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Title: William Shakespeare - His Homes and Haunts
Author: Bensusan, S. L. (Samuel Levy), 1872-1958
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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(Illustration images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



SHAKESPEARE


THE PILGRIM BOOKS



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE



  THE PILGRIM BOOKS

  _General Editor_--

  S. L. BENSUSAN

  1. SHAKESPEARE
  2. LAMB
  3. WORDSWORTH

  _Others in Preparation_



=THE ELY PALACE PORTRAIT AT SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHPLACE=



  WILLIAM
  SHAKESPEARE

  HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS


  BY
  S.L. BENSUSAN

  WITH TWELVE DRAWINGS IN CRAYON BY
  A. FORRESTIER
  AND FOUR PORTRAITS

  LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK
  16 HENRIETTA STREET, W.C.
  AND EDINBURGH



  HUNC LIBELLUM

  REVERENDISSIMO

  M. GASTER, PH.D.

  VIRO ERUDITISSIMO

  PRAECEPTORI PERITISSIMO

  AMICO FIDELISSIMO

  MAGNA CUM REVERENTIA

  D.D.D.

  OLIM DICIPULUS



CONTENTS

  CHAP.                                                            PAGE

     I. STRATFORD-ON-AVON                                             1

    II. THE POET'S YOUTH                                              8

   III. NATURE ROUND STRATFORD AND SHOTTERY                          15

    IV. FIRST DAYS IN LONDON                                         20

     V. SHAKESPEARE'S LONDON                                         24

    VI. THE STAGE IN SHAKESPEARE'S DAY                               28

   VII. SHAKESPEARE'S EARLY PLAYS                                    35

  VIII. THE ELIZABETHAN TAVERNS                                      41

    IX. THE MIDDLE PERIOD                                            46

     X. THE LATEST PLAYS                                             50

    XI. BACK AGAIN IN STRATFORD                                      55

   XII. THE POET'S DOMESTIC LIFE                                     64

  XIII. STRATFORD AS IT WAS                                          72

   XIV. THE CLOSE OF LIFE                                            81



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  THE ELY PORTRAIT AT SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHPLACE      _Frontispiece_

  THE HOME OF JOHN SHAKESPEARE, SNITTERFIELD         _Facing p._      4

  ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE--INTERIOR                        "         12

  MARY ARDEN'S COTTAGE                                     "         16

  THE EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON                                  "         20

  ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE                                  "         24

  GUILD CHAPEL AND SCHOOL                                  "         28

  HOLY TRINITY CHURCH AND THE AVON, STRATFORD              "         32

  BEN JONSON                                               "         36

  CHARLECOTE HALL                                          "         40

  INTERIOR OF ST. SAVIOUR'S AT SOUTHWARK                   "         44

  THE FIRST GLOBE THEATRE                                  "         48

  MICHAEL DRAYTON                                          "         52

  THE MERMAID INN                                          "         64

  SHAKESPEARE'S HOUSE, STRATFORD-ON-AVON                   "         72

  SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL THEATRE, STRATFORD-ON-AVON          "         80



PREFACE


In telling the story of Shakespeare's life and work within strict limits
of space, an attempt has been made to keep closely to essential matters.
There is no period of the poet's life, there is no branch of his
marvellous work, that has not been the subject of long and learned
volumes, no single play that has not been discussed at greater length
than serves here to cover the chief incidents of work and life together.
If the Homes and Haunts do not claim the greater part of the following
pages, it is because nobody knows where to find them to-day. Stratford
derives much of its patronage from unsupported traditions, the face of
London has changed, and though we owe to the painstaking researches of
Dr. Chas. Wm. Wallace the very recent discovery that the poet lodged
with a wig-maker named Mountjoy at the corner of Silver and Monkwell
Streets in the City of London, much labour must be accomplished before
we shall be able to follow his wanderings between the time of his
arrival in and departure from the metropolis.

For the purposes of this little book many authorities have been
consulted, and the writer is specially indebted to the researches of Dr.
Sidney Lee, the leading authority of our time on Shakespeare, and the
late Professor Churton Collins.



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE



CHAPTER I

STRATFORD-ON-AVON


To read the works of a great master of letters, or to study the art of a
great painter, without some first-hand knowledge of the country in which
each lived and from which each gathered his earliest inspiration, is to
court an incomplete impression. It is in the light of a life story and
its setting, however slight our knowledge, that creative work tends to
assume proper proportions. It is in the surroundings of the author that
we find the key to the creation. For, as Gray has pointed out in his
"Elegy written in a Country Churchyard," there are many in the dust and
silence whose hands "the rod of Empire might have swayed, or waked to
ecstasy the living lyre."

We know that it is not enough to have the creative force dormant in the
mind; environment must be favourable to its development, or it will
sleep too long. We see in the briefest survey of the lives of the poet,
the statesman, the soldier and the artist, that there are many great
ones who would have been greater still were it not that then, as now,
"man is one and the fates are three."

To study the life history of a man and to consider its setting is to
understand why he succeeded and how he came to fail, and our wonder at
his success will not be lessened when we find that some simple event,
favourable or untoward, was the deciding factor in a great life. The
hour brings the man, but circumstances mould him and chance leads him to
the fore, unless it be true that "there's a Divinity that shapes our
ends, rough hew them how we will." In our own time we have seen how the
greatest empire-builder of Victorian history, Cecil John Rhodes, came
into prominence because he was sent to South Africa for the cure of weak
lungs. And, looking back to the life and times of William Shakespeare,
who has summed up for so many of his fellow-countrymen, and still more
strangers, the whole philosophy of life, we shall see that he became
articulate through what he may have reasonably regarded as mischance.

Out in the autumn fields, the pigeon and the squirrel, to say nothing of
other birds and beasts, hunt for acorns to eat or store. On the road to
roost or storehouse many are dropped. Of these no small number fall on
waste ground; a few take root, only to be overgrown or destroyed before
they reach the beginnings of strength. But here and there an acorn drops
on favourable soil; the rich earth nourishes it; the germ, when it has
lived on all the store within the shell, can gather its future needs
from the ground. Little roots and fibres pierce the soil; a green twig
rises to seek the sun; there are long years of silent precarious growth,
and then the sapling stage is passed and a young tree sends countless
leaves to draw nourishment from air and sky. Following this comes the
time when no storm can uproot the tree that a hungry rabbit might have
destroyed in days past--something has come to complete maturity and has
developed all the possibilities that were equally latent in so many
million acorns to which growth was denied. As it is with plants, so it
is with men, and thus it becomes permissible to compare literature with
a forest wherein are so many trees, so many saplings, and so much dense
undergrowth, from which trees of worth and beauty may one day spring. In
our national forest there is an oak that first saw life in the year
1564. There are many older trees of splendid worth, but this is the one
which stands alone. What manner of soil nourished it? Whence came its
strength? This little work is a brief attempt to set the well-known
answer down again in a form that may offer a certain convenience in
point of size and selection to lovers of a great poet.

When we read Shakespeare's plays for the first time, it is at once
apparent that the poet was a countryman. He has the knowledge, founded
upon close observation, that we associate with the highly intelligent
dweller in the countryside, the man or woman from whom the poet differs
merely in his supreme capacity for expression. We turn again to his
scenes of city life to find he is no less at home there. It is quite
another world, but he has fathomed it; quite another company of men, but
he has gauged their strength and weakness, the pathos and humour of
their lives. He deals with rulers and courts, and his touch is as sure
and faithful as before; his genius has taught him that kings and queens
are men and women like the rest of us, that environment cannot alter
fundamental characteristics, that royalty is swayed by the same forces
that rule the lives of lesser men.

Only when he deals with foreigners the poet of Avon is often an
unconscious humorist, for his store of geography is inadequate to meet
the small demands upon it, and some of his simple errors, such as "the
seashore of Bohemia," excite our kindly laughter now. But it is easy to
see that the poet's habit of accurate observation was established in the
country and that he applied to the larger life of London the self-taught
methods he had acquired in the little town of his birth.

It is on this account that the minds of his admirers turn to
Stratford-on-Avon, and the footsteps of enthusiasts are directed, year
in, year out, to the pleasant county of Warwickshire. In and around
Stratford we can keep company with the poet in his earliest and latest
days; nor can the bustling crowds of tourists from all parts, the
clamour of innkeepers and coach-drivers, the ever-present determination
to turn a national genius to profitable account, stir our deep content.
Men and public places have changed, but the country is as it was when
William Shakespeare, poor and little known, was gathering the stores of
knowledge and habit of thought that were to lift him to heights no
following Englishman has scaled.


=THE HOME OF JOHN SHAKESPEARE--SNITTERFIELD=


The wayfarer coming into Stratford for the first time to pay his mute
tribute to the poet who seems destined to live as long as our
civilisation, will enjoy a pleasant impression if he chance to have
chosen a fine day and to have reached the town by the road. Stratford
lies on the right bank of the river Avon, a beautiful river whose waters
flow peacefully over the level land on their way from Naseby to the
Severn. The town was happily planned of old time, and owed its inception
to the establishment of a monastery shortly after the Anglo-Saxon began
to take an interest in Christianity. It is clear that Stratford enjoyed
three centuries of comparative peace, if not of substantial progress,
before Norman William and Saxon Harold met at Senlac; echoes of that
fray could not have pierced to the little town on Avon's banks. Nor have
the subsequent centuries done much to disturb its natural seclusion.

The hand of the builder has raised streets of prosperous shops and
new-built villas; small hotels abound; there is a bustling railway and a
sleepy canal. A Memorial Theatre overlooks the river, and cyclists pass,
not singly but in battalions, along peaceful roads leading to Birmingham
or Warwick. Throughout the summer season Stratford-on-Avon becomes a
metropolis "whereunto the tribes of men assemble." To "do Stratford" is
an article of faith with American visitors, even if they have no more
than a week in which to master the wonders of Great Britain and Ireland.
Germany sends many admirers, for nowhere is Shakespeare's genius more
widely recognised, more highly esteemed, than in that country. London
and the big midland towns of England send visitors daily.

Let it be suggested, with all due respect to those who think otherwise,
that there is no reward for those who seek to discover Shakespeare's
land in the course of a few hours' hurried travel. They will see
Shakespeare's alleged birthplace, and the room in which he is said,
without much authority, to have been born. They will pass through the
Museum, Library, and Picture Gallery; they may even admire the rather
poor monument in Holy Trinity Church, and perhaps a few other sights
that the town affords; and then, with a welter of confused impressions,
will return whence they came. There is no reward for this frenzied
exercise; it is impossible to gather any impression of the scenes in
which the poet passed his early and later days, from a hurried scamper
through the town and a frank acceptance of local traditions, concerning
which some of our leading Shakespearian scholars have much destructive
critical comment to offer. He who wishes to establish some manner of
association with the poet must enter Stratford as the poet left it--by
the road. He should leave the railway and walk in from Warwick, find
quiet lodgings, of which there is no lack, in the town, and visit in
turn the highways and by-ways of Stratford, Snitterfield, Wilmcote,
Aston Clinton, Shottery, Wotten Wawens, Charlecote, and a dozen other
points of interest, of which he will learn when he has definitely left
the ranks of excursionists and has made friends among the people of
Shakespeare's countryside. He will not add a jot to our knowledge of
country or people--a hundred pens have said all there is to say--but he
will come away with a measure of appreciation and recognition that will
make the significance of the poet, as an interpreter of a life that
never changes, far more vital and true. Here is no small reward for a
truly delightful holiday in country full of the best traditions of rural
England. And the intelligent visitor will be one with the great lovers
of Shakespeare, living and dead, from Ben Jonson, Michael Drayton, and
Milton down to Matthew Arnold and our own contemporaries, even though
his contribution to the poet's praise be no more than a little note in a
private diary. His journey will open a fresh field of literary research,
if he be not already a student of Elizabethan literature. He will be
enrolled on the long and unexhausted list of pilgrims to the shrine of
the country's greatest poet, the man whose thoughts have lost nothing of
their depth and beauty in the slow passage of three eventful centuries.



CHAPTER II

THE POET'S YOUTH


In these days, when biographies of nobody in particular are as the sand
upon the seashore for multitude, and the demand for personal paragraphs
is seemingly well-nigh as great as the supply, we have some occasion to
regret the absence of similar craving in the spacious times of Queen
Elizabeth. If there had been a daily, weekly, or monthly publication
that submitted famous men to the ordeal of the interview, we might
pardon the glut of our latter day. Unhappily for our desire to know what
manner of man Shakespeare was, the available records are exceedingly
scanty, or are at least insufficient for our legitimate needs, and we
are face to face with the initial difficulty that in the sixteenth
century Shakespeare's name was quite common. From Cumberland down to
Warwickshire there was probably no county in which a William Shakespeare
could not have been found for the searching, and this fact is
accountable for many curious mistakes that have been made by students
and biographers. In Warwickshire alone there were more than a score of
families bearing the surname in the sixteenth century, and half as many
again in the following century, when the name was one to conjure with.
The poet's father, John Shakespeare, who was a native of Snitterfield
and moved to Stratford in the middle of the sixteenth century, to carry
on what would seem to have been the business of a big store-keeper,
applied for a right to bear arms towards the century's close, and made
certain claims on behalf of ancestors. But the opinion of competent
critics is that John Shakespeare was as capable of drawing the long-bow
as he was of selling general stores, and that he was closely connected,
from a mental standpoint, with the successful tradesmen of our day who,
having proved fortunate business men, seek to confer upon themselves
such advantage as a dubious pedigree may assure. We cannot, then, accept
the version of his family history that satisfied the complaisant
Heralds' College.

