatres, if
1600. Henry V., 1600, 1602, 1608.
1602. Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602, 1619.
Troilus and Cressida, 1609 bis. 1622. Othello, 1622.
Contention of York and Lancaster. Old plays: Richard III., 1594; Taming of a Shrew, 1594, 1607. * And to my fellows, John Hemynges, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, xxvj.s. viij.d. a piece, to buy them rings.'
† Burbage, or Burbadge, according to Malone, was one of the principal sharers of the Globe and Blackfriars theatres. In a letter written in 1613 (Harl. MSS. 7002), the actors at the Globe are called Burbadge's Company. In Jonson's • Masque of Christmas,' 1616, the year that is of Shakspeare's death, Venus, in the character of a deaf tire-woman, is made to say of Cupid: 'I could have had money enough for him, an I would have been tempted and have let him out by the week to the king's players. Master Burbage has been about and about with me, and so has old Master Hemings too; they have need of him.'--Shaksp. ii. 230, ed. 1803.
Heminge and Condell are said to have been printers as well as actors, but Malone thinks that there is no authority for this statement. Probably it arose from their connection with Shakspeare's printed works. At all events, had they been printers by occupation, it is reasonable to surmise that their names would have been found on the title pages of some of the earlier copies of Shakspeare's plays. All the payments made by the Treasurer of the Chamber in 1613, and subsequently, for plays performed at Court, are .to John Heminge and the rest of his fellows' (Malone, ib. 23+). In his will Heminge directs that if a sufficient sum cannot be raised from his ordinary chattels towards the payment of his debts, a moiety of the profits which he has by lease in the several playhouses of the Globe and Black-friars’ shall be set aside for that purpose. In another legacy he says: 'I give and bequeath unto every my fellows and sharers, his Majesty's servants, which shall be living at the time of my decease, the sum of 108. a piece, to make them rings for remembrance of me.' Heminge died in 1630.
Henry Condell, whose name appears in the privy seal of James I., 1603, in conjunction with those of Shakspeare, Burbage, and Heminge, died in 1627. Malone thinks that both Burbage and Heminge were natives of Shottery, near Stratford (ib. 233).
at the time of his death he possessed any. If Ward's statement be true that Shakspeare during the closing years of his life furnished annually two plays for the stage, * if it be true that the poet's income was considerable, that he made no purchases of any moment after 1605, that he was besides in the very
zenith of his fame and the most popular author of his times, it will be difficult to account for two things : how was it, if he sold the copyright of his plays to his fellows of the Globe and Blackfriars, that he was no richer in 1616 than in 1605 ? Or if he was richer, how did he dispose of his wealth ? From the tithes which he had purchased at Stratford he derived an income of 1201. a year; not less than 4001. a year, according to our present computation. He was not careless or extravagant in his habits, had one daughter only, after 1607, and his wife dependent on his exertions. Did he then retain the copyright of his plays, in his own hands, during this later period of his life, intending to publish them himself, like his contemporary Ben Jonson ? Or was he as indifferent to money as he is said to have been to literary fame? The former of these hypotheses is set at rest hy the various documents produced by Mr. Halliwell and others, all of which go to show that the possession of the most transcendant genius is not incompatible with the virtues of economy, regularity, and despatch. His supposed indifference to literary fame finds no countenance in his writings, still less in the evidence of his contemporaries. Thus we find Chettle apolo. gizing to Shakspeare as one of those who had taken offence at the disparaging remarks of Greene in his “Groatsworth of Wit,' to the publication of which Chettle had been instrumental. Again, Heywood in his · Apology for Actors,' published in 1612, alluding to the trick of a publisher named Jaggard, who had brought out a copy of Venus and Adonis,' with two love epistles between Paris and Helen, under the general title, by Wm. Shakespere,' says, in reclaiming his property : 'I must necessarily resent a manifest injury done me in that work by [its] taking the
That Ward's statement was not very far wrong will appear from the following considerations :-Shakspeare wrote in all 37 plays, including ‘Pericles. Meres mentions 12 plays as existing in 1598. If to these be added Pericles' and the three parts of Henry VI., that would give 16; or 19 to be written in the seventeen years and few months following. From 1597 to 1605, or 1606, seven plays only, including the first sketch of Hamlet,' appear to have been published, five in 1600, one in 1602, and · Hamlet' in 1603. Between “Hamlet' and • Lear' five years elapsed (1602-1607) without any entry of Shakspeare's writings at Stationers' Hall, Had he ceased writing all that time, or ceased to attract publishers?
| That Shakspeare permitted inaccurate copies of his plays to be circulated in print is one thing, to assume that he must have done so from indifference to literary distinction is another. Moreover, in his case, as in that of many others, literary fame was money, to which he was certainly not indifferent,