The chief difference between our modern Arms-seekers and John
Shakespeare is that they are moneyed tradesmen and he was not. The early
days of his commercial career were comparatively prosperous, and he
found time to serve the borough of Stratford in many offices, including
those of ale-taster, burgess, petty constable, borough chamberlain, and
chief alderman. He married Mary Arden of Wilmcote near Stratford, the
marriage taking place in Wilmcote's parish church at Aston Clinton, and
William was the third child of the union. The poet's registration in the
parish records at Stratford is dated April 26, 1564. The place of his
birth is generally assumed to be the house in Henley Street purchased by
John Shakespeare a year before his marriage, and we are told that he
was born in a certain room on the first floor. Here again contemporary
criticism may make some people regret the loss of the sixpence that was
demanded before the scene of the birth could be surveyed; but, after
all, there is much saving grace in a tradition, and whether the place be
all it is alleged to be or less, little harm is done. Suffice it that
thousands, gifted with faith and sixpences, have visited the room,
ceilings and windows bear countless traces of the desire that besets the
most commonplace people to deface walls with their uninteresting names.
Shakespeare's alleged birthplace is a charming little residence enough,
with dormered roof and penthouse entrance, and sixpence is a small price
to pay for a pleasant illusion.

In the very early days of the poet's life the _res angusta domi_ had not
yet begun to trouble his father, who was appointed Bailiff of the
Stratford Corporation in 1568, and Chief Alderman three years later. In
1575 he bought a house in Henley Street, and no less an authority than
Dr. Sidney Lee, whose researches command the respect of all, believes
that this house is the one in which the poet is now said to have been
born. It would seem that John Shakespeare's prosperity received a rude
shock soon after the date of their purchase, for in 1578 and 1579 he was
mortgaging his wife's property at Wilmcote and Snitterfield, and
gradually the once wealthy man fell from power and place. Creditors
pursued him, and he lost his standing in the Corporation.

In the meantime William was receiving his early training at Stratford
Grammar School, and picked up more than a smattering of French and
Latin, with perhaps a little Italian as well. That his school life or
home life was closely associated with Bible reading and study is proved
by the readiness with which he turns to Scripture for graphic and
concise expression of a thought, or for the purpose of an apt
comparison. But he was destined to learn in a larger and rougher school
than that of King Edward's foundation at Stratford. His leisure came to
an abrupt end when he had just entered his teens and his father told him
to look after one of his failing businesses. So the brightest genius of
English poetry became, while yet a boy, a butcher or a butcher's
assistant, and for some four or five years passed an uneventful life in
Stratford under conditions that might well have coarsened and spoilt
him. Happily the exquisite surroundings of the little town, and his own
response to them, made a somewhat sordid occupation possible; but of his
daily life and steady growth in the most impressionable period of his
career no reliable details have reached us.

To his associates in the old Warwickshire home he was no more than the
clever, precocious eldest son of an alderman who had seen better days.
He went his own way, and may be supposed to have lived a somewhat free
life, for before he was nineteen he appears to have found himself
compelled to marry one Anne Hathaway of Shottery in the parish of Old
Stratford. Her father had died rather more than a year before her
marriage; she was twenty-six years of age, and had inherited by will a
sum amounting in the currency of the day to a little less than £7,
rather more than £50 of our money. The marriage would seem to have been
hurried and irregular, and though it may have followed a formal and
binding betrothal of a kind that had more sanction then than now, the
poet's first child--his daughter Susanna--was born less than six months
later. It was not a fortunate union. Twins were born to William and Anne
Shakespeare in 1585, and then all record of the home life closes for a
long period. Some of Shakespeare's biographers think that the poet had
run away to London before the year closed, and that for more than a
decade he did not return to the town without taking care that his
presence should not be noticed. We do not know how strained his marital
relations had become, but we may assume that his home was not a happy
one, for in the early days of his union he ran risks that most young
married men would avoid for the sake of wife and family.

It seems clear that the story of his poaching expeditions in Charlecote
or Fulbroke Parks is not a mere legend unsupported by facts. Sir Thomas
Lucy, the owner of Charlecote Park, was of course a game preserver, and
Shakespeare must have thought that poaching was a reasonable pastime
enough. He dared "do all that may become a man," and the penalty of
exciting the wrath of a great landowner and game preserver was no less
then than now. Sir Thomas was angry; the poet is said to have written a
vulgar, bitter lampoon, still preserved, and affixed a copy to the
gates of Charlecote. The response was a persecution that made Stratford
too hot to hold a greater man than all the big sportsmen from Nimrod's
day to ours, and William Shakespeare left wife and children and vanished
from the old town's ken. Some think he lived in neighbouring towns or
villages awhile, and found work as a schoolmaster. There was an idea
that he went for a time as a soldier to the Low Countries under the Earl
of Leicester, whose splendid pageants in honour of a visit from Queen
Elizabeth may have inspired some of the fantasy of "A Midsummer Night's
Dream."


=ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE--INTERIOR=


Doubtless there was a Shakespeare or two in Lord Leicester's regiment;
the name was a common one enough; but it was no part of the poet's
experience "to trail a pike in Flanders." Directly or indirectly, he was
on the high road to London, and Sir Thomas Lucy was to find his claim to
immortality in the pursuit of a young poacher and in the poacher's
creation of Mr. Justice Shallow of Gloucestershire, whose foolishness,
suggested in "Henry IV." (Part II., Act iii. sc. 2), is still further
emphasised in the "Merry Wives of Windsor," where he figures as one who
has come to make a Star Chamber matter out of Sir John Falstaff's
poaching. His complaint will be remembered. "Knight, you have beaten my
men, killed my deer, and broken open my lodge ... the council shall know
this."

There has been no lack of determined effort among the poet's countless
biographers to give the lie direct to every story that does not cast
credit upon his youth. Because he was a great man, many people require
his history to be written in a fashion that shall lessen, ignore, or
deny his weaknesses. There can be no valid reason for pursuing such a
course, for we know that the rule of art is not the rule of morals, and
that while a very good poet may be a very bad man, a very worthy man may
be a vile poet. The apologists have picked out the finest moral thoughts
in the plays and poems and declared that he who could conceive them
could not have been less than a saint. They might as well pick out the
countless villains of the tragedies and declare that he who presented
them must have been a sinner. Truth to tell, the question is one of no
importance. Shakespeare was in some respects a man like the majority of
men; in other regards he stands alone. Only in this latter aspect have
we any occasion to consider him. We have neither the right, the
capacity, nor the data by which to sit in judgment; but it is hardly
honest to withhold reports, that seem to be well founded, because they
do not flatter the youthful career of a great man. In his own "Henry
IV." and "Henry V." Shakespeare shows how the recklessness of youth is
not incompatible with sound living and a high standard of morality and
common sense in the days of responsibility.



CHAPTER III

NATURE ROUND STRATFORD AND SHOTTERY


We find Shakespeare, just out of his teens, travelling on the road to
London, and it is worth while to see what equipment and what resources
he is taking to the metropolis. It is safe to assume that he has no
money, and that his local reputation is not one of the very best, though
the worst to be urged against him is that he has loved not wisely but
too well--and this fault has not been too clearly substantiated--and
that he has ignored the game laws, as so many men had done before, have
done since, and will do as long as these laws exist.

The early life of a truly imaginative man had been passed in the most
beautiful surroundings that rural England can provide, and by reason,
perhaps, of the lack of restrictions, had helped him to enlarge his
experiences and develop all the facets of a luminous mind. The
expression is chosen deliberately. Man's mind is like a diamond, and
experience is the lapidary. Every action, every stroke of good fortune
or of bad, leaves its definite mark; every association does the same. As
a boy Shakespeare lived in close touch with Nature. His father's
business would have brought him into contact with farmers, given him
the freedom of their fields, taught him the significance of the seasons.
Even now, when glimpses of Elizabethan England are few and far between,
we are touched by the supreme peace that still broods over land on which
the old-time houses, with their thatched roofs or well-worn tiles, their
ingle nooks, their dormer windows, their oak rafters and their many
gables, tell of a time when the jerry-builder was not and the suburban
villa had not yet come into being. It was an age of beauty, and the
walks round Stratford remain beautiful to this hour, despite the growth
of villadom and the advent of the railway line.

We can follow the roads that Shakespeare knew, to the woods of his
poaching exploits, and the meadows over which he passed to thatched,
half-timbered Shottery, where the village inn was still standing when
men, now middle-aged, were born. Rustic gardens, white-blossomed
orchards, tiny brooks beloved by the kingfisher, trees that may have
seen the courting of the poet and his wife, still remain to tell the
story of England's unchanging charm. In the spring and early summer
there is such an atmosphere about the countryside as George Meredith has
created in his "Richard Feverel" when Richard and Lucy meet in "the very
spring-tide of their youth." Doubtless there are other regions in
plenty, scattered through the length and breadth of our fascinating
English country, wherein the attractions are hardly less than here; but
Shakespeare's genius has hallowed Stratford for us, because that
particular countryside made him a poet and sent him to London, full of
such inspiration as has not fallen to any other Englishman even in times
when the literary activity of the age has been at its highest point.


=MARY ARDEN'S COTTAGE=


It may be suggested in passing that much of the early romance associated
with Anne Hathaway's cottage is spurious, and the worthy people who tell
of the poet's courtship there overlook the fact that his relations with
his wife were clandestine and his marriage almost a secret union. But
the cottage itself is beautiful enough to account for the enthusiastic
departure from the path of truth, if not to justify it.

Lying on the left as you come out of Stratford to Shottery, past the
post-office, to the "Bell Inn," where the road has crossed a stream, we
see the cottage, and, _horribile dictu!_ a row of modern brick-built
cottages for background! Long, thatched and creeper-covered, built upon
slabs of stone, with timber and plaster above, with tiny windows under
the thatch, surrounded by a well-filled and carefully tended garden, the
place makes a quick and enduring appeal to the imagination, even though
the legends associated with it are, for the most part, legends and
nothing more. It is easy to realise the supreme beauty of the scene that
Shakespeare knew, to understand how the lovers' secret meetings were
made all the more memorable by reason of their surroundings. The scene
and the associations went to the making of the poet; they were among the
treasures he carried up to London when he was compelled to leave
Stratford behind him and time and distance were smoothing all the little
troubles that had beset his short and uneventful life. He must have
heard Stratford and Shottery calling to him in the heart of the town,
for when his name was made and his future assured, he came back to home,
wife, and little ones to enjoy the "poor remains" of life.

On his road to and from Shottery, he would have passed "under the shade
of melancholy boughs" and watched the "guest of summer, the
Temple-haunting martlet," that built under the eaves of Anne Hathaway's
house. Doubtless to his mood of elation or depression, and to his quick
and intimate response to the wild life round him, we owe those clear
impressions that connect certain scenes and phases of our life with his
more familiar utterances. To hear the cuckoo and the nightingale to-day
in the woods round Shottery and Wilmcote is to recall some of the poet's
most inspired moods. But it is not the familiar birds alone that caught
the poet's eye and stimulated his imagination. In the days of his youth,
before he went to London, he must have studied bird life closely and
accurately. Nearly fifty wild birds find mention in his plays and poems,
and for the most part they are birds he would not have seen in London,
though in his day the metropolis was small enough, and the outer London
of his time was well-nigh as wild and wooded as the least frequented
parts of Warwickshire to-day. The halcyon or kingfisher, the
white-breasted water-ouzel, the skylark, the "ruddock" or
robin-redbreast, the wren, the green plover, the woodcock--these serve
for some of his moods; but he mentions eagle, kite, hawk, buzzard, owl,
falcon, cormorant, and a number of others, always with discretion and
with the full measure of knowledge vouchsafed to his time. Classical
lore and country superstitions are sometimes found in his references,
but the most of them point to the poet's own loving observation at a
time when there was no widespread interest in birds or beasts, unless
they had a part to play in hunting. Shakespeare's references to the
chase are accurate and suggest first-hand observation, coupled with the
keen instincts of the sportsman, and it is easy to see that the
extraordinary receptivity of his mind enabled him to take impressions
from every aspect of life.



CHAPTER IV

FIRST DAYS IN LONDON


Three hundred and twenty-four years have passed since William
Shakespeare set out to prove his fortune in London, and in those
far-away days that his genius makes so real for us the journey was long
and at times dangerous. Three days would suffice in fine summer weather,
while four or five might be required in winter time, when rivers were
swollen and fords were dangerous. Not only were roads bad, but bridges
were conspicuous by their absence. To send a letter from Stratford to
London and receive a reply to it would occupy nearly a fortnight, and
if, as some writers believe, Shakespeare had already made a certain name
by his skilled handling of other men's work when touring companies came
to his town, it is quite clear that his best chance of establishing
himself as a playwright would be found in the metropolis. Even if he had
not found trouble in his native place, he could not hope to thrive
there. It is thought that he travelled to town on foot by way of Oxford
and High Wycombe, and that once in the metropolis he sought a friend of
the family, one Richard Field of Stratford, who had left Warwickshire
seven years before, and after serving his apprenticeship to a
printer, had set up an office of his own in Blackfriars.


=THE EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON
In the National Portrait Gallery=


It is possible that he owed his introduction to the world of the London
theatre to Field, and that at one of the only two houses in the
metropolis, "The Theatre" in Shoreditch or "The Curtain" in Moorfields,
he served for a time in a very humble capacity, looking after the horses
of the men of fashion who rode to the play. The keen relish with which
he deals with the moods and thoughts of ostlers, stable-boys, and the
lower classes that frequented the stable and the theatre, lends a
certain countenance to the legend. A year later, when his friend Field
had been admitted a member of the Stationers' Company, Shakespeare found
his employment inside one of the two theatres--probably the house in
Shoreditch; some writers have said that his first work there was that of
a call-boy. It is certain, at least, that his apprenticeship was a hard
one, and that in those early days his contributions to the support of
the Warwickshire home must have been few and scanty.

When Shakespeare came to town there were some half-dozen companies of
licensed actors, that is to say, companies that enjoyed and exercised
their rights under an Act of Parliament (14 Eliz. c. 2). It said that
all actors, save those who held the licence of a peer of the realm or
other person of importance, were to be treated as rogues and vagabonds.
The company to which Shakespeare was admitted derived its rights from
the Earl of Leicester, and soon after he joined, if not before, it
passed under the support of the Earl of Derby, and in later years under
the supreme patronage of King James I., whose admiration for the poet
and his works was very large and real. James Burbage was owner of "The
Theatre," and it was in his time, we may presume, that Shakespeare acted
as ostler and call-boy. But he must have risen up from the ranks at no
small pace when his gifts became well known, for not only do we find him
a regular member of the company, but a friend of the leading members,
men like Richard Burbage, son of the proprietor, and Augustus Phillips.
And at "The Theatre" in Shoreditch he won some fame as a playwright,
though it was not at "The Theatre" but at "The Rose," a new house on the
Bankside at Southwark, that the poet's genius was to "blossom and bud
and fill the face of the world with fruit."

The close of the sixteenth century was a season of considerable activity
among actors; the destruction of the "galleons of Spain" had relieved
the country of a very real danger. Some of the leading companies
amalgamated for a time when in town; new houses were springing up. In
addition to "The Rose" there was one at Newington Butts, and in 1599 the
Burbages transplanted "The Theatre" to Bankside and called it "The
Globe." Here Shakespeare did the most of his work and made the most of
his reputation, acquiring considerable wealth the while.

James Burbage built the Blackfriars Theatre, to which Shakespeare
brought his company shortly before he retired to Stratford. He
gradually acquired certain interests in the theatres, so his profits
were not only those of actor and playwright. The wealth that was to be
his was drawn from three sources.



CHAPTER V

SHAKESPEARE'S LONDON


Of the landmarks that Shakespeare knew, the Great Fire of London
destroyed many, and Time, dealing in rather gentler fashion, has effaced
the most of those that the fire spared. A map made by Peter Van den
Keere in 1593 shows us the old London Bridge, with the Church of St.
Saviour's, then known as "St. Marye Overyes," facing the river on the
Southwark side. This church, which would have been well known to the
poet, is, with the exception of Westminster Abbey, the only ancient
example of pure Gothic architecture in London. Its earliest name would
have been St. Mary Over Rye, rye being perhaps the old name for ferry.
When it was built there could have been no London Bridge, and St. Mary's
was built upon the site of a still older priory founded by two Norman
knights. In this church one finds a stone in the centre aisle marked
"Edmond Shakespeare. Died December 1607."


=ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE=


This marks the mortal remains of a brother of the poet, said by some to
have been concerned with the business side of his undertakings, and
certainly his companion in London for some time. In St. Mary Over Rye or
St. Saviour's, King James I. of Scotland was married; here the poet
Gower, with whose works Shakespeare was undoubtedly familiar, was
buried, and his monument is a fine one with many inscriptions, including
one that describes him as "Anglorum Poeta celeberrimus." Beyond "St.
Marye Overyes" on Van den Keere's map one sees the famous "Bears House,"
and below that the "Play House," and beyond this the town merges into
gardens stretching up to "Lambeth Marsh." Across the river we see "More
Feyldes" and "Spittlefeyldes," big open spaces, and then Islington, but
there is no sign of another theatre. Had the worthy cartographer known
what was to give his map an abiding interest three centuries after its
making, he would doubtless have given more thought to the playhouses.

To-day the Church of St. Saviour's stands well-nigh smothered by
factories, shops, and small houses. London, a muddy stream, has
overflown its banks and spread on that side far into regions where birds
and beasts of the chase flew or ran in the poet's day. Tradition tells
us that the Thames sometimes rose above its boundaries and flooded the
graveyard of St. Mary's, and in like fashion the town itself has spread
beyond all limits, until the south side, within a very restricted area,
holds more than all London held in the poet's day. Doubtless the old
church fared better at the hands of the river than the town does now,
for three hundred years ago the hands of Father Thames were clean; the
river still ran sparkling under London Bridge, then a comparatively low
structure, with houses on either side of it, like the Ponte Vecchio in
Florence.

Shakespeare's London held about a quarter of a million souls, on
generous computation, and it is said that about 15 per cent. of the
number found employment and their means of livelihood on the river. The
writ of the civic authorities did not run on the south side of the
Thames, and it is to this that we owe the existence of so many houses of
amusement in Southwark. Nor were they the only ones to be placed for
choice beyond the eye of authority. The river Thames brought foreigners
by the thousand to London, adventurers from all lands, men who said with
ancient Pistol, "The world's my oyster, that I with sword will open."
London held dangerous riverside slums.

Many associations whose members were banded together for protection
against the lawful authorities throve on the south side of the Thames,
and the numbers increased as the years went past. It is a fascinating
chapter in London's life, this organised revolt against ever-growing
authority, but one with which in this place there is no lawful occasion
to deal at length. We know that when Shakespeare had settled in the
metropolis he lived for a time in Southwark, near the "Bears House"
marked on the map to which reference has been made. But he is also
assessed as the owner of property in St. Helen's, Bishopgate, where a
window given by some anonymous lover of the poet to St. Helen's Church
records the association. It is likely that Shakespeare in his acting
days took part in some of the plays given in the yard of the "Bull
Inn," then the most important hostelry in Bishopgate Street. Old "Crosby
Hall," the subject of such a prolonged discussion in the press a year or
so back, was in Bishopgate Street, and Shakespeare lays one of the
scenes there in his "Richard III." The poet's activity unites Southwark
with St. Helen's, though in his day the distance between the two must
have been regarded as considerable.

Many attempts have been made to find out what manner of life the poet
lived in London, but the material for a reliable opinion is quite
wanting. Some have imagined that he was a free liver and roysterer,
after the fashion of his time, that he lived as Robert Greene and
Christopher Marlowe and other dissipated writers. There is no more
authority for such a suggestion than there is for the statements on the
other side telling us that William Shakespeare was the personification
of every virtue. We simply do not know; there is no record extant. We
grope with dim eyes through the London of Shakespeare's time, glad to
find any trace of his presence in some favoured spot, and content to
make it a place of pilgrimage for his sake. It is to the history of the
stage itself that we must turn in order to piece together some
fragmentary record of his life in a city so changed by time and
prosperity that if the poet could revisit the glimpses of the moon, and
were to be set down in Bishopgate or Southwark to-day, he would not know
where to turn, and the metropolis of which we are so proud would be no
more to him than "the monstrous fabric of a vision."



CHAPTER VI

THE STAGE IN SHAKESPEARE'S DAY


When Shakespeare was at work the women of the plays were represented by
men or boys. In the highest society the Elizabethan women might take
some part in masques or pageants without rebuke, but the appearance of a
woman on the public stage in Shakespeare's day would have aroused
something like the emotion that would be caused by the appearance of a
Moslem woman unveiled in the chief thoroughfare of a fanatical
Mohammedan city, or a suffragist in the House of Commons. Costumes were
those of the day. Just as the great painters of Italy dressed the heroes
and heroines of Bible story in the contemporary costume, so the actor of
Shakespeare's time did no more than wear the best Elizabethan clothes he
could assume. Scenery was unknown. The front curtain, opening in the
middle, revealed a bare stage with perhaps a balcony at the back. This
was sometimes used by the actors, but where the play did not require a
balcony, visitors to the play would find their places there, just as at
the Queen's Hall, when a piano or violin recital is given, the orchestra
is sometimes added to the auditorium. A trumpet flourish warned
playgoers that the curtain was about to rise, and between the acts a
small company of musicians helped the interval to pass.


=GUILD CHAPEL AND SCHOOL=


It was not until the celebrated Inigo Jones designed scenery for certain
masques given at the Court of King James that the traditional bareness
of the boards was covered, and it was not until the time of Charles II.
that women began to make their appearance upon the boards and unite the
stage with the second estate. Many writers have emphasised the
difficulties besetting the Elizabethan dramatist; Sir Philip Sidney
himself has apologised to the spectator for the heavy overdraft on his
imagination, and we have but to consider some of the most striking
moments in our poet's work to realise what they must have lost under the
Elizabethan tradition. How could bare boards conjure up a vision of
Juliet's garden, of the wood "outside Athens" in which Titania and
Oberon met, of Prospero's island, of the Forest of Arden? How could any
boy, however smoothly spoken, present a Rosalind, a Juliet, a Miranda,
or Cordelia? While we wonder at these things, it is well to remember
that to those who have never eaten wheat, acorns may prove very
satisfactory fare. The tradition of the theatre being so strictly
circumscribed, nobody could imagine anything better than bare boards,
boy heroines, and modern costumes. There are many sound judges of stage
matters to-day who are very strongly of the opinion that we have
travelled too far in the opposite direction, that by reason of costly
mounting, extravagant costumes, alluring music, and the rest, we are no
longer able to maintain that "the play's the thing." Doubtless the need
for the finest possible expression of thought, and the knowledge that
his words must carry the full burden of success, stimulated not only
Shakespeare, but every dramatist of the great Elizabethan age.

There was one special advantage attaching to the limitation of stage
equipment--touring was a simple matter. When we remember that three or
even four days were required to travel on horseback from London to
Stratford-on-Avon, owing to the bad tracks that enjoyed the courtesy
title of roads, and the fords that must be crossed out of flood time, it
is easy to see that no part of the cumbersome equipment of the modern
stage could have been taken far out of London without vast and
unremunerative labour. But the Elizabethan actor travelled light, and as
soon as the fine weather came he would leave London for the country, and
tour in all manner of unexpected places until autumn warned him home,
because it was no longer possible to pass from town to town.

To turn up the old touring list of the Elizabethan companies is to find
special attention given to towns of which no town is on the first
touring list to-day. Saffron Walden (the quaint market-town in Essex,
that opposed the coming of the Great Eastern Railway, and is now served
by a little branch line), Rye in Sussex (then probably a seaport of some
dimensions), Marlborough, Coventry, Oxford, Faversham, Hythe, Bath, New
Romney, Folkestone--here are some of the cities or towns that the
touring companies delighted to honour in the best season of the year.
There is ample evidence to show that some companies crossed the border
into Scotland, and that others went still farther afield--to France,
Germany, Austria, and other countries. Probably these companies were
sent abroad by their patrons and supporters, and were consequently
assured of a hearing and adequate remuneration. It is hardly probable
that the conditions of continental travel would have been favourable
enough, or the security for life and property great enough, to tempt
even third-rate English actors oversea unless they had a definite
programme and an assured welcome.

Some have thought that Shakespeare in his acting days travelled on the
Continent, or at least into Scotland, but modern expert opinion does not
accept the suggestion; it rather inclines to the belief that the poet
did no more than make a small provincial tour. As far as the Continent
is concerned, his quaint ideas of French pronunciation and European
geography should do much to settle the question with regard to these
countries. His references to Denmark in "Hamlet" are no more than he
could have founded on a brief chat with actors who had been there. Then,
again, the period of his active and sole association with the actor's
profession was brief; he soon became playwright and manager as well, too
busy to stir far beyond the boundaries of London until the time came
when he could enjoy his brief period of well-earned ease. Dr. Sidney Lee
says that the name of Shakespeare does not appear in any known list of
the actors who travelled from England between 1580 and 1630, a period
more than sufficient to cover the debatable years. Against this must be
set the fact that the name appears in certain records of the town of
Aberdeen as that of a member of a travelling company visiting the city
in the period covered by Dr. Lee's investigations.

Despite an infinity of research, the figure of William Shakespeare in
London remains very dim. He is reputed to have been a good actor; but
Richard Burbage the tragedian and William Kemp the comedian were greater
actors than he. He played with them before Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich
Palace, in a couple of scenes designed to celebrate Christmas. We are
told that he took the part of the Ghost in a performance of his own
"Hamlet" and the part of old Adam in "As You Like It." These very brief
glimpses into his life as an actor are the more unsatisfactory because
he remained a player long after he had achieved greatness as a
playwright. When he left the boards it was to return to
Stratford-on-Avon and live the retired life. It may be taken for
granted, then, that his talents as an actor were not in any way
extraordinary, or those who witnessed his rising fame as a dramatist
would have left some record of his other work. His advice to the players
in "Hamlet" is often and justly quoted in evidence of the attention he
had given to the theory of the acting art, but there is evidence to be
found in the Sonnets to show that he did not admire himself as an actor.
Some very recent research in the Record Office shows that the poet
lodged with a family of French Huguenots named Mountjoy, at the corner
of Monkwell Street and Silver Street, in the City of London, where a
public-house called the Coopers' Arms now stands.


=HOLY TRINITY CHURCH AND THE AVON--STRATFORD=


As far as we can tell, the poet had been five years in London before he
started upon his life-work, and he entered the arena of the playwright
at the age of twenty-seven. His methods were his own. The stories and
legends that other men had set down, often crudely, in form of
chronicle, or even of a play, he melted in the crucible of his own brain
and gave back in a new and beautiful form. The play can be traced to its
source, whether that source be a _novellino_ of Masuccio, or Holinshed's
"Chronicles," or Plutarch's Lives in North's translation, from which
some passages are copied _in extenso_. The poet himself would seem to
have had but little consciousness of the worth of his own work. In his
time plays were not published. Publication was supposed to destroy the
playgoer's interest in the work presented, and many Elizabethan plays
owe their survival to the happy accident that enabled some unscrupulous
person to collect a set of the actors' parts and print them, in order
either to dispose of the acting rights for private use, or to derive the
ordinary profits of the sale. When a play was written for and bought by
a manager, it became his absolute property. He could request the author
to rewrite or modify passages deemed ineffective; he could even call in
another man to tinker the work, unrestrained and unrebuked. It is
supposed that Shakespeare first showed his great parts as a dramatist in
improving other men's work for Manager Burbage, and that this constant
exercise of talent upon reproductions, the most of which are absolutely
unknown to us, paved the way for the development of his gift upon
original or quasi-original work.



CHAPTER VII

SHAKESPEARE'S EARLY PLAYS


The poet is credited with the authorship of some thirty-seven plays,
though modern criticism has endeavoured to show that he took but a small
part in the making of a few of these, and of the whole thirty-seven
little more than a dozen were published during his life. It is supposed
that his first play was the comedy "Love's Labour's Lost," in which he
would appear to have gone to his own brain for the plot. Here we find a
certain broad outlook upon contemporary life, with many a passing
reference to matters of topical interest, while vivid recollections of
life in Warwickshire among slow-witted rustics account for some of the
humorous episodes. Historians can trace many of the references in the
play, which is supposed to have been written in 1591, five years after
the author left Stratford, revised in 1597, and published a year later.
Cuthbert Burbie, who, like Shakespeare's earliest London friend, Richard
Field, was a member of the Stationers' Company, was the publisher, and
the printer was one William White of "Cow Lane near Holborn Conduit."

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona" came next, adapted from a Spanish source,
and not published until the author was dead.

"The Comedy of Errors" is borrowed from Plautus; and then came "Romeo
and Juliet," founded upon a _novellino_ by Masuccio, who had taken the
story from the Greek. It has served for many countries, but nowhere has
the plot found such a magical handling as Shakespeare gave it. There is
internal evidence to suggest 1591 or 1592 as the date, and Shakespeare
was still a young man then, on the sunny side of thirty, and with the
currents of his life no longer turned awry. There is here a ring of
confidence and enthusiasm that three centuries have proved powerless to
dull. After due revision, the play was printed in 1597 by John Danter, a
publisher of rather evil repute. Two years later Burbie published an
authorised edition.

Oddly enough, the success of "Romeo and Juliet" would appear to have
been eclipsed by that of "King Henry VI." The events set out in the
trilogy were sufficiently familiar to the people to give the work an
interest that is almost fictitious. Criticism has shown that the poet's
part in these productions was but small. Some say that Greene and Peele
were the authors of the plays, that Shakespeare rewrote them perhaps
with a little aid from Marlowe. Certain it is that Greene attacked the
poet furiously when the remodelled work was produced, calling upon his
brother dramatists of repute to beware of upstart puppets and "rude
groomes." But Shakespeare was serenely unmoved by these abusive
epithets, for which Greene's publisher apologised later. He was in
the historical vein, and proceeded to write "Richard III.," in which
Richard Burbage is said to have made a great sensation; the following
play was "Richard II.," and the poet was clearly responsive to the
influence of Marlowe in each of these works.


=BEN JONSON
From Painting in the National Portrait Gallery=


Shortly after "Richard II." was written and produced the plague visited
London, and the poet sought the country. He may have written a small
part, a very small part, of the "Titus Andronicus," and after that he
picked the stage Jew of Marlowe and the rest out of the gutter, and gave
the world in "The Merchant of Venice" a figure that commands keen
interest not untouched with sympathy. "King John," bearing date 1594, is
another piece of inimitable adaptation. By this time the "Venus and
Adonis" had been published with a dedication to the third Earl of
Southampton, and the poet followed it a year later with "The Rape of
Lucrece," dedicated to the same patron.

These works created a sensation. Shakespeare the actor was already a
familiar figure, Shakespeare the dramatist was known and admired, but
Shakespeare the poet seems to have taken literary London by surprise. It
is hard to say why, for there are passages in the plays he had already
written that challenge comparison with anything in the poems; but praise
from the great Elizabethans was not to be lightly won, and no poet could
have sought to wear a worthier garland than theirs. Shakespeare was
admitted at once to the most select circles. Queen Elizabeth became his
patron. Greenwich, Whitehall, and Richmond Palaces witnessed
performances of his plays, with their author taking some small part in
them. "The Palace of Nonsuch," a private purchase of Queen Elizabeth's
situated near Richmond, may still be seen in old prints--a charming
place enough. The palace at Greenwich, coming right up to the banks of
the Thames, is also to be seen in old prints, and it says all that is
needed for the state of Father Thames in the poet's time that a royal
palace could be lapped by our great river below London Bridge.

Shakespeare's capacity for writing makes us realise that the quantity
was almost as remarkable as the worth. He wrote his plays at the rate of
two in a year, with his work as manager and actor thrown in, and his
poems as a thing apart. The quality of "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape
of Lucrece" brought him into the company of the country's great
sonneteers; he was inspired to give attention to the sonnet form and
made it one of the vehicles for the expression of his most beautiful
thoughts. The most were written about the year with which we are now
dealing, 1594. In accordance with the custom of the time, they were not
printed immediately, but were written by the poet and given to his
friends. But by this time the interest aroused by new work from
Shakespeare's pen extended throughout literary circles, and the sonnets
must have been copied and quoted extensively before they were published
by a literary pirate named Thorpe in 1609.

The dedication of these sonnets to "Mr. W. H." has roused an enormous
controversy, into which there is no need to venture far, as it lies
outside the scope of a brief biography. It should never be forgotten
that the sonnet in the days of Elizabeth was a form overladen with the
conceits of many countries, and that few men would have regarded
seriously the sentiments to which they committed themselves. Suffice it
that many of the sonnets are of a haunting loveliness that defies
praise, and gives to the best-intentioned expressions of admiration a
quality of impertinence. If for W. H. we read H. W. and forget the
prefix "Mr.," the troubles that have agitated generations of critics are
seen to evaporate. H. W. would become Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of
Southampton, to whom in the sonnets constant references occur. A pirated
edition might well have been handled either carelessly or with a view to
suggesting what could not be said openly.

Next in order of the plays we come to that exquisite fantasy "A
Midsummer Night's Dream," in which we find references to Shakespeare's
supreme patron, Queen Elizabeth, and to the pageants he had seen as a
little lad when the Earl of Leicester entertained Queen Elizabeth at
Kenilworth (1575). In 1595 or 1596 came "All's Well that Ends Well,"
taken from an Italian source, and "The Taming of the Shrew," with an
introduction dealing boldly with the Stratford country and some of its
worthies, contemporaries of the poet. In the two-part play of "Henry
IV." that followed we have further references to Shakespeare's
birthplace, and he introduces us to Mr. Justice Shallow, who was to come
into prominence again in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." Clearly the
dramatist was closely concerned at this period of his life with certain
happenings in the place of his birth. These references help us, in place
of authenticated records, to show that Shakespeare still kept in fairly
close touch with his early home. "Henry IV." is famous for its scenes in
the Boar's Head at Eastcheap, and lest the enumeration of plays should
become a little tiresome, let us turn aside for a brief space to
consider the taverns of Queen Elizabeth's day and the company to be met
in them.


=CHARLECOTE HALL=



CHAPTER VIII

THE ELIZABETHAN TAVERNS


The London taverns were the clubs of London's literary men, and in
Shakespeare's time the most famous houses were "The Mermaid" in Bread
Street, "The Boar's Head" in Eastcheap, "The Devil" at Temple Bar, "The
Falcon," "The Tabard," "The George," and some few others, situated on
the south side of the river. In the days when he lived by the river-side
at Southwark, Shakespeare would have counted among the members of his
tavern club Edmund Spenser, Beaumont, Fletcher, and Ben Jonson, "rare
Ben Jonson," who wrote of his great rival, "I loved the man, and do
honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as any"; tribute over
which the mind loves to linger. Fuller tells of the contests of wit that
used to ensue when Shakespeare and Ben Jonson met, "which two I beheld
like a great Spanish galleon and an English man-of-war. Master Jonson,
like the former, was built far higher in learning, solid, but slow in
his performances; Shakespeare, with the English man-of-war, lesser in
bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about and
take advantage of all winds by the quickness of his wit and invention."
We see in this simile that the lesson of the Spanish Armada had not been
forgotten, and that its appearance was still vividly present in men's
minds.

Although the taverns were open to all comers, it was easy for small
companies of men, banded together by common interests and devoted to
similar aims, to keep aloof from casual patrons. Strangers who had no
literary interests would not find any excuse for intrusion, and the
landlord, proud of the special patronage of those who claimed respect
outside the tavern, would doubtless grant them such privileges as the
house afforded. At a time when the news of the day was brought to the
taverns, while men of affairs and those who had some _locus standi_ at
Court did not disdain the attractions of a favoured house, there must
have been a certain high standard of conversation, and many a friendly
battle of wits. The ready tongue and fluent pen might make a mark in the
tavern and all London hear of it. Ben Jonson established the Apollo room
at the "Devil Tavern" by Temple Bar and drew up his famous "Convivial
Laws," which, while granting admittance to "learned, urbane merry
goodfellows" and "choice women," forbade horseplay, and concluded "focus
perennis esto."

Sir Walter Raleigh founded a club at the "Mermaid Tavern," where, in
addition to Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, together
with many other dramatists of note, spent their leisure hours. In
Southwark the "Tabard Inn" enjoyed the fame conferred upon it by
Geoffrey Chaucer, as well as the additional honour of his patronage,
before Shakespeare arrived. "The Bell," "The George," and "The White
Hart" were among the "Tabard's" leading competitors; it is likely that
the poet knew them all. We have no record that he spent too much time in
taverns, as poor Ben Jonson did; but he knew them well enough to enter
into the spirit of those who served and those who gave orders, those who
paid promptly, and those who could say with Ancient Pistol, "Base is the
slave that pays."

Some of Shakespeare's biographers, who, because of their own virtues,
would abolish cakes and ale and forbid ginger to be hot in the mouth,
resent the mere suggestion that Shakespeare used the taverns as his
contemporaries did. There is no reason to suppose that he misused them
after the fashion of Robert Greene, Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, but at the
same time the temperance advocate will need to go very carefully through
plays and poems if he is searching for praise of water as opposed to
wine. The power of the Puritan was rising in Shakespeare's time, but the
Puritans did not number the poet among their supporters. A certain
spirit of conviviality marked the Elizabethan age, which enjoyed, among
other advantages, the benefit of wine and spirits that had not been
systematically adulterated. Then again, no playwright could remain
wholly indifferent to the taverns, for it was in the yards of the inns
that the drama was first nourished. The inn yard was to some extent the
forerunner of the theatre. When the companies left London in the summer
and went on tour, they found no small part of their audience in the
country hostelries. The place of the tavern in literary history has not
yet been written. From the "Tabard" of Chaucer to the "Mermaid" of
Shakespeare, through the coffee-houses of a later date, to the "Bohemia"
of Soho, where the free-lances of literature meet to-day, there is a
thread of connection well worth examining.

Our ubiquitous press tends to restrict the feast of reason and the flow
of soul; men do not care to express themselves too freely, or the
cleverest may wake one morning to find he has made some silent auditor
famous. A very notorious case of this kind occurred in the last decade
of the nineteenth century. But in Shakespeare's time wit seemed to
receive its guinea stamp from the tavern, and we have the records of
many men to show that when Shakespeare was one of the company the
audience had good reason to be content. There are many tributes to the
standard of the conversation. Beaumont, the dramatist, Francis Meres,
the clergyman schoolmaster, Richard Barnfield, the poet, Michael
Drayton, the intimate friend, all testify on behalf of Shakespeare; and
there are many others who must have seen and heard him. The attraction
of the tavern must have been increased to a great extent when their
patrons stood a chance of catching the crumbs that fell from the wit's
table. "To give you total reckoning of it," says Erle, "it is the busy
man's recreation, the idle man's business, the melancholy man's
sanctuary, the stranger's welcome, the inns a court man's entertainment,
the scholar's kindness, and the citizen's courtesy. It is the study
of sparkling wits, and a cup of canary their book, whence we leave
them."


=INTERIOR OF ST. SAVIOUR'S AT SOUTHWARK
(Edmund Shakespeare's Burial-place)=


All have passed--the spacious taverns, those who served, and those who
patronised them have gone, never to return. Where great writers and
poets assembled and marked the arrival of travellers from the country,
and listened to stories of "nine men in buckram," where the horseman saw
to the ease of his weary nag before his own, we see crowded
thoroughfares in which the pulse of traffic beats furiously for six long
days out of seven. Of the many changes London has known in the three
centuries that have passed since Shakespeare's time few have been more
drastic. Perhaps the Great Fire destroyed many of the taverns; the
growth of commerce and the coming of new means of locomotion did the
rest. Only in old prints may we find some pleasing recollection of
red-tiled or thatched houses with half timber and half plaster walls,
their ingle nooks, dormer windows, or many gables. Here the men to whom
we still pay tribute spent their hours of ease, unconscious that their
lightest words would be sought for eagerly in generations to come--and
be sought in vain. But the knowledge that the old houses had their
being, and that the great poets of the Elizabethan era frequented them,
hallows many a dusty, dingy street in the city's by-ways now given over
to feverish activity from dawn to dusk, and to silence from dusk to
dawn.



CHAPTER IX

THE MIDDLE PERIOD


Turning again to the plays, there is reason to believe that "The Merry
Wives of Windsor" followed "Henry IV." The character of Falstaff, first
known as Oldcastle, had taken the town, but the name had been changed at
the instance of the eighth Lord Cobham, a descendant of the great
Lollard, Sir John Oldcastle. Falstaff's humour made ample atonement for
his faults, and the desire to improve his acquaintance is said by
several authorities to have been expressed by Queen Elizabeth herself.
We are told that her Majesty requested the poet to present the fat
knight in love, and that he obeyed instructions in a few weeks. There is
no mistaking the high spirits in which the work is written; they are
still ringing through every line. The poet remembered the old days of
Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, and gave the knight's arms to Mr. Justice
Shallow openly and unrebuked. Under the ægis of royalty, he could afford
to let himself go and hit back at the astonished game-preserver. "The
Merry Wives" was no more to its author than a merry jest, made in
fulfilment of a royal request, a payment of long-standing scores in the
best humour possible, and as soon as it was off his hands the poet
turned to another historical subject and wrote "Henry V."

With the close of "Henry V." Shakespeare left the arena of English
history, never to enter it again on his own initiative; for, as will be
seen, his share in "Henry VIII." was small. Comedy was for the moment in
his heart. Perhaps it was a relief to him, after the strenuous time he
had passed through, to pass to his lighter muse and express himself in
the brightest vein that could not bear misinterpretation. He turned to
an Italian author, probably Ariosto, for a part of "Much Ado about
Nothing," but he drew the least vital part from the foreign source; the
most of the comedy ran sparkling from his own brain. "As You Like It"
followed "Much Ado," and the date must be about 1600. It is another
clear case of adaptation, and the scenes of the play given to the Forest
of Arden breathe the pastoral spirit in a fashion that we look for in
vain elsewhere. "Twelfth Night" would appear to have been the third
comedy following the sequence of historical plays, and the date would
seem to be 1601.

About this time the poet found himself in a very delicate situation. He
had referred to the expedition of the Earl of Essex in terms of eulogy,
and when that enterprise failed, Essex revolted against his sovereign,
aided and abetted by the poet's patron, the Earl of Southampton. Part of
the preliminary arrangements for the conspiracy consisted in arranging
for performances of Shakespeare's "Richard II.," in which, of course,
the king is murdered, the object being to show that regicide was of no
very distant date. Shakespeare's company was persuaded to revive the
play at the "Globe" just before the abortive rising in favour of Essex,
who, having lost his head metaphorically, was now to lose it literally.
Happily for England, Shakespeare himself was not involved in the
trouble. Oddly enough, he published in the year of Essex's death and
Southampton's imprisonment a curious poem, "The Phoenix and the
Turtle." Nobody has been able to fathom its meaning, though it may be
that those who connect it with the Essex _débâcle_ may yet find a clue
to the mystery.

After this year even comedy would seem to have lost its appeal and
savour for a time. The poet had received a shock that we cannot quite
estimate or understand, and turning to Plutarch's Lives for inspiration,
he wrote the famous tragedy "Julius Cæsar," in many respects a work that
must always defy adequate representation on the stage. How it could have
passed muster on the bare Elizabethan boards is a puzzle. Next in order
came the masterpiece by which his name is known to the widest circle of
his followers, "Hamlet," yet another adaptation of a work that had
enjoyed popularity for some years in London and the country. There are
many references in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to contemporary events,
including the triumph of the company of boy actors known as "The
Children of the Chapel," who in a few years had advanced in popular
favour, and were now threatening the receipts of the established houses
and companies. History repeats itself. Then as now there was a demand
for novelty, sensation, and the infant prodigy was in demand. In
"Hamlet," too, Shakespeare shows that technical knowledge of his art to
which reference has been made earlier in this little survey. Richard
Burbage was the first Hamlet, and the tragedy was played in
Shakespeare's time both at Oxford and Cambridge.


=THE FIRST GLOBE THEATRE=


Dr. Sidney Lee, than whom no greater authority is needed, is inclined to
set "Troilus and Cressida" next in the list of plays, and to give it
date 1603. Some hold that the play hides a satire upon some of the
poet's contemporaries, but there is insufficient evidence to justify the
rather laboured conclusions that uphold the contention, which at least
is of no more than momentary interest. It is easy to find, and difficult
to deny, these hidden meanings in the work of one who left no clue to
any suggestion or satire embodied in his plays.



CHAPTER X

THE LATEST PLAYS


At this point in Shakespeare's career he lost his first royal patron.
Queen Elizabeth, whose long and fateful reign drew to its appointed
close on March 24, 1603. The poet gave to the world no expression of
grief at her loss. Perhaps he could not do so in loyalty to his first
and well-beloved patron, Henry Wriothesley, who still languished in
prison for his complicity in the Essex rising of two years before. There
had been times in his career when, through no fault of his own,
Shakespeare had been looked upon with suspicion, and it may have been
that the path to royal patronage had been at times a thorny and
difficult one. In any case Elizabeth's generosity had been limited; she
had not intervened to check the attack upon the theatres by the "unco
guid" of London in 1601, when, but for the supineness of the Surrey and
Middlesex magistrates, the poet's financial prosperity might have met
with a serious set-back. Here, as in so many other places, we are too
far from the time to see the truth clearly, and those who seek to fill
in the shadowy outline of the poet's life must rely upon such conjecture
as may have been put forward in good faith by the people who were
nearer to him. King James loved the theatre; Queen Elizabeth tolerated
it; nor must it be forgotten that in the days when the poet's star was
in the ascendant his royal mistress had seen the greater glories of her
reign and was entering upon her declining years, not without many
troubles and much sorrow to mark the last milestones of the road.

One of the first acts of King James's reign was to confer special rights
upon the Lord Chamberlain's company, of which the poet was a prominent
member. Henceforward he was one of "The King's Servants," and the King
took a special interest in Shakespeare's plays, which were often
performed before him. Unhappily the plague drove the Court from London
in the autumn of 1603 to the Earl of Pembroke's seat at Wilton; but in
1604, when the Court returned to London, Shakespeare was first of the
nine actors who walked in the royal procession, and received a gift of
scarlet cloth for the making of a cloak worthy the occasion. Many other
honours followed. Great State occasions called for plays; Shakespeare's
were chosen, and his company acted them. The scenic art began to receive
a rather belated attention--in short, there was all the requisite
stimulus for a man of genius, and the poet responded to it nobly.

"Othello" was the first play written by Shakespeare in the reign of King
James, but he seems to have had "Measure for Measure" on the stocks at
the same time, for each was produced at Whitehall towards the close of
1604. "Macbeth," written in 1605 and 1606, was clearly intended as a
compliment to the king, who was a descendant of the unfortunate Banquo
whose royal line Macbeth saw "stretch to the crack of doom." Dr. Lee
makes the shrewd suggestion that inasmuch as this is the shortest of
Shakespeare's tragedies, we may have no more than an abbreviated acting
version. Other critics of note find certain corrupt passages in the text
that go far to justify this contention. We may be sure that Shakespeare,
then at the zenith of his power, would not have stinted the measure of a
work which seems to have taken more of his time than any previous play.
Following closely upon "Macbeth" came "King Lear," produced at Whitehall
for the Christmas festivities of 1606, and founded, like several of its
predecessors, upon Holinshed's Chronicles.

After this supreme effort the pace of genius faltered for a while.
"Timon of Athens" and "Pericles" are not pure Shakespeare; they do not
show us the master at his best--though the first named is fine enough to
have given enduring reputation to a lesser man. The question of his
collaboration is a difficult one to settle, but leading critics have
picked out the gold and rejected the dross, and their analyses prove
that Shakespeare's part in these works was not predominant.


=MICHAEL DRAYTON
In the National Portrait Gallery. (Painter unknown)=


It is no function of a simple record like the present to inquire into
this critical question closely; a dozen editions of Shakespeare's plays
published in the last ten years set down the latest researches of
scholars. To not a few of us the tragedy that followed "Pericles" is
among the finest of all that carry Shakespeare's name; surely, in some
passages of sheer undying beauty, "Antony and Cleopatra" stands
well-nigh alone. It dates from 1608, and, like "Coriolanus," the play
that followed (1609), is taken largely from Plutarch (North's
translation). "Cymbeline" is founded on Holinshed, and probably may be
dated 1610. "The Winter's Tale" belongs to 1611, and to this year may be
assigned the poet's moderate part in "Henry VIII."--he is far from being
responsible for the whole play. "The Tempest" belongs, at latest, to
1612. This, the latest and last work of the master-hand, was given with
all its beautiful songs set to music by Robert Johnson, a player and
composer of renown.

So, leaving Miranda and Prospero to console us, the greatest dramatist
of all time laid down his pen. Many a critic and lover of the poet has
seen in the last words of Prospero, spoken when he gives up his magic
wand, a reflection of the poet's mind. His life-work, too, was done.
Unaided, save by his own genius, he had moved from the obscurity of
Warwickshire's by-ways to a place by the side of the Immortals. In all
the firmament of poetry there was no star to outshine his. It may be he
knew that the years still left to him were likely to be few, and that
his heart turned more from the bustle of a great city's ways to the
quiet fields and lanes wherein his earliest inspiration had come to him.
He had written a few scenes of plays that other men would seem to have
designed and completed, but these fragments are of small importance and
may be passed over here. Whatever he had given to lend a lustre to the
work of his contemporaries would seem to have afforded him little
concern. Henceforward his life was to be spent far from the busy centre
of theatrical life, though he was compelled to come to town at short
intervals in the first two or three years following his retirement, and
there must have been ample atonement for the trouble, in the way of
association with old friends who still laboured in the metropolis.

When the poet passed into voluntary retirement he had but five years to
live, but his genius was still ripe. Did he elect deliberately to end
his labours before the first touch of weakness could reach them? Had he
realised his ambition, even as Prospero, who moves with such supreme
dignity through the last play? Was he content to have restored the
family fortunes? Was it to do this, to take full rank among the
gentlemen of Warwickshire, that he had striven so long? There is no
satisfactory answer to these questions. The records are silent as the
grave itself, and if the past has proved so silent on all points that
relate to the growth and trend of the poet's mind outside the domain of
his work, what may we hope from the future?



CHAPTER XI

BACK AGAIN IN STRATFORD


In the foregoing review of the poet's life-work, the progress of his
fortunes on the material side has been of necessity overlooked. It would
have been confusing to deal with the two interests side by side, and now
it is time to look for the signs that mark William Shakespeare's
prosperity. We know that he came to London poor and left it
comparatively wealthy, and the change of his state has some very
definite landmarks. No man passes easily from the duties of an ostler to
the position of part proprietor of prosperous theatres, and the first
few years of Shakespeare's sojourn in the metropolis bore but little
fruit. We know that in those lean times his own purse would have been
but ill-lined, and both his father's household and his own were
suffering from the pinch of poverty. His wife was forced to borrow
money; his father's affairs went steadily from bad to worse. Nor was
there in all Stratford any help for a family that had fallen from
comparative affluence into the slough of financial troubles.

We may presume, from the scanty evidence which records have left and
diligent scholarship has discovered, that the poet himself made no
effort to "fling away ambition." In the early years of his sojourn in
London, when visits to Stratford were few and far between and the fear
of the Squire of Charlecote may have compelled him to lie very low
within the boundaries of Warwickshire, he would have seen or heard of
his father's affairs going from bad to worse. The parental honours were
stripped off one by one, debts accumulated, duns were incessant in their
attendance. To a proud and sensitive man this condition of things must
needs have been very galling; but it was not destined to last long.
Quite apart from his considerable receipts as a playwright, the poet's
earnings as an actor were substantial. The purchasing value of a
sovereign in Elizabeth's time would be equal to the value of nearly
eight pounds of our money, and Shakespeare's most learned biographers
are of opinion that he was a careful and a saving man. Member of a
leading company, enjoying the patronage of noblemen and the regard of
his Sovereign, frequently summoned to take part in special performances
at Court, it is likely that the poet's income as an actor was, within
comparatively few years of the start of his career, equal in our modern
currency to a sum nearer a thousand than five hundred a year. In later
years it was still higher. For revising other men's work his fees would
have varied between thirty and forty pounds, modern currency, and for
his own plays he may well have averaged twice as much, or even more. The
"benefit" system was already in vogue, and a dramatist could command an
extra fee if the first-night audience proved very appreciative of his
efforts. Shakespeare wrote his plays at the rate of two a year, and he
would have had something in the way of a royalty on the sale of his
poems, even though the plays brought him nothing as published work. We
may presume, then, that after a year or two he was able to maintain his
wife and children with some approach to comfort, and as the years passed
and reputation grew he found himself able to revisit his birthplace in
security, and to take definite steps to re-establish the family
fortunes, then at so low an ebb.

We read that after 1596, when the poet returned to Stratford with
London's honours thick upon him and plenty of money in his purse, his
father's debts were no longer the subject of proceedings at the local
court. We may presume, then, that his son had paid them and cleared the
way for John Shakespeare's strange application to the College of Heralds
for a coat of arms. Strange at first thought, but less remarkable if, as
is generally supposed, the father was acting for the son. It was and is
the custom for a coat of arms to be applied for by the eldest male of
the house, and the poet could not have made application in his father's
lifetime. The application may have received some initial support in
London, for arms were assigned with the least possible delay. Garter
King-of-Arms referred to certain (and probably apocryphal) services
rendered "to that most prudent prince King Henry the Seventh of famous
memory," and stated, without any recorded blush, that the Shakespeare
family had continued since those days to live in Warwickshire, in good
reputation and credit! He went on to record the undoubted fact that the
applicant had married Mary Arden, daughter and heiress of Robert Arden
of Wilmcote, who is described as a gentleman. In view of these
qualifications, arms were assigned to the applicant, a shield described
in the quaint jargon of heraldry, "Gold, on a bend sable, a spear of the
first, and for crest or cognizance a falcon, his wings displayed argent
standing on a wreath of his colours, supporting a spear gold steeled as
aforesaid." The motto chosen was "Non Sans Droict."

But though the grant was assigned, the assignment was not completed for
three years, the claim to relationship with the Ardens of Park Hall,
through John Shakespeare's wife, being disallowed, as was indeed
inevitable. Even then the grant was criticised in many quarters, but
William Shakespeare's eminence tended to render all criticism nugatory;
nor was he the first eminent actor to enjoy a coat of arms. It is quite
easy to understand the significance of the application if we turn to
regard the poet as a purchaser of real estate. Some two years before the
assignment was completed, he had impressed upon his fellow townsmen of
Stratford the truth that the period of strained finances had passed.

New Place, the century-old seat of Sir Hugh Clopton, a man who had done
much for Stratford, his birthplace, and had thriven in London, was now
dismantled and in bad repair; but remained the most imposing house in
the town. It was on the market, and William Shakespeare bought it, with
outbuildings and garden, for the equivalent of about four hundred and
fifty pounds, a large sum in that place and in those days. Some years
passed before the transaction was completed, and then the poet planted
an orchard which contained a famous mulberry tree, that flourished for
more than a hundred and fifty years, and was cut down by the Rev.
Francis Gastrell, whose name and memory are anathema to lovers of
Shakespeare. The poet did not take up his residence at New Place until
he had retired from London, and by that time the repairs were completed
and the place was in good order. It is at least highly probable that the
poet conducted some farming operations in and round New Place, though we
know nothing of his special qualifications for this work. There is a
record that in time of a local famine he had a good store of corn, and
he is known to have bought several lots of arable land. From the date of
the purchase of New Place there could have been none to dispute the
poet's claim to the description of William Shakespeare of Stratford,
Gentleman, and from first to last the total amount of his purchases of
real estate in and round his native town would amount to more than £7000
modern currency, if we value the Elizabethan pound at eight times our
own.

At the corner of Chapel Street, Stratford, where it turns into Chapel
Lane, there is an ugly modern house that enjoys the title of New Place
and receives the sixpences of the faithful. The trustees of
Shakespeare's birthplace own New Place and Anne Hathaway's cottage. The
house in which Shakespeare passed his last years does not exist, but
there is not a little about Stratford that calls for sixpences more
readily than it can justify the receipt of them. All that New Place can
offer of true Shakespearian interest is some venerable timbers, a shovel
board, from the old Falcon Inn that rose close by soon after
Shakespeare's death and still stands in receipt of custom, a circular
table inlaid with wood from the mulberry tree that the poet is said to
have planted, and a stone mullion from his own house. There is little
else that can recall the past, although the site of the ancient Clopton
mansion that Shakespeare purchased is undeniably here. The history of
the house that has passed and that of its successors has a very definite
interest.

Shakespeare left New Place to his favourite daughter, Susanna, and to
her daughter, Elizabeth Nash, in second marriage Lady Barnard. On her
death Sir John Barnard kept the place as a residence until he sold it to
Sir Edward Walker, whose daughter Barbara married Sir John Clopton,
descendant of the man who built the first house at the end of the
fifteenth century. Sir John pulled down the old house, rebuilt it, and
was succeeded by Sir Hugh Clopton. From him in an evil hour it passed
into the hands of a clerical Vandal, Francis Gastrell by name. He was a
wealthy man and mean, so he quarrelled with the Stratford rating
authorities, who assessed him too heavily, or so he said, for the
relief of the poor. He had already cut down the great mulberry tree in
the garden, because his privacy was disturbed by the early pilgrims to
the poet's shrine, and for this act alone his name was an offence to the
lads of Stratford, who broke his windows when opportunity afforded. But
the town had not finished with the reverend gentleman. When the
assessors refused to listen to his claim that he should not pay full
rates to Stratford because he resided for a part of the year at
Lichfield, he vowed that New Place should never be assessed again. He
pulled the place down. Boswell described the cutting down of the
mulberry tree as a piece of "Gothic barbarity," but was silent about the
other act of vandalism. The mulberry, sold for firewood, was bought by
a local clockmaker, who made solemn affidavit that the toys he made of
it were from the genuine sacred tree. When the Rev. Mr. Gastrell had
gone to where he may have met the poet, though this is unlikely, his
widow sold the remains of the estate to a Mr. Wm. Hunt, who in time sold
it to a firm of bankers. In 1827 Miss Smith purchased the site of New
Place with the adjacent house, now the museum. Mr. Edward Leyton and his
daughter, Mrs. Loggin, were the next holders, and in 1861 Mr. J. O.
Halliwell-Phillipps, an enthusiastic student of the poet's history,
established the existing Trust after raising the necessary money by
public subscription. But as far as New Place, so called, is concerned,
it must be remarked, with deference to those whom the reminder may
offend, that the Falcon Hotel, which can be seen from the house, is the
older establishment by centuries--indeed the billiard-room is panelled
with some of the old oak from the New Place that Shakespeare knew. New
Place Museum is really the house adjoining Shakespeare's, and was the
property of Thomas Nash, first husband of Elizabeth, daughter of Susanna
Hall.

Shortly after his purchase of New Place, the poet found himself in a
better position than ever for increasing his property and gratifying his
passion for real estate. Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, sons of that
James Burbage who owned "The Theatre" in which the poet is said to have
been a servitor, had built the "Globe Theatre" on Bankside. It was an
octagonal wooden building, in which Shakespeare's company was to be seen
year after year; the poet refers to it in the opening part of "Henry V."
The two brothers, from motives of prudence or generosity or both issued
twenty-one-year leases of shares in the profits of the venture.
Shakespeare had a share; so had Condell and Phillips and others of the
company; and later the poet acquired an interest in the "Blackfriar's
Theatre." Each share was proved, in the course of long subsequent
litigation, to have been worth two hundred pounds a year. Setting down
the poet's salary at a like amount, and his author's fees at about a
hundred, we find that he must have been worth nearly £4000 a year, in
our modern currency, from the time when he bought New Place to the year
of his retirement. "The Globe" was burnt down in 1613 during a
performance of "Henry VIII.," and was rebuilt a year later, but before
the disaster occurred Shakespeare's financial position had long been
assured, and it is unlikely that he held his shares when the theatre
suffered. There is a story, unauthenticated but seemingly credited by
many good judges, to the effect that at a moment when Shakespeare was
desirous of making investments either in Stratford or London, his friend
and patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, came very generously
to his assistance.



CHAPTER XII

THE POET'S DOMESTIC LIFE


In 1601 John Shakespeare's arduous life came to an end. Fifty years had
passed since he left Snitterfield for Stratford, to venture into several
business undertakings with temporary success, and achieve municipal
honours for a few years. His decline had been more rapid than his rise,
and, but for his son's success, his ending had been less peaceful. As
far as we can tell, the last four or five years were free from grave
financial trouble, but when he died the houses in Henley Street were the
sole remains of his fortune; the rest had passed to creditors. These
William Shakespeare inherited as eldest son--he let one, and left his
mother in peaceful enjoyment of the other. In the following year he made
more purchases, rather more than one hundred acres of farm-land at three
pounds per acre--a price that would be quite good to-day if we consider
the relative values of money--and a cottage with garden on the boundary
of the New Place grounds. In 1605 he bought the unexpired term of a long
lease of half the tithes of Stratford, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and
Welcombe, the price being £440, which may be taken to stand for more
than £3000 of our money, and a considerable part of a full year's
income in his most prosperous time. It was an unfortunate investment,
and one which led to his frequent recourse to the lawyers. Shakespeare's
knowledge of the law has often puzzled his biographers, and the
correctness of his phraseology has been advanced by upholders of the
grotesque Baconian heresy as one of the reasons why he could not have
written the plays attributed to him. But it is impossible for the plain
man to follow the arguments that the Baconians adduce and affect to
support.


=THE MERMAID INN=


In later years the poet bought another twenty acres of arable land to
add to his already considerable holding. All these purchases were made
while he was a very busy man--actor, playwright, and manager. Doubtless
he had other investments and interests, of which we may some day know a
little more than we do now. Fresh documents relating to his investments
in the theatrical world were published as recently as the closing months
of 1909, and the records of the reign of Elizabeth and James I. are by
no means fully examined. One truth stands out clearly through the
interesting story of Shakespeare's investments, and that is his love for
the town in which he was born. With so large a share of the world to
choose from, with countless associations that might well have kept him
in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, with friends in Court circles
and acting circles who would scarcely be accessible in a town three,
four, or even five days' journey from London, he seems to have had the
fixed intent of spending his years of ease at home. There is too much
reason to believe that with him marriage was a failure. Reference has
been made already to the birth of his daughter Susanna, who became Mrs.
Hall, and we know that in 1585 his wife bore twins, boy and girl, Hamnet
and Judith, named after Hamnet and Judith Sadler, friends of John
Shakespeare. But the poet saw little of his family or of the three
children of his union, and at the time of his public return to Stratford
little Hamnet Shakespeare died, in his twelfth year. Susanna married, in
1607, the Puritan physician John Hall. Judith the twin married Mr.
Thomas Quiney in the year of her father's death. The poet seems to have
lived on excellent terms with his daughters, but there must be some
justification for the generally accepted story of unhappy married life.
Had he been devoted to his wife, Shakespeare could have sent for her
when he had been a very few years in London; the fact that he did not go
back to her for eleven years has a significance that takes a great deal
of explaining away, nor are the laboured explanations of the people who
assume that the life of genius is perfect, worth the ink and paper
devoted to them. The estrangement might have been the fault of the man,
or his wife, or both; it is a matter that ceased to be important when
one or both had died. We make our conjectures and pass on; others come
to do the same; but the first is likely to be as far from the truth as
the last. We do not find any reliable information that can clear the
darkness enshrouding the poet's life; even Aubrey's "Lives of Eminent
Men," in which the poet is described as "handsome and well shaped," was
written more than fifty years after his death, and was founded upon the
gossip of an old actor.

There is hardly more than one portrait that may be supposed to show the
poet as he was. This was discovered by Mr. Edgar Flower in 1892; it is
painted on an elm panel, with "Wm. Shakespeare, 1609," in the left-hand
corner. Several leading authorities have agreed that it may be the
original from which Martin Droeshout engraved his half-length portrait
for the folio of 1623, a likeness that was accepted as satisfactory by
Ben Jonson, though it was clearly a second-hand work, because the
engraver was no more than fifteen when Shakespeare died. The portrait is
now in the Memorial Gallery at Stratford. Dr. Sidney Lee, in his
fascinating "Life of William Shakespeare," a work that has run into many
editions, tells us that upwards of sixty portraits of Shakespeare have
been offered to the National Gallery since 1856, and that not one of
these has been shown to be authentic. How fortunate, then, that the
deeds and signatures quite beyond suspicion have told the world so much
about the business side of the poet's life. Just as the forgery of
portraits has been of common occurrence, so the forgery of deeds has
been a source of amusement, if not of profit, to many; but happily there
is always a strong critical faculty waiting to deal with startling
discoveries, and those that survive the sifting of the keen intellects
that examine them may be accepted in perfect good faith.

We have the safe material upon which to base the conclusion that the
poet left Stratford penniless, or well-nigh penniless, in 1585; that
after eleven years of hard work in London, in the course of which he
probably paid brief visits to his home, travelling by way of Oxford and
stopping at the Crown Inn, he returned to restore the family fortunes
and build up his own estate. We know that he bought the best house in
the town, that he planted an orchard, developed his gardens, and made
extensive purchase of farm-lands, some years before he could hope to
settle down in comfort to their enjoyment. It may be that the knowledge
that the new home was ready for him helped to put a period to the London
labours. He did not give any sign of appreciating the full significance
of his own work, or appear to know that he had made a position that
placed him side by side with Geoffrey Chaucer in merit, and still higher
in world renown. He never pushed the advantages that a connection at
Court and the favour of King James might have given him--he was only too
pleased to retire, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot," while he
was yet on the sunny side of fifty. Man of affairs sufficiently to seek
the law-courts on the smallest provocation, idealist to the extent of
preferring a simple country life to all the glamour of London, a man
seemingly endowed with all the ambitions of the most sober and
unimaginative middle class--truly he presents strange and baffling
contrasts.

In the absence of direct evidence to the contrary, we may presume that
Shakespeare retired from the actor's profession in 1611, on or before
the completion of "The Tempest," into the closing act of which he would
seem to have put a reflection of his own inmost thought. Of all the rich
and varied emotions to which such a mind must have responded, there
could have been none more stirring than the thought that his life-work
had brought the reward he most desired. To the town from which he had
fled as an outcast he was returning a man of substance and repute; to
the failing fortunes of those he had left behind he had become a sure
support. Father, mother, one brother, Edmund, and the little son Hamnet
had gone before him "to that bourn from which no traveller returns," but
there were two loving daughters and a granddaughter waiting to welcome
him home, one sister, Joan, and two brothers, Gilbert and Richard. There
was Michael Drayton, author of the "Shepherd's Garland," the man after
his own heart, to whose charming sonnets he was indebted for some of the
beauty of his own, and it may be that some of his old companions of the
stage could be lured to New Place in the intervals of their touring. For
one who knew as well as Shakespeare the changes and uncertainties of
life, there must have been a keen consciousness that balance of fortune
was in his favour when he rode out from London on to the
Oxford-Stratford road, only to return to look after his vested interests
as occasion should demand.

The poet would appear to have taken an active part in developing the
prosperity of his native town, and to have found in that work
sufficient consolation, if any was needed, for his absence from the
scenes of greater activity. In 1611, the year of his retirement, he
supported with his purse and influence a Bill before Parliament for the
better repair of the highways. He had suffered first-hand acquaintance
with their wretched state. Doubtless he took part in much unrecorded
work for the betterment of his own estate, and he was frequently found
indulging in his undeniable passion for litigation. The purchase of a
house in Blackfriars is recorded in 1613, and it led to the seemingly
inevitable lawsuit some two years later. Nicholas Rowe, poet-laureate to
King George I., wrote a life of Shakespeare in the early years of the
eighteenth century, and we owe to him a statement, founded upon such
information as a lapse of a century could validate, that Shakespeare
spent the last years of his life enjoying "ease, retirement, and the
conversation of his friends." We know that Michael Drayton and Ben
Jonson visited him at New Place, and it is a tradition that their visits
were celebrated in convivial fashion. At the same time there would have
been certain restraints upon a very free life, even had the poet been
disposed to lead one. Society in small country towns is notoriously
inclined to be intolerant, and Shakespeare's son-in-law, Dr. Hall, was
one of the great and growing body of Puritans that looked askance at
sensual indulgence in any form. Moreover, there was a strong feeling
against the stage in Stratford; it found expression only a year after
Shakespeare's return, when the Town Council passed a resolution that
stage plays were unlawful, and increased the penalties to which players
might be subjected. It would be a matter of great interest to know how
Shakespeare regarded a resolution that so wantonly decried the
profession by which he had lived and thriven. There is no evidence to
show that the action of the city fathers was symptomatic of any ill-will
towards him, or that he resented it openly. Yet he was a man who could
and would stand up for his rights in and out of season. Perhaps in the
most of his moods he was gentle and affectionate, for more than once in
his career we find his friends leaving him small legacies or gifts or
tokens of their affection. These came alike from actors who had shared
with him the traffic of the stage, and from fellow-townsmen of
Stratford. Even if the recorded references are scanty enough, there is
none that may be held unflattering if we except the attack by Greene,
for which his publisher went out of his way to apologise. It is hard, if
not impossible, to estimate the value of any form of art-work in the
lifetime of the worker, and it may well be that of the thousands who
applauded Shakespeare's plays there were very few who saw them as we do
to-day. The mere fact that they were for the most part new versions of
works that were then quite familiar to playgoers would have told against
them. Theme rather than treatment was best calculated to "tickle the
groundlings."



CHAPTER XIII

STRATFORD AS IT WAS


Stratford in Shakespeare's time administered its own affairs in very
complete fashion through the medium of a Guild, which was turned into a
Municipal Corporation by Edward VI. It boasted bailiff, aldermen,
burgesses and chamberlains, and the council met every month in the Guild
Hall. Those who accepted office were liable to be heavily mulcted for
non-attendance, for attending in mufti, for declining promotion to a
more responsible office, or for telling the secrets of the council
chamber to those who had no place in it. The Chapel of the Guild, the
Guild Hall, and the Grammar School, in which boys were taught and
disciplined in fashion that would shock our humanitarian instincts
to-day, still exist. The bailiff or warden of Stratford was at one time
John Shakespeare himself, and at another a subordinate colleague, who
would have sat in judgment upon him in the days when the old man's
liabilities were beginning to get the better of his assets, and he
himself was no longer a man of importance. The rule of the City Guild or
Corporation was paternal in an Elizabethan sense. Just as the
schoolmaster did not spare the rod lest he should spoil the child, so
the magnates of the corporation regarded their fellow-citizens as men
and women to be admonished or encouraged, punished or praised, according
to their behaviour. Food prices were fixed by the corporation; the
adulteration of the people's supplies was made exceedingly difficult and
dangerous. Men who lived ill were fined or expelled from Stratford's
boundaries; scolding wives were sentenced to have their tempers
sweetened by immersion from the ducking-stool in the clear, cold waters
of Avon. Publicans were forced to conform to the local laws carefully
framed to abolish public drunkenness. The stocks were waiting for the
feet of drunkards, brawlers, and offenders against municipal
regulations, and the whipping-post was always in evidence where the
Market House now stands. Apprentices might not be out after nine o'clock
at night. Attendance at church was obligatory, and he who blasphemed or
used foul language found ample reason to regret his indiscretion. In
short, the conduct of Stratford was of a kind more in keeping with the
Puritan tradition than anything we can find in England to-day, but it
was associated with real brotherly love, and a feeling of common
citizenship, that held the town together. Those who have studied the
early records of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in England
in the years following the successful intercession of Manasseh ben
Israel with Oliver Cromwell, will hardly fail to note the striking
similarity between the rules that governed Elizabethan corporations and
those that governed those Jews who returned to England and lived their
prosperous but dignified lives in the east end of London when the
eighteenth century was as young as our own.


=SHAKESPEARE'S HOUSE--STRATFORD-ON-AVON=


There was much to hold communities together in Elizabeth's time, much to
encourage strength of purpose and resignation to troubles that were
regarded as the manifestation of Divine Will, though in truth they were
fruits of the people's ignorance. Unfortunately there was no real
attempt to control them. Sanitation was unknown. The ground floors of
the houses were of hard clay, covered with rushes; chimneys were not
common. Refuse and garbage were placed in the open roads, not always in
the special places appointed by the corporation. Pigs were kept close to
the houses, and though the butchers were supposed to take the refuse of
the slaughter-houses beyond the town, a strong wind would doubtless
bring back infection. The corporation kept certain public places clean,
and doubtless the citizens, or the most of them, did their best; but
they had no knowledge of the price of uncleanliness, and in a town that
was unpaved, undrained, and seldom cleaned, microbes must have enjoyed
their life under conditions only familiar to those of us who have
travelled through some of the remote cities of Africa and Asia, and
known what it is to be literally unable to dismount from a horse. Street
lighting was in its early infancy. In Shakespeare's time every man of
substance was compelled to hang a lighted lantern outside his house
from dusk to curfew, during a few weeks of midwinter, and that was all.

Of all these defects the lack of cleanliness was the vital one, and the
consequences of the neglect or ignorance of the first laws of sanitation
may be imagined. Plague was never far away. Every few years there would
be a visitation, mild or severe, and there was no effective remedy known
to the people. As in the time of the great plague of London, herbs and
cooling drinks were employed, fresh air was in demand, and there was
much burning of spices. Shakespeare was a baby in arms when a visitation
of the plague gave nearly fifteen per cent. of the town's population to
the graveyard or its substitute, the plague pit.

Now and again the Avon would overflow its banks and flood the
surrounding country. Not only would such a disaster increase the ague
and rheumatism that are never far removed from dwellers by the
river-side, but a late summer flood might damage the crops on low-lying
lands, or carry away corn that had been cut but not carted, and then, as
Stratford was not readily accessible, the prices of food stuff would
rise despite the corporation's efforts, and actual famine was not
unknown.

Fires, too, were common. Doubtless a few arose from the overheating of
corn in barns and stacks, and some from the absence of chimneys to so
many houses. The corporation did what it could, but there were no
resources adequate to deal with a conflagration, for all that the Avon
ran at the foot of the town. They came to the conclusion in 1582 that
the absence of chimneys was a fruitful source of disaster, and ordered
every householder to build one. They also ordered every burgess to
provide himself with a bucket. Looking back to the times, it is not easy
to say that the corporation of Stratford was really backward; its
members did all that the people of a little town in the heart of
Warwickshire could have been expected to do, and there would seem to
have been no lack of public spirit, no falling away from continuous
endeavour, no shirking of onerous duties. Every man had his work to do
in the public service, and those who failed were punished.

When we look round at our busy manufacturing towns in this year of
grace, and remember how much we know of the best tradition of municipal
work, can we say that, _mutatis mutandis_, the advantage is altogether
with us? Plague and fire and flood have been overcome, but men and women
live lives entirely undisciplined. Little or nothing binds the citizen
to the State, and the adulteration of food has become so common that
pure bread and pure beer are the exception, and the supervision of those
who prepare the necessities of our daily life is much less strict than
it was when old John Shakespeare, the poet's father, was Stratford's
ale-taster, empowered to see, _inter alia_, that every baker sold a
whole loaf of true weight for one penny.

But if the corporation ruled Stratford strictly in Elizabethan times,
it encouraged all kinds of sport, to some of which the poet makes
reference in his plays. Young and old knew the Maypole. Nine Men's
Morris was another popular game, and Falstaff, referring to his
treatment when he escaped from Ford's house disguised as the fat woman
of Brentford, says, "Since I plucked geese, played truant, and whipp'd
top, I knew not what it was to be beaten, since lately." Goose-plucking
was a particularly barbarous pastime. We know that hockey and football
were played in Elizabethan England, and that the corporation of
Stratford kept a bowling-alley at the municipality's expense for the
free use of the town. Cock-fights were among the less reputable sports
of the time, and bears or bulls were baited. Hunting, hawking, coursing,
fishing, and the rest beguiled the leisure hours of those who had any,
and the harvest festivals would have played their part. There were great
fairs and open markets held at certain seasons of spring and summer.
Within doors, cards and shovel-board would seem to have been the only
kind of amusement that were not directly associated with social
ceremonies.

Christening, marriage, and burial were all allied in the poet's time to
more public exhibitions than obtain to-day, the wedding being preceded
by a public betrothal ceremony, and the marriage itself being associated
with a great many quaint customs if the contracting parties had the
money wherewith to carry them out. Removed from touch with the outside
world, seeing little of the life of big cities for themselves, the
citizens of Stratford managed to get no small measure of simple and
harmless enjoyment out of life, though even among the town council there
were men whose liking for sack and good ale was notorious.

Players from London brought some added amusement in the summer, but as
Stratford grew more and more puritanical, a very deliberate effort,
already referred to in the preceding chapter, was made to penalise
actors, and some years after Shakespeare's death it is recorded that the
king's players were bribed by the corporation to leave the town without
giving any performances. The gardens of Stratford were very productive.
They were separated from each other by mud walls, and were carefully
cultivated. Shakespeare delighted in his gardens and his plays speak of
his sound knowledge of the gardener's craft. People who could afford to
plant orchards took a pride in doing so; the poorer folk generally
boasted a few fruit-trees, and gave no small part of their garden plot
to raising herbs and simples for use against the various ailments that
troubled them from time to time. The furniture in the house was
primitive. Table, stools, a chair or two, and a bench would furnish a
living-room. Carpets were not often met with; mattresses, bolsters, and
pillows were stuffed with feathers. Sheets and table-cloths were of flax
or hemp; dishes were of brass or pewter. Wooden trenchers and pewter
spoons were in common use, and most houses held the necessary equipment
for baking bread, brewing ale, and weaving wool. Cooking was primitive;
good cooks were not required unless the occasion was an extraordinary
one. People rose early and retired early; there was no temptation to be
out late in filthy, ill-lighted streets, and bed was the only
comfortable place in a house after nightfall. Doubtless the conditions
were favourable to deep drinking among those who were not limited to the
ale-house, and consequently could escape from the vigilant eye of
authority.

The apprentice system was in vogue at Stratford in Shakespeare's time,
and though the condition of apprentices was not always creditable to
their employers, the system ensured a thorough knowledge of any business
that a man sought to establish. The apprenticeship was a legal
condition, precedent to setting up in business, and until a lad had
fulfilled his indentures he could not open a shop on his own account or
claim the rights of a freeman. Apprentices had their rights and
privileges, including certain holidays, but they might not carry arms,
might not visit ale-houses, and might not stay out after nine o'clock.
For lads who did not care to settle down in business, or had not the
means to establish themselves in one, there were other ways of securing
a living. They could seek military service--there was always a demand
for strong, athletic young men--or they could enter the big
establishments of the great landowners, who employed scores of
retainers, and, in peaceful times, did not overwork them. The wealthier
lads went to the universities or to the metropolis, where no small
proportion, freed from all restraint, went hopelessly to the bad. In
Shakespeare's time, the Earl of Leicester, Lord Compton, Sir Thomas Lucy
of Charlecote, and a few others, were the chief men in the neighbourhood
of Stratford to keep retainers in large numbers.


=SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL THEATRE, STRATFORD-ON-AVON=



CHAPTER XIV

THE CLOSE OF LIFE


When Shakespeare settled down in Stratford to spend the last years of
his life amid its familiar surroundings, he could without a doubt have
aspired to the highest honours in the corporation's gift. He had
restored his father's good name, and John Shakespeare in his palmy days
had been Stratford's chief alderman. The early history of his escapades
had apparently been forgotten; he was on friendly terms with the then
owner of Charlecote Park, while other great landowners who passed a part
of their time at Court were to be found among his acquaintances if not
his friends. But he had not retired from the stress and strife of London
to seek responsibilities that entailed heavy penalties for neglect. It
sufficed him to take a friendly interest in the affairs of the
corporation, and to remain right outside the council chamber. His own
obligations might call him to town at any moment, and his own local
affairs would have taken so much of the rest of his time as he would be
disposed to give to business. Clearly he wished to enjoy his life, and
from the scanty records in our possession there is reason to believe
that he did so. Doubtless he added much to his ample stores of
observation; the few last years could hardly have been wasted; but
apparently he had no wish to set pen to paper when he had left the stage
behind him. It may be that, had he been disposed to work in the later
years, the Gunpowder Plot might have afforded him material for a
stirring play. Ambrose Rookwood, who was closely associated with the
conspiracy, lived in Clopton House near Stratford.

The Clopton family was closely identified with Stratford's history. Sir
Hugh, of that family, had been Lord Mayor of London in 1492. He it was
who built New Place, the house in which the poet was living. He built
the stone bridge over Avon at Stratford, to take the place of a
worthless wooden structure. He founded exhibitions at Oxford and
Cambridge Universities. In short, Sir Hugh made the reputation of the
family for all time, and the scandal of Rookwood's residence in Clopton
House, which is within easy reach of Stratford, must have been a
considerable one.

There is a suggestion that the poet had not only given up his work, but
that the taint of landowning under the existing conditions had corrupted
him. As late as 1614 he was assisting one William Combe, a landowner and
son of his old friend John Combe--who had left him five pounds by
will--in an attempt to enclose the common lands round his estate at
Welcombe. In the early days the poet had been a foe of those who
attempted to rob the people, but it may be that by 1614 he was growing a
little intolerant of the Puritans on the corporation council, and quite
ready to vex them if he could. The Clerk to the Council followed
Shakespeare to London, apparently in order to discuss the case against
William Combe, and the corporation in council drew up a letter to the
poet, begging him to aid them against the guilty landowner; but
Shakespeare did not do so, and it was left for the London courts to
settle the matter in favour of the corporation, after much litigation
and long delays.

The opening days of 1616 saw the marriage of Judith Shakespeare, the
poet's daughter, born with little Hamnet who had died twenty years
before. Two months later the poet entertained Michael Drayton and Ben
Jonson at New Place. Some biographers say that the meeting was
associated with a drinking bout--there is no reason to believe that
either of his distinguished visitors would have been averse from one.
Others believe that the poet fell a victim to the prevailing lack of
sanitation; his house was at the corner of a very dirty lane. Whatever
the cause, there can be no doubt about the result. On the 23rd of April
1616, England's greatest dramatist died in the prime of life--he was
just fifty-two years of age. Two days later he was buried in Stratford
Church, near the north wall of the chancel. Fearful lest his bones
should be added to the grisly burden of the charnel-house close by, he
penned a curse upon those who should disturb his remains.

The corporation's leading members joined the funeral procession, and a
banquet consoled the mourners. A monument was put up in the chancel a
few years later, the work of a London sculptor living near the "Globe
Theatre." It is not a very pleasing piece of work. By his will, the poet
left substantial legacies to his daughters, a gift to Stratford's poor,
and mementoes to many friends, but to his wife he left his "second best
bedstead" and nothing more. Anne Shakespeare died seven years later, and
was buried close to her husband. His neglect of her by will does not
imply indifference to her future; doubtless he had expressed his wish
that one or other of his daughters should look after her, but it is
clear that he did not hold her in great affection.

So passed a great man from his world, leaving an imperishable monument
for generations yet to come. The London he knew has passed beyond our
ken; it is a buried city that will never be unearthed. But time has
dealt more gently with Stratford and Shottery, Wilmcote and
Snitterfield, and a large part of the surrounding country that made our
national poet articulate. Much that he loved returns with the yearly
pageant of the seasons, and with this we must be perforce content.



INDEX


  Aberdeen, 32

  "All's Well that Ends Well," 39

  Ancient Pistol, 43

  "Antony and Cleopatra," 53

  Arden, Forest of, 47
    "  Mary, 9, 58
    "  Robert, 58

  Ariosto, 47

  Arnold, Matthew, 7

  "As You Like It," 32, 47

  Aston Clinton, 7, 9

  Aubrey's "Lives of Eminent Men," 66

  Avon, 5, 73, 75, 82


  Barnard, Lady, 60
    "  Sir John, 60

  Barnfield, Richard, 44

  Bath, 30

  "Bear's House," 25, 26

  Beaumont, 41, 42, 44

  "Bell, The," 43

  "Bell Inn," 17

  Bishopgate, 26, 27

  Bishopton, 64

  Blackfriars, 21, 70
    "  Theatre, 22, 62

  Boar's Head, 40, 41

  "Bohemia," 44

  Boswell, 61

  Brentford, 77

  "Bull Inn," 27

  Burbage, Cuthbert 62
    "  James, 22, 62
    "  Richard, 22, 32, 37, 49, 62

  Burbie, Cuthbert, 35, 36


  Cambridge University, 82

  Chapel of the Guild, 72

  Charlecote, 7, 12, 46, 56, 80
    "  Park, 81

  Charles II., 29

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, 43, 44, 68

  "Children of the Chapel, The," 48

  Clopton, Sir Hugh, 58, 60, 82
    "  Sir John, 60
    "  House, 82

  Cobham, Lord, 46

  College of Heralds, 57

  Combe, John, 82
    "  William, 82, 83

  "Comedy of Errors, The," 36

  Compton, Lord, 80

  Condell, 62

  "Convivial Laws," 42

  Coopers' Arms, 33

  "Coriolanus," 53

  Coventry, 30

  "Cow Lane," 35

  Cromwell, Oliver, 73

  "Crosby Hall," 27

  Crown Inn, 68

  "Curtain, The," 21

  "Cymbeline," 53


  Danter, John, 36

  Derby, Earl of, 22

  "Devil Tavern," 41, 42

  Drayton, Michael, 7, 44, 69, 70, 83

  Droeshout, Martin, 67


  Eastcheap, 40

  Edward VI., 72

  Elizabeth, Queen, 13, 32, 37, 39, 46, 50, 51

  Essex, Earl of, 47, 48


  "Falcon, The," 41, 60, 62

  Falstaff, Sir John, 13, 46, 77

  Faversham, 30

  "Feverel, Richard," 16

  Field, Richard, 20, 21, 35

  Fletcher, 41, 42

  Florence, 26

  Flower, Edgar, 67

  Folkestone, 30

  Fulbroke Parks, 12

  Fuller, 41


  Gastrell, Rev. Francis, 59, 60, 61

  "George, The," 41, 43
      "    I., 70

  "Globe, The," 22, 48, 62, 84

  Gower, 25

  Grammar School, Stratford, 72

  Gray's "Elegy," 1

  Greene, Robert, 27, 36, 43, 71

  Greenwich, 32, 38

  Guild Hall, 72

  Gunpowder Plot, 82


  Hall, John, 66, 70
    "   Susanna, 62, 66

  Halliwell-Phillipps, Mr. J. O., 61

  "Hamlet," 31, 32, 48, 49

  Hathaway, Anne, 11, 17, 18, 60

  "Henry IV.," 13, 14, 39, 40, 46
    "    V.," 14, 47, 62
    "    VI., King," 36
    "    the Seventh, King, 57
    "    VIII.," 47, 53, 63

  High Wycombe, 20

  Holinshed's "Chronicles," 33, 52, 53

  Hunt, Wm., 61

  Hythe, 30


  James I., King, 22, 24, 29, 51, 77

  Johnson, Robert, 53

  Jones, Inigo, 29

  Jonson, Ben, 7, 41, 42, 43, 67, 70, 83

  "Julius Cæsar," 48


  Keere, Peter Van den, 24, 25

  Kemp, William, 32

  Kenilworth, 39

  "King John," 37
    "   Lear," 52

  "King's Servants, The," 51


  "Lambeth Marsh," 25

  Lee, Dr. Sidney, 10, 31, 32, 49, 52, 67

  Leicester, Earl of, 13, 21, 39, 80

  Leyton, Edward, 61

  Lichfield, 61

  Loggin, Mrs., 61

  Lollard, 46

  "Love's Labour's Lost," 35

  Lucy, Sir Thomas, 12, 13, 46, 80


  "Macbeth," 51, 52

  Manasseh ben Israel, 73

  Marlborough, 30

  Marlowe, Christopher, 27, 36, 37, 43

  Masuccio, 33, 36

  "Measure for Measure," 51

  "Merchant of Venice, The," 37

  Meredith, George, 16

  Meres, Francis, 44

  "Mermaid, The," 41, 42, 44

  "Merry Wives of Windsor," 13, 40, 46

  "Midsummer Night's Dream, A," 13, 39

  Milton, 7

  Miranda, 53

  Moorfields, 21

  "More Feyldes," 25

  Mountjoy, 33

  "Much Ado about Nothing," 47


  Naseby, 5

  Nash, Elizabeth, 60
    "   Thomas, 62

  Newington Butts, 22

  New Place, 58, 59, 61, 62, 64, 69, 70, 82, 83

  New Place Museum, 62

  New Romney, 30

  Nimrod, 13

  Norman William, 5


  Oldcastle, Sir John, 46

  Old Stratford, 11, 64

  "Othello," 51

  Oxford, 20, 30, 68

  Oxford University, 82


  "Palace of Nonsuch, The," 38

  Peele, 36

  Pembroke, Earl of, 51

  "Pericles," 52, 53

  Phillips, Augustus, 22, 62

  "Phoenix and the Turtle, The," 48

  Plautus, 36

  "Play House," 25

  Plutarch's "Lives," 33, 48, 53

  Ponte Vecchio, 26

  Prospero, 53, 54


  Quiney, Mr. Thomas, 66


  Raleigh, Sir Walter, 42

  "Rape of Lucrece, The," 37, 38

  Rhodes, Cecil John, 2

  "Richard II.," 37, 47

  "Richard III.," 27, 37

  Richmond, 38

  "Romeo and Juliet," 36

  Rookwood, Ambrose, 82

  "Rose, The," 22

  Rowe, Nicholas, 70

  Rye, 30


  Saffron Walden, 30

  Saxon Harold, 6

  Senlac, 5

  Severn, 5

  Shakespeare, Edmond, 24, 69
    "  Gilbert, 69
    "  Hamnet, 66, 69
    "  Joan, 69
    "  John, 9, 10, 57, 58, 64, 66, 72, 76, 81
    "  Judith, 66, 83
    "  Richard, 69
    "  Susanna, 12, 60, 66

  Shallow, Mr. Justice, 13, 40, 46

  "Shepherd's Garland," 69

  Shoreditch, 21

  Shottery, 7, 11, 16, 17, 18, 84

  Sidney, Sir Philip, 29

  Smith, Miss, 61

  Snitterfield, 6, 9, 10, 64, 84

  Southampton, Earl of, 37, 39, 47, 48, 63

  Southwark, 22, 26, 27, 42

  Spanish Armada, 42

  Spenser, Edmund, 41

  "Spittlefeyldes," 25

  St. Helen's, 26, 27

  "St. Marye Overyes," 24, 25

  St. Saviour's, Church of, 24, 25

  Stratford Church, 83


  "Tabard, The," 41, 42, 43, 44

  "Taming of the Shrew, The," 39

  "The Tempest," 53, 69

  "Theatre, The," 21, 22, 62

  Thorpe, 38

  "Timon of Athens," 52

  "Titus Andronicus," 37

  "Troilus and Cressida, 49

  "Twelfth Night," 47

  "Two Gentlemen of Verona, The," 35


  "Venus and Adonis," 37, 38


  Walker, Sir Edward, 60

  Welcombe, 64, 82

  Westminster Abbey, 24

  White, William, 35

  Whitehall, 38, 51, 52

  "White Hart, The," 43

  Wilmcote, 6, 9, 10, 18, 58, 84

  Wilton, 51

  "Winter's Tale, The," 53

  Wotton Wawens, 7

  Wriothesley, Henry, 39, 50, 63


  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
  Edinburgh & London



Transcriber's Notes:

  Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

  Illustration captions are indicated by =caption=.





